Bedding the front recoil lug - 6 lug Wby ULW

Dr. Vette

Apr 16, 2012
Since we don't have a gunsmithing subforum here I thought I would make a separate post from the 338-06 thread.

I will first state that the way I did this is not the way I usually bed a rifle, and not the way I'd likely do most front recoil lugs. The method that follows was done this way because 1) Weatherby recommends 55 in-lb on the front torque screw, 2) Weatherby recommends that the pressure points on the barrel remain and place some upward pressure on the barrel. All of my other Weatherby rifles - including other Ultralighweights - are stress-free action bedded and the barrels are floated. (That includes a 300 Wby ULW with McMillan stock I also did this week). However, those are all 9-lug actions. I also knew that if this test did not work I could still easily action bed it and float it.

1. I used my usual headless bolts in both the front and rear screw locations, with blue masking tape to center them in the screw holes. Priority always goes to the forward one, which I make snug in the screw hole. The rear bolt gets just enough that I can still slide it in easily and keep the action from tilting.

2. I put a few wraps of tape on the barrel just in front of the pressure pads. This was to center the barrel just a bit in the stock. It was more cheap insurance than actually exerting any force.

3. I installed the barreled action in the stock and tightened the screw to 55 in-lb. I then placed blue masking tape at the parting line of the stock and the action so that the tape would mark exactly where the action was sitting. The tape was 1 1/2 inches long on each side, starting at the barrel junction and extending rearward. When I later removed the barreled action to prep it it seemed to rise out of the stock a few mm.

4. During the test in #3 I had the magazine out, and could see that the forward part of the action was essentially sitting on the aluminum of the stock, i.e. bottoming out.

5. I placed 4 layers of blue masking tape on top of the action from the forward-most scope mounting screw back to the action.

6. I applied a thin layer of bedding material to the recoil lug, the area behind the recoil lug toward the magazine opening, and inside the recoil lug well in the stock. I tried to apply no more than needed as I was not after a full bedding job, just the recoil lug and the area under the forward action. I have done many bedding job so I knew where to put material and about how much would be required. Based on observation I put a paper-thin layer of material at the very back edge of the rear tang as well, since I could see it was rubbing. Less is more at that location!

7. Once the action was placed in the stock, I used the smallest C-clamp that would fit. With 2 layers of thin cardboard (i.e. cereal box) behind the forward action stud to protect the stock, I used the C-clamp to gently squeeze the action down into the stock as close to the stud as able. The tape on top and the cereal box protected the rifle. When the "witness mark" blue tape on the side of the action met the edge of the stock, I stopped. My goal was to bed the action in the same position as if it was tightened to the factory spec 55 in-lb.

8. I left this combination together for a couple of days.

Once done, it came apart easily and I reinstalled magazine, trigger, etc. I have left out the steps involved in prepping the action, wiping up excess material when it squeezes out, etc. These are not meant to be instructions for a first-time rifle bedding project.

As noted, it really shoots much better now. I'll be re-shooting some of my loads, but if nothing else I have narrowed down where to look based on previous pre-bedding range sessions.
The best my 700 shot for years was around .750", Then literally years later the forend warped so when I fixed that I skim bedded the action. At the same time I was loading using a different process that I'd developed over the intervening years meant to seek to perfectly or as close as possible, to end up with my cartridges aligned with the action and barrel centerlines. Along with a few other changes of courses. The rifle now shoots consistently .500", sometimes less.
I don't know which improved things the most as they were both done at the same time but I guess the new handloads contributed the most followed closely by the bedding. It doesn't matter as now I'm glad I did both.