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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am compelled to weigh in on this issue since it is such a pervasive problem. Since I have used/tried almost every possible method of using T/C forends on Contenders and Encores I think I can offer some advice that was painfully gained and often at considerable personal grief, pain, stress and expense. My experience and results come from the school of hard knocks and lost dollars - I now have a graduate degree in T/C forends and am qualified to pass on this knowledge to those who would like to save some time, effort and last but not least, some money.

The prize for the best overall idea in forend bedding (drum roll please) is. . .to isolate any type of forend from the barrel. Get that forend material far enough away from the barrel so it won't touch, ever! The cheapest, easiest and sometimes the best method of doing this is with stainless steel washers of the appropriate size on each screw. Materials other than stainless steel can crush, deform and work loose sometimes - stainless steel is worth a few extra cents where washers and forend screws are concerned - you can get many of these in the form of stainless steel washers and cap screws at Ace Hardware stores - I know other hardware stores have them, but many of you live near an Ace Hardware - make it easy on yourself, their washer and screws don't cost much and they're close. Use one or two washers on each screw, enough to allow a dollar bill (no, don’t fold it, use only one thickness) to be freely run all the way from the muzzle end of the forend back toward the action until it runs into the first forend screw), make absolutely sure you tighten your screws firmly (an inch-pound torque wrench is a good idea for consistency) so there is no positional shifting, particularly if you are using an installed sling swivel stud to mount a bipod. After installing the washers, make sure you have enough threads on your forend screws to maintain a firm hold on the dovetail inserts - too few threads and you're singing the "I Lost My Forend 'Cause The Recoil Ripped It Out Of My Dovetails" blues. Use longer replacement screws if needed. 'Nuff said.

Second place goes to the hangar bar system - from anyone who knows how to make one and can cut/form a proper channel in the forend. This system does a very good job by itself with no other effort on your part. You can buy the hangar bars from Bullberry, Virgin Valley or make your own. If you have sufficient shop skills (it really isn't that hard), you can cut your own channels with machinery or hand form them with careful attention to detail. My personal preference is for custom house (Bullberry, Virgin Valley, etc.) laminated forends with precut hangar bar channels, they fit great, and are very, very strong and easy to finish/refinish any way you like. Whether you choose wood or laminate, they are a great choice for a large segment of the T/C shooting population. Buy the hangar bar and unfinished forends, get the Minwax stain of your choice (I know a lot of you already have the stain), pick up a spray can of Tru-Oil and some 0000 steel wool and you are an artist who has saved a lot of money for more important things - like more T/C forends, barrels, frames, scopes, grips, cases, bullets, primers. . .ad infinitum.

My third place choice goes to pillar-bedding, Virgin Valley does an excellent and fairly inexpensive job, other custom houses do it too. Again, my choice, due primarily to my requirements for a strong forend are the laminates, I use bipods on some fairly heavy recoiling guns, laminates stand up to the punishment for me. Buy the unfinished, pillar-bedded forend and finish as in the previous paragraph. Again, you become an artist that has a great forend which adds to your guns accuracy instead of detracting from it, and you save your hard-earned dollars for more cool T/C stuff – see above for suggestions if you need any for your hard-earned money. Generally, pillar-bedding from a custom house in my opinion seems to work better on Encore forends, for Contenders I prefer the fourth place method below because of the incredibly strong forend that results.

Fourth place goes to a hybrid bedding method that I prefer for most Contenders, it can also be used for the newer Virgin Valley Encore hangar bar). Get an unfinished laminate hangar bar forend (with a standard hangar bar of course – a side note, I get the forends themselves long enough to go all the way out to within .25-.50” from the muzzle, that way my sling swivel stud gives me a better stabilizing radius for my bipod), glass in the hangar bar itself (please contact me for the exact procedure if you're interested - it was taught to me by a person who is a REAL artist in fabrication) with Marine-Tex, finish as in the above paragraphs and you're off to the woods, range, countryside, outback, mountains or wherever it is you do your T/C thing.

