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Thread: Breaking in a new barrel?

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    Member Smokey's Avatar
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    Default Breaking in a new barrel?

    OK, I have read several "theories" on the best way to break in a new rifle bbl. I am the shoot 1 - clean, shoot 3 - clean out to about 5 or 6 repeats. I totally understand the idea of cleaning any loose debris from the rifling so it won't scar that bbl as you run loads down the pipe. But, I pondered if it mattered since guns are fired at time of production and how do "they" treat your toy before you buy it????
    So, I called Remington this morning and chatted - asked how many live rounds they fire on a new gun and if they clean it? Chap said usually 3 to 5 test rounds and no cleaning procedure during this - something like a clean patch run through after they are done - maybe???
    So, do you guys think we loose some potential top end accuracy from the factories procedures and does it mean "doodly squat" to make efforts after we buy it to break it in proper? Hmmmm????
    Never had a custom gun done - how do the hi end bbl makers handle your set up before you get it???
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

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    My personal opinion is breaking in a barrel is a complete waste of time. Just shoot, don't get it to hot, and clean it when accuracy falls off. Some claim it improves accuracy but impossible to prove since we do not know if the barrel woulf of shot good without the break in.
    Many disagree with me and thats ok. Would rather spend the time and the ammo practicing off hand shooting.
    Tennessee

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    Here is what you will find .... take the bolt out of the rifle and clean the barrel as you would any other (you will almost certainly find alot of black crap comes out) then boil a pint of water and slowly pour it down through the chamber and let it run out the muzzle (take about a minute to do this) Let it cool for a few minutes and clean it again and see what you find ... alot more black crap (this is machining slag that impregnated the steel's surface when it was warm - as soon as you get that crap cleaned out take a NEW bronze brush and saturate it with TETRA OIL (not the spray or solven but OIL) and brush it into the barrel back & forth for 20 - 30 strokes then dry patch it good to get all excess out - Now go shoot it, I usually take a boresnake and put a few drops of TETRA OIL of the brush and drag that through the bore after each 3 or 4 shot group while working up loads but that is all the break in you will need

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    Member OKElkHunter's Avatar
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    I break in barrels of new rifles, not for accuracy but to make cleaning easier in the long run. If you buy a lapped barrel, no break in needed. Going through a break in process is basically lapping your barrel the old fashioned way. I haven't heard of the hot water method of cleaning a new barrel, I'll have to try that out on my next new rifle; sounds like a good method of cleaning out the factory fouling.
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    Wal, I have a perfect right to agree with Snowwolfe, and I come down right whar he does, on this issue.

    I would add ony one thing.

    Lean your rifle against the wall, and go outside and run around the house 3 times.

    Pick up the rifle, and put it back in the same place, then go outside, and run around the house 2 more times.

    That's enough. Put the rifle away, until your're ready to shoot it.

    It should be a reel tack driver after this. Repeat as needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Wal, I have a perfect right to agree with Snowwolfe, and I come down right whar he does, on this issue.

    I would add ony one thing.

    Lean your rifle against the wall, and go outside and run around the house 3 times.

    Pick up the rifle, and put it back in the same place, then go outside, and run around the house 2 more times.

    That's enough. Put the rifle away, until your're ready to shoot it.

    It should be a reel tack driver after this. Repeat as needed.

    Smitty of the North


    Shoot it until the accuracy falls off, then clean it. 'nuff said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Wal, I have a perfect right to agree with Snowwolfe, and I come down right whar he does, on this issue.

    I would add ony one thing.

    Lean your rifle against the wall, and go outside and run around the house 3 times.

    Pick up the rifle, and put it back in the same place, then go outside, and run around the house 2 more times.

    That's enough. Put the rifle away, until your're ready to shoot it.

    It should be a reel tack driver after this. Repeat as needed.

    Smitty of the North
    Won't work, I am too old to run that many laps Smitty!
    Randy
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

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    Quote Originally Posted by back country View Post
    Here is what you will find .... take the bolt out of the rifle and clean the barrel as you would any other (you will almost certainly find alot of black crap comes out) then boil a pint of water and slowly pour it down through the chamber and let it run out the muzzle (take about a minute to do this) Let it cool for a few minutes and clean it again and see what you find ... alot more black crap (this is machining slag that impregnated the steel's surface when it was warm - as soon as you get that crap cleaned out take a NEW bronze brush and saturate it with TETRA OIL (not the spray or solven but OIL) and brush it into the barrel back & forth for 20 - 30 strokes then dry patch it good to get all excess out - Now go shoot it, I usually take a boresnake and put a few drops of TETRA OIL of the brush and drag that through the bore after each 3 or 4 shot group while working up loads but that is all the break in you will need

    Interesting. Never heard this before. Kinda makes sense, I do some welding at work. When hot I put snow on it, water runs of blackish looking. I don't buy many rifles, but will try this some time. Actually I have a new muzzleloader that I have not cleaned yet!

