Let’s wrap up this project. In the earlier post for this project I discussed all the preparation needed for bedding the rifle. The last step before I started mixing the bedding compound, was to apply some sort of release agent on the metalwork. If this is not done, the action will be permanently glued to the stock which is not a good idea. There is various ways to do this. Two commonly used methods is to cover everything you do not want to stick together with Johnson paste wax or Kiwi neutral shoe polish. I used a commercial mold release agent known as Frekote, manufactured by Henkels. As this is in an aerosol can, it is quick and easy to apply.
The next step was to apply the bedding material. Once this is mixed, you have about an hour of working time. One of the challenges in our NRA gunsmithing school programs is the fact that firearms can not be left at the school overnight. During our normal semester classes this occurs and we would enter firearms into a bound book as required by law. As we could not do that, this process had to be done early enough in the day to allow for the compound to dry in time. There is many products that can be used for bedding and for this project, I used Devcon Plastic Steel. One of my classmates shared his with me (thank you Will) which meant we had enough compound for two stocks and did not need to measure the components for just one bedding job. I filled the stock with bedding compound and removed all the air bubbles from the recesses of the stock. I also applied bedding compound to the pillars and made sure I had full coverage of those. The barreled action is then inserted into the stock. Hydraulic pressure on the compound allows it to push out where it is not needed and fill up any gaps and voids. The action is then clamped to the stock and left to set for about an hour or so.
Once the compound starts to set and reaches a consistency of putty, I started trimming of any excess from around the action. Not only is it easier to do at this time, it also prevents the compound from hardening over certain areas and capturing the action.
The bedding compound is then left to set for a few hours. This period will depend on the type of compound used. While waiting for the compound to dry, the class went to lunch and after coming back we had some class room sessions where various other aspects of accurizing were discussed. Before leaving for the day, the action was removed from the stock (to make sure it does actually come out before the compound totally sets) given a light cleanup and then clamped back into the stock.
The next morning, I removed the action from the stock and completed cleaning up the action. I then returned the stock to the mill and removed all the bedding material that would interfere with the working parts of the rifle.
Once all of this was completed, I reassembled the rifle and made sure it functioned correctly.
There was not time to shoot the rifle after completion, but I did have time a few weeks later. I did have to sight the rifle in and I was using surplus ammunition so I can not say for sure how much better the rifle is. However, with me shooting (and I freely admit to not being the best shot in the world) the rifle on a bench and only using a bipod the rifle shot noticeably better groups than before. I am planning to do a range day using some match ammunition soon and will report the results when I do that.
In the only full week between the spring and summer semesters, I signed up for a NRA short-term gunsmithing course for Custom Accurizing on the Remington 700. The instructor was Thomas Marshal, who spent many years working with the Army Marksmanship Unit on theses rifles. I am splitting the work from this week into two sections and will cover all the preparation work in this post. While we received general instruction on these rifles and the things that can be done to them to improve the accuracy, the main focus of the course was to do a bedding job on a rifle. A good bedding will ensure there is full contact between the stock and the action and will prevent the action from moving around when the rifle is fired. I used a Remington 700 VLS with a 26″ heavy barrel from my collection that had no modifications. As always, I started by removing the action from the stock, removing the bolt and trigger system. As I did not intend to do any work on the action or barrel, there was no need to separate the barrel from the action.
Another option when bedding a rifle is to use pillar beds. These non compressible pieces are bedded into the stock. There are a variety of commercial pillar bedding components available on the market, but they can easily be made on a lathe. I made sure they were the correct length and then flattened the sides to prevent them from turning if they should happen to release from the bedding agent.
The next step was to tackle the factory stock and prepare it for the bedding compound. Most of this was done on a mill and involved removing small amounts of material from the stock. This is then filled in by the bedding compound. The square cuts from the endmill also give the bedding compound more surface area to adhere to. The area around the recoil lug is also enlarged. You can also see where I enlarged the original screw holes to fit the pillars.
I then applied tape to the stock to protect it from the bedding compound. The compound sticks to everything and is really hard when it sets so this is important. I also used spacers in the barrel channel to ensure the action goes squarely into the stock.
Once I completed this, I started filling up all the large holes in the stock where components of the rifle would normally be. Yes, I used sponge to do that.
