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  Question For Ron
Posted by: N8QGE - 04-11-2004, 11:38 AM - Forum: Questions and Answers - Replies (10)

Quote:As long as you can buy three nine volt batteries, pure silver and distilled water, you can have the stuff.

Ok, call me somewhat uninformed, but what are the plans for making this stuff?

Disclaimer: I understand that the risk that I may be taking is of my own free will and that I will hold no one responsible other than myself.

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  Ron Hood's Shoulder Bag
Posted by: sgteldridge - 04-11-2004, 04:44 AM - Forum: Questions and Answers - Replies (17)

were did you get that leather shoulder bag i see in some of the videos?did you make it? or buy it somewere?

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  Round File Striker?
Posted by: nevada - 04-11-2004, 04:08 AM - Forum: Questions and Answers - Replies (5)

i thought i saw an article somewhere, by someone, on turning a round file into a "C" striker for flint and steel fire making. maybe it was american survival guide or backwoods magazine - maybe someone knows what im refering to?

i do remember the author using a propane torch to bend the file...would this ruin the temper for making sparks? <img src='http://www.hoodswoods.net/IVB/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Sad' />

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Posted by: wmerrin - 04-11-2004, 03:17 AM - Forum: Weapons FAQ - No Replies

Subject: Need a little help

Posted By: turtle - Registered User

Posts: 175

Posted At: (5/30/02 8:49 am)

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I'm in the process of developing loads for a Rem. 25/06. I've found a good shooting load but have a question regarding parralax in scopes. My bench is not T shaped but more like a picnic table. When I am in position to shoot it is very hard to get a full field of view without pressing my chest into the table. Without doing this the field of view isn't full but black around the edges. This appears to contribute to larger group sizes. The scope is a 4X14 Leopold Vari X III set on 14X when shooting. Should the field of view be full when precision shooting? and if it is not will this effect group size? Thanks


Subject: The Factotum Speaks

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 286

Posted At: (5/30/02 11:43 am)

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Rifle-Scope Arcania

Once again, I see that my second-intellect (or what remains of it) is called upon to shed the most feeble light in the darkness of ignorance. Or something like that.

I imagine many Forum members are less than satisfied with their telescopic sights, and now we have an entire generation which has grown up shooting with nothing but telescopic sights.

The problem you describe ("a question regarding parralax in scopes . . . . When I am in position to shoot it is very hard to get a full field of view without pressing my chest into the table. Without doing this the field of view isn't full but black around the edges") isn’t parallax at all, nor is it really Field of View; rather, it’s eye-relief and exit-pupil related. So let’s define a couple to terms.

Eye relief is the distance your eye must be from the ocular lens (the lens closest to your face). In the case of the Leupold 4.5-14 Vari X III, the eye relief is between five inches (at the lower magnification range) and 3.7 inches (at the higher magnification range). Depending on the design of the scope itself, the "sweet spot" of the eye-relief’s range can be critical--especially at the higher magnifications. With a 14-power glass, I imagine you’ve got to position your eye within five millimeters or so, exactly, in order to get an accurate, consistant sight picture.

Why is this? Partly because of the scope’s exit pupil diameter--again exacerbated and increasingly critical at high magnifications. Exit pupil diameter is the amount of light (or in this instance the diameter of the image) transmitted to your eye through the ocular lens of the sight. It’s easy to compute for telescopic sights, binoculars, and so on: simply take the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters (the lens far away from your eye) and divide that number by the magnification. For example, a pair of seven-power binoculars with 35mm objective lenses has a 5mm exit pupil diameter (35 divided by 7 = 5); a pair of seven-power binoculars with 50mm objective lenses has a 7.1mm exit pupil diameter (50 divided by 7 = 7.14).

Your Leupold Vari X III 4.5-14 may have either a 40mm or a 50mm objective lens (Leupold produces two versions). At 14 power, you can see that the exit pupil is only 3.6mm (for the 50mm objective) or a even smaller 2.8mm (for the 40mm objective). While both of these figures are quite good for such a high magnification, they’re still modest nonetheless.

(An aside here--as the iris in the human eye opens and closes, it reveals a pupil pf about 2.5mm under very bright light, of about 5mm in the light of early morning or evening, and of a maximum of about 7mm at night--although as one’s eyes age, the range constricts, too. Therefore, theoretically we never need a pair of binoculars or a scope with an exit pupil diameter in excess of 7mm for light transmission--our eyes can’t use more--although larger exit pupils are easier to pick up ard are less critical in their viewing.)

Parallax, now, is something else entirely, and while of interest it’s not your problem. Parallax is the apparent movement of the target in the scope as you move your eye around the ocular lens.

Still with us? Here’s what you need to do to resolve your particular problem.

One, you MUST line the center of your eye’s pupil with the optical center of the telescopic sight. You mention your shooting bench’s construction as an issue. Fix it. The bench itself is not the problem--it’s the way you, your rifle, the bench and your seat all line up. Simply, sandbag the rifle higher (use anything solid--40-pound sack of cat litter or dog food will work just fine). Just as good, shoot from prone over a solid rest. And remember, that rest (whether on the bench, prone, or in the field) must never contact the barrel directly, but only the rifle’s stock).

