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Old 10-18-2011, 13:51   #1
UniversalBrow06
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Effects of non-free float

Could someone tell me how much really does a non-free floating rail affect a barrel's accuracy? I'm not talking about a custom match stainless steel 24 inch barrel for a long range target AR. I'm talking more just your typical battle AR, 16 inch, nice chrome lined gov profile barrel carbine with military A style front sight. And I'm also talking about as much ammo fired through a gun as a typical range trip or the like... No full-auto dumps.

Does it really mAtter that much? Like, 2-4 MOA difference? Is the quality of the barrel also typically a contributing factor?

I know this issue is almost pointless now with the availability of drop in, zero modification, free-float rail options like the DD Omegas. However, I'm still kinda tempted to just try out a simple drop in two piece non-free float like a Troy or an EZ, etc... For their low price if not for any other reason
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Old 10-18-2011, 15:04   #2
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Shooting from a rest, I notice a small accuracy difference (well under 1 MOA, probably less than 1/2 MOA). This is probably a barrel harmonics thing where the barrel can move freely with the torque of the bullet running through the bore.

Where you see major accuracy improvements is if you use the sling to steady the rifle by pulling it in tight. Doing this on a non-FF barrel warps the barrel and will radically shift your POI. Theoretically, there should be no change with a FF tube when you yank on the sling.
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Old 10-18-2011, 15:06   #3
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For most off-hand shooting, it won't be a big difference at all (I'll admit off-hand I can't tell a difference).

Most modern military rifles are actually designed for 2-4 MOA, and almost never had a free-float barrel (and bedding was only done where higher precision was needed). The FAL, AK, M14, G3, etc were designed to be "battle accurate". The M16 was designed this way too.

Of course, as you said, the ubiquity of easily installed FF rail systems has made drop-in non-FF systems almost obsolete (even the cheaper ones). Still, with weight in mind, if you don't need a FF, the weight savings for going with something like the MOE handguard can be worth it.

Edit: Yes, and sling use can make a difference in POI. With my non-FF barrels, I never pull my sling super tight for that reason. So if you're just aware of this problem, it isn't that big of a deal. However, with a FF barrel, pulling the sling tight does wonders for support and accuracy.

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Old 10-18-2011, 16:37   #4
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Originally Posted by UniversalBrow06 View Post
I'm talking more just your typical battle AR, 16 inch, nice chrome lined gov profile barrel carbine with military A style front sight.
In this context, the difference will be minimal. You will have to shoot from a bench with quality ammo to detect the difference.
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Old 10-18-2011, 22:16   #5
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I went through the Appleseed Project with my non-FF 16" carbine shooting offhand with the sling pulled taut on some exercises. I was hitting my mark pretty consistently. Doubt it makes any practical difference unless you are using match grade ammo at long distances out of a match barrel.
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Old 10-19-2011, 04:11   #6
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My experience, given same barrell and same ammo, is about half an inch at 100 yards from a rest. The big advantage is off hand when sling tension and position can effect POI.

I highly recommend floating on AR's. That way you can show up your bolt gun buddies at the range. It is precious to see the look on their face when your AR outshoots their varmit rifle.
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Old 10-19-2011, 16:24   #7
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there was a decent article comparing ff to non ff handguards/rail systems in one of the more recent "Book of the AR15" mag done by guns and ammo. i'll try to remember to look for it when i get home. Basically the author of the article noticed a decent difference between the 2 when shooting from a bench. free float producing better groups of course.
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Old 10-19-2011, 16:42   #8
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I have a 20” AR that used to have a Free Float Tube. When I was looped up in the sitting or prone position and shooting at 100-200 yards, I couldn’t see any real difference between the Free Floated barrel and none Free Floated barrel. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
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BTW, if you’re shooting from a bench, get off of it. You will get more out of your practice, when you shoot in the standing, sitting and prone positions than you will off of a bench. I never saw a bench out in the woods when I used to hunt. <o:p></o:p>

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Old 10-19-2011, 19:31   #9
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Just curious, who besides Daniel Defense (Omega) makes a drop in free float rail for an AR?
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Old 10-20-2011, 00:47   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UniversalBrow06 View Post
Could someone tell me how much really does a non-free floating rail affect a barrel's accuracy? I'm not talking about a custom match stainless steel 24 inch barrel for a long range target AR. I'm talking more just your typical battle AR, 16 inch, nice chrome lined gov profile barrel carbine with military A style front sight. And I'm also talking about as much ammo fired through a gun as a typical range trip or the like... No full-auto dumps.

Does it really mAtter that much? Like, 2-4 MOA difference? Is the quality of the barrel also typically a contributing factor?

I know this issue is almost pointless now with the availability of drop in, zero modification, free-float rail options like the DD Omegas. However, I'm still kinda tempted to just try out a simple drop in two piece non-free float like a Troy or an EZ, etc... For their low price if not for any other reason
The free float is a edge when you are using something for support such as a barricade or side of a building etc. Because you are putting pressure on the barrel through the handguard. With the freefloat you can rest the handguard up against anything and not affect your accuracy.
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Old 10-20-2011, 21:34   #11
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Just curious, who besides Daniel Defense (Omega) makes a drop in free float rail for an AR?
Troy, MI, Ergo, Centurion, Samson.

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Old 10-21-2011, 08:08   #12
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Troy, MI, Ergo, Centurion, Samson.
Of all of those including dd omega, centurion is the best IMO.
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Old 10-21-2011, 08:41   #13
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Of all of those including dd omega, centurion is the best IMO.
Agreed. Very strong and very light.
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Old 10-21-2011, 14:53   #14
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Agree with Pat. We see the biggest variations on non free float due to too much pressure placed on the handguard which directly translates into the barrel and affects accuracy. This is often seen when shooting supported on hard objects however the same effects can be seen with a lot of sling tension.
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Old 10-21-2011, 16:04   #15
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DD Omega, not the X but the standard is a nice option becasue it requires no gunsmithing at all and is practically drop in, allowing you to go back to standard if you see fit, and they look cool too. I had my doubts on their strength, but my buddies has help up extremely well.
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Old 10-22-2011, 13:42   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vrex View Post
DD Omega, not the X but the standard is a nice option becasue it requires no gunsmithing at all and is practically drop in, allowing you to go back to standard if you see fit, and they look cool too. I had my doubts on their strength, but my buddies has help up extremely well.
I couldn't tell from your buddy's vid whether he was very confident with the Omega or not so confident. He said he wasn't supremely convinced of the rail's durability, but then says he's not planning on ever putting another rail on the gun while he owns it. Does look really nice on his gun, especially with the Magpul rail pieces!
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Old 10-22-2011, 13:46   #17
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Of all of those including dd omega, centurion is the best IMO.
Those rails do look mighty sweet, but that's a lot of metal I have to sheer off somehow in order to fit one of those on. Is it that hard to cut off the Delta ring, spring, and front handguard cover? I'd be nervous as hell to get them off without damaging the barrel nut, gas tube, etc. If it's not that hard, I bet those things are solid.
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Old 10-22-2011, 14:27   #18
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Those rails do look mighty sweet, but that's a lot of metal I have to sheer off somehow in order to fit one of those on. Is it that hard to cut off the Delta ring, spring, and front handguard cover? I'd be nervous as hell to get them off without damaging the barrel nut, gas tube, etc. If it's not that hard, I bet those things are solid.
Not hard, but does require a few tools.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL12MQGQrPc
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