AR-15... how much less accurate is a delta ring vs freefloat?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Charlie98, Oct 22, 2021.

  1. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    I've got a few AR's, including a Colt H-bar, all have a standard delta ring forearm setup, and are quite accurate. I recently built another AR, and put my first free float forearm on it, along with a 22" target (Ballistic Advantage) barrel on it. Granted, this particular AR is dedicated to a scope, that's what I built it for... and it's very, very accurate... but I wonder...

    I have one more build coming up... it will either be a standard 5.56mm AR, or possibly a 6.8SPC (if I think I can find components easily enough.) I'm debating on just building it with a standard delta ring forearm and be done with it... or am I leaving accuracy on the table by not going to a free float forearm?

    If I'm using a fairly heavy barrel... not a lightweight pencil barrel, etc... does it really make that big of a difference? My point of reference is a DPMS Oracle I had for a bit. It had a spaghetti noodle for a barrel, for sure. If I slung up, and put tension on the barrel, it would pull the shots low left, but if I shot resting on the forearm, it was actually quite accurate... not H-bar 68grn BTHP accurate, but surprisingly accurate nonetheless.

    Give me your .02 worth...
     
  2. BobCat

    BobCat Member

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    I think you answered your own question.

    The POI when slung up tight shifts away from the POI with the forearm simply supported on a sandbag.

    Varying sling tension might open up the shifted group, degrading "accuracy" - but only because of the added variable.
     
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  3. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    If you shot NRA Highpower service rifle, you always bought a NM version with a free floated barrel. The free floated ones are extremely accurate. You might not notice shooting off a sandbag, but put any sling tension on the fore end, and you will see it.
     
  4. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    To clarify, the DPMS sling mount was clamped to the barrel between the FSP... it was an odd setup and not one that I would recommend, but it was what it was. It did show me, in an extreme fashion, how much sling tension can deflect POI, however, hence my general question.
     
  5. Cemetery21

    Cemetery21 Member

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    Aside from the sling issue, I have only converted one carbine from conventional handguard to floating. In that one case, it did not improve accuracy like I expected it to do. On new builds, I do use floaters since cheap and reliable handguards are available.
     
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  6. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

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    In shooting a 16” free floated barrel and a 20” conventional barrel with front sight post and hand guard I haven’t noticed a difference. However my accuracy requirements are not that high. I’d guess there is a reason national match uppers are free floated.
     
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  7. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    Just like free floating a rifle stock, it’s not just about a decrease in group size, it’s also about preventing the forend from applying pressure to the barrel and shifting point of impact with different holds or shooting positions.
     
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  8. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

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    Yes.

    But, as SomeGuy mentioned earlier, it’s about the consistency, not necessarily more precision.
    I did have one that got better with a free float handguard.
    The rest I just built correctly from the start.:D
     
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  9. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Clamshell rifles can be exceptionally precise IF they are fired in the exact same conditions for every shot. Barrel temp, sling tension, bipod pressure, etc all have to be the same. Which can be challenging to ensure... which is why we install free float handguards...

    In other words, a rifle can be precise, but a clamshell handguard allows the shooter to push or pull the rifle away from precision. Free float handguards prevent that influence.
     
  10. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    My 18" 1:8 .223 Wylde 416 stainless barrel with 15" MLok free float handguard can produce 1" 10 shot groups with factory ammo at 100 yards (Remington 55 gr FMJ).

    On the same Bushmaster lower, I had a 20" 1:9 HBAR with round handguard (Still had delta ring) which struggled to get sub 2" 10 shot groups at 100 yards even with 55 gr FMJ Black Hills blue box ammo. My BIL happily took the HBAR off my hands.
     
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  11. kenboyles72

    kenboyles72 Member

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    Depends on what your end goal is. Competition bullseye shooting or normal, every day defense or hunting? If competition, then go free float, any thing else you can just use regular hand guards. In my own personal experience, the free float guards did improve accuracy a bit. Went from a 2" group to a 1.5" group at 100 yrds with cheap steel case ammo. With match ammo, really wasn't that much difference. Also, changing out hand guards, might not have made the groups better, it could have been just me.
     
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  12. Hugger-4641

    Hugger-4641 Member

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    From 200yds or less, most people can't shoot the difference between free floated hand guard and M4 style. If you are one who can shoot that well and you are shooting steel case or cheap mil surp ammo, you probably still won't see the difference.
    If you are going to shoot competitively or stretch out past 200yds with good ammo, then free float is worth doing.
    At 300yds , free floating my 1/9 carbine length Sport II shrunk my groups from 2 1/2 moa+ to just over 1 1/2 Moa using PMC and American Eagle 55gr FMJ. With Black hills or Hornady Black that same gun will shoot 3/4 moa at 300yds.
     
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  13. 55fairlane

    55fairlane Member

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    If your a competition shooter who is using a sling, a free float is mandatory....
    Do you want minute of area code or minute of angle accuracy
     
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  14. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    Yes, in that they insure consistency. A good trigger helps too, but the most important is a quality barrel and good (consistent) ammo.
     
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  15. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    I have a Colt H-bar with a 1:7 barrel... it absolutely detests anything 55grn. When I first started handloading for it, I was getting such abysmal results... results on par with the crap Norinco yellow box ammo I was comparing it with... that I gave up reloading for it. Once I moved to 62grn, and then 68grn bullets, things started to improve. If it wasn't a gen-u-wine Colt, I probably would have tore it apart, already...

    My last AR build I spent the money on that Ballistic Advantage barrel... I was very impressed with the accuracy of the build, but I was scratching my head over whether it was because of the barrel/free float setup, or the scope... or both (probably.) The new build will not have a scope.
     