Just a bit of extra drivel here: I use only stainless T/C’s because I’m an old, lazy, shiftless crank and anything I can do to cut down the effort I expend fighting rust is time and/or money well-spent in my book (OK, you busted me, anything I can do to cut down any effort expended on ANYTHING is time and/or money well-spent). Consequently, I use only stainless steel washers, cap screws and sling swivel studs (OK, they sort of match the rest of the gun too). Since I’m so lazy, I generally only use Ebony Minwax to finish my forends since it makes it easier to match the various types of black grips I have – spray Tru-Oil works great over the Minwax finish.

I don’t know if this is useless diatribe, or whether it may actually be useful to some of you, but as I said before, I have had most of the problems you all have and have been able to solve them quite satisfactorily in my own bumbling way – if this saves you some time and money – COOL! My work here is done and we have more happy T/C shooters afield representing our common interests instead of cowering in the corner wondering how they will be able to fix a forend problem on one of these T/C contraptions. Always remember to ask your questions. You may be assured that you are not the only person who ever had that problem, and you can be assured that out of all the experienced and knowledgeable Contender and Encore shooters and ‘smiths, one of them will be nice enough to help you because they remember when they didn’t know doodley-squat about T/C’s either.

I want to issue a personal challenge to you highly-experienced T/C guys out there: Try to help at least ten new T/C shooters this year with their problems and questions, then ask them to do the same when they have new and improved skills that they can pass on to others in the future. It’s worth your time and all of us will benefit from an increased T/C presence in the shooting world. Your knowledge is power – exercise it!

Please feel free to contact me with any comments and/or questions. If you disagree with me, please have a reasonable alternative suggestion for me before telling me I’m full of it. I’m old, feeble and deserve a certain modicum of respect at my ripe old age – cut me a break. :)

Good and safe shooting to all of you!

Javelina
 

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good job javy :lol: that is great help for people that need the info.
now, this method would rank 1st with me but may rank lower on the list with you or others.
the idea came from GB and i like it. just take folded electrical tape and place in two areas near the attachment screws. you can fold as many times as you like for as much clearance as you need. easy as pie and cheap as....... well it's CHEAP. works fine for me anyway. your thoughts please. could the other ideas give me better performance? just wonder how much difference there would be? :D
 

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Helluva post Javalina - lots of very good, well thought out material that should be a big help to any who read it. Thanks pard.

I go the hanger bar way on all my Contender's, have for years ever since I first met and started running around with Fred at Bullberry and some of his ex-crew - now VVCG (I was retired in St. George for 8 years before moving here). Even used them for the T/C factory wood when I still had some and it worked fine, and on all my Pachy's, so maybe I'll add a little about that.

T/C Contender factory wood (those with one mounting hole) and Pachy's will also work with the Bullberry hanger bar on barrels with stand-offs. Note: no channel needs to be cut in the factory wood for this to work just fine. Its a "double flip" deal from the way the bar would be mounted to the barrel for a custom Bullberry (or VVCG) forend on your barrel. What that means is that since the hanger bar is stepped on the ends where the mounting screws go, you'll be changing how far the bottom of the bar is away from the barrel. The forend threaded mounting hole is also off center in the bar and has to be the opposite as well. So, swap it end for end and rotate it 180 degrees, screw it to the barrel, and it will "float" the factory wood off the barrel. I know, clear as mud! Trial and error will get you right on how to mount the bar - it can only be mounted 4 ways. You'll know your right (for factory wood & Pachy's) when the forend is floated off the barrel and positioned over the frame pivot pin front to back (as far back as possible). Tighten the bar mounting screws securly to the barrel, and you can tighten the forend mounting to the bar super tight if you want as it will not put any stress on the barrel.

Anyway, it works for me very well, and I wish I had known about Fred's idea a long time before I did (I've been shooting Contenders for about 33-34 years, but didn't get to know Fred personally until about 13 years ago).

No time this morning, but if anyone is still "lost", I could take some digitals of the bars on my barrels and post pictures later.