Big glass makes precise aiming easier, but the tradeoff is often ergonomic unfriendliness--exactly what you’re experiencing. At the whole other end of the scale, the Leupold M8 2.5-power Intermediate Eye Relief (IER) "Scout Scope" on my Steyr offers a whopping 11mm exit pupil and more than nine inches of non-critical eye relief. Yes, it’s an apples-and-oranges comparison to your 14-power dilemma, but it serves to illustrate the point. I’ve shot with scopes as high as 32 power, and they’re often not very user friendly.

You might try dialing down your Leupold’s magnification for a bit--it is a variable, after all. And take a look at the entire package--how far you can slide the scope in the rings, how high the ring/base combination puts the scope above your rifle’s bore, how high and straight your stock’s comb is.

Your rifle is a machine which needs to fit you as well as a comfortable pair of shore. It sounds as though yours doesn’t just yet--at least not in combination with your shooting bench. Change things until it does--and start with the way the rifle sits on the bench.

Best of luck with that .25-’06--you’ve got a good piece of glass there, albeit a bit on the powerful side. Make it work for you.

Regards, and hope this has been of some help,



Subject: ML...

Posted By: turtle - Registered User

Posts: 176

Posted At: (5/30/02 1:20 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del

Many thanks for the information. As usual, you came through. So a little clarification. Eye relief is important and the "sweet spot" should be found. Your eye must be exactly centered with the rear lens or the bullet could print differently? I understand I have work to do in positioning myself at the bench I believe I'll start from scratch. By the way, once I obtained a "full field" of view my second 3 shot group was .636 (Extreme to Extreme and backing out .257). This was with IMR 4831 87 gr. Sierra bullets seated .001 off the lands. Again I Thank You for your help.


Subject: Additional Clarification

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 287

Posted At: (5/30/02 2:50 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del


Your question: "Eye relief is important and the ‘sweet spot’ should be found. Your eye must be exactly centered with the rear lens or the bullet could print differently?"

The two (centering your eye with the optical center of the telescopic sight and proper eye relief) are related.

All telescopic sights or binoculars have a range of eye relief (the "sweet spot") where the image is sharp from edge to edge with none of the black fuzziness around the edges you’ve previously described. Most of the time, as magnification increases, that range decreases, and consequently becomes more critical. In practical terms most low-magnification rifle scopes offer as much as two inches of eye-relief range, and some high-magnification models as little as a quarter-inch. (The eye-relief number you see quoted by most manufacturers is not the range per se, but the distance from the ocular lens to the middle of the range.) So long as your eye is within that range, exact placement of your pupil within the scope’s centerline, while desirable, is not absolutely essential, and the target should not appear to shift its location on the aiming reticle--if it does, then the issue is parallax. When you are outside of the range (the situation you originally described), accurate shooting, while still possible, is exponentially more difficult, and requires that the optical center of the scope and the center of the eye be precisely in line from shot to shot--a difficult task.

So first, you need to do all your shooting within the (short) range of proper eye relief when using your scope set at 14 power. As you’ve noted, when you did, you achieved superior results.

* * * * *

A couple of thoughts on magnification

"If a little is good, and more is better, than too much must be just right." Whether it’s telescopic sight magnification, horsepower, or alcohol consumption, that philosophy--while probably no stranger to most on this Forum--leads unswervingly to one point, and it’s not pretty.

High-magnification riflescopes seem like such a fine idea--the magnification makes truly hair-splitting points of aim possible. And when shooting truly small targets at great distance with a precision rifle, high magnification makes sense--to a point.

High-magnification scopes do have some significant drawbacks, though. First, they tend to be expensive. Second, they’re almost always heavy. Third, in order to produce a usable exit pupil, they must use large objective lenses, often in the 50mm range, and this means they must be mounted high above the bore, a condition which precludes proper head position on many rifle stocks. Above 10-12X, the exit-pupil size diminishes enough to warrant note in anything but bright light. Eye relief becomes critical. They offer more limited fields of view, making it more difficult to locate a target you’ve spotted with the naked eye or with a more modest pair of binoculars (a condition known as "getting lost in the scope). Finally, because they exaggerate errors in hold, in anything but a rock-solid shooting position they result in "chasing the scope" (trying to compensate for the crosshairs moving on the target).

A 14X sight on a .25-’06, by today’s standards, is probably not viewed as excessive by most, providing the shooter is gunning for squirrel-sized targets in the 300-yard range. When shooting something as large as a deer at 100 yards, 14X is a huge liability.

Most shooters who purchase scopes up in this magnification range choose variables, believing them to allow more versatility. They do, but only if used correctly. Always move from shot to shot with your scope set on its lowest power, and only dial up the magnification once you have located and decided upon your target.

Some shooters choose heavy, expensive high-magnification variables because they think, in the long run, they’re actually saving the expense and weight of having to purchase and carry a spotting scope or a pair of binoculars. Wrong! It is an exceedingly poor practice to intentionally point a firearm at anything you do not tend to destroy (Rule Number Two). NEVER use your rifle’s scope to "glass" a target, and don’t shoot with anyone who does.

