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Breaking in a barrel
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With modern firearms and materials most manufacturers guarantee their rifles with their ammo to shoot 1" MOA or better. So question, is it really a necessity to proper procedure break in a barrel?


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Posts: 69 | Location: caseyville, IL | Registered: 11 January 2012Reply With Quote
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Seeing as this is the benchrest and target shooting forum, the short answer is YES! I" may be good for an off the shelf factory gun but not for a target rifle. Rebarreling a target rifle (or a benchrest gun) is often done, and barrel breakin practices are always followed. Now, if you are asking whether one should break in a new factory rifle, the short answer would be: well it can't hurt, but it may not help!
Hope this helps! Sorry if I misinterpreted your question.
Peter


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Posts: 10300 | Location: Jacksonville, Florida | Registered: 09 January 2004Reply With Quote
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I am of the camp that thinks breaking in a barrel is unnecessary. Even when I shot 1000 yd BR I didn't break in the barrel. I just loaded, shot, and cleaned after every range session or match. Shot five screamer groups one year and set two club agg records.
 
Posts: 3701 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 27 May 2004Reply With Quote
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Having shot High Power and NRA Long Range matches for some years I early on would do a break in period regardless of quality of barrel.
Reason simply that more experienced shooters advised me to do so, but eventually ceased to do so and can honestly say did not suffer for lack of break in being done. If done properly** it can not hurt the barrel and if it gives you an extra thought of encouragement, go with it.
Be aware that if you do a break in process, loads are good, well bedded rifle, good sight system, you have no excuse for poor scores other than yourself.

** As to properly breaking in a barrel process there are many differing ideas how to do that and each person claiming their process will swear that it is "the only way" and insist that it only be done when there is a full moon, it's a black art known only by a chosen few mortals.
 
Posts: 1050 | Location: S.Charleston, WV | Registered: 18 June 2012Reply With Quote
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Well taking all answers in stride seems to be a 50/50 do or don't. In lieu of that being "it can't hurt" I think I'll still go with a break in session. The one I have followed is 1 round run a brush with solvent to clean and then patches, then light oil patch, this being done 10 times, then 3 shots at a time followed with same clean and oil after each 3 shot group, this being done 5 times, then 5 shot groups at a time with clean and oil procedure after every 5 shot group, this being done 5 times. Then all done and good. Am I following the correct procedure?


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Posts: 69 | Location: caseyville, IL | Registered: 11 January 2012Reply With Quote
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But it CAN hurt. You are using up barrel life, spending money on components, and taking up your time for an activity of that has no proven benefit. If you feel you must, clean after every fourth shot. That way you have one fouler and three shots of load development so at least you are accomplishing something.

Also, I do not recommend the light oil patch immediately prior to shooting. If and when that oil gets into the chamber, and it will even when using a bore guide, you will see pressures spike because the case will not have a good grip on the chamber.

Clean with a good copper solvent like Bore Tech Eliminator between shot groups and do not overdo the cleaning. After Eliminator use a dry patch or two, the follow up with 90%+ alcohol, then another dry patch. The last patch of alcohol and then dry patch should be carefully done without a bore guide to ensure the chamber is clean and dry.
 
Posts: 3701 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 27 May 2004Reply With Quote
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I see your point INTJ. Especially if breaking in a 300 Win Mag or so. Most likely going with procedure I wrote would break in more than the barrel. More like shoulder also. I was kinda of wondering also with all the brass brush scrubbing that couldn't be good for longevity. I will stick with light cleaning, shoot and enjoy and then clean/oil after each shooting session. Thanks for all the info.


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Posts: 69 | Location: caseyville, IL | Registered: 11 January 2012Reply With Quote
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I have always wondered about the laborious procedure some shooters go thru to break in a barrel. Years back I was at the Super Shoot and asked George Kelbley how he broke in a barrel. He said, "Shoot fifteen shots and clean it".

Since I had always regarded the methods some used as overly anal and somewhat silly, I took George at his word. The results... I've been blessed by having a few really good shooting bench guns. When I could get a handle on conditions (a rare occurance.) I shot very well indeed. When conditions baffled me (often) I didn't.

There was no evidence that breaking in or not breaking in had anything to do with it.


Dick Wright
 
Posts: 669 | Location: Michigan | Registered: 27 March 2014Reply With Quote
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Shoot and clean for each of the first 10 is a great way to start !
 
Posts: 2232 | Registered: 25 June 2016Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Dick Wright:
I have always wondered about the laborious procedure some shooters go thru to break in a barrel. Years back I was at the Super Shoot and asked George Kelbley how he broke in a barrel. He said, "Shoot fifteen shots and clean it".

Since I had always regarded to methods some used and overly anal and somewhat silly, I took George at his word. The results... I've been blessed by having a few really good shooting bench guns. When I could get a handle on conditions (a rare occurance.) I shot very well indeed. When conditions baffled me (often) I didn't.

