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Floating the Varmint...

989 Views 6 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  3joe21
I was taking my 452 Varmint apart Saturday night (as I tend to do) and started wondering just what that front lug and screw accomplished. I put it all back together except for that screw and then slowly turned that screw in. Much to my amazement, it actually pulled the barrel DOWN quite a lot! The entire time Ive had the gun, I assumed it was a support point for the barrel. Instead of helping that single action screw support the barrel, it was actually pulling it down. That combined with the fact that the lug fits VERY loosely in dovetail got me to thinking.. (usually followed by disasters, of course)

After going over the stock and its finish with a very critical eye, I wasnt nearly as happy with it as I once was. The finish along the inside of the barrel channel was just awful. The left side of the channel was reasonably straight, but the right side of the channel actually curved inward to push on the barrel. Its easy to see how the channel was made by two passes of a router. There is even a ridge down the center of the channel back close to the action where the channel is really wide. The finish on the wood under the action was just as bad, with some big splinters felt just from running my hand along it.

At the start of all this, I had wanted to float the barrel except for the forward lug which I could then use to adjust tension. Now I was wondering how the thing would shoot if I just went ahead and totally floated the barrel altogether. Out came the 220 grit sandpaper to smooth up the finish on the wood under the action and open up that barrel channel a bit. I started with a 3/4" oak dowel wrapped in the sandpaper running up and down the channel push toward the right side, inserting the barreled action every couple of minutes to check for clearance. It took a LOT of wood removal to get the right side floating, but once it was done the right and left sides were both about the same thickness, which leads me to believe that CZ just has the programming of the router path on the right side pass a bit off. Now that the channel is opened up a bit, I can use a 7/8" dowel to finish opening and smoothing it.

Once I had the barrel sufficiently floated, I was wondering if the single action screw would be sufficient to secure everything and support the barrel. I screwed it back together with the usual tension on the action screw without the front lug in the dovetail and its screw, and it was pretty solid. I took it back apart, cleaned and lubed it all, and put it back together to take it shooting on Sunday. To say that the results were impressive is an understatement. I shot the best groups Ive ever shot with the gun and, more importantly, shot them consistently! The gun was much less sensitive to how I was holding it. My scores on the USBR target at 25yds improved 13 points and at 50yds they improved 22 points!

I brought the gun home and took it apart again to decide what all I wanted to do to try to tweak a little more accuracy out of it. It was then that I noticed that there are two deep flat "wells" inletted into the stock that nothing goes into, one at the far front of the action and one at the far rear. Those things just have to have been designed to have glass bedding in them. The hole left from me removing the front sling swivel stud is in a perfect place to put a barrel tuner, too!

For now, I plan to:
1) Finish opening up the barrel channel. I have it opened up to a uniform snug two business cards of clearance now and I plan to open it up to about three. That should give me the "rule of thumb" two business cards of clearance once I put a finish on it. I plan to finish sanding with 400 grit paper and put a finish on it. Any advice on what finish to use, that will go with the factory 452 finish? I would rather not refinish the whole stock.
2) Bed the action using the pools that look to be made for doing just that, probably using Acraglass. This should also make everything a little more rigid since Im only using one action screw.
3) Rework the trigger using better pieces that are available to me now than were when I did the trigger job orginally
4) (Maybe) Install a tuner near the tip of the foreend using the old sling stud hole as a guide hole once I get everything else done and accuracy tested with bedded/floated system. Any advice on which tuner?

I would gladly accept opinions and advice, and experience from those who have gone through the same thing is really helpful, too. The more I think about it, the less Im worried about only using a single action screw and bedding to secure the barreled action to the stock. Arent 10/22s without the barrel band doing essentially the same thing? The 452 Varmint has a pretty heavy barrel, but its threaded into the receiver. Ive seen lots of 10/22s with heavy, floated barrels they arent even threaded in.

This got to be longer than I was planning, but questions and possibilities kept popping into my head as I was writing. :)

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· Registered
10,461 Posts
I have been shooting my 22LR Varmint in a custom stock with just the one action screw. I too removed the front lug from the barrel.
I have glass bedded the front of the action and about a 1/2 inch of barrel and the rear under the rear tang. I then glass bedded or I should say pillar bedded the one action screw. It shoots very good.

· Registered
855 Posts
I read Jason's post with great interest. (Great post)

My Varmint came free floated the entire length of the barrel from the factory. Every other CZ I own has wood touching on the right side of the barrel.

I'll have to experiment with removing the front action screw.

· Premium Member
2,889 Posts
I have a varmint 22 which has had the barrel lug and screw tossed in the garbage for about two years now. The gun is so much more consistent without the lug. Like you said the barrel lug pulled the barrel down. I even bedded the lug so it wouldn't pull the barrel down but it still shot inconsistent.

I pillared the one remaining action screw and glas bedded beneath the rear tang and just in front of the mag well but nothing under the barrel. I used acra gel for bedding as it is thicker and easier to control for me. This setup worked out very solid for me, even with just the one action screw.

I wanted to see how consistent the one action screw would be. So I fired one shot @25yds. Took the action out of the stock and then replaced and retorqued it. Fired another shot at the same bulls eye. Took the action again out of the stock, replaced and fired again. Repeated the above process for 5 shots. Ended up with a .55 ctc group @25yds. I was really happy that the gun would repeat that well taking it completely out of the stock. And it made me feel comfortable that the one action screw was doing it's job.

I don't bench shoot the cz anymore. I use it for hunting and small bore silhouette competition. When sighting in for silhouette the CZ's groups are darn close to the same as my anschutz at 100 meters.

I wouldn't mess with a tuner under the barrel, like a bughole tuner for example. If you want to go with a tuner I would get one that mounts on the end of the barrel, like a fudd or hoehn.

· Registered
7,829 Posts
Here's a thought. I did this to my 17HM2 (no front lug from the factory) CZ Varmint.

Put pilars between the triger plate (on the bottom of the stock where the stock screws (2) pass through) and the bottom of the action. The action is now hard tied to the trigger plate. You can not over tighten it as the pilar is of a length that it stops the crushing of the wood when tightening. The pilars are glued in the stock so that the stock kind of hangs on the pilars. Why would you need any bedding under the receiver if the wood can not be crushed by tightening the stock screws? Is this not the classic pilar bedding in is truest form? My Varmint shoots five shot groups averaged over five groups at 50 yds off a bench inside 1/2 inch all day long when feed ammo that it likes (Eley groups half the size of Hornady and CCI with Remington spliting the difference between them--limited ammo choices for 17HM2). I should add that the barrel was free floated too.

Anyone see a problem with this approach?


· Registered
1,235 Posts
I think that the .22lr and .17 versions have different # of action screws. What you mention would be ideal for a reciever with 2 screws.

The .22lr version only has one screw and its the one between the trigger and magazine. I pillared mine like AlaskaMike and Recumbent, I applied some epoxy at the rear tang and under the receiver.

It really shoots tight with 50yd groups at 0.4" using Wolf MT. I bought some Eley Club Extra yesterday and hope that it outshoots Wolf. That's the case with my 64MS.
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