+1 on free floating the barrel.
+1 on hand loads, I'm sure they will make a difference if you work up a load.
+1 on barrel break in.
often there is a substantial shift in point of impact between the cold shot and warmed up shots. Shoot your groups all cold or all hot, depending on the type of shooting you intend to do...
Loaders_Loft, when you say "Shoot your groups all cold or all hot" Question and I have no preconceived opinion other than quite often I'll read on LRH to let the barrel cool and I'm thinking cool or hot shots mixed could affect groups...and I think I'm ok there...But, I also thought shoot...let barrel cool...shoot...let barrel cool helps to take care of barrel and throat thus extending accuracy...soooo am I assuming too much or is it ok to shoot one shot after another even if the barrel gets a little hot?
if I notice a point of impact shift in a rifle I'm shooting, then I have to make a decision. For a varmint gun like a 22-250, I know it will be shot several consecutive times, so I don't let the barrel cool between shots when shooting a 5 shot group. However, for a big game rifle, I know every shot will be a cold bore shot or one follow up, so I let the gun cool between every shot or two.
if your group is big because of a shift in point of impact between a cold & hot shot, then don't do that unless that's the way you always plan to shoot it.
Thank you guys for all your input. It's definitely given me some direction. So far I've adjusted the trigger, bought 1 piece leupold dovetail base and rings, and ordered a box of Hornady 139 gr. SST's (still waiting for them since they're on backorder).
I have one additional question I would like input on. The fit of the original synthetic stock doesn't seem ideal and I'm thinking about changing out with a Bell & Carlson Alaskan II with the full bedding block. Right now Stockys has them onsale for $203. So here's my question: is this a great stock at a reasonable price? And would this be the next logical step for improving the accuracy of my 700? Thanks in advance for your time and input.