Glass Bedding VS Free Floating

Glass Bedding VS Free Floating: Which is Better?

Facing issues related to rifle accuracy? That could be frustrating. A solution to this could be glass bedding or free-floating the rifle barrel. 

But which one to go for glass bedding vs free floating?

Both glass bedding and free-floating increase the performance, accuracy, and consistency of the rifle. Though, free-floating the rifle avoids alignment issues and reduces vibration. It destroys repeatability and zero of the barrel. Furthermore, it’s not as long-lasting as glass bedding. On the other hand, glass bedding increases stock life. But the process is expensive and lengthier than free-floating.   

This was just a summary of glass bedding and free floating. Continue reading our article to know the detailed differences, purpose, and process of the two methods.

Glass Bedding vs Free Floating: A Quick Overview

In case you want a quick comparison between the two systems of accuracy, here’s a brief  summary on their differences –

FeaturesGlass BeddingFree Floating
ProcessLonger(48 hours or longer)Very short(24 hours at best)
Stock LifeProlongs stock lifeDoesn’t prolong stock life
PerformanceIncreasesIncreases highly
VibrationDoesn’t reduce vibrationReduces vibration
Barrel AlignmentNo effect on barrel alignmentAvoids the barrel alignment

So What Does A Glass Bedded Rifle Mean?

Glass bedding is the process of supplying a firm and consistent foundation for a rifle’s operational parts. This method is also called rifle bedding. The term bedding refers to the fitting and stability of the barreled action within the rifle stock. When the stock is stable, this increases the overall accuracy and shot consistency. This method also increases the life of the stock.

Glass bedding the rifle gives it more stability and a consistent contact surface between the receiver and the stock. Hence glass bedding makes the rifle more accurate and eliminates stress on the stock. Mostly epoxy resin is used for glass bedding the rifle to obtain the right fit with accuracy.

Source: Gundigest.com

Advantages

So by now, you must know why glass bedding is so important. Now let’s dive into the details to understand the actual purpose of glass bedding a rifle

Increase Accuracy

The glass bedding helps to relieve stress causing the accuracy to increase. If there’s no bedding, the rifle’s action won’t be an accurate fit to the stock. Eventually, this causes the action to flex. When the bolts are tightened holding the actions to the stock, the action flexes. The flexing results in inconsistency and inaccuracy over time.

But the glass bedding will provide a level surface that will avoid flexing. Moreover, bedding avoids the movement of stock in the rifle. With the bedding, the rifle is able to maintain zero.

Prolongs Stock Life

Repeated recoil forces in the rifle can cause the stock to move in the action. This in turn creates friction. Friction in the stock causes damages on the stock surface eventually ruining the stock. 

Thus, glass bedding extends stock life by reducing friction and movement in the action. 

Disadvantages

Even though glass bedding a rifle gives an amazing output from the rifle. There are a few drawbacks of this method that can be pretty troublesome. So let’s look at the downsides of glass bedding a rifle.

Expensive

The process of glass bedding requires more tools and more work than any other method. Accurizing rifles with this method could be a little expensive if you intend to use the best tools for the best output. 

Compared to other processes of accurizing like free floating, glass bedding can be slightly expensive. Most of the tools required for this method are usually available at home. But things like rifle bedding tape, epoxy resin, and the vise grips need to be of the best quality. So this can be a little pricey.

Long procedure

Again, the procedure of glass bedding a rifle barrel takes a long time. The epoxy takes time to dry. Moreover, the rifle needs to be kept for 48 hours to let the epoxy cure. Furthermore, you have to disassemble and reassemble the rifle twice in this method.  So it takes out a lot of your precious time.

Before you jump into the process of bedding a rifle, here’s a list of the things you’ll need-

NameRecommended ProductPrice
Modeling clayAurora Modeling ClayBuy from Amazon
EpoxyEast Coast Resin EPOXY Resin 1 Gallon KitBuy from Amazon
Glass bedding tape or masking tapeCRL Sealstrip Glass Setting TapeBuy from Amazon
Drill and drill bitBLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Cordless DrillBuy from Amazon
Wooden malletCROWN 106 4-1/2-inch Beechwood MalletBuy from Amazon
ScrewdriverIRWIN Screwdriver with 9-Piece BitsBuy from Amazon
Vise grips or gun holderIRWIN VISE-GRIP Original Locking PliersBuy from Amazon

Method

Glass bedding the rifle requires molding an epoxy resin onto the stock. That is to fill up the gaps causing movement within the surface. However, this method has certain advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look-

Step 1 of 4: Prepare the rifle for bedding

Start by disassembling the rifle parts. Take out the action and remove the smaller parts such as the magazine and the trigger.

