The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Art of the Rifle: Bolt, Lever, and Pump Action

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old November 5, 2012, 09:47 AM   #1
ripnbst
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 24, 2010
Location: Tulsa, OK
Posts: 1,385
Free floated barrels and modern production

It seems like a free floated barrel is a known improver of accuracy. Why do rifle manufacturers still make guns without free floated barrels? Seems to me it is not a cost to mfg issue, simply a design change from jump street.

Anyone have any idea why not all modern rifles made have free floated barrels?
ripnbst is offline  
Old November 5, 2012, 10:12 AM   #2
kilotanker22
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 14, 2012
Posts: 405
Not sure why the difference. But not one remind.grin I have ever had as floated and they all shot really well.
kilotanker22 is offline  
Old November 5, 2012, 11:04 AM   #3
warbirdlover
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 13, 2009
Location: central Wisconsin
Posts: 2,324
Usually the lighter barrels do better with a contact point. I've found each gun is different. Some shoot well with a free floated barrel, others don't. If they do shoot free floated you have a better mousetrap as there is no barrel pressure that might change and effect POI. Also, they will not change POI as the barrel heats up.
warbirdlover is offline  
Old November 5, 2012, 02:41 PM   #4
Jerry45
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 18, 2000
Location: Metairie, Louisiana
Posts: 890
I have to agree with warbirdlover. I have a Remington 30-06 with a sporter barrel that I put in a free-float stock. First shot is 1" high 1 right from the next three which will shoot a 3/8 group. Then as the barrel heats up it stiltedly moves low left until it's shooting 2" lower 1 1/2" farther left. In the original stock with barrel contact it shoot 1" groups that all revolve around point of aim whether it's cold or hot.
__________________
Guns are not dangerous! People are! RKBA!
Jerry45 is offline  
Old November 5, 2012, 04:15 PM   #5
jmr40
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 15, 2008
Location: Georgia
Posts: 5,794
It is extremely rare for a sporter weight or heavier barrel to shoot worse when free floated. They might not shoot better, but rarely worse. As others have said, thin barrels are a bit different. All of the Remington MT rifles I've owned shot much better with some pressure, the Winchester FWT's shot better floated.

Some gunsmiths full length bed the entire length of the barrel. If done right it works as well as free floating, but it is much easier, and cheaper to free float. The key is consistency and there is more than one way to get it.
jmr40 is online now  
Old November 5, 2012, 05:33 PM   #6
Bart B.
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 15, 2009
Posts: 4,409
Anything that puts pressure any place with any force on the barrel from shot to shot degrads the accuracy it has. Which is why barrels need a lot of clearance between them and the stock's fore end. Fore ends bend from how they're held plus what and how they're rested on. They better not bend enough to touch and put pressure on the barrel. . .anywhere along its length.

If one shoots enough shots per test group, they'll easily see how much more accurate totally free floated barrels are. Their weight or length has nothing to do with it.

There are two exceptions; M1 and M14/M1A semiauto match rifles which need 30 to 35 pounds of pull-down pressure midpoint on the barrel at the ferrule at the front of its fore end for best accuracy. Even then, with different amounts of sling tension in positions, accuracy will degrade somewhat.
Bart B. is online now  
Old November 5, 2012, 07:03 PM   #7
coyota1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 6, 2008
Location: West Michigan
Posts: 661
I have had good luck having the barrel of a sporter to be fully bedded. My VLS 700 shoots best bedded, and it's a varmint barrel. Sometimes it depends on the gun.
coyota1 is offline  
Old November 6, 2012, 10:37 AM   #8
ripnbst
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 24, 2010
Location: Tulsa, OK
Posts: 1,385
This is all very interesting. I will have to see how it shoots as is before jumping to floating it. Once floated, is there any way back?
ripnbst is offline  
Old November 6, 2012, 02:04 PM   #9
math teacher
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 5, 2012
Location: Southwest WA Coast
Posts: 314
Yes you can epoxy or shim the stock at the original point of contact, or as mentioned, full length bed it. Try shooting it first and remember, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
math teacher is offline  
Old November 6, 2012, 03:37 PM   #10
warbirdlover
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 13, 2009
Location: central Wisconsin
Posts: 2,324
Quote:
Anything that puts pressure any place with any force on the barrel from shot to shot degrads the accuracy it has.
I disagree. I've been playing this game for almost 50 years and I've found rifles (freefloated) that WILL NOT SHOOT until there is a pressure point. And that is with handload development. I've built a couple rifles from scratch (semi-inletted Fajen stocks etc.) and always would try to free float the barrels first. Some just would not group until a pressure point was added. (And the action area was always glass bedded). Barrel harmonics can drive you nuts sometimes.
warbirdlover is offline  
Old November 6, 2012, 05:37 PM   #11
coyota1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 6, 2008
Location: West Michigan
Posts: 661
My sporter varmint rifles are fully bedded, and they are tack drivers. They also keep their point of impact month after month, year after year.
coyota1 is offline  
Old November 6, 2012, 05:44 PM   #12
johnwilliamson062
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 16, 2008
Posts: 6,759
I think what it comes down to is free floating is cheap and easy. YOu need no skill or specialized equipment. I could even do it.

