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Thread: barrel break in...necessary????

  1. #1
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    Default barrel break in...necessary????

    WOW, was about to write this and a couple mortars came in. Man I forgot how loud they are!!!
    Technology!!!! Hearing mortars pound the ground and on my wireless laptop, gotta love it

    anyway back to the point. I have never broken a rifle barrel in like I have read about. Will end up buying a Kimber when I get back and want to know how you hardcore rifle owners view the breakin process.
    Is it necessary and if so how do you do it??
    Thanks

  2. #2

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    Plentycoupe, I just went through my first barrel breakin process and I'm sold on it. My barrel shows very little copper fouling. I just cleaned it last night with wipeout after 18 shots without a cleaning. I soaked 2 hrs and pushed a patch through and it came out medium blue. Then I soaked it again over night and I just pushed a patch through with no blue at all and a little powder residue on it. In my old Ruger I would have had to soak it 7 or 8 long times before getting all the copper out. After 18 rounds through it this rifle was clean with 2 treatment of wipeout and 4 patches - no brushes. Pretty amazing as far as I'm concerned. I basically used Dan Lilja's recomended process of cleaning afte each shot, but I did not use a brush. Just several wet patches each time. It was tedious, but well worth it. Also, didn't stop after 10 shots. I kept cleaning after each shot until evidence of copper fouling stopped.

    Here's the thread if you haven't already read it.

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=39122

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    Is barrel break-in necessary? Well, the answer really depends on you. One of my good friends is not very fussy about rifles. He buys whatever ammo is on sale, takes his rifle out of the safe once or twice a year for hunting season, checks zero (sometimes) and goes right to the field...probably not necessary for him to break-in a barrel. I'm way opposite. I handload, constantly push for even greater accuracy, try out new bullets and powders, etc. It also depends on the rifle...even I didn't break-in my mini-14.

    I didn't start doing barrel break-in procedures until I bought my first custom barrel from Lilja. A custom barrel is pricey. I wanted to treat it right and pass it on to my son some day, so I followed what Dan recommends: http://riflebarrels.com/support/cent...aintenance.htm
    Break-in does make a difference in cleaning time down the road, and the bore really does smooth up for you...I can tell the difference. For me it's worth the time doing break-in with my new purchase. Most people don't break-in, and I won't say they're wrong...it's a personal choice.

  4. #4

    Default Maybe.....

    Is it needed for most big game hunting, probably not. Will it help most good barrels? Probably does. Heck, its still shooting.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by plentycoupe View Post
    I have never broken a rifle barrel in like I have read about. Will end up buying a Kimber when I get back and want to know how you hardcore rifle owners view the breakin process.
    Is it necessary and if so how do you do it??
    Thanks
    I didn't on my Kimber, nor have I on any of my recent rifle purchases! Aesops Fables is what I call the break in process!

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I typically put 40-50 rounds down range, then hit the barrel with JB compound and barnes cr-10 until I don't get any more blue patches.

    I figure the break in takes place by sending bullets down the bore. Perhaps cleaning between every few or every shot may speed that process slightly, but I'll burn another 20 rounds vs. spending an extra hour or two with elaborate cleaning rituals.

    The cost of ammo is so much greater than that of a barrel that if my barrel goes only 4900 vs 5000 rounds before needing replacement, I just won't sweat it. That and the only barells I'm likely to wear out are .223's.

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    My new Stag 6L is heading my way and I am wondering the same thing. Apparently is 6 of one and a half dozen of the other.......Personal preference?

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    I just haven't seen any credible studies to proove that the various break in procedures are of any benefit. It's not like an engine where you run lower rpm to let the parts wear in. Every shot is full power, so why should it matter if you clean more between the first 50 shots or not?

    Now if someone will take 10 barrels, 5 are "broken in" and 5 are just shot, and those barrels are tracked for accuracy and barrel life for say 5000 rounds each, then there will be a test thorough enough to prove one way or the other the benefit of a break in.

    I just value my time too much to spend hour upon hour scrubbing bores, if the accuracy hasn't gone away. I also believe that excessive cleaning does more to damage and shorten the life of a barrel than anything else.

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    Depends? If you have a rough production barrel and your intent is to keep the gun a long time then breaking in is an investment in future time. If you sell your guns fairly quickly, then who cares. If you have a hand lapped barrel then probably only a little is gained.

    Production barrels run the full gamut of quality even within the same manufacturer and model. Some have excellent smooth bores and others look a mess. A borescope is the only reasonable way I know of to tell what you have. If I had a camera adapter for mine I could show you the differences. I have some barrels that look really nice while others show milling and chatter marks. One 700 barrel has a few of the lands missing for about an inch down into the barrel.

