Pillar Bedding Article – Part IV
A number of well-respected, successful gunsmiths and gun builders use techniques that are different than the one I described in Part III. As I said, they are successful gun makers that build very accurate guns. No one can say that their technique doesn’t work. As I stated, we “believe” that ours is the best way, but realize that having a choice is always a good thing. Following is a description of the other technique most widely used.
Kenny Jarrett of Jarrett Rifles in Jackson South Carolina is one of the most respected gun builders in the South. He specializes in high dollar hunting rifles that perform like benchrest rifles. As a matter of fact, he uses “benchrest” techniques for building all of his rifles. His pillar bedding differs from ours in that he allows the pillar to come in contact with the receiver. He contours the top of a 1” diameter aluminum pillar to match the radius of the receiver (that is of course allowing that the receiver is round, he uses most exclusively the Remington 700 for actions). Jarrett had a special tool ground to cut a 1.365 radius to precut his pillars to fit a Remington 700. The rest of his technique is similar to ours, but he ends up with this large shiny aluminum piece embedded in the action of his stock that is very visible when you take the barreled action out of the stock. In our case, we have had customers question whether or not to even put pillars in because with .035 of bedding materials covering the top of the pillar, you have to look really close to see it.
There are basically two things we don’t like about this method. As I stated, the top of the pillar is contoured to cut a 1.365 radius. Remington receivers are put through a process where they are actually polished by hand. Because each is done independently, not all actions are exactly 1.365. They may vary as much as .005. I know this doesn’t sound like much and probably has little effect on accuracy, but the purpose of glass bedding is to make a “perfect” union between stock and action. If you were to allow for at least the smallest amount of bedding material to cover the pillar, it would compensate for any irregularities in action diameter and come closer to making that perfect fit. Secondly, remember what the pillar is designed to accomplish. Its only function is to eliminate any compression of the stock material under the receiver. Why use a 1” pillar when 3/8” is enough and 1/2” is plenty? In our stocks, we prefer not to remove too much of the material from the stock.
Remember the front screw is always near the recoil lug (in some actions it screws into it) so having as much material intact is important. Though pillars give the stock compressive strength, they don’t offer much in the way of shear strength, which is what’s needed around the recoil lug. One last item on pillar bedding, I am often asked by customers who would like to bed their own stock but lack the confidence to try pillar bedding, “Do I need pillars?” Because of the construction techniques and materials we use in making our stocks, it is not necessary to use pillars. With the exception of benchrest stocks, which are always glued in and use a lighter fill in the action area than all of stocks, pillars are unnecessary. Tests have proven that the materials we use to fill the action area of our stocks have less than one percent compression at 100 lb psi. What that means is that there is no way you are going to be able to torque your guards screws tight enough to compress the material under the action. Why do we put them in every bedding job we do when installing our stocks? Because it’s state-of-the-art. It’s what has become the excepted way to do things. It’s not a fad. It is a valuable technique that is necessary when bedding stocks that use a different method of construction (which almost all other synthetic manufacturers do). It’s just that with ours, it is not really necessary