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Thread: free float or not?

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    Member cjustinm's Avatar
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    Default free float or not?

    if you guys have a synthetic stock (ruger) that has some contact on the barrel would you bother to sand it? just curious i know synthetic dont change (shrink/swell) like wood stocks that would put pressure on the barrel so i was wondering if it was worth the trouble.

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    0.001" movement of the barrel = 1" at 100 yards. You don't want anything touching your barrel.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjustinm View Post
    if you guys have a synthetic stock (ruger) that has some contact on the barrel would you bother to sand it? just curious i know synthetic dont change (shrink/swell) like wood stocks that would put pressure on the barrel so i was wondering if it was worth the trouble.
    I've seen rifles shoot top notch with a barrel that free floats or a barrel that has consistent contact (both neutral and upward pressure), but never seen one shoot consistently with "some contact." I'd free float and go from there.
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    I'd glass bed it an free float it. I did this to a ruger 77 in 223. It was the old model ruger synthetic stock where it's hollowed out in the buttstock and molded letters: "Ruger" inside. I've yet to find another rifle that was as accurate as that gun. I raised the back of the action up with two business card shims, and raised the front of the barrel up under the tip of the stock with three shims. Bedded the front lug first, then bedded the rear action screw after loosely tightening down the front lug. Of course, all through the stock in select places, I drilled 1/4" deep holes for the bedding compound to seep in. I ran bedding compound to where the thick chamber area of the barrel ended. That thing shot one-hole groups with ANY 55 grain bullet.

    I made my own bedding compound out of thickened epoxy, black epoxy die, and was reinforced with fibers that I cut up from a piece of carbon fiber cloth, as the store bought crap won't hold a candle to the strength of some home-made stuff with high-end thickeners and strengtheners. Puts accra-crap to shame.

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    Member cjustinm's Avatar
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    I guess I should change "some contact" to "mostly contact" I cant get a dollar bill down the stock at all but I've got the action screwed in pretty tight. its a pretty accurate gun just wondering if it would be more accurate.

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    just like accurate handloads, it is gonna be a trial and error process - Most often I think free floated barrels work best, at least good quality barrels but neutral pressure full contact bedded is what Melvin Forbes does and always has used, as I've read, and his rifles are not only legendary for accuracy but for same POI with differing bullet weights too and then it might be that your rifle shoots best with some pressure at the tip of the fore end (which is easy to test with a business card) I have a Kimber Montana 325 WSM that I full length neutral pressure bedded and it changed what loads it liked but ultimately shot better with it done - It's the "journey" that we are supposed to enjoy the most .....

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    I believe the the most accepted configuration for a consistent good shootin rifle is to stress free bed the action and barrel shank to the point it starts to taper. Everything past that should be free floated. I've read that a contact point can improve accuracy, but my guess is this is for an otherwise poor shooting rifle that may not be configured properly or has a bad barrel. If you use a contact point a number of things could change, mostly environmentally, to change the degree of contact your getting. All of the reputable smiths I know and know of bed and float their rifles as I described.
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    MT is correct...2" in front of the recoil lug and full bedding on the action. Bedding can be any good epoxy resin and glass or carbon if you like but it need to immobilize the action and recoil lug completely and if you need a rubber mallet to get the barreled action out...so much the better. On light stocks I try to keep a 1/4" clearance on the barrel so it can't flex and touch the barrel regardless how you hold the gun, sling or not. If you use shooting sticks try to shoot from them at the range and make sure the gun is shooting to the same point of aim as from the bags....not all of them will.
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    I have free floated 3 or 4 of my rifles. All have shot noticeably better with a little upward pressure on the barrel at the front of the stock.

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    The Ruger plastic stocks are very flexible, so if you're going to free float it, make sure you have plenty of clearance.

    I know the conventional wisdom is free float is always best, but I advise you to shoot the gun first before doing anything to the stock. Here are the first and third hand loads shot out of my Ruger 350 rem mag with the horrible heavy factory trigger and nothing done to the gun other then mounting and zeroing the scope. And yes the barrel contacts the end of the stock.





    I'm more than happy with a medium bore rifle that shoots 1/2 moa for 3 shots.
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    Tis an experimental science, fore shore.

    IME, it's uneven pressure that is the worst problem.

    Forend pressure is fine, but it needs to be on the bottom, and not to one side. I've had that problem more than once.

    A guy at the range yesterday said his new synthetic stocked mdl 70 300 WM was shooting off to the right. The stock was bearing tight on the left side, all along the forend, but not on theother side.

    I'm satisfied, that was a problem. I told him what I could. I'm not sure he understood.

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    I usually free float anything with a .200” barrel wall thickness or better at the end of the forearm. A profile thinner than that whips a lot and gets a 1” up pressure area that contacts with .020” or so of up pressure.

     
    Synthetic stocks are very flexible so with your ever-so kinda maybe whatever contact you have how you grasp the forearm is imparting pressure on the barrel, you can never hold it the same way twice. Bed the action from the tang to an inch or so onto the barrel. Once bedded when tightening the bolts they should come tight all at once, they shouldn’t slowly get tighter. Open the barrel channel so you have at least .030” all along it, .more is better on synthetic stocks. Now go shoot a group like that, then slide paper under there to give you about .020” up pressure and shoot another group. If the 2n’d group is betterbed a pressure pad in the front of the forearm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    The Ruger plastic stocks are very flexible, so if you're going to free float it, make sure you have plenty of clearance.
    Very flexible indeed! Even though a plastic stocked Ruger may be free floated, when a person shoots using a bipod, they may experience contact between barrel and stock which will throw off their shots. Especially if/when the barrel is whippy I know this from experience and no longer use a bipod on my .308 shooting from the bench, rather I pillow under the bedded action.

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    Member Doug in Alaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    The Ruger plastic stocks are very flexible, so if you're going to free float it, make sure you have plenty of clearance.

    I know the conventional wisdom is free float is always best, but I advise you to shoot the gun first before doing anything to the stock. Here are the first and third hand loads shot out of my Ruger 350 rem mag with the horrible heavy factory trigger and nothing done to the gun other then mounting and zeroing the scope. And yes the barrel contacts the end of the stock.

    I'm more than happy with a medium bore rifle that shoots 1/2 moa for 3 shots.
    I'm with Paul H on this one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    Very flexible indeed! Even though a plastic stocked Ruger may be free floated, when a person shoots using a bipod, they may experience contact between barrel and stock which will throw off their shots. Especially if/when the barrel is whippy I know this from experience and no longer use a bipod on my .308 shooting from the bench, rather I pillow under the bedded action.
    That's interesting. The guy I mentioned, had a tripod. I wonder if the weight of the gun was bending the forend against the barrel.

    I have only 1 synthetic stocked rifle a Mk V Weatherby. That forend doesn't bend.

    At least, I've never detected any, like on other rifles. Same with the Weatherby Vanguards I've seen.

    That I like.

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