    Breaking in is laying over the steel. In a rough barrel when you shoot you sluff off a certain amount of copper, the rougher the barrel the more of the copper that is deposited and that copper begins to fill in the pores between the rough spots. This copper then prevents the steel from being laid over as you shoot because it builds up under and behind it. This makes for a lifetime of more difficult cleaning because the steel never fully lays over and the copper becomes entrapped under it. The raised steel then accelerates excess buildup accuracy related problems, maybe accuracy begins to drop after 30 shots instead of 40. The rougher the barrel begins life the more exaggerated the problem.

    When breaking in a rough barrel you sluff off some copper and then immediately clean it out allowing room for the steel to gradually be laid over until you achieve a smoother bore surface. The smoother surface then collects less copper for as long as you own the gun. You can fire more shots before the buildup causes a problem and it is easier to clean out the copper that is deposited.

    A handlapped barrel accomplishes a similar thing so breaking in will not have the same return as on a rough production barrel.

    To me it is like aligning and lapping scope rings. You donít have to do it but it is a once in a gunís lifetime thing, why not do it if you plan on keeping it for years.

  10. #10

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    Heres a little food for thought for all the barrel break in idealist, did they not shoot your barrel in the factory? Did they shoot one-clean one? To me the whole barrel break ideology is from yesteryear when bores were in fact much rougher than most mass production barrels of today. I have done the break in and I have not done the break in. The only true attribute of a barrel break in IMO is they clean easier, but most of my guns shoot better with a dirty bore as opposed to a clean bore. So to each his own I reckon.

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    I broke in all my rifle barrels until my most recent rifle purchase last winter. Like others, I've not read any legitimate studies or seen any empirical evidence it reduces fouling or contributes to accuracy etc. Some claim barrel wear is actually increased during the break in process and only serves to keeps barrel manufacturers in business...who knows.

    I might shoot 12-15 rounds per range session, occasionally more. Then I go home and with one application of Wipe Out it's clean. If you're big game hunting, what does it matter if your barrel's accuracy drops off after 13 shots as opposed to 33 shots. Most people only fire a couple rounds at big game in a season anyway. I fire one fouling shot, shoot a 3 shot group to verify my zero and go hunting for the season. When the season ends or I get my moose etc., I clean my rifle and it gets put away til the following spring.

    My most recent rifle purchase is the most accurate one I own...and its barrel didn't get broken in...go figure...

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    Default Still another thought . . .

    I've been pondering this dilema for 40 years. What I do is this : If it's a paper-puncher rifle, or a long range varmit gun, I'll wade through a break in. But I'd hunt for a hand lapped barrel (is Sako still doing that to their barrels?) first. For a medium to big game rifle, I won't spend the time, because it comes down to which rifles will be shot a whole lot, and which ones won't. By a whole lot I mean, at least a 500 rounds a year or more. Paper-punchers will shoot alot more than that.

    I forget sometimes that some guys have yet had the chance to fill a gun safe, and I recall when I only had one or two rifles. I treated them like a baby (and they still shoot great). So if you want to sink your hard, super hard, incredably hard earned dollars into a sweet new Kimber (sounds like a fine welcome home), then treat it like the friend it will be.

    I remember, a long time ago, I came home, but alot of my friends didn't. Come on home, friend. You have a Kimber waiting for you.

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    Thank you!

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    When you bore a hole in metal you are ripping the metal, it is rough. It has always been this way, hasn't changed today. Prove it to yourself by drilling a hole in hard metal with your sharpest bit and take a look at it with a magnifying glass. There is nothing special about it. Cost lowering mass production techniques do not improve the outcome. Imperfect people are running the equipment and the tooling gets duller with every hole bored. Was your barrel bored when it was sharp or near the end of the run for that tooling?

    ALL barrel makers and custom builders know that roughness in a barrel causes inconsistencies in pressures and resultant accuracy. Of course that is why they choose non-production barrels.

    There are a number of methods the everyday shooter can use to attempt to improve the quality of their production barrel. You can handlap, an excellent way but it involves buying some new stuff and requires skill that many people may not want to acquire and if you're too aggressive you can wear out the barrel without ever firing a shot. You can fire lap, for me personally I think this is risky and not so easy to assess progress.

    Breaking in requires the least skills and it is the least risky. Everyone has bullets and cleaning equipment, it just requires time and elbow grease. Being reasonable about it I don't see any way that you are going to screw it up. The downside is it is the least effective way to make a significant improvement. Some barrels may not respond at all because they are just too bad but the same barrel is likely unrecoverable using any of the other methods also. The quality of mass produced barrels today is not always good. Buy a borescope and you'll have your proof.

