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Rifle Barrel Break-In

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Finewine, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. Finewine

    Finewine Member

    Just purchased a new Tikka T3 .300 Win Mag and, since there seems to be no way to request information on line from Tikka (Browning/Sako) I thought that I would turn to the most experienced hunters and gunsmiths around to ask:
    Is there a recommened 'break-in' for this rifle similiar to Krieger Barrels??

    I'll appreciate any information you might offer except "buy a different gun".

  2. Uncle Mike

    Uncle Mike Well-Known Member

    The best way to break-in the barrel is to observe when the barrel is broken in; i.e. when the fouling is reduced. This is better than some set number of cycles of "shoot and clean" as many owners report practically no fouling after the first few shots, and more break-in would be pointless. Conversely, if more is required, a set number would not address that either. Besides, cleaning is not a completely benign procedure so it should be done carefully and no more than necessary.

    HA... the above I totally agree with....this was taken from the Krieger website.

    Just shoot the thing... when your accuracy starts to go south, clean it, and you do not have to scrub the barrel back to factory fresh... i.e. you have 50 rounds through your barrel, it has settled down and is grouping, you shoot more... at 100 rounds you start to notice your groups opening up... run a couple, yes JUST a couple patches with say, Sweets 7.62 through your barrel, then a couple dry patches and git back to it.

    DRYHUMOR Well-Known Member

  4. Uncle Mike

    Uncle Mike Well-Known Member

    Yea... Ol' Gale was against the highly complicated, stroke specific, cleaning regime and his company manufactured some of the best rifle barrels to be had.

    DRYHUMOR Well-Known Member

    I've done break ins and I've not done break ins. In most cases, I haven't seen a lot of difference. It seems to boil down to the ammo/load where the difference is noticed.
  6. Finewine

    Finewine Member

    From this forum, it sounds like:
    1. Limit the number of shots at early sessions so as not to overheat the barrel
    2. Clean after 40-50 rounds
    3. Pay close attention to grouping and variations
    4. Shoot the gun

    Any other advice?
  7. SRB45acp

    SRB45acp New Member

    Hi Finewine,

    I have use the bbl break in as proscribed by Ed Brown on several rifles from him and other makers. Can't say for sure that it makes all the difference in the world, but the guns certainly shoot well, and you get a good day or two at the range....in the case of my .338's and .340's it was several days.

