Do You Need To Break In A New Rifle Barrel, Part II

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 7 months ago

In Do You Need To Break In A New Rifle Barrel, I said that I have followed this procedure for breaking in new rifles barrels.

This involves (1) a round, (2) brush/solvent/patch full stroke down the barrel, (3) dry patch or mop, next round, and so on. This process continues for several dozen rounds, then you skip to three rounds before the same procedure, and so on until the process is completed at 50 or more rounds.  You’ll wear out at least two bore brushes this way.  I’ve done it.  A bore guide is handy, and a day at the range is necessary.  You can’t complete the process in under a day.

At GoHunt.com, the author outlines a similar procedure, and states that:

I’ve read a lot of things on this subject (mostly during the random years when I decide to pick up a new gun) and it seems that most people will agree that a rifle break-in period is a good thing … Basically, the process of breaking in a new barrel is essentially just conditioning the barrel to smooth everything out (remove small burrs). Some barrel materials may take more rounds, others might not need much at all. Keep in mind that you don’t want to burn your barrel up in this process. Rifle barrels don’t last forever, so like I mention at the end of this article, if your rifle shoots great using half the steps, then call it good.

Running 50 rounds through the barrel along with copper wiring for cleaning purposes is hardly going to burn the barrel.  But also remember that I embedded some video by barrel manufacturers who have all weighed in telling us that the process just isn’t necessary for the barrel, but more necessary for the throat.  It’s also not apparent to me how the process isn’t duplicated by sending rounds through the barrel anyway, regardless of the cleaning stroke in between shots.

If you have strong opinions on this, please weigh in.  I’m beginning to lean against this procedure the more I think about it.


Comments

  1. On December 20, 2017 at 3:07 am, Papa said:

    Back in the ’90s, I did this after reading a couple magazine articles.
    My opinion in hindsight then, and now, is that it was a waste of time, solvent, patches, and brushes.
    People then, and now, have their obsessive compulsive disordered super secret squirrel sniper methods of barrel break in. Almost like a dark occult mystery religion.
    Just shoot the thing, and clean it properly.

    I’m not an expert, nor a high priest of musketry.
    Just using some common sense mixed with some mechanical background.

    Note: 50 rounds, or more.
    Who came up with the magic number of 50, and why?
    And, what is more, and when does one know that the mystical “more” amount has been reached?

  2. On December 20, 2017 at 4:07 am, Pat Hines said:

    I don’t break them in, but that activity does not hurt the barrel. If you have the time and ammo to spend, get after it.

  3. On December 20, 2017 at 6:23 am, Duke Digger said:

    Gale McMillan of the custom rifle company, has cemented my beliefs. http://www.snipercountry.com/Articles/Barrel_BreakIn.asp
    I have personally contured and chambered about two dozen barrel-actions in my “serious” years(personal use, not a gunsmith). Some of these were rework after disappointing results of some high end barrels. I have come to believe premium barrels are still somewhat luck of the draw, while cheap barrels won’t ever make you happy, if you allow yourself to get fussy about groups, no matter how you break them in.

  4. On December 20, 2017 at 6:59 am, Doug said:

    Who does not run 50 or so rounds through a new rifle … and clean it lovingly a couple of times in the first few days of ownership?

  5. On December 20, 2017 at 9:06 am, Rich said:

    I’ve never done this, and I’ll admit to not trying to keep track of results too minutely for the first 100 or so rounds.

    I’d like to have someone from the long range community weigh in here on this. And/or an armorer for one of the Armed Forces sniper units.

    I’m guessing this on one of those things that matters to a degree depending on what you’re trying to do with the rifle. Hunting in the woods? Probably won’t matter.

    Hunting antelope/elk? Might matter.

    Trying to hit sub-MOA targets at 1000+? Probably matters.

    Just a thought.

  6. On December 20, 2017 at 10:11 am, Thomas Madere said:

    Perhaps this is from the past when manufacturing processes were not so precise as today. Would this apply to a chrome lined barrel. as hard as chrome is I doubt the break in process would have much effect.
    The old days of breaking in a car are gone, largely because the current machining processes are so much more accurate that parts no longer have to be physically worn into mating with each other.

