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Old April 2, 2008, 08:27 PM   #1
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Free float or bed my ruger?

I have a ruger M77 Mk II in 30.06 that is not as accurate as I would like. The wood stock is in snug contact with the barrel out to the end along the left side but less so on the right side. I would like to do something to improve the accuracy. Currently getting 1.75-2" at 100 yds. Should I get it free floated, glass bedded, or other? Are these things mutually exclusive or can they both be done on the same rifle? Suggestions are welcome. I just want it to shoot better. Is there a single best answer or is it something a gunsmith would have to look at and decide what is best based to the particular rifle?
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Old April 2, 2008, 08:46 PM   #2
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My understanding of stock/barrel/receiver accuracy tuning is:

1. Barrel bands are bad.
2. Barrels should not have handguards (M1/M14/MosinNagant)
3. Barrel should not touch stock at all.
4. Receiver should be securely bedded to stock.

But I've never pushed any of these modifications on any of my rifles except my old Marlin 795, which had a wobbly barrel band and the barrel rubbed the stock just a bit. I sanded the stock just a little so the barrel could "freely float" and removed the barrel band, and my shooting improved a little bit.
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Old April 2, 2008, 09:03 PM   #3
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I'd open up the barrel channel for a free float that is what I'd try first as it doesn't cost any money. If your groups don't improve try shimming the barrel at the end of the forearm with something that will apply about 5 lbs of upward pressure to the barrel. If that doesn't help your accuracy then I'd bed the action, or do a full length bed job if the up wards pressure does improve your accuracy. I don't own a Ruger but understand that they can be troublesome to bed the action. Might want to take it to a gunsmith to bed it.
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Old April 2, 2008, 09:07 PM   #4
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Sadly, 1.75-2" may be the best your M77 can do. They are not known for fine accuracy (I've got 2 of 'em).

It's probably best to tinker and test and tinker and test...

I'd start by relieving the wood on the side of the barrel where it is rubbing most, then shoot it to see if it made a difference.

If that didn't help, then relieve more wood around the barrel and re-shoot.

If that didn't help, then completely relieve the wood to free-float the barrel and re-shoot.

Be aware that many skinny barreled rifles need pressure from the tip of the stock for best accuracy. If your groups suddenly get really bad, you will need to use epoxy bedding compound to replace the wood you removed.
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Old April 2, 2008, 09:30 PM   #5
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I've always wondered something about this question myself. Is there any way to determine aside from trial and error whether free floating vs bedding is more likely to give better accuracy? are there certain receiver, barrel, or stock types or features that typically cause one method to be more effective than the other? Just curios, as I would like to try them to improve the accuracy of a couple rifles, but am hessitant to screw up and make it worse, and don't know how (if possible) you decide what to try. If you try free floating, and it doesn't get better, or possibly gets worse, can one typically still bed properly to try that or does the act of free floating make a change that would typically not allow you to bed properly without starting over with a new stock? Hope this isn't a threadjack, as it seems on topic with the OP, and while not a newbie to guns, and being pretty mechanically and analytically inclined, I have no experience with either of these types of things (mainly due to being too scared to mess up to try ), and havent really ever read anythi that answers these questions.

Also, what would be a good resource to use to learn how to properly bed and or free float a rifle? I have a basic idea of how its all done, but am guesing that it needs to be done right, or not at all.
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Old April 2, 2008, 11:23 PM   #6
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My approach has been to bed the action and maybe 2 inches +/- of the barrel. I would remove a small amout of wood as needed in the barrel channel to insure nothing touches,, Test, test, test. If all failed, I would start to shim the barrel at the forearm end and see what happenes. As much as I like most Rugers, some just simply have lousy barrels.
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Old April 3, 2008, 06:24 AM   #7
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I'd try shimming the barrel before hogging out any wood. Some people use neoprene O rings another here uses folded wax paper. Glassing the action isn't a bad idea, but Ruger is known for working better with pressure on the barrel.
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Old April 3, 2008, 06:37 AM   #8
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try some different brands/weights. Rugers can be very picky eaters.
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Old April 3, 2008, 07:57 AM   #9
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I had a Ruger 77 in 243 that would drive tacks at 100 yds. I had a Rugger 77 Varmiter in 22-250 that stumk and I never could get it to group well. My buddy had one just like it bought the same day that was fantastic. I guess I would try all of the above to fix it. I left the Ruger in 243 alone because if was perfect but sold it later because I was no longer interested in it. Big mistake because out of the box accurate factory rifles are rare.
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Old April 3, 2008, 08:43 AM   #10
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Although I will admit to being somewhat new to doing the above methods myself. I've come to these conclusions.
Every free floated barrel I have, shoots better than all of the non frfl barrels. that being said, if a particular rifle(C&Rs' excepted) doesn't group at or less than 1MOA for me, I start by floating the barrel. Test, if not then as said foretip pressure test. Next, the action gets bedded and the process starts again. So far, the only rifle I have had to do everything to is my old Rem 721. It has gone from 3MOA to about 1.5MOA and I can't seem to gain on it. I think it has something to do with the fact that my Grandfather had a tendency to do the" fill the case w/ powder, crush a bullet in there" method of reloading. The old .270 saw a lot of hot loads down the barrel. On the other hand, my Dad says he saw quite a few antelope get dropped at 700yds w/ that rifle.
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Old April 3, 2008, 08:51 AM   #11
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I'd try shimming the barrel before hogging out any wood. Some people use neoprene O rings another here uses folded wax paper. Glassing the action isn't a bad idea, but Ruger is known for working better with pressure on the barrel.
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I've seen reference to guys making shims for their M77's barreled actions, to relieve pressure on the barrel. If they made an improvement, THEN they would remove shims and float the tube.

