I use the term “super tune” loosely. I am by no means suggesting I am an authority on 10/22 rifles, nor is this AGI instructional material. I can, however, most definitely say that my simple 10/22 bedding job quickly devolved into a full blown “super tune”. I will also add right here at the beginning there is a range review! If you like you can skip to the pictures, tell me how poorly I shoot, and pick up on the next article. For all of those still interested in the story, it all started out a little like this.
For starters, let’s cover the rifle in question. My 10/22 is a Magnum Research I bought quite a few years back. I think the rifle is wonderful. It has a carbon fiber barrel, Hogue stock, and a Bushnell Banner 4-12×40 adjustable objective scope. I installed a Clark trigger kit that I worked on as well. I was able to get a nice two pound pull out of it. The Clark has an overtravel screw on the trigger shoe, and I find the trigger as acceptable as a 10/22 is going to get outside of Jard’s trigger. I also added a Tuffer Buffer and modified my bolt release; it came from the factory with a clean out hole in the rear. What more could one ask of a 10/22? The rifle always shot incredibly well and weighs maybe four pounds. I can carry it all day scouting or hunting, throw it in the truck, strap it to my field pack, or shoot it from the bench. The rifle has no preference and is literally a laser. This begs the obvious question, why was I working on the rifle?
I am glad you asked! I took the rifle out of the safe one evening to wipe it down, and as I wiped off the scope it appeared to move. Naturally I thought surely, I was seeing things, so I put the rag down and attempted to duplicate the movement. I was not seeing things! I found if I grabbed the eyepiece of the scope and stock then squeezed the receiver would rock back. I do not know how better to explain it other than the action was literally see sawing in the stock. It took a little effort to do this though. It was not as if the rifle just teetered back and forth at will. I thought there might be a remote possibility that the inertia of the bolt may be enough to make it rock when the rifle was fired. Of course, I found this quite unacceptable and set out to remedy the concern. I contacted our fearless leader here at G&G, Mr. Howes, to see if he could quiz Bob or Jack about their 10/22 bedding methods. He graciously put me in contact with Jack. Jack explained to me on the phone he and Bob’s methods and reasoning behind them; he also recommended the custom 10/22 build dvd (345 DVD). I sent off for the dvd and ordered an Acraglass gel bedding kit from Brownells on the advice of Jack Landis and Paul Smeltzer. I had my thoughts on the bedding technique and now armed with Jack’s method I figured I would watch the segment in the video and see what I thought.
As soon as I saw the dvd menu the whole project took a turn. I thought review the bedding procedure, bed the rifle, test fire the rifle, and move on with life. It didn’t quite happen that way. I saw the topics in the dvd menu and was intrigued by them and ended up watching the entire dvd set. The first topic that stood out was Jack’s segment on squaring the bolt; he also covered headspace, firing pin protrusion, firing pin shape and thickness. I was dying to scatter my rifle and measure all those components out, but I finished the video to see what else I might learn. Throughout the dvd Jack offers tips and tricks, shows tools and accessories, and explains how they all work together. When I finished the video, I decided I would check out my bolt, order the Volquartsen bedding system, extractor, and action screw that I saw in the video. While I waited on my parts to arrive, I got out my machinist square and dial calipers and scoped out my bolt. I found the bolt face was indeed square (shocking I know!), the headspace was .0435”, firing pin protrusion was .032”. Everything was looking pretty good so far. I removed the firing pin to check the tip thickness and shape. The tip was a whopping .068” and beveled in shape. I reprofiled the tip to a radius cut and thinned it to .031”. The Magnum Research bolt has a blind pin in it that guides the firing pin like Jack’s Connecticut Precision bolt he features in the video. After reinstalling my firing pin, I replaced my extractor with the new Volquartsen extractor I ordered.
Once my bolt was squared away (no pun intended), I turned my attention to my original concern. I determined my receiver had roughly .085” clearance between it and the rear area of the stock. The rear of the action as well as the barrel were essentially free floating. I have heard of guys doing this intentionally to their rifles. It may work in their particular case, but it seems counter intuitive to me. I would think that, just like my rifle, the action would teeter on the single action screw. Now the only decision left to make was how to correct the issue.
Here’s where I departed from Jack and Bob’s methods a bit. The bedding segment in the video is the method Jack described to me on the phone. It is a pressure bed method, and it makes tons of sense. For my purposes, however; I decided to deviate from the method in the video. After all Jack encouraged experimentation, and Ken has taught us that all rifles (and barrels) are different some like pressure some do not. My reasoning, whether sound or not, was since the Hogue stock is sort of flimsy near the end where I would need consistent pressure free floating may be a better option. I figured since the barrel fit the receiver really well and is very light that I could get away with free floating the barrel.
