Why a Break In Period?


January 7, 2011, 04:21 PM
All pistols for the most part seem to need a "break in" period. I have only seen one instance where a manufacturer said it didnt, Seecamp.

What is the science/logic behind it?

Genuinely curious as to how pushing rounds through improves performance of a gun.

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January 7, 2011, 04:31 PM
The break in period is essential for a lot of reasons.
First, safety. You want to know if your handgun is working properly. Are there any malfunctions during the break in period? Does a part break? You want to know your handgun is working well before you trust your life to it.
Second, with semi autos, springs can be stiff and parts need to be exercised initially to loosen up the weapon.
My last two semi autos were broken in each with 300 rounds. During that period, each had a malfunction which was fixed promptly-now after another 400 rounds, both work flawlessly.
Third, getting comfortable with it. Each handgun feels differently in your hand. That firing time gives you an opportunity to know how it fires.
Fourth, taking it apart and cleaning it, putting it back together builds your confidence relating to its structure.

January 7, 2011, 04:32 PM
As far as I'm concerned a break-in period is to make sure the gun works with the ammo I plan to shoot in it.

Genuinely curious as to how pushing rounds through improves performance of a gun.

I don't think it does.

Old Fuff
January 7, 2011, 06:25 PM
There is an important difference between “breaking in,” and “function and reliability testing.”

While it is certainly true that one should put some rounds through a new pistol to insure that it is functionally reliable, about the only ones that seem to need "breaking in" are those made on the 1911 Government Model platform that suffer from being fitted up too tightly, and sometimes have undersized "match" chambers.

These are more big-boy-toys, rather then serious weapons, as is easily shown by the fact that none of the USGI 1911 & 1911A1 pistols, as well as they're commercial equivalents needed any such thing. Neither do the better quality service pistols being made by various domestic or foreign manufacturers today.

Breaking in as such, is a condition caused by manufacturers that don’t finish the job they were paid too do. :cuss:

January 7, 2011, 08:48 PM
Excellent post Mr. Fuff. I couldn't agree more and I am completely amazed at how many people have fallen for this whole "break in" nonsense.

January 7, 2011, 09:08 PM
I bought my first handgun/1911 a few months back(I wont mention brand to avoid the battles) and I only have 4-500 rnds through it.Very tight gun.Only 1 FTE in the first hundred and it feels no differently than the first shot did.The first shot was dead on as was the last,as it should be.
A break in,to me,is simply wearing in the parts together uniformly,as the original design was for these parts to be mated long term or permanently more like. I always thought of it like wearing in the rings in an engine,then just letting it rip wide open from there on. My 2cents...

Erik M
January 7, 2011, 09:09 PM
I took my new Glock 19C out and ran 100 rounds through it as fast as I could. Then I ran 50 rounds of my carry ammo through it for accuracy, all without issue. That was the 'break in'.

January 7, 2011, 09:20 PM
Never owned a gun that didn't function correctly immediately then suddenly started working after a certain amount of rounds.

January 7, 2011, 09:45 PM
Pistols with glass smooth hammer forged barrels and smaller slide rails generally don't have a break in period.

Pistols with a rough machined finish on the barrel like Kimber and Kahr get alot more reliable after 500 rounds. Alot of 1911's are like this. If you drag your fingernail down the barrels outer edge you can feel the machined finish.

Higher end 1911's often have a more expensive smoother finish and don't require any breakin.

So it's simple. If it's smooth it deosn't, if it's rough then it deos. Not rocket science folks, and not quite BS either.

January 7, 2011, 09:46 PM
All machines require a break in period.

January 7, 2011, 10:57 PM
All machines require a break in period.

People would not even entertain the idea of buying a television, or phone, or washing machine, or refrigerator that sorta' half-way sporadically worked until it had been operated for X period of time. Gun owners should not accept shoddy guns that are not properly finished.

January 7, 2011, 11:24 PM
I don't own a pistol that has needed to be broken in....all have functioned exactly as they were designed from day one. That isn't to say I've never had anything go wrong...I've had squib rounds and a few stove pipes, but all of it is traced to my reloading skills learning curve and has never happened in a new pistol.

