May 02, 2013
A Strange Diversion on the Path to Firearms Perfection
By David E. Petzal
It’s well known that human progress doesn’t move in a straight line. It goes off on tangents, strange, ill-thought-out detours that are invariably proved to be worthless. For example, we currently have the wind farm, where brigades of enormous propellers are erected at colossal expense to generate a feeble amount of electricity and require costly repairs before they have even begun to pay for themselves.
In rifles, a strange detour was the belief by custom gunbuilders in the late 1970s and early 1980s that the best way to bed an action in a synthetic stock was to glue the sumbitch in permanently. Synthetic stocks for hunting rifles were a novelty then, and it seemed to make sense: You got a perfect, unmoving, permanent bond between the stock and the action which would result in superior and unchanging accuracy.
I owned, I think, six or so rifles built on this principle, and as I recall, they shot well but not sensationally. But there was a fatal flaw. If you ever required access to the trigger, you were out of luck. That rifle was not going to come apart. Since the need for diddling with the trigger is very real, I was uneasy, and broke them all loose.
Here, in case you have one of these rifles, is how you do it:
First, make sure the thing is unloaded. Now, remove the bolt, the scope, and the action screws. Then put the rifle in a freezer for twelve hours or pick a night when the temperature goes down below 10 degrees and leave it out overnight.
When the rifle is frozen through and through, hold it forward of the action with one hand and with the other, smack the underside of the barrel, hard, with a rubber mallet. The action should pop free clean as a whistle. You may have to smack it a second time, but that should do it.
After I broke my six rifles free, I compared their accuracy with how they had shot when they were permanently bedded, and there was not a living bit of difference. Not an iota.
Would that the wind farms were as easy to eradicate.