The idea is to burnish or smoothen out the bore of the rifle by having the residual copper material fill in all the microscopic imperfections on the surface of the bore. Even mirror smooth bores have tiny imperfections that is invisible to the naked eye.
Goalie, that's 'cause Savages shoot well right out of the box, that bore conditioning is for other rifles.
Similar to break-in period for new car, motorcycle, etc?
Maybe "breaking in" a rifle/barrel in any ways similar to the process for breaking in a new engine?
Could it depend some on the tolerances you get from the factory? If you're lucky to get close tolerances from the factory, little to gain from break-in?
Unlike an engine, you aren't starting out at reduced rpm, or changing the oil after 1000 miles, which are IMHO good practices for breaking in an engine.
With a gun barrel, you get the same wear and tear with every shot. If you want to waste hours and multiple range sessions going through 50-100 rounds and excessive cleaning, knock yourself out. But if you see what the guys who shoot 1000's and ten's of thousands of rounds in competition due to their equipment, it's dial in the load and then compete. When the barrel goes off, it's pulled and replaced. The break in process is just wasting some of the barrel's useful life, not to mention time and ammo.
While I don't go to this extreme of use it (abuse it) out of the box, here's someone that knows how to shoot at long range, and doesn't pamper his guns.
That video is funny as cow dung
Originally Posted by gogoalie
To waste a heck of a lot of time.
the video was funny & I've made the mistake of not "breaking" in my rifle, but what about Larry Potterfield of MidwayUSA? Has he been mislead?
The reason is to obtain maximum accuracy from a rifle barrel. Some barrel manufacturers, Shilen for example, hand lap their barrels and see little benefit in barrel break in. Major manufacturers (i.e. Remington, Savage, Ruger, etc.) do not lap their regular production barrels and so these come with pronounced microscopic flaws in the bore that collect powder and copper fouling. Some factory barrels are smoother than others, but as a rule, some type of barrel break in will create a smoother finished bore and better results on average. Without cleaning the barrel, each succesive shot will simply deposit its fouling on top of the previous fouling and the bore is not being "lapped." Beak in procedures mimic lapping and all benchrest guys I know use barrels that are hand lapped so break in is not essential for their barrels.
Originally Posted by gogoalie
The actual break in process varies among shooters, but a regular cleaning procedure during the first 25-50 rounds is generally recommended. If you are pleased with the performance of your rifle I would not give it a second thought, but I normally break in my rifle barrels on new production rifles.
I don't have the patience to do it. So I don't know.
Shooting more offhand seems to improve my performance.
I do cringe when I see cheapo rods, no bore guides and other handling practices at the range utilized to break in a $15 factory Remchester barrel. Stay away from my Kriegers, Oberymeyers and Anschutz barrels please.
I do tend to think damage is done by overzealouse scrubbing.
Reminds me fo the Seabee's (still) mandating users to scrub rifles once a day for three days after use, and folks scrubbing out the bores with jointed rods on a drill as well as nciley shining all the outer seurfaces with a wire brush.
Yes the rifles were clean after that...
I shot benchrest for several years and I "broke in" every barrel and everyone I shot with did the same. The break-in procedure is mainly for ease of cleaning. Most match barrels break-in within 20 rounds, some less but very few take more than 15-20 rounds. Once the barrel is broke in you can usually clean all the copper from your bore in 10 minutes or less. Unless you like your bores to be copper free with minimal cleaning time there’s probably no real benefit from the break-in period, as some of our barrels best groups were shot while “breaking-in” and fireforming new brass for it. (best groups mean we could match the groups but couldn’t improve on them). None of us ever considered it a waste of barrel life, as two or three patches with Sweets to clean the copper out was well worth it in our opinion. Now as to non-stainless, non-lapped barrels I haven’t had much luck. I’ve given up on a couple barrels after a day and a half and they still foul badly while others cleaned up fairly well after 40 to 50 rounds (most of the day) but it still takes 45 minutes to an hour to get the copper out using Sweets. Using “blue goop” you can cut the time in half relative to removing the copper but finding 28% ammonia to make the stuff has been very difficult – for me that is, so I just stay with Sweets 7.62 – there may be better stuff on the market but I haven’t tried anything else for copper removal.
My guns are all used for hunting or plinking, so I have absolutely no use for "breaking in" the barrels. If I were obsessed with tiny groups I might take the time and money to do it "right" but even without my rifles are still plenty accurate for their intended purpose, so why bother?
How about snipers?
"Newbies rush in where angels fear to tread?"
I wouldn't "rush" in, and don't know enough to argue, but... with respect, due deference to Paul, Randy and all posters, and treading lightly here...
Here's what I understand so far:
1. The bore smoothness of "standard" production barrels vs specialty barrels differs
2. The cleaning process, described by Grm0002 as a kind of micro-manipulation of tolerances inside the barrel, theoretically helps accuracy/consistency by cleaning residue with might affect shooting consistency/accuracy
3. Many shooters have found the (cleaning) process unnecessary and obviously shoot pretty dang fine.
4. Shooting accuracy/consistency could depend on several other factors (shooter skills, etc), including range of shots needed.
