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Bolt action competition rifle. What is the current thinking on the best practice for bedding the recoil lug? I recall that in years past it was just the rear, while some BR shooters bedded the front and sides as well. Given that the bottom always has clearance.

I'm talking about a dead flat washer type lug, tapered on the sides.


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Best practice has always been contact on the back only with plenty of clearance on the sides, bottom and front.

The only exception to this is on actions where the action screw goes into the bottom of the lug....the bottom then needs to be tight to the pillar. I can't think of any competitive accuracy actions that do this.

Good shootin' smile -Al


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Thanks, Al. I recall that back around 1980 I had a .308 built that shot great. The smith had bedded the entire lug except the bottom. I suppose that if all else is good, either method might work. It is a bear to remove a barreled action that has the lug tightly bedded, especially if the lug has no taper. Or, worse, a bit of reverse taper eek


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The problem with bedding the lug tight is that it doesn't have a natural 'relaxed' position to return to after the gun fires...it's always fighting against the bedding to go where it naturally wants to be.

The second issue is removing/replacing a tight lug in the bedding invariably shaves fine pieces of the bedding off. These get into the lug mortise which further works against what bedding the lug is trying to achieve. -Al


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Originally Posted by Al_Nyhus
Best practice has always been contact on the back only with plenty of clearance on the sides, bottom and front.

The only exception to this is on actions where the action screw goes into the bottom of the lug....the bottom then needs to be tight to the pillar. I can't think of any competitive accuracy actions that do this.

Good shootin' smile -Al
Al, the South African Musgrave match rifle is a Mauser style, flat bottomed action with the front screw in tbe recoil lug. But those are fullbore match rifles, not BR rifles.
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I've always bedded the entire lug except the bottom. Before bedding, the lug was deburred and corners rounded and SMOOTH. If there was any wrong way taper it was removed. My thinking is that I want to keep everything straight and not moving or coming to rest. It was at rest when bedded. I had to bed a Rem 700 that was not and the action/lug would shift to one side of the mortise when fired causing the barrel to hit the stock and throw subsequent shots to the opposite side of the contact.

To test a theory, I made some snug fitting shims (steel) and affixed them to the sides of the lug and fit to the stock. At the next range session the shifting stopped and the groups shrank from 3+" to 1". I then full bedded the lug and groups shrank a bit more.

To remove the barreled action from the stock required that I lift it straight out of the stock. Lifting from the barrel ( while pushing against the stock ) and the half retracted bolt (again while pushing against the stock ) the action came out without a fuss. As far as shaving the bedding when reassembling, I have not seen evidence of that. I'll take a tight bedding job any time.

As an aside, I am not a gunsmith but I am a retired, apprenticeship trained, machinist/toolmaker. I like learning to do things with my brain and hands...

ob

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Originally Posted by old_boots
I've always bedded the entire lug except the bottom. Before bedding, the lug was deburred and corners rounded and SMOOTH. If there was any wrong way taper it was removed. My thinking is that I want to keep everything straight and not moving or coming to rest. It was at rest when bedded. I had to bed a Rem 700 that was not and the action/lug would shift to one side of the mortise when fired causing the barrel to hit the stock and throw subsequent shots to the opposite side of the contact.

To test a theory, I made some snug fitting shims (steel) and affixed them to the sides of the lug and fit to the stock. At the next range session the shifting stopped and the groups shrank from 3+" to 1". I then full bedded the lug and groups shrank a bit more.

To remove the barreled action from the stock required that I lift it straight out of the stock. Lifting from the barrel ( while pushing against the stock ) and the half retracted bolt (again while pushing against the stock ) the action came out without a fuss. As far as shaving the bedding when reassembling, I have not seen evidence of that. I'll take a tight bedding job any time.

