Monday, July 4, 2011

Match tuning considerations for the Lee Enfield rifle

For your consideration
The rifle used in this example was a 1942 Savage No4Mk1 that arrived to me with a new birch wood fore-stock and hand guards that required fitting. With the action screw tight the metal was still loose in the wood and there was no fore-tip pressure what so ever. Numerous action screw bushing heights were fitted to determine if the best fit was tight enough. In this case it was not going to be sufficient and therefore a complete full bedding job was required (worst case scenario). Hopefully, in your case, you have sufficient wood to metal fit where a complete bedding job is not required.

In 1964 the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association (D.C.R.A.) performed a comparative analysis of the most successful stocking methods used for the No4 Lee Enfield rifle. In March 1965 they published the results with a view to improving rifle performance in Domestic and Bisley service rifle competitions.

Tools & Materials Required:

1. Dremel & drilling / sanding accessories;
2. Package of JB Weld or Marine-Tex steel putty (stay away from 5 minute steel epoxy hardeners)
3. Vaseline (or other release agent)
4. Clean working surface
5. Containers to temporarily store rifle parts (ice cream buckets or coffee pots work great)
6. Appropriate screw driver sizes
7. Small wood chisel (sharp)

Bedding Stages One & Two described

The bedding procedure is broken into TWO stages.

Establish downward muzzle pressure of 4 to 5 lbs at the front muzzle bearing area rasped down to the rivets
To achieve this:

1. The rear surface area of the fore-stock has to be shimmed up with arborite (Shim stock of no more than .025” thickness);
2. Set the muzzle pressure and levelling of the action by reinforcing or shimming the draws as required;
3. When the body and action is tight with 4 to 5 lbs of downward muzzle pressure has been achieved stage one is complete ;

Fitting of the centre bedding block at the middle band

METHOD: Fitted Wooden Block or Steel Putty. The wooden block is much more difficult and therefore I will demonstrate how to install a steel putty block.

1. 10.5” up the fore-stock at the centre band dremel out a 1” X 2” area 1/8” deep and drill in anchor holes for the epoxy putty to adhere to;
2. Cut 3/4” X 2” cardboard shim stock cards (cereal box card board works great) which you will insert in front of the bedding block location (muzzle shims only to keep the barrel centred);
3. When shims are in place the barrel should clear the exposed rivets at the fore-end by at least 1/8”;
4. Fit plasticine forms on either side of the block area and test fit the fore-stock with the action screw tightened down;
5. Coat the barrel contact area with release agent, pour the steel putty block, insert the barrelled action, tighten the action screw and allow the block to set over night;
6. Remove the shims once the block is completely set. There should be approx 12 to 14lbs of barrel pressure on the new centre block;


1. Sear & Trigger relationship: You want to pay a lot of attention to raising the rear surface area of the fore-stock using the .025” arborite (or other) shim stock. The reason for this has to do with the relationship between the trigger ribs and the sear as you are raising the profile of the receiver in the stock. To compensate for this extra height we are removing material at the fore-end down to the rivets. The angle of the receiver draws is altered as a result and will require re-shimming in order to be flush.
2. Trigger guard fit: The trigger guard should sit flush with the stock when at rest with the action screw removed. If this is not the case and the trigger guard is under pressure (it usually lifts from the action screw area) then some material may need to be removed from under the trigger guard towards the receiver ring. This should relieve the pressure but do this incrementally. In other words only remove a tiny amount of material at a time.
3. Receiver ring and fore-stock contact: There should be no fore-stock contact at the receiver ring. Use a feeler gauge and work around this area to identify contact points. Sand down high points and ensure the barrel sits in the middle of the barrel channel before any fitting is performed.

remove material down to the rivits at the muzzle end
Shim stock bedded into place with steel putty at the receiver end
Area prepared for the centre bedding block
Plasticine dams in place (tape up side of the stock so bedding does not mar finish
Work the material into the anchor holes - air bubbles are the enemy - ensure good purchase
When bedding block is cured clean up the corners and remove unwanted detritus
Receiver area prepped for bedding compound. This was done in preparation
for Stage One. The draws were also done.
Ensure wood is thoroughly taped up - this stuff gets every where - have acetone on standby
Ensure all nooks and crannies in the action have complete coverage with release agent
Note action screw has plasticine plug - you don't want bedding compound in there
clean up any secretions of steel putty with a knife or scraping tool. Wipe away
remainder with a acetone soaked cloth


  1. Very useful post -- some of the most helpful bedding pics I've seen.

    Many thanks!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi I know I am late in this post as it's 2019 November.
    But am wondering is it feasible/advisable to do the draws in JB weld or similar, I have a No4 1* longbranch that needs the draws repaired.
    What are the thoughts out there!