Larry
 

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Great post Javalina. I just went through this for the first time myself. I started by getting the right diameter piece of PVC Pipe and sanded out the barrel channel. Once this was done I still needed to get the bottom of the forend spaced off of the barrel, so I glued some washers into the holes that the barrel dovetails protrude into. Viola a free floated forend.

I did this on an older Herrett Finger Groove Style Forend that is on my Super 14 Match Grade .22 LR Contender. Yes it did indeed help the accuracy of this barrel a little bit.

I have since done some work on my Rynite Forends as well. On these (at least for now) I simple used the same piece of PVC and sanded out the forend down to the saddles formed in the bottom of the forends so they are the only portion of the forend touching the barrel. So far this has also helped in accuracy, but may try some washers in those forends also.

Thanks for taking the time to explain all of the methods you have tried out.

Larry
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Forend Bedding

Hello KYODE,

No matter what anyone else thinks, I'm a firm believer in you doing whatever you want to do as long as it works for you! If you're happy, I'm happy too! I only reserve the right to have a respectfully-stated opinion on your process/procedure.

Here's my take on the tape idea for free-floating barrels. I believe that the usual suspects (e.g., polyvinylchlorides [PVC’s] in their various forms) as far as tape is concerned are not particularly temperature stable and due to this fact, they tend to become more pliable with applied heat. Being more pliable when warm, they don't provide the same resistance between the barrel and forend when hot as they did when they were cold, thus reducing consistency (read that accuracy) during the shooting process. What does this mean in the real world? Sometimes it means doodley-squat, sometimes it means reduced accuracy, other times something in-between. In the final analysis, my personal opinion is that the stainless steel washers are the cheapest and most dependable option used as stand-offs to free-float a barrel. They maintain a predictable amount of tension when the forend screws are tightened, are rust-resistant and it's easy to add or subtract them for your particular needs and applications.

SD Handgunner and Ladobe – good job guys! Thanks for your input and process descriptions, I know there are many readers who appreciate your time and knowledge. Ladobe – I’m sure everyone would appreciate seeing some pictures of the process you describe, pictures being worth 1,000 (maybe 2,000) words) and all. . .

Now a word for you other lurking T/C experts - thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge, techniques and skills with the new/neophyte T/C guys and gals. They are our future experts and they will carry the T/C torch forward as we all become less able to hold a steady sight picture and see through eyes that aren't quite as bright and clear as they used to be. Those of you who share useful knowledge are always doing the right thing and even though you are not monetarily compensated for your time and effort, there is a great unseen benefit. Your reward is to know down deep that through your efforts you've made T/C shooting better, and everyone likes to have that feeling of satisfaction and of being thought of as an expert or guru. Take the time to share all you can about all you know. . .we all benefit, and we all certainly appreciate you.

Good and safe shooting to you.

Javelina
 

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Javvy

started looking at this last year and followed basically the same formula you outlined for the washer system with my 7-30 prior to last deer season. got the idea from pillar bedding and it works great.

one thing I learned; don't start removing wood from the forend until you look at the location of the mounting screw inserts in the barrel. the last two i got from the custom shop were not well centered and needed to be tapped into position prior to relieving the inletting a little. actually it's a little more than tapping since it is a pressed fit.

the washers are a great solution.
 

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Interresting, how much of a increase in accuracie do ya see? I understand that it will be different for each barrel, I would just like to here some storys on this, that way I can deside if it's worth the effort.
 

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Change in Accuracy

From 1-1/2" groups at 100yds to under an inch with factory federal premiums.

Total job took me about a half an hour. Used a wooden dowel with sand paper wrapped around it the same diameter as the inletting in the forend to open her up a little. Epoxied the stainless steel washers into the bbl side of the forend after truing up the holes in the forend with a dremel. Polyurethaned the inside of the forend channel. Reassemble.
 

