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Old 06-27-2017, 01:58 PM
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Default To float, or not to float...that is the next question.

From what I've been able to gather reading various sources is that unless you're going to be precision shooting out past 100 yards spending $$$ on a free floating hand guard is a waste.

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Old 06-27-2017, 02:24 PM
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The easiest way to increase your rifle's accuracy is to free float the barrel. Only you can say if it is worth the cost. Virtually all competition stocks are free floated, regardless of competitive discipline.

When I shot high power competitively, I could sling up tight enough to move point of impact eight inches with a Garand. The stock on those guns has a lot less flex that the stock on an AR. Even if you never use a sling you will get better accuracy free floated.
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Old 06-27-2017, 02:33 PM
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Improved accuracy is a high priority for some AR owners, but I think most folks (such as Sport owners) go with a free float to address two issues -- Replace the A2 front sight and to have the option of a longer handguard in a wide array of configurations. That's certainly not a "waste" regardless of accuracy considerations.

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Old 06-27-2017, 02:36 PM
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In my case the question is whether or not I or my equipment are good enough to take advantage of the (theoretical?) improvement. I shoot from close in out to 300 yards and contend with wind, with M193 ball equivalent. I am quite content with 2 MOA. The variables that have actually helped me have been a quality optic, a quality aftermarket trigger, and a bipod.

I do have a float tube lying around but I honestly can't see where I personally would ever see the difference for what I do.

Others may.
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Old 06-27-2017, 04:16 PM
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Two MOA at 300 yards is 6". If you are using a bipod and good optics and you have consistent shooting techniques, then you would probably see some benefit from a free floated barrel at 300yds. Any closer in and I would say it's probably not worth the cost just for the accuracy, but there are other advantages like having more options for placement of accessories.

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Old 06-27-2017, 05:52 PM
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The easiest way to increase your rifle's accuracy is to free float the barrel. Only you can say if it is worth the cost. Virtually all competition stocks are free floated, regardless of competitive discipline.

When I shot high power competitively, I could sling up tight enough to move point of impact eight inches with a Garand. The stock on those guns has a lot less flex that the stock on an AR. Even if you never use a sling you will get better accuracy free floated.
I disagree with this statement to an extent. Mechanically a free floating barrel will improve accuracy off a solid rest with mechanical stabilizing but a better trigger will decrease most shooters groups more than a free floating rail. A lot has to do with how you shoot. What ranges, rate of fire and desired accuracy.

For the vast majority of AR15 shooters a free floating rail is not going to make the biggest difference in the size of their groups. I would bet if you took 100 S&W Forum members and gave them a Sport II stock and then a Sport II with Free Floating rail but everything else is stock for 90% of them the groups will be the same from both rifles.

It will be the Indian not the arrow.

Hanging unnecessary stuff off the rail of your AR15 and the cosemtics of a free floating rail are the is the #1 & #2 reasons that most people go with a free floating rail from the start or swap to one.

If you are a good enough shooter who can ring the difference out of a FF rail vs a standard M4 handguard you are a better shot than most, including me.
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Old 06-27-2017, 06:41 PM
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Bottom line for me (THE OP) is, I want to get rid of the A-2 sight and be able to have a flip-up front sight on the hand guard. I'll be adding a Vortex RDS and I do plan on replacing the trigger...I like CMC's flat trigger. Nothing else.
I'm old, my sight has issues and 100 yds is the most I'll be shooting.

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Old 06-27-2017, 06:54 PM
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Bottom line for me (THE OP) is, I want to get rid of the A-2 sight and be able to have a flip-up front sight on the hand guard. I'll be adding a Vortex RDS and I do plan on replacing the trigger...I like CMC's flat trigger. Nothing else.
I'm old, my sight has issues and 100 yds is the most I'll be shooting.

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If that is what you are trying to achieve then free float away! IMHO if you did not want a A2 front post one has to ask why you bought a rifle with one. It would have been cheaper to get one with a free floating rail already installed or at least a low profile gas block OEM style rifle. That said you are not the first and will not be the last to take this route.
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Old 06-27-2017, 07:04 PM
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Thanks for the criticism...it was a good buy ($499) and the only one available at LGS. From your reply I still don't see why a free-float is necessary.

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Old 06-27-2017, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by PeglegJones View Post
Bottom line for me (THE OP) is, I want to get rid of the A-2 sight and be able to have a flip-up front sight on the hand guard. I'll be adding a Vortex RDS and I do plan on replacing the trigger...I like CMC's flat trigger. Nothing else.

That pretty well matches up with the reasons I see a lot of Sport owners swap out to free float.

I do agree with MichiganScott that those who put a lot of pressure on the barrel with a sling may see some significant accuracy benefits by attaching the sling to a free float handguard.