There was no evidence that breaking in or not breaking in had anything to do with it.


Dick,

I used to break in barrels, and most likely I read an article in Precision Shooting explaining how it was pointless. Then I tested it for myself and haven't used any break-in procedure since. I REALLY miss that magazine.......
 
Posts: 3701 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 27 May 2004Reply With Quote
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I would almost bet that 99% of shooters would even know what they are "breaking in".
Tell me, on a lapped custom barrel, what needs breaking in?
 
Posts: 8748 | Location: Poetry, Texas | Registered: 28 November 2004Reply With Quote
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I think only the throat


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Posts: 5169 | Location: Minnesota | Registered: 10 July 2002Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Jim Kobe:
I think only the throat



A wise man. The 1% has spoken.
 
Posts: 8748 | Location: Poetry, Texas | Registered: 28 November 2004Reply With Quote
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I think that applies on button rifled, lapped barrels. I d the break in thing myself and I use mostly cut rifled barrels......

If cleaning is done correctly it can't hurt anything, that's for sure, and unless you shoot some seriously overbore Eargesplitten Loudenboomer the twenty break in shots aren't doing anything to barrel life.

IMHO I think it makes barrels copper foul less, cleaning the copper out and smoothing ma shine marks is what I think I'm doing in those first shots and cleaning edges on the rifling leads for sure........ I take special care to do this on factory barrels. At the time im am doing this I am zeroing the rifle and fire forming my brass to the chamber as well.

.
 
Posts: 38652 | Location: Crosby and Barksdale, Texas | Registered: 18 September 2006Reply With Quote
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Jim,

I don't break-in cut rifled barrels or factory barrels either and see no difference from when I did. The issue is there is no real way to test this without a time machine, so when it comes to breaking in barrels, no one is ever wrong........
 
Posts: 3701 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 27 May 2004Reply With Quote
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quote:
The issue is there is no real way to test this without a time machine, so when it comes to breaking in barrels, no one is ever wrong........


Agreed. We each have our own voodoo!
 
Posts: 38652 | Location: Crosby and Barksdale, Texas | Registered: 18 September 2006Reply With Quote
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Agreed. We each have our own voodoo!

Some premium barrel mfg. recommend the shoot 1 and clean, up to 15 or so rounds. mainly to smooth out the throat. I did this on a Douglas S.S. barrel and the throat moved over .050". I sent tne barrel back and they replaced it and thought it was from aggressive cleaning. now on a new barrel I clean about every 15-20 rounds. I don't know if it makes any difference at all. the throat still moved but not as much
 
Posts: 2040 | Location: Ohio | Registered: 26 June 2000Reply With Quote
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Let me throw my stick on the fire to keep the pot boiling. I've never practiced any sort of barrel break-in. However, on any new barrel I get, whether factory or custom, I give the bore 500 strokes with a patch wrapped brush soaked in JB paste. You can do it good weather or bad, day or night, and you don't have to do it all at once. And you can definitely feel the barrel smooth out as you go.


Aim for the exit hole
 
Posts: 4348 | Location: middle tenn | Registered: 09 December 2009Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by wasbeeman:
Let me throw my stick on the fire to keep the pot boiling. I've never practiced any sort of barrel break-in. However, on any new barrel I get, whether factory or custom, I give the bore 500 strokes with a patch wrapped brush soaked in JB paste. You can do it good weather or bad, day or night, and you don't have to do it all at once. And you can definitely feel the barrel smooth out as you go.


I can see this on a factory barrel.

Not sure about a custom barrel or not.
 
Posts: 6932 | Location: New Mexico | Registered: 10 October 2012Reply With Quote
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Personally for me I just shoot them, and sometimes I clean them.

Until I moved to Germany I had not lived anywhere with any kind of humidity in years.
 
Posts: 6932 | Location: New Mexico | Registered: 10 October 2012Reply With Quote
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I guess, being dumber than a bag of rocks, I don't understand what the breaking in, "shoot one, clean, shoot two, clean, etc." accomplishes that unbreaking in of "shoot ten or forty, clean, etc" doesn't accomplish.


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Posts: 17099 | Location: Texas USA | Registered: 07 May 2001Reply With Quote
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Well you sure,aint dumb......

But the theory is that instead of filling up tool marks with copper. You clean all copper between shots and burnish the tool marks, you cant burnish if the tool marks are full of copper.

I typically shoot one then clean all copper for the first ten shots then do two five shot groups, cleaning all copper between groups. Usually that's all i find necessary.

During this procedure i typically find that as i go copper fouling reduces rapidly in cut rifle and hammer forged barrels, and makes cleaning easier for the useful life of the barrel.