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forend question

Has anybody ever made a hardwood or laminate forend to fit on a Pachmayr forend adapter? I've wondered about this for years. If I was much of a woodworker I would try it myself. :? :? :?
GOOD SHOOTIN', Walt
 

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Forgot what I really meant to say above. Javelina gets my vote for POST OF THE YEAR award. Good job man!!! You nailed it and just where were you about 30 years ago. New TC'ers tke note he very well explained the easiest, quickest, cheapest, and most effective acccurization of contender or Encore there is, be it pistol or carbine IMHO. THANKS, Walt :grin:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
30 Years Ago

Hopalong7,

Hmmmmm. . .where was I about thirty years ago? I was trying to figure out what in the world this Thompson Center stuff was - and whether or not it was for me - a Contender? What in the world is it? At some point I was led kicking and screaming into the Kingdom of Warren Center by a cruel, cruel friend of mine (he knows who he is, what he has done, and how much misery he has caused), the rest is history, and as many of you know, it has been very, very expensive history for most of us! Once you cross over. . .you can never go back. . . :grin:

The biggest problem with Contenders and Encores is that you can never have enough of them. If that wasn't bad enough, you will never in your life have enough time to tune, glass-bed, adjust, clean, shoot, change, rearrange, customize, reblue, admire, show-off, load, unload, fool with, fondle, swear at, praise, and/or worship them. Take my advice; if you have good sense, run, run very fast, save yourself if you can. . .

Good and safe shooting to you.

Javelina
 

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i kinnda worried it was just me and i was going crazy or something. i'm never satisfied. if i had the money i'd buy every encore and contender i seen.

WILL WORK FOR TC'S :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Contenders and Encores

KYODE,

You say that if you had the money, you'd buy every Contender and Encore you saw! I don't know you from Adam - BUT I LIKE YOU ALREADY!

Good and safe shooting to you.

Javelina
 

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I have 2 questions about the fore arms on these guns.
Does it make that much difference on the shorter bbl's eg. 15" and under? And I noticed on my composite encore forarm that the screw's actually bottom out in the holes. To me this would cause more of a stress riser in the barell if tightened too much because there isn't much metal between the bottom of the hole and the bore. Larger bore's would seem to aggravate it even more.
 

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Duffy, If your screws are bottoming out and you tighten very much you will pull the inserts right out of the dovetails. Believe me I KNOW. Yes, you will gain accuracy on a short barrel just as on a longer one. The amount varies from barrel to barrel and from one forend to another. I first realized what a different forend would do by putting a set of Pachmayrs on my first 357Herret many years ago. At first I thought it was just the barrel(man, would that thing shoot) and then after about a year I discovered the same adapter and forend would fit on my 10" 30Herret and groups were cut in half. GOOD SHOOTIN', Walt :D :D
 

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Ooops forgot to mention this is on a encore. There aren't any inserts, it's just threaded into the bbl. I still think it would make some difference though. May have to dig into this a bit deeper........Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Forend Bedding

Hello Duffy,

To give you an ambiguous answer (an my opinion only) to your second question about forend screws affecting accuracy due to being bottomed out – yes and no – how’s that for being definite? See, I knew we could nail it down for you! :grin:

If forend screws are tightened down and never removed, you have a static situation in which you have known constants to deal with. Therefore, assuming nothing is loose, vibrating too much or moving in an adverse way during firing, you should still be able to perform load development and come up with at least a somewhat predictable load. This doesn’t say that the load will be a good one or a bad one, just predictable performance-wise. Once you remove and reinstall the screws, you can introduce variables that create unpredictability (read unpredictability as a variable) as far as accuracy is concerned - . Unless you use a good inch-pound torque wrench to create a repeatable torque specification, the screws very likely don’t get tightened the same way every time (I know I sure can’t do it in exactly the same way every time), so I believe that some form of either bedding the forend or standing it off (isolating it to some degree) from the barrel is a good idea. Since the general idea in my view is to come up with loads that are acceptable to our own performance standards, my way of doing it is to try to isolate as much of the forearm effect from the barrel as possible during firing – thus, using stainless steel washers, hangar-bars, glass-bedding the hangar bars, and pillar-bedding techniques are all different ways of doing it, heck, I’m willing to use anti-gravity devices if someone can show me one that might work! The main thing in my view is to get the wood or composite material away from the barrel any way you can so it doesn’t affect or interfere with the natural harmonic vibration that the barrel exhibits during firing. It just seems that accuracy is enhanced that way from my personal experience – big bore or small – and, you are right about the big bore calibers having bore walls that are closer to where the screws are bottoming out – this can be a real stress problem. FYI, my Encores are pillar-bedded rather than using hangar-bars, although Virgin Valley Custom Guns does make a hangar bar for the Encore if you are so-inclined. I use hangar bars and glass-bed them into the forend with Marine-Tex for my Contenders.