January 7, 2011, 11:26 PM
I have to assume that people are aware of the idea of the "break in" period.

451 Detonics
January 7, 2011, 11:42 PM
I disagree, 30 years ago it was pretty much an unknown term when applied to a US made or high quality import semi auto. Quality control today just isn't what it was back then, on any of my builds if I have a malfunction it is because something is wrong and no amount of shooting is going to break it in. It malfunctions because I made a mistake and I either replace or adjust the part as needed.

I do agree you need to proof a gun before carrying it and today perhaps a break in may be needed to wear in sloppy fitting parts...kinda sad tho.

Mad Magyar
January 7, 2011, 11:47 PM
need a "break in" period
Gun manufacturers that promote this would make the deceased Joseph Goebbels extremely proud...:eek:

Jim K
January 7, 2011, 11:49 PM
The break in period is absolutely necessary to ensure that the gun is out of warranty before you can send it back.


January 8, 2011, 12:51 AM
If you buy a new Chevy Silverado and read the owners manual, it states that during break-in don't exceed 60mph or hold a steady speed for long periods of time. Most ignore this and the truck is totally reliable for 100K miles--right? Maybe. One that is broken in properly is more likely to use less oil/get better mileage/last longer than one was racing the neighbors truck or towing a 10Klb load the day it's brought home.

Any machine that has mass manufactured metal parts with friction between the parts will wear in/seat after a period of use. Mass produced Service semi-auto handguns fit this description. After some period of use the parts 'seat' together and it will perform better/smoother until they start to wear excessively. Guns with more parts (semi-autos) will take more break-in than simpler guns (revolver).

Custom machines (Ferrari, Les Baer 45 ACP) are ready to go out of the box---maybe.

January 8, 2011, 01:21 AM
Genuinely curious as to how pushing rounds through improves performance of a gun.

I would have figured this was obvious.

What is sand paper? A rough abrasive. What happens when you rub abrasive surfaces together? They get smoother. Then a gun comes out of the factory, a lot of the mated parts that move back and forth touching each other may still be a bit rough, have tooling marks, mold flash, etc. With a break in period you're basically using a tiny little explosion to keep working those parts across each other. Some inherent roughness will be smoothed out during this time. Will it fix a pistol that flat out wasn't fitting right to begin with? Not likely. However, for MINOR imperfections that would affect reliability, some of them will be smoothed out after a number of rounds have been fired.

January 8, 2011, 01:27 AM
I'm not sure about a manufacturer-mandated 'break in period', but I would absolutely not be willing to bet my life on ANY firearm, revolver, semi-auto, or what-have-you, without running at least several hundred rounds of the same ammo that I intend to depend on for self-defense through it. I have had many 'semi-auto's run a few hundred rounds of WWB target loads with no problems, then, all of a sudden, start to exhibit FTE, FTF, and other problems, when loaded with HP and other SD-type ammo. Run at least a few hundred of your preferred loads before you even THINK of depending on that gun for SD...

January 8, 2011, 02:13 AM
Hmm... You see, this is why I'm always shopping for pre-broken-in articles at gun shows and such. Most folks never shoot enough to actually wear anything out and I'm going to tear it apart and start stoning and tweaking anyway...

"pre-broken-in" I do like the sound of that better than "used" now that I say it out loud.

I just got a pre-broken-in Glock 23. don't really like Glocks. Didn't really need it. But it was such a bargain. Got home and ordered about $80 worth of Brownells. Good-bye bargain. Fortunately my Visa card is still in that sweet spot between barely-broken-in and broke-down... for now

January 8, 2011, 03:34 AM
First of all I remember reading about breaking guns in in gun mags in the 70s, so it is not a new concept.
Don't think of it as breaking in as much as wearing it in. You want to put wear on parts. This lets rough spots and small spurs smooth themselves out. Springs get exercised. It often helps the trigger as well. With cars you might start noticing better gas mileage and performance after break in Machines need this, at least machines that involve things exploding and exerting strong forces on the parts like guns and engines. Rifles require break in procedures for the barrels, I'd strongly suggest you follow the manufacturer's suggested break in with rifle barrels.

