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- Last updated: 15/12/2016
Getting a rifle to fit the shooter rather than the other way round has to be preferable. A gun that’s ergonomically sound i.e. works in harmony with the body, will place less strain on the muscles, and require less effort from the shooter in general - which all aids down range results where it matters.
A full-blown custom stock represents the ultimate where rifle fit is concerned of course and I am often reminded of this fact when full match grade fare passes through my hands for testing. Yet match-style stocks can be heavy, so if pride can be swallowed, some relatively simple DIY modifications may just be the answer.
Last month I covered extending the butt section of an Air Arms MPR, in a bid to lengthen the rifle for adult use. This month, I’m focusing on the task of building a fore-end raiser block, or hamster to use its rather daft nickname.
The idea is basically thus - by adding a raiser block to the section of the stock just forward of the trigger guard, this part of the woodwork can be made significantly deeper. For Field Target use - over the arm, off the knee and in particular, standing shots will then be made just that bit easier. Accomplished by raising the shooters sightline naturally, without hunching or stooping more than is necessary.
There’s nothing to stop the work being carried out on the average air rifle either, be that springer or PCP. The test rifle featured just happens to be the highly popular Air Arms S400, but it purely serves as an example.
I should also point out that this process serves as a guide only, to the principles involved. The materials and final fixings can be made from whatever comes to hand. Indeed, off cuts and discarded oddments are the very bread and butter for this sort of project.
So let’s get started. Firstly, source your piece of wood. The hamster featured was made from Mahogany, which whilst notoriously hard to work with, served the purpose, due to the small amount of work involved. It’s important at the outset to decide just how big you want the raiser block to be, the exact dimensions, and of course the height of the raisers. The raiser on my featured rifle is 5.5” high, but it really is a matter of taste. If the rifle is to be used for HFT competition however, then make sure the official rules are complied with. At the time of writing, the depth allowed in UKAHFT rules, for this deepest section of the rifle is around 150mm, so be warned!
If you’re unsure as to the dimensions, take a close look at some match-style rifles down the club for inspiration, and make a note of the depth required. It can always be a good idea to make a sketch of the job, with rough dimensions mapped out in advance too.
In We Go
Next, remove the action of the rifle from the stock. In the case of the Air Arms S400, and indeed many PCP’s on the market, one single bolt holds it in place, which couldn’t be simpler. Looking at the S400 woodwork, the underside reveals two holes, just forward of the trigger guard area- the stock fixing hole, and the second larger aperture for the pressure gauge. Our rear most stock insert will be sited (not just yet) equidistant between these two.
Cut the timber to the length required for the raiser and offer up the proposed block to the underside of the woodwork, marking off where the two screw holes in the block will be, bearing in mind the proposed location of the rear support. The screws on my featured rifle are around two inches apart, but longer blocks may require greater spacing. Drill these holes through the block using a 6mm bit. Any bigger, and the hole may be a little slack.
Establish the intended height of the raiser, and cut the back support/spacer from the steel tube or dowel. If dowel, then hold it in a vice and drill through with a 6mm bit.
Carefully Does It…
Now the first stock hole needs to be carefully drilled as specified earlier, equidistant between the two on the underside; using a very small drill bit to start, as a pilot, to avoid splitting the wood. If access to a workshop and pillar drill is possible, then so much the better. Otherwise, rig up an old fashioned plum line, and have an assistant stand back and check on the straightness of the drill, whilst holding the stock. Slowly increase the bit size, and finish off with a 9mm bit, drilling to the depth of the rivet nuts, taking care not to go too far. Gently check the rivet nut for fit, apply glue to the outer side, and push into place. At this stage allow time for the adhesive to bond.
Now attach the raiser block to the woodwork using the one spacer already cut, and gently tighten in place. Now the distance at the front, where the other screw will lie, can be measured, and the other spacer cut to length from the dowel or tubing. My example has spacers of 28mm and 22mm incidentally, which as stated, are two inches apart for a guide. Once all fits together well, all that’s left is the finishing stage.
The block can now be sanded, oiled and finished to taste, and once satisfactory, the whole assembly can be fitted in place. Finally connect the stock back to the rifle’s action, and enjoy the moment!
As a footnote, whilst I can’t help having one eye on either FT or HFT shooting, any of these rifle mods, once in place, can only help to improve performance; be that plinking, hunting, or in the competition arena.
Tools and Kit Required: