As you are probably aware, rifles are built from several components. These components in general, usually consist of a rifle stock, barrel and receiver and as with other mechanical devices in our lives, such as cars, trucks, airplanes and bicycles, your rifle must be maintained.
You would probably not ride a bicycle with loose wheel nuts. This would obviously cause the wheels to wobble, come loose, lead to other problems and perhaps even fall off. On the other hand, a person would not assemble the wheels too tight either. This is because the bearings in the wheels could quite possibly bind. The point here is that the components of your rifle need to be assembled and kept at the manufacturer’s specifications.
One day while at the range I was shooting an extremely accurate 6mm Remington that I built specifically for prairie dog hunting. However, instead of shooting 1/8” groups at 100 yards, they had opened up to ¾”. I sat there and contemplated what was causing this. I thought about my hand loads, the way that I was holding the rifle and a myriad other voodoo possibilities. However, even though I checked the receiver screws and scope ring nuts before I left, I went through my procedural check list and checked them again. So I took out my Seekonk “T” handled torque wrench and did so. I was surprised to find that the receiver screws turned ever so slightly. I put the wrench away and sat back down at the bench. Focusing on the target I pulled the trigger and the problem was solved. Now, it could have been a super clean barrel, fatigued scope, or several other problems, however this did appear to solve the problem and the gun was back to shooting 1/8” groups again. Actually, this happened in front of my Son in law “Brady” the day that we went shooting after Thanksgiving. The lesson here is that a torque wrench is an imperative piece of kit for your rifle system.
In addition to keeping your rifle “tuned” to the manufacturer’s specifications, there are other attributes that contribute to your rifle shooting its best. These include the following:
1) Bedding the rifles action to a good stock
2) The length of trigger pull (length of stock)
3) What you should know about your barrel
4) Good scope mounts
5) Rifle Scope
6) Cleaning Equipment and methods
There are several if not many different factors that affect the trajectory of the bullet; and the rifle stock is one of them. Rifle stocks are made from different types of materials for different reasons and different kinds of shooting preferences. A bench rest shooter will want a stock that fits into their shoulder comfortably while sitting up at a bench while a Tactical shooter will want a tactical stock that is built so that both a left handed or right handed shooter can use it in the field and the stock fits into their shoulder when lying prone or while in a sitting or kneeling position.
“Cast off” means that the stock will sit slightly inward of the rear of the but end of the stock. What this does is make it easier and more comfortable for the shooter to get his eye into the scope without stretching his neck out uncomfortably to do so. The “comb” is the top part of the but of the stock where your cheek lines up with the scope. It is not the cheek piece; however it is used to align your eye with your scope. A downward comb, (a comb that slants down towards the rear of the scope) is a preventative measure that prevents your cheek bone from being slapped by the stock as a result of felt recoil. Both cast off and comb were common in the wooden Weatherby stocks as well as shotgun stocks.
Mr. Bill Sheheen manufactures “The” most beautiful and stable wooden laminated stocks in the world. The lamination of the wood gives it great strength and makes it less subject to the affects of weather changes. Weather, such as humid, wet environments can cause non-laminated wooden stocks to warp and twist; and when this happens, it obviously will change the point of impact of the bullet.
Fiberglass stocks are not all that affected by the weather. They are super strong, and take the hits, drops and abrasive use of field use. In both cases, unless otherwise noted, stocks need to be “bedded”. HS Precision manufactures a super stock that comes with aluminum pillar blocks built into it. They suggest not adding any bedding as the shape of the aluminum pillars has a slight “V” in them. When the action is torqued down to the specified setting, it is held into place. Other manufacturers such as McMillan, also manufactures an excellent assortment of fiberglass stocks. If you send them your barreled action they will bed it for you at an additional charge.
The “bedding” can be done by your gunsmith (recommended) or yourself and consists of a special epoxy type of substance that you lay into the specified area of your stock.
Bedding your action will prevent the barrel and receiver from shifting during firing, thus keeping the action static and as constant as possible. This means that the impact of the bullet will theoretically hit close to the same place every time the rifle is fired.
Bedding your rifle achieves several goals; 1) Elimination of undue stress on your barrel and receiver, and 2) restriction of any lateral movement of the action relative to the anchor points at the time of ignition. If any movement occurs, the harmonics of the entire assembly (barrel, receiver and stock) will change along with the point of impact. It is imperative that the arrangement is kept as constant as possible and bedding your rifle is one step in achieving this.
Only the barreled action area of the stock should be glassed. This includes the area in front of the recoil lug, the back area of the recoil lug, the tang and the trigger guard where the screws pass through and can be accomplished in one step. But, do not add bedding compound to the bottom, sides or front of the recoil lug cavity. This may appear to be somewhat excessive, however when utilizing a wooden stock, once the bedding has cured, the trigger guard should also be glassed. The curing process takes approximately ten days. I would just assume letting your gunsmith take this on.