January 8, 2011, 04:22 AM
Having done the first firing out of the box for hundreds of guns, and watched hundreds more, having a hitch or bobble in the first 50 rounds isn't uncommon, and I've seen it with most of the major brands used in police work, going back to the revolver days.

January 8, 2011, 05:54 AM
With metal parts you are going to have friction. I put at least 200 rounds through a carry gun to make sure it works. The Glocks are Teflon coated so probably dont have a break in problem. Revolver actions smooth up as they are used. A pistol built for formal target is generally very tight fitted and may require 500 or so rounds to be really broken in.

January 8, 2011, 07:02 AM
I suspect CYA clause comes into play and they just looking out for number one themselves. Why is it that in order to get really fuel efficient automobile bearing American brand name one must shop in EU? Probably because in USA gun companies are to ammo companies what car companies are to oil companies.
Finally there is NO downside for them in doing so.

Russ Jackson
January 8, 2011, 07:46 AM
You have several moving parts that have never moved before assembled together for the first time. Shipped out all over the world to different climates, temperatures, humidity etc... Its has been packed in different types of solvent and grease for who knows how long. Some of the slides and frames are completely different materials that expand and contract totally different. A 1911 after 100 rounds it totally different than new and yet again after 1000. A gun shot on a 32 degree day shoots different at 90. Breaking down a well used 1911 is a breeze while a new one can be a chore sometimes. Parts working together need match and the only way is thru abrasion with use. Thinking a gun should not need a breakin period is foolish. I dont care how custom a gun is breakin will change it....Russ

January 8, 2011, 09:12 AM
Ss Old Fuff points out, breaking in a gun and testing to have sufficient confidence that it is reliable are two different things.

The first pace to look is in the manual, or you can ask the factory. Kel-Tec manuals say the guns need to be broken in. So does Kimber. At the time I bought my M&P 9c, the manual stated that no break-in was required. STI, a maker of pretty good 19111 type firearms, told me to run a couple of hundred rounds thought the gun. That's a good idea for any gun, but the comment was in response to a question about break-in, if that means anything.

The purpose of the break-in "period" is to cause bearing surfaces to become smoother through wear. According to my recollection, the finely made semi-autos of the old days, including the best Astra service pistols, Berettas, Belgian Brownings (forty plus years ago), Colts, SIG products, S&W DA/SA pistols, and some others were sufficiently well machined and polished in critical areas to obviate the need for breaking them in.

I have heard somewhere that every Beretta 92 is "exercised" on a machine that works the slide for a high number of cycles before it is shipped.

Mad Magyar
January 8, 2011, 09:13 AM
Let's get something straight. The "break-in" period for an internal combustion engine and the workings of a pistol are entirely different. With the former, it is still functioning but with the handgun; it stops! All this business started when many dissatisfied pistoleros were returning their hardware to the mfgrs for shoddy workmanship, parts and general QC. I can name a few..After all according to the mfgr, "they actually think something should work right out of the box?" The idea of utilizing as much as 500 rds before one can come to a decision fell right into the hands of the mfgr. After all, if you look at a recent survey (a few years back-Guns & Ammo) of how much firing the public actually accomplish; 500 rds would take in about two years for most giving them a lot of breathing room.
I recall Old Fuff mentioning about pulling the slide couple of hundred times and plenty of dry-firing that would in many ways do the same thing...
Folks, gun mfgr's can build better fitting parts (trigger for one) for the same price but they can't control two important variables: the ammo one uses (handloads or +P+, etc) and the owner and his maintenance habits...Either one not appropiately used can be disruptive. IMHO. :scrutiny:

January 8, 2011, 09:23 AM
Kimber recommends 500 rounds for break in, which adds about $200 to the price of your gun.

There is no difference between just shooting a gun and breaking it in. I have never seen a gun that was ever really helped by breaking in. If the gun jams frequently before breaking in, it will probably jam frequently after break in.