High-magnification scopes have their place, but they are specialized tools. Before you opt for one, make sure you need its features and are willing to live with its drawbacks. And while those drawbacks are apparent on the bench, often in the field, as the scope’s magnification goes up, often so does the magnification of the drawbacks.


The Four Rules:


All firearms are loaded.


Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy.


Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.


Be sure of your target and what is behind it.


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  So Who's Still Wearing Mocs?
Posted by: Keeler - 04-11-2004, 02:56 AM - Forum: Questions and Answers - Replies (21)

Normally during the day I have to wear workboots/shoes, but after that into my carl dyers mocs. Just wondering if I was the only one still wearing primitive footgear?Come rain or shine mine have provided excellent service.

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  Measuring Trigger Pulls
Posted by: wmerrin - 04-11-2004, 02:46 AM - Forum: Weapons FAQ - No Replies

Subject: Measuring Trigger Letoff

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 272

Posted At: (4/29/02 4:02 pm)

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Measuring Trigger Pulls

Some time ago, the subject of measuring the weight of a trigger’s release came up. Of course, the correct procedure is to use a dedicated trigger-pull gauge such as sold by Lyman or RCBS.

For those Forum members who are either too thrifty to spend the $50 or so for such a device, or who only plan to use it once or twice and put it away, there is a workable alternative.

First, make sure the firearm in question is unloaded. Then take an empty gallon milk jug, and tie a short loop of string through the jug’s handle and over the trigger--the string should run in one side of the triggerguard and out the other so it pulls straight down and not to one side, and it should be short enough that the jug is suspended only a couple of inches below the trigger itself. Next, cock the action, and make sure the safety is off. Finally, begin slowly filling the jug with water until the trigger releases.

At this point, you have two options: First, you may take the jug and water to a post office and weigh them together to get the exact weight of trigger release. Second, simply pour the water into a measuring cup at home, and calculate the weight.

How to do that? "A pint’s a pound the world around," my old man used to say. He’s largely correct, too: A gallon of water (eight pints or 128 fluid ounces) weighs 8.345 pounds (8 pounds, 5.5 ounces) Every ounce of water you decant weighs 0.0652 pounds (1.043 ounces by dry weight). Remember to factor in the weight of the milk jug. (No scale? Your old Uncle ML has just measured one for you, and it came in at 2.3 ounces empty. Your milk jug’s mileage may vary, blah blah blah.)

Our metric friends have things a little easier, as one ml (milliliter) of water weighs exactly 100 grams.

If your trigger pull is more than eight pounds (one gallon), measuring its letoff is the least of your problems.

And a little piece of informational lagniappe: a gallon of gasoline weighs 6.1 pounds, and a gallon of motor oil weights 7.5 pounds.

Have fun,



Edited by: ML at: 4/29/02 6:35:26 pm


Subject: Very cool and another question

Posted By: David R - Registered User

Posts: 109

Posted At: (4/30/02 11:59 am)

Reply | Edit | Del

So, i have just finished two books from STTU (hope i said that right :-) on marksmenship and tactical stuff. I am reading everything that I can get my hands on ...

my question is.. so a person finds out that the trigger has an 8lb pull. Now what? How do I get to a 3.5lb trigger pull? That seems to be the number that I have seen floating around. What is the right trigger weight?



P.S. Thanks to Bill Hay and ML earlier for your answers on why Glass Bedding. You guys have really been helping me a lot!


Subject: Triggers

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 273

Posted At: (4/30/02 1:07 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del

There’s nothing "magic" or absolute about 3.5 pounds per se, although for many rifles it’s a worthy goal. When the trigger pull is greater than the weight of the rifle, life becomes more difficult, but many rifles weigh in excess of seven or eight pounds.

Some rifles--especially autoloaders--really need heavier trigger pulls. The M1 Garand, for example, is seldom safely reduced below 4.5 or 5 pounds, so this 3.5 goal is really for bolt guns and single shots.

No less an authority than the great Jeff Cooper has gone on record as saying that trigger-release weight alone is not the primary concern--a trigger’s crispness, lack of creep, and lack of overtravel is. From the Guru himself:

"The most essential element of the ‘shootability’ of rifle or pistol is its trigger action. The ideal trigger breaks clean without telling the shooter that it is about to do so. This quality is generally referred to as ‘crispness’ and does not refer to trigger weight. A two-stage trigger, which is what I prefer, moves slightly and smoothly before it reaches ignition pressure. With a single-stage action, the trigger does not move perceptibly without ignition pressure. In either case, there appears to be a consensus that 3.5 to 4 pounds pressure is the correct weight. Actually weight is a good deal less important than crispness. A trigger may be quite light, but still ‘mushy’ in the sense that it moves perceptibly when activated. Such movement is called creep, but it is not ‘take-up,’ which occurs before the trigger has reached the point of ignition pressure.

