Does glass-bedding your air rifle improve accuracy? Part 3
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the final part of Fred’s glass-bedding article about the Benjamin Trail NP XL. I held back on this part last week because that’s how Fred experienced it. In other words, the solution wasn’t instantaneous for him, and I wanted to separate the work from the final inspiration. Over to you, Fred!
by Fred of the People’s Republik of New Jersey
Let’s begin with a little review of the last report. After the bedding project was complete on the Benjamin Trail NP XL air rifle, I had to wait a week to get to my local shooting range so I could test the rifle at 30 yards. As I mentioned in the last report, it was a major disappointment for me, as the best group I could manage was 1.50 inches. There was no improvement whatsoever.
Like Mac in his review of this rifle, I was getting 3 or 4 pellets almost in a single hole or very close together, and then one or two pellets would ruin the group. On numerous occasions, my first pellet from this rifle would go right into the X-ring — and then the point of impact would shift from my point of aim. I felt it was a result of some part of the rifle shifting — the scope, the action in the stock or, as I’ve often wondered, the barrel pivot having some lateral play, allowing a different barrel position relative to the action every time the rifle was cocked. But I didn’t know for sure this contributed to this rifle’s inaccuracy.
This was achieved after the recrowning project, and it’s a representative target of what I would get with this rifle at that point in time. One shot dead on and then a shift of impact. This is a 28-foot target.
Then, after publication of the first part of this series, duskwight, our Russian blog reader, mentioned that he didn’t really trust breakbarrel rifles because of the pivot bolt potentially being a loose fit and destroying accuracy. It isn’t a problem when using fixed sights since the rear sight is mounted on the barrel along with the front sight, but a scope that mounts on the action does not maintain any sort of relationship with the barrel.
Out came my screwdriver, and I removed the action from the stock. I was rewarded with a bit of resistance as the action was now a tight fit. For the first time since I owned this rifle, I put the screwdriver onto the pivot bolt and found it to be moderately snug but not tight. Testing the barrel fit as I tightened the screw, I was able to turn the screw another three-quarter turn before reaching a point of not being able to turn it more without damaging the screw slot. While the cocking effort was now higher, it was still smooth and well within what I could handle.
At 28 feet, I put 4 pellets into a single hole measuring .4375 inches. The center-to-center dimension worked out to 0.218 inches, the best I’d ever achieved with this rifle. True, this was only 4 pellets, but I was running very low on the best pellets for this rifle.
Now, I had to go back to the range and test this final improvement at 30 yards. Since I was running out of H&N pellets, which were the most accurate pellets for this rifle, I had to use the last of them for the 30-yard test.
With only seven pellets remaining, I used one for sighting and then the rest. This is what I got:
Six pellets fit into a 1.125-inch group with the seventh pellet dismissed as a flyer — I pulled the trigger before I was ready. On a center-to-center basis, we’re talking 0.813 inches for the six pellets. I feel I’ve achieved my goal of getting this rifle to a point where it will hunt. I’m also confident that a better shooter could obtain a smaller group than I have.
Was it worth it?
Looking back on this entire project, it was obvious that the recrowning was a major improvement and definitely needed but more importantly, it reinforced in my mind that whenever I reach for a spring-piston or gas-spring rifle, my screwdriver needs to be at the ready so I can check all stock screws — and now the pivot screw for the barrel — before I start shooting.
Did the bedding and/or pillaring make a difference in this rifle? It’s impossible to say. Certainly, the proper procedure for making any type of changes is to make one change at a time and then an analysis of the results. I’m sure the bedding only helped and didn’t hurt. I’ll be on the lookout for the next inaccurate rifle and try my hand again as I readily enjoyed this entire episode. I learned a few things, and I hope you did, too.