For those of us who don't plan to swap out barrels, are there other applications where professional/experienced/expert shooters have found cleaning to be of benefit/nonbenefit? Regarding distances, my concept of ranges for most hunting is roughly 100-250 yds, sometimes more and competition, 200-600yds(?), or maybe they're the same? Whatever the distances for those applications, what about extreme ranges, say beyond 600yds? Maybe competition shooting includes these ranges, but I wonder if consistency becomes a bigger issue for shooters needing consistency at extreme ranges, and are they trained to clean bores of their rifles? I think the military sniper case would be the best illustration because they shoot the same rifle all the time. Be interested in hearing more input. Thank you in advance.
What JoeJ and grm0002 said.....
The main reason for barrel break-in is basically like a lapping process. Barrels, especially factory barrels will have rough irregularities in them that will lead to copper fouling. Some worse than others amd some much worse. Hand lapped button rifled barrels usually need very little break-in. cut barrels usually need more and factory barrels usually need the most. If you're going to do a barrel break-in, you need to clean after each and every shot until you notice a significant decrease in copper fouling. When a clean barrel is shot through and fouls, most of the fouling comes from the first shot. So if you clean after every 5 shots, it will take you 50 shots to break-in your barrel vs 10 shots if you clean after each shot, if that's what it takes. Increased accuracy may or may not be a benefit. The main benefit is less copper fouling and much easier cleaning. So to those who might say it's just more meaningless and possibly harmful cleaning, I would respond by saying it will lead to much less cleaning over the life of the barrel if done properly.
I broke in my last barrel and after the 13th round, I noticed a significant reduction in copper fouling to almost nil. I will break-in all my barrels from now on because of my experience with the this last barrel I broke in. I will also use Microlon Gun Juice to do the break-in. After each shoot I'll remove the copper and then apply Gun Juice, then fire again until copper fouling stops.
I would guess that means you should break in 95% of used rifles also as most never see fifty rounds fired through them
Yup, I would. Clean it to bare metal and break it in. I have a used 300 RUM Sendero with 20 rounds down it and it will get broke in.
Originally Posted by Amigo Will
The real question is, does "breaking in the barrel" which I take to mean frequent cleaning during the firts 10-50 shots (depending on who you read) smooth out the barrel any faster than just shooting the gun and cleaning as needed afterwards. And also, does that frequent early cleaning cause any additional damage to the bore vs. less frequent cleaning.
I haven't seen any conclusive tests one way or the other to prove the barrel break in theory.
From what I've seen, guns either shoot well, or they don't, and extra cleaning just takes extra time. I'll put my time into working up loads, as that is the only thing I've found to have a marked improvement in how well a gun will shoot.
If proper cleaning procedures are followed and proper equipment used I cannot imagine damaging the barrel by cleaning. I suppose it's remotely possible, but not likely. I've seen many damaged bores and often these were caused by improper cleaning (methods or equipment), but never worn out by cleaning.
Originally Posted by Paul H
Barrels need some type of bore polishing after the final machining is completed to smooth out the tool marks. Some processes leave more marks than others, but all create microscopic imperfections. Lapping the barrel will smooth these imperfections and aid in cleaning and normally contribute to better accuracy. "Break-in" is just one means to greater accuracy and consistency in a barrel.
Someone mentioned earlier that as they were a BR shooter that these guys always "break-in" new barrels. While this may be true where he shoots, I know many BR guys that never "break-in" a BR barrel (I'm one of those guys). The reason is they have spent a good bit of money on someone hand lapping their barrel which produces better results than the "break-in" process.
The cleaning is required to remove enough fouling for the subsequent shots to touch the metal rather than laying additional fouling on top of the previous fouling. This is why barrel "break-in" requires cleaning between each shot during the initial "break-in" period. Whether or not it serves you or your rifles is a personal decision. Big game hunting does not require the kind of accuracy that BR shooters must have and so many people think very poorly of the extra work. Of course there are different steps involved in getting the most accuracy out of your rifle and if you are satisfied with just working up loads and that works for you, go after it. But if you want the very best your rifle can offer, and it has a factory or massed produced barrel then a "break-in" routine of some kind will almost certainly help.
Conclusive tests are difficult in ballistics like this because there are simply too many variables and too few controls. However, I think the BR guys show by spending a fairly significant additional sum of money in buying hand lapped barrels that bore polishing (i.e. hand lapping, "break-in", fire lapping, etc.) promotes accuracy. I am unaware of any national winner not firing a lapped barrel (Shilen, Lilja, Hart, etc.).
Maybe a dumb ?...
that may have been answered and I just didn't see it, but at what point do you know the barrel is "broke-in". I see numbers from 15-50 shots through the barrel and I don't understand how a non-expert can tell it is good to go.