Barrel break-in....what are your time honored practices ?

Thread starter #1

Dub

Top Chef
I'm interested in hearing what have been successful practices for you regarding rifle barrel break-in.


I know some folks frown on the very mention of it.

Some, however, have prolonged steps they take and seem to believe they gain long term benefits throughout the life of the barrel.


I'm wanting to improve over what I've done in the past, but don't wish to get locked down by overly slow methods if they aren't productive.



Mostly, I've approached everything in the past in a hurried fashion....mainly just wanting to get a gun ready for deer season. New gun had initial pass with patch of Butch's and then some dry patches. Range session after bore sighting, obtain scope zero to 1.5" high at 100yd. Take it home, clean it well, back to the range for a second session to confirm zero.....then hunt with it...cleaning again at end of season. Rinse & repeat annually.



Now, I am more focused on the long term performance over the lifetime of the barrel.....and yes, I plan on shooting some of them to the point where they are worn out and will be replaced.

I'll now have more time and demonstrated patience, hopefully. After all it's taken me years to get back to shooting again....a slower start at this point won't hinder me.



The guns I'm currently working on are:
  • AR15s
  • AR10 being set up for mid-long range steel banging
  • Bolt action hunting
  • Bolt action target guns for mid-long range steel banging
  • Bolt action rimfire for precision shooting

Each of these will have to be boresighted & optic zero'd. Can carry cleaning rods & gear to do it all during the sight in sessions.

Have rods, bore guides, jags, brushes & the following on hand:
  • Kroil
  • Gibbs
  • Ballistol
  • Montana Extreme (@Jester896 pointed me in that direction (y))
  • Butch's Bore Shine
  • Hoppe's
  • BoreTech Rimfire
 

Robert28

Senior Member
I’ve never bothered with a break in method on my AR’s, I just shoot them. But none of mine are used for precision, just home defense and fun.
Now, when I get a new deer rifle I clean the entire gun, like a normal clean, nothing over the top. Take it out and shoot 3-5 rounds of a certain type of hunting ammo and see how it groups. My first few shots are really just zero to get on paper and sort of get an idea where I need to dial the scope. Then I might run a bore snake down the barrel at the range, but that’s it. If it likes that brand of ammo, I’ll shoot 5 more shots. If it doesn’t, I’ll try another box of something else. This isn’t everyone’s method but it’s always worked for me for some reason.
Handguns I’ve never bothered to break in a barrel, I just break in the gun and it’s gotta pass my 100 round test without failure before I start trusting it. I’ll clean it after that 100 round session.
 

menhadenman

Senior Member
Kidding aside, my own opinion is that while folks might say it's a waste of time, I don't see how it'd hurt anything... with guys like David Tubb and other world record holders doing it and manufacturers recommending it, why not? I do a simpler version than the shoot-clean-shoot-clean but real similar. Who knows, maybe I'm wasting time? But I've got a few really accurate rifles and you can't go back in time.
 

FlipKing

Senior Member
Depends on what I buy. If I buy a $500 Savage I clean it to start with. Shoot it to sight in, and clean it after. If I buy a Ridgeline, I follow manufacturer recommendations. Might not help but at almost 2k, I'm gonna at least try. 🤣
 

Jester896

Senior Clown
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Here is a link to Bartlein's info and it even mentions the throat in it

i think both of these videos touch on the area of the throat pretty good. You will even find it in the Myth Busters from Brownell's and they also touch on the throat area.

the machine marks from the reamer is what you want to get a handle on. All of the barrel lapping goes in the direction of the bullet and is really fine. The reamer marks go across it in the throat area and that is where the issue will start.

What I believe you are trying to accomplish with a break in is to stop the barrel from copper fouling or really minimizing it. If you start by polishing the reamer marks down to something more reasonable it will not strip as much copper. There are several ways to do it. One is by firing bullets to smooth out the rough edges or by polishing the throat to to some degree to knock down the sharp edges that strip the copper. With bullets you need to do the shoot clean process. By not cleaning you just allow the copper to build on it and it doesn't take the sharp edges off nearly as fast. By cleaning you allow this process to start over each time.
 