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  16. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    We are missing out on an important variable. A competition rifle meant for shooting accurately is usually not a milspec 2MOA barrel Not even. They tend to run under 1 MOA down to .25 MOA. If that is what you are using with a delta ring clip in handguard, then don't use a sling and keep it more accurate.

    I had issues slinging up the last time I shot for qualification, I was adjusting the sights back and forth until I realized it was inconsistent sling tension on the issue rifle - M16A2 from FN. Next break in the action I removed the sling, and qualified, again, expert. Felt dumb gettin wrapped up in a percieved skill issue when it was too much "target shooting" causing the problem. In Infantry School, we were taught to remove the sling in the field anyway, shoot for qual the same way.

    The application has an effect, too. If you are hunting - then for most American large game, you are targeting an 18" center of mass target. A 2MOA rifle is 2" groups at 100m, and the typical ranges seen in the field are 80 -150 meters. We don't really need a 1MOA or even .5 MOA barrel to do the job, and the actual result is that we almost exterminated whitetail deer in this country under those conditions - with lever actions. They aren't great one hole shooters with barrel bands holding on the front handguard, another for the feed tube, then a sling attached etc.

    I gave this some thought with what I had on hand to build the next AR - A1 stock, A2 clip in guards. I decided the extra expense of a free float for a deer rifle was mostly window dressing - I wasn't pulling shots off the paper qualifying, I was opening up the group another 1-2" at 100m. Even if it was 4", it's still inside a 18" bullseye for deer hunting, and other factors are influential. Brush, random movement, etc influence the shot placement. An optic would clean up the sight picture and make it more accurate than barrel displacement, especially since I don't use a sling - another critical factor.

    Since the point of accurate placement is to prevent the loss of game - I will now weigh in that the build is meant to be a .375 SOCOM. Power is also a factor, and having a 200 grain bullet moving over 2,200 fps with 2,000 foot pounds at the muzzle is significant. Compared to 5.56, it's a powerhouse. Definitely a step up from 6.8SPC, which originally was intended, and is, 50% more powerful than 5.56. .375 is more than double 5.56 offhand, I'm not worried so much about losing game, even with a floppy barrel waving around with handguard pressure off hand.

    I'm building it with delta ring, the additional accuracy isn't all that in a field rifle with an 18" center of mass. That standard was acceptable long long ago, and it's really the oneupmanship of men trying to place themselves in a social pecking order which creates a competitive market where none need exist.

    Maybe some day I can pick up that barrel and finish this build.
     
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  17. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    Well, we were never taught to use the sling, either... '80's era Army. All the sling was meant for was to sling arms, or have it crossed over your back so you can catch it on everything, or knock everything over in the chow line.

    I learned to shoot with a sling... properly... at an Appleseed event... and found I really liked it, and that it helped, particularly shooting prone.

    I'll have to think about the real purpose of my next build... it is not going to be a competition rifle by any means.
     
  18. desmobob

    desmobob Member

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    For competition, free floated. For hunting or plinking, take your pick. My old Colt Sporter HBAR has a Delta ring and I've never considered changing it to a free-floating setup.
     
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  19. bassjam

    bassjam Member

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    My experience is limited to a recent A4-ish build with a 20" pencil barrel with a clamshell. Bore sighted at the bench off sand bags at 50 yards, took it to 100 yards, then 200 yards, all with open sights an no noticeable change. Then went through an NRA High Power clinic at 200 yards, learning proper use and tension of the sling, again I saw no impact change. Scored a 91-2x rapid fire sitting and a 96-1x slow fire prone which I don't think is half bad for a first time and 55g ball ammo. I don't want to talk about my standing score lol, but that's unslung anyway.

    Now I'm not going to argue that a much better experience High Power shooter wouldn't notice a difference, but for a lay person like myself with a couple hours experience it didn't seem to matter. Or, maybe there might have been a difference going out to 600 yards but I was also told my 55gr FMJ ammo would pattern more than group at that distance so there's more factors than just a free float barrel that go into accuracy.

    Precision firearms are a system and you need to tackle parts from the worst to best to obtain optimal accuracy. Ignoring the fool pulling the trigger, there's the trigger, barrel, ammo, sights/optics, method of shooting (bipod, bags, standing, sling, etc) and distance, and conditions especially if we're not talking an AR and you have a wood stock. I guess what your end goal is determines where in that list a free floated barrel stands in importance.
     
  20. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    This is why it’s difficult to quantify the difference in accuracy as it is dependent on how you shoot.
     
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  21. sarduy

    sarduy Member

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    it’s inaccurate enough to not win any sub moa competition but plenty accurate to kill/hit anything an inch or bigger at 100 yards.
     
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  22. ClaymoreAKM

    ClaymoreAKM Member

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    I'm not competing with my AR-15s, only one is free float, the other 3 have F marked front sight posts
     
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  23. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    Mine all float, 8 for 8 and for the same reason my rifles are bedded; I need all the help I can get! Not about one-upping anyone, but about getting the most out of what I’m working with.
     
  24. kimberkid

    kimberkid Member

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    The last NRA match rifle I built was probably 10 years ago. I had come across a float tube that fit under either the triangle or round handguard. Its kind of “cheating” as it maintains the profile of a standard issue A2 … of course if you combine that with a 2-stage trigger (that wasn’t available even in the 90’s) it will keep up with other guns that are in higher classes with float tubes… it also has a narrow front post & NM rear sight and of course lead in the butt stock as well as between the handguard & float tube. If memory serves it weighs 16 pounds.

    I wasn’t sure if I had a picture

    P1210149.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
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  25. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    inside of 200 yards with a red dot on both, I haven't noticed a difference on 10x20 plates.
     
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