"Superior trigger action is more of a help to the shooter in snapshooting than in slow-fire, but a really good trigger is the first thing to look for in the selection of any rifle. When people ask what rifle they should bring to class here at school, my answer has always been, ‘bring the one with the best trigger.’"1

That noted, we come to the second part of your question: "What can I do about it?" Some rifles (notably Remington 700s) permit trigger adjustment simply by turning screws. On other non-adjustable designs, lightening the trigger and cleaning up its action is achieved by altering the trigger and sear surfaces with a sharpening stone, and through alterations to the trigger spring(s). This course typically requires some skill, and the results--good or bad--are generally irreversible without purchasing new parts. It’s tempting to take your stone work just a little too far and produce an unsafe trigger. In addition, some triggers/sears are case-hardened, and stoning through the thin case treatment exposes the soft metal, which wears quickly and returns a poor trigger with use.

Perhaps the best solution of all is the purchase of an aftermarket trigger. Thankfully, there are several really excellent designs around: Timney, Dayton, Kepplinger, Bold, and Shilen all produce outstanding aftermarket triggers for a variety of modern and vintage rifles. (God bless these folks for keeping the faith in such a litigious product-liability atmosphere!) Prices generally range from $40 to $100 or so. Often a little additional inletting is required, but not much more. The specifics, of course, vary from brand to brand and rifle to rifle.

Recently I installed a Timney trigger ($37.99 from Cabela’s--see link below) in one of my Swedish M96 Mausers. Excellent results--I didn’t even bother re-adjusting the unit from the Timney factory specifications. I did have to relieve some metal in the triggerguard and some wood in the stock--maybe an hour’s fine work with a die grinder and a file. Of course, a good gunsmith could do this for you as well.

(Cabela’s Link)


Hope that helps!

Good shooting,


1 Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries, Volume Nine, Number 14; December, 2001.


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  Barrels And Bayonets
Posted by: wmerrin - 04-11-2004, 02:41 AM - Forum: Weapons FAQ - No Replies

[A continuation of the "Beddiing and Rifles" post]

Subject: interesting snipet from an article - relates to your post

Posted By: David R - Registered User

Posts: 105

Posted At: (4/23/02 3:00 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del

Thank you ML, once again I see that I have A LOT!!! to learn!

Here is a snippet that I came across... goes nicely with what you were saying about hanging things off your firearm.

"The Model 1944 Carbine was designed with the earlier Russian Model 1938 Carbine as an official blueprint, with the only major deviation in overall design being the addition of some form of bayonet. Bayonet testing was undertaken in 1943, with a specimen designed by N.S. Semin becoming design of choice. The selected bayonet was a permanent side folder and seemed the perfect solution to the Soviet dilemma. The short length of the carbine would not be affected in normal use and the side- folding bayonet could smoothly be extended when necessity arose. The added convenience of a permanently attached 15.1 inch crucifix bayonet was that this was one less item the Red Army soldier would be forced to carry, or lose for that matter. The carbine can be fired with the bayonet folded in place or extended, ***but it is important to note that the M44 was designed to be fired with the bayonet in the extended position. This design fact means when the bayonet is not extended, the point of aim/impact changes. ***"

for the complete article:



Subject: Barrels and Bayonets

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 269

Posted At: (4/25/02 11:51 am)

Reply | Edit | Del

Once again, we see Mr. Roberts has been paying attention in class. Most commendable.

Here’s another example. In 1939, our friends across the pond (the English) adopted a new infantry weapon--the Rifle No. 4. Superficially, this looks much like the famous SMLE (Short Magazine Lee Enfield) or Rifle No. 1, Mk III, and indeed does use the same .303 British cartridge. In actuality few parts are common between the two. As an over-simplification, the British used the SMLE in the First World War, and the Rifle No. 4 (in various "Marks" or modifications)--supplanted by refurbished SMLE--in the Second World War.

Very early versions of Rifle No. 4 used an "L"-shaped flip-up twin aperture rear sight: One aperture was regulated to 300 yards, and one for 600 yards. Distances in between required the soldier to attach or detach his bayonet to change point of impact. (Alternate sources complicate this further, calling out the regulation of the 300-yard sight for use with the bayonet and the 600-yard sight for use without the bayonet.)

Unlike the SMLE Rifle No.1, Mk. III, the Rifle No. 4’s bayonet attached directly to the barrel, and caused the point of impact to shift about NINE INCHES at 100 yards (nine inches low).

Obviously, this was a very poor system, and subsequent "Marks" of the Rifle No. 4 used a more conventionally adjusted rear aperture sight; many of the twin-aperture rifles were later refit with this superior sight as well.

Another oft-overlooked issue concerns a forward sling swivel attached to the barrel itself. This is common practice with really big, heavy recoiling "African" calibers, so the weapon’s forward swivel stud doesn’t cut the shooter’s forward hand under recoil. But we also see it on a far-more-common arm--the M16 or its civilian counterpart AR-15. Here, the forward swivel is attached to the front-sight assembly (which of course is attached directly to the barrel).

