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Barrel Break in advice

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by GlockNation, May 28, 2012.

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  1. GlockNation

    GlockNation Member

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    What is the bottom line on barrel brake in of a new rifle? This may be an old subject but I am coming from the handgun world and this is new to me. Howa's web site talks about cleaning your barrel ever shot for the frist 10 shots and after every two shots for the next 10 shots so that your barrel "registers".

    Many thanks for your advice!
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
  2. animator

    animator Member

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    My break-in process begins with purchasing ammo, followed by shooting said ammo through the rifle at the range. Then a good cleaning following the trip pretty much wraps up the break-in process.


    Sometimes I'll repeat the process the following week, just to make sure I got it done right.


    Then I'll do it again, and again, and again, so forth and so on...if you get what I'm saying...
     
  3. chrome_austex

    chrome_austex Member

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    Some people like to polish out the barrel by aggressively cleaning out copper deposits after every 1 shot, then strings of 3 or 5, then 10, etc. The thinking is that removing copper allows the barrel metal to polish up without copper filling in, making for a more consistent shooter which is more resistant to copper fouling.

    Others don't do any real breakin at all, assuming that any benefits are grossly exaggerated, non-existent, or will happen naturally as the gun is shot. These guys also tout that any rounds spent breaking-in a barrel come out of the overall life of the barrel, so why waste rounds?

    Either way, its a bit of a holy war, with smart, experienced people on both sides.
     
  4. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    Shoot it,clean it,put it away until next time.
     
  5. Sky

    Sky Member

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  6. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    The purpose of breaking in a barrel is to get the roughness out of the bore and polish it up. If you don't break the barrel in it can lead to excessive copper fouling, which leads to degraded accuracy.

    How much breaking in is needed depends on the barrel. Clean the barrel and shoot one round through the rifle. Clean the bore with a good copper solvent, like Sweets or something like that. When you run the dry patch through, take note of the color. If you get a deep blue, that's copper. Finish cleaning the barrel and shoot another round. Then repeat the process.

    You will get to a point when you will notice a marked decrease in copper fouling. The patch will come out a lighter shade of blue. At this point, go to five rounds and clean.

    With stock barrels, I generally try to get to where I'm getting just a light shade of blue on the patch. With custom barrels, I'm looking for a total absence of blue. My Krieger barreled rifles have gone over 300 rounds without any significant copper fouling, once broken in. With the Kriegers, the break in process took all of 5 rounds.
     
  7. GlockNation

    GlockNation Member

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    Many thanks!
     
  8. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    I figure one shot pretty much breaks in my barrels.

    It has yet to be proven that any of the many various formulas for breaking in a barrel (and the fact that there are so many different procedures people swear by should be a clue that none are probably correct) do any good. It's all in the shooter's mind.
     
  9. Sheepdog1968

    Sheepdog1968 Member

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    I'm a 3 moa shooter most of the time. I've personally never worried about breaking in a barrel other than just shooting for the day and cleaning after several hundred rounds. I've never even used a copper cleaner. On occasion I will shoot a 1 moa group with barrels treated like this.
     
  10. Mr.Davis

    Mr.Davis Member

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    Just got a new Noveske rifle. They're widely considered one of the elite barrel makers for the AR-15. Their included documentation said to clean the barrel then go shoot it, no special break-in technique required.
     
  11. Mr.Davis

    Mr.Davis Member

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    How does a copper jacketed lead bullet "get the roughness out" of a steel bore?
     
  12. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    It doesn't. Barrel break in is a myth. Go shoot your gun, clean it when it is dirty. Many guns shoot better after they have had 100 or so rounds down the barrel, but it does not make any diffence if you clean it once during those 100 rounds, or after every 2, 3, 10 or however many rounds. In fact more barrels have been ruined by improper barrel cleaning than by shooting. I will clean exterior surfaces and crud from inside the action, but I try to clean the barrel as infrequently as possible.

    Once a barrel is fowled they tend to shoot more accurately. Once I get my guns shooting good I don't clean the barrel until it starts shooting larger groups. That could be after 200-300 rounds. Once I do clean it, peak accuracy does not return until after 10-20 rounds have gone down the tube.
     
