Barrel break in

Discussion in 'General Rifle Discussion' started by elfmdl, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. elfmdl

    elfmdl Active Member

    Does barrel break in really do anything?
  2. tacticalfun

    tacticalfun Active Member

    Allows it to return to its " home" or zero position after heating up. Reduces walk

  3. Txhillbilly

    Txhillbilly Well-Known Member

    Barrel break in procedure's have always been argued about.Some guy's do it,some don't.
    I have always done a break in on new rifle's or barrel's.It help's in taking out the microscopic burrs in the bore left from the rifling tools,and makes it easier to clean the bore,and helps prevent copper fouling.
  4. Intheshop

    Intheshop New Member

    I do it because it lets me see how easy/hard the brrl is going to be to clean.Some brrls(these are factory sporters,no high $$ customs)are foulers and some are just dreamboats.The sooner I know how its going to behave the better.And to a slightly lessor degree,am studying the stock's characterstics as well.Shopnut
  5. hardluk1

    hardluk1 Active Member

    After coppering up a couple barrel when young I started to follow kreigers breakin directions and some info on how to clean out the old barrel I copper so badly. I found it payed off to take time to breakin a barrel with a new rifle. Atleast for me. Many guys just shoot the heck out of them and are happy with the results. Now .22's ,clean them well first then shoot the heck out of them with little cleaning of the barrel.
  6. TLuker

    TLuker Active Member

    Ditto what everyone else said. :)
  7. billt

    billt Active Member


    Gale McMillan, one of the best barrel makers of all time, summed up "Barrel break In's" quite well in this article. For what it's worth, I agree with every word of it for the same reason he did. In over 40 years of shooting, I have yet to see or hear anyone prove otherwise.
  8. hardluk1

    hardluk1 Active Member

    billt there is a major difference between higher end quality barrels and the barrels used by most all production firearm companies , even back 25 to 30 years ago when gail was assembling. Also mcmillian does not make barrels, they buy from top end barrel companies. The same ones that do have directions for break-in. A quality barrel today can be "broke-in" with as few as 10 rounds to 20 rounds. And that can amount to 1/2 to 1% of rounds fired during its compition life depending on cartidge of course. Do what the barrel tells you to do as far as cleaning goes. Cleaning during that time can also be very minimal also you do have to use the right products and then use it correctly. This is the info I have use for decades on krieger barrels or on production rifles. -

    Note too that mcmillians point of view is concederd a dissenting view and many years old and he has been out of the game for 25 years. It is back in this families hands but still not there own barrels. The whole match game shooting field has learned thru time to do a better job along with better barrels and bullets. I will read what a high end barrel manfactor wants to do for breakin and try to follow there info. The aftermarket quality barrels are what mcmillian did and still uses after all.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  9. billt

    billt Active Member

    I have yet to see anything breaking in a barrel accomplishes. Other than accelerated wear. Every time I'm at the range, and there is some guy scrubbing more than he's shooting, his groups are no smaller than mine.
  10. TLuker

    TLuker Active Member

    Copper fouling, after a certain point, makes your groups open up. A rough surface finish on your barrel causes a barrel to foul quicker and it makes cleaning more difficult. Some guns like a little fouling and that's why I added "after a certain point". Breaking in the barrel smooths out the rough surface finish of the barrel and that makes your gun shoot well for more shots in between cleaning.

    Gale McMillan is using high end barrels and all high end barrels are hand lapped. The sole purpose of hand lapping is to smooth out the surface of the barrel for the reasons listed. Factory barrels on production rifles are not hand lapped and that's the reason for the break in.

    It's all a matter of personal preference as to whether you should break in a barrel or not. As long as you keep your barrel clean (free of copper) and shoot regularly you will eventually smooth out the surfaces any way. Breaking in the barrel just speeds up the process. Personally I like to go ahead and do the break in to get the barrel smooth. Then I can concentrate on dialing in the gun, but again it's all personal preference. :)
  11. billt

    billt Active Member

    On my first trip to the range a few years back with a new Ruger Stainless Model 77, I fired 100 rounds in 5 shot groups. The gun never saw a cleaning rod before, or during that range session. Of all the 5 shot groups I fired that day, (20), the last 5 shot group was the smallest. I never cleaned or "broke in" the barrel. What do you think is taking place during a "break in" shot, that is not taking place when you simply shoot the weapon at the target?
  12. The_Kid

    The_Kid New Member

    Calling the lapping action "wear" isn't clever.

    Typical Straw-man argument. No one has made the [will shoot smaller groups] argument.

    The Gale McMillan article is one of the most ill-conceived conspiracy theories of all time.

    That means the other evil barrel makers would suggest shooting in the air or maybe the dirt?

