Questions in glass bedding and more in the latest Q&A

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Glass bedding

A close-fitting stock on a PCP is unlikely to benefit from glass bedding, but it may prove worthwhile on a springer

Question: I have heard of people glass bedding firearms, but is it worth doing this to an airgun as well?

Ray Garner says: Glass bedding is the process of achieving a perfect fit of a rifle action to a rifle stock. This precise fit of metal to wood has long been recognised as important in attaining good accuracy with cartridge rifles.

Traditionally it was a very laborious and skilled practice which used marker dyes of one kind or another to identify high spots in the stock, which would then be removed using hand tools.

This would be repeated, sometimes many times, until the required fit was realised. Usually it was only the rifle action which was glass bedded, leaving the barrel free of contact with the stock, making the barrel free-floated.

Today the act of glass bedding has been made much simpler by the use of specialised bedding compounds, which effectively fill up any hollows or low points in the woodwork (or in other stock materials where wood is not used).

The practice involves the application of glass bedding compound to the areas of the stock’s inletting where a close fit of the action is required. This can be a messy process, and it is important to protect the finished surfaces of the stock from the synthetic bedding material. 

Whilst the compound is in a paste or liquid state, the action is placed into the stock and the stock screws tightened to slightly less than their normal torque value.

In order to ensure that the action is not permanently bonded to the stock, a release agent is applied to the metalwork of the action prior to bedding. Some compounds require the removal of a small amount of wood from the stock’s inletting prior to applying the compound. This is done in order to ensure the best possible thickness of compound.

With regard to air rifles, I doubt that glass bedding would be of any true benefit in the assembly of sub-12 foot pound pre-charged guns, due to the very low or insignificant level of recoil with this type.

A long gone shooting pal however, swore by glass bedding when applied to spring guns, with their often snappy recoil movement causing the action to shift independent of the stock. Glass bedding is worth a try with a springer – but only after other possible causes of inaccuracy have been eliminated.

US supplier Brownells, which has an outlet in the UK, sells several brands of glass bedding compound including Acraglas, Steel-bed and Glasbed amongst others.

Thermal sights

Question: How do I set up a thermal scope? I want to do some ratting and need to put in plenty of practice and thoroughly learn my aim points before heading off to the farm after dark.

Lee Perryman says: I was in a similar position to you after purchasing a Pulsar Thermion XQ38 scope. I was attracted to the Thermion as it resembles a traditional day scope and does not have any add-ons causing unnecessary weight gain to your setup.

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Work commitments deprived me of setting the scope up for a week, but amid the excitement of getting out and using this scope, a thought crossed my mind: “How do I even set this up?!”

Finally, a lightbulb moment. With the Thermion being a thermal scope, I needed something that emitted heat to zero in on, so I headed down to the local Poundland and found therapeutic heat patches which become highly thermally reactive when crystals of sodium acetate are mixed with a solution.

After filling my basket with my newly found treasures, I walked past the toy aisle and the lightbulb flashed again: plastic rats! I could cut a hole in a plastic rat and fill it with a heat patch. After all, how much more realistic can you get than a life-sized zeroing target?

When time allowed I headed to one of my permissions and to optimise the Thermion’s ability to pre-set five different zeroing settings I set up pallets at 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 yards and attached the heat pads to them.

It took around half an hour for the plastic rats to fully absorb the heat from the pads, after which they could clearly be identified through the scope. So toggling through the electronic X and Y-axes on the zero setting parameters to find my perfect point of aim was easy, and I was pleasantly surprised with the groups I was achieving.

After the zeroing session I thought it was time to make my plastic rodents thermally visible, so I prepared them, randomly distanced them around the farm and waited for them to activate.

The idea worked perfectly and apart from a lack of movement they provided me with a lifelike shooting simulation ahead of taking on any real rats.

So thermally activated pads and plastic rats could be the perfect combination for setting up your thermal scope too. And don’t forget a scope like this isn’t just for night shooting, as quarry animals will be visible by day too.

New world?

Here’s a vintage L.E.M. moulding kit that lets people cast their own .25 slugs, something that’s harder to do with regular pellets

Question: I keep seeing and hearing more and more about lead airgun slugs, but are they really that new? I seem to remember something similar when I was starting out.

Jonathan Young says: Slugs may appear to be the latest airgun craze, but the fact of the matter is they’ve been around for longer than many people realise.

Big-bore airguns in America needed feeding with monster projectiles, and many huge slugs were developed for these ultra high-powered airguns as few pellets existed above 8mm calibre.

It’s also much easier to make a conical slug than a waisted pellet, and for many years specialist slug manufacturing has been very much a cottage industry.

