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Thread: Barrel Break-in

  1. #1

    Default Barrel Break-in

    I've been breaking in a new barrel. One shot, then thouroughly clean in between for about twenty shots. I've seen a slight let up in copper foul, haven't yet noticed any increase in accuracy. Those who have done this, what have you found to be a good number of rounds for total break-in?

  2. #2
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    You gotta get that copper out, don't let it build up. 50 shots minimum I use to break in a new barrel. On a barrel that copper fouls, I fire lap with David Tubb's bore finish bullets.
    Les

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    Default

    I commend you for the effort and care you're taking to break-in your barrel. In answer to your question, the number of rounds it takes to break-in a new barrel varies, at least in my experience. As a general observation, custom barrels break-in faster than factory barrels. However, I've also noticed that larger calibers take a bit longer to break-in than smaller...again a general observation. I agree with Chignik, take the time to get all the copper fouling out after the shot set before starting another set. Otherwise you're just defeating your efforts. My biggest challenge is not to become frustrated with the process of barrel break-in as it can be tedious. Plus, people will feel compelled to tell you that what you're doing isn't necessary, and they have never followed barrel break-in with any of their rifles, and of course they just have to say, "...I just shoot until the barrel is too hot, then I clean it and all of my rifles shoot sub MOA at 200 yards." For me barrel break-in is a time to get to know my new rifle or get reaquainted with an old friend wearing a new custom barrel.

    For the last half a dozen or so barrel break-ins, I've followed Dan Lilja's recommendations, which I have pasted here for you to look at.

    http://www.riflebarrels.com/support/...aintenance.htm

    As an example, I am at the tail end of breaking in a .375 H&H (Lilja barrel), which now has well over fifty rounds through it (singles x 10, doubles x 5, triples x 5, and five shot strings x 5). The copper fouling has greatly dropped off to the point that I have switched to all copper TSX's which I'm working up for hunting loads with little fouling after ten shot strings. The bore is very smooth. Accuracy has been very good and showing signs of excellence as I fine tune the loads. As a comparison, I broke in a .30-06 last spring (also with a Lilja barrel). It showed signs of accuracy excellence from the very beginning and fouling dropped off about 50% sooner than the H&H. Today that 06 is exceptionally accurate and easy to clean...which I attribute to my break-in efforts...no matter what my friends may say.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
    Member shphtr's Avatar
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    Default barrel break in

    Some barrels will shoot optimally after the first shot while others often require more... sometimes a lot more. In general I expect a barrel to be optimized by about a 100 rounds but again this is highly variable. For custom barrels it is often less while for OEM barrels I usually decide that it is not a shooter after at least 100 rounds. If performance is still considered to be suboptimal after 100 rounds, then firelapping (e.g. with system from Tubbs) is a reasonable next step before pulling the barrel for a new one. Also make sure you try a variety of bullet weights and brands - I have had excellent results with Barnes TS bullets.

  5. #5

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    Total of 60 rounds. Clean between each shot for first 10, then 5 shot groups (cleaning between each group). Good luck.

  6. #6

    Default Clean with what??

    When it is stated to clean between shots, etc.... are we saying just with the barrel type cleaner or to use one of those cleaners that really specialize in copper removal where you leave it in there for like 15 minutes before scrubbing, etc...?

    ~F

  7. #7
    New member George's Avatar
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    Default clean to metal

    fec, I think when everyone says, "clean after 1 shot, then 3 or 5" and so on, it means clean with whatever method gets the copper and burned powder completely out. One method that shows at least the state of copper fouling is to look into the muzzle at an angle, in strong light. Sometimes it really takes a lot of time and elbow grease and sometimes not so much. With higher velocity loads that burn a lot of powder and where the bullet really lays down quite a bit of copper- it may take some effort, as would be the case with a rougher bore. Care should be taken because it is tedious and it's easy to get into a hurry and not use a bore guide or good technique, etc. Some of the latest copper solvents that are designed to sit in the bore for a while so they can act on the copper are supposed to work really well. Caution should be used with any strong solvent for obvious reasons.

  8. #8

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    All I used was Hoppes and my regular cleaning technique. As for those high-power copper fouling removers, they probably wouldn't hurt but I doubt if they would be of any extra help either. Let's face it, how much copper fowling will you get between shots on the first ten?

