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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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