I've done a little more work on this rifle since I posted. Basically it needed a system (besides black tape) to hold the barrel band and hand guard in place.
I went ahead and cut the stock back at the barrel band, and made a steel cap that fastens on the end with a screw that threads into an aluminum lug that I implanted in the cleaning rod tunnel. It works great, and after a little finish shaping, I'll put up a few pics.
This project is all reversable if and when I find a suitable forend replacement, but for now allows me to shoot and handle the rifle and use a sling without the forend falling apart. jd
"We're all dummies, just in different ways." Old Okie Philosopher