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Karsten Cheek Rest

Earlier this year, I picked up a new rifle, a Savage 10FCP with HS-Precision stock.  Chambered in .308 Winchester, it was my first purchase for doing some medium/long range shooting.  I've had my eye on a precision rifle course at Front Sight and I wasn't going to attempt it with my deer hunting rifle.  Besides, I needed an excuse to pick up a new rifle and this was as good as any. <grin>

With rifle in hand, I added a Bushnell 4200 FFP 6-24x50mm mil-dot optic.  As expected, with the 4200 mounted, I had no resemblance of a cheek weld.  The 50mm optic is a fairly large package and in order to align your eye with the optic, your head is positioned a fair amount up the stock.  While a good cheek weld helps ensure consistent shots, it was much closer to a chin weld.  I could see a little work was going to be necessary to correct the problem.  My research on a couple of the shooting forums turned up the Karsten cheek rest as a viable and popular option to regain my cheek weld.  It was something I could install myself and would not substantially add weight to the rifle. 

Available in three models, I finally decided the "A" version would meet my needs.  A couple of e-mail exchanges with Karsten, an electronic transfer of payment, and my Kydex cheek rest would be on its way.  When my order shipped, Karsten notified me via e-mail and included a couple of links to assist with the install.  The cheek rest, mounting hardware, and instructions arrived in time for a weekend installation.  (perfect timing in my opinion!) 

Saturday arrived and it was time to start installing the cheek rest.  Before drilling the mounting holes, I spent a little time in the prone position with the cheek rest resting atop the stock.  While doing so, I noted the approximate height (above the stock) the cheek rest required in order to get proper eye alignment for the scope.  Another consideration is the front to rear positioning of the Karsten cheek rest.  Too close to the butt pad and one won't have much support.  Too close to the receiver and one may interfere with the bolt (not so much of a problem for me since I am shooting a short action).  Too far forward can also make it difficult to remove the bolt from the receiver.  This may or may not be an issue and is something that should be considered (before any mounting holes are drilled in the stock).


Using some painters tape, I marked one side of the stock.  The tape was aligned with the rear and bottom edges of the cheek rest.  When positioned adjacent to the tape, the cheek rest was right about where it needed to be for my use, give or take a little bit.  By properly positioning the holes within the mounting slots, a good range of adjustment can be obtained.  This was factored into my decision as to where the holes would be drilled. 


A little more tape was applied for marking the holes.  My plan to was drill one of the holes and then check positioning for the remaining hole.  My HS Precision synthetic stock is hollow so it was my intention to repeat this process on the other side of the stock once both holes on this side were finished.  That would allow me to get good positioning on both side and ensure good mounting hardware alignment.  (I knew hollow stocks were good for something besides keeping weight under control.)

I opted to use two drill bits for making the holes.  I started with a small 1/8" bit and made a hole.  After that, I used the 1/4" bit to finish the hole and bring it up to the required size.  I find it easier to get a more accurate hole position when starting with a small bit.  Perhaps its just me....but it works and so I normally follow this process. 


Here is a photo of the stock with both holes finished.  The mounting hardware is 1/4" and carries a manganese phosphate coating (for corrosion resistance).  So far so good....now, to get two more holes on the other side with everything aligned. 

Marking the other side was pretty straight forward.  I slipped the cheek rest over the stock and inserted both bolts into the stock.  This allowed me visually align the other side and see how things were shaping up.  Another application of blue tape allowed me to mark the next set of holes.  After this was done, I broke out a good ruler and got a good set of measurements for hole placement from the first side.  I then checked the 2nd side where I had my marks and verified things were lining up properly.  It looked good....at least within a 1/16". 

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