A free-floating gun barrel is accurate, but also susceptible to contact.
Most of today’s hunting rifles are manufactured with free-floating barrels. This means nothing touches the barrel much beyond its connection to the gun action. While it might look like the forearm of the stock touches the barrel, it doesn’t.
There are many benefits of a free-floating barrel, the most important being consistent accuracy since the barrel won’t be affected by the forearm/stock reacting to weather and temperature. The down side is that if you touch the barrel in any way during a shot, it will affect your impact point. This includes resting the barrel on a limb, treestand rail or shooting house window frame. It’s okay to rest the foreend on a steady object, but not the barrel itself.
While that’s fairly common knowledge, many hunters seem to overlook that trait when they’re sighting in their guns. If you rest a hand or fingers on top of the barrel to steady it while you’re sighting in your guns, this, too, changes the point of impact. Those who do it the same way every time end up with a nice group – one that is not where the gun will hit when shot without that downward pressure.
Not everyone has access to a shooting bench and a Lead Sled, but whatever you use to steady your gun, take care that nothing touches the barrel when you’re sighting it in.
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