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Old February 27, 2011, 10:54 PM   #1
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Freefloat or Not?

I shot my Ruger 77 today and while it shoots pretty good, I think I'm getting some horisontal shifting as the barrel warms. On closer inspection, I see the barrel is pressed up against one side of the stock and you can't slide a bill between the barrel and stock. I don't want to make my gun shoot worse because it does pretty good with a cool barrel. However, I'd love to know if those with ruger centerfires find free floating to be beneficial? Will this require me to also bed the action? rc
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Old February 28, 2011, 11:47 AM   #2
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Free floating almost never makes anything worse. The exception seems to be that some rifles with pencil thin barrels shoot better with a little pressure point at the end of the stock. Standard and heavy barrels almost always shoot the same or better floated.
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Old February 28, 2011, 11:52 AM   #3
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If the fore-end is contacting the barrel then you have a problem which requires fixing since accuracy is always compromised in this situation. It may be that the stock has warped over time, I am assuming you have a wooden stock? Floating has nothing to do with the problem you are dealing with right now ... you need to address getting the proper clearance in the barrel channel again. Once you have done that, shoot it and see how the accuracy plays out ... it may not needing floating.

There are various methods of correcting a warped stock ... more information would help + pictures.

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Old February 28, 2011, 11:53 AM   #4
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If you have POI shifts and can see the barrel tight on one side, float it. I would bed the action also. They are both pretty easy to do yourself.
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Old February 28, 2011, 12:10 PM   #5
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I've heard people say that the 77 shoots better groups with a pressure point. That may be so, but the POI will wander with wood warpage in different humidity levels. I'd free-float and bed the action and up two inches on the barrel.

Free-float at least 1/16" all around the barrel. The dollar-bill trick doesn't cut it when considering barrel vibrations. Barrel vibrations hitting one side of the barrel channel causes diagonal stringing. Pressure pads that don't have at least 4 lbs of pressure will also cause stringing, but if even pressure, groups string vertically.

In addition to stock warpage, pressure point bedding can also affect bullet impact, causing POI variations due to different holds, rests, bipods, slings, etc.

Because stock warpage is relatively unpredictable, free-floating is the best situation. I'd prefer 1 1/4" groups with a consistent point of impact on cold barrel shots than a 1" group that wanders around two inches, depending on humidity.
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Old February 28, 2011, 12:46 PM   #6
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I have free floated two of my rugers m77's. Both experienced better accuracy. I have another that is so accurate as it is that I refuse to ever remove it from the stock.
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Old February 28, 2011, 11:22 PM   #7
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Can't say it enough, "IF it ain't broke, it don't need fixin'"

except, of course, if you want to, it's your gun.

What kind of shifting are you getting as the barrel warms, 1-2 inches, or 8-10? Or are you getting 1.5MOA when you were getting 1MOA. Free floating is not a magic accuracy stick. Its an "often works better than an improperly fitted/cured stock does" kind of stick.

If you are shooting a sporter, how hot will it get in the field? It is rare to get more than two or three shots at alerted game. And if you can't get close enough by the third shot for the game to be at least alerted, you really should think hard on further shots.

Your rifle will probably benefit from free floating, most do. But it might not be as much as you expect. That happens too, sometimes.
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Old March 1, 2011, 12:00 AM   #8
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I always free float because I don't want sling pressure, rest pressure, stock warping etc. to effect the first cold shot out of my barrel. I subscribe to the theory that you shouldn't free-float if you don't glass bed the action. Proper torque on action screws is important also.

I'm no expert but this is how I handle my rifles.
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Old March 1, 2011, 04:37 AM   #9
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What about synthetic stocks. Just got a rem 700. 22-250 with a synthetic stock. A dollar won't go 1/2" up the stock.

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Old March 1, 2011, 07:46 AM   #10
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I think free floating has more advantage than bedding the action. I have an older savage model 12 in .223 with the tupperware stock, I can slide a remington oil wipe between the stock and barrel all the way to the action. It will shoot a ragged hole when( I am in practice). As the barrel vibrates after you fire it shouldn't really touch anything IMO. If it does it is not able to complete its "natural cycle". I believe all this affects accuracy from the moment you pull the trigger untill you follow through and see your impact.

I am no expert but it just seems to make sense that the barrel should not be obstructed in any way inside or out.

If someone can explain this better, by all means.
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Old March 1, 2011, 12:00 PM   #11
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I do what needs to be done. I've found freefloating a barrel sometimes makes it worse. I've almost never found pressure to make it worse if it's done right. If you can find a gun that shoots good groups with a free floating barrel you should be a happy camper. If it won't just play with the pressure.
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Old March 1, 2011, 08:04 PM   #12
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the problem with the pressure points is vertical stringing it can sometimes lead to as the barrel heats up. i would recommend trying it. if it doesn't work then try pressure points. if you have to use pressure points, be prepared to have to let your barrel cool COMPLETELY before you shoot again.
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Old March 2, 2011, 08:14 PM   #13
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I floated the barrel on my 77, and I was much happier. It didn't shoot bad before just better after. What kind of stock on it?
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Old March 3, 2011, 12:58 AM   #14
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I have the laminated/checkered stock on my 308. Shoots pretty much anything to within about 3 inches at 100 and some select loads under 1 inch. I am thinking i will leave the pressure pad at the front and sand the side of the stock touching the barrel and then see how it looks on paper. I may try to bed my 77/17 first before I try my centerfire. rc
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