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Barrel break in??

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by Cheesemaker, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. Cheesemaker

    Cheesemaker Tillamook Active Member

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    So, I just ran across some info on the internet, about breaking in barrels. Is this true or a hoax?

    I've bought many of guns through the years, and not one of the owners manuals ever said anything about breaking in barrels. I always just started sending projectiles through the barrels, once I get them set up.

    In the articles I read, said something to the affect that I need to shoot one round, clean the barrel. Shoot two rounds, clean the barrel. Shoot three rounds, clean the barrel. And so on till you shoot five rounds. I just got a Savage .17, and the scope came in today. And I want to set it up, and sight it in this weekend.

    So, please help me out and let me know if this is a hoax. If it is true, what is the proper break in procedure?

  2. DieselScout

    DieselScout S Clackamas County Well-Known Member

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    Shoot, clean, repeat. Some people want more, so some companies provides more specific instructions. It is pretty impossible to prove breaking in does anything as there is now way to tell if the barrel would shoot any different if it was/wasn't broken in. Personally, I don't believe breaking in a barrel is required.
    al42 and (deleted member) like this.
  3. PMB

    PMB Vancouver, Washington Active Member

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    Hello Cheesemaker,
    I was in the same boat when I came across a video on YouTube where this fellow was giving a lengthy "breaking in" to a rimfire rifle.
    He made the comment that most people would think he was going overboard for a $250 rimfire, but that he does it for all of his guns.

    I had always taken my new piece out to the shooting range, put an afternoon of shooting home, and then cleaned 'er up when I got home. Never noticed a bad thing about it.

    One of those rifles had been banged around a decent amount, shot to heck and back, abused by my boys and girls, and my wife was shooting 1-hole groups at 40 yards with 5 shot groups. :worship: :winner: Another member from NWFA (and new friend) watched her do it. Some of her groups looked like a single shot from a .30 cal.
    So, maybe I just took this opportunity to brag up my honey, but the point is ---- What do you expect to do with your rifle?
    If you're going to be benchresting and going for MOA groups at 100+ yards, I think it's a great idea to spend an entire day (or at least a long afternoon) doing it the way the fellow I saw on YouTube doing it. If you're going to send wayward rabbits to the great gig in the sky... well, you see what I mean.
    The fellow I am referring to on YouTube - his procedure was actually quite a bit longer than the one you described. I don't remember the details. Hang on, I'll see if I can find the link.

    Ah, here it is. He goes by the charming name of "kickedintheballs2000", and he seems to really know his stuff and care for his pieces well.
    If it's not that one, check the part 1.

    Hey, did I mention how much my wife kicked *** with that ragged old 22 rifle? :drink:
  4. Gonzales

    Gonzales Albany, OR Member

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    I call BS on most of this.

    Every new rifle and pistol will have some ruff machining marks. Barrel, chamber, etc. Gas ports are especially bad when it comes to burs.

    Yes, just shooting your firearm will smooth the ruff edges in most cases, but at a cost, primarily excessive copper and lead fouling.

    I've even seen scratches from metal shaving and partially imbedded bits of chrome / steel in barrels that were not properly cleaned before being fired.

    JB and Flitz have there place. If you are changing any measurable dimension, you are doing it wrong.

    I consider a barrel "broke in" when I no longer get excessive fouling. And if you are bench shooting, you will notice less flyers and in most cases tighter groups.

    I also "Season" my barrels. Try Googling that one! If your Google Fu is weak, try searching for how to season an iron frying pan.

  5. PMB

    PMB Vancouver, Washington Active Member

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    'Morning MG,
    I have never done anything special for a new barrel... Are you saying that barrel break in is BS, or not breaking a barrel in is BS?

    I claim complete ignorance on this one... So I tend to believe people who talk as if they know what they are talking about. :worship:
    The first time I even heard of it was when looking up a video on changing barrels on a rifle on YouTube.
    I probably skipped those parts in the books I've read. Darn. Need to do some more reading up.

    Thanks for your input!