The action also needs some preparation. I mounted the pillars to the action and taped the front of the recoil lug. The rear of the recoil lug sits against the bedding material. In some of the following pictures, you will also see where the first part of the barrel is taped.
Here is the stock ready for bedding. I do still need a small dam in the barrel channel to prevent compound going down the channel. You can also see the dam I made on the stock where the bolt handle goes. This is to prevent compound spilling down the side of the stock.
The action is now also ready for bedding. The parts of the action where we do not want any compound to go is filled in. This can be done with a few things, such as plumbers putty, silly putty or (in my case) Play Doh.
In my next post, I will go through the process of applying the bedding compound and cleaning up.
This is the last part of this project for this semester. The final step for the barrel is to install a muzzle brake. Normally, a muzzle brake is not really used on a small caliber rifle like this but I had already finished the crowns on my Mauser and FN projects. Originally this rifle was just going to get a crown but I messed up on an order to Brownell’s and ended up with this one.
The first step was to cut down the barrel and thread it for the brake.
Yes, this is a rough cut so I just do it with a hacksaw. The barrel then goes back in the lathe (centered of course) the front of the barrel is then trued and a tenon is cut for the threads.
After this I made sure the brake fitted.
I then proceeded to cut the brake down to the approximate size of the barrel.
After I got the brake close to the barrel size, I polished it down to the same size as the barrel.
This concluded work on this project for this semester. Thank you for reading along.
Back to the Remington 700 project. I finished the barrel and the blueprinting of the bolt and the receiver. It is now time to fit the barrel and test fire the rifle. The masking tape you see in the photos is to protect the action from scratches.
The Remington 700 receiver is easy to damage if twisted. To prevent damage like this I use a wrench adapter that I made during our first semester.
Once I installed the wrench adapter, I clamped the barrel in a barrel vice (yes, I made one of those in my first semester but the one you belongs to the school) and use an action wrench to tighten the barrel. Yes, the action wrench you see was a first semester project. Normally, I would use an a tool to hold the recoil lug in alignment during this step, but it was not needed as the action would be removed from the barrel after the test fire.
Once this was done, I installed the trigger and the rifle was ready to test fire.
Next was the test fire! Test firing consists of three rounds fired from the rifle. After the test fire, the cartridge cases are checked for expansion. We are allowed an expansion of 0.002 inches (0.0508mm or 50.8 micron). Here is a video of the test fire.
The results of the test fire was good. Zero case expansion. I am more than happy with that. The next step for this rifle is to install a muzzle brake and I will detail that in the next post.
After finishing the action, I turned my attention to the barrel. As I said in an earlier post, I purchased the barrel from Shilen. It is a #6 or lightweight target contour Match grade barrel manufactured from chrome-moly with a .224 bore with a 1:9 twist. The first step is to mount the barrel in the lathe. The barrel is precisely centered by the use of dial indicators on both sides. Again, this setup should be as precise as possible to ensure maximum accuracy from the rifle. The pin seen inside the barrel fits tightly in the bore and is precision made. I managed to get the run-out on this barrel to about 0.00025 in (0.00635 mm).
The first machining step is to face the chamber side of the barrel.
Then the tenon is cut. This is the section of the barrel that will thread into the receiver. It is turned down in size until the recoil lug will fit.
The next step is to cut threads into the tenon. I prefer doing this at the back of the lathe and to cut the threads away from the work. Doing it this way is better for me as it is more difficult to make a mistake by pulling the cutting tool away from the work too late and running into the tenon shoulder. For me, it also makes the threads look better where they stop on the tenon. Yes, I know once the rifle is put together, it will not be visible.
Of course I need to check that it all goes together.
The design of the Remington 700 call for the barrel to be counter-bored. This is where the bolt will actually fit and the reason the front of the bolt lugs was trued. This is a fairly easy step if you have the correct counter-bore tool.
Now it is time for the most critical step, cutting the chamber. This is a slow process as the reamer (the cutting tool) has to be pulled out constantly to clean both it and the inside of the barrel. There is also two reamers used in this process, a roughing and a finishing reamer.
In the next post on this build, I will attach the receiver to the barrel, assemble the trigger and test fire the rifle.