Putting the right amount of pressure on the right point of the barrel seems to be considerably more complicated. I tried once. It didn't turn out well. Well, not exactly true. After mucking it up I free floated it and that worked fine.
__________________
$0 of an NRA membership goes to legislative action or court battles. Not a dime. Only money contributed to the NRA-ILA or NRA-PVF. You could just donate to the Second Amendment Foundation
First Shotgun Thread First Rifle Thread First Pistol Thread
johnwilliamson062 is offline  
Old November 6, 2012, 05:58 PM   #13
coyota1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 6, 2008
Location: West Michigan
Posts: 661
A friend of mine has a M77 varmint/target which has a medium weight barrel, and came factory free floated. As the barrel warmed up it would string groups. We placed a piece of flat rubber between the barrel and the stock just before the end of the stock, and it settled down. It now touches holes with the right load.
coyota1 is offline  
Old November 7, 2012, 10:26 AM   #14
Saskhunter
Member
 
Join Date: October 16, 2012
Location: Saskatchewan
Posts: 30
Quote:
Anything that puts pressure any place with any force on the barrel from shot to shot degrads the accuracy it has.
Nope. There is no such rule. Sometimes free floating improves accuracy; sometimes it doesn't; sometimes it makes it worse.

I think the only rule about free floating is that it makes a rifle less likely to lose point of aim over time due to moisture changes in the stock. I free float all my hunting rifles for that reason, but not to increase accuracy.

I have one rifle that does, if fact, shoot better free floated, but for the rest of mine, free floating proved fundamentally irrelevant to accuracy. I have a friend whose .30-06 insists it have some fore end pressure to shoot well. I would sell it, because of my desire to free float to preserve consistency, but he won't. It shots VERY well with the right pressure. Every gun is unique.
Saskhunter is offline  
Old November 7, 2012, 11:50 AM   #15
Bart B.
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 15, 2009
Posts: 4,409
Well then, all those who believe rifle barrels should touch their stock's fore end someplace with some amount of pressure (that will surely change with how the rifle's held) need to contact all the competitive rifle shooters winning matches and setting records that their success has only been what it is by sheer luck. Tell them they would do better if they put some contact between their rifle's fore end and its barrel. Pay particular attention to the benchrest discipline as theirs is the one that will see the benefits the quickest and more clearly. Good place to start is the web sites catering to benchrest, high power, F-Class and international disciplines.

Just think of the accolades and honors you would get by helping them shoot so darned much better.

But, what if, they really did what you suggest. Those top lever shooters who know what's best and do it with their hardware might no longer be where they are. And those second, third and lower place competitors would all move up a notch or more probably because they're not smart enough to believe you.
Bart B. is online now  
Old November 7, 2012, 01:38 PM   #16
coyota1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 6, 2008
Location: West Michigan
Posts: 661
Bart B, you are comparing apples to oranges here. Match barrels are not production rifle barrels.
coyota1 is offline  
Old November 7, 2012, 08:14 PM   #17
Bart B.
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 15, 2009
Posts: 4,409
coyota1, I disagree.

What difference is there between them that would make one react differently from contact with a stock's fore end compared to the other?

I don't know of any difference between production and match barrels other than the tolerances of the bore, groove and twist dimensions. And a couple ten-thousandths of an inch in diameters ain't gonna make any difference as to how they behave when touching a stock's fore end.

Note that some production barrels win matches and set records in competition.
Bart B. is online now  
Old November 7, 2012, 09:30 PM   #18
coyota1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 6, 2008
Location: West Michigan
Posts: 661
Bart B, I just have had good luck bedding my sporter barrels. When I get clover leaf groups, and POI stays the same, I am sold. If I have a heavy short bull barrel target barrel that has been properly stress relieved, then I'll take the free floating angle.
coyota1 is offline  
Old November 7, 2012, 10:48 PM   #19
johnwilliamson062
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 16, 2008
Posts: 6,759
I don't know what I am talking about, but my guess is the heavy profile match barrels whip around a whole lot less than the sporter barrels. When the sporter barrels are basically compressed against the stock they whip less.

My ignorant take.
__________________
$0 of an NRA membership goes to legislative action or court battles. Not a dime. Only money contributed to the NRA-ILA or NRA-PVF. You could just donate to the Second Amendment Foundation
First Shotgun Thread First Rifle Thread First Pistol Thread
johnwilliamson062 is offline  
Old November 8, 2012, 08:42 AM   #20
Saskhunter
Member
 
Join Date: October 16, 2012
Location: Saskatchewan
Posts: 30
Quote:
What difference is there between them that would make one react differently from contact with a stock's fore end compared to the other?
I don't know for sure, because you can't know. I assume you understand that two "identical" rifles will shoot different loads well. A specific gun will "like" one bullet/powder combination that another will shoot very badly. I don't know why.