  9. #9
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    Default cleaner

    I like Butch's Bore Shine...it's a great all purpose cleaner that also has ammonia to get the copper out.

  10. #10

    Default Ummmmm ammonia

    What is the problem with ammonia?

  11. #11
    New member George's Avatar
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    Default ammonia

    fec, Most of the "standard" copper solvents, until fairly recently, have relied on ammonia as the primary chemical for removal of copper. The % ammonia in the chem has generally deterimed the speed of removal. There are a few of the newer ones out there now that claim to remove copper without the ammonia. I don't know the chemical agent(s) used. And, don't know if they too would eventually attack the bore steel if left in for a long time?? For years, Shooters Choice was the most commonly used ammonia-based solvent. Many others are of similar strength. If I need an extra ammonia, more aggressive solvent I'll use Sweets. Some solvents claim extra powder, plastic, lead, etc. removal agents or qualities. Most claim corrosion and/or lubrication additives along with the ammonia. I've never harmed a bore with ammonia but have always been very cautious with it in the higher % solvents like Sweets and have never left it in the bore for more than about 10 minutes or so. Don't want to find out by experience or experimentation I guess.

  12. #12
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    I clean between each of the first 10 shots with Sweet's 7.62, then between each 5. Since I have been doing this, my accuracy has been amazing compared to how I used to break in a barrel. I have been lucky enough to acquire several new custom rifles over the past couple of years, and I haven't noticed a difference between small or large caliber.

  13. #13

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    Here is a good comment on a break-in regimen from another site.
    Presumably, anyone concerned with barrel break-in is using coated one-piece cleaning rods and a bore guide. Dewey is about the best. Sweets will have detrimental effect on your bore if you let it sit more than about 20 minutes. Might want to review articles from Precision Shooting or Boyd Mace's book to consider other tricks or products. JB Paste is an abrasive. Use this stuff very sparingly.

    Other schools of thought are that shooting moly coated bullets will detract from accuracy, and total removal of all copper detracts from accuracy. I have read that if you examine even the finest Obermeyer or Hart barrel with a scope inspection tool, you will see the steel is anything but smooth and uniform in texture. Some copper deposit is necessary to, in effect, plate or coat the barrel.

    I will also state that my personal experience (no custom barrels, but well-tuned rifle, scope mount system and handloads) even mediocre Remington VS barrels will "shoot" 5 shot groups into well under .5" and .8" at 100 and 200 yds, outdoors in the wind. My experience is that scope and scope mount system is most critical to uniform and repeatable accuracy.

    Anyway, this competitive shooter, Rick Boucher, says this:

    "... I would not oil the bore before a shot. The bore and chamber needs to be dry. If you get oil into the chamber you could have a nasty surprise and at minimum a difficult time extracting the case.

    Clean after every shot with Shooter'e Choice and Sweet's for the first 30 - 40 rounds and then JB. Clean after every 5 rounds for the next 30 to 40 rounds and JB. Clean after every 10 rounds for 20 to 30 rounds then JB. Then have a ball. by cleaning after every 20 rounds for the next 100. After that the weapon can be cleaned after each set of not more than 50 to 60 rounds.

    Always dry patch before shooting and inspect the barrel for patch threads. They will destroy the rifling in your bore. Take care with the brushing during break in. The brushes will leave as much copper fouling as the bullet when you brush the devil our of the bore, especially if you reverse the direction of the brush while it is in the bore. First use the Shooter's Choice and let set. Swab with a wet patch of Shooter's and then folow with a couple of dry. Clean with the Sweet's until the patches stop coming out blue. Then lay in the Shooter's again until they come out clean. It is a pain to break in a new barrel.

