Properly bedding and finishing your rifle will not only help it look a million bucks, but will seriously enhance your accuracy as well. In this blog series I’ll be looking at bedding and finishing my Boyds Prairie Hunter stock for my Swedish Mauser.
The stock I’ve chosen for my small ring Husqvarna chambered in 6.5×55 is a laminate from Boyds Gunstocks, in their Prairie Hunter shape with a nutmeg finish. The stock has more weight than my current one, absorbing some more recoil, but also balancing well against the almost half a kilo of suppressor on the other end. It also has a more appropriate length of pull, and a nice recoil pad that not only reduces kick, but also gives me that little bit of extra length.
This stock has been provided with a few nice extras, including an adjustable comb and synthetic pistol grip and forend caps.
For some stocks, Boyds only provides their products unfinished, which is the case here. This is because some rifles come in so many variations of configuration, that they will necessarily require some fitting by the user. In this case it’s differences in bolt handle that make it a must for users to complete their own stock. Many older Mausers still have their straight bolt handles, but increasingly if you come across an old Swede, the bolt handle will be bent back, or you could even have an M38 bolt – or similar – which comes turned down from the factory.
After finishing this, and any other inletting adjustments needed, you can then apply your choice of protective coating. While Boyds recommends a polyurethane, I really like the hand-rubbed oil look, so that’s what I’ll be trying with this project. My Pro Varmint stock from Boyds does have the polyurethane finish from the factory, and I must admit, it looks good and is very hard-wearing. But hey, since I’m doing this bit myself, I may as well try something different.
The bedding compound
There are various bedding compounds and systems on the market, and you have some serious research and decision-making to do. Some newer factory rifles will come with an aluminium bedding block, while others are pillar-bedded.
Rifles that are bedded after the fact can be done in several ways, depending on your capability, tools, budget (if your smith is doing it), desired application and the needs of your rifle’s action.
Generally people choose between pillar or glass bedding, or both. Then there’s also a full, front or front-and-rear glass bedding job. Pillar bedding uses metal pillars, such as aluminium or stainless steel, to eliminate the risk of compression or crush when tightening the king screws.
The pillars are tubes that are epoxied in the action screw holes, for the screws to go through. This way, when the wood expands and contracts, or is put under pressure between the floor metal and action, the screws can always be done up to the same point, as the metal is pretty much impervious to these stresses.
Glass bedding is the process of using a compound, that is pretty much an epoxy in most cases, that is reinforced in a fibreglass-like way. The compound I prefer is Nathan Foster’s Matchgrade Bedding Compound, which is steel reinforced, and easy to apply.
Check back in for Part 2, where I’ll go over the first steps of the stock prep and bedding process.