Q:When glass-bedding a bolt-action rifle (and free-floating the barrel) should the entire action be bedded, or just the recoil lug and tang? Would you recommend Brownell’s Steelbed for this job?–V.B.
A:Just bed the recoil lug and tang, though a wide-tanged action like the Remington 700 normally only requires bedding behind the recoil lug. A few rifles, like Mausers, have the front action screw in the middle of the recoil lug. When free-floating barrels on these actions, you should also bed an inch of the barrel channel just in front of the lug, for further support. Rifles with the front action screw behind the lug (like Remingtons and Model 70 Winchesters) don’t require this extra support, though heavy varmint-contour barrels can often use a little help here too.
When bedding the recoil lug, bed only the back of the lug, not the sides and bottom. This prevents any tiny piece of extra material that might fall into the lug recess, from keeping the action from fully seating when the rifle’s put back together. Either tape the sides and bottom of the lug with a layer of duct tape before the bedding job, or carefully remove extra bedding compound with a sharp wood chisel after the job’s done. Steelbed should work fine, though I generally use Acraglas Gel (also from Brownells), which spreads like cake frosting, making it much easier to work with than some runnier bedding mixes.
** A:** Probably the big buck took off because either caught a whiff of your scent or saw something it didn’t like. Mature bucks are much more cautious than young bucks: They’ve been around for a few hunting seasons and know somebody’s after them! A doe decoy sure might help, if legal in your area, since it will focus a called-in buck’s attention away from you, though nothing helps if a buck catches your scent.