NEVER say never. NO ONE can make any absolute statements that bedding a barrel or free-floating will ALWAYS work better than the other..... unless he/she wants to risk being dead wrong...and thus, foolish. Whether free-floating a barrel, using pressure points in the forearm, or full length bedding will be best for any particular rifle is a matter of testing and experimentation - some rifles "prefer" one over the other - even when "logic" or experience might make this seem impossible. I have seen all three set ups work "best" (produce the best accuracy) on each of several different rifles. ALL had properly bedded receivers.
Oh and trying to play the "excuse game" of declaring that any "quality" rifles will ONLY work best with this or that system, that you happen to favor (and thus giving oneself an out, if proven wrong)....is just so much bull. Excuses don't make for solid analysis.
One thing CAN be stated absolutely - that a properly bedded RECEIVER WILL positively affect accuracy. I can also say that, of the three techniques, full length bedding of a barrel has the LEAST chance of improving things. Not zero chance, but the least chance. In my experience, free floating and pressure point bedding have nearly equal chance of success - depending on technical factors, such as barrel thickness, taper, etc. Beyond that, there are NO "absolutes".
A case in point. My old Mauser sporter, built from a Yugo M48. After very carefully bedding the receiver and first 2 inches of the barrel (and I've been working on rifles in general and Mausers in particular, for a very long time). I tested all three possibilities. First, free-floating the barrel....then, bedding the barrel with a pressure point, or "cradle" of epoxy, in the forend, totaling about 1 sq. inch in contact area.....then, nearly full length bedding of the barrel. The system that worked best, i.e., produced the BEST accuracy, whether the barrel was cold or hot....and the most consistency in groups.....was........(wait for it).......... WITH a 1 sq. inch "cradle" or pressure point, in the forend. Period. THAT works best on THIS particular rifle.
The process, by the way, was conducted with "scientific" methods. That is, the SAME load was used for all three test regimens. Conditions for each test regimen were kept consistent, including environmental factors, etc. So, there is NO doubt of the results.....for my particular rifle.
Whichever system will be best for any other given rifle is a matter for proof - not internet jabber from self-proclaimed "experts". So, if one wonders what will work best for his/ her particular rifle - give it a go. That's the ONLY way you'll ever really know.
Last edited by wpsdlrg; February 13, 2013 at 08:07 PM.