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Old 06-27-2017, 07:17 PM
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Thanks for the criticism...it was a good buy ($499) and the only one available at LGS. From your reply I still don't see why a free-float is necessary.

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Free floating is not necessary but it will be cost effective because once you chop down or replace that A2 sight block you are going to find more options in the free float category, which translates to lower cost, than a non-free float rail.

Most drop in rails are made to keep the A2 post. If you are removing the A2 post or chopping it down you will be limited in the rails you can get and why would you want to use a no-free float when you have done all the work to get there?

Sorry you took my comment as a criticism but I honestly have to ask why did you buy a rifle that did not meet your need when there are so many others out there that would have done so right out of the box for the same $$ or less than you will pay to modify your $500 Sport II?

Hang out here long enough and you will see a pattern. You are not the first and you will not be the last.
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Old 06-27-2017, 07:19 PM
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That pretty well much matches up with the reasons I see a lot of Sport owners swap out to free float.

I do agree with MichiganScott that those who put a lot of pressure on the barrel with a sling may see some significant accuracy benefits by attaching the sling to a free float handguard.
This is true but most people are shooting off a bench. When I hit the range people look at me strange when I am standing with a sling and shooting steel at 100-200 yards. Most people have their AR15s on bipods or rests shooting from a sitting position.
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Old 06-28-2017, 09:06 AM
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This is true but most people are shooting off a bench. When I hit the range people look at me strange when I am standing with a sling and shooting steel at 100-200 yards. Most people have their AR15s on bipods or rests shooting from a sitting position.
Ain't that the truth, and I'm guilty of that too. Still, I love to stand and ring steel with my carbines, I just don't do it often enough.

I will say though too that standing really gives you a great feel on how to really stabilize your rifle. I found out pretty quickly that I prefer a good handstop to really get a good front grip with my fingers to keep my rifles tight to my shoulder while standing rather than a VFG or AFG. Too many times we hang stuff off those free float rails that "look cool" but don't necessarily function the best.
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Old 06-28-2017, 09:13 AM
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Ain't that the truth, and I'm guilty of that too. Still, I love to stand and ring steel with my carbines, I just don't do it often enough.

I will say though too that standing really gives you a great feel on how to really stabilize your rifle. I found out pretty quickly that I prefer a good handstop to really get a good front grip with my fingers to keep my rifles tight to my shoulder while standing rather than a VFG or AFG. Too many times we hang stuff off those free float rails that "look cool" but don't necessarily function the best.
Yeah I use a low profile short BCM VFG but use it more as a hand stop than a handle. If you sling up a lot free floating the barrel helps with pressure on the barrel but not every shooter is going to see a difference in their groups.
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Old 06-29-2017, 02:34 PM
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To float, or not to float...that is the next question.
Whether tis nobler to have a marginal increase in accuracy
at short distances, or to have cash in thine wallet?

-- SmithWessonlet, Act III

If you're not shooting competitively or reaching out beyond 200 yards, the improvement in accuracy is, in my opinion, probably not going to be worth the money.
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Old 06-29-2017, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
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I disagree with this statement to an extent. Mechanically a free floating barrel will improve accuracy off a solid rest with mechanical stabilizing but a better trigger will decrease most shooters groups more than a free floating rail. A lot has to do with how you shoot. What ranges, rate of fire and desired accuracy.

For the vast majority of AR15 shooters a free floating rail is not going to make the biggest difference in the size of their groups. I would bet if you took 100 S&W Forum members and gave them a Sport II stock and then a Sport II with Free Floating rail but everything else is stock for 90% of them the groups will be the same from both rifles.

It will be the Indian not the arrow.

Hanging unnecessary stuff off the rail of your AR15 and the cosemtics of a free floating rail are the is the #1 & #2 reasons that most people go with a free floating rail from the start or swap to one.

If you are a good enough shooter who can ring the difference out of a FF rail vs a standard M4 handguard you are a better shot than most, including me.
I agree that some folks free float for the wrong reasons, and I agree that people with quad rail, M-Lok or Keymod fore ends often hang unnecessary **** on them - ruining the weight and handling of the rifle, carbine or pistol.

In this case, however I deleted the original delta ring, barrel nut, and gas block/FSB, and then added a longer Keymod free float hand guard that allowed me to put the accessories I wanted where I wanted them, when I wanted them there. In this case the only things on it are QD for a sling, a back up front sight (with a much longer sight radius) and a short section of rail for a light that is readily detachable because the light isn't needed 95% of the time.

Best of all it reduced the over all weight by just over a half pound, improving the handling.



Also have a couple of varmint ARs with free float tubes, where the only thing added to them is a hole for a sling swivel to attach a bipod. A free float tube is not synonymous with a quad rail, etc.

