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Synthetic Stocks and Bedding

By Keith Wood

The Myth: Synthetic Stocks Don’t Require Bedding to Be Accurate

The Facts: I had a M700 built in 280 Ackley Improved. The builder never properly bedded the action into the McMillian fiberglass stock. The rifle showed promise, but never demonstrated any consistency. My loading notes list pages of schizophrenic accuracy results which left me with little confidence afield. For 10 years, I tinkered with powders, bullets and primers in hopes of finding the right recipe—I even had a well-known gunsmith “troubleshoot” it. The rifle just wouldn’t behave. 

I don’t like to ask for favors, but it was time to call one in. As a last resort, I turned the rifle over to the guys that build the most accurate rifles I’ve ever tested—Tactical Rifles, Inc. Since they guarantee their accuracy, they don’t do partial builds for customers, but I stuck out my bottom lip and talked them into this project. They re-cut the crown, refinished the metalwork and pillar-bedded the stock. The result is a rifle that won’t seem to shoot anything over 1 MOA and will put three Barnes Triple-Shocks into a 1/4-inch group at 100 yards if I don’t close my eyes and yank the trigger. I don’t think the crown was ever the issue so that means proper bedding shrank the groups on this rifle by 500 percent.

The Peek Behind the Curtain: The process of bedding involves filling the voids between the action (and sometimes the barrel) and the stock with epoxy. This dampers vibration and ensures that the action does not shift in the stock during recoil, causing erratic points of impact. “Pillar bedding” takes the process a step further by encasing the action screws in aluminum, which provides more rigidity and prevents the screws from torquing the action into a bind. Rifle accuracy is all about consistency and repeatability; the best barrel on the market won’t live up to its potential if the action isn’t held firmly into the stock. A rifle whose groups are tight but for a “flyer” in every string is a sure candidate for a bedding job.

The Expert Deferral: I asked David Rooney, whose team bedded my rifle, his thoughts on the subject: “Accuracy is about two things: alignment and harmonics. Good bedding is the primary way to address the harmonics issue. A rifle can be simplistically compared to a tuning fork, and an accurate rifle is one that makes a consistent resonant frequency upon firing. Having the stock and the barreled action resonate as one homogenous unit is half the battle towards putting bullets through the same hole.”

The Answer: Synthetic stocks should be bedded to maximize their potential. Bedding is one of the basic factors in rifle accuracy and one of the easiest to remedy. If you’re experiencing inconsistent points-of-impact or overall poor accuracy, spending a few hundred dollars on a bedding job is a good investment. Trust me, I learned it the hard way.                               

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