I finally removed the action from the stock, and the first order of business was to install the Volquartsen bedding system. It is essentially a pillar type device installed in the action screw hole. The kit comes with a specially designed bit to drill out the action screw hole, so the pillar can be installed. The Hogue stock material is much harder to drill than I gave it credit, but I finally made it through and installed the pillar. I then roughed up the areas inside the stock that would be bedded. After that I masked everything off and put clay in the appropriate places. I decided I would need quite a bit of material to make up the .085” gap in the rear of the stock, so I kind of formed a dam with the clay in the area at the rear that would allow the glass to be contained and build up to the action. I also found a very high V-notch roughly an inch and three quarters or so forward of the action. I reasoned the area from the V-block, that wedges the barrel to the action, to this high stock notch would help balance the action in the stock and support the first few inches or so of barrel. Hopefully the photo of my prepped stock will help. The clay dam farthest to the right is just in front of the high notch I am referencing. The Volquartsen bedding system is the washer looking object in the action screw hole. I made a small dam to prevent bedding material from going in the magazine well area and formed another between the area the action contacts the stock and the high V-notch. I made this break as to not “bind” the action. Whether that reasoning was sound or not I do not know, but it is the course I took. (now just review the text and photo until that makes sense! Sorry! Or just shake your head and move on.) At this point I put release agent on everything that needed it and mixed my glass. A quick aside, if you have ANY doubt as to if something needs release agent put on it, then by all means put some on it! I put a few bands of electrical tape around my barrel in three or four locations to help center the barrel in the channel then set the barreled action in the stock sans trigger group. I used surgical tubing to tie the action down in the stock and wiped the excess that oozed out with a rag and ethyl alcohol. At this point, there was little to do besides wait and pray I had not glued my rifle together.
The next day to my amazement I found, after a little bit of effort, my rifle would indeed come out of its stock. The bedded area looked really good. I had a picture, but you cannot tell anything from it because the fiberglass is dyed black and in a black stock. Maybe next time I should dye it hot pink. After WAY, more time than I thought it would take to clean everything up, I was ready to assemble my rifle. The action fit the stock incredibly well, so I then test fit the trigger group. I had to do some inletting to get the trigger group to fit. I did this with the barreled action removed and simply inletting until the trigger group fit back in the stock. The moment of truth had arrived, I assembled my trigger group to the barreled action and placed it in the stock. Something was horribly wrong! I could not get the rifle to fit the stock! Holy cow what did I mess up here! I again disassembled things and test fit simply the barreled action without an issue. I removed it and installed simply the trigger group only with no issue. Finally, it dawned on me, by adding so much material in the rear of the stock the gap between the trigger group and receiver was now smaller than the area allotted for it in the stock. To remedy this, I took my Dremel and relieved the shelf at the rear of the stock until the barreled action and trigger assembly slipped into the stock as it should. Then I torqued my action down with the slightly shorter Volquartsen screw to 20 in-lbs. The area I am speaking of is the little shelf looking area in the photo of the inverted stock. You can kind of see it is a little grayish from being relieved by my small cylinder stone.
Long story short, how does it shoot? You tell me. I got a chance to go to the range, so I figured I would put it through its paces for you guys. I was not feeling or shooting too well that day, but I feel the results were conclusive enough. I started out by fouling the barrel. I simply loaded 10 rounds in a magazine and shot them to build a coating of wax in the clean barrel. I took a break and decided to check my zero. The hole on the target at the 6:30 position is my sighter. I adjusted and fired a three-shot group which is just above the sighter. I was happy with my zero and ecstatic with my group. The three-shot hole measures .227” not bad for a bad day. All ecstatic, excited, and jittery I lobbed a five-shot volley in to the two of diamonds. This rifle may not have it all in spades, but diamonds aren’t looking so bad! At the five-shot cluster’s widest point it measures .292”. I was really feeling my oats by now and decided to tape a card to my target frame and attempt to split it. I gave it one attempt. I sort of got it. Did I make a poor shot, did the round roll out on its own, or did taping the entire side down affect the shot? I do not know, but I will take it. I came really close. All shots were fired from little more than a card table off Caldwell shooting bags with Federal Gold Medal ammunition at 25 yards on an indoor range. The farthest distance that could be shot on the indoor range was 25 yards.
This was a fun and rewarding project for sure. Maybe I have pioneered a bedding technique for the Hogue stocked carbon fiber barreled rifles. In any event, if you are interested in these rifles and customizing them check out the dvd. Jack is an excellent teacher and the platform is an easy one to learn some smithing on and twice as fun to shoot!