    Breaking in a barrel is one method of smoothing out the tops of the rough spots. Shooting a soft bullet many times over hardened steel smooths it out, that is a given. Removing the copper under the steel allows it to lay flatter, that is just common sense.

    Is it going to turn a rough production barrel into a shooter, no! Will it enhance a pretty good barrel, probably! Will any production gun kill a moose if it hasn't been broken in, yes! But this is a shooting forum, you can post about killing a moose on the hunting forum.

    Pretty much everything I know about this I have gotten personally from conversations over several years with Kenny Jarrett. He has done a bit of research on barrels and probably knows a little bit about them.

    For those that may not be familiar with him:
    http://www.jarrettrifles.com/about.html

    Some of us like the game of shooting just as much as the game of hunting. Why leave variables if you have a way of removing them? .5 inches at 100 is good but .25 is better!

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    Some of us like the game of shooting just as much as the game of hunting. Why leave variables if you have a way of removing them? .5 inches at 100 is good but .25 is better!
    That right there is the bottom line. I don't shoot rifles for the utmost accuracy. Once I hit a load that will keep a group of 3" at 300 yards I am done with tuning that rifle. I've never had a broke in barrel make as much difference as proper action bedding and good load development. If I have a rifle that shoots factory ammo with a quality bullet into my accuracy requirement I will do nothing more with it. Unlike Ed I don't target shoot with rifles other than load development. I do spend some time with my hunting rifles shooting in various field positions, but that's about it.

    Now, where I can relate with Ed in my life is archery. I am an accuracy fiend when it comes to archery. I spend all the money I can afford on arrows with the best specs and fit them to my system. I spend the money on the best sights, best releases, and best bows. I spare no expense and I practice constantly. The level of accuracy I expect from my bows and myself far exceeds that of most archers. So, I totally understand where Ed is coming from.

    You have to ask yourself where your personality lies. To me, firearms are treated no more importantly than my nail guns and my Skilsaw. I take care of them, respect their dangers, and use them like tools. Others treat their firearms with extreme care and scientific/engineering reverence. Some fall in the middle. Only you can decide how much you care.

  16. #16

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    Well said Doug. The flip side of all this is a Kimber Montana is a superlight mountain rifle , it was never intended to punch paper by design. I say sight it in, find out what ammo it likes best and get after it. All the pampering and babying guys do religously to hunting rigs that will be badly scuffed and scratched after the first mountain backpacking hunt seems pretty silly to me. Now if your gonna do 600 yard bench rest competetions then yes, you'll want to squeeze every thousandth of accuracy out of it and prep the barrel for many rounds down range, now that is understandable.

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    IMO it takes about three hours to get done and you get to know your new rifle in the process. If it works great if it doesn't so what you still got to know your new rifle, a win win situation!
    Stay safe, god be with you and your buds

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    The topic of rifle barrel break-in comes up at least once a year and it typically follows the course of this current thread. Time and again the same points are made for breaking-in and not breaking-in, and like previous years I always line-up with the break-in advocates.

    Bottom line for me is that I feel like I'm doing the right thing when I take the time to break-in a new barrel. I do know that it makes cleaning easier in the long run, and I really don't mind the break-in procedure because I'm at the range spending time with other gun people. As others have said, given the absence of controlled studies, it really boils down to what you read and believe, rifle utilization, personal experiences, and basic ownership habits...in other words, choice and preference. We all agree that improper cleaning techniques and/or the wrong equipment will result in damage to your barrel...and there is empirical evidence to back that.

    My final point is that I think it's an error and a disservice to imply that those who prefer to do a break-in procedure are pampering or babying thier rifles...just like it would be an error to imply that those who do not are abusing theirs.

  19. #19

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    Nope, I've looked at bunch of sites for big name rifle barrels and the all seem to say that is a waste of time, especially on lapped barrels. The barrel life on a magnum rifle is about 1000 rds, breaking in uses up about 10% of your barrels life. Might not hurt though if you are into serious compitition as far as benchrest shooting though.
    Are you as unimpressed with my signature block as I am with yours?

  20. #20

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    Kimber won't need it just go find what shoots good in it. Barrel break in -

    I DON'T DO IT!!

    I WON'T DO IT!!

    IT IS NOT NEEDED!!

    I think my groups out of all the factory rifles for 32yrs to customs for the last 25yrs prove to me it is not needed. If you do it don't blame the gun maker for a bad barrel if things go south after you finish your break in or it doesn't give you the results you thought it would.

    PS - most poor groups have to do with the shooter or the ammo or the handloads or in some cases all three but very, very seldom is it the barrel.
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