Q: What are the THREE BEES?
A: Bedding, Barrels and Bullets contribute a bunch to accuracy. Let's look at Bedding this go-around.
Q: Does bedding a rifle stock in bedding material improve accuracy?
A: In the several rifles that I am monitoring the answer is yes. How much varies - since each rifle makes its own rules but they all shoot better and keep shooting well for a very long time regardless of handling and moisture.
Q: Why does bedding go south?
A: Wood stocks shift from moisture changes (including sucking up solvent that is allowed to get into the action area) and can compress from recoil forces. They also crack and chip, and shrink and swell during their lifetime.
Composite stocks can compress from recoil, might have problems with solvent soaking also, sometimes crack or chip also. Bedding compound is really, really tough stuff and it takes the abuse from recoil and makes the steel fit perfectly into the stock.
Q: My rifle stock has an aluminum bedding block, isn't that enough?
A: Not a chance. The bedding block is CNC'd to a set of specs (CNC is a nifty term for machined). The action is supposed to match those dimensions but it just plain doesn't. Many reasons, trust me, the action does not fit exactly into the bedding block. Put a thin layer of bedding compound between them and they will fit perfectly.
Q: What bedding material is best?
A: There is no "one" individual bedding material that is best, this ain't rocket surgery and any material that ensures a perfect fit between barrel/receiver and the stock, plus sets up hard enough to ensure that the fit stays perfect - that is the base requirement. The soft, putty-like gobs found in many factory stocks do not constitute bedding as such! Might as well use Double Bubble bubble-gum.
Marine Tex, Devcon and Steel Bed are probably the top contenders. If not for the cost, Steel Bed would likely get top grades - some top gunsmith-dudes told me that they like it best.
Q: Is bedding a stock difficult?
A: If you can read and follow instructions, have moderate mechanical and technical skills and some common sense - yes, it is still difficult the first time. Having said that, most people who can walk and chew gum should be able to follow the instructions that come with Brownells kits.
Putting in pillars and full-action bedding is a little more difficult. Unless you are really good with your hands, or really a tightwad - I suggest that you pay 150 bucks and get a pro to do the job for you.
Q: What do pillars do, are they essential?
A: Pillars reduce stock material crushing when the stock bolts are tightened. They probably contribute to accuracy but a really good bedding job will usually result in good accuracy.
Q: How do you know all this stuff?
A: I look over the shoulder of very talented guys and steel their ideas and knowledge [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]. Plus I have an active imagination and think that the above stuff might pass a bs test with a bit of luck.
Now, to touch or not to touch -
Tape the sides and front of the recoil lug or bed it in tight? Reasons why?
Hmmmm Ian, you make pillars sound difficult. An active imagination it might take, but still easily doable. My smith told me he thinks I'd get away without them in the big heavy barrel blocked 30-338LI when we finish it up, but ahhhhh, it's definitely getting pillars dropped in for extra measure. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] I think I'll just do Steel Bed pillars in the little compact M70 308.
Great topic! Back to the Basics!!
Mind if I add a little?
1. Taping the sides and front of a lug gives two benefits.
A.It allows the action to be removed from the stock a little easier.
B. When the chamber area heats up from shooting, some of that heat finds it's way into the lug. Metal expands when heated and if the lug was bedded tight it would have no where to expand except up. This would place a little stress on the barrel/ action thread joint and could cause weird things (ie flyers) to happen.
2. Bedding bottom metal is a cosemetic thing, especially when pillars are used. i almost never bed the bottom in an HS because the stock chips out very easily when pulling the metal out.
You been there. A while back we loosened the stock bolts on a brand new Stealth and the bottom metal was quite tight. When the floor plate lifted out a significant chunk of HS stock came with it.
Nicer when the bottom metal is bedded, but I have rifles with and without that shoot very well. Agree on the taping, it is the way to ensure the parts fit nice and come out smoothly after the tape is removed.
Do you heat the action a bit prior to removing it from a fresh bedding job, works slick. A blow-dryer is a good stock bedding accessory.
Another little point, since 99% of the front swivel studs on HS stocks become loose after a while, a dab of Marine Tex in the recess where they screw-in makes them permanent. Could also use LockTite but whatever, they all seem to want to backoff and get loose.
As for pillars. They complicate the job a fair bit, have to be correct length, stock bolt holes have to be enlarged, costy little rascals unless you make your own. But they are no doubt essential parts of the accuracy improvement objective. We recently installed a set of the adjustable ones, once they are in the goo they no doubt do the job but they are expensive and probably no better than home-made ones. Believe Chris makes his own out of steel, that would be nice.
This is pretty timely; Iím picking up a 6BR in about 2 hours that'll need to be bedded. I had Howard (the rifle builder) make a set of stainless pillars and a finish cap for the front action screw.
Like you said, adds lots more work and I wasn't comfortable learning on a $750 stock that required a two-month wait to get.
Steel bed is my poison. I'd like to try Marine Tex, as the GA guys used it on one of my 6.5x284's and it's a work of art.
Maybe some day I'll get to the point were I could bed one like the pro's.....
You wanna stir the pot some,, let's bring up the barrel pad!! I HAD to use one on my last rifle, but I'm trying without this time to see if I can get away without it. With a 9lbs barrel hanging off a repeating long action, there was just too much flex and it had vertical dispersion. I added what came out to be a 3.75" barrel pad, the rifle then shot consistent HM scores at 1000y off a sling. I'd love to hear what others do and why.