Some claim pellets may not be suitable in some high FAC-rated PCPs as they are too fragile due to the energy created on firing, but as I stick to only sub-12 foot pound rifles I can’t comment on this. However, as there are so many slugs available in all the smaller calibres, including .177, this opens up more possibilities for the shooter and is worthy of a closer look.

People have used traditional pellets for more than 100 years, but slugs are not new, even to us here in the UK, and we did have our very own British slugs some time back.

They were not that popular though, despite offering some advantages. The early TAC and BAC air cartridge airguns that were banned years ago used slugs. And Eley’s .22 Magnums appealed to those few rich enough to buy some of the early pre-charged pneumatic air rifles. 

Go back further and those old enough may remember the craze to cast your
own pellets – and that included slugs too. They became the in thing due to their easy shape to cast. So slugs really are nothing new and certainly nothing to be frightened about.

For better or worse, the UK airgun scene has changed dramatically, with the PCP now the dominant airgun style and FAC becoming more and more common.

Unless you’re making DIY slugs at home, there are certainly far fewer commercial slugs out there pound for pound in any calibre compared with pellets, so fine-tuning any airgun and barrel combo should in theory be a doddle. Weight options in any calibre, whether within the same range or from a choice of makers, can provide some of that fine tuning. 

Performance can also be tweaked by using slugs with different profile shapes to the base of the projectile, as some are flat and some are concave. In addition, some have external banding that provides a flat-walled area that is parallel to the bore. Some are hollow point, which may be more effective on impact depending on the target.

This could be especially necessary at FAC levels, when a conical bullet-shaped projectile will penetrate deep and could possibly exit the target even at the longer airgun ranges these guns can be used at.  As with traditional pellets, some testing for barrel compatibility should arrive at a happy medium.

Slugs can of course be used in sub-12 ft-lb airguns, but tend to be heavier in comparison to any comparatively heavy pellet. Some may be abandoned after being tested in an average non-FAC low-powered airgun. This is especially so with springers, as they tend to care less for heavy projectiles, while PCPs cope better with heavier ammo, at least up to a point. 

Despite the much lower muzzle energies, many fun sessions can be
had lobbing 25 grain-plus heavyweights out of sub-12 airguns. A .25 Dai Sung out of an Airsporter can teach you a lot about pellet trajectory and range estimation when using a 35 grain brick in a sub-12 ft-lb air rifle!

One sight for all?

Digital day/night scopes like the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro and PARD NV008 LRF are great, but are still a compromise in daylight compared with glass

Question: Would it be more cost-effective to buy one sight for all my hunting needs? I am considering an ATN X-Sight 4K Pro 3-14X50 which it claims can function as a day/night scope.

Richard Saunders says: It’s fair to say that scopes you’d use in the dark used to be something of a compromise compared with traditional glass when used in daylight. However, over the last couple of years technological advances have closed the gap considerably and daytime colour modes are now much sharper.

The ATN X-Sight 4K Pro is much more than a jack-of-all-trades option and is packed full of features such as the ability to change reticle colour and style, as well as record video.

For an additional outlay, ATN’s Auxiliary Ballistic Laser (ABL) rangefinder provides a distance reading at the touch of a button and means you can use the scope’s ballistic calculator function to automatically adjust your aim point so you no longer have to worry about holdover and under.

Another benefit of the X-Sight 4K Pro is that it can be used with conventional 30mm scope rings so you can achieve the perfect eye alignment for your setup. In addition, unlike many other digital scopes, it is designed for conventional eye relief.

There are alternatives, and products from Yukon and Sightmark in particular are worth taking a look at. However, like the X-Sight they are somewhat bulky; the 3-14x model weighs more than two pounds and is 350mm long. 

Much lighter and more compact are offerings from PARD, such as the NV008 and NV008 LRF (Laser Range Finder) which may not be quite as feature-rich as other offerings, but cover all the essentials, including the ability to record video.

If you’re only an occasional after-dark hunter, it would be a shame to deny yourself the benefits of a decent glass scope. You may want to consider an add-on product which, like the name suggests, attaches to the ocular lens of a regular day scope enabling you to use it at night.

The PARD NV007 allows you to look through your scope in the conventional way, whereas products like those from NiteSite, Digital Night Stalker and NV Gear UK mean having to adopt a head-up shooting position to view a screen located on top of the scope.

Personally I favour an ATN X-Sight 4K Pro and PARD 008 LRF when I’m shooting rabbits at night, and a NiteSite Viper RTEK for ratting as I find the ability to sweep areas in search of rats much easier with the screen.

More questions answered from our experts

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