Now retrieve a vise grip. Insert the stock between the loosened vise grips and tighten it to elevate the stock. You can also use a gun holder instead of a vise grip for this. This step will prevent the stock from moving.

Now, degrease the action to let other materials stick to the gun. You just need to dip a cotton swab into denatured alcohol.  Rub through the action and recoil lug.

After this, place masking tape over the recoil lug to create a small gap. This will ensure an easy release of action from the stock.

Now apply the release agent to the metal parts and let it dry. Then, add the clay into the nooks and crannies before reapplying the agent again. This prevents the epoxy from seeping into places.

Step 2 of 4: Mix and Apply the bedding compound

To make your glass bedding compound, mix the equal parts of resin and hardener into a cup. Add a dye to the mixture to match the color of the stock. Now apply a thin, even layer of the mixture into the recoil lug area and rear area. Apply the mixture on top of the previous bedding as well.

Source: Alloutdoor.com

Step 3 of 4: Curing the Epoxy

To cure the epoxy, first insert the action into the stock. Now, retrieve a screwdriver to insert the action screws. Finally, place the vise around the barrel and let the epoxy cure. This will help reduce stress on the stock.

Remove the excess epoxy using a cotton swab. Scrape off the excess using a razor blade.Removing the excess epoxy is necessary to avoid damage on the surface. 

Allow the epoxy to cure for 24-48 hours for accuracy.

Step 4 of 4: Clean the rifle 

At this point, you just need to disassemble the parts. Remove the dry compound from the stock by drilling into the sealed holes. Also, remove the modeling clay from the rifle and clean up the glass bedding releasing agent

After cleaning away, reassemble the rifle and tighten the screws. Your glass bedding is finally ready.

What Does A Free Floating Barrel Do?

A free floating barrel is a firearm design that is mostly used in precision rifles to make the weapon system more accurate. 

In standard rifles, the gun barrel typically has contact with the gunstock. This contact causes the alignment of the stock to shift, altering the projectile path. Moreover, this contact interferes with the natural frequency of the barrel eventually causing issues with accuracy.

But with the free floating barrel, the gun barrel does not touch the stock at any length. It is designed in such a way that the barrel and stock do not touch each other at any point.

The barrel here is attached to the receiver, which in turn is attached to the stock. But the barrel floats freely without touching the other parts. This helps keep the natural frequency consistent and minimizes barrel alignment distortions.

Source: papirio.blogspot.com

Advantages

Free floating the barrel adds a lot of benefits when using a rifle. It helps you the most in precision shooting for the accuracy it provides. Let’s get a deeper understanding of the reasons behind free floating a rifle barrel.

Increase Consistency Of Shots

Free floating the rifle barrel increases the performance of the rifle to a great extent. The barrel is set in such a way that there is space in-between.

As a result, all rifle barrels vibrate when they are shot. So it is very important to keep the vibrations under control to maintain consistency. Moreover, controlling the vibration is also vital and allows the release of bullets at the right point of the vibration cycle for every shot.

Free floating the barrel allows this to happen. Once the barrel is free-floated, there is less vibration, increasing the consistency of the shot. So the performance of the rifle increases automatically.

Increase accuracy

When the gun barrel is not free-floated, the barrel constantly touches the stock. This causes the rifle barrel to be pushed and this affects the accuracy greatly. The alignment is shifted which affects the accuracy. Moreover, free-floating a barrel allows it to dissipate heat at a faster rate. Further increasing the accuracy.

Free floating the barrel makes sure the stock doesn’t touch the barrel. There’s an inch gap in front of the action. This helps the barrel to continue its normal whipping cycle and harmonics on every shot. You can also make your own shotshells to test the consistency out. So there is no interference from the stock. Thus the alignment of the barrel remains static and uniform. This increases the accuracy of the rifle and increases the performance.