I got lucky, my MII-T in .243 was great out of the box...
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Old April 3, 2008, 09:23 AM   #12
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In my experience, Ruger 77's benefit from full-length bedding. My thinking is the goofy recoil lug probably has something to do with it. My tang-safety 77 in '06 is what I would consider "casually accurate".
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Old April 4, 2008, 08:22 AM   #13
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thanks for the good replies

Is removing a little wood from the end of the stock so that it is not in contact with the barrel(not sure this qualifies as free floating) something I could do myself or should I leave it to a gunsmith? I've never done it but it doesn't seem like it would be too hard. Famous last words. I don't mind giving it a go but If it doesn't work I don't want to make it harder for a smith to do something with it. On the other hand I may just sell this thing. Suggestions from the do it yourself crowd or the smiths?
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Old April 4, 2008, 10:34 AM   #14
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Wood pressing onthe barrel doesn't heat up at the same rate as the barrel. The expansion of the barrel with heat thus changes the pressure on it, causing a variation in the harmonics. This makes for larger groups as you fire a string.

So, clean out the forearm. A dowel rod and coarse sandpaper works. And, somebody makes a tool for the purpose; Brownell's might have it. It looks like a screwdriver, but the end has a round, cup-shaped cutter to work in the forearm channel.

I've always cleaned out the channel to maybe a sixteenth of an inch, except at the end. Minimal clearance there.

The shim deal, as my uncle explained to me a half-century back, acts to dampen the vibrations and make them more uniform. I use a 3/4" strip of kitchen wax paper, folding back and forth until there's the afore-mentioned five-pound pull needed to make room for insertion. Trim with a razor blade. The wax melts a little when shooting, and it sticks in place.

I've done this a bunch of times through the years, and it's always been helpful.

I'm sorta negative about the full-length Mannlicher stocks, as you might imagine. They're good to look at, but it's difficult to improve them if they're not perfect from the git-go.

Anyhow, the free-float-and-shim is a do-it-yourself thing. If for some reason it doesn't work, then it's time to think about re-bedding the receiver. Do some reading; Brownell's sells the whole kit. Or, find a good gunsmith...

As far as Rugers and the angled screw, I traded into a 77 in 1973. It was the first rifle I'd ever had that was 3/4 MOA right out of the box. A couple of years later, I bought a Ruger heavy-barrelled .220 Swift. Tack-driver; no stockwork needed. Hey, when you're getting 3/8 MOA, what's to fix?

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Old April 4, 2008, 10:48 AM   #15
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My approach has been to bed the action and maybe 2 inches +/- of the barrel. I would remove a small amout of wood as needed in the barrel channel to insure nothing touches
Same here.

Also, the older ruger 77's have several different barrel makers ranging very drasticly in quality until Ruger finally decided to bring the barrel making in house and only farm out to a few select companies. So that is why it was so hit and miss on accuracy with the Rugers.

The pillar bedding (with metal inserts) of a Ruger 77 action is tricky at best due to the angle of the lug and would let a gunsmith do it or just get a stock that is already pillar bedded. My stainless 77 mkII in .338 Win Mag has the old boat paddle style synthetic stock and I simply releived the channel and bedded the action and the first few inches of the barrel. It went from about 2 MOA to consistently 1 MOA and the next thing would be to just get a new pillar or full length bedded stock from Hogue/B&C etc...

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Old April 4, 2008, 02:35 PM   #16
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I've bedded a few Rugers 77s for friends, but have never been happy with the results. The angled front screw, lack of a real recoil plate, and flimsy action are not conducive to consistent accuracy, IMHO. I refuse to bed any more of those rifles. I have heard that most 77s shoot better with a pressure pad, but don't have any direct experience. One guy swore the best shim is a slice of a 20 gauge Winchester AA hull. It didn't work for me.

Couple the bedding problems with a few bad barrels and I think the best way to get a good shooter is to trade for something else. Your results may vary.

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Old April 4, 2008, 09:04 PM   #17
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Before altering the rifle

Try the ammo. What ammo have you shot out of your M77? Are you a handloader, or do you know someone who is? Have you done anything to obtain or produce accurate ammo for your rifle?