    From Ed Browns Website

    Summary of Rifle Barrel Break-in Instructions
    1. Fire one round and clean. Do this ten times. 10 rounds fired. (We have already done this step for you during initial testing)
    2. Fire three or four rounds and clean. Do this five times. 25-30 total. Many clients like to fire one round to foul the bore, then shoot a group
    Page 4 of 5
    of three while developing loads. Then clean and repeat.
    3. Fire five or six rounds and clean. Do this five times. 25-30 rounds fired this step. At least 50 total. This step does not have to be done the
    first day. In fact, it may be done over a period of months. A good idea here is to shoot a fouler round, then shoot two groups of three.
    The important idea here is to just clean a new barrel frequently, until it gets about 50 rounds through it. If you do, then you will have the most
    accuracy that particular barrel is capable of, and a barrel that will foul less, and last longer.
    Complete Barrel Break-in Instructions
    Proper barrel break-in and cleaning habits have more than a lot to do with the ultimate accuracy the gun is capable of. Barrel break-in is
    absolutely essential to the ultimate accuracy the gun is capable of.
    Make certain the barrel is clean and free of oil by pushing a clean patch through. Then head out to the range with the new gun, some quality
    ammo, the cleaning rod, plenty of patches, and a bottle of bore solvent. I happen to like Barnes CR-10, it works quickly and does a great job.
    A cleaning rag is will come in handy, as will a gun rack like the one MTM makes.
    Don’t use junk ammo. Use the good stuff because you can immediately begin developing loads, or finding the best factory ammo for your
    gun. All barrels are different, and only by trying different loads will you learn which your barrel likes best.
    Shoot one round through and one round only. Then clean the barrel. My favorite procedure is to run the rod through the barrel from the
    breech, and let the jag just stick out from the muzzle.
    I like the Dewey stainless steel rods and the wrap around type Parker Hale brass jags. Dewey and Pro-Shot both make good rods. The Dewey
    plastic coated rods are nice too. I don’t recommend the brass or aluminum rods for other than occasional cleaning. This is heavy duty
    cleaning, so use a heat treated stainless steel rod, with a swivel handle. If you really want to be professional, use a bore guide to keep the rod
    completely away from the rifling just ahead of the chamber.
    Wrap a patch around the jag sticking out of the muzzle, saturate with solvent, and PULL it back through, but don’t let it come completely out
    the chamber. Then stroke it back and fourth several times. The purpose here is to merely wet the bore with the solvent and remove some of
    the powder fouling that is covering up the copper fouling.
    Then push the jag back out the muzzle and you will likely see that it is black with powder fouling. Now change patches, and saturate the new
    one with fresh bore solvent. Now stroke this new patch several times and your new inspection will probably find that the patch is blue
    showing that it has chemically melted the copper fouling present from only one bullet.
    Next, repeat this step with a fresh patch and solvent, and keep repeating this routine until the patch doesn’t show any blue or black color.
    Then run one more dry patch through to prepare the bore for the second shot. Fire a second shot and repeat the cleaning procedure. This cycle
    should be repeated for ten rounds. That’s right. Fire only one shot and clean, and do this ten times.
    The next step is to fire three rounds and clean again, and repeat this cycle five times until you have used up fifteen rounds. Total rounds fired
    now is twenty five. MANY BARRELS ARE READY TO GO AT THIS POINT. Exercise care, and clean after every five rounds for the next
    25 rounds or so, but this can be done during the life of the gun. NO NEED TO SHOOT ALL THESE THE FIRST DAY - JUST CLEAN
    About bronze brushes. Most high performance copper removing solvents will quickly eat up bronze brushes too. One could use nylon brushes
    to eliminate this problem, but I don’t use brushes at all, preferring instead to stick to patches and chemically remove the copper fouling.
    About solvents. My personal favorite is Barnes CR-10 because it’s so fast. I also use Hoppe’s Bench Rest and Hoppe’s 9 for storage.
    NEVER MIX SOLVENTS! You can get into real trouble here. For instance, a mixture of Barnes CR10 and Shooters Choice Copper
    Remover could etch a bore in less than ten minutes! Either one used by itself is safe for all bores, but mixed together, they can ruin a barrel.
    Any high performance copper remover will destroy the rust preventative qualities of any oil you might have in the bore. Always follow up a
    cleaning procedure with oil prior to gun storage. I even oil my stainless steel barrels. For storage, I use Hoppe’s 9. It contains kerosene, so
    protects against rust like oil. Another bonus, it will slowly eat away copper, leaving a green residue which will be apparent the next time you
    run a clean patch through the bore.
    Don’t worry about barrel life. A quality barrel well cared for will deliver top accuracy for several thousand rounds if chambered for a mild
    Page 5 of 5
    cartridge like a 308 or 30/06. Of course very hot cartridges like the 7mm STW will show throat erosion in as little as 250 rounds, but the gun
    will still provide more than adequate hunting accuracy. Replacing the barrel on your rifle is one of the least expensive, and easiest
    accomplished jobs we do.
    I have found that in well cared for barrels, the accuracy keeps getting better up to 100 to 200 rounds or more. Then it will stay for a
    considerable number of rounds in the milder calibers, and then very slowly degrade with throat erosion. This happens much sooner with the
    very large capacity cartridges. The exact number of rounds is impossible to predict with all the variables present. Obviously, the more powder
    one burns in a barrel, and the hotter it gets, the sooner it will erode. Keep your barrels clean and cool for longest life.

    Good luck,

  8. NCsmitty

    NCsmitty Well-Known Member

    High quality barrels ($) are hand lapped and require very little actual break in because the cut edges of the rifling have been smoothed. Subsequently, less copper fouling accumulates between sets.
    Standard manufactured barrels on most rifles are not hand lapped and do need range time to smooth the burrs and tool marks, with appropriate cleanings in between to remove accumulated copper fouling. They too can be shooters with proper load selection.

