bed-your-stock-LRI2

Should You Bed Your Stock

In Blog by Rich18 Comments

Another question I see asked all the time is whether or not you should bed your rifle stock. This is one of those things that for whatever reason has become a hot topic and it gets new shooters in a fluster. Newer shooters wind up feeling like their rifle is inadequate and will not function properly unless it is bedded. The problem is these same new shooters really don’t have much idea what bedding is for and whether or not it is even necessary in their case. We’re going to discuss the practice and what it’s for in hopes of giving everybody a clear picture on whether or not this is something they need to be considering!

Bed Your Stock?

We’re talking about the process of creating a ‘bed’ of material on the rifle stock for the action to sit in that is precisely molded to the shape of the action. The idea is that a properly bedded stock holds and supports the rifle action without inducing any stress into it and that this is the basis of an accurate rifle. This is different than say just bolting the rifle to the stock with the action sitting on the two pillars common in regular unbedded stocks. The question becomes is any of this necessary? The answer is, it depends. First up, here are some photos of what we are discussing!

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Beautiful bedding job done by Long Rifles Inc

In general I see no harm at all and would probably bed an action to a traditional rifle stock any time I was planning on putting a rifle together. I think the practice of bedding a traditional rifle stock is a good idea and a worthwhile endeavor, however, I do think you should have it done properly by a gunsmith. I’ve gone down the road of bedding a rifle stock myself in the past and while it can be done, chances are excellent the first time you won’t do it well. If you are hands on and you must do it yourself, have at it. Personally I think it’s money well spent having somebody like Long Rifles Inc. do the work because they have the process refined to a science. It would take years and many attempts to even claim half the experience needed to produce the results pictured above, let alone match that level of craftsmanship.

Bed Your Stock – What about a Chassis?

What if you don’t have a ‘stock’ but a rifle ‘chassis’? Does that change the equation? Yes! A chassis, by its nature and design is not supposed to be bedded. The idea is that instead of custom molded bedding material supporting the action there is a precisely machined block present to support the action. The idea is that you can then bolt an action into the chassis, torque it to specifications, and then go shoot. No bedding required or desired. In my experience with Chassis systems from several different manufacturers this is definitely the rule. You can bolt any action into the chassis and expect reasonable accuracy.

Victor Company - 041

Accuracy International Chassis System with Viper Skins

Manners TF4A

Manners TF4A Stock with Mini Chassis

Both of these stocks allowed for half MOA or better shooting at 100 yards, using the same action no less. This is part of what I’ve been talking about. A quality chassis will allow you to realize the potential of the barreled action. On the other hand if your barreled action isn’t accurate to begin with, the stock is unlikely to improve the barreled action’s accuracy. Sometimes you will see an accuracy improvement on a factory Remington but this has to do with the flexy Hogue stocks the rifles come with out of the box. If the reason for lack of accuracy is a problem with a factory stock, you should switch it. If the problem is hindering the barreled action’s inherent accuracy, then you may well see an improvement buy putting the barreled action into a quality stock or chassis.

So far I’ve used three different chassis systems and all have been capable of producing half MOA or better accuracy at 100 yards. No bedding, just bolted in and torqued. Now there is an important point to note here. You can’t polish a turd, so the saying goes. If you bolt in an action that was never accurate to begin with, you can’t expect a chassis to magically transform it into an accurate rifle for you. So when I say that a Chassis is capable of producing accurate rifle fire that’s assuming you have a decent rifle to use as a base for that combination. Not every rifle will produce that kind of accuracy out of the box.

To Bed Your Stock or Not?

My suggestion here is to let the rifle’s accuracy be your guide. If you put a rifle together or pull one out of the box and it meets or exceeds what you have set for accuracy requirements, why mess with it? Don’t fix something that isn’t broken. If you have a rifle in a traditional stock, I see no harm in having it bedded right away since the support for the action without the bedding is minimal. On the other hand today’s modern chassis systems really don’t need to be bedded. Most are capable of producing excellent accuracy with an action merely being bolted in and torqued properly. On the other hand, if for some reason your action does not shoot well in a chassis, you can have that bedded as well. However, don’t make the mistake of assuming the fault lies in the chassis and its lack of bedding material. Only bed the chassis if you know the barreled action in question is a shooter and it isn’t performing in the chassis.

Wrapping Up

This is something people spend too much time and heartburn on. You shouldn’t even be considering it unless you know you have a rifle capable of better accuracy and it isn’t performing in the stock or chassis you have installed on it. Don’t be too proud to admit your own skillset may not be capable of that kind of accuracy. Producing tiny ragged holes has as much or more to do with the shooter than the equipment. Bedding material isn’t magical and it won’t make you a better shooter or the rifle more accurate than it already is. Bedding a stock or chassis merely allows the shooter to attain the potential of the components he’s working with, and that’s assuming his own skills are up to the task. If you aren’t sure, leave us a comment with what’s going on and we’ll try to help figure it out with you!

Owner and Proprietor of AccuracyTech, LLC. Rich is a Firearms Enthusiast, Precision Rifle Competitor, and Writer. He is committed to bringing readers quality reviews and articles related to the Precision Shooting Sports. If you have any questions for him, please use the contact form on the site.