  6. Both Eyes Open

    Both Eyes Open Hood Canal Active Member

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    seems like a recomendation that would come from ammo suppliers, cleaning supply companies and barrel sales people! I tend to believe that the reason a rifle shoots tighter groups after a 400 or so round break in process is because you just got 400 rounds of experience shooting your new rifle. I am by no means an expert but these are just my intitial thoughts regarding this topic. If someone has a link to actual hard data on this my mind could still be changed but for now i'm not putting alot of stock into it....
  7. DoubleTapDrew

    DoubleTapDrew Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I don't think it makes any difference. If it was a measurable difference there wouldn't be so much controversy on the subject.
    Most production barrels will shoot better after a few hundred rounds since you're removing the sloppy machining marks in the grooves & lands. I don't think it will make much difference on a high end barrel since those are hand-lapped with attention to detail.
    Out of curiosity I tried that Tubbs fire-lapping system in a semi auto .308. I was amazed that it shrunk the groups in half at 100yds (and made it much easier to clean). But that was a production barrel so I figure it was cleaning up the roughness in the bore, same as it would by just shooting it a lot (albeit at a much faster pace).
  8. Pandaz3

    Pandaz3 Cornelius, Oregon NRA Lifetime Member Platinum Supporter Gold Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Armalite's Manual calls for using a bronze bore brush and solvent vigorously after each of the first nine shots, to rid this copper fouling you describe. That is for their Stainless Steel barrels.
  9. Gonzales

    Gonzales Albany, OR Member

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    PMB, I'm saying that folks can say or do what they want, but.....

    From exp, you will get more out of a new production firearm if you take the time and make sure it gets the final touches it should have gotten at the factory, but did not get do to higher production costs.

    Polish, lap, and grind if needed!

    One of the other guys said his rifle shot better after 400 rounds! It probably does! But I'd rather not spend $200 to $400 on ammo to get a good shooter.

    Spend a couple hours, break it down, clean it / up. Run a mop with Flitz through the barrel a few times to polish it up a touch. No lapping! If it needs lapping, go buy a better rifle / barrel. Chrome lined barrels are special cases, don't mess with them. I've only had to clean up gas ports to remove burs.

    Polish the chamber if it needs it. Low speed drill, short cleaning rod and proper sized mop. 30 seconds and call it good.

    Polish anywhere there is metal to metal contact. Make it shiny, don't remove metal or any finish / bluing.

    Clean everything with a good solvent, then season it with something like Froglube, or a good synthetic oil.

    Don't use your wife's good cookie sheet and you may live to fire your rifle!

    Why would someone bother to do this?
    Most don't.

    But my rifles take less time to clean than it takes to pull out and put back the cleaning supplies, they shoot consistently, and they just seem to function better. I take pride in what I own.

    I find it funny that folks will take the time to wash and wax their car, but won't touch their rifles.

    So, I guess I do believe in barrel / firearm break-in.

  10. SturgeonSlayer

    SturgeonSlayer St.Helens Active Member

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    I did a lot of research on the same subject a few years ago and read several articles for and against the barrel break in, one of the articles that sticks in my mind was from a supplier who says barrels are only good for x amount of shots and someone came up with this break in which reduces the amount of shots the barrel is good for thus if you break in the barrel you will need a new barrel sooner than if you didn't, giving more business to those who sell and fit the barrels. IMHO not needed.
  11. Gonzales

    Gonzales Albany, OR Member

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    Most folks would be pretty hard pressed to wear out a hunting rifle, or even a plinker. And if/when you do, do it with a smile, knowing you shot the hell out of it! Guns are meant to be shot, not kept as safe queens.

    And we are not talking doing any major lapping. Just cleaning it up a bit, so that the first few dozen rounds don't leave excessive lead and copper fouling in the barrel. Once there, it's not easy to remove without serious cleaning chemicals that can etch / damage your barrel or rifles finish.

    If you have purchased a new firearm in the last year or so, take a real close look at it. The manufactures are making them as fast as they can. They are getting really sloppy. The quality of the workmanship has really suffered. They are letting their cutting tools get way too dull before replacing them, and there is almost no quality control.

    So, maybe in the past barrel break in was not needed. He'll, even an old wives tale.....

    But I can't see spending good money on something, and not taking the time to check it over and making sure it's going to perform as expected.

    Up till now, all this has been about barrel wear. There are whole other aspects to "barrel break in."

    Proper heat cycling the barrel to relieve stresses in the metal... Thereby increasing hot/cold barrel accuracy. Those subjects are beyond most folks Nerd level. But, some folks swear by the methods and theories behind it.

    I hope to get there someday, but I'm too busy shooting. :p

    Maybe someone can comment on the heat cycling aspect of all this?

  12. MountainBear

    MountainBear Sweet Home, OR Well-Known Member

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    My two cents is that a barrel break-in doesn't hurt and can only help. My advice is to find your favorite barrel manufacturer's website and see what they recommend. Never bothered with rimfires, but have done it with centerfires...