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Breaking - in

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  • Breaking - in

    What's the proper way to break in a rifle? I have so far heard of three ways.

    1. Fire a shot then clean and so on.
    2. Fire about 200 shots then clean and so on.
    3. This one is from some documentation.

    Fire 10 rounds and clean after each shot.
    Fire 10 rounds and fire after every other shot.
    Fire 5 rounds and clean after 5th shot.
    Fire 6 rounds and clean after the 6th shot and your done.

    Which way is best? If there are other ways please post them.

    Thank you.

  • #2
    There are various methods and everyone uses their own. If I remember correctly, I cleaned after every shot for about 10 rounds, then cleaned after every 5 rounds for about 35 more rounds, then I was done.

    "The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps." Eleanor Roosevelt, 1945


    • #3
      There is a good article on breaking in barrels by Jack Krieger at Jim Owens' site:

      Also, I am interested to know what the consensus is about using an abrasive polish (J.B.'s bore paste) prior to breaking in a new barrel.
      Geoffrey H. Goldberg


      • #4
        There's a debate about the value of Barrel Break In. I myself, feel that it's a good idea with a factory tube. If I shorten the life of a factory tube, I get to rebarrel to a quality one sooner. With a handlapped tube... I'd refer to the link below.

        This Learned Gentleman had a different view on the subject:

        Sorry for the long address..

        Happiness is one Ragged Hole, or a Bucket of Fried Chicken :-


        • #5
          Fatboy, that Gale McMillan thread was very interesting.

          What I take away from the discussion is this:

          1. Don't lap a custom barrel. The barrel maker did that, and anything that you do to it can only hurt.

          2. Because "factory barrels aren't lapped or polished as a rule" a CAREFUL lapping (with e.g. JB paste) could indeed help. I have to disagreee with Mac on one important point. He claims "A lap always cuts more on each end where the compound reverses direction as it starts back through the barrel which means that it is enlarging the bore at each ends of the barrel." While it is true that the lap will cut on each reversal, his assumption that these reversals happen at each end of the barrel is wrong. Polishing with short strokes while advancing the jag down the barrel will overlap the reversals.

          I think that I will LIGHTLY (and Carefuly)polish my new 700P barrel with JB paste prior to breaking it in (hopefully next weekend). Then I will do the shoot-one-and clean (with copper remover)for 10 rounds or so and see what happens. I'll report back.
          Geoffrey H. Goldberg


          • #6

            I don't think you'll have any trouble from lapping your 700, but a barrel maker I'm not. My 700 300WM was a horrible fouler...

            I haven't read it in some time, but I believe that Gale had referred to a lead lap, which is a exact copy of the bore. Then use a microabrasive on the lead lap, and it would cut evenly, but on a factory tube, I double you'll need to worry about it if you're careful.

            I went through the break in proceedures on my Stealth, but will probably not on my 6.5x284.. The barrel life is short enough as is,, no need to hasten things. I will say though, that my Stealth cleans up in about 10 patches, and that's if I also clean for copper.(which I rarely need to)It makes me wonder if the 4 land/groove profile has an edge over the 6 land/groove profile when fouling is concerned.

            Rob01 has a David Tubb final finish (fire lapping) write up on Sniper Country.. that may be an option.

            Bad Karma,

            There are several ways of breaking in... about as many as cleaning proceedures. What I would recommend is that you continue to fire 1 and clean until the fouling drops off dramaticlly. It may be less than 10, it may be 40,,, depends on your particular tube. Then follow your instruction sheet, or your gut feeling.. you're the one that will see how the barrel is reacting to the break in real time.. adjust from there.

            If it's a custom barrel, break in may not be needed. If not, I don't see that anything could be damaged unless you're cleaning proceedure is somehow flawed.


            [ 02-03-2002: Message edited by: FatBoy ]</p>
            Happiness is one Ragged Hole, or a Bucket of Fried Chicken :-


            • #7
              I personally feel that break in is an important step in the new life of a barrel. Whenever I hear people talk about it they always act like you're shortening barrel life but aren't you doing that everytime you shoot? Then on that line of reason shouldn't you just leave your rifle in the safe because you don't want to shorten your barrel life? Sounds stupid huh? Well I say if you go out and just fire rounds into a pile of dirt during break in then you are being stupid and just shortening barrel life. But think about this. Usually when we get a rifle back from a smith from a rebarrel or buy a new rifle we have to scope and zero correct? Use your break in to do this. Then you might have some loads you want to test. Why not again use the break in period. And of course you just like shooting for practice to keep your skills up right? Well why not do that during break in and treat the break in session like any other shooting session? There are many things you can do while you are caring for the new barrel and breaking it in that aren't a waste of barrel life at all. I know people that think barrel break in is BS won't care and still won't do it but maybe this will make them think. I'll keep breaking in my barrels as my riflesmith Celt has told me to and using my rounds wisely in the process.

              And if anyone is interested the article on David Tubb's Final Finish is at under the Review section.