Comments

  1. Hello,
    I’m having a rifle done in the LRI group buy and putting it in a McMillan A5 with their machined in aluminum pillars, is there a need to have it bedded or is it more similar to a chassis system than a traditional stock?

    Thanks,
    Mike

    1. Author

      Hey Mike, LRI does first rate work. I doubt anything with their name on it won’t be accurate.

      You don’t HAVE to bed anything, but sometimes it’s beneficial. I would see how much it would add to your build to have it bedded and then decide. Since they are already doing the build I’m inclined to suggest you have them bed it. Have a look at the group buy rules though I know some things don’t fall under that pricing structure.

      Bedding may be one of them. If it turns out to be expensive, see how the rifle shoots without it. It may not be necessary at all!

  2. Thanks Rich, I really enjoy your site, the articles are excellent and un-biased and you respond to questions very quickly!

    E4B

    1. Author

      Thanks for the compliment! I try to get back to everybody as quickly as possible, sometimes my day job slows down my responses but I try to check the site often during the day! Let me know how your build turns out, its always like looking at artwork when you see pictures of LRI’s work!

  3. hey i have a rem 700 long action in 7mm rem mag. action trued with a douglas numb 7 contour 8 twist barrel. I have it installed in a ai chassis but throws rounds. one day with it will be great groups the next day with exact loads are everywere. i taked to my gunsmith and he says it sounds like a bedding issue. your thots on me bedding this chassis?

    1. Author

      Don’t bed your AI chassis, it’s something else. You check that everything is tight? Including the action into the chassis?

  4. yes everything is tight. never had this much problem with grouping a rifle. the ar 15 i built is more accurate than this at 200 yards. douglas airgauge barrel also. torqued tight

  5. i appreciate the fast responce also. I know that ai made improvements to there newer chassis in that area. suppose to be more support for the action. I have the older chassis. Will try to call gunsmith in morning to see if he started this bedding job. I just dropped it off yesterday

    1. Author

      How many rounds on the barrel? Unless the action is warped and shaped like a banana I doubt bedding the stock will do anything.

      Factory ammo or hand loads?

  6. 350 roughly. Handloads. Bullets jammed and loaded up to 0.060 off rifling. retumbo, h1000,4831sc,rl22, have been used light loads to hot. 183 matchkings, 162 amax, and 195 bergers have been shot.

    1. Author

      What scope? You could try letting another shooter run a few rounds through it to try and confirm/isolate what you’re seeing.

      I’m not sure what it is that’s giving you these fits of frustration. It’s your rifle and I know how stuff like this can drive you nuts. Maybe see if your gunsmith friend can check for stress on the action? In the off chance that bedding might help. I still doubt it…if it doesn’t shoot in an AI chassis something’s wrong.

      I don’t think you would have one day of good groups and the next terrible if that was the case. That sounds like something is moving on you. Is the barrel making contact with anything? Which AI chassis?

  7. nightforce scope. Barrel floats. earlier models had to have the chassis milled for timney trigger group. I have an aftermarket timney installed but it barely clears, but clear it does. This is a legacy 2.0 folder. egw steel base and tps steel rings. Ill keep tinkering. maybe ill try a tighter torque on the action screws. 55 lbs is were im at

    1. Author

      That’s a solid list of components. I’ve always done 65 inch pounds on action screws except for my Manners which specifies less for the rear.

      If you figure it out keep us posted, might help somebody else with the same problem in the future!

  8. Got the rifle back torqued everything down to 65 lbs. The receiver seems solid touching all four points of the block. Tho ai says its a self aligning block the rear tang sits a little more to the left by a 1/32 or two. Is this normal? Or potentially a prob? Never noticed this before with the plastic panels on. Now that the panels are off i noticed.

    1. Author

      Remington actions aren’t the most precisely crafted actions out there. That’s why there’s such a market for truing services.

      I don’t think it’s a problem, see how it shoots at 65in/lbs

  9. Had the same issue. Tryed the bedding of rear tang and that fixed everything with shooting consistency. Now sub inch at 200 yards all the time now.

  10. I have rem 5r mil spec 20″ it’s pretty accurate with groups well under .5 at 100.
    I am 6’3 and want a larger stock with a cheek piece. I’m in between manners t6 with chassis, McMillan a3-5 adjustable and a konahawk adjustable chassis.

    I would think the manners and konahawk would be drop I now and ready to shoot accurately, same with the McMillan except I need inletting for a badger or equivalent bottom metal. While I can get a stock bedded it’s the additional six week wait for the local smith that has me debating.

    Any one of the above better than t h next or is this the chevy/ ford debate?

    Would the McMillan require pillars?

    Any thoughts/ suggestions?

    Thank you

    Mark

    1. Author

      Everybody has their preferences, Mark. I prefer chassis systems and stocks like Manners with aluminum bedding blocks for consistency and ease of use. Nothing wrong with a good McMillan but as you suggested it adds extra steps. It may come with pillars installed, you will have to look. You likely will need bedding and inletting unless you order it inletted for a DBM system from the factory.

      Based on what you seem to want to do I’d look hard at Manners and you can often skip the wait by finding a dealer that has what you want in stock.

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