Thread starter #10

Dub

Top Chef
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="
" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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Here is a link to Bartlein's info and it even mentions the throat in it

i think both of these videos touch on the area of the throat pretty good. You will even find it in the Myth Busters from Brownell's and they also touch on the throat area.

the machine marks from the reamer is what you want to get a handle on. All of the barrel lapping goes in the direction of the bullet and is really fine. The reamer marks go across it in the throat area and that is where the issue will start.

What I believe you are trying to accomplish with a break in is to stop the barrel from copper fouling or really minimizing it. If you start by polishing the reamer marks down to something more reasonable it will not strip as much copper. There are several ways to do it. One is by firing bullets to smooth out the rough edges or by polishing the throat to to some degree to knock down the sharp edges that strip the copper. With bullets you need to do the shoot clean process. By not cleaning you just allow the copper to build on it and it doesn't take the sharp edges off nearly as fast. By cleaning you allow this process to start over each time.


Great videos.

I like how Krieger focuses on the actual barrel condition and not some theoretical possibles.

Second video really helped me understand better what your are referring to. Excellent information and easy to follow the logic. Thank you.

Unrelated, but very impactful, are the comments about having to jump through hurdles to "satisfy" the anti-gun rules of YouTube. I've seen similar comments coming through more often on the other content I watch frequently....such as the Shawn Ryan Show (Vigilance Elite).

It's nuts.

We have to get control over our country again and stop this decline into the stupid.
 

Jester896

Senior Clown
forgot to put in the Bartlein link
https://www.bartleinbarrels.com/how-to-break-a-barrel-in

this is mainly for precision stuff.
factory rifles for hunting have more areas with chatter marks if you will. It may be more important to lap to a degree them than a precision barrel.

I think it took about 1500 rounds to smooth up my 700P. Most factory hunting rifles never see that many rounds for some odd reason

a good borescope can be very handy
 
Last edited:
Hey @Dub , there's a fella named Frank at Bartlein Barrels that's shared this guide below... he knows his stuff and has some good points. The breaking in that I do is about like this.





Breaking In the barrel.....
The age old question, "Breaking in the New Barrel". Opinions vary a lot here, and this is a very subjective topic as well. For the most part, the only thing you are breaking in, is the throat area of the barrel. The nicer the finish that the finish reamer or throating reamer leaves, the faster the throat will polish/break in. A rough throat can take longer to break in and also cause copper fouling. Some shooters think it's the barrel has a problem but it could be from when it was chambered.

Shoot one round and clean for the first two rounds individually. Look to see what the barrel is telling you. If I'm getting little to no copper out of it, I sit down and shoot the gun. Say 4 - 5 round groups and then clean. If the barrel cleans easily and shoots well, we consider it done.
If the barrel shows some copper and or is taking a little longer to clean after the first two, shoot a group of 3 rounds and clean. Then a group of 5 and clean.
After you shoot the 3rd group and 5th group, watch how long it takes to clean. Also notice your group sizes. If the group sizes are good and the cleaning is getting easier or is staying the same, then shoot 4 - 5 round groups.
If fouling appears to be heavy and taking a while to clean, notice your group sizes. If group sizes are good and not going sour, you don't have a fouling problem. Some barrels will clean easier than others. Some barrels may take a little longer to break in. Remember the throat. Fouling can start all the way from here. We have noticed sometimes that even up to approximately 100 rounds, a barrel can show signs of a lot of copper, but it still shoots really well and then for no apparent reason, you will notice little to no copper and or it will start to clean easier.
It's been said that you dont' have to clean the gun/barrel....
I don't agree with the above statement. I shoot them....I clean them. Why? The biggest reason is carbon build up/fouling. The carbon fouling will keep building up and can cause pressure issues/problems. Also as the barrel wears over time it won't hold accuracy as long between strings of firing like when it was new. This is due to the throat area right in front of the chamber will get rougher over time. When this happens it will cause fouling to go up. Also some calibers for a easy comparison of .308win. vs.. 300wm. Over bore capacity cartridges will lead the fouling to build up faster. Same goes for other calibers like 6BR vs.. 243win. Etc....
Is there a set number of rounds to go in between cleanings? No not really. Again it kinda goes with what the barrel is chambered in etc as my rule of thumb I try not to let the
barrel go more than a 100 rounds in between cleanings.
The shooter has to learn how to pay attention to the gun/barrel. It will tell you how often it needs to be cleaned etc but you have to learn how to read it.
Any questions or problems a customer might have we would prefer you call before you starting doing things to the barrel you shouldn't do.