As an aside, I am not a gunsmith but I am a retired, apprenticeship trained, machinist/toolmaker. I like learning to do things with my brain and hands...

ob

Generally you don't want any movement between the action and the stock. I bed all of mine tight. Hunting rifles, precision bolt actions, rimfires, it doesn't matter. Back in the day, the benchrest guys used to actually glue their actions in to the stocks, so they were like one piece. And yes, they shot damn well. Even back in the 50's and 60's, when that practice was common place. If you leave clearance around the sides, and front, you are asking for trouble as far as I'm concerned. This is just a hunting rifle, but you get the idea:
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
An old as schidt Winchester model 70 at that:
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

I won't even post pics of how my "competition" rifles shoot, some guys get fn offended.. How about a pre 64 338WM:
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

How about a new to me Winchester model 70 308 WIN? Heavy barrel varmint model. Lug bedded tight:
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Like I say, anytime you are shooting close to an inch at 400 yards (that group was actually closer to 3/4"), that's good enough for me. YMMV..
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


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I try to stick with the basics, they do so well. Nothing fancy mind you, just plain jane will get it done with style.
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Originally Posted by old_boots
I've always bedded the entire lug except the bottom. Before bedding, the lug was deburred and corners rounded and SMOOTH. If there was any wrong way taper it was removed. My thinking is that I want to keep everything straight and not moving or coming to rest. It was at rest when bedded. I had to bed a Rem 700 that was not and the action/lug would shift to one side of the mortise when fired causing the barrel to hit the stock and throw subsequent shots to the opposite side of the contact.

To test a theory, I made some snug fitting shims (steel) and affixed them to the sides of the lug and fit to the stock. At the next range session the shifting stopped and the groups shrank from 3+" to 1". I then full bedded the lug and groups shrank a bit more.

To remove the barreled action from the stock required that I lift it straight out of the stock. Lifting from the barrel ( while pushing against the stock ) and the half retracted bolt (again while pushing against the stock ) the action came out without a fuss. As far as shaving the bedding when reassembling, I have not seen evidence of that. I'll take a tight bedding job any time.

As an aside, I am not a gunsmith but I am a retired, apprenticeship trained, machinist/toolmaker. I like learning to do things with my brain and hands...

ob


old_boots,

I'll second your technique also,as I bed a Rem the same,front,back,sides & bottom.

Stress Free...is Stress Free.

If one heats a recoil lug to require floating the bottom....you'll have other issues prior.

I'm glad these lug floaters are NOT structural engineers that do NOT back fill a foundation.


IF all else fails-Glue it in.


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I usually bed tight on the front and back with clearance on the bottom. On a tapered lug, the sides and bottom have clearance. I am not an expert but that is the way I was shown to do it about 40 years ago so I kept doing it.
Tapered lugs were not a thing back then but coming from a tool and die background (and common since), you have to any movement down that might happen when torqueing the action screws.
I am always looking for a better way and try to keep an open mind.
Love to see how and why others do what they do.


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On Remington rifles, common practice was to bed only the rear of the lug and, for the most part, this worked out fine; especially on BR rifle chambered for light cartridges. In Hunter class, back when most Hunter rifles were chambered for the 308, or a shortened version, and shot bullets of 150 to 168 grains, the occasional flyer would show up. About this time (not in the fifties and sixties, by the way), glue-ins had become the default system for Varmint class rifles. Glue-ins were not legal for Hunter, but some shooters and gunsmiths did the next best thing by first bedding the rifle as usual, then bedding it tightly, with a skim coat and release agent and never disassembling it. Essentially the rifle was "almost" glued in, but it could be disassembled, so it fit within the rules. This worked out very well.
In the sixties and seventies, many high power shooters were convinced the Winchester actions were better for this purpose due to the flat bottom preventing movement due to torque when the rifle was fired. The round bottomed Remington was viewed as inferior because it would rotate in the bedding, due to the torque force generated by the rifling spinning the bullet. In deed, some Remington based rifle would show signs of the screws contacting on the right side of the hole; this was taken as evidence of the effects of torque. To combat this, I started tapering the sides of the recoil lugs slightly, then bedding them to contact on the sides. I still provided clearance on the bottom and the front. This worked out fine but I can't claim it was a real cure because of the lack of real testing. The guys for whom I did this were convinced it made a difference.
As far as bedding the bottom of the lug was concerned, I usually preferred not to. The exception was, as noted, when the screw went into the lug, AND there was no bedding surface ahead of the lug. So, for a Sako action, or a Sportco 44, I bedded the bottom of the lug. For a Mauser, Enfield, or a Ruger 77, I didn't mind clearance under the lug since there was a significant amount of bedding surface ahead of the lug.
Ultimately, I had my favoured techniques and was reasonably successful with them. Nonetheless, I would occasionally get soundly beaten by someone who was (according to me) doing everything wrong. This has made it difficult to proclaim any method to be the only "right" way. I tend to bed one way or the other, according to whim, as much as anything. I glue BR rifles and some of my "F" class guns. I usually provide clearance on the front, sides, and bottom of lugs; except for when I don't! GD