If you use a tight sling when you are shooting from a supported left elbow (as you well should), sling tension may significantly bend the barrel, changing the harmonics and moving point of impact (usually down as well, although the amount of deviation depends on the tension of the sling). Similarly, resting the barrel against anything (a fencepost, a tree, or over sandbags or a log) will also change impact, although in these cases, as Mr. Hay states with his "pencil" example, the point of impact will usually move away from the direction of the rest’s influence.



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  Bedding And Rifles
Posted by: wmerrin - 04-11-2004, 02:34 AM - Forum: Weapons FAQ - No Replies

Subject: Bedding (Long)

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 266

Posted At: (4/18/02 6:17 pm)

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(The following stands partially as a response to Mr. Roberts’ question of 11 April, 2002, [see link here] [url="http://pub1.ezboard.com/fhoodlumsweaponsprimitiveandmodern.showMessage?topicID=647.topic"]http://pub1.ezboard.com/fhoodlumsweaponspr...picID=647.topic[/url]

in which he asked an intelligent question about rifle bedding. Several Forum members replied, some with correct information, others with information which required a little clarification. Forgive my tardy response, but it’s taken me a while to compose what I hope will be a thorough and helpful read. So, settle back with your favorite hot or cold libation, because your old Uncle ML is going to ramble on for a bit.)

Bedding and Rifles

No matter the endeavor, man seems to always seek an advantage. How can I make fire more efficiently? How can I throw this rock a little farther? And, in our case here, how can I make my rifle shoot more accurately?

To that last point, the topic of "bedding" often comes up, and justifiably so. Bedding, per se, is concerned with how the metal parts of a firearm come in contact with the stock. In general, we’re concerned with two areas: a rifle’s barrel, and its receiver or action. Let’s take a look at what goes right, what goes wrong, and what we can do about it.

A rifle’s stocking generally serves to make the unfriendly metal of the weapon more ergonomically inviting: i.e., as a glorified handle, it gives us a place to hold on. In some instances, it may also serve as a structure integral to the weapon itself. For example, in the Remington Nylon 66 family of .22 rifles, the one-piece stock forms an integral part of the receiver; also, older firearms, especially sidelock percussion guns of Civil War vintage, use the stock as an essential structural element--the lock and the barrel both mount separately to the stock.

We’ll consider the stock/receiver interface first.

Not all firearms join the stock and receiver in the same way. Look, for example, at a typical lever-action rifle and a typical bolt-action rifle. With the lever gun, we see the stock only joining the receiver at the receiver’s very rear, and only gripped via a pair of tangs which project from the back of the receiver proper. With a typical bolt gun, the receiver lies in a deep groove in the stock (or bed, if you will), like a hot dog in a bun, although here, too, there are exceptions.

This wood-to-metal fit, as other Forum members have pointed out, is critical. If it is too sloppy, the action will flop around from shot to shot, and as it moves, the stock’s structure will contact different parts of the action with different pressures. In addition, particularly with heavy-recoiling arms, the action will batter a loose-fitting stock and eventually split it. If the wood-to-metal fit is too tight, the action will be stressed and bent before a single shot is fired, and this too is detrimental to accuracy.

So, what to do? In the old days, skilled craftsmen working with fine-grained walnut stocks, sharp-edged scrapers, and lamp black produced gunstocks which fit their actions perfectly. Ah, but they had the skill, and labor was cheap. Today, high-speed pantographs hog out generous troughs in questionable wood, the ill-trained wage slaves spend only seconds fitting action to stock in the spirit of mass production. Consider, though, that even a poor working stiff such as yours truly can purchase a truly fine rifle for less than a week’s pay, whereas in the hand-fitting days, firearms were the privilege of the upper classes exclusively--maybe this mass-production stuff ain’t such a bad idea after all.

So while metallurgy and affordability have made exceptional strides over the last century, attention to proper bedding has suffered.

Sometime between 1920 and 1950 or so, this country produced a fine generation of handymen, people who could rewire a lamp, fix their own automobile, and engage in gunsmithing beyond simply swabbing out a bore. These men could run a lathe (wood or metal), weld with gas bottles or an electric arc, and understood about refinishing wood. Sadly, they are old or gone now, replace by and large with a generation who keep their tools in a drawer in the kitchen rather in a well-equipped basement or garage shop, and that’s if they have any tools at all.

Those old handymen discovered many ways to improve their firearms, often requiring little in terms of cash outlay. Correcting poor factory bedding was a fine place to start.

If a stock is too tight in its relationship to the receiver, it’s a relatively simple matter scrape or pare away the wood in question. But what if a stock is too loose? Or, as is most often the case, too tight in some spots and too loose in others? And what to do if the stock is high-centered, and when one tightens down the front and rear action screws the poor receiver bends as though it’s been placed on a medieval torture instrument like The Great Wheel?

Enter the age of synthetic bedding. Gunsmiths discovered that by relieving the stock around the action and then introducing some sort of synthetic bedding material, they could get a perfect, stress-free stock/action fit without much trouble. Various media is applicable here: fiberglass in resin (the so-called "glass" bedding), metal-filled epoxy, even automotive body compound ("Bondo"). The goal is the same: to produce a stock-to-metal fit with no high spots, no low spots, no voids and no pressure points.