I think Kimber and some other companies recommend break in just to delay having to deal with the quality control issues they have.

January 8, 2011, 10:20 AM
I understand the breakin period to smooth things out. But to make it reliable should be the manufacturers responsibility.Any gun that I buy I expect to be reliable out of the box. If its not reliable or I can't trust it new in box is unnacceptable in my eyes. I don't understand why some settle for this hogwash. For this the manufacturer should put a warning label on the box stating "This weapon cannot be trusted to be reliable or can malfunction in some way until the breakin period has been completed".

January 8, 2011, 10:53 AM
I don't think that my point has been adequately made, so I will post here. Sorry if I just missed it. A break-in period on a gun should NEVER be a requirement before "real" use, pistol or rifle. The Rifle barrel break-in camp will disagree with me. To each his own. But a pistol break-in does smooth parts. Here goes.

Point 1.
We'll use my XD as an example. I bought it new-in-the-box and it has never had a malfunction that was not the result of improper handling (failures to lock back because my thumb was resting on the slide release while firing, intentional jams due to loading empty casings randomly in the mag, etc.) If your gun doesn't shoot reliably out of the box, let the manufacturer know and have it fixed or sell it!

Point 2
Test your defense ammunition to make sure that your gun will eat it and eat it well. If it doesn't switch ammo. If you can't find a good defense ammo that will work, get a different gun. I always recommend to friends and family that 100 rounds at a good pace (fast as you can pull the trigger for at least a couple mags) is essential to ensure reliability, like a mini-torture-test, but without damaging the weapon. Practice for proficiency with a handgun is essential, and this should involve at least another 200 rounds within the first couple weeks, IMO, but other people differ. My old man has put maybe half a box of ammo through his SD handgun.

Point 3,
As you are using your gun normally through testing SD loads, practice, dry-firing, etc, the parts are wearing and smoothing slightly. Pistol parts are mass produced for most guns and for a custom fitting, you need to fire the weapon. On my XD, after 1000 rounds had been put through it (through normal practice and regular cleaning) I gave it a thorough scrub down and cleaned everything up until the "smell" was gone. Put it back together and notices a few things. The feed ramp has completely polished itself and is as smooth as glass. The slide is so smooth it feels like it is on bearings, and the trigger pull has lightened up significantly (the trigger pull may just be in my mind, I didn't measure it, but it feels lighter).

I didn't give it a break-in firing session or do anything special to the gun at all. It has always functioned reliably. But like a fine wine, it gets better with age.

Just my two coppers.

January 8, 2011, 01:05 PM
All things have a break in period. Hate to tell you that your TV and stereo have one as well. The difference is that it happens at the factory. It is called burn in.

I don't care how carefully machined a part is they wear and mate together. The only difference is will the surface cause issues before they mate or not.

Personally I don't call a weapon a SD weapon until I have at least 500 rounds through it. My life is worth taking the time to know and trust the weapon. A SD weapon is not the time to cut corners or take shortcuts.

Old Fuff
January 8, 2011, 01:15 PM
Oh my!!!

How did Uncle Sam ever get through all the wars since 1911 (if not before) without checking out all of its service pistols and revolvers with 500 rounds fired before issue?

Why 500? Your handgun might fail at 501 or 600 or 1000 - whatever?

This is not to say you're wrong, you should be out shooting anyway, but I'm not sure that 500 rounds = perfect reliability.

January 8, 2011, 01:39 PM
I pick 500 because it is a nice number and it is where I feel I can really know a weapon to count on it. There isn't any science behind the number (there could be, entire books have been written on prediction of failure with extremely small sample sizes but that is way to much work to go through all of that math.) Yes it could fail at 501 or more. Nothing is 100% but I feel after 500 I am better able to deal with any problems. It is my line in the sand so to speak.

As for the military they can't do any big tests because of the scale of things. They also have others around them. They have backup, if a weapon malfunctions just grab one off of your dead buddy or stop and hunker down and fix it while your buddies return fire. Even if someone is caught alone and their weapon malfunctions, the bean counters are not going to worry to much about it. It will get buried in with the other casualty numbers.