  9. MCMXI

    MCMXI Well-Known Member

    On high quality, hand-lapped barrels such as those made by Krieger, you still have to break-in the throat. The throat has tool marks perpendicular to the bore (it's not polished in the lapping process) and the roughness will create a copper plasma that will deposit copper in the barrel. It only took four or five rounds (cleaning every shot with Sweet's 7.62) to polish the throats of both my Krieger barrels. I now shoot 90 round matches without any cleaning and with ZERO detectable copper fouling.

    Factory barrels will have rough throats AND possibly rough bores. It may take hundreds of rounds to polish a barrel sufficiently such that it won't foul after 20 rounds. My thinking is that at the very least it's a good idea to clean every shot for five shots (using a copper solvent) to break-in the throat as quickly as possible, then just shoot the rifle with the understanding that you may have one of the following types of barrel ....

    1. A barrel that doesn't foul or hardly fouls at all (rare for a production rifle)
    2. A barrel that fouls after 10 or so rounds and accuracy is affected (follow a more stringent break-in procedure)
    3. A barrel that fouls after 10 or so rounds but accuracy isn't affected (do nothing or follow a more stringent break-in procedure)

    As I mentioned in the post below, the cleaning patches will let you know how much progress you're making. Even if copper fouling doesn't affect the accuracy of your rifle, it can be an issue in terms of corrosion. Copper sitting in a barrel can cause severe pitting of both carbon steel and stainless steel barrels. A pitted barrel can adversely affect accuracy.

    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  10. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member


    Barrel break in.

    36. “Breaking in” a rifle barrel is probably just a waste of time. Some barrel makers recommend it while others do not which demonstrates a lack of universal agreement on whether it’s really necessary so it probably is not. Every formula for break in involves some combination of firing and cleaning. The fact that there are numerous different formulas should be evidence that nobody really has the definitive answer on the best procedure meaning there likely isn’t one. Simply shooting the rifle as intended will likely be all the break in that is required.
  11. MCMXI

    MCMXI Well-Known Member

    Finewine, my advice is to forget about the specific number of shoot/clean cycles. Let your cleaning patch tell you when you've done enough. I would suggest that you use EVERY round to collect data, even if it's to help zero a scope. Basically, fire a round, then use a copper removing solvent to clean the throat/bore following the directions on the bottle. You'll most likely see a lot of blue on the first few patches. Fire another round and clean again. Repeat this cycle until the patch no longer comes out blue or is barely blue. You can shoot two, three or even five rounds between cleaning IF the patches indicate that you're not depositing much (if any) copper in the barrel. That's the only way to know if you've polished the throat sufficiently.

    Hmmm ... #36 ... “Breaking in” a rifle barrel is probably just a waste of time" and "nobody really has the definitive answer on the best procedure meaning there likely isn’t one".

    As far as I'm concerned, Krieger's reputation (holder of numerous world records) is based ENTIRELY on the performance of their barrels. They DO list a break-in procedure so I choose to follow their advice over flawed logic and words such as "probably" and "likely".

    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  12. Uncle Mike

    Uncle Mike Well-Known Member

    You got it... go shoot and have fun. Leave the highly technical cleaning regime to the guys who believe in it!

    If your having a problem right from the start... you might shoot a few, clean, repeat, but if your doing fine from the beginning...your accuracy, it won't get much, if any better.:D

    Yes, a cool barrel is a happy barrel!
  13. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    I started shooting centerfire in 1950. I never heard of "break in" until around 1999, over at The Firing Line. My uncle never had mentioned it, and he started gunsmithing around 1924-ish. Never heard it talked about in the various gunshops, through the years. That's why I went along with Gale's version of how "break in" came about. Then, the young kids* picked up on it and now it's factory advice.

    So, about all I've ever done is clean barrels when they're dirty. Keep them oiled against rust. I've hardly ever shot fast enough and long enough to get a barrel really hot. Aw, played Harry High School with a Mini 14 on rare occasion, but not often.

    And I've always been pretty much satisfied with the common sub-MOA results I've always gotten from my bolt-actions. A few "pets" shoot down in the half-MOA vicinity.

    * The 40-year-old marketing department guys at Remchester.
  14. MCMXI

    MCMXI Well-Known Member

    From an article on barrel break-in by Gale McMillan ...

