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Recoil Pad Installation
MikeG on 2013-11-07

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Recoil Pad Installation



This article will review the basics of several different types of recoil pad installation.  The task is easily
accomplished with some basic tools and techniques, yielding a first-class install at a very reasonable price.  Without
further ado.... let's jump right in.  Pictures tell the story.

First picture shows the action and stock from an old Turk mauser, my 10" Delta compound miter saw, measuring tape,
duct tape, earmuffs, pen, and a new Pachmayr 'Decelerator' recoil pad.  Old military rifles are perfect to learn some basic
operations on - cheap, sturdy, and most of the time you can't really hurt appearance too much.  This rifle is hardly a
collector's item and has seen no telling what sort of use/abuse over the years.  There are several reasons for putting
a recoil pad on it, even though recoil of typical American 8x57mm ammunition is not severe.  One, the length of pull
was too short.  Two, the steel buttplate tended to slip around on the shoulder.  And finally, this is just a good project
to learn while having fun 'sporterizing' this inexpensive rifle.

First thing to do is check the length of pull.  This is the distance from the trigger to the end of the stock where it
fits against your shoulder.  Without a recoil pad, it's only about 13.25" inches, too short.  With the inch-thick recoil
pad, it's over 14 inches, too long for me personally.  By experimentation I've discovered that I shoot best with a length
of pull between 13.5" and 13.75" inches long.  Since this gun is mostly for warm-weather informal shooting, the longer
of the two lengths will be fine.

In order to prevent the wood from splintering, a layer of heavy tape is wrapped around the stock.  The stock is then
used to set the correct saw angle when the top of the stock is against the back of the saw.  Note that the saw angle is
about 2 degrees off of the 0 mark.  The angle or 'pitch' could certainly be changed if desired, but normally I just keep
it the same as it was.  The butt of the stock doesn't appear to be flush against the saw because it is
curved, but it is.  Due to the curve of the butt a minimum amout of wood will have to be taken off to square it up, and
that is the first cut.  It should be noted that this operation can carefully be performed with a hand saw and miter box,
and I have done so in the past.

In addition to setting the angle of the blade, it may be necessary to shim the stock if the buttstock is a different
thickness than the wrist of the stock, which is almost always the case.  Measure the thickness of these two areas, then
divide the difference in two, and find a shim of that amount.  Here a piece of soft plastic is being used to prop up the
end of the stock.

After the initial cut was made, the length was checked, and a second cut was made to bring the stock dimensions to the
desired 13.75" length of pull (note the two scraps).

Next comes the 'secret weapon' of this process:  Muffler tape.  This is basically a thin sheet of aluminum, about 0.003"
thick on this roll, with a *really* strong adhesive backing (more on that later).  The tape doesn't strech, so let it
overlap the end of the stock, and trim with a utility knife.

A second wrap of thicker duct tape over the muffler tape, trim, and we're ready to put the pad on.  There is no hole cut
in the pad for the screw.  With a very sharp hobby knife, cut a slit where the screw will go through the pad.  It is
vitally important to coat the knife blade, screw, and screwdriver with a lubricant to avoid tearing the pad.  Some spray
cooking oil works great.

One of the existing screw holes in the stock could be reused.  A new hole was needed for the second screw.  After cutting
a slit in the pad, a small punch was placed in the hole and lightly tapped to mark the new screw location.

A pilot hole must be drilled or the screw will likely split the stock.  Note that the hole ends up being near the toe of
the stock, and is angled slightly up into the stock.  I prefer a battery-operated hand drill for this, less power means
less chance of things getting out of control.

Now the pad can be screwed on, and excess material taken off.  Although this can be done with a variety of tools (my
first two recoil pads were installed using a dremel tool!), my preference is with a soft-backed sanding disk, chucked in
a small drill press, which is laying on it's side.  The majority of the excess pad is taken off with a coarse disk at
about 2,000rpm.  The final work is done with a fine pad at about 600 RPM.

The pad is sanded down close to the duct tape; note the scuff marks.