Disadvantages

Just like glass bedding, this method also carries a few drawbacks. It can be difficult or unreliable to use this method. So let’s get into the details of the disadvantages of this method of accuracy.

Not Long Lasting

Now free floating a rifle barrel may not be as permanent as the glass bedding. It can wear off after a long term of use. This is because stock life is not increased after using this method. So you can’t really say if it’s long-lasting.

Destroy Repeatability & Zero Of The Barrel

The free floating method does not allow repeatability and zero of the barrel in IR laser systems. Now this happens because the barrel vibrates independently, making the laser system in the barrel to no longer zero the rifle barrel. Hence, militants avoid free floating their rifles.

The process to free-float a rifle barrel on your own is quite easy. But before you move on to the process, make sure you have all the necessary tools. Here’s what you’ll need-

NameRecommended ProductPrice
ScrewdriverIRWIN Screwdriver with 9-Piece BitsBuy from Amazon
Masking tapeAmazon Basics Masking TapeBuy from Amazon
Wooden dowel1/2 x 36 Inch Square Wooden DowelBuy from Amazon
Sandpaper120 To 3000 Assorted Grit SandpaperBuy from Amazon
A Dollar or thick paperS Superfine White Thick Paper CardstockBuy from Amazon

Method

Nowadays, most rifles come along with in-built free floating barrels. So before you begin free floating your rifle, make sure to check if it’s already done. Otherwise, free floating an already free-floated barrel will loosen it too much. Further causing damage to the barrel and the stock. 

To check for a free- floated barrel, just simply read the details of the rifle. It should be mentioned in the manual. Otherwise, you can also slide a dollar bill between the barrel and the stock to check if it gets stuck. If the bill slides through smoothly, the rifle is already free-floated. And if the bill gets stuck, well then move on to the free floating process.

Step 1: Prepare The Rifle For Free Floating

Before you begin the process, take a dollar or paper and slide it between the barrel and the stock. This will help you understand in which areas the barrel touches the stock. Because the dollar bill will get stuck at the spots where the barrel touches the stock.

Now, start by disassembling the rifle using a screwdriver. And then mask the barrel to protect the stock.

Step 2:  Free Floating The Barrel 

Next, remove the barrel action and remove all the rough spots using a barrel bedding tool. If you don’t have a barrel bedding tool, you can also use a dowel and sandpaper to scrape off the irregularities.

Continue removing the high areas until the dollar bill is able to slide through freely all the way to the action. But make sure the stock doesn’t become flimsy.

Step 3: Clean the Barrel Channel

Now that you’ve created enough gap between the stock and barrel, apply some grease or furnish to the barrel channel. The grease will help clean up the rifle. There! Your rifle is now free floated. 

Final Verdict

Glass bedding and free floating are both used for accurizing a weapon system. Now, these two may seem like the same thing but they have a few major differences. Hence both of these are vital for a rifle. Full length rifle bedding gives accuracy to all kinds of rifles. A free-floating barrel in a precision rifle makes it even more precise and accurate. So that’s how you can turn your ordinary cheap rifles into highly accurate precision rifles.

Suppose, you have installed glass bedding in your rifle but did not free float your barrel, you may face issues. For instance, the alignment of the barrel may change. The barrel may bend and cause the path of the bullets to change. So a glass bedded rifle must also have a free-floated barrel. This will allow 100 percent accuracy, consistency, and alignment for the best performance. 

FAQs

Question: What is pillar bedding?

Answer: Pillar bedding is the process where a non-compressible pillar is rigidly bedded in the stock. This is done to eliminate any variation due to stock compression and accuracy issues.

Question: What does a floating barrel mean?

Answer: A floating barrel does not necessarily mean the barrel is floating. Here, floating refers to the ideal gap between the barrel and the stock that avoids vibration of the barrel.

Question: Is glass bedding a rifle expensive?

Answer: Glass bedding a rifle is not that expensive. But depending on your rifle type, the cost may vary.

Conclusion

No matter what purpose you’re using a rifle for, accuracy is an important factor. So it is important to understand how you can increase the accuracy of your rifles. Both glass bedding and free-floating help in accurizing your rifle.

So that was it for today. We hope you’ve had a clear view on the comparison of glass bedding vs free floating a rifle barrel.

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