    How should I break-in my new Shilen barrel?
    Or maybe they all would suggest a specific number of shots?

    Krieger BREAK-IN & CLEANING:
    They don't sound all that evil, do they?
  13. The_Kid

    The_Kid New Member

    Many people that advocate barrel break-in also advocate shooting with a very fouled bore. Some shoot 500 or more without cleaning.

    [ame=""]New Link[/ame]

    Right there is 8000 rounds before copper cleaning.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  14. TLuker

    TLuker Active Member

    During a break in you clean after every round or every so many rounds. That cleaning removes the copper fouling from the barrel. When you fire your next shot after cleaning the bullet makes direct contact with the steel in the barrel rather than the copper fouling that has built up on the steel. That smooths out the barrel and more important it also takes the high spots off the lands so that future bullets will contact all of the lands at the same time rather than catching a high land and copper that has built up unevenly on the lands. By high I don't mean that one is closer to the center of the barrel. I mean one is closer to bolt or further away (slightly closer or further).

    If you clean every so often and remove the copper you will get that same bullet to metal contact and eventually smooth out the bore anyway, but it will take much longer.

    I first read about breaking in a barrel 20 something years ago in a article where Kenny Jared was interviewed and in the interview he explained the whole thing. He also explain the use of JB bore cleaner for breaking in a barrel or cleaning a fouled barrel. I went and bought some at a local gun shop. I used it as described in the article on an extremely well used 1944 Lee Enfield .303 to remove the fouling. My groups went from just over 3" at 100 yards to 1" and all I did was remove the copper fouling. I've been a believer every since and I've used it to break in all of my new rifles every since.

    I also have no idea why some guns shoot like they do and I have no idea why your M77 shot better after that much fouling? I do know that most guns take several shots to get just a little fouling in the barrel before they really start shooting but most also start to open up after that many rounds. I would've loved to have tinkered with that M77 just to see what was going on there. Maybe another bullet would have shot better with just little fouling and that particular load liked a lot of fouling? Or maybe it just shoots better with a lot of fouling period? I honestly don't know. :)
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  15. JonM

    JonM Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    running a brush like a scrubie back and forth in the barrel is not a good practice.

    i typically dont clean my barrels agressively. i just use some hoppes on a patch run it through the bore one way. then dry patch and hoppes then dry and hoppes. after that its clp and dry for a few cycles. if its getting stored a soaked clp patch and put it away.

    i have yet to clean my rra A2 national match. its still turning in half moa groups and better with iron sights. all its had was a wet clp patch now and then for storage. i run dry through the bores before shooting.

    my bcm carbine has about 1k downrange and ive yet to do more than a wipe down of the bcg and recievers. its a solid moa gun.

    im building a krieger barrelled precision ar15 and ill follow krieger's breakin even though i dont think it really matters. but i also dont think it will hurt anything. im sure they know more about their gear than i do and since im tossing down the price of an entire S&W MP15 base gun on just the barrel it cant hurt to follow their advice...
  16. Intheshop

    Intheshop New Member

    I will say,probably the single biggest factor on really good,used gun prices is extremely fouled bores.Back when moly coated bullets were all the rage.....snagged a cpl with "shot-out" brrls.And theres been at least a 1/2 dz that were also,shot-out using regular bullets....that once given a proper cleaning,have served us very well in the accuracy dept.

    We also have a cpl rifles whos bores are so dang rough that they simply won't shoot...with a clean brrl.This is where handloading comes in.We can load a cpl scorcher's and send'm down the bore.It'll coat or foul these guns pretty quick.Then they'll hold decent acc for 50-100 rounds.Got some others that after 10 shots you can see groups start to open up?

    I learned an awful lot about fouling,shooting lead.How it gets in there...what the effect is....and ways to prevent it.One thing also became drastically apparrent,each brrl has its likes/dislikes.
  17. TCH2FLY

    TCH2FLY New Member

    As you have seen it depends on who you ask.

    Let's go back and break down what custom barrel makers say:
    I find it interesting that they provide a procedure not because they think it is needed but because the customers do. But to your question they believe it polishes the interior of the barrel and eliminates sharp edges or burrs that could cause jacket deformity. Nothing about accuracy, barrel life or fouling but certainly you could infer that a smooth barrel would foul less.
    They have a different view. They are concerned with polishing the throat not the bore. Note that they say cleaning between rounds makes it easier to remove the copper fouling in the barrel not that it improves the contact between bullet and barrel for quicker/better break-in (it could be considered a reasonable hypothesis but I have not seen the scientific proof). Again nothing about accuracy or barrel life.