I have also seemed to find after doing this my first shot from a clean barrel stays in the group, instead of having to shoot foulers before accuracy settls down.

But as you can deduce from the above opinions vary........
 
Posts: 38652 | Location: Crosby and Barksdale, Texas | Registered: 18 September 2006Reply With Quote
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It seems like it might matter with factory ($2 barrels) more than with a custom hand lapped barrel ($370 plus installation so $850).
 
Posts: 6932 | Location: New Mexico | Registered: 10 October 2012Reply With Quote
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I did the barrel break in procedure on three rifles. rem 700 Sendero in 308, Savage 110FP in 308 and a Sako 75 hunter in 30-06. Guess which rifle shot the best out of the three. The Sako. Our old range hosted the Crawfish Invitational bench rest matches so had a pretty good idea of how to break in a barrel. Plus you got to meet some of the most accurate shooters in the world.
Frank
 
Posts: 172 | Registered: 16 November 2008Reply With Quote
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quote:
Our old range hosted the Crawfish Invitational bench rest matches so had a pretty good idea of how to break in a barrel. Plus you got to meet some of the most accurate shooters in the world


Did you also stay in a Holiday Inn?


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Posts: 1220 | Registered: 15 December 2008Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by DocEd:
quote:
Our old range hosted the Crawfish Invitational bench rest matches so had a pretty good idea of how to break in a barrel. Plus you got to meet some of the most accurate shooters in the world


Did you also stay in a Holiday Inn?


Actually when I went to the Crawfish shoot in Lafayette I stayed at the Hojo Inn.
 
Posts: 8748 | Location: Poetry, Texas | Registered: 28 November 2004Reply With Quote
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Take nothing away from Bench shooters, but "meet the most accurate SHOOTERS in the world..." is a bit of a stretch. That title will belong to some who will be at Atterbury, Indiana in a couple weeks and at Camp Perry nest week. A "bench" is not to be found on either range property, only a sling/mat/spotting scope/micrometer "iron" sights and skill of the rifleman. Minimum range 200yds. and maximum range 1000yds. In order to move upward in classification from Marksman Unclassified to High Master some 240rnds worth of matches are to be recorded to do so. A one day high score is not significant if you can't put a series of those scores together totaling 240rnds. Lucky days or fluke scores aren't of much value. I shoot at local range with devoted Bench shooter and if wind is kicking up a bit he gives up and says more wind than he likes?? He uses a scope that could see people on the moon with and refuses to turn his wind drum to compensate for the wind?? Barrel on some of his rifles are about the size of your wrist, very beefy stock, minutely adjustable rests, and weighs in at something over 25lbs. The rifles are accurate, but not due to the rifleman.
 
Posts: 1050 | Location: S.Charleston, WV | Registered: 18 June 2012Reply With Quote
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Bench rest, long range, etc: He that correctly dopes the wind, wins. Sorry, off topic.


Aim for the exit hole
 
Posts: 4348 | Location: middle tenn | Registered: 09 December 2009Reply With Quote
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Take nothing away from Bench shooters
Your whole post did that.
I think the topic is about barrel break in, not my sport is more challenging than another.
 
Posts: 8748 | Location: Poetry, Texas | Registered: 28 November 2004Reply With Quote
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"Your whole post did that."

Precisely.


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Posts: 1220 | Registered: 15 December 2008Reply With Quote
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Yeah but that's how HP shooters roll. They think they know everything about shooting. I found that former Highpower shooters didn't do so well at 1K BR. So much for them being superior marksmen.....
 
Posts: 3701 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 27 May 2004Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by butchlambert:
quote:
Take nothing away from Bench shooters
Your whole post did that.
I think the topic is about barrel break in, not my sport is more challenging than another.


tu2
 
Posts: 38652 | Location: Crosby and Barksdale, Texas | Registered: 18 September 2006Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by JTEX:
quote:
Originally posted by butchlambert:
quote:
Take nothing away from Bench shooters
Your whole post did that.
I think the topic is about barrel break in, not my sport is more challenging than another.


tu2


It's too late for that. We are now measuring our male parts and Instructor started it...........

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Posts: 3701 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 27 May 2004Reply With Quote
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As a High Power shooter I believe we are a bunch of dumb asses. Betweeen hauling gear up and down multiple firing lines, pulling targets, wearing heavy jackets in the heat, I am still waiting for the fun to start.

The barrel on my current service rifle is a Shilen. I shot it a half a dozen times, cleaned the barrel and called it "broken in".

Yesterday I cleaned it after shooting 126 rounds and very very little copper came out. I have held the belief a good high quality barrel does not require extensive break in, at least not for the shooting I do.
 
