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Thread: Free Floating Barrels

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    Member RemingtonGuy's Avatar
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    Default Free Floating Barrels

    I'm looking to buy a new hunting rifle in a couple months, and I'm curious if a free floating barrel will make much of a difference in my accuracy if I'm not going to be shooting at anything more than 200-250 yards. Thanks for any input.
    If some of our teenage thrill seekers really want to go out and get a thrill.
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    or Polar bear or brown bear and get that effect that will cleanse the soul -----Fred Bear

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    Quote Originally Posted by RemingtonGuy View Post
    I'm looking to buy a new hunting rifle in a couple months, and I'm curious if a free floating barrel will make much of a difference in my accuracy if I'm not going to be shooting at anything more than 200-250 yards. Thanks for any input.
    It improves accuracy by standardizing barrel oscilation. That said I'm not sure how much. I would suppose that would be a case to case issue. That said there's really no reason in my mind not to float it. Sand paper and a dollar bill will do the job. Pretty low tech.

    Brett

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett Adam Barringer View Post
    Sand paper and a dollar bill will do the job. Pretty low tech.

    Brett
    What do you mean by sandpaper and a dollar?
    If some of our teenage thrill seekers really want to go out and get a thrill.
    Let them go up into the north west and let them tangle with a Grizzly bear
    or Polar bear or brown bear and get that effect that will cleanse the soul -----Fred Bear

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    I agree with Brett, and prefer to free-float the barrels of my rifles. It is an easy do...I'll let Brett explain the sandpaper and dollar bill suggestion, since he offered it first to you (I'm sure it's the same thing that all of us do).

    Doc

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    Quote Originally Posted by RemingtonGuy View Post
    What do you mean by sandpaper and a dollar?
    Pull the barreled action off the stock and sand the barrel contact points till the dollar slips with easy down to the chamber aria. Don’t touch the chamber bedding, just the barrel. Another old school trick is to use carbon copy paper to show the tighter spots by slipping it between with the ink side to the wood. After floating it take it to the range and try it free and also with shims at the front of the stock for some up pressure on the barrel to see what works best.

    Use good blue tape on the finished wood that shows all around the bedding so it don't get scratched and when all done be sure to seal the wood you exposed if a wood stock.
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    If you are shooting multiple rounds in a session, the barrel will heat up and expand. If it isn't free floated, you will see a more drastic change in point of impact than you would with a floated barrel. If you will just be using it for a hunting rifle (shooting one round at a given target) it won't be as much of an issue.

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    I didn't mention this as I assumed it would be a given, but I suppose I shouldn't assume. Floating a barrel is a good start, but you should more importantly have a bedded action and a floating barrel. If the rifle doesn't come with a glass or aluminum beded action I would pay to have it done. Then take the dollar bill and slide it along the underside of the barrel to see where the barrel is touching. As stated don't sand the area of the stock where the action is bedded, but the barrel should float prety much back to the action. When you find sticking points remove the barreled action and sand the stock in the sticking areas. Eventually the barrel will float. Doing these two things especially on a rifle destined for inclement weather will one improve accuracy, but two lessen the affect of weather on the stock affecting accuracy.

    Brett

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    OK. Thanks all for the info, but is it really worth having the free floating barrel for hunting and shooting at a target no more than 250 yards?
    If some of our teenage thrill seekers really want to go out and get a thrill.
    Let them go up into the north west and let them tangle with a Grizzly bear
    or Polar bear or brown bear and get that effect that will cleanse the soul -----Fred Bear

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    Brett's advice is sound. I did not use to think so but sure do now. For match grade barrel, floating makes a WORLD of difference. Bed the action in a glass or laminated stock, float the barrel and if it will shoot; it will shoot in that condition. If the barrel is marginal, maybe some upward pressure will help some. Good luck. J.

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    Default A $100 bill works just as good....

    Bedding just almost always helps. Floating the forend may or may not make a rifle shoot better but usually does. Especially folks want to bedd/float because they have a fit problem.

    It is far more likely that bedding will fix accuracy problems than floating alone. When bedding there are three choices of what to do with the front. Fully bed it, as I do with heavier calibers (that usually starts at 338 mag), Fully float it with a bedding compound seal and stiffener in the forend channel or to build a pressure point near the forend tip. This last method seems to satisfy most light barrels.

    You mentioned a new gun, if you haven't fired it yet make no decision about floating or not until we know how it works initially. It is a good idea to bed new wood stocked rifles to be used for rough and tumble hunting as moisture can change point of impact so quickly. Bedding and stabilizing the forend has serious advantage.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by RemingtonGuy View Post
    OK. Thanks all for the info, but is it really worth having the free floating barrel for hunting and shooting at a target no more than 250 yards?
    It's not a 'must' for your appellation inside 250, but if you don't then when you sight in you must allow ample cooling time between shots to be sure a cold shot will be on the mark. Then once you have a good handle on your cold zero shoot a 5 shot string without cooling time like you would need to for backup shots in the field. Chances are you will get an acceptable grouping for hunting, but some guns will ‘string’ shots way up or down as the barrel works its way to its worm zero. Free floating takes most if not all the stringing out of a rifle but is not always needed on better made rifles.