    Let's see what a couple of gun makers say: Howa


    Interestingly enough Howa is concerned with sealing the surface and does not want any abrasion. They suggest removing copper fouling but no reason why. Their procedure is based on increasing consistency and accuracy of the rifle. They note that copper should be reduced as you use the process and state that theoretically the process seals the pores that are exposed by lapping.
    This is the typical break-in procedure but I think it is interesting that Savage does not state that they require a break-in or what advantages it might provide but rather it is what is recommended by a magazine. There is no "we" say but rather "they" say.

    So you can take all of that and decide for yourself what may or may not happen during break-in.
    Most of the data is subjective because you can never take the same barrel and try both break-in and non break-in to see which works best ... any results are specific to one barrel, one process. Many instances and examples from both schools of thought show excellent results with no way to knowing what might have happened having followed a different process.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2012
  18. TLuker

    TLuker Active Member

    This is Remington's break in procedure for the M24 sniper rifle. It's the most extensive procedure I've seen. It takes a while just to read it. :)

    M24 Cleaning and Maintenance Procedures

    The M24 Sniper Weapons System (SWS) is a precision military grade weapons system
    capable of extreme accuracy if correctly maintained and cared for. Many times M24’s
    are damaged due to incorrect cleaning techniques.
    The M24 should be cleaned and maintained as any custom style precision weapon
    system in that the carbon and copper left in the weapon during firing must be removed
    to retain accuracy though the life of the system.
    The following procedures are recommended by Remington Arms Company to
    guarantee that the M24 SWS delivers the required performance in the field. In the
    following procedures you will find barrel break in, routine maintenance, cleaning
    materials list and information of painting the weapon system. All of these issues pertain
    only to the M24 SWS but can be applied to any “sniper” or precision rifle.
    The M24 comes from Remington ready to shoot, however it is recommended that the
    gun be broken in to enhance the life and accuracy of the weapon. Should you need to
    immediately employ or use the weapon you may disregard the break in procedure;
    however weapon life may suffer depending on how it is used. In order to break the
    weapon in follow the following steps;
    1. Clear the weapon.
    2. Remove the bolt.
    3. Insert the bore guide.
    4. Dry patch the barrel to remove any obstacles.
    5. Remove the bore guide
    6. Reinsert the bolt
    7. Load one round
    8. Fire one round
    9. Clean the weapon (see ROUTINE MAINTENANCE)
    10. Repeat this (firing 1 round and cleaning) until you have fired 10 rounds
    11. Load and fire 3 rounds
    12. Clean the weapon (see ROUTINE MAINTENANCE)
    13. Repeat this another 9 times (10 iterations total) (firing 3 rounds and cleaning) for a
    total of 40 rounds being fired through the rifle (1 round x 10 and 3 rounds x 10)
    14. Load and fire 5 rounds 15. Clean the weapon (see ROUTINE MAINTENANCE)
    16. Repeat this another 9 times (10 iterations total) (firing 5 rounds and cleaning) for a
    total of 90 rounds being fired through the rifle (1 round x 10, 3 rounds x 10 and 5
    rounds x 10)
    17. Load and fire 10 rounds
    18. Clean the weapon (see ROUTINE MAINTENANCE)
    19. This should be 100 rounds total fired through the rifle, the M24 is now broken in.
    1. Clear the weapon.
    2. Remove the bolt.
    3. Insert the bore guide.
    4. Dry patch the barrel to remove any obstacles.
    5. Using a copper or bronze brush and carbon solvent scrub the bore 3-5 times
    ensuring that the brush remains wet (it may be necessary to add a small amount of
    solvent to the brush in the middle of this process).
    6. Remove the brush, install the jag onto the rod, wrap a patch around the jag and run
    patches through the bore until the patches are coming out reasonably clean.
    7. Soak a patch in copper solvent and scrub the bore 3 – 4 times ensuring that
    sufficient copper solvent is left in the bore. Leave the bore wet for no longer than 5 -
    10 minutes before removing the copper solvent.
    8. Remove and wipe down the rod.
    9. Clean the bolt by wiping down the exterior of the bolt with carbon solvent, clean the
    bolt face by using a patch wet with copper solvent (it there are brass deposits)
    ensuring to dry the bolt face. Approximately every 300 – 500 rounds disassemble
    the bolt and clean off old lubrication and reapply a light lubrication to the firing pin
    spring and pin reassemble the bolt.
    10. Dry patch the bore until the patches come out reasonably clean.
    11. If putting the rifle away for an unknown amount of time, leave a light amount of a
    non-PTFE (Teflon) based lubricant or solvent (carbon solvent) in the bore to inhibit
    rust and corrosion. If using the weapon within a day, leave the weapon bore dry
    13. The exterior of the optics should be wiped off with a dry rag. They can be wiped with
    a semi-dry lubricant if needed. The lenses should always be covered more so when
    cleaning the weapon (if mounted) to keep solvents from spraying onto them. The
    lenses can be wiped off with lens paper in a circular motion starting in the middle
    working out. If working in a humid or wet environment tissue can be placed into the
    lens caps to absorb moisture
    14. The trigger assembly should never be lubricated more than just a drop if in an
    environment where corrosion or rust is a problem (lubricant only attracts dust and
    15. The magazine follower should be wiped off with a rag and light lubricated if rust and
    corrosion is a problem
    16. The magazine spring should be wiped off with a rag and light lubricated if rust and
    corrosion is a problem 17. If the weapon has seen extensive field work or subjected to airborne dirt and sand
    the barreled action should be removed from the stock and cleaned out; particular
    attention should be paid to the recoil lug area for debris
    In general bore paste will not harm the barrel of the M24. Bore pastes should be used
    carefully and moderately. Bore paste is not a solution to poor cleaning techniques; they
    are an aid to barrel maintenance and accuracy retention. Bore paste should be used
    when needed and not for every cleaning; usually bore paste can be used approximately
    every 3
    or 4
    cleaning. Bore paste must be used after the weapon has been cleaned
    as outlined above. To use bore paste follow the steps outlined below.
    1. Ensure the weapon is clear
    2. Insert the bore guide
    3. Apply a liberal amount of bore paste (enough to penetrate the patch)
    4. Attach the patch to the jag
    5. Insert the rod/jag into the bore guide
    6. Without pushing the rod out the end of the rifle, stroke the bore 5 – 10 times
    7. On the last pass push the rod/jag out of the rifle. The patch will be very black, this is
    8. Remove the patch from the jag and pull the rod/jag out of the rifle
    9. Wipe the rod off with a rag
    10. Spray a patch with WD40 or carbon solvent
    11. Attach the patch to the jag
    12. Insert the rod/jag into the bore guide
    13. Push the rod through the rifle, the patch will be dirty
    14. Repeat this with clean patches until the come out relatively clean
  19. The_Kid