I am sure 99% of guns will function fine right out of the box. Personally I can't say I have ever had one fail to work right out of the box. But since I don't have any of the military advantages, I figure I am worth taking the time to test it to my level of comfort.

January 8, 2011, 02:33 PM
I have seen guns that were experiencing problems get them cleared as the round count goes up. Kel-Tec Sub 2000 often have problems with light bullets at first that go away as the spring works. Recently the Glock Gen 4 9mm were having the same problem with light loads.

As for the military, you don't deploy with virgin rifles. You have to at least zero and qualify with a rifle. Minimum for that is 49 rounds. 9 rounds for zero and 40 for qualifying. Chances are if you are Infantry you have shot it more than that and really for break in the gun doesn't care that much if you are cycling blanks, cycles is what matters. In almost all cases a unit goes through a training phase before deployment including live fires.

January 8, 2011, 04:26 PM
All machines require a break in period.


My new toaster didn't come with a break-in period. My new hypoid saw has no break-in period and it has as many parts as a pistol. I think I'd pass on buying it if the box said "cut 100 boards before using for actual construction projects."

Either the gun functions or it doesn't. If it is test fired at the factory, then it should fire when a consumer shoots it.

January 8, 2011, 06:25 PM
If it is test fired at the factory, then it should fire when a consumer shoots it.

I'm convinced "test fired" for most mass produced weapons means one shot...maybe as many as five or six, but not enough to identify problems.

January 8, 2011, 08:00 PM

I'm convinced "test fired" for most mass produced weapons means one shot...maybe as many as five or six, but not enough to identify problems.

You are correct.

January 8, 2011, 08:31 PM
I would make several observations:

1. "Break in" may allow for the parts to mate and fit and function better.

2. If a gun can't feed and eject right out of the box, it will continue to have problems after break in.

3. Ammo reliability testing is an issue entirely unrelated to break in.

January 8, 2011, 10:26 PM
2. If a gun can't feed and eject right out of the box, it will continue to have problems after break in.

That hasn't always been my experience. I had plenty of guns that had a burp or two on the first mag, then went on to be flawless.

January 8, 2011, 10:41 PM
That hasn't always been my experience. I had plenty of guns that had a burp or two on the first mag, then went on to be flawless.

That is not what I am talking about.

What I am talking about is a gun that will jam several times each mag. I had this experience with more than one Kimber. I called their customer service and was told to put 500 rounds through the gun to break it in. That did not affect the jamming.

If a gun has some fundamental problem, break in isnt going to fix it.

January 8, 2011, 11:03 PM
That is not what I am talking about.

What I am talking about is a gun that will jam several times each mag. I had this experience with more than one Kimber. I called their customer service and was told to put 500 rounds through the gun to break it in. That did not affect the jamming.

If a gun has some fundamental problem, break in isnt going to fix it.

Ahhh. No, that's true. Some of the companies are pretty notorious for not taking responsibility for problems.

January 14, 2011, 07:59 AM
500 rounds WHAT, that's crazy especially for an expensive 1911. If it requires all those rounds for the weapon to be reliable then why doesn't these big companies invent a machine that cycles the gun 500 times and then test fire it. Kimber makes beautiful 1911s but having to buy and shoot it 500 times out of your pocket is bullstuff. To me that's a lot of money in ammo. This just seems like a quality testing at your expense. I can understand 100 or so but 500, get out of here.Sad part is some people actually go for this crap and believe in it. To make the weopon smooth yes, to make you trust this weapon to your life to give you comfort at your choice yes, but the company saying 500 rounds is absurd.

January 14, 2011, 08:07 AM
I tend to think a lot of manufacturers will tell an owner to run a few hundred rounds through the gun as a "break in" are just covering themselves for the few times that some malfunctions do occur in the initial firing of their pistols. Kimbers I know are just made too tight and seem to have a high instance of malfunctions in the first 500 or so rounds fired. Just my own observations first hand as well as second hand from Kimber owners.

I doesnt hurt to run a few hundered rounds through any gun be it used or new. Revolvers included.

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