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Since the OP's inquiry was about competition rifles, this might be of interest. Mike Bryant is one of the premier builders of high end competition and hunting rifles. You can scroll down to the 'Stock' section to get his take on things:

https://bryantcustom.com/what-makes-for-peak-rifle-accuracy/

I just finished rehabbing this gun for use as a back-up to my primary Benchrest VFS rig. Initially, the barrel showed .015-.018 of movement when the front action screw was cracked loose. After addressing the bedding and doing new pillars, it now shows right at .001 movement. Recoil lug is bedded tight to the back. The sides, front and bottom have .020 clearance. Barrelled action will literally fall out of the stock when the screws are removed.

Tight:
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Loosened:
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Since I was squaring up the bottom and sides of the stock, I added this piece of carbon into the bottom of the fore end:

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


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some bench shooters want the receive glued/glass bedded to stock permanently with barrel completely floated so they can use different barrels .


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Guys, Listen to Al. My 30BR and 6PPC are glue ins. My 22RF comp. gun is a bedded screw in.

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Originally Posted by pullit
I usually bed tight on the front and back with clearance on the bottom. On a tapered lug, the sides and bottom have clearance. I am not an expert but that is the way I was shown to do it about 40 years ago so I kept doing it.
Tapered lugs were not a thing back then but coming from a tool and die background (and common since), you have to any movement down that might happen when torqueing the action screws.
I am always looking for a better way and try to keep an open mind.
Love to see how and why others do what they do.

Robert Gradous always bedded them tight with clearance on the bottom... the ones he he did for me are never finicky!
Hard to argue with his success!

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[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

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Originally Posted by pete53
some bench shooters want the receive glued/glass bedded to stock permanently with barrel completely floated so they can use different barrels .

That's the norm whether they are glue ins or bolt ins. The only difference is you take the barreled action out of the stock to change barrels on a bolt in.


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So one more question to ask, do you bed a small pad in front of the lug (under the barrel tang)?
I was taught way back 40 years or so ago to bed the pad. The guy that taught me said, " it is way easier to bed the tang, shoot it and see if it likes it and grind it out if it does not, than to have to go back and put one in later if it needs it".
That makes perfect since to me, so I have always bedded one. I have had maybe 2 rifles in all the ones I have bedded that I had to grind it out on. Would the rest have shot better without the pad, I don't know, but they shot very well with the pad.


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Al, (or anyone else that might know) I have done the dial indicator thing many times and proved to myself that my bedding jobs were good. However I had one rifle that I bedded 3 times because I got readings on the indicator that I did not like (around .015-.020 as I remember). It was in that same range all 3 times, I finally wrote it off that it was the stock and not my bedding.
Have you ever seen anything like that in your experience, and if so, what did you find to be the problem? It was only on that one rifle, all the rest that I bedded and checked were .000-.001.


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Originally Posted by pullit
So one more question to ask, do you bed a small pad in front of the lug?

I used to do that. Over the years though, having the barrel free to vibrate naturally has proven to give repeatable accuracy.

Of course, none of this is applicable to real competition level BR rigs where there no barrel contact is the norm. -Al


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Originally Posted by pullit
Al, (or anyone else that might know) I have done the dial indicator thing many times and proved to myself that my bedding jobs were good. However I had one rifle that I bedded 3 times because I got readings on the indicator that I did not like (around .015-.020 as I remember). It was in that same range all 3 times, I finally wrote it off that it was the stock and not my bedding.
Have you ever seen anything like that in your experience, and if so, what did you find to be the problem? It was only on that one rifle, all the rest that I bedded and checked were .000-.001.

Yeah...those make you work for it. wink

Not having hard contact between the tops of the pillars and the receiver is the first step to getting ahead of this. -Al


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I don't remember if that one had pillars or not (too many years ago) but that does make since.


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