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Installing a Recoil Pad
by Roy Seifert

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Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.

If you’ve been keeping up with my articles you know that I purchased Winchester 97 pump-action shotgun for use in competition.  I wanted to perform some modifications to make my gun more competition friendly (refer to my article Modifying a Winchester 97 for Competition).  One of the modifications I wanted to perform was to install a recoil pad to not only dampen some of the recoil, but to also adjust the length of pull (LOP) of my gun.  Ok, I’m shooting light target loads, but still I wanted to customize my gun to fit my particular needs.

Cutting the Butt Stock
I did some research on the Internet and found a number of methods for measuring LOP, but it boils down to how it ultimately feels to the shooter.  With my gun mounted on my shoulder and standing in a shooting position I measured from the tip of the nose to the first knuckle of the thumb.  My measurement was exactly 2-inches.  For correct LOP this measurement should be between 1” and
1 1/2“.  To facilitate loading with my right hand I wanted the stock to be a little bit shorter so I decided to remove 1”, and since the new recoil pad I was adding was 3/4“ I would have to remove 1 3/4“ inches from my butt stock.

The other measurement I needed to take into account was pitch.  Pitch can best be described as the angle of the butt in relation to the receiver and barrel.  I set the butt flat on a window sill so the end of the receiver was just touching the edge of the window frame.  As you can see in the above photo the barrel was angled away from the window frame.  So this gun has up or positive pitch.  (Think of it this way, you have to climb up hill from muzzle to receiver.)  You will almost never see neutral or down (negative) pitch.  Negative pitch would have the heel of the stock (top) sticking out farther from the toe (bottom) which would make it difficult to mount and could cause bruising of the shoulder.

To find the degrees of pitch I measured the distance from the window frame to the tip of the barrel which was 1.127”.  The distance from the point where the receiver touched the window frame to the end of the muzzle was 22” which formed the hypotenuse of a right triangle.  So using the formula ARCSIN(1.127/22) gave me an angle of 2.9 degrees of positive pitch.


I removed the stock from the receiver and put a strip of masking tape around the stock where I planned to cut.  I adjusted the fence on my table saw to cut 1 3/4” and laid the butt against the fence.  I adjusted the miter gauge so it was in line with the top of the stock at the 2.9-degree setting and cut the stock.

Modifying the Miles Gilbert Recoil Pad Fixture


I have installed grind-to-fit recoil pads in the past with moderate success.  The hardest part of the process is sanding the heel and toe lines to match the lines of the butt stock.  I purchased a Miles Gilbert recoil pad installation fixture from MidwayUSA #658338 to facilitate proper shaping of the pad.  This fixture consists of an aluminum base with two prongs, a pivot arm drilled and tapped to accept various types of recoil pads, and the associated hex-head screws, tools, and washers.  The first thing I found was that the base was too long and would not allow me to completely sand around the recoil pad.  I didn’t want to have to remove and readjust the fixture to grind each end of the pad, so I decided to make a sliding base for the fixture.  There is nothing I hate worse than spending good money for a tool that doesn’t work as designed!


First I cut the front and rear off of the base leaving just the two prongs.  Then I drilled and tapped two 10-32 holes in the base.  These holes will accept 10-32 hex head screws to mount to my sliding adjustable base.  Two holes will prevent the fixture from turning while mounted to the base.


Next I fabricated a new base out of 1/2-inch aluminum.  I milled a slot 0.325-inches wide by 3.325-inches long and 1/4-inch deep.  This slot will hold the fixture mounting hex-head screws flush with the bottom of the base.  Then I milled a slot 0.2-inches wide by 3-inches long through the center of the larger slot.  This narrower slot will hold the screws.  Finally I milled the base in the approximate shape of the original Miles Gilbert base.


Installing the Recoil Pad
I purchased a grind-to-fit Kick Eez® recoil pad from MidwayUSA #926512 to add to the butt stock to help dampen some of the recoil.  The original butt stock measured 1 5/8” wide by 4 7/8” long; the new recoil pad measured 2” wide by 5 5/8” long and 3/4“ thick so there was plenty of pad to grind off and fit. 


When I cut the stock I also cut off both mounting holes so I had to drill two new holes.  This is much better than having to fill and re-drill an existing hole.  I marked the center of the butt stock and marked where I wanted to drill the first hole.  I used a #28 drill bit to drill the first hole, then drove the screw into the hole to cut the threads.


I mounted the recoil pad onto the butt stock with the first screw and inserted the second screw.  I rotated the pad so the second screw would leave a mark; where that mark intersected the pencil line I drilled the second hole, then drove a mounting screw into that hole to cut the threads.  After the holes were drilled and tapped I mounted the oversized recoil pad onto the butt stock.


With the pad mounted onto the butt stock I scribed a line around the outer edge of the butt stock, and then I removed the pad. 


I assembled the fixture as shown in the above photo.  The longer side of the pivot arm is facing the narrow end of the base.  I placed the base on the on the butt stock with the narrow end toward the narrow end (toe) of the stock. 


I placed a square on top of the fixture and rotated the arm until the square was lined up with the line of the comb.  I tightened the pivot screw, then adjusted the adjustment screw until it just touched the base.  I tightened the lock nut so the adjustment screw would not move.


I moved the square to the toe and rotated the arm until it was in line with the toe, then I tightened the pivot screw.


I mounted the recoil pad upside down onto the fixture.  Now I’m ready to sand.  The instructions that came with the fixture recommended 80-100 grit, but I used a 120-grit sanding disc on my sander to get it to be smoother.


Since the fixture is set up to grind the toe line, this is where I started.  I sanded from the middle of the pad on each side around to the toe.  I sanded just up to my scribe line.


I loosened the pivot pin and rotated the arm until the adjustment screw was against the base, then tightened the pivot screw.  I then sanded again from the middle of the pad around to the comb line up to the scribe line.

I took some 220-grit sand paper and rounded the sharp edge on the soft surface of the recoil pad that was left from the grinding.  I also sanded the newly ground sides to smooth down the surfaces.  I finished by coating all surfaces with paste wax.


I installed the butt stock onto the receiver, then installed the recoil pad onto the butt stock.  I was really quite pleased with the results.  The length of pull is now much better for me and the gun fits my shoulder very well.  I can reach the ejection port much more easily with my right hand for loading single shells for cowboy matches.



   © Copyright 2014 Roy Seifert.