Best Regards, Frank Bartlein Barrels Inc.
 
forgot to put in the Bartlein link
https://www.bartleinbarrels.com/how-to-break-a-barrel-in

this is mainly for precision stuff.
factory rifles for hunting have more areas with chatter marks if you will. It may be more important to lap to a degree them than a precision barrel.

I think it took about 1500 rounds to smooth up my 700P. Most factory hunting rifles never see that many rounds for some odd reason

a good borescope can be very handy
Looks like the same stuff, my bad!

What bore scope do you use?
 
If it is a new gun, I usually clean it before shooting it, often amazed at the stuff
in a new barrel. I recently had a long time friend customize a couple of Ruger
number 1's for me and asked about breaking the barrels in. He said shoot them
and then clean them when done. A very good gunsmith and long range shooter,
I followed his advice and my 7-08 shoots a 1/2 moa at 100 yards, the 30-30 I still have to take out and shoot.
 

Darkhorse

Senior Member
Does it make any difference? I still don't know.
For years I used no cleaning regimen at all, just shot them a lot and cleaned a little. When I bought my 7mm mag. M700 I just started shooting it and mostly NOT cleaning. I was young then and it was just to much trouble.
By the time I got my 300 Winchester Mag. I had got a lot more sophisticated. Read a lot more about barrel break in. First thing I did was give it a good cleaning. Then at the range I would shoot 3 shots, then cool and clean. Then repeat. I was also shooting other guns so the wait didn't seem that long. After about 50 shots I would shoot 15 shots, clean, and cool.
By now I had shot a good many rounds and was getting fair groups but not spectacular. But the next range trip my groups were all at once shooting tiny groups. Looking back at my records I realized the group change came right at 100 rounds. Now I was getting from .188 to .250" groups.
And getting back to my 7mm mag. I bought back in 1979 or 1980, I was starting to question the barrel. It had been shot a lot with mostly max. loads. And when I switched to the 300 mag. it was shooting in the 3/4" range. So I took it out to hunt with it and couldn't get a group. I tried to run a dollar bill between the barrel and stock and it wouldn't go. The fore end had warped severely. I decided to bed the stock and work the trigger. And to load some rounds that were prepared for accuracy.
The results were amazing to me. The rifle started printing some .250" groups right off.
The best one so far is .188" shot with a dirty rifle. I don't think I need a new barrel after all.
I don't use any of the fancy cleaners either. I've always used Hoppe's. Don't see a reason to stop now.
But I've decided from now on to break in a new barrel like I broke in my 300 magnum. Can't hurt.
 

rmp

Senior Member
I really like this guys attitude and sense of humor. Cow barrels and all...but I didn't enjoy seeing him toss that Kimber round. Looks like it was a nice 8400.

I've never done any formal break-in of any type. The Smiths I've dealt with just told me to go shoot it and clean it when's it's dirty. I can't see how it would hurt if you decided to do some special wipe, stand on one leg, shoot, etc. ;)

xI don't mess with all the cleaning products much anymore. Everybody has a "special" formula. I use Wipe-Out and occasionally Montana Extreme.

In the end, just do what helps you sleep better at night.
 
Well if your deciding to do or not to do it. You have to adjust the sights either way, so a little cleaning between certainly will not be a great detriment on your ammo supplies. And you get to shoot your new gun. win/win.
 
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