Rifle bedding: How to bed a match rifle

Help maximize the potential of your match rifle

Always start by making sure everything fits.

Bedding a rifle increases accuracy by creating a precise fit between the stock and the action. This precise fit eliminates stress in the action and provides a solid foundation for an accurate rifle.  My friend and I decided to bed his BAT Machine VR action into a new McMillian Stock. This stock was ordered pre-inletted with pillars installed from McMillian.

I ordered the following products from Brownells:

  1. Marine-Tex epoxy (904-301-102)
  2. Modeling clay (046-100-002)
  3. Acra-Release, release agent (081-028-000)
  4. Multi-Vise (080-000-019)
  5. 1/4″ Carbide end mill (317-111-250)

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I once read that bedding a rifle is all about the foreplay- I couldn’t agree more.  Take your time to prep the stock and action and you will achieve great results.  If you don’t, you may end up running into a problem with a bunch of wet epoxy all over the place.

This BAT VR action has been barreled with a Shilen Select Match barrel chambered in 6×47 Lapua.  The rifle will be equipped with an M5 style detachable box magazine system.

McMillian A5 stock inletted for a BAT VR action.  You'll notice the factory inletting is slightly different than a standard Remington 700.  The BAT VR requires an additional cut for the external bolt stop. The area behind the lug is also relieved to accommodate bedding compound.

McMillian A5 stock inletted for a BAT VR action. You’ll notice the factory inletting is slightly different than a standard Remington 700. The BAT VR requires an additional cut for the external bolt stop. The area behind the lug is also relieved to accommodate bedding compound.

I always start by making sure everything fits.

I always start by making sure everything fits.

Checking that the parts fit into the stock is important.  Make sure the action fits properly.  There should be ample space around the lug and the bolt handle should not touch the stock.

I like to use some denatured alcohol to wipe down the action and stock prior to taping the recoil lug.

I like to use some denatured alcohol to wipe down the action and stock prior to taping the recoil lug. This removes any oils and allows the tape to adhere to the metal.

I have found that 3M fine line tape (it's used for automotive painting) is excellent for wrapping the bottom and sides of recoil lugs.

I have found that 3M fine line tape (it’s used for automotive painting) is excellent for wrapping the bottom and sides of recoil lugs.  This stuff is expensive (around $13 a roll) but works like a dream.

I need a piece of tape on the front of the recoil lug.  Placing some blue tape on a plastic bench block, I use a barrel cut off to guide my razor.

I need a piece of tape on the front of the recoil lug. Placing some blue tape on a plastic bench block, I use a barrel cut-off to guide my razor.

The painters tape will now perfectly fit against the front edge of the recoil lug.

The painter’s tape will now perfectly fit against the front edge of the recoil lug.

With the action degreased and taped, I take the time to make sure it still fits into the stock.  In some stocks, the sides of the lugs do not have a lot of clearance, adding the thickness of the tape will prevent the action from seating.  You do not want to figure this out when you have wet epoxy sitting in the stock!

Of all the release agents I have tried over the years, I like the Acra-Release Aerosol the best.

Of all the release agents I have tried over the years, I like the Acra-Release Aerosol the best.

It’s time to finish prepping the metal.  Before I fill any voids with modeling clay, I coat all of the metal parts with the release agent.  This is an important, and time saving step because it makes removing the clay at the end easier.

I use modeling clay to fill the voids in the action.  A razor blade is used to trim the excess clay.

I use modeling clay to fill the voids in the action. A razor blade is used to trim the excess clay.

With the voids filled, its time for another coat of release agent.  Any areas that were handled, or came into contact with the clay or razor may have lost their coating.  A second application ensures everything will come apart when the epoxy dries.

This is how I prepare a stock for bedding.  The inside is degreased.  The majority of the outside is coated in painters tape.  A small clay snake is inserted into the barrel channel in front of the recoil lug.

This is how I prepare a stock for bedding. The inside is degreased. The majority of the outside is coated in painters tape. A small clay snake is inserted into the barrel channel in front of the recoil lug.

In the picture above, notice I have the bottom metal already inserted into the action.  This will make putting everything together easier.  The front of the stock is secured in a padded Multi-Vise.

Degrease the inside of the stock prior to adding the bedding compound.  Any residual release agent will prevent it from adhering to the stock.

With the barreled action and stock ready, it’s go time.  I like using Marine-tex epoxy.   It is easy to work with, has a relatively long working time and machines well.

The Marine-tex is applied to the mating surfaces of the stock.

The Marine-tex is applied to the mating surfaces of the stock.

I also put a layer of Marine-tex on the rifle in the area immediately behind the recoil lug (sorry, no picture of this).  This will ensure a clean transition from the action to recoil lug area.

The action is placed into the stock and the two action screws are gently tightened down.

The action inserted into the bedding compound.

The action inserted into the bedding compound.

With the action screws tightened and the receiver settled into the stock, I remove the stock from the vise and secure the rifle’s barrel in the vise.  I do this to remove any stress that the vise might be inducing in the stock.

Cotton swabs are your friend here- lots of them.  Leave a garbage can directly underneath the action to catch any epoxy that falls off of the rifle.  In addition to cotton swabs, a razor blade helps clean up the excess Marine-tex.

The excess epoxy has been cleaned from the stock.  Time to wait for it to dry.

The excess epoxy has been cleaned from the stock. Time to wait for it to dry.

I leave the action alone and let it dry for at least a day.  No sense in rushing here.  Give everything time to properly cure.  To remove the stock from the action, unscrew the action screws, remove the bottom metal, and tap the action with a block of plastic.  This causes the stock to pop off.

With the action out of the stock.  I use a milling machine, with a sharp 1/4" end mill to clean up the surfaces.

With the action out of the stock, a milling machine, with a sharp 1/4″ end mill cleans up the surfaces. I also remove excess material from the area in front of the recoil lug.

The mill does a great job cleaning up a stock.  If you don't have a mill, don't worry.  You can achieve satisfactory results with a hand held rotary tool or some files.

The mill does a great job cleaning up a stock. If you don’t have a mill, don’t worry. You can achieve satisfactory results with a hand held rotary tool or some files.

I normally get a little bit of epoxy in the pillar holes, you can see some in the photo above.  If you leave this, it can be harmful to accuracy.  I remove this with a cordless drill and the appropriate sized drill bit.

This is what the bedding job looks like when it is complete.  The action is now completely supported in the stock.

Completed bedding job.  Note the Multi-Vise with rubber pads.  This is a great tool for holding stocks and actions in place without damaging them.

The recoil lug area of the stock.  Not the clean transition from the action to lug.

The recoil lug area of the stock. Note the clean transition from the action to lug.

 

Guess what?  It's a shooter.  First day out for load development. 5-shots at 100 yards, 105 Bergers.

Guess what? It’s a shooter. First day out for load development. 5-shots at 100 yards, 105 Bergers.