  13. Old judge creek

    Old judge creek Member

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    Ya know what? I'm just shy of 70 years old and I've been a shooter since I was about 6 years old and my Dad (a USMC ordnance officer at the time) started teaching me.

    And I AGREE 100% with your post, Pard.
     
  14. HKGuns

    HKGuns Member

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    Myth, shoot the rifle and clean it.
     
  15. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    Really? Well, since a copper jacket can't do anything to a steel bore, I guess barrels just never wear out, right?

    This is apples and oranges. The Pac Nor barrels that Noveske uses are chrome lined (as are most AR-15 barrels). If you have one of the stainless models, those barrels are hand lapped, unless I'm mistaken. Either way, no breaking in is necessary.

    No disrespect to you or your dad, but we aren't talking about military rifles here. We're talking about a hunting rifle and I'm assuming that the utmost in accuracy is a concern.

    I'd imagine that for most, breaking in a barrel may seem like it does nothing because they never realize the benefits of it.

    Properly breaking in a barrel can and often does make a difference between having a barrel that needs to be de-coppered every 30 rounds and a barrel that can go several hundred rounds without any significant copper fouling.

    Call it a myth if you want, but I've seen rifles go from averaging .5 MOA groups to MOA groups just because the throat is fouled.

    Of course, if all you need is the rifle to just shoot good enough, then don't worry about it. If you want to get the utmost in accuracy out of your rifle, I'd suggest that you break the barrel in.

    Take what I say with a grain of salt, though. I don't shoot any over the counter rifles for target shooting and the level of accuracy that I expect may not be what you expect.
     
  16. animator

    animator Member

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    The copper isn't what wears out the barrel. The hot gasses from firing the gun does more damage than the bullet does. That's why barrels wear starting at the throat.

    But I'm sure you already know this ...
     
  17. Bushpilot

    Bushpilot Member

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    +1 on what animator said... Hot gasses erode the throat of a barrel and "wear it out" more than the bullet does.

    So, TonyAngel, what you're saying is that if you hadn't cleaned your rifle between each of those five rounds somehow the copper fouling that would have accumulated would not be able to be removed and this fouling somehow would have prevented further rounds from ever properly "breaking in" the barrel? I'm not buying that...
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  18. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Member

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    The softer copper jacketed bullet will wear the harder steel. If you don’t believe me, shoot a mild steel target with a fmj. :)
     
  19. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    OK, I understand that the hot gases are what cause accelerated wear of the throat, but now you guys are confusing the issues. Animator implied that the copper jacket does not cause wear on the barrel. I disagree. My position is that the copper jackets of bullets do have enough of an abrasive effect on the minor machine marks and burrs and such to be able to smooth them out.

    Bushpilot, five rounds was probably more than I needed to run through my Kriegers. I never got more than a light blue out of those barrels. I suspect that all that I got came from the throat area, since Krieger laps their barrels. With the Krieger barrels, running those rounds may or may not have been necessary. The amount of blue that I got only suggested that there was very little roughness in the barrel.

    Like I said, I don't subscribe to any real break in procedure. Each barrel is different and how much breaking in is needed is indicated by the barrel. With the barrels that I have, I could probably have gotten away with just shooting one round through them and de-coppering and been done with it.

    I really don't know that it made that much of a difference with the custom barrels; like I said, they are lapped at the factor. I do know that it has made a big difference with stock barrels that have rougher bores.

    I'm also having a hard time believing that you think that shooting steel cased ammo has anything to do with bullets being fired down a barrel.
     
