After work today I floated the barrel on the Ruger Model 77. It seems that Ruger puts a ledge at the forward end of the barrel channel when they whittle a stock. That ledge is supposed to put upward pressure on the barrel at the end of the forearm.
Some guns shoot well with a little upward pressure at the barrel. By far, the majority of rifles shoot better with a floated barrel. I personally prefer a floated barrel if possible. With just a small set of skills and some very basic tools, it's easy to float a barrel. Basically all you need is enough tools to remove the action, a dowel, and a piece of sandpaper.
Remove the action from the stock. Wrap the dowel in sandpaper and sand stock material out of the barrel channel. I've found that a short section of 3/4th inch dowel works good for sporter-taper barrels. Here's a picture. You can click the picture to make it larger.
It took about fifteen minutes to sand that ledge off of the front of the barrel channel and take enough wood out of the channel to float the barrel all the way back to the action ring. A patch slides easily between the forearm and barrel. I finished the project by sealing the wood with three coats of boiled linseed oil, rubbed into the wood.
Then, I gave the rifle a thorough cleaning and oiling. I didn't think I was ever going to get the barrel to come completely clean, and I was right. After about twenty patches, it was mostly clean. I gave it a good wipe down with a silicone cloth and put it away.
I'll have to order dies and brass and bullets. In another month or so, we'll start seeing how this rifle shoots.
Congratulations on your new purchase. I think you're on the right track especially with a walnut stock. I have a stainless 223 Ruger with a laminated stock that still has the pressure point and shoots very well. I got it cheap because the original owner couldn't get it to group. I looked at it and immediately saw that the stock was bearing much harder on one side than the other. I didn't free float it but just evened the pressure up and viola, sub-minute groups. I got away with that because the stock is very stable. If that hadn't worked it would have gotten floated. My brother had a Ruger 25-06(gave it to his daughter, she got a nice 5x6 mulie last weekend with it) that he had to float to get it to shoot. The bigger the cartridge, the more likely that that is the best option and the less likely it is to start walking the group as it heats up.
What about military rifles? The usual battle rifle has the barrel surrounded with stock on the bottom and handguard on the top, all being bound together with rings to hold the handguard to the stock fore-end.
If I read you right, the battle rifles have built-in in-accuracy.
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