Some actions react more favorably to this than others, and every action has its own peculiarities. The Remington 700 family, with its tubular-steel action-body construction, seems happily tolerant of indifferent inletting, and ironically, its shape, initially chosen for ease of manufacture, makes it easy to inlet for as well. Mauser actions, with their flat bottoms and integral recoil lugs, require a bit more care, but produce rewarding results. Mausers, too, require deliberate attention to the area around their stout magazine boxes, as these act as giant secondary recoil lugs, not true with the pressed-sheet mag boxes of more modern Winchester or Remingtons, but Mausers reward this attention, too.

It’s not my intention to provide how-to, step-by-step glass-bedding instruction here: Different actions require different tricks, the M1 Garand in particular. However, in general, the drill is the same, and here’s a greatly simplified version: Relieve enough stock material to provide room for the bedding compound, apply some sort of release agent to the action so you don’t glue it in place, apply the viscous goo, set the action into the stock, let the goo harden, remove the excess, reassemble the rifle, and enjoy the potential for enhanced accuracy.

Please note that synthetic bedding will no more make a well-made rifle shoot better than new sparkplugs will make an already well-running automobile run better. Unfortunately, as we’ve observed, many rifles today can use help.

Forum Member Vector mentions "pillar bedding." This applies specifically to bolt-action rifles with two screws joining the barreled action to the stock, almost always through the floorplate/triggerguard assembly. Two thick, hollow pillars are inserted into the stock where the two action screws are located; the screws themselves fit through the hollow center sections of these pillars. If these pillars have been installed correctly, the surfaces which contact the bottom of the receiver have been perfectly matched.

Pillar bedding is fast and easy, and may help some bedding problems. It does nothing to alleviate poor lateral bedding, and will not eliminate a "high-center" condition. It does greatly help with consistent torque values when assembling action to stock. It’s clearly better than poor conventional bedding, but not as good as the best bedding, be that hand-fit or synthetic.

And an aside: Synthetic stocks neither warp nor swell as do wood stocks, but their bedding may be no better. In fact, inexpensive plastic stocks are often inlet very poorly, and may evidence extremely poor bedding. Again, the solution is synthetic bedding.

In the last 20 years, we’ve seen a metal-to-metal type of bedding, which may produce very good results. H-S Precision riflestocks are a fine example of this (see site below).


They build an aluminum bedding block into their stocks, in theory offering a perfect action-to-stock fit.

Another similar strategy, taken even further, is in the form of Accuracy International’s complete metal chassis (see link below).


In this latter system, the rifle’s action bolts to a machined metal chassis, and the "stock" is merely a convenient and user-friendly handle, similar in concept to the slab-side grips on your M1911 .45 Auto pistol.

Ready for a stretch? Because here comes chapter two.

Barrels: Bedding and Floating

Barrels are the second part of this bedding issue. Or, probably more correctly, the absence of bedding. You see, when a shot is fired through a barrel, a lot goes on which is not visible to the naked eye. The barrel winds up and cracks like a whip. The barrel resonates and rings like a tuning fork. And the barrel gets hot, and grows in both diameter and length.

First off, you’ve got to understand that very few rifle barrels are really straight, and even fewer are manufactured straight to being with. I’ve had the privilege of standing in the old Mauserfabrik works in Oberndorf am Neckar and examining their 130-year-old turret-handled barrel-straightening press. With skill, a crooked barrel can be quite successfully straightened, and with a high degree of accuracy. When the barrel gets hot, though, it may tend to "walk" in the direction of the original bend. Even if a barrel has not been straightened, stresses incipient in the original manufacturing process remain. So-called "cryogenic" treatment of barrels claims to address this, but I remain very skeptical. Two things do seem to mitigate this warping, though: more barrel mass (diameter), and the hammer-forging process of rifling a barrel.

Nevertheless, even big, fat, stiff barrels as well as hammer-forged barrels heat up, whip, and resonate, although often to a lesser extent, or I should say more correctly to that last point, at a lesser frequency.

Anything pressing against a barrel’s surface tends to interfere with these movements, and as the barrel heats often makes a bad situation worse. Hence, barrels are often "free floated"; that is, the stock material is relieved all around the barrel so the barrel and stock do not touch at all. You don’t need much room--just a couple thousands of an inch (the thickness of a dollar bill or a business card) are enough. And the best results are often found if the chamber area of the barrel is well bedded for the first two inches or so, and the rest of the barrel floated.

Clearly, junk touching the barrel does little good. Hang a bayonet off the end of your barrel, and the accuracy will take a wild shift, guaranteed (note that some enlightened designs attach a bayonet without contacting the barrel at all). Likewise a "clip-on" bipod which attaches to the barrel rather than to the stock. Gas pistons hung off the barrel such as the M1 Garand’s don’t help much either, nor do the handguards of the M16 family (target shooters have come up with a free-floating handguard for this particular weapon). Lever guns often suffer from having a magazine tube banded to the barrel and the forend hung off that. Those gorgeous Mannlicher stocks you see on European carbines? You’ll never see them on a serious target gun. Fluting a barrel does not make it any stiffer than a barrel of the same diameter, but will make it lighter, and consequently stiffer than a smaller-diameter barrel of the same weight, while also increasing surface area.