Posts: 2864 | Registered: 26 March 2008Reply With Quote
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We have a group of bench shooters doing 1000yd. matches and it is for group, not score. The group could be some 1" for 10 shots(not likely) and it can be anywhere on the target. Well, the target has a bulls eye and wonder why they just don't use a 6' square piece of white paper since the bulls eye is of no value?? Will say the guys at Douglas are turning in some super nice groups though at the 1000yd. "target" using a 20 caliber of all things and have shown some to me and in the area of 3" or so and that is .33 minute of angle at 1000yds and that is not bad at all.
 
Posts: 1050 | Location: S.Charleston, WV | Registered: 18 June 2012Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Instructor:
We have a group of bench shooters doing 1000yd. matches and it is for group, not score. The group could be some 1" for 10 shots(not likely) and it can be anywhere on the target. Well, the target has a bulls eye and wonder why they just don't use a 6' square piece of white paper since the bulls eye is of no value?? Will say the guys at Douglas are turning in some super nice groups though at the 1000yd. "target" using a 20 caliber of all things and have shown some to me and in the area of 3" or so and that is .33 minute of angle at 1000yds and that is not bad at all.



I've known Stan Taylor for quite some time. He and his crew make great barrels. Stan is very knowledgeable and a pleasure to deal with.
What is your opinion on barrel break in?
 
Posts: 8748 | Location: Poetry, Texas | Registered: 28 November 2004Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Instructor:
We have a group of bench shooters doing 1000yd. matches and it is for group, not score. The group could be some 1" for 10 shots(not likely) and it can be anywhere on the target. Well, the target has a bulls eye and wonder why they just don't use a 6' square piece of white paper since the bulls eye is of no value?? Will say the guys at Douglas are turning in some super nice groups though at the 1000yd. "target" using a 20 caliber of all things and have shown some to me and in the area of 3" or so and that is .33 minute of angle at 1000yds and that is not bad at all.


I shot NBRSA which shoots for group AND score. My best score was a 50-3x......with a 3" X-Ring....
 
Posts: 3701 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 27 May 2004Reply With Quote
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I have always considered a barrel broke in after load workup. No need to extend the wear any more than necessary. You may of course shoot all you want if it pleases. The barrel manufacturers will thank you for the business.

Joe
 
Posts: 1111 | Location: Blooming Grove, Tx. | Registered: 28 June 2012Reply With Quote
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Two relatively new rifles I have been shooting of late is an M14SA by LRB(7.62 NATO) and a Rem.700 w/ Douglas 26" 4 groove 308 caliber. I subscribe to a break in period of sorts just from old habit, but both of these rifles were given the same break in procedure of firing dozen or so rounds w/ cleaning for each shot, then 3 groups of 5 shots then clean. These are "working rifles" in the sense that they are for match shooting(HP and LR) and the 14 sees rapid firing of 10 shots in 60 and 80 second stages, 20 rnds. rapid and 30 rnds. slow fire.
The 14 has a Saco-Lowell National Match barrel offered by LRB and believe that the break in on the barrel is beneficial since the barrel is going to see a lot of heat and erosion from the get go. With SMK 155 Palma bullets, LC brass, 210M primers and IMR4895 powder the rifle will deliver shots at 200yds. one on top of the other using issue NM sights, eats up the X ring. As for the Rem/Douglas rifle it is a pleasure to shoot w/ micrometer sights and actually it is boring for it also gives good accuracy and it also experiences high heat for a typical LR match of whatever distance 600-1000yds is 30minutes for sight in shots and 20rnds. for record. Normally take some 2-3 sight in shots, then go for record and would be done within 20 minutes or so and the barrel is far too hot to touch. I tend to think the break in procedure on both of these rifle prepares the bore for such treatment and some say just wearing out the barrels by doing so. Well, if you are a shooter working your rifles you are going to wear out the barrel regardless. Either of these rifles based on previous experience with similar rifles will shoot 1moa for something in the area of 2500 rounds before re barreling is required. Will say that using Douglas's bore scope system the bores on most any barrel seeing that much repeated heat will show crazing/cracking of the surface of the bore near the breech end and throat erosion after something less than 1000 rounds, but again, they are working rifles not safe queens nor bench rifles. Yes, Tim (owner) and Stan are good folks and have used all manner of barrels over the years and find no fault with a Douglas barrel and give very good service. If scores are not what they should be it is not due to the wind(much over used excuse,) loads, trigger, or barrel but the trigger puller.
 
Posts: 1050 | Location: S.Charleston, WV | Registered: 18 June 2012Reply With Quote
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since we all seem to spit a hair on this subject,I will admit being as guity. Although I fire jacketed, I also cast my own. For " breaking down the lands" of any possible tool marks,etc. I use a cast bullet sized to the bore + lapped w/ cutting oil + valve lapping compound.20 rounds will clean it up with no "rough spots"
'


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Posts: 13760 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: 11 March 2013Reply With Quote
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