The term “bubbagunsmithing” can carry a lot of negative connotations that often elicit images of destroyed firearms by people that shouldn’t be allowed to have hand tools. However, I’d like to elevate the idea of bubbagunsmithing to a person’s skillful use of what they have available in order to improve a firearm’s capabilities. In light of this lofty goal, I decided to try my hand at adding a cheek riser to the factory stock of my Remington 783 Varmint. Traditional solutions may have had me resort to duct taping shop rags to the stock, but I wanted an honest-to-goodness cheek rest that looks like it belongs. I could’ve just ordered something off the internet but most of the stuff I used came from the hardware store down the street.
Tools and Materials
The material list is pretty simple as it turns out:
- 2″ schedule 40 PVC pipe, 2 ft. long
- Two ¼-20 threaded inserts with a flange
- Two ¼-20 X 2” flat head bolts
- Two-pack nylon spacers
- Rubber washers
- 5-minute epoxy
The above items will net a functional cheek rest, but I wanted some comfort too, so I bought a $1 sheet of self-adhesive foam from the hobby store.
The tool list is also just as simple:
1. A hack saw.
2. Drill and drill bits
3. Sanding block and sandpaper
4. Heat gun
5. Cord, tubing, zip ties, or bungees
The First Cuts
The first step in this project was to cut off a 5” long section of pipe and cut that piece in half lengthwise. The cuts came out a little uneven but that turned out to be fine, enough material was going to get removed from the sides that it would even up. I marked a centerline down one of the halves and drilled the holes for the bolts that would go down into the stock. The distance between the holes is arbitrary, I positioned them about 3” apart center to center. I marked a similar centerline down the comb of the stock and overlaid the PVC half on top of that, positioning it in the right place for a good cheek weld.
Next, I took the heat gun and heated the PVC to become flexible enough for me to form it to the shape of the stock. I recommend some gloves for this step, that PVC gets quite hot in the process. I secured the piece to the stock with zip ties so that it would hold its shape as it cooled. Electrical tape, surgical tubing, or cordage would probably work just as well.
After the cheek piece had been formed to the stock I set it aside and went to work on the stock itself, locating and drilling the holes for the threaded inserts. There was no particular reason I went with a ¼-20 thread pitch other than it’s commonly available and should provide enough support. The threaded inserts were the flanged screw in type that I glued in with a quick drying clear epoxy.
I used nylon spacers to raise the cheek piece to the proper height and the flange of the inserts gave it solid bearing.
Finishing The Cheekpiece
I made some rough cuts with the hacksaw to give the cheek piece its final form and then used sandpaper to even them out to look more symmetrical. It’s really important to wear a good dust mask and eye protection to ward off the PVC dust, you definitely don’t want to breathe that stuff in or get it in your eyes.
A black sharpie on the edges of the cheek piece masked the white edges and helped it blend in with the stock once installed. The spacers that I used were ½” long and small rubber washers from the plumbing department helped me fine-tune the height.
When I took the rifle back to the range to zero, the height of the cheek riser was just right so that I had a nice full field of view when I got in position. The foam covering on the cheek piece was a great touch and settling into the gun was very comfortable with no chance of my face slipping around. I can remove the bolt with the cheek piece installed as it is, however, cleaning will require me to remove it so that there’s enough room for the cleaning rod.
It’s pretty cool what a person can MacGyver into existence with a little ingenuity and a good local hardware store.