The Joy of Ky­dex

Gary Chilling­worth works on cus­tomis­ing a stan­dard stock with per­for­mance in mind

Air Gunner - - AIRGUN WISDOM -

Last month, I re­ceived an email from a reader who asked how they could turn a stan­dard stock into some­thing that re­sem­bled my CS1000. It’s fair to say that with af­ter­mar­ket stocks cost­ing from £ 300 to £700, they are some­thing of a lux­ury, so to make this trans­for­ma­tion, and to do it for un­der £75, there are three ar­eas that we need to look at; the cheek riser, the butt plate, and the depth of the stock. Over the next two is­sues, we will look at these, but for this month, we’ll check out the cheek riser.

A raised cheek riser is one of the most es­sen­tial things you can have on a mod­ern ri­fle. If you are go­ing to shoot from the prone po­si­tion and rest the butt of the ri­fle on the floor, you could strug­gle if you have a stan­dard cheek riser. Many top ri­fles, like the HFT-500, Gold Star and Steyrs, have ad­justable risers as stan­dard, but if you have a ri­fle like an HW100, S400 or TX200, then the comb of the cheek riser will be low, so you could end up with a float­ing head on cer­tain shots and this can lead to par­al­lax er­ror and missed tar­gets.

The most ba­sic an­swer is to take the ri­fle to a wood­worker and have them cut the cheek piece, and at­tach a cheek-ris­ing kit from some­one like Rowan En­gi­neer­ing, but this will cost be­tween £ 50 and £100 and for this ex­per­i­ment it’s too ex­pen­sive. Also, chop­ping the stock is dras­tic be­cause if you change your mind, you can never go back.

All rise

Mak­ing a cheek riser is sim­ple and cheap and this is where Ky­dex makes its first ap­pear­ance. Ky­dex is a ther­mal plas­tic and in its cold form it’s hard and rigid, but heat it up and it can be moulded with some very ba­sic skill, and cut with a hack­saw blade or a Drem­mel.

Be­fore you start, you will need to get some kit. First of all, you will need some sheets of Ky­dex; these can be pur­chased in an as­sort­ment of colours and thick­nesses from eBay and I pur­chased three that were 1.5mm thick and A4 in size, in black for £14. I also bought some wide mask­ing tape, two bolts to go through the stock, some plas­tic star-head re­tain­ing nuts and some fine sand­pa­per. I also needed an oven or a hot-air gun, a power drill and a small, flat file. So, to buy a sin­gle sheet of Ky­dex with bolts and nuts it will cost you about £10.

The first thing you want to do is to cut up a ce­real box and make a tem­plate. I of­fered the tem­plate up to the stock and stuck it in place with a bit of tape, then filled the void be­tween the top of the comb and the top of the card­board riser with news­pa­per, to add strength, and I lightly placed my head onto it. I laid prone and I could see that with the cheek riser set just be­low the level of the scope, I could get a good cheek weld, and the new riser was to be ad­justable so I knew that this would be fine.

Time to drill!

With it fixed in place, I then marked the card to in­di­cate where I wanted to drill my stock holes. You must bear in mind where your hand sits on the stock be­cause you don’t want the bolts to im­pede your grip. The next stage is tak­ing the card­board tem­plate and lay­ing it on top of the sheet of Ky­dex. Cover the Ky­dex in mask­ing tape and draw round the tem­plate. Now, this is where the fun starts.

If you want, you can cut the Ky­dex when it’s cold, and this can be done with a ban­dor jig-saw, or even with a pair of tin snips. If you use snips, cut it a lit­tle too large and you can sand it smooth af­ter­wards. The eas­i­est way, though, is to place the Ky­dex on a heat-re­sis­tant board – a piece of wood cov­ered in tinfoil is per­fect – and heat it up, ei­ther with the heat gun or put it in a hot oven at about 220C for about a minute, to let the Ky­dex go all floppy. When it gets to this stage, you can cut it with scis­sors or a Stan­ley knife, but re­mem­ber, it’s hot plas­tic, so wear thick gloves.

