I thought that SA was just too cheap to put a bearing for the swivel. So it is done on purpose? I have not yet shot the rifle to notice patterns and groups. At least now I have confidence to go ahead and use lots of sling tension. I got two uppers on the AR a practice non free float and a match free float. The difference zero is pretty noticable if I break position and walk away with the non free float barrel. When I was first learning to shoot and was starting to get repeatable, it was fustrating to have groups flying all over the place. What I didn't realize it was the rifle and changing zero. At least now I'm pretty confident I won't be chasing zeros with the M1A.dighawaii said:Aloha Kelvin...
"Free floated" systems on M14's and AR's are different. As Warbird said, the match free floated M14 type rifle would still have contact at the front ferrule and the front band.
Whereas the AR systems, the barrel and gas system is entirely independent of the handguard.
I am sure if you squeeze the handguard (gently) and the stock you will notice some compression there... that draw pressure is there for a purpose. It allows the barrel and gas system to return to its original state quickly and regularly. So your question on "...does the stock push on the barrel?" No, but the stock does "pull" on the front band (attached to the barrel assembly) to create this pressure or draw.
The thicker SM/NM SA stocks should allow you to sling up tight and not affect zero. Check your front sling swivel (it should be welded shut). It has been a problem with folks who sling up tight to open up the front sling swivel and thus, welding it shut (from coming apart) is normal on a NM rifle.
I hope this helps some...