Stock/Action bedding compounds
I am going to attempt my first bedding job, and am looking for opinions on what kit or compound people recommend. I am planning on bedding a Howa barrelled action in 338WM into a JRS laminate stock.
Has anyone used the ARCAGLAS gel? What do you folks think works well? Would you go with a fiberglass product or epoxy product? I have also had Devcon Epoxy Steel putty recommended to me, any thoughts?
Acraglas Gel is so much better than conventional Acraglas that it should wear a different name. "Different" as in better. Regular Acraglas is a runny mess that's really hard to control. Never tried the Devcon on a gun, so let us know how it works if you do.
I'm down to my last tubes of the best bedding compound I've used in over 30 years, Microbed. Used to get it from Brownell's, but it's not made any more as far as I know. Just the right consistency for easy working, one hour work time, and 24 hour cure time. Folks that have been forced to switch report happiness with the Acraglass Gel along the same lines. If the Devcon works the same way, you'll be happy.
If you've not done it before, the major steps are study, plan, apply release, then go slow.
One of the hardest parts of glass bedding for most folks is deciding how deep to screw things back in after applying the bedding. Here's the neatest trick I've learned in all my years of bedding: In the area you want to bed, put in a couple of brass screws for and aft so the flat heads engage the flat surfaces of the action at just the right depth. Now relieve the wood in the area to be bedded without disturbing the screws. When it comes time to tighten down the action, the flat surfaces of the screws set the depth the action is supposed to sink to with NO guesswork. Really neat.
Lots of release compounds around, but my favorite is a little unconventional. I like Birchwood Caseys' stock wax. It's the right consistency for easy application with a q-tip, toothpicks or a small brush. Doesn't run away or slop over, yet releases as well or better than anything I have tried.
Be especially wary of excess bedding, which will flow into nooks and crannies as you tighten down the action. Best to use too little and have to bed in two steps than to have too much and get it into the trigger or something. Also, you can use Playdo to build dams to help keep it from running into open areas you don't want bedded.
Here is a great online resource for you on action bedding, pillar bedding and even barrel bedding. Cruise the site and there's lots on finishing and other useful topics, too.
I used the original Accraglas a number of years ago and switched to the gel last year. It worked just fine and is less messy. Note that I said "less" messy; it's still messy, but not as bad as the original. Couple things to do: 1) be sure to use enough release agent (a couple thorough coats at least); 2) tape the stock around the area you are bedding with masking tape to catch any squeeze-out; 3) use modeling clay to contain the area of bedding. Also: it may be easier to do the job in 2 or 3 small steps rather than 1 big step.
There may be better bedding kits out there (Midway sells the Miles Gilbert brand), but Accraglas is the only brand I've ever used.
Take your time and THINK about what your are doing. Good luck.
When you get through with your bedding project and your action IS stuck to your stock. Place the whole thing outside when its real cold (or in the deep freezer in the summer) and let stay for 10-12 hours this will help the releasing process.The action will pop out much easier, we do this with glue in bench rest rifles and heavy varmint rifles.
I have used both the gel and the original and the gel should replace the original. be sure to putty up all your casting flaws that might bond your action forever.
I used metal based body filler, yep high budget bondo, in a pinch...it is stll in my 300 rum christensen w/o a brake and 200rds later, taking the recoil well. I like the way it setup in an hour so I could get to the range and try my new stocks recoil. whatever you use for a bedding compound, use a good amount of release agent!
I'd avoid Acraglas and Bisonite for what you describe.
Consider Devcon plastic steel putty or Marine-Tex gray.
Acraglas has its use but not on recoil lug bearing surfaces of a 338WM and up, my opinion.
Bisonite is used by many benchrest shooters and is very easy to make a good bedding, but it will not hold up to the recoil and will shoot loose. I shot the M-14 in service rifle competition on a National level and would need to rebed my rifle half way through the season when they used the Bisonite. This is only w/ a .308 Nato class cartridge.