    "The reason you hear of the gain in accuracy [from barrel break-in] is because if you chamber a barrel with a reamer that has a dull throater instead of cutting clean sharp rifling it smears a burr up on the down wind side of the rifling. It takes from one to two hundred rounds to burn this burr out and the rifle to settle down and shoot its best."

    A few paragraphs later ...

    "No one has ever told me the physical reason of what happens during break-in firing."

    So he says that it takes a few hundred rounds to "burn this burr out" but then claims to not know what happens during break-in.

    He also states

    "Any one who chambers rifle barrels has tolerances on how dull to let the reamer get and factories let them go longer than any competent smith would."

    So maybe all those "40-year-old marketing department guys at Remchester" realize that they fall under the "factories" category described by GM and also realize that their chamber reamer "smears a burr up on the down wind side of the rifling".

    Odd too that GM doesn't mention the tooling marks in the throat of a barrel, even one that has been chambered using a high-quality, sharp throater will have tooling marks running perpendicular to the bore.

    Intuitively, if there are burrs, tooling marks or defects in the throat, then they can also exist in the barrel. So I really don't see why anyone has a problem accepting the logic behind barrel break-in, although I can see why someone would think that their rifle didn't/doesn't need it. EVERY rifle that is fired get's a break-in of some form, whether it takes 1 day or 10 years. Like most topics firearm related, there is no scientific data to support either camp since no one seems to have conducted any form of systematic test. Claims of sub MOA accuracy are meaningless with accompanying range values, and still more meaningless without comparative testing.

    Another thing that bothers me about GM's article is his notion that barrel life is wasted during barrel break-in. How is it wasted? Load development can still occur during the process, and anyway, it's the throat the get's eroded, not the barrel.

    Regardless, what anyone chooses to do with their new rifle is up to them. I haven't shot my new Savage yet, but when I do, I'm not going to bother too much about a break-in procedure since I won't be shooting F-Class matches with it at 600 yards. MOA accuracy from 0 to 300 yards will do just fine but I certainly hope that the barrel doesn't foul too easily.

    Last edited: Jul 15, 2009
  15. Lone_Gunman

    Lone_Gunman Well-Known Member

    I have elected to not break in my barrels either, and spend my time doing something more constructive, such as searching for Yeti and his North American cousin, Saskwatch.
  16. jpwilly

    jpwilly Well-Known Member

    My experience in shooting a number of different rifles over the years is that all barrels will benefit somewhat from barrel break in.

    Although I have yet to own a true high quality custom made barrel. Every rifle I have will foul and marginally start to lose accuracy in 20-30 shots. My rifles have mass produced production wartime or commercial barrels. Some are much smoother and much higher quality than others. Rough bores don't necessarily mean inaccurate rifles. They just foul more and need cleaned more often. I have performed a proper break in on all of my NEW rifles except the AK. That includes a few AR's and bolt action rifles.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2009
  17. Maverick223

    Maverick223 Well-Known Member

    I will be breaking in my SRS (though I have never broke in any previously)...well assuming it arrives. :banghead: Unfortunately it will be another 3 week or so before the scope arrives. The break in "procedure" that I intend to use is cleaning when the groups open up/barrel exhibits signs of fouling. I am going to be using the cheapest ammo (Remington Core Lokt) for this process as it will allow me to get on paper before honing in on the target with match ammo. :)
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2009
  18. jpwilly

    jpwilly Well-Known Member

    It's my understanding that the break in procedure exists to allow the barrel to be smoothed by firing. If you don't remove the copper fouling initially between shots then the rough spots will take much longer to smooth out because they are already filled in with copper. I'm not talking about huge machine marks in s bore suddenly smoothing out of fouling with copper. I'm talking about the tiny imperfections that actually stand a chance of being smoothed out by using a break in procedure i.e cleaning between every shot for the first 10-20 shots etc.
  19. Maverick223

    Maverick223 Well-Known Member

    JP, to be perfectly honest I hadn't read your post prior to posting, just my thoughts on what I would do...when said rifle...ever...shows up. :)
  20. Hunt3r

    Hunt3r Member

    My view on breaking in barrels?

    When you shoot the gun, you're breaking it in. If the groups are opening up, clean it gently and push patches through maybe 3 times at most.

    Only clean the barrel when it's nicely fouled after a nice day of shooting. Then there is actual reason to clean it.

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