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Basic Rifle Maintenance - Part 3
Let’s now re-assemble. Hopefully the trigger is back in place with the safety working. Leave the bolt out as you replace the barrelled-action. Do-up the action-screws finger-tight then stand the rifle on the butt and give it a ‘bounce’. This will ensure that the recoil-lug is firmly against its recess. Tighten the action-screws with the rifle vertical. Place a finger at the end of the fore-end so that you can feel both the barrel and stock and, as you tighten the screws, you will feel the barrel move in relation to the stock. Tighten the front screw first and when you tighten the rear screw feel for any movement between barrel and stock. If your bed is perfect, movement will not be detected. If you feel movement, then the action is ‘rocking’ on the front screw. If this movement is excessive, you could actually be stressing the action by bending it. A rifle will never shoot well under these circumstances.

basic rifle maintenance 3
When tightening the action screws, do it with the rifle vertical and your finger touching the stock and barrel. Tighten the front screw, then as you tighten the rear screw you should not detect excessive movement with your finger. If you do, you have a bedding problem and you are stressing the action – not good for accuracy.

Remember, when tightening the action screws – they will only have around six threads into the action and an Allen key in the hands of the ham-fisted will soon strip a quarter-inch screw. Don’t overdo it!

Finally, we will check that the barrel is free-floating (if it should be!) by passing a piece of thin card along the underside of the barrel and check that no part of the bolt-handle is touching the stock when the bolt is closed. Obviously, if the barrel or bolt is fouling the stock, it’s not too difficult to carefully relieve it with a piece of sand-paper or what have you. Not all barrels are designed to be free-floating however - some are ‘pressure-bedded’ so that the barrel is deliberately in contact with the stock - usually near the tip of the fore-end.

After all that work, will your rifle shoot better? Maybe not but hopefully you will now know why!

Next month we will cover the scope and mounts.

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