  7. On December 20, 2017 at 11:41 am, moe mensale said:

    High end custom barrel? Sure. Two reasons. 1)It may impact the manufacturer’s warranty, if any. 2)It may stretch the barrel life a few hundred rounds. Custom barrel life is measured in low 4 digits.

    Factory mass produced stainless or chrome moly steel? That barrel is mass produced to keep its cost down. Shoot it, clean it, replace it when necessary. Like any good tool.

    Chrome lined barrels? You can’t break in chrome lining. You may be able to smooth out the chamber a bit with steel wool if it hasn’t also been plated. Chrome plated barrels are made for shooting faces, not cloverleafs on paper.

  8. On December 20, 2017 at 12:13 pm, J said:

    I am assuming this is for “Precision Type” rifles.
    I see no reason to do this with a “Combat Type” rifle.
    My precision guns, both bolt and gas have never seen this type of treatment.
    I only push carbon out(No Copper Brushes) till my groups open up beyond 3/4min at 100. Then and only then do I attack the Copper.
    IMO
    My McMillians,Surgeons,Rem 700 5R, Larue OBR and M1A(JAllen Stock) are all 1/2 min at 100 guns……as long as I do my part.
    Which is good for me.

  9. On December 20, 2017 at 12:50 pm, Bill Robbins said:

    As one of comments above said, it’s like the “break-in” period for a car, back when we were kids and dads drove Oldsmobile station wagons. I’m talking 1960s and early 70s. I remember taking a drive with my father to “break-in” his new Vista Cruiser on what was then the newly-opened and practically empty 684 Highway, in NY/CT. My father broke-in everything. Didn’t matter what it was, it needed breaking-in. This thinking may still have been valid, back then, when, as also mentioned above, manufacturing methods and tolerances-, to which I would add materials and lubrication technologies, were less advanced then today.

    The comment above that rings true for me is the one about the proud owner of a new gun who lovingly strips and cleans his (or her) new rifle to do a good clearning after the first day or two at the range.

  10. On December 20, 2017 at 12:54 pm, DAN III said:

    I have never “broken in” a rifle barrel. In fact, I find the concept absolutely absurd.

  11. On December 20, 2017 at 1:57 pm, george said:

    The following is directly quoted from JP rifles product manual.
    RIFLE USE

    BREAK-IN PROCEDURE

    Although modern barrel manufacturing techniques result in vastly improved bore

    finishes and minimize the need for elaborate break‐in procedures, we still recommend

    a minor break‐in procedure to maximize accuracy potential.

    Your rifle has been test‐fired for function, but the barrel has not

    been truly broken in. We recommend the following procedure

    to obtain optimum accuracy potential from your barrel. At your

    first use, fire 10 to 20 rounds and then clean the bore using

    solvent and J‐B® bore compound, which will have a mild lapping

    effect in your new barrel. Follow this by mopping the bore using

    a clean cotton patch with a little more solvent. Repeat this

    procedure every 20 rounds for the first 60 rounds, then again

    after the next 300 rounds. The J‐B® compound is not necessary

    for every cleaning, but will also serve as an excellent copper

    fouling remover when necessary.

    I used to shoot bench rest where we cleaned between each string (10-15 shots).

    At the USMC M-16 Instructors’ School we would shoot as much as 1200 rounds before cleaning.

    With my bench rifles I did use a break in method.

    With my M-16s and hunting rifles I never did.

    I shoot 3 gun competition these days and shoot a JP LRP-07 in .308.

    The first one I owned I did the break in. On this newer one (5 years old) I did not.

    I cannot see any improvement on accuracy or loss of accuracy.

    Personally I would not waste my time with break in. I definitely recommend a thorough cleaning before firing and most assuredly afterwards.

  12. On December 21, 2017 at 10:22 am, Ned said:

    Ross Seifried wrote about this years ago in either Rifle or Handloader. If memory serves, he ultimately blew off the shoot one clean barrel break in process.

    I never enjoyed any difference between break in of just shooting and cleaning the rifle.

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You are currently reading "Do You Need To Break In A New Rifle Barrel, Part II", entry #18279 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published December 19th, 2017 by Herschel Smith.

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