    And like Brett said a good action bed is a must, but I would add you need a good action bedding regardless of if the barrel is floated or not. With a poor action bed you will not even be able to hold a cold zero, but most likely your factory bedding will be adequate for your purposes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Bedding just almost always helps. Floating the forend may or may not make a rifle shoot better but usually does. Especially folks want to bedd/float because they have a fit problem.

    It is far more likely that bedding will fix accuracy problems than floating alone. When bedding there are three choices of what to do with the front. Fully bed it, as I do with heavier calibers (that usually starts at 338 mag), Fully float it with a bedding compound seal and stiffener in the forend channel or to build a pressure point near the forend tip. This last method seems to satisfy most light barrels.

    You mentioned a new gun, if you haven't fired it yet make no decision about floating or not until we know how it works initially. It is a good idea to bed new wood stocked rifles to be used for rough and tumble hunting as moisture can change point of impact so quickly. Bedding and stabilizing the forend has serious advantage.
    Speaking of 'sealing' wood, every gun that becomes mine gets the linseed oil treatment on all its wood. I take everything off the wood and wipe the unfinished wood with the boiled linsead oil. Let it soak in and add more till it won’t soak in within an hour or so. This seals, protects, and stabilizes the wood quite well and forever as the oil acutely cures to a rubber like state inside the wood. In my birth state of Arizona if I did not do this I could acutely see the shrink and swell in the fit of the but plates and even start cracks, but do this and no more.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RemingtonGuy View Post
    OK. Thanks all for the info, but is it really worth having the free floating barrel for hunting and shooting at a target no more than 250 yards?
    Depends on the barrel and as Murphy stated on the bedding of the action. I know several rifle builders that free float their guns as standard practice and only change that if they find the rifle does not shoot to their expectations. I know that Gale McMillan recommended free floating barrels and on McMillan's website this is their suggestion:

    FAQ
    13. Do you recommend barrel bedding or pressure points?
    No, after installing thousands of stocks we have observed that 98% of the rifles are most accurate when free floated.

    However your question is in regards to expected gains and if it's worth it. Without testing your rifle it is impossible to say. I suspect (read, I guess) that free floating will improve its accuracy, but whether its very helpful for 200-250 yard shots I doubt. If the rifle is a decent shooter you should be able to get 2 inch groups at 100 yards with some type of suitable ammo and that is plenty of accuracy to 250 yards for moose and even deer sized animals IMO. Try a couple different kinds of ammo and just keep practicing from field positions. In the end, I'll wager the practice will make more difference than free floating your barrel in the field.

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    Default Bedding

    Once again I agree with Murphy here,(dont know the guy but he sure seems to have pretty good ideas, cause more often than not they agree with mine). If it is a standard dia. barrel it would more than likely shoot better or at the very least no worse to float it.

    Having said that when I was in gunsmithing school as part of our final project rifles we had to build a wood stock that had at least 95% contact with the barrel in the channel to develop our inleting skills. After it was checked by the instuctor we were then free to do as we saw fit with it. Well after alll that work I just had to see how it shot, and what do you know that was one of the most accurate rifles I had ever held in my hands. With the fully supported barrel that little 7-08 would tear rag holes at 100yds for the first 5 shots. After the first 5 groups would open up too around 1.5 in., still pretty good in my book. I left it alone and gave it to my 13 yr old cousin for Christmas, fully confident that it would shoot where she aimed it come November.

    Just a few weeks back we had a Remington in the shop with a very thin barrel and the customer complained that after the first shot it would begin to string vertically to the tune of 6 to 8 inches. Upon removal of the stock I found that the stock had a pressure point exerting pressure at the end of the of the forend. So being the thinker that I am I promptly free floated it and to the range I went.

    Well range report was that the stringing stopped. Unfortunately It now printed nice tight 7 to 10 inch groups depending on ammo. Back to the drawing board I went.

    Next attempt was to full length bed the barrel channel, the action was already bedded by the way. Went back to the range the next day and with 165partitions and 168 Amax it would shoot right around the inch mark.

    The little 7-08 was a custom 98 mauser blueprinted by yours truly and fitted with a 20 in # 1 sporter bbl turned and contoured by me. As stated the Rem had a very light factory barrel on it cal. 30-06. So once again the professor's statments hold water.

    As a side note I have a 1950's era sporterized Springfield with a NM Springfield bbl on it done up by Andersons Gun Shop who built some rifles for the semi famous Alaskan James Watts. This rifle has a resonably thick barrel and it wont do better than 4 inches free floated but shoots almost an inch full length bedded.

