I consistently read about the miracle of a cold barrel shot and understand the psychological aspects of being able to place your bullet exactly where you want it out of a cold barrel. As a hunter I want my first shot (Cold barrel) to go exactly where I have the reticle cross hairs placed when the round breaks. As a target shooter I want every shot to hit the exact same spot that I'm aiming from the first shot of 20 slow fire in 20 minutes as well as rapid fire with 10 shots in either 60 or 70 seconds. I want my Rifle zeroed for that first shot out of the cold barrel, to the same spot 10 or 20 shots fired rapidly within a given short time period of 60 (50) or 70 (60) seconds out of a sizzling hot barrel. For my competitive friends holding a 1 MOA or less group from anything from 100 to 600 yards or more is absolutely required not just a nice thing to happen. In the competitive world bullet drift from barrel heat needs to be minimized or eliminated. These days this is a lot easier to accomplish simply because of the massive strides in barrel technology from the factory as well as most rifles now come from the factory with free floating barrels and bedded actions, The big question is, "Does your barrel warp with heat?" In years past this syndrome was handled by using, "Bull Barrels," where the physical mass of the barrel caused them to heat up slower, reduce flex and maintain accuracy shot after shot. This did not come without a downside, the first issue being weight. In competitive shooting carrying around a 12 to 16 pound rifle was not an issue on the range, but who wants to carry that same rifle out in the woods? I tried it, I didn't much like it." My solution, for whatever that matters was to get another rifle in the same action with a lightweight barrel. Both were post 64 Winchester Model 70's, the match rifle had a 26 inch stainless steel Obermeyer super match barrel chambered for the 7.62 x 51 NATO cartridge and an additional .025 inches of freebore. Some warned me that the 7.62 x 51 chambering and extra freebore would compromise accuracy. In reality the first 3 shot group out of the new barrel formed a cloverleaf at 100 yards and things just got better from there. My other Model 70 has a 20 inch factory sporter barrel and out of the box was only able to do a 1 1/4 inch group. It didn't matter if I was using factory or handloaded 165 gr ammunition approximating Lake City Match. Both rifles have wood stocks however the match rifle had a floated barrel. The hunting rifle did not. So what did this mean for accuracy? Since the match rifle was somewhat custom from this point on it's simply something to keep in mind and I will talk about the changes made to the factory Model 70 Sporter (Sitting in my gun safe about 8 feet to my left) Back in the early 70's Winchester was simply making rifles that out of the box would keep your shots in a Deer's breadbasket at 100 or 200 yards. The barrels were button rifled and not made to shoot thousands of rounds before being fired out. (I have mentioned this before in another post relating to my now match rifle) So how do we take a sporting rifle shooting 1 ¼ inch groups down to less than 1 MOA? Keep in mind that this rifle has a beautiful wood stock. Back then synthetics were not in common or even uncommon usage. From the factory the Winchester did not have a glass bedded actions and the barrels were not even close to free floated most having a lot of upward pressure on the barrel at the muzzle end of the stock. The action was, at that time simply bedded with only the recoil lug epoxy bedded. I took the rifle out of the stock, did some Prussian blue impressions, and found out exactly where the barrel and action met the stock. From that point I, well let's call it what it was, "Gouged," out the barrel channel to keep the barrel from hitting the stock. Then with a Dremel Tool opened up the recoil lug and action area in the stock. Now it was bedding time, and at the time pillar bedding was not common, or in my case even known. Using the epoxy barrel bedding kit from Brownells, release compound in the action area and layered Mylar tape on the barrel proceed to do a bedding job to tighten the action into the stock as well as free up the barrel to stock contact. At the time it was customary to bed the first inch or two of the barrel along with the action. I chose not to and free floated the entire barrel. When all was said and done in order to break the action and barrel from the bedding compound I had to freeze the rifle and stock in my freezer along with beef, venison and whatever else was in it at the time. 24 hours at zero degrees and the action popped out of the stock with a simple thump from the palm of my hand. I now simply removed the tape and release compound and after waiting for temperatures to stabilize at room temperature worked the action back into the stock as well as checked the barrel as being completely free floated all along its length. The action now firmly bedded into the stock and the barrel completely free floated it was the time to see how the rifle would shoot. I used hand loaded ammo approximating Lake City Match ammo with Nosler Partition 165 grain bullets. Out at the range, of course with the rifle as bedded and at that time a Bushnell 3 x 9 x 40 scope bore sighted, the first shot out of the barrel at 25 yards was high and left. Scope adjusted to be dead on at 25 yards. Moved out to 50 yards and the point of impact was, as I remember about ¼ inch high. Moved out to 100 yards and the point of impact was a bit over ¾ inch and off to the left. Adjusted the scope to zero the hits at 2 inches high at 100 yards. Then to confirm all of what I had done I fired 10 shots, starting from a cold barrel in about 5 minutes to see how the barrel heat would affect the flight of the bullet at 100 yards. Amazingly the 10 shot group bench rested within ¾ inch from cold to hot out of a sporter barrel. There was a ½ inch improvement in the group size shooting from cold to hot. OK so there you have it. Doesn't matter if you shoot out of a cold barrel to one blazing hot, the rounds should impact virtually at the same point of aim which is what it's all about. ACCURACY no matter what the conditions, well maybe not but that is yet another story for yet another day. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: How does temperature affect accuracy and what can we do about it?