When you have heated the Ky­dex and cut out the rough shape of your cheek riser, it’s now time to de­cide what sort of cheek riser pro­file you re­quire. If you want an ex­act copy of the one you al­ready have, then this is nice and sim­ple. Take the Ky­dex you have just cut out and mark a line down the cen­tre, re­heat the Ky­dex and then place the sheet on top of the comb of the stock, and line up the cen­tral line with the mid­dle of the scope. Re­mem­ber to wear gloves be­cause the Ky­dex will be very hot. Then, gen­tly grip it from both sides, push it into place and hold it there un­til it cools – you will now have a copy of your ri­fle’s cheek piece.

A shape to suit

If you want a dif­fer­ent sort of cheek riser, for in­stance some­thing square like a Steyr,

or rounded, then you will have to make a pro­file to sit on top of the comb. If you would like a cylin­dri­cal pro­file for the top of your riser, and this type of riser is per­fect for turn­ing a right- or left-handed stock into an am­bidex­trous unit, then a per­fect thing to use is a tube that once con­tained Vi­ta­min C tablets. At­tach this to the top of your riser with a bit of tape and re­peat the process of heat­ing the Ky­dex and form­ing it over the tube. If you make a mis­take, the Ky­dex can be re­heated mul­ti­ple times.

Once you have the pro­file of the riser and you are happy with it, of­fer it up to the stock and make sure that the marks you made for the holes line up with your stock. If they do, re­move the riser and drill the holes on one side of the riser only. The holes need to be only slightly big­ger than the bolts you are go­ing to use. When you have drilled the riser, again of­fer it up to the stock and check that the holes in the riser line up with the marks on the stock. If they do, then drill the stock mak­ing sure that the drill is level on both the hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal planes. If you’re not en­tirely happy about do­ing this, get some­one to help. It’s also a good idea, to get some scrap wood that is a sim­i­lar thick­ness to your stock and have a few prac­tise goes.

You then need to drill the holes on the other side of the riser. The easy way to do this, is to put the riser on the stock and af­ter mak­ing sure it’s in line, place the drill bit through the riser and stock and as long as the drill bit is long enough, just drill through the other side – if the bit isn’t long enough, you will have to mea­sure.

With the holes now drilled on both sides, you now want to make your slots so that the riser can ad­just up and down. To do this, drill two holes one on each side of the first hole on the ver­ti­cal plane. Make these as close to­gether as pos­si­ble, and once you have drilled the ex­tra four holes, take a small file and file the points flat. You should now have a small slot. Re­peat this process for all four slots and once this is done, your riser is ready.

Fully ad­justable

Re­move the mask­ing tape and of­fer the riser up to the stock, slide the bolts through the slots – I like to use some spring wash­ers as well – and at­tach the re­tain­ing bolts to the right side of the stock. The riser should now slide up and down and be fully ad­justable.

If you don’t want it to be ad­justable, you don’t have to cut the slots; you can just screw the riser to the stock, or if you want to leave the stock un­touched, you can fix it with heavy- duty 3” Vel­cro and fill the void be­tween the top of the comb and the riser with ex­pand­ing foam to pre­vent the riser from be­ing pushed down when you rest your cheek on it. Just cover the stock in duct tape to pre­vent dam­age to the wood whilst the foam sets.

There are some great videos on YouTube, and these will cer­tainly help you when work­ing with Ky­dex. It a very sim­ple medium to work with and if you have more tal­ent then I, you can get some great re­sults. Next month, we will look at ad­justable butt plates and ham­sters.

“the prob­lem is, un­like Larissa who is young and fit, I’m old, a bit fat, and I also have a dodgy back”

If you have any ideas, or if there is any­thing you want me to look at, please drop me a line at garychilling­[email protected]

Af­ter heat­ing the Ky­dex sheet in the oven, place it on the form and hold down

Cov­er­ing the Ky­dex with mask­ing tape makes mark­ing it easy

Make a pro­file, a cylin­dri­cal one is per­fect.

With the mod­i­fi­ca­tion done it’s now in per­fect line

Mea­sure twice, drill once

Drill the stock and slide the bolts through, then fix with star nuts

Drill the holes and cutout the re­main­ing bumps with a Dremel or a file

Of­fer it up to the stock and it will show you if it’s big enough

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