    Do not fire lap the barrel unless you have the money to buy a new barrel. "


    Another guy says:

    "...you should only push the patch through one direction. the reason for this is not the copper but the resedue and other particles that come form the combustion of the primer. It is my understanding that some of these particles are quite hard and can scratch the barrel. I think once you have shoved the first 3 to 4 wet patches through and then a dry patch or two you could safetly start to scrub it with the back and forth motion with out doing any harm. By the time I get to the Sweets 7.62 I scrub the crap out of it.As far as the right break in procedure, everyone has their own way but I usually follow the rule of, fire one and clean for the first 10 and the fire 2 and clean for the next 20 then fire 3 and clean for the next 30 then I start shooting. This process is probably anal retentive but it sure makes for nice smooth barrels that are easy to clean. I also clean it throughly befor going to the range for the first time and then polish it with JBs to start it off. Once the gun is broke in I usually try to clean it every 20 to 25 rounds. Thats not to say I wont shoot a heck of a lot more if need be."


    and one more guy, when asked about cleaning up a used rifle barrel:

    "On re-break in; just start over, as you would a new gun. A rifle isn't like a gasoline engine where you can damage it by not taking care in the first stages.

    The purpose of "breaking in" a rifle barrel, is to polish off some of the rougher tool marks and micro burrs, so that copper won't build up so quickly, and it'll be easier to clean.

    If the gun has been shoot a lot, without cleaning, all that has happened is that the first shots laid a layer of copper over the tool marks, and then the bullets rode over the copper, making the layer thicker and thicker... and taking days to clean out, but the original rough tool marks and micro burrs are still under the copper. Clean it with a good copper remover like Hoppes BR copper remover, or Sweet's, and start from the begining."

  14. #14
    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks to everyone for the info. Should be helpful to us average joe's. For a guy shooting a larger caliber, i.e. 300's, 338's, 375's etc., and buying factory ammo, break in seems fairly expensive.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

  15. #15

    Default Where is the limit

    I agree, is there a rational and reasonable point of this barrel break-in thing where you are not shooting 100 rounds with cleaning of 40-50 times?

    Seems to me, you have to break in at least 10%+ of barrel life to say you have a solid barrel.

    There probably is something to the barrel break-in, but I cannot see shooting and cleaning to the point it takes 3-5 visits to the range because of the time factor of shooting then cleaning etc.....

    Plus the money in bullets; well like I said before my wife says you guys are a bad influence and she is threatening a full financial audit because of the perceived cash flow toward rifles.

    Any ideas on how to manage the pending audit? Surely some of you guys have been in this delicate position!

    Thanks
    ~F

  16. #16
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    Default Breakin' In...

    This break in receives a lot of press, and rightfully so. I do believe it is important, very important. Not just from an accuracy point of view but for ease of cleaning and barrel life.

    This process doesn't have to be done in one day or even two or three range sessions. I usually take several weeks or even months to do this. Of course I'm usually doing more than one rifle at a time. The magic number for me is 100 rounds. I've had barrels slick up after as little as 40 but ususally more than that is needed. When I get a new rifle , used or new, I do this break in. And it always starts with cleaning, down to bare metal, before shooting.
    I keep track of the total number of shots through any and all of my rifles with a log. Actually my handloading log. And in that I also include any factory ammo I shoot. I may shoot one particular gun every day for a week or only once in a weeks time, but I keep track and make notes in my log. Each log sheet has a place to record the rifle make, model, serial number, barrel length and other info. I record every round I load and the velocity if I chronograph it. I will load a minimum of five rounds of each load, usually 10, and for the initial few rounds (20) these will be a lower velocity as that makes cleaning copper out easier. This opportunity allows me a chance to get to know this particular rifle. I have watched how accuracy and velocity of a particular load increase as the barrel gets smoother and smoother (or more smooth?1) as this shoot and clean process goes on. I call this process bonding with my rifle.

    I buy guns, new and used, and shoot and clean at least 100 rounds, rarely would it be less, then usually sell them and keep the information I accumulate in the log. This is my hobby, have I mentioned that before? There are, of course, many guns that I do keep, obviously, but this process has gone on this way for over twenty years. The number of guns I have owned is......well, very high. I have owned a lot of Sakos, about 329, number 330 is on it's way, and about 112 Remington 700/721/722/660/600's, and 68 model 70's old and new, and a whole bunch of others. These are the guns I have kept and shot and recorded info on. So...to say I have done this shoot and clean thing a few times would be an understatement. Trust me when I tell you it is important...just do it. The exact technique and the cleaner used can be varried and many. Some are better than others and some make it easier. It is mostly elbow grease!

