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Installing adjustable combs on gunstocks: a shotgunner's rear sight is his eye and comb height sets the placement This modification allows the shooter a custom fit.

As most shotguns do not fit individual shooters as delivered from the factory, this modification will allow a gun to be adjusted to fit. Unlike a rifle, shotguns do not have a rear sight, so your eye is the rear sight and placement is critical. An adjustable comb will allow you to adjust the gun so you are looking down the top of the barrel (rib). Target shooters especially have to have a gun that shoots where they are looking. This would also be a useful modification on most field guns. This is not only a profitable modification for the gunsmith, it is usually requested by target shooters in the summer when most gun repairs have slacked off.

To do this modification properly you will need ajig to hold the gunstock securely in place while cutting the stock and installing the hardware, (see diagram) This is a jig that I designed and had built at my local machine shop. The material I used for construction of jig might be a little heavier than needed, but seems to work well for me.

The hardware kit I normally use is made by Custom Shooting Products and purchased from Brownells (part #365-102-000, Adjusting Stock Hardware.) The brass Adjustable Disk Kit is also available in stainless steel (part #365-102-100). This hardware will work for most applications unless the stock bolt is too close to the top of the comb. Most Berettas and Remington 1100's will require a different kit (part #365-104-000, Adjustable Plate Kit) which requires inletting into the stock but the plate is thinner allowing use where the stock bolt hole is closer to the comb. Also, on guns like the Browning BT-99 an oval cutout in the stock will not leave enough wood but you can glue a dowel of the proper diameter into hole to have enough material to drill into.


Disk Kit Installation

First, remove the stock from the receiver and cover entirely with masking tape. Following instructions included with the kit, mark the cutout location. At this point clamp the stock into a jig making sure the top line of the comb is parallel with the jig. Snug wing nuts on wrist of the stock and, using existing butt plate screws, secure stock into tail stock of jig, making sure the stock is level.

Second, follow instructions supplied with kit. I have found the easiest way to smooth a piece that is cut out is by using a belt sander. Smooth cut in the stock by mounting jig in a bench vise and use a fine cut wood rasp held 45 degrees across the parallel of the stock. Cut until any high spots are removed. Run your finger along the cut and you will feel if any high spots remain. Finish this step by sanding the cut with 120 grit sandpaper on a small sanding block until the rasp cuts are removed.


At this point, I differ from the kit's instructions. I prefer to drill 5/8-inch holes into the comb piece first. Using 3/8-inch dowel center jigs inserted into the comb inserts, I install the comb inserts into the respective holes but do not glue yet. Lay the comb cutout back on the stock making sure of good alignment along the center line and side to side. Tap the comb lightly with a rubber hammer transferring the exact location of the comb inserts to the stock. Now transfer the jig and stock to your drill press vise and proceed with drilling the stock as per the manufacturer's instructions.

Prior to gluing anything in place lightly sand the outsides of the hardware to remove any oxidation and to improve adhesion of the glue. As the posts are normally longer than required I usually trim approximately a quarter inch but check with shooter first to find out how much vertical adjustment is needed. Now assemble the hardware and glue using a high grade epoxy. While the glue is setting up install the comb onto the stock so that everything will be in proper alignment when the glue sets up

When drilling #21 holes, I have found it is better to use a 1/16-inch or smaller drill bit. With the drill press set on warp speed drill the pilot holes, then set the drill press back to standard speed before drilling #21 holes. Tap the holes with a 10/32 tap and apply stock finish to the cut.

If installation is being done on a gun whose stock bolt hole is too close to the top of the stock a plate hardware kit is used instead. The basic difference is the plate must be inletted into the stock as the plate hardware is thinner.

If customer desires a soft top comb, keep the stock securely mounted in the jig, mark and cut a half inch piece out of top of the comb stopping approximately one inch from each end. This can be a square-ended cut with slightly rounded edges. Remove masking tape from the comb. Use quarter inch crafter's foam, available from fabric, hobby or craft stores, and glue it into the cut using Contact Cement, Read and heed the warnings as this can be a very dangerous material. Glue two to three layers of foam into the cut making certain the foam sticks up higher than the cut as it will be sanded flush later. Secure the pieces with a carpenter's parallel clamp until the glue is thoroughly dried, then sand excess foam down to bare wood using belt sander, removing all finish from the comb in the process.



We are now ready to finish. Before covering, remove the set screws from the comb, then cover with Naugahyde vinyl. Remove backing from the Naugahyde before gluing to the comb using Quick Set Epoxy being careful to spread epoxy only on the wood and not the foam. Stretch Naugahyde tightly over the comb and hold until dry. Trim off excess covering and run the comb across the belt sander one last time. Retap the set screw holes through the covering using a 10/32 tap. This will remove any excess epoxy from the screw holes. Adding a soft-top to your adjustable comb work is worth an additional $25.00 or more. Before returning the gun to your customer, break all edges of the cut, both comb and stock, using sandpaper to remove any sharp edges. Apply your shop sticker to side of stock and return to your now happy customer.



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Title Annotation:WOODWORKING
Author:Goskins, Walter
Publication:American Gunsmith
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2011
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