I also am not in full agreement about the trigger. I shot service rifle competition for years with the required 4.5 pound trigger. Now...admittedly it was two stage, crisp and clean, but way too many folks think a trigger more than 18 oz or preclude excellent accuracy That's not the case, even the average 6 pound gritty AR-15 trigger is capable of good accuracy, if the shooter has mastered the fundamentals of building a solid position, sight picture and trigger control. So it depends on how bad is "bad" when you're talking triggers.
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Old 06-29-2017, 04:21 PM
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I agree that some folks free float for the wrong reasons, and I agree that people with quad rail, M-Lok or Keymod fore ends often hang unnecessary **** on them - ruining the weight and handling of the rifle, carbine or pistol.

In this case, however I deleted the original delta ring, barrel nut, and gas block/FSB, and then added a longer Keymod free float hand guard that allowed me to put the accessories I wanted where I wanted them, when I wanted them there. In this case the only things on it are QD for a sling, a back up front sight (with a much longer sight radius) and a short section of rail for a light that is readily detachable because the light isn't needed 95% of the time.

Best of all it reduced the over all weight by just over a half pound, improving the handling.



Also have a couple of varmint ARs with free float tubes, where the only thing added to them is a hole for a sling swivel to attach a bipod. A free float tube is not synonymous with a quad rail, etc.

I also am not in full agreement about the trigger. I shot service rifle competition for years with the required 4.5 pound trigger. Now...admittedly it was two stage, crisp and clean, but way too many folks think a trigger more than 18 oz or preclude excellent accuracy That's not the case, even the average 6 pound gritty AR-15 trigger is capable of good accuracy, if the shooter has mastered the fundamentals of building a solid position, sight picture and trigger control. So it depends on how bad is "bad" when you're talking triggers.
I completely understand why you did what you did and it seems like you do as well which is too often the exception not the rule. Modifying a gun to suit its intended purpose makes a lot of sense if you know what it is you are trying to accomplish. Nice setup. I always recommend that use should dictate gear and setup. Which is seems like you understand.

As to the trigger the problem I see with a lot of AR15s these days that there is not enough consistency in milspec factory triggers. Pick up 10 Sport IIs and the triggers will range from excellent to horrible with most being somewhere in the mushy middle. These can be cleaned up and there is nothing wrong with running a good clean 6lb GI trigger but life is too short to run a gritty one unless you are issued the gun, by your employer as a duty weapon, vs own the gun.


I prefer to run 4.5lb 2 stage triggers because I can and I shoot better with them vs a 6 lb GI trigger. This does not mean I cannot shoot a GI trigger is it that I prefer not to if you know what I mean.
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Old 06-29-2017, 04:26 PM
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Just something to consider... no doubt some improvements will contribute to better accuracy, but you might shoot your gun considerably from a good rest just to see what accuracy the stock gun is capable of. I'm not sure how many people do this before conversion work.

I've found the few ARs I've had experience with do pretty well straight out of the box. Ammunition makes a lot of difference. I've found cheap stuff doesn't do so well, expensive match ammo does, and good handloads will do at least as well as the match stuff, usually better and at about the cost of cheap ammo if you don't count your labor.

As with bolt-action rifles, something I've had more experience with, shooters often mistakenly think that installing an aftermarket trigger and a high-magnification scope will offset a lack of shooting skills and good bench technique. It doesn't work that way.

Again, just something to think about.
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Old 06-29-2017, 10:05 PM
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This is true but most people are shooting off a bench. When I hit the range people look at me strange when I am standing with a sling and shooting steel at 100-200 yards. Most people have their AR15s on bipods or rests shooting from a sitting position.
Ain't that the truth!
You should see the looks I'd get when I'd go over to the rifle side
and shoot 9mm & .40 at steel, at 100 yards, standing. "Can you do that?!?"
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Old 06-29-2017, 10:12 PM
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Ain't that the truth!
You should see the looks I'd get when I'd go over to the rifle side
and shoot 9mm & .40 at steel, at 100 yards, standing. "Can you do that?!?"
The range I used to shoot at in KY had a 4' X 6' steel target at 225ish yards and I could hit it consistently with a BHP, Sig P228 or 1911. Not every shot but more than 50% once I my hold over was dialed in.
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Old 06-30-2017, 02:38 AM
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My experience with free floated barrels vs. not free floated comes from shooting rimfire rifles in competitions. To give you an idea how much difference it can make I bought a Savage MkII with the F stock which is a cheap plastic stock. The barrel was floated but the second I put pressure on with a sling it wasn't floated any more. I soon replaced that stock and my group sizes became far more consistent. But be aware that just seating the barrel in the stock wrong can defeat free floating. You have to be careful to set it up right and in the case of rimfire rifles you have to have the action screws tight enough to keep it free floated.

