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To Pillar bed or full length bed a rifle?

06 Nov 2011
@ 09:33 am (GMT)

Ryan Posey


As usual when reading through the knowledge base and finding the information detailed and useful, I sometimes come up with a question. Today's question is for a new Winchester Model 70 Super Grade would it be better to get a full bedding like the tutorial instructions on this site or get a pillar bedding job done like on this site I will probably get a gunsmith to do it either way.

Is there something inherently better one way or the other?


07 Nov 2011
@ 10:25 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: To Pillar bed or full length bed a rifle?
Hi Ryan, the short answer, is to utilize both full length and pillar bedding.

Regarding pillar bedding, pillars are best utilized where there is a risk of stock compression over time. This is most apparent on on wood stocked rifles because the wood fibres can become crushed, resulting in a split stock. This occurs especially on older rifles where oils have continually run into the wood fibres but in contrast can also occur with dry, brittle stocks.

In my own processes, I pillar bed wood stocked rifles but do not usually pillar bed plastic or laminate stock rifles. However, each rifle must be taken on a case by case basis. Occasionally, I will come across a plastic stock design that shows a great amount of flex between the king screws, requiring pillar bedding to prevent stress. As for glass stocks, the HS and B&C ali chassis rifles have the ali to prevent compression, the McMillans do not have this and pillars can help prevent cracking.

A couple of things to bare in mind. I don't induce stress to the stock during bedding. By using a bunjy system during the bedding process, stress is eliminated. Using the king screws and floorplate can induce great stress and if you look at page 78 of the PP presentation given by Hi Score Gunsmithing, you will see that they use this process and warn that if it is not done carefully, the action will be stressed. I would rather not go down this path, instead using headless screws and bunjies. Also, the sides and front of the recoil lug should be relieved, not just the bottom and along with this, it pays to mask off the stock, not leave it bare. A bare stock is prone to knocks and bumps during work and any missed compound spills in areas such as the checkering will be frustrating to remove once the job is completed.

Recently, I have been working on quite a few T3 and Remington SPS rifles with plastic stocks. I stabilize the skeletons first with our stabilizer compound, not just the forend but also the skeletal areas of the action. This makes for an immensely rigid, solid stock and by the time the steel based epoxy bedding goes over this, stock compression is no longer an issue. However, this still does not mean that the king screws should be tightened severly. The T3 is quite sensitive to king screw tension, effecting vibrations within the action.

Pillar bedding can be done in one of two ways. The wide type pillars used by Hi Score are one method and you can see they have gone to a great deal of effort to create a good system. The other method is to use a narrower pillar, cut it to size, taking measurements from your stock, epoxy the pillars in place, then bed over this, again using headless screws. The difference between the two systems is that the second method results in a counter sunk pillar- there will be a light layer of compound over the pillar and it can only be seen from the bottom of the stock. Again, stock compression is eliminated with this system. The advantage of the narrow pillars is especially noticeable on narrow tang rifles where, if a wide hole is drilled, the entire tang area may be compromised. At the simplest end of the scale, aluminum arrow shaft, cut and final-sized used a lee case cutting tool is directionally- immensely strong when epoxied in place. This is ideal for rifles such as the Weatherby Vanguard / Howa.

Remember that a good layer of bedding helps a great deal. Skim bedding jobs always turn out to be a real disappointment down the track, especially with the non metal filled epoxies that lack density.

With your M70, if it utilizes 3 king screws, you can use either the Hi-Score method of utilising the floor plate during bedding or my suggested bunjy system, the former system requiring greater care. Also, you can still use the Hi-Score kit with bunjies if preferred. Our instructions can be utilized with regard to areas to be relieved and the application of dams. A major difference between the compounds is that the Hi Score is not a runny type compound. Our compound used to be a stiff mix but based on end user requests, it was changed to a runny mix in order to be more effective at filling voids. Regardless, between both sets of instructions, you will have a good volume of information to work with.