              • #8
                Some thoughts on factory barrel break-in and other subjects associated with accurizing factory rifles on a tight budget are covered in several articles at:


                The articles have generated some considerably positive feedback at:


                where pretty much any question regarding rifle accuracy can get asked, and probably be answered several ways. I warn you in advance, there is some considerable acceptance there for Savage Rifles and USO Scopes. Despite that impression, all views and all products get a fair shake, as long as they deal with the firearms issues in a positive manner.



                • #9
                  For long time I was looking for some kind of scientific explanation for the process that we use to call brake-in . Definitely I can say that this process is absolutely necessary thing to do, and doesn’t matter if there is a factory or custom made (they generally come with hand lapping already done) barrels. All my effort was 0.Ofcourse we can find a lot of information in the net, but I prefer to listen really pro`s or barrel makers. There are few interesting articles written by Daniel Lilja, real guru of barrel making and sport shooter. Also almost on every site of known barrel makers you can find that it is strongly recommended brake-in in first use, even hand lapped barrels.
                  These are the words of Daniel about barrel fouling:
                  I have not seen any real reason to use a dry lubricant on bullets as an effort to reduce fouling. With a proper barrel break-in, a top quality lapped barrel, and normal cleaning procedures, fouling just does not appear to be a major problem.

                  You can also read complete article clicking on link.
                  The most logical explanation of breaking-in process is that surface of the bore, even in hand lapped barrels speaking microscopingly however, is not perfectly smooth. There are plenty of microscopic pores and burrs other type of imperfection which are unnoticeable for our eyes. Starting the barrel life with break-in we are smoothing all that imperfections once and forever by covering-filling the pores with bullet jacket material (cooper, it is always recommended brake in barrels using copper jacketed bullets) or sliding out burrs, polishing-leveling by this all long bore surface. This will dramatically reduce barrel fouling, improves accuracy and extends barrel life under certain circumstances.
                  To much things to loose guys??
                  Barrel fouling by Daniel Lilja


                  • #10
                    George -

                    Starting the barrel life with break-in we are smoothing all that imperfections once and forever by covering-filling the pores with bullet jacket material (cooper, it is always recommended brake in barrels using copper jacketed bullets) or sliding out burrs, polishing-leveling by this all long bore surface.[/b]
                    I agree with all this EXCEPT the part about filling in the pores with copper. That can't be, because part of the fire-one-and-clean break in process includes cleaning with a copper solvent. The solvent will reach into the valleys and remove all (most) of the copper. Break in serves to smooth the peaks.
                    Geoffrey H. Goldberg


                    • #11
                      Speaking pores I mean micro pores, molecularly small, where even copper solvents unable to penetrate and do their job. They have to, but they won’t.


                      • #12
                        George -

                        Well there certainly is a lot going on inside the barrel. But, I don't think (but what do I know) that much at the microscopic level is going to seriously effect the bullets trajectory. In any event such effects would be of low order compared to the gross effect of defects such as the ridges left after lapping.
                        Geoffrey H. Goldberg


                        • #13
                          A note on handlapping - a "standard" factory barrel (like that in the PSS and most standard, factory production line manufactured rifles) can sometimes benefit from handlapping.

                          DO NOT handlap a "custom" barrel (Lothar Walther, Spenser, Schneider, Hart, Lilja, Krieger, Douglas, etc). They were professionally handlapped by a guy who does nothing but lapping for a living, before they left the factory. You'll only screw it up.

                          When handlapping a PSS, I use:

                          1. JB Bore Compound

                          2. Coated rod (Dewey, Bore Tech, etc)

                          3. VFG Bore Pellets. I get 'em from Brownell's, they are felt pellets that screw onto a special threaded jag. If you're not going to use these, use good quality patches and an undersized bore brush. For instance, in a .30 caliber rifle I will use a .284/7mm bore brush. You are going to use the bore brush as a jag to work the patch with, so you want a good, tight fit but not so tight that you can't work it.

                          4. Bore guide

                          Start out by giving your barrel a good cleaning to insure that it's clear of fouling and other deposits.

                          Apply JB to the pellet/patch and insert into the barrel, from the chamber end, while using a good bore guide.

                          You're going to use back and forth strokes. I prefer to use short, overlapping strokes starting at the throat and working towards the muzzle. When I reach the muzzle, I give it 2-3 long strokes the full length of the bore. I will usually use no more than 20 of the short, overlapping strokes, followed by the 2 long strokes.

                          Clean the compound and fouling out of the bore using a good bore cleaner. Once it's good and clean, run 3 patches with 97% isopropyl alcohol or denatured alcohol through the bore, followed by one dry patch. Viola.

                          It's knowing that when I get up in the morning and my feet hit the floor, the Devil says, "Shit! He's awake!"

                          Shortly before World War I, the German Kaiser was the guest of the Swiss government to observe military maneuvers. The Kaiser asked a Swiss militiaman: "You are 500,000 and you shoot well, but if we attack with 1,000,000 men what will you do?" The soldier replied: "We will shoot twice and go home."

                          "There are so many Russians, and our country so small, where will we find room to bury them all?" - anonymous Finnish soldier