To address your first question on how much effect these techniques have on shorter barrels such as those 15” or less, I can give you a definite and opinionated YES! I know I’m not the only person who has come to this conclusion, although I may be one the more vocal proponents of trying to improve Contender and Encore accuracy through forend isolation, attachment (and detachment) procedures and techniques. I’m sure your Encore barrel doesn’t benefit from having it’s forend screws bottomed out.

The real bottom line is that you have to take a leap of faith sometimes and just try some things for yourself. Just for a few cents, you can try the stainless steel washer technique and it will sure get you started in a good and inexpensive way on the road to better T/C accuracy. I feel that it will work on any kind of forend and you’ll be happy with the results. If you like the results, you may want to go further with hangar bars, pillar-bedding, etc., but you may also decide that for less than $1.00 at Ace Hardware by getting some washers, you just found something that works well enough so that it’s all you’ll ever need. I sure thought this stuff sounded crazy when I first got into it, but skepticism is a very healthy thing. I personally hope you try some of the things we have mentioned and think to yourself, “this is really lame and I can do better,” but then. . .I hope you REALLY ARE able to come up with something better. Then we all will benefit from your ingenuity and I hope you will be generous enough to share your discoveries with the rest of us so we can all have more accurate T/C’s too, that’s one of the reasons we all talk about this stuff and share knowledge and discoveries. I think what goes around comes around and your good deeds will pay you back ten-fold. Try the washer technique, if they don’t work you can always use them on another home project. I’ll go you one better, if you buy the washers and they don’t work, send me your address and I’ll mail you a dollar – how’s that for REAL confidence and shooting community support. :grin:

Now that I have said that I’m sure someone will want me to recommend a custom barrel, chronograph, scope or some other expensive item that I will pay for if it doesn’t work! FORGET IT YOU GUYS! I’m only brave up to $1.00! :-D

Good and safe shooting to you.

Javelina
 

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Javelina,
Thanks for your post. I am new to contenders so there is a lot to learn. Your post got me to looking at the bedding on the forearm of my gun. I thought I would try the washer trick so I took my new 22 match barrel to work to see if we had any stainless washers that would work and maybe a allen head screw to replace the slotted one. I found that an 8mm stainless washer fits like it was made for it. I put it together with the factory screw and slid a dollar down to the washer. Then I tried the allen screw. The head was just a little bigger than the slotted one so it just fit without much play, but I found I could not get the screw to start. (It worked fine without the forearm.) Checking further I finally found that the forearm bushing is not square and makes either screw tilt to the rear when held flat in the bushing without the barrel. The factory screw had enough room to tilt and go into the bushing in the barrel to mount the forearm on the barrel but I now know that only one edge of the screw head would be touching the bushing to pull the forearm tight. I think that with a little careful wood work I can get the forearm bushing straight and get the bedding right. At least I know where to start. I know it wont help my lousy shooting but the gun should be better anyway.
BruceP
 

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Thank's Javelina for the reply! Being a farmer/mechanic I am always trying to improve things so most of this is very simple to me. Biggest problem is time and I appreciate you taking the time to help out. BTW you don't have to worry about buying washers, cause theres always some prodject going on around my place! Thanks again and I'll see what master plan I come up with.
 
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