I assume you know that two "identical" rifles will get very different velocity numbers from the same load. I don't know why.

I assume you know about things like the Browning Boss system, and about those ugly barrel harmonic things you stick on the barrel and slide up and down to improve accuracy.

I assume you know that there have been bench rest shooters who actually glued their rifle barrels to the stock for the full length of the stock and got exceptional accuracy. (Google it)

I assume you know there are serious differences in barrel harmonics in a 25 pound bench rest rifle and say, a Win Ultralight. Barrel length, thickness, material, fluting, all have an unpredictable effect on accuracy. My experience is that free floating MAY improve accuracy; a pressure point MAY improve accuracy. The only way to tell is to try it.

Every barrel is unique, and the only way to find out what it needs to be accurate is to experiment. But there is no rule that free floating any given barrel will improve its accuracy.
Saskhunter is offline  
Old November 8, 2012, 09:05 AM   #21
hooligan1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 18, 2010
Location: Independence Missouri
Posts: 3,247
I have to agree with Bart B., for me, I have found that "free floating" is the only way to get the purest barrel vibrations from any barrel. Those of you that don't understand, need to be enlightened on the mechanics of the barrel vibrations.
Warbird said that his rem. 700 needs pressure points, where my 700 needed to be totally floated, some say potatoe some say wolfspider. I know that barrel harmonics are different for different styles of barrels, but to a single barrel, they all have some vibration and the "freer" (for sake of a better term)they can vibrate, then the more Repeatable" its harmonics will be.

Some times I have problems trying to convey messages and meanings, but if you get the idea of what Bart is trying to say, you will see that he is mostly right.

Finally if you actually took a poll....... (hint hint Warbird) you might find that most Quality Custom gunmakers freefloat their barrels, If not full length bedding was requested by the buyer.
__________________
Thanks for coming!

Last edited by hooligan1; November 8, 2012 at 03:30 PM.
hooligan1 is offline  
Old November 8, 2012, 09:26 AM   #22
coyota1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 6, 2008
Location: West Michigan
Posts: 661
Saskhunter, Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Benchrest shooters as far as I know all glue in their receivers. If anyone had the answer to barrel harmonic mysteries being debated on this thread, they would get rich overnight.
coyota1 is offline  
Old November 8, 2012, 12:01 PM   #23
Saskhunter
Member
 
Join Date: October 16, 2012
Location: Saskatchewan
Posts: 30
Quote:
but to a single barrel, they all have some vibration and the "freer" (for sake of a better term)they can vibrate, then the more Repeatable" its harmonics will be.
It is not freedom to vibrate that creates accuracy; it is consistent vibration that returns the muzzle to the same precise angles during barrel vibration that produces accuracy. Due to the individual structure of each barrel, the precise nature of that barrel's vibration patterns will be unique to that barrel. As a result, some barrel harmonics are more repeatable with a pressure point somewhere along the barrel's length to change the position of nodal points, or just "dampen" the movement; it's also true that some barrels will be more repeatable with complete freedom to vibrate.

"Freer" is not necessarily the best for repeatability. Note that I said (and have always said) "necessarily" the best. It CAN be. But it is not a rule.

I already said too that I free float all my hunting rifles, but not primarily for accuracy. It is easy to free float a barrel as a test, because you can always put some contact back if you find it doesn't work well, so there is nothing to lose as an experiment. It is also easy to put some temporary pressure under a free floated barrel as a test, and remove it later.

I suggest that instead of just drinking the coolaid that free floating is always best, you should try some honest and careful experiments. I think you will find that sometimes it improves accuracy, and sometimes it doesn't.
Saskhunter is offline  
Old November 8, 2012, 03:27 PM   #24
coyota1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 6, 2008
Location: West Michigan
Posts: 661
Saskhunter, If I didn't know better I'd think you are a technical writer.
coyota1 is offline  
Old November 8, 2012, 03:42 PM   #25
hooligan1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 18, 2010
Location: Independence Missouri
Posts: 3,247
Sounds like coyot1 drinks the coolaid your a technical writer or something Saskhunter, but since me and you are saying the very same thing, he probably thinks I'm a technical writer also...

Having said that, Repeatability is what we want when the cartridge goes bang, right?
And when the barrel can repeat it's vibrations in the same exact way, then wer'e off to good accuracy right?
If you read what has been said over and over again you'll find there is no argument against repeatability, it how we achieve it.

Now drink this coolaid, of all the rifles I have shot the most repeatable shooting ones were free-floated.....
just kiddin about the coolaid but if your thirsty there is always some in our fridge,,, the kids love it.
__________________
Thanks for coming!
hooligan1 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:21 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13621 seconds with 9 queries