    Sorry to ramble, but its late and the dog aint too talkative tonite.I guess the bottom line is most of the time it works and there's only one way to find out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Kid View Post
    Once again I agree with Murphy here,(dont know the guy but he sure seems to have pretty good ideas, cause more often than not they agree with mine). If it is a standard dia. barrel it would more than likely shoot better or at the very least no worse to float it.

    Having said that when I was in gunsmithing school as part of our final project rifles we had to build a wood stock that had at least 95% contact with the barrel in the channel to develop our inleting skills. After it was checked by the instuctor we were then free to do as we saw fit with it. Well after alll that work I just had to see how it shot, and what do you know that was one of the most accurate rifles I had ever held in my hands. With the fully supported barrel that little 7-08 would tear rag holes at 100yds for the first 5 shots. After the first 5 groups would open up too around 1.5 in., still pretty good in my book. I left it alone and gave it to my 13 yr old cousin for Christmas, fully confident that it would shoot where she aimed it come November.

    Just a few weeks back we had a Remington in the shop with a very thin barrel and the customer complained that after the first shot it would begin to string vertically to the tune of 6 to 8 inches. Upon removal of the stock I found that the stock had a pressure point exerting pressure at the end of the of the forend. So being the thinker that I am I promptly free floated it and to the range I went.

    Well range report was that the stringing stopped. Unfortunately It now printed nice tight 7 to 10 inch groups depending on ammo. Back to the drawing board I went.

    Next attempt was to full length bed the barrel channel, the action was already bedded by the way. Went back to the range the next day and with 165partitions and 168 Amax it would shoot right around the inch mark.

    The little 7-08 was a custom 98 mauser blueprinted by yours truly and fitted with a 20 in # 1 sporter bbl turned and contoured by me. As stated the Rem had a very light factory barrel on it cal. 30-06. So once again the professor's statments hold water.

    As a side note I have a 1950's era sporterized Springfield with a NM Springfield bbl on it done up by Andersons Gun Shop who built some rifles for the semi famous Alaskan James Watts. This rifle has a resonably thick barrel and it wont do better than 4 inches free floated but shoots almost an inch full length bedded.

    Sorry to ramble, but its late and the dog aint too talkative tonite.I guess the bottom line is most of the time it works and there's only one way to find out.
    Ya that Murphy is a sharp one most of the time, can't understand why he would use a $100 tool when a $1 tool works the same though . . . show-off!
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    Wow. That was alot of good information i never knew. Thanks everybody
    If some of our teenage thrill seekers really want to go out and get a thrill.
    Let them go up into the north west and let them tangle with a Grizzly bear
    or Polar bear or brown bear and get that effect that will cleanse the soul -----Fred Bear

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    I have a Model Seven SS 7mm-08 that w/ the factory stock would shoot 3/4"-1" groups. I bought a new HS Precision stock and put it on and the grouping went to about 4". Looking at the old stock, I saw Remington put a pressure point on the end of the stock. SO...I went back to the range and put 3 business cards in where the factory stock had the pressure point and it went back to the 3/4" grouping. I am not sure if it is true, but I was told that the pencil barrels sometimes will do better w/ a pressure pad. Mine does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenbrier View Post
    I am not sure if it is true, but I was told that the pencil barrels sometimes will do better w/ a pressure pad. Mine does.
    Yes that is true. It's an issue of harmonics, all barrels vibrate when shot and what we want is as close to the same vibration and as small of vibration as we can get it down too. If on one shot the muzzle is on the top of the vibration wave as the bullet exits and then at the bottom of the wave on the next shot it’s unpredictable and not consistent.

    Putting a pressure point under the barrel acts just like pushing a guitar string down on the fret board, it changes the harmonic frequency and makes the string or gun barrel harmonics act as if it were shorter. To better understand the ‘pencil vs. bull’ barrels think about strumming a guitar, the big fat strings move so little you can hardly visually tell they are vibrating and the thin strings vibrate so wildly that it’s easy to see. Now apply this to barrels and you can see the thinner pencil barrel is much more prone to harmonics problems with the same length barrel. So the pressure point helps reduce the harmonic length and the sideways distance the barrel is moving is also reduced.

    I learned this from a Donald Duck cartoon about how math is everyplace when I was a kid, Walt was a very smart man!
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    Just buy a Blaser and call it good

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    Expanding on what ADfields said: The barrel "oscilates" when shot. Bedding the action and floating the barrel does not stop oscilation. It helps to lessen the oscilation and MORE importantly standardize the oscilation of the barrel. It's fine if the barrel moves, so long as it moves the same way every time. That's why a bedded action, free floating barrel, and other things are so important. Other keys are not contacting the barrel when shooting or snagging the front sling swivle stud. I was at the range today and I kid you not I saw a guy resting his barrel on a sand bag to shoot!!! I wanted to say something, but I resisted the urge. Holding down on the top of the barrel to steady the rifle is another no no! Also resting the front sling swivle on the bag is a no no as the stud will distrupt recoil.

    Brett

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