    The_Kid New Member

    Of course you can. One way is not to break-in the barrel for close to 30 years, then preform a break-in procedure. I'm surprised you've forgotten.

    This is my Win94's barrel which I bought new, after about 3 decades of use. It developed a carbon ring, (I suspect from not using a bronze brush,) and that picure was taken right after I got it spotless.
    Note that it is not mirror-like.

    Here is the barrel after the barrel break-in.
    The barrel is totally mirror-like.
    Before the break-in the rifle would copper foul; after the barrel break-in it doesn't copper foul at all.

    It is never too late to preform a barrel break-in.
  20. hardluk1

    hardluk1 Active Member

    Hard to beleive the old m-24 takes that many rounds to break in unless they were closer to old production quality , just heavier. The new ones atleast in SS R5 barrels should be ready to shot to there best quickly. But they will know the quality of the finish and it may be simpler to just shoot and clean.

    Just remember GALE MCMILLIAN bought barrels from others short chambered . HE did not make barrels. And he has been out of the game for decades. AND his view of cleaning is not looked at favorably. His sons also don't make barrels, they buy also from top barrel companies. Only finish chamber work and cut off and chrowning needed. Its a different world today also than in gales day too. Better high end barrels today and way smaller groups than gale ever could have thought of.

    billt How tight does your ruger shoot and at what distance and how many rounds fired in a group. Just because some guy is scubbing away does not mean ether of your all's rifle shot well Dummy's buy expensive barrels to and don't follow directions. Do you match shoot or just randamly bang away at stuff. I can have a nice day shooting and clean mine with a nylon brush one wet patch , 10 minutes setting an a couple to dry patchs when done. Thats what quality breakin can do. NO scubbing away after the very first time to the range with a new barrel. Heck no scubbing even then. To some accuracy is sub 2" at 400 yards with factory ammo years after being built, half that with handloads .

    Some guys are completely happy to burn through many hundreds or thousands of rounds and never new what it was like to own a fine shooter to begin with so cleaning or not does not really matter. The average ar or ak can probably shoot it till it melts and the shooter may not know the difference

    It is nice to own a rifle that cleans easy and is more accurate than the run of the mill rifle. Then build one with a quailty barrel and find what its like to own a rifle that is truely accurate and easy to clean up. Not some factory ruger. I like rugers too that what my custom hunter is based off of.

    How long a barrel is accurate also has a lot to do with the cartidge . There was a right up in 6mmbr that a guys 22-250 that had 4 or 6000 rounds fired in a custom rifle but could still out shoot many others . A barrel can have fairly serve throat erosion and still group well if the rest of the barrel is very good. Depends greatly on the cartidge . Take a 223 and shoot it 5 times as long as a 7mm mag also.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2012