Devcon Titanium bedding with a Marine-Tex skim coat may be the most durable for a hard used and/or heavy recoiling rifles, but few are skilled to work w/ it and it is expensive for a one time bedding job. Even someone like Norm Chandler who hires skilled 2112 USMC gun cranks to build his sniper rifle has a hard time finding guys that meets his standards with the Devcon Titanium.
Devcon plastic steel putty is pretty much the benchmark for most as a bedding material and Marine-Tex gray is pretty much the benchmark for skim coats. Many have used just the Marine-Tex gray for bedding material alone w/ good success. I've used the Marine-Tex on a lightweight 375H&H to test how it would hold up. It's on my workbench now, one case ammo and one years use in the field has not loosened the bedding.
Acraglass Gel will be fine...
I've used it on several .375's and .35 Whelens, and a BUNCH of '06's and assorted lesser calibers, and it holds up and works great.
I throw their supplied release agent into the trash, and have been using Johnson's paste floor wax for about 20 years. I apply it with a small paint brush with the bristles bobbed to get into nooks and crannies before I fill them with modeling clay. I apply it to the bigger areas with a rag or sponge, then buff it down prior to applying the metal to the wood.
I also use modeling clay, as well as foam blocks, electrical and clear tape to block the epoxy from the trigger mortise, magazine box, or anywhere else that I don't want the material to flow into. On some rifles, I put a piece of tape to the underside of the barrel from about an inch and a half in front of the receiver to about two inches from the forend tip for some clearance, and a bed at the forend tip. If you want to 'float' the barrel, apply the tape full length.
Perhaps the single best thing you can do in your bedding job for longevity is to get the absolute best fit between the metal and wood PRIOR to putting the epoxy in, especially at the recoil lug. The thicker the glass, the better the chance of it self destructing.
On semi-inlet stocks that need to have final shaping and finish done, you still need to mask along the barrel channel, receiver area, and the bottom of the receiver area. Just makes life a LOT easier later.
If you keep an eye on the material, as it's setting up, there's a point where it gets stiff, but is still workable. At that point, I use a tongue depresser that I've squared off and sharpened to remove excess material and make a parting line to preclude chipping the material out of the edges when I remove the metal. You can keep a small bit of the epoxy on your work tray to monitor the cure. (I use a plastic coffee can lid as a pallet to mix and hold the material)
I get my best jobs when the room temp is right around 70-75 degrees, and stays there through the cure.
I try to let the material set for at least a couple days before I put any rounds through the rifle. Probably not necessary, but it gives me time to finish working the stock over.
It'll all work out and be fine!
OH, Brown Bear...
If you ever run across a supply of the old MicroBed that's more than you can use, send some my way. Best stuff I EVER used, terrifically convenient, especially when I wanted to make a small patch and only needed a dab. I used the MicroBed to reassemble a beautifully grained piece of walnut that had been shattered. Couldn't tell where the repair lines were, and I used that 6.5 Swede for perhaps another five years and a thousand rounds with NO defects in the repair.
Last time I saw it in Brownell's catalog was a couple years back, and when I tried to order it, they didn't even backorder it, just replied that it was gone, and wouldn't be back........
One more detail
Seems people forgot to mention how they secure the action to the stock while the bedding compound is setting up.
Whatever you do, don't use the action screws. (NOTE: those screw holes, in both the receiver and the stock, should be filled with clay or playdough or something anyway.) I've read one suggestion where the writer recommended wrapping rubber surgical tubing around the action and stock. I used something similar -- small diameter bungee cord: just wrapped it around fairly snug and tied a granny knot to keep it from slipping.
Wonder what other people do?
I use handscrews from Brownells. Before relieving stock for bedding, I seat a brass bedding screw flush under the tang and another under the front ring. This sets the depth and position of the action. Next do all your relieving. When you go to bed you can use the handscrews to suck the action down absolutely tight on top of the brass screws. Lots more accurate this way than rubber bands or whatever. The handscrews are kinda nice for saving scrwe heads too, with all the screwing and unscrewing you have to do when working inside a stock.
BTW- If you are starting from scratch and inletting a stock, you simply can't live without their inletting guide screws.