Reasons for Bedding
There are many reasons a stock needs to be bedded, an upgrade to a synthetic or nicer wood stock, to improve accuracy or, in this case, the original stock was broken.
Inspect the Stock
Before applying any bedding compound, examine the stock to ensure it is free of defects.
Next, dry fit the action to the stock to ensure it fits. It is better to find out the action doesn’t mate with the stock before applying the bedding compound. Ensure the bolt cut out and the ejection port are on the correct side. While this seems obvious, such things can and do get overlooked. If the stock doesn’t fit properly, call the manufacturer. There is usually no problem exchanging the product if no alterations have been made to the stock.
Brownell’s Acraglas Gel kit is one of the most popular bedding compounds available. (Photo courtesy of Brownells.)
The bedding compound kit comes with release agent that must be used liberally anywhere the metal might come in contact with the bedding compound. If not, a mechanical lock will occur, resulting in damage to the new stock, the barreled action or both. Also, don’t forget to apply release agent to the action screws and the bottom metal as a precautionary measure. I also put a light coat on the top of the stock to ease the removal of any bedding compound that oozes out the top of the stock.
Mixing the Compound
After the release agent has cured according to the manufacturer’s directions, you are ready to mix the bedding compound. Most bedding compounds are a two-part epoxy. It is imperative to measure the proper amounts and follow the directions exactly. How much bedding compound do you mix? You mix enough to do the job. Usually, a spoonful of each part mixed together is enough to bed an entire rifle in the manner described. It is a good rule of thumb when mixing the compound to have too much rather than not enough.
Stir the bedding compound according to the directions. The compound must be thoroughly mixed together.
Applying the Bedding Compound
Once mixed, the bedding compound can be applied to the stock. This Browning A-Bolt only requires bedding compound in the front receiver area.
Keep the Old Stock
This synthetic stocked Model 70 requires bedding in the tang area as well as the front receiver ring. Keeping the stock that’s being replaced and referring back to it will give you an idea where the bedding compound should be placed.
Installing the Action
Install the barreled action. A dowel rod inserted in the back of the action acts as a handle to install and remove the barreled action.
Free Float the Barrel
For most rifles produced today, it is desirable to have the barrel “free float,” to ensure the barrel is not making contact with the stock, for the best accuracy. To get this relief, a shim is used to “float” the barrel. The bedding compound will harden around the raised barreled action, ensuring proper barrel clearance. The thickness of the shim isn’t critical; the shim shown is a length of plastic reinforced strap banding.
Allow to Cure
Install the bottom metal plate and tighten the rear screw first, then snug the front screw. Set the rifle aside to allow the bedding compound to cure properly.
Check the Action
Now is a good time to check to ensure the bolt is smooth and the rifle feeds properly with dummy rounds. If it drags you might have to tweak the screws or adjust the shim height to get smooth operation.
Bedding compound that overflows from the top of the stock is much easier to clean before it cures.
Chip it Out
This photo shows some run out of the bedding compound in the magazine well of the rifle. Let this cure as it will chip out easily and is best cleaned up after the bedding compound hardens.
Give it a Rap
After proper curing time has elapsed, a sharp rap will break the slight mechanical lock on the action screws. Often the barreled action also needs persuading to come out of a properly bedded stock. A slight rap with a rawhide hammer on the top of the front receiver ring does a fine job. Remove the barreled action from the stock.
A sharp chisel will quickly remove unwanted compound from the magazine well area. If there is overflow on the top of the stock, carefully chip it away. Again, referring back to the original stock will help determine where to remove unwanted bedding compound. Remove any visible release agent residue.
Clean the Crevices
A small round or rat tail file comes in handy for cleanup in round crevices.
Relieve the Screw Holes
The action screw holes should be relieved to ensure the screws do not make contact with the stock or freshly applied bedding compound. A round file or appropriate drill bit makes quick work of this.
Head to the Range
The freshly bedded rifle. Admire your handy work while reassembling the rifle. The rifle is ready for a trip to the range.