When re-assembling your M70, regardless of how you bed the rifle or which system you use, you will have to be careful not to over tension the middle king screw. You can use either loctite or even a small amount of thread tape to nip the screw into place, without stressing the action. This is the one weakness of the M70 if not properly addressed. Following this, after re-assembly is complete, check the bolt locking lugs to make sure contact is even. If the contact is uneven, the lugs will need lapping.

Below are some of the most recent rifles I have been working on showing full length bedding and also the stabilizer compound in conjunction with full length bedding on the SPS and T3 stocks.

07 Nov 2011
@ 10:34 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: To Pillar bed or full length bed a rifle?
Forgot to mention, if you are going to use the services of a smith, you can perhaps ask him how he does his bedding jobs, what areas are relieved etc. You could perhaps even be a bit cheeky and ask via email that you are wanting a bedding job 'like this', then provide a link to our tutorial pages. If you get a smith with an amiable attitude, this should not prove offensive but no doubt, it may be the wrong approach with some smiths. Its a tough call for sure.
07 Nov 2011
@ 05:05 pm (GMT)

Ryan Posey

Re: To Pillar bed or full length bed a rifle?
Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed reply. So if I have read this correctly a pillar bedding is best considered for a wooden stock, and when combined with a quality full length bedding job that is the best solution. Whereas with most synthetic stocks a full length bedding should be all that's needed.

Looking over some older articles on this site, I saw where you wrote about a new rifle being a starting kit, instead of a finished project. I'm just beginning to understand that point.

Took my Model 70 out to shoot today. It did well, but I'll be interested in seeing how good I can get it to become.
08 Nov 2011
@ 10:28 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: To Pillar bed or full length bed a rifle?
Hi Ryan, you are most welcome. Yes, your summary is correct.

Some guys like to pillar bed everything (such as plastic stocks) just out of habit which certainly does not do any harm. But basically, if the stock material is strong and in no danger of collapsing long term, pillars are nopt needed. The only caveat is that if the operator is heavy handed during the bedding process itself and he induces stress to the stock due to his own practices (such as using the king screws and floor plate tightened heavily to secure the job rather than bunjies), then its best if that operator uses pillars.

An accurate M70 is a wonderful thing. I have one here and will never part with it. I would however one day like to build a knock off of Carlos Hathcocks M70, but possibly with a McMillan M40 A1 stock. Anyway, thats just a pipe dream.

18 Nov 2011
@ 01:15 pm (GMT)

Ryan Posey

Re: To Pillar bed or full length bed a rifle?
So I got brave today and took apart the rifle to look at the bedding. I was reading the operating manual it it described how to adjust the new Model 70 'MOA' trigger and I thought why not, it only takes a couple of allen wrenches. Well, I should have stayed away. I broke the trigger. Not the trigger assembly mind you, no I mean the actual piece of alloy you pull on to fire the weapon. I think if it had been made of steel it wouldn't of broken, but alas it broke. A quick call to the smith I purchased the rifle from and he started the search for fixing it. Nobody carries parts for the new FN made triggers and when he called the repair center they stated it would have to be a factory return.

The good news is the rifle was bedded, but not nearly as nice as those pictures of full length bedding. So to recap today's lesson, the new FN made Model 70's have an alloy trigger that can break off if you aren't careful taking the floorplate off the rifle.
19 Nov 2011
@ 07:55 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: To Pillar bed or full length bed a rifle?
How annoying. The Remington X-Pro trigger is made from cast metal, the metallurgy is possibly identical. These can also shatter if bumped against the trigger guard when disassembling the rifle. The metal is glass hard which makes it very brittle, there is absolutely no strength in the metal at all, it is no different than ornamental crockery. Its something you would never see happen on the old M700 trigger units and definitely not something that would have occured with the old Win M70's. Its a shame. Thanks for telling us about it.


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