  20. Bushpilot

    Bushpilot Member

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    Tony, in retrospect, I decided that the steel cased ammo comments were a little off-topic so I elected to delete them before you even posted your reply. Check the time stamp. However, to answer your question, the reason I considered it some what relevant was that in one instance you imply that shooting 5 copper jacketed bullets was going to be abrasive enough to "break in" a barrel through wear. Yet, in another post you state that shooting large amounts or "cases" as you put it, of steel cased ammo would NOT result in any accelerated wear [extractor, chamber or bolt] over brass. Since the hardness of these metals (copper and brass vs steel) differs by a factor of about 2 to 3X compared to even mild steel I found your two opinions some what incongruent with one another. You are apparently very particular about barrels and break in procedures but will recommend shooting the cheapest, dirtiest, most abrasive ammo there is in them. Is it just me or is there some inconsistency here? To sum up, apparently shooting large amounts of steel cased ammo is not abrasive but (5) copper (bullets) are. Back to the original topic, I think that firing-type break-in rituals are for the most part a myth. However, as myths go, they are completely harmless so whatever floats your boat or trips your trigger…
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  21. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

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    Two other things to consider:
    1. Primer compounds contain a small amount of glass. This does indeed cause barrel wear just like in "lapping" the barrel. By cleaning every shot, you are removing the light copper fouling and allowing the bore to be "polished" by both the action of the copper jacketed bullet, abrasive fouling, and hot gasses passing through the bore.
    2. More often than bore fouling, a major cause of "inaccuracy" of new barrels has to do with the heat-treating involved, and residual "stresses" from the machining of the barrel (boring and rifling). Shooting the barrel and heating it up gradually relieves the stresses which affect how the barrel vibrates/resonates from the shot. Hence, the "so called" breaking in process.....

    I have been aware of #2 for a number of years. I first experienced it with an E.R.Shaw barrel installed on a custom M98 Mauser I had built in the early '80's. It took about 300rds before the barrel settled down and shot sub-moa groups monotonously. Early on, it would throw unexplicable flyers every 4-5rds. The gunsmith who built the rifle said that it was normal for a "low-to-mid grade barrel" to exhibit this.... He had several he'd built that did the same thing....
    A second rifle was an Adams&Bennett barrel in .338" from MidwayUSA I built into a .338/06. It too, has taken several hundred rounds to "settle down" and "shoot".
    Lastly, is a Remington Mod-7 in 7mm08. It's taken over 500rds for it to "settle down", and now I'm in the process of "reworking" all my reloading data for it. It now shows a predeliction for 150gr bullets at the top of the loading charts... Before, it wouldn't group anything much hotter than low-starting loads...

    This month, in "Rifle Magazine", the author of one of the articles relates how an "old school" gunsmith told him to take out a Weatherby .270wbyMag and shoot it 40times till it got too hot to handle to "settle down" the barrel. According to the author, it worked, resulting in a gun the went from ~6" groups to near 1/2moa....
    Not exactly "conventional wisdom" in "breaking in" a rifle barrel........But it has worked for me too....
     
  22. adelbridge

    adelbridge Member

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    bore wear or break-in doesnt begin or end in the first 10 or 20 shots. Logically if you shoot the gun 20 rounds, go home and run some copper cleaner thru it and get all the copper out and go back to the range in the next week or two you will continue the break in process. I have seen the break in procedure in Winchester and Legacy Sports literature and I have had premium barrel manufacturers laugh at such a notion. What I can deduce is that the premium barrel manufacturers have a finished product and those that suggest a break-in procedure are not a finished product.
     
  23. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    I find it interesting that someone will say it's stupid to try to lap a factory barrel that probably has questionable machining methods. Other guys pay big bucks for a premium hand lapped barrel from companies that probably have the best tooling available.

    I know there are tons of "experts" here that had their friend's neighbor's cousin tell them this or that about break in. I guess you could take Bubba's opinion...

    Or maybe your could go to the guys that make premium match grade barrels for a living and get their thoughts. Look at the machining in the factory barrels and tell me these couldn't use a little help.

    http://www.6mmbr.com/barrels.html
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2012
  24. bpl

    bpl Member

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    I have done it, and I've not done it and I've come to the conclusion that barrel break-in procedures are nonsense. Shoot your gun and clean it when you're done and you will accomplish the same thing.
     
  25. greyling22

    greyling22 Member

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    rra's official position is clean it from the factory, then shoot the snot out of it. That said, I can see the theoretical merits of breaking in a barrel. Redneck, I saw that borescope video last night. It's a good video.

    as far as soft copper wearing away on steel rifling or not, water sure does a heck of a job wearing away at rocks, so I assume that given enough bullets down the barrel the steel would wear away in time.
     
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