There are a couple of exceptions to this free-floating scenario, though. Since a barrel surges like a rung spring, and a light barrel surges worse than a heavy one, a little damping may often help accuracy. This damping takes the form of forend pressure--a small pad of material between the forend of the rifle and contacting the barrel’s underside. Such "preloading" of the barrel acts exactly as the shock absorber in your car, or as a finger applied to a tuning fork or a rung bell, damping out the barrel’s surge and resonance. How much pressure to apply? This is another case-by-case scenario, although about seven pounds seems to produce good results with most sporter-weight barrels. How to arrive at that figure? By altering the height (thickness) of the forend pad contacting the barrel. Bed the action first, and then alter the height of the contact pad to fine-tune.

And for every rule, there’s an exception: Many rifles chambered for the .22 Rimfire using very, very heavy barrels may actually shoot better if the barrel is completely contact bedded and the action is free-floated, a common case with the popular Ruger 10/22.

Please remember, these aren’t miracle accuracy cures--it’s just a matter of setting things right, and putting an action and stock together the way they should have been assembled in the first place.

* * * * *

Got an old rifle with a wandering zero? Groups aren’t as tight as you’d like them to be? Check your bedding, and if you find it deficient, then by all means do something about it. But keep your eyes open to the whole package. My brother, who’s hunted hard with a .270 Winchester over the last 20 years, recently went on a once-in-a-lifetime hunt. Rather than buy a new rifle, he merely gave that old bolt gun a thorough going over, and had the barrel re-crowned. It shot better than new. Big trophy.

Look at the whole picture. Practice the four rules. And good shooting.




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  Altitude And Bullet Drop.
Posted by: wmerrin - 04-11-2004, 02:22 AM - Forum: Weapons FAQ - No Replies

Subject: Altitude and bullet drop.

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 262

Posted At: (4/5/02 4:38 pm)

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The influence of altitude on rifle-bullet drop.

I’m convinced that my little 6.5 x 55 Husqvarna rifle is happier if it spends a few days each year out in the snow. So, being the indulgent caretaker, I took it out cross-country skiing a couple of weeks ago. At one point, I managed to drag my pathetic carcass up to 11,700 feet--nothing to write home about normally, but an accomplishment that day nonetheless as the snow conditions were pretty grim, the terrain pretty steep, and I’d started at around 8000 feet.

It was only me and the Husqvarna, with nobody else to talk to. On one particularly long, uphill slog, my mind began to wander: Since the air was so thin up here, what effect would that have on a bullet’s point of impact compared to, say, sea level?

Gravity, naturally, is the force which drags a bullet earthward, and which forces us to compensate for bullet drop. And for our purposes, gravity is pretty constant, no matter what our elevation (personally, I don’t do much target work in space). Still, though, I imagined wind resistance on the bullet itself must have some influence.

At 10,000 feet above sea level, air density is only about 70 percent of the sea-level value, so for a given bullet-flight distance, the projectile is pushing 30 percent less air out of the way. Thirty percent sounds impressive--the bullet must shoot "flatter" and strike higher, right?

Yet a little more research produces the following. Let’s take a 180-grain .30 caliber spitzer bullet as our example--a pretty representative slug. Launched at a reasonable 2700 feet per second, our rifle needs about 8 minutes of elevation to strike a bull’s eye at 300 yards. (For those who slept through engineering class, there are 60 minutes of angle in one degree, and 360 degrees in a full circle.) Run the numbers, and we discover that at 70 percent atmosphere, we still need about 7.5 minutes of elevation, or only 1/120 of a degree less--not very much. With a blunter bullet, the difference would be a bit greater, but never more than one minute at the most.

Why? Even if you fire a bullet in a total vacuum, most of its flight time per distance (at least at 300 yards) would remain--indeed, even in that vacuum (where, incidentally, bullet shape would have absolutely no influence), you’d still need about 6.8 minutes of elevation to overcome the effects of gravity over a 300-yard distance.

A much more real issue is shooting up- or down hill. For an excellent discussion of this matter, and a formula with which to compute true bullet drop when shooting at an angle, see the following web site:


Bottom line: When shooting up- or downhill at severe angles, your bullet will strike higher than it would were the target the same distance away on level ground. Hence the old adage, "When shooting in the mountains, hold low." Note that this applies equally whether you’re shooting uphill or downhill.

And bottom line for thin air at high elevations? That doesn’t make enough difference to worry about.

Tonight the little 6.5 Husky is back in its case, my skis are up in the garage rafters, and all is right with the world--at least, ballistically speaking. So it’s off to the motorcycle races for me. Enjoy your weekend!




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  Surplus Military Rifles
Posted by: wmerrin - 04-11-2004, 02:11 AM - Forum: Weapons FAQ - Replies (4)

Subject: Surplus Military Rifles

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 245

Posted At: (2/19/02 5:49 pm)

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Some thoughts on surplus rifles.

Here we have a Forum member who brings up an interesting topic. For an entire generation of Americans, foreign and domestic surplus military rifles provided state-of-the-art centerfire rifles at a bargain price. So now we come to the question: Are foreign military surplus rifles a good choice today?

Mausers, Enfields, Mosin-Nagants, and more are available in numbers not seen since the late 1960s, and often at attractive prices. If you know how to weld, run a metal lathe and a milling machine, and accomplish detail-oriented woodwork--or are willing to pay someone who can--you can still turn these rifles into first-rate sporters. If you can’t, these rifles often still can provide much service in their stock (albeit often heavy) original military trim, or you can hack away at them and create a "kitchen-counter" sporter with little more than a hacksaw.

Our original posting contributor lists his criteria as follows:

1. Reliability

2. Caliber availability

3. Price

4. Simplicity (No Schmidt-Rubins)

I think my criteria would be a little different:

1. Condition

2. Suitability of caliber for what I intended to shoot

3. Original design of action

4. Availability/Price/Weight/Ergonomics/Ammunition availability

Let me explain in slightly greater detail.


Military surplus rifles available today have generally been produced between 1871 and about 1950. If we’re talking about bolt actions, make that about 1888 to 1950. After 1950, most new-production military arms were selective-fire (semi-automatic and full-automatic), and, as such, are unavailable in any large numbers to the present civilian public. Even the most mathematically challenged Forum members should realize that this makes these guns between 60 and 129 years old. An old, old rifle may have been through two world wars, a far-east "Police Action" or two, and the hands of God-only-knows how many guerillas. On the other hand, one may also find newly released Yugoslavian M48 and M48 A Mausers which are virtually new, and other rifles (some of the Enfields come to mind) which have been recently arsenal rebuilt. It is impossible to recommend any older rifle without speaking of its condition first. Some rifles may be so worn or corroded as to be patently unsafe; many have been assembled with mix-and-match bolts and need to be headspaced for safety, and finally, even if a weapon is safe, it may be so abused (particularly the barrel) as to preclude any semblance of accuracy.


This is a little easier, as almost all of these rifles in question were designed to kill or injure human-sized targets, and as such offer medium-caliber performance. As such, none of them are an optimal choice for ground squirrels, nor are they optimal for heavy game such as the major bears. But if you’re looking for a medium, the choices abound.

Original design of action

Here, you’ve got to set some priorities. All of these actions tend to be robust compared to their civilian sporting counterparts. Some offer more advanced safety features. Most (but not all) field-strip readily. Some rifles (early-serial-range M1903 Springfields, the small-ring Spanish-made Mausers) are afflicted by metallurgy which renders them questionable, unadvisable, or unsafe.

Availability/Price/Weight/Ergonomics/Ammunition availability

Availability and price are pretty transparent issues. Weight, as well, is easily understood, although it may be reduced in the sporterizing process. Ergonomics, especially stocking, may also be influenced by sporterizing or restocking. Finally, ammunition availability may be an issue with certain designs, although in general if one can find a rifle today, one can find brass or loaded ammunition as well. There are few valid excuses for not handloading other than laziness or a self-imposed ignorance, although even I’ll admit that for casual shooting, if one places only modest importance on accuracy, the plethora of cheap surplus ammunition (presently available) on the market may make reloading for a particular weapon unnecessary.

So where does that leave us? Here are some of the major choices:

The Mauser Gew 98 family, usually in 8 x 57.

The "Swedish" Mauser M96 family, usually in 6.5 x 55.

The "Spanish" M1893 Mauser family, often in 7 x 57 or .308 CETME.

The Lee-Enfield (SMLE) family, usually in .303 (some in .308 Win.).

The Mosin-Nagant M91/30 family in 7.62 x 54 R.

The M1903 Springfield family in .30-’06 Springfield

The P-14 or P-17 Enfield rifles in .303 British and .30-’06 Springfield, respectively.

The MAS 49/56 in 7.5 x 54.

The M38 Carcano family in 6.5 x 52.

The M1896 Krag and subsequent variants in .30-40 U.S. (Krag).

Looking through my vast armory, I can find at least one example of each and every one, and can speak with some small authority.

The Swedish Mausers, particularly the shorter M38 versions, are a favorite, although many shooters will want a larger caliber. The are becoming a bit more difficult to find, and a bit more expensive. Some shooters will point out that the earlier M96 action lacks sophisticated gas control features of the Gew 98 weapons. This is true, however with modern commercial brass, pierced primers are less of an issue. Too, bolt disassembly is slightly easier, with fewer small parts. An M38 in "pseudo-scout" configuration is one of my favorite winter cross-country-ski rifles.

The M1903 Springfields (either ’03 or ’03-A3) are of course a great choice, although they are clearly more costly than some of the other options.

So I think, were I to advise most people out there, I’d direct them towards the Gew 98 Mauser family. This includes the Kar 98k of the Second World War, the "Turkish" Mausers on the market today, the VZ22 and VZ24 Czech Mausers, the M48 and M48A Yugoslavian Mausers, and many more.

Hope that is of interest,



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