I soon started winning competitions with that Savage. The thing is a rel shooter since I learned a few things like how to make sure it always free floated and how to get enough torque on the action screws to hold the barrel where I want it without crushing the wood on the stock I now have.

Here's an example of the kind of groups it can shoot now. It does not shoot this well all the time but it comes much closer than it did. Before I got it running right I would get a good group once in a while but after I got it running right I got a lot of them. I won 13 of the last 15 contests I was in with this rifle. Anyway this group is only 4 shots because I ran out of ammo. It's at 50 yards.



That hole is pretty much the size of a single bullet hole. Here's another example of what that rifle will do. This time 12 shots at 50 yards.



A free floated barrel certainly can make a huge difference in accuracy. A barrel heats up as you shoot it and that changes the way the harmonics work with the stock if it isn't free floated. Basically I cut my average group size down to about a third of what it was before on the Savage rifle.

That said the shooting I did was from a bench with a rest to get those groups. I never shoot my AR's that way. I see them as off hand type rifles. I know they can be made to shoot well from a bench but it is way easier to get a bolt action to shoot great groups. I have a .223 bolt action that will stay within an inch at 300 yards all day long. BTW it's also a Savage.

For people not interested in beating the competition I don't see a free floated barrel as being required. If your goal is to shoot a lot of targets quickly (which is what the AR is designed to do IMO) then missing by an extra half inch at 50 yards really won't matter that much. As others have said most people would benefit more from a better trigger and even more than that from practicing a whole lot. I'm not trying to insult anyone. It just takes practice to be able to take advantage of your equipment to the fullest.

I guess I'm about to find out how much a free floated barrel makes on an AR since I just got one with a free floated barrel (I believe it is anyway - maybe I'm wrong - I don't know how to tell short of taking the grip off but it appears to be free floated from what I see). It's a custom build using mostly Aero Precision parts. It says X15 on the lower and the builder apparently registered the whole gun as a single unit. I really haven't had a chance to shoot it yet except for a few tracer rounds at dusk. I guess I'll see what happens next.
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Old 06-30-2017, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by PeglegJones View Post
Bottom line for me (THE OP) is, I want to get rid of the A-2 sight and be able to have a flip-up front sight on the hand guard. I'll be adding a Vortex RDS and I do plan on replacing the trigger...I like CMC's flat trigger. Nothing else.
I'm old, my sight has issues and 100 yds is the most I'll be shooting.

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Instead of spending money on free floating, perhaps more money on a good optic. I also have some vision issues, although not too bad. I have had an Aimpoint PRO for a few years that is mounted on one of my Sports. The red dot did help quite a bit. I recently purchased a Leupold VXR 1.25-4x and it is mounted on my older Sport. The Leupold makes it very easy at a 100 yards. Has an illuminated dot as well so it works excellent at night or low light. My vision is perfect again! I would prefer more money spent on a good optic than free floating. Free floating and a good optic are better yet, but it is not worth it to me spending money on a Sport to free float.
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Old 07-01-2017, 04:51 PM
Whitwabit Whitwabit is offline
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To float, or not to float...that is the next question. To float, or not to float...that is the next question. To float, or not to float...that is the next question. To float, or not to float...that is the next question. To float, or not to float...that is the next question.  
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Originally Posted by Kadonny View Post
Ain't that the truth, and I'm guilty of that too. Still, I love to stand and ring steel with my carbines, I just don't do it often enough.

I will say though too that standing really gives you a great feel on how to really stabilize your rifle. I found out pretty quickly that I prefer a good handstop to really get a good front grip with my fingers to keep my rifles tight to my shoulder while standing rather than a VFG or AFG. Too many times we hang stuff off those free float rails that "look cool" but don't necessarily function the best.
I get the looks also .. I still enjoy shooting the 4 rifle positions
(Standing, kneeling, sitting and prone) .. Though not as stable now (hand shake and Bi-focal glasses) as I was 50 some years ago when I learned to shoot .. its good to know I can still hit steel out past 100 yards off hand if ever the SHTF ..

Something I think everyone should learn to do proficiently !!
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Old 07-01-2017, 11:28 PM
C J C J is offline
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To float, or not to float...that is the next question. To float, or not to float...that is the next question. To float, or not to float...that is the next question. To float, or not to float...that is the next question. To float, or not to float...that is the next question.  
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Something I think everyone should learn to do proficiently !!
If I ever tried to use anything as a rest to shoot when I was a kid my brothers would laugh at me all day. They'd be saying squirrels won't stop and wait for you to find a rest to shoot from and stuff like that. I was probably 50 before I ever took up shooting from a bench. Old age has something to do with that plus a back injury. It's way harder to hold a rifle steady for very long now than it used to be. But I still shoot offhand a lot anyway.
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