    I also, baby sit, or rifle sit, for many other folks guns. Shoot and clean, mount scopes and load ammo. I see a lot of other guns. I have three Remington 700's and one Kimber Montana now just to keep the barrels warm for their owners. ( I don't play golf.)

    I didn't mention any custom barreled rifles, there are/were lots of them also. Some of the mentioned guns were converted to a different caliber with a custom barrel and yes you guessed it, shoot and clean that one again. I have one rifle which has been eight different calibers. And one Sako that has been four.

    Some rifles come from the store with such a smooth barrel that break in is not really needed, but I do it anyway. The old Steyr, pre SBS, had such smooth glassy barrels and a few of the older Sako's were in this category. The Dakota model 97 with it's Lothar Walther barrel is is such a class act. The barrel is awesome, smooth, rigid, dimensionally perfect. They don't get any better in a production gun. The bores are obviously hand lapped. This is a $2200-$2800 rifle, depending on stock, so one would expect nice but it is better than it's price tag. Yeah I have afew of them also. Keepers, every one. They are better shooters than the famed model 76.

    I buy cleaning patches by the boxcar load. Hoppe's and Sweet's and Shooter Choice and JB's all send me nice Christmas cards every year. I buy wholesale from Brownell's, in Montezuma, Iowa. I'm a good customer for them.

    So to summarize, shoot and clean. There is a lot of good info here on the regimen. As to technique and methods or chemicals I could not add much. Sweet's can damage a bore but not if used correctly. It is likely the best copper-getter-outer. I also use JB's bore polish and other stuff. It all works, some just better than others. Lots of fun. Good shootin' n' cleanin'.

    Murphy

  17. #17
    Member 8x57 Mauser's Avatar
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    Lightbulb A little heresy?

    I'll posit a theory:

    Those of us who have had our rifles for a while, and do a really thorough cleaning between shooting sessions probably don't need to go back through this process.

    It seems to me that the first round through a clean (down to the metal) barrel will do as much polishing as it will do - no more, no less.

    So it doesn't matter whether we
    a) proceed to fire many rounds through the barrel before we clean, then wait for the next shooting session to fire the next round through a clean (down to the metal) barrel, or
    b) clean immediately and shoot the next round.

    Whatever intervenes, the next round fired through a clean (to the metal) barrel will do the next incremental amount of polishing.

    So haven't those of us who clean the dickens out of the barrel between shooting sessions -- and have put in 50 or more sessions through the years -- effectively broken in our barrels?

    Just a wild theory. Feel free to shoot it full of holes.

  18. #18

    Default For what it is worth?

    Years ago a good benchrest shooter told me that IF you continue to shoot over a build up of cooper fouling that the barrel will return to almost the same accuracy- group size in .ooo" - after cleaning BUT he has never seen one that would get better groups than the before numbers. He keeps track of every shot and group and logs it all.
    He used the 1 shot - 10, 2 shots - 20, 3 shots - 20. 5 shots - 50 then as needed but never more than 20 before cleaning.
    Of course he is talking about trying for all shots though a 1 cal. hole.(aren't we all!!!!)
    These rough spots in a barrel pick up copper on the first shot & continue to increase in size with each additional shot, Run a couple of patches though and then look from the muzzle end at a strong light - they will look like a small mountain in there.
    I have used tooth paste (being a very mild abrasive)on a very tight patch to polish a rough spot in a 6MM Rem - just scrubed over the spot but take a full run of the barrel every tenth direction change - that rifle will shoot 1.5 cal. holes if I do my part - and after 20 shots there is no longer a copper "lump" in the barrel.
    Folks there aint no easy way to do it!!!!!!!!
    And listen to Murphy, he knows what he is talking about!

    Pete

  19. #19
    Member Daveintheburbs's Avatar
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    Question Slick 50??

    We seem to revisit this topic on a regular basis. One thing that stuck in my mind as being completely different advice was posted early this year on the old site. In it someone advocated using Slick 50 as part of the break in procedure. For the life of me I canít find the post in the archives. If the author or some one who remembers would repost to add to the discussion I would appreciate it.
    I have been doing it the consensus way but would love to expedite the process.

    Dave

  20. #20

    Default Fire lapping

    An ealier post seemed to imply that fire lapping is bad. I've never done it but sounds like a good idea. Anyone have any experiences?

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