I say this only because, altering the rifle should be a last resort. Removing wood is hard to undo. Various bedding solutions can offer improvements, but there is no guarantee. One should always start with the ammo, the easiest (and cheapest) thing to change and expiriment with.

I am not saying you should not free float your rifle barrel, only that you should not start there.

Ever hear the story of the guy who was about to sell his Steyr SSG cheap because it would only group about 5 MOA? When he was convinced to try some match ammo instead of the Philippine surplus he was shooting he decided to keep the rifle! try some different ammo, several kinds. After that, look to the rifle, if needed.

Also, check the crown very closely. Slight damage can cause poor groups, and having it recrowned might also be a solution to your problems. There are many things that ought to be considered, these are just some of them.

One last thought strikes me, have someone else shoot your rifle, maybe it is you. Or it could be your optics. As you can see, there are lots of things that it could be. I vote you try different ammo first.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old April 5, 2008, 10:10 AM   #18
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Trigger work first!

I have a Ruger M77 MKII in .25-06, stainless action w/factory synthetic stock. At first she wasn't shooting so well. Groups were around the 2" @ 100 yards. I free floated the barrel. Very little improvement. I finally realized that the stock was not the quality that I thought I needed. Replaced with a hogue overmolded stock with a full pillar bedding block. Also installed a Timney trigger at the same time. Now she'll shoot 1" all day long and with ammo she likes and occasionally I've had close to 1/2 moa three round groups. I'd say to replace the trigger b4 anything else is done. I do not know what your trigger is like but the factory trigger on my Ruger was HORRIBLE! Seriously,the timney is worth its weight in gold. If you aren't happy after then work on the stock or simply replace it. Good luck

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Old April 5, 2008, 11:24 AM   #19
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Over the years I have found that glass bedding the action with about two inches of the barrel, free floating the rest of the barrel, adjusting the trigger, freeing up the magazine box, lapping the bolt locking lugs, and recrowning the muzzle has improved the accuracy of some bolt action rifles. At times I have found that putting a forearm pressure pad in the stock for small diameter barrels after having free floating the barrel improved the accuracy of the rifle.. Try various reloads to find what the rifle likes. Over the years Ruger and Remington has sold rifles with bad barrels. Any gunsmithing work not done at the factory will void the factory warrenty.
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Old April 5, 2008, 12:25 PM   #20
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My Ruger M77 in .300 Win Mag shot 2" three shot groups at 100 yards. Floating the barrel and glass bedding the action turned that gun into a minute of angle shooter.
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Old April 5, 2008, 05:09 PM   #21
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I went and did it

I should have given some history but I've tried about six different brands of factory ammo in 150 and 165 grain (gets expensive). I haven't tried handloads and don't plan to. I agree that it may help but I don't handload. I don't have time for it so a gun that won't shoot factory ammo is of no use to me. Also, I recently bought a tikka in 7mm-08. Worse group out of the box has been 0.9 inches. This is with factory ammo. I agree that handloads are better in general, but clearly not all guns require them to get good groups. I am not demanding match grade accuracy but I think less than about 1.5 inch average groups is about all I am willing to tolerate. Where I hunt 250-300 yard shots are common and even longer shots are available if you are willing to take them. 2 inch groups at 100 yards to me means 8 inches at 300 yds and is not acceptable. Anyway, I'm rambling. I also agree with jeo565 about the trigger. I put a timney in over 1 year ago because the factory trigger was over 10 lbs (no kidding ) and very creepy. This led to me anticipating the recoil which led to a nasty flinch that I had to work through mostly by trigger practice on empty cartridges and shooting a lot of 22 and 17 hmr. I have 100% confidence in all of my other rifles. This one, I'm always wondering where I'm shooting today. To me this is the bottom line.

Last night I took the stock off of it and went to work with some 150 grit sand paper. The barrel is now free floated to within about 3 inches of the receiver. If this doesn't work I'm going to try to put in a shim for some barrel pressure at the end. If this doesn't work...anyone want to buy a Ruger 30.06? I'm not throwing any more money at it with a bedding job. I hate to give up on it since I've put a fair amount of money in it already between the trigger and all the ammo I've thrown at it, but more importantly I've invested alot of time. With the way I work, time is not something I give up easily. I'll post a range report after I'm done. Thanks for reading my lengthy post and for all the advice.
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Old April 5, 2008, 10:40 PM   #22
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Bed it, do a trigger job and work up a load. Rugers tend to not like free floated barrels though. However, since you're bedding it anyway, try floating the barrel. There's no way of telling if it'll like it or not. If it doesn't help or is worse, put the pressure point back in with a bit of bedding material about 1.5" to 2" from the end of the forestock.
"...not throwing any more money at it with a bedding job..." An Acraglas kit runs about $30.
Mind you, 1.5 to 2 inch groups isn't bad for an off the shelf hunting rifle and factory ammo.
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