View Full Version : Free Floating a rifle barrel

Colorado Redneck
April 23, 2011, 11:59 AM
An old 270 in the safe has a really ugly flimsey synthetic stock. So a stock from Richards came to live here, and in trying to do the best job of inletting andfitting the action, I have a question. How far back from the front of the forearm should the dollar bill fit between the barrel and the stock?

I am trying to attach a picture---have done this a few times before but this time the routine is tripping me up. The dollar bill slides back to about 1.3 inches in front of the action.:confused:

April 23, 2011, 12:13 PM
You're looking good as far as floating goes ! How is the bedding , is there any movement back and forth with the Action Screws loose ? I bedded a 110 Savage the other day that had moved so much that the recoil lug was bent from shooting it ! You want to seal the barrel channel with something , to stabilize the wood !

Colorado Redneck
April 23, 2011, 12:25 PM
:D thanks! So you think that is far enough? The action fits nice and snug, but without a pillar in the front action screw hole, the wood wants to crush if that screw is torqued much. As soon as I can talk the CEO into going to her gramma's house that hole can be drilled out on her great uncle's drill press. It needs to be aligned perfectly and with a hand held drill it will surely get screwed up. Then I have pillars from Stocky's and will epoxy one in the front action screw hole. The rear action screw has the trigger guard to act as a "washer" so it should be good for 50 inch pounds or so.

Since that is a new stock, after all of the fitting work etc is done, the whole thing will be resanded and finished with steel wool, wiped down with tack cloth, sealed with Tru-Oil Filler and Sealer and eventually it will get the Tru-Oil stock finisher.

Thanks for your input and advice! This is the first project like this for me.

April 23, 2011, 05:10 PM
How far back from the front of the forearm should the dollar bill fit between the barrel and the stock?

That is actually not enough, and all the way to the action or recoil lug between the barrel and action.

April 23, 2011, 09:01 PM
Floating all the way to the recoil lug isn't neccesery ! I like to bed the complete action and the first 1 or 2 inches of the barrel ! Everybody does things a little different , Don't make them wrong if the results are good . Some barrels don't like to be floated and need a contact pad to shoot well ! The way I install a contact pad goes something like this . Tape the barrel and put a release agent on the tape ! I hang a 5# weight from the front sling swivel , with the butt end of the stock held firmly in a vice . Put a small amount of Accra Gel where the pad is to be . Then set the barreled action into the stock very gently and snug up the action screws and walk away for 12 hours or so . Remove barreled action from stock , remove tape from barrel , remove weight from forend and install barreled action , torque screws to 50 " Lbs. and head to the range . if it doesn't shoot better the pad can stay or go . If it shoots worse , remove the pad , if it shoots better , the pad stays !

Colorado Redneck
April 23, 2011, 09:35 PM
Thanks Brickeye--I thought the same thing, and that is why I asked. If the barrel channel is sanded out too much or too far back, then it has to be bedded and I don't want to do that unless it is the only alternative. It is hard to find consistent information.

From an article by Russ Chastain.

"Floating (or free floating) a rifle's barrel means isolating it from everything forward of the chamber (rear) portion of the barrel. Basically, the only parts of the barreled action (which consists of the receiver and barrel as a unit) that touch the stock are the receiver and the fatter chamber portion of the barrel - everything forward of the chamber is free-floating, and touches nothing."

The easiest way for this, is to leave it like it is now, and if it shoots good, leave it alone. If not, then go after the rest of the barrel channel.

Thanks again. I am a beginner that does everyting the hard way. :D

April 23, 2011, 10:12 PM
If you also pad the same material around both the front and rear action screw holes, there will be little use for pillars. When properly torqued, the screws should not crush against the bedding compound. Let it set up a few minutes, then torque the screws and put it away for a day or two.


April 24, 2011, 01:18 AM
I used to float just like the picture, but my gunsmith says take it to the recoil lug

April 24, 2011, 07:37 AM
Every rifle that "needed" floating, I took it to the lug, however Maybe just Maybe, i didn't need to...... It turns out that every rifle I floated shoots alot tighter than it did before, almost night and day. I would also pillar-bed the rifle. I f that is within your can-do range!!;)

Colorado Redneck
April 24, 2011, 02:46 PM
The front action screw on a Winchester 70 can get into the bolt action if it goes too far. Not one of the more loveable traits of that gun. :D So anyway, since this is a laminate stock, the wood is wanting to let the screw into the action. It is fairly easy to install a pillar into the front action screw hole in the stock.

The rear action screw is on a slight angle, and if the hole is drilled out to 9/16 inch, it will open the hole right up into the trigger space. As well, the rear screw goes thru the trigger guard so that should not result in any problem with the wood stock etc.

So, thanks again for all of the input. This is not a done deal. After thinking about all of your comments, I may go ahead and open the channel up to let the dollar bill slide clear to the back. Or maybe not. :D

This gun with the old synthetic stock shot fairly tight groups, so after the new wood is comlete, if it will just repeatedly shoot minute of angle, I am good with it. This has been a great learning project. Hope to do more guns in the future.

Happy Easter! Spring is the best time of year. :D

April 24, 2011, 09:40 PM
I alway use acra glas in the lug recess and bed barrel about 2-3 inches forward from there, free float the rest of the barrel. More than the thickness of a dollar bill I might add. When the barrel heats I don't want it hitting anywhere beyond the bedding

my $.02

April 27, 2011, 06:07 PM
Bed the action and any cylindrical portion of the chamber. If there isn't an untapered cylindrical portion to the chamber, float the barrel back to the front of the action. Otherwise heat expansion from firing will cause the tapered section to try to wedge itself up and out of the stock.

The oft suggested "dollar bill" floating test is foolish; that only insures about 3 thou of clearance. I have never seen any stock forend that is rigid enough not to flex much more than that just by changing hand pressure, hold location or tiny amounts of stock warping from heat or moisture. Erratic stock contact is NOT good for accurcy! Fact is, if we don't have enough stock clearance for every rational hold or rest change we don't have a truly floated barrel and would be better served with a bedded barrel.

April 28, 2011, 11:24 AM
The old "Dollar bill" test was supposed to be for a folded dollar bill, so about .010"-.015" of clearance (thickness of a dollar bill is about .005" to .007"). I free-float rifle barrels so that a sheet of 80 or 100 grit silicon carbide sandpaper will fit between the barrel and the stock from the forend tip up to the chamber area, about .020" - .025", roughly the thickness of a business card. For heavy forends, I will inlet it closer; for thinner, more flexible forends I will give a little more clearance. That way I don't worry about one of my customers using a really tight sling for shooting.

May 4, 2011, 09:35 PM
Free-floating barrels inside the stock forearm channel, are typically done with tape. The tape is applied on the bottom & wrapped up the sides of the barrel. The release agent is applied on top of the tape & allowed to dry.

After the epoxy bedding material has hardened, the tape is removed & presto-chango the float-gap is thereby established. For the record, i mic'd the thickness of bedding tape several years ago & thought the readers of this forum might could use this info:

1. "3m / duck" brand blue painters tape----.005"
2. Black electrical tape------------------- .007"


May 21, 2011, 08:24 AM
Question: Want to know what works even better that a $1.00 bill for checking barrel channel clearance ???

Answer: A $50 / $100 dollar bill----hahaha---lol

just a touch of corny levity to brighten your day.