Remove the duct tape, switch to the fine sanding disk at lower speed, and carefully take off the remaining excess pad.  Note the
circular marks on the muffler tape; the sanding disk was lightly rubbed up against it for a perfect fit, but did not
wear through the tape!  This is only possible with the soft-backed disk.

Some final touch-up can carefully be done; note the small radiuson the top of the stock for easier gun mounting.  The pad
still has a little 'fuzz' which can carefully be removed by hand.  It is literally within a few thousandths of an inch
of the stock dimensions all the way around.  About the only issue with this method is the strong adhesive of the muffler
tape.  It did actually chip the stock finish in a few spots; however this stock was finished with Tru-Oil which is very
soft.  Fortunately it is easy to touch up.

Another question might be, why use an expensive (relatively speaking) recoil pad on an inexpensive gun?  Several reasons -
First, it was the color/style desired.  Second, this gun might be used by a novice shooter for fun practice, and all
possible recoil reduction is appreciated.  Last, I found a very good price on these at, $23 each
at this writing and needed several other pads as well.  It didn't make sense to try and find something cheaper, add
extra shipping charges if from a different source, etc.  As an aside, Wholesale Hunter also had the difficult-to-find
0.6" and 0.8" thicknesses.

As noted, several other guns are having pads installed at the same time, using some different techniques.  The next series
of pictures is for a pad install on a Ram-Line stocked Marlin 336 / .35 Rem.  A synthetic stock offers some different
challenges for recoil pad install.

Hollow synthetic stocks are quite noisy in the field.  A light tap yields a sound much like beating on a small drum!  An
opportunity was taken to fill the buttstock with expanding foam.
The stuff really does expand!  As a test, the buttstock was completely filled.  Two-thirds would probably have been
sufficient; note the large pile that dripped (the stock was hanging vertically over this old floor mat).

First, cut the slit in the pad with a hobby knife, after lubricating the blade.

As it turns out, this pad will have to be glued on.  Only one screw can be used, the other screw basically would be going
into thin air into the stock (now filled with expanding foam, not much of an improvement).  In order to help the expoy
adhere, the outline of the stock was marked on the pad, then a series of small holes (1/16th of an inch) were carefully
drilled around the pad.  

Same was done with the stock.  Note the thin profile of the stock; extreme care must be taken to not drill through the
outside of the stock!

Ordinary Devcon 2-Ton epoxy was mixed up and applied to the pad; a similar thin layer was applied to the stock.

The pad was installed with using one screw, then carefully weighted down with a special box of just the right mass
and dimensions until the epoxy cures.

Afte the epoxy had set for a few hours, but was still soft, the overruns could be pried off of the stock.  This confirms
that the epoxy will not really bond well to the synthetic stock, and hopefully the holes drilled into it will help
mechanically lock the two parts together when the epoxy flows into them.  With one screw in the pad, it should be OK.
Please note, the stock *really* should have been coated with a release agent that the epoxy would not stick to, like paste
floor wax.

After sanding down, it's ready to go hog hunting!  While some people might question putting a recoil pad on a gun that's
"only" chambered in .35 Rem, there are a couple of good reasons to do so.  First, this is a hog hunting gun, and that's
commonly done in warm weather wearing only a t-shirt.  The plastic buttplate was very slick, and had a tendency to slide
around.  Also, this gun is very light with the synthetic stock, and kicks a fair amount harder than you might expect.
Last, in increase in the length of pull was needed, but not much (which is why the 0.6" thickness Decelerator was selected
for this project).

Last picture shows another technique which may be useful for really hard kickers.  This is my Mark X .458 Win Mag, which
certainly qualifies!  The stock is very narrow, and the old pad just did not distribute the recoil well at all.  So, this
pad was installed with some 'flair' as is evident by the daylight between the sides of the stock and the caliber jaws.  A
nice increase in the surface area of the pad!

Hope you find this useful.  Recoil pad installation is certainly within the means of many shooters, and not only can you
get a first-class job with some patience, but a savings in both time and money can be realized as well. 

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