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Steve Comus – GUN TALK

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Rifle bedding and accuracy go hand in hand
For decades, the race for accuracy in bolt-action rifles has focused on consistency, where the biggest challenge has been bedding the action.

Modern materials and manufacturing processes make it possible to create predictably accurate barrels. Laser-controlled computerized machinery make it possible for the action and barrel to be both square to each other and dimensionally proper in all other respects. Add to that advances in ammunition, which have come with advances in powder, primers and bullets, and everything is looking good.


But, if the action is not held in place securely enough for everything to be exactly the same from shot-to-shot and session-to-session, accuracy suffers. A half-century ago, 1.5 minute-of-angle accuracy in hunting rifles was considered good. Now, it is an inch or under, with some rigs delivering half that.


comus_mossbergvpMOSSBERG’S MVP CHASSIS rifle is intended for accurate long-range shooting. However, it is heavier and bulkier than traditional hunting rifles.

Traditional wood stocks present a number of challenges, not the least of which is their tendency to “move” over time – a kind of delayed warp, if you will. Oddly, some synthetic stocks suffer from creep, due usually to temperature changes.


When that is eliminated via free-floating the barrel, both wood and some synthetic stocks present potential problems in the action bedding itself. Differences in moisture in the air can cause wood to swell, or shrink, which means that what was the right tightness in one situation, is wrong in others.


Granted, these differences are tiny, but they count. The real problem is that when these inconsistencies are encountered together, the result compounds problems – not that one change is going to counteract the other.


Mauser addressed this situation in the latter part of the 19th Century by using a basic form of what is called pillar post bedding in which metal “posts” front and back provided consistent spacing, which meant it was much more difficult to over-tighten and crunch the wood while allowing enough torque so that even if the wood shrunk a bit, the action still was held tightly. This was the first step toward creating a “chassis” to bed the action and hold it securely in-place.


Synthetic stocks came onto the scene, but in many ways they faced the same kind of bedding challenges as did wood. That is until H-S Precision incorporated a bedding block of aluminum into a synthetic stock. With a free-floated barrel, the bedding block assured that the action remained cradled securely. Accuracy improved. This was the second step toward the chassis concept.


comus_pariothighlander

PATRIOT HIGHLANDER RIFLE from Mossberg is classic in design. This design could be morphed into a chassis rig with a chassis scaled properly for the purpose.


With the advent of the AR phenomenon, many of the traditional thought patterns in Gundom changed. AR uppers connect directly to aluminum bottoms, which means that there isn’t a traditional stock anywhere in the bedding arena. Rather than try to fix something like bedding gremlins, the modern rifle design merely avoided the subject entirely by making an end run around it.


The next logical progression was the “chassis” rifle in which a barreled bolt action is bedded in a metal (aluminum) chassis. These are the current long-range rigs that are capable of delivering accuracy more consistently than anything before.


For hunters, this may all be interesting, but how does a heavy, long-range tactical rig fit into most hunting scenarios? It doesn’t. However, that doesn’t mean that the chassis concept can’t be incorporated into hunting rifles.


It is only one small step from hunting rifles with pillar posts or full bedding blocks to hunting rifles that are chassis rigs. It is predictable that will come as companies evolve their lines of accurate hunting rifles.


Those companies that pay total attention to all of the necessary details will produce incredibly accurate hunting rifles. When this happens, hunters win. Yes, the future looks brighter all the time.


* * *


Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a WON Guns and Hunting Guns Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at scomus@cox.net.


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