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    Smoothing the machining marks that are caused during the rifling process produces a better product. This can be done various ways, but hand lapping & fire lapping (with & w/o abrasive) are the most common of which I am aware. If you were to take 100 rifles and test this you would prove the attributes of the process. Considering a handful of rifles it's going to be more difficult to notice. There are too many barrel makers to list them all, but I know that: Broughton, Brux, Hart, Lilja, Kreiger (2x), McGowen, Pac-Nor, Rock Creek, & Shilen all hand lap their barrels. There is more to this than simple marketing; removing the radial tool marks creates a more uniform barrel and enhances its performance. Breaking-in-a-barrel [sometimes called fire lapping (with or without abrasives)] can likewise improve performance. Whether that improvement is recognized is more difficult to say.

    Improvements typically come in matters of degree and while improvements from 2 MOA to 1 MOA are recognized, sometimes improvements from 1.2 MOA to 1.1 MOA are not. IME most of the talk of barrels that are "shot out" is more a matter of being excessively fouled than actually "worn out" from too many shots. The truth is that most firearms shoot more proficiently than their owners and they will last the vast majority of shooters several lifetimes. I've several rifles with many thousands of rounds through them that still produce exceptional accuracy (not BR winning, but exceptional for sporting purposes) mainly because they have been well maintained through out their life--starting from the beginning. Proper cleaning is a normal part of maintenance and if done using suitable equipment and technique there is great benefit to the barrel IME.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey View Post
    Won't work, I am too old to run that many laps Smitty!
    Randy
    Scratching your bottom, will substiture for laps,

    BUT, I have no data on how many scratches, per lap, so, just "Wing it".

    Smitty of the North
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    1Cor15:19:

    Is there a difference, in Fire Lapping w/o abrasive, and just shooting?

    Does the accruacy of New rifles, or those with New barrels, improve initially, as you shoot them?

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

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    Barrel Break-In Procedure

    Schools of thought
    There may be different schools of thought on barrel break-in, however, this is what Precision Shooting Magazine recommends:
    STEP 1 (repeated 10 times)

    • Fire one round
    • Push wet patches soaked with a powder solvent through the bore
    • Push a brush through the bore (5 times in each direction)
    • Push dry patches through the bore (2 times)
    • Push wet patches soaked with a copper solvent through the bore
    • Push a brush through the bore (5 times in each direction)
    • Push dry patches through the bore (2 times)
    • Push a patch with 2 drops of oil through the bore

    STEP 2 (repeated 5 times)

    • Fire a 3 shot group
    • Repeat the cleaning procedure from STEP 1 after each group

    STEP 3 (repeat 5 times)

    • Fire a 5 shot group
    • Repeat the cleaning procedure from STEP 1

    They recommend the use of a patch with 2 drops of oil after the cleaning so that you are not shooting with a dry bore. It is also advisable to use a powder solvent and copper solvent from the same manufacturer to be sure they are chemically compatible.

    Just a thought!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    1Cor15:19:

    Is there a difference, in Fire Lapping w/o abrasive, and just shooting?
    The notion of fire lapping w/o abrasive is just shooting plain ole bullets with proper cleaning between each shot. This allows the bullet to ride the steel and not upon the copper/gilding metal/carbon fouling left from the previous shot and thereby helping to "smooth" the machining marks left by the rifling process.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Does the accruacy of New rifles, or those with New barrels, improve initially, as you shoot them?

    Smitty of the North
    I'll step out on a limb and say unlapped barrels that are cared for properly do shoot better after a few rounds pass through the bore. I do not mean that a 2 MOA gun magically becomes a .25 MOA gun, but I expect improvements when shooting a new rifle. Fire lapping with abrasive is simply more of the same except that the bullets are coated/impregnated with very mild abrasive compound. I've seen fire lapping with abrasive make some dramatic increases in accuracy; 100% better in one case.

    IMO I think the question is not if it improves accuracy and cleaning ease, but if it is worth the effort and time? For me, it depends upon the rifle and its purpose. I do not spend that much time with my lever guns. I want 200 yard accuracy and that means 2 MOA is just fine. I've always gotten that without much effort and I've not worked with them as much. Bolt actions I expect more of and plan accordingly. If accuracy really matters, taking a little extra time at the beginning just makes sense.
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

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    Buy a Blaser and just shoot it. Its broken in for you by Swiss precision elves

    Merrrrryyyyyy Christmas

  15. #15

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    Just shoot them. Cleaning them with some crazy regime is only a waste of time and bad for the environment.

