Welcome to the final installment of Rifleshooter.com’s USMC M40A5 build series, USMC M40A5 Build- Part 5: Bedding and final assembly. To read the rest of the series, see:
- Remington 700 (USMC M40A1, M40A3, M40A5) Q&A: What is a clip slot? Lug slot? Lugged base?
- USMC M40A5 Build- Part 1: Gathering the Parts
- USMC M40A5 Build-Part 2: Lug slotting the receiver
- USMC M40A5 Build- Part 3: Receiver Truing
- USMC M40A5 Build- Part 4: Threading and chambering the barrel and brake installation
To complete the M40A5 project, I ordered the following tools and materials from Brownells:
- “go” and “no-go” gauges
- Remington 700 action wrench
- Remington 700 Armorer’s kit
- Do-Drill cutting oil
- Multi-Vise with jaw pads
- Barrel vise
- Acra-Release release agent
- Surgeon action wrench
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Any modifications made to a firearm should be made by a licensed gunsmith. Failure to do so may void warranties and result in an unsafe firearm and may cause injury or death.
Modifications to a firearm may result in personal injury or death, cause the firearm to not function properly, or malfunction, and cause the firearm to become unsafe.
With the metal work complete, the barrel needs to be installed on the action one last time. The recoil lug is aligned with a lug alignment tool and an action wrench is used to tighten the action while the barrel is secured in a vise.
The headpsace is checked one more time. The bolt should easily close on the go gauge, and should not close on the no go gauge.
A great reference for this is TM 05539-IN, which is the Technical Manual for the M40A3 and M40A5. You can find a copy of it here. TM 05539-IN covers the bedding process used by the Marines in depth. As a matter of personal preference, I don’t like to bed bottom metal or use a barrel pad on rifles I build, so I’ll bed this rifle differently than the Marine Corps.
The metal surfaces are degreased and the barreled action is seated in the stock to ensure everything clears. Sometimes minor fitting is required, however, in this case it was not. While the surfaces are degreased I wrap the front and sides of the recoil lug in masking tape (oil or release agent will prevent the tape from sticking). The metal is sprayed with release agent (I prefer Acra-Release), and the voids in the action are packed with modeling clay.
Note the rear of the recoil lug doesn’t have tape on it (above), this is the only surface of the lug that should contact the bedding. Once the excess clay is cleaned up, I apply a second coat of release agent. Far better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Some painters tape on the stock helps make clean up easier. I apply some Marine-Tex epoxy to the mating surfaces.
The action is placed into the stock and the bottom metal is screwed into the action. I prefer this method over using alignment pins, since everything is oriented the way it will be on the finished rifle.
Using cotton swabs and razor blades, the excess bedding compound is removed from the stock and surrounding metalwork. The epoxy is allowed to cure for 24 hours.
To remove the action from the stock, the action is gently tapped with a nylon mallet. Note the excess epoxy inside the stock. This will be removed with the mill.
The stock is leveled in both directions (I’m using a Starrett cross test level) and secured in the vise with brass jaws and tape.
An endmill makes short work of the excess epoxy.
The finished bedding looks slick.
To install the night vision mount, it is centered on the barrel and epoxied in place. After the mount has hardened, a lip was left on the front of the barrel channel.
Wrapping a section of barrel with abrasive cloth makes short work of this raised area.
The surfaces are now flush.
The barreled action was sent off to C&H Precision Weapons Shop for the correct black oxide finish. Dave Clark did an excellent job and promptly returned the metal parts. A quick note on the barrel finish, while the metal was at C&H Precision Weapons Shop, Dave mentioned that when he ran the PWS for the Marines, he started grinding the tooling marks off the barrel prior to finishing, so both barrel finishes (tool mark and polished) are in fact correct.
Upon final assembly, the rifle looks great!
A special thank you to Dave Clark, former Staff Non-commissioned Officer In Charge (SNCOIC) of the USMC Precision Weapons Section (PWS) in Quantico, VA. Dave is the co-owner of C&H Precision Weapons Shop located in Labelle, FL. C&H Precision Weapons Shop offers a wide variety of custom rifle building services, including clip and lug slotting. If you are looking to build a USMC rifle clone, he also builds complete M40A1, M40A3, and M40A5 rifles