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    Here is what Lilja has to say.
    Q. What is your opinion of the BlackStar process and Fire Lapping?

    A. We feel that any internal finish treatment of our barrels, performed by another source, will only serve to degrade the extremely smooth and uniform finish we achieve through hand lapping. Over the years we have developed a proprietary lapping system that allows us to create a superior internal finish. We have found through our testing what is the optimum lapping material and grit. With the finish our barrels are shipped with (especially the stainless steel barrels), bullet jacket fouling is almost nonexistent, and accuracy is at its peak.
    One of the reasons we believe that fouling is minimal has to do with the direction of the surface finish in relation to the rifling. When a barrel is lapped, the resulting surface lies parallel to the rifling. The bullet does not have to rotate "against the grain" as it would have to with an unlapped barrel or with a barrel treated in another manner.
    Another factor in surface finish has to do with its smoothness. While it is very desirable to have a finish running parallel to the rifling, the finish can be too smooth. In our extensive testing we found that a lapped barrel could be made too smooth and that these super smooth barrels would foul more than our conventionally lapped barrels. We have drawn an analogy between these "too smooth" barrels to racing slicks on race cars. These tires have no tread so they can get better traction (or more friction) on the asphalt or concrete surface. It seems as though a similar situation results between a bullet and barrel if the finish is too smooth. But in this case, the result is increased fouling, not increased performance.
    Many of the comments made about the BlackStar process also apply to the Fire Lapping procedure. But the big problem with Fire Lapping in our opinion is the rapid deterioration of the throat in the barrel. We know of barrels that have had the throat advanced very rapidly to the point that the chamber had to be set back.
    So, it is for these reasons that we do not endorse the BlackStar process nor suggest that customers have their Lilja barrels treated by this firm. The same is true of the Fire Lapping system. If we thought that we could improve the internal finish of our barrels we would do so in-house, not rely on an outside source to do so. Further, if a customer has a complaint about a barrel and it is shown that our original internal finish has been tampered with, any warranty claim is void.
    Life is too important to be taken seriously.

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    This one's a GEM!


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    He says to always treat your stuff with love and respect??? I'm not sure why some people want to torture test/abuse a weapon by throwing it around?? What does it prove other than you must have more money than good sense? To each his own I guess, but a new rifle scope combo has always been a rare treat for me and I would never throw it around on the ground intentionally.

    I am by no means an authority on the break in process, but when you get right down to it, what could it hurt? If I had a high quality after market barrel, I would follow the manufacturers instructions. If it was a mass production factory barrel, I would take the time to fire lap with about 20-30 rounds and figure if anything I'd be seasoning the barrel. It cannot hurt it unless I got careless with the cleaning rod/jag.

    Merry Christmas All!

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    A couple of years ago I saw a video on the net where a guy poured boiling water down his bore. In theory it opens the pores and allows solvent to do a better job. My 375 was fouling quite a bit with TSX's so I took it apart and did the boiling water trick followed up right away with Bore Tech Eliminator, tons of fouling came out with ease.

    After reassembly I shot 15 rounds of Tubbs Final Finish through that rifle and it his a new attitude. Better accuracy, probably from less bullet damage and very little fouling even with pure copper bullets.

    On a more recent rifle purchase with a hand lapped match grade barrel fouling is not an issue at all. On the rifle I only use wet patches and no brush for cleaning. Just a couple of wet patches and a 5 minutes soak results in a clean barrel.

    I always follow up with a oil patch for storage and a dry patch prior to shooting.

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    I think properly breaking in a barrel makes a HUGE difference and keep it free for copper fouling makes a huge difference in accuracy. IMO keeping the copper out is very important and when breaking in a barrel, fire one shot and clean using something like barnes to get the copper out. Keep using a wet patch on a jag with a one piece coated rod and a bore guide. When the patch is no longer blue, shot again. Clean again until the patch is clean and do it again. Shortly, about an hour later and 6 rounds, the patch will be clean. Shoot three rounds and again clean until patch comes out clean. Do it again. Then five rounds. After shooting five rounds, cleaning until patch is clean is about where I stop. It is usually most of a full day at the range. I shoot another rifle when the barnes is working so the time is not all lost. I think it make a huge difference.

    I broke my 220 swift, Remington factory in using the above method. I am averaging 1", 5 shot groups at 300 yards. I also have a 223 with Walther barrel, that shoots nearly as well. My 270 Krieger will also do about 1" at 300 yards. So for me, there is no debate about breaking in a barrel. Again, JMO but there is no question in my mind. J.

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