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Thread: Barrel Break-in Procedure

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Beaumont, Texas
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    Question Barrel Break-in Procedure

    Hello shooters. Can anyone recommend a good procedure for breaking in a new rifle barrel? The barrel is 22 inches long, made of carbon steel and chambered for 30-06. I have looked at three different manufacturer's sites and have three totally different procedures. Any suggestions?

    John in Texas

  2. #2

    Default Re: Barrel Break-in Procedure

    I suggest you just use it. Normal use of a hunting rifle will break it in the same eventually, but if you just use it then you get to use those shots for practice or hunting instead of on breaking it in.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    RI
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    1,802

    Default Re: Barrel Break-in Procedure

    I forget which big match grade barrel maker said barrel break in was a waste of time but one did.
    Fire without movement is a waste, movement without fire is suicide.

    Please excuse all grammar and punctuation mistakes. I'm posting from my phone.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    DITHOT
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    Default Re: Barrel Break-in Procedure

    Ryan, was it Gale McMillan?

    http://www.6mmbr.com/GailMcMbreakin.html

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Littleton, CO
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    116

    Default Re: Barrel Break-in Procedure

    It really depends on your barrel. Every barrel is differant, even from barrel to barrel from the same lot/vendor.
    Look at how your barrel is fowling. I've had barrels that take as many as 150 rounds or as little as 10 rounds to break in from the same vendor.

    It is very true that improper cleaning can reduceed service life of a barrel. I would spend the extra money and get a quality rod/bore guide (Bore Tech, Dewey) and take time and care to properly clean. The following is from Krieger. Just food for thought.

    KRIEGER BARREL BREAK-IN & CLEANING: With any premium barrel that has been finish lapped -- such as your Krieger Barrel --, the lay or direction of the finish is in the direction of the bullet travel, so fouling is minimal compared to a barrel with internal tooling marks. This is true of any properly finish-lapped barrel regardless of how it is rifled. If it is not finish-lapped, there will be reamer marks left in the bore that are directly across the direction of the bullet travel. This occurs even in a button-rifled barrel as the button cannot completely iron out these reamer marks. Because the lay of the finish is in the direction of the bullet travel, very little is done to the bore during break-in, but the throat is another story. When your barrel is chambered, by necessity there are reamer marks left in the throat that are across the lands, i.e. across the direction of the bullet travel. In a new barrel they are very distinct; much like the teeth on a very fine file. When the bullet is forced into the throat, copper dust is removed from the jacket material and released into the gas which at this temperature and pressure is actually a plasma. The copper dust is vaporized in this plasma and is carried down the barrel. As the gas expands and cools, the copper comes out of suspension and is deposited in the bore. This makes it appear as if the source of the fouling is the bore when it is actually for the most part the new throat. If this copper is allowed to stay in the bore, and subsequent bullets and deposits are fired over it, copper which adheres well to itself, will build up quickly and may be difficult to remove later. So when we break in a barrel, our goal is to get the throat “polished without allowing copper to build up in the bore. This is the reasoning for the fire-one-shot-and-clean procedure. Every barrel will vary slightly in how many rounds they take to break in For example a chrome moly barrel may take longer to break in than stainless steel because it is more abrasion resistant even though it is a similar hardness. Also chrome moly has a little more of an affinity for copper than stainless steel so it will usually show a little more color if you are using a chemical cleaner. Rim Fire barrels can take an extremely long time to break in, sometimes requiring several hundred rounds or more. But cleaning can be lengthened to every 25-50 rounds. The break-in procedure and the cleaning procedure are really the same except for the frequency. Remember the goal is to get or keep the barrel clean while breaking in the throat with bullets being fired over it. Finally, the best way to tell if the barrel is broken in is to observe the patches; i.e. when the fouling is reduced. This is better than some set number of cycles of shoot and clean as many owners report practically no fouling after the first few shots, and more break-in would be pointless. Conversely, if more is required, a set number would not address that either. Besides, cleaning is not a completely benign procedure so it should be done carefully and no more than necessary. CLEANING: This section on cleaning is not intended to be a detailed instruction, but rather to point out a few do's and don'ts. Instructions furnished with bore cleaners, equipment, etc. should be followed unless they would conflict with these do's and don'ts. You should use a good quality one piece coated cleaning rod with a freely rotating handle and a rod guide that fits both your receiver raceway and the rod snugly. How straight and how snug? The object is to make sure the rod cannot touch the bore. With M14/M1 Garand barrels a good rod and muzzle guide set-up is especially important as all the cleaning must be done from the muzzle. Even slight damage to the barrel crown is extremely detrimental to accuracy. There are two basic types of bore cleaners, chemical and abrasive. The chemical cleaners are usually a blend of various ingredients including oils, solvents, and ammonia (in copper solvents). The abrasive cleaners generally contain no chemical solvents and are an oil, wax, or grease base with an extremely fine abrasive such as chalk, clay, or gypsum. We recommend the use of good quality, name brand chemical cleaners on a proper fitting patch/jag combination for your particular bore size and good quality properly sized nylon or bronze brushes. So what is the proper way to use them? First, not all chemical cleaners are compatible with each other. Some, when used together can cause severe pitting of the barrel, even stainless steel barrels. It is fine to use two different cleaners as long as you completely dry the bore of the first cleaner from the barrel before cleaning with the second. And, of course, never mix them in the same bottle. NOTE: Some copper solvents contain a high percentage of ammonia. This makes them a great copper solvent, but if left in the bore too long, can damage/corrode the steel. Do not leave these chemicals in a bore any longer than 10-15 minutes MAXIMUM! DO NOT EVER use straight ammonia to clean a barrel. Follow instructions on the bottle as far as soak time, etc. Always clean from the breech whenever possible, pushing the patch up to the muzzle and then back without completely exiting the muzzle. If you exit the muzzle, the rod is going to touch the bore and be dragged back in across the crown followed by the patch or brush. Try to avoid dragging items in and out of the muzzle; it will eventually cause uneven wear of the crown. Accuracy will suffer and this can lead you to believe the barrel is shot out, when in fact; it still may have a lot of serviceable life left. A barrel with a worn or damaged crown can be re-crowned and accuracy will usually return. Have the crown checked by a competent gunsmith before giving up on a barrel that may otherwise be in good condition. This information is intended to touch on the critical areas of break-in and cleaning and is not intended as a complete, step-by-step guide or recommendation of any product. Use a quality one piece cleaning rod that is vinyl coated or carbon fiber, a rod guide proper for the action you are cleaning, and chemicals, jags, patches, and brushes that you have determined work best for you. There is no “right answer to cleaning products and equipment; however under NO circumstances should you use a stainless brush. If you choose to use brushes in your cleaning use only quality bronze phosphor brushes or nylon. Clean them after every use to extend their life. Copper solvents will dissolve a bronze brush rather quickly. BREAK IN: The following is a guide to break-in based on our experience. This is not a hard and fast rule, only a guide. Some barrel, chamber, bullet, primer, powder, pressure, velocity etc. combinations may require more cycles some less. It is a good idea to just observe what the barrel is telling you with its fouling pattern and the patches. But once it is broken in, there is no need to continue breaking it in. Initially you should perform the shoot-one-shot-and-clean cycle for five shots. If fouling hasn't reduced, fire five more cycles and so on until fouling begins to drop off. At that point shoot three shots before cleaning and observe. If fouling is reduced, fire five shots before cleaning. Do not be alarmed if your seating depth gets longer during break in. This is typical of the “high spots in the throat being knocked down during this procedure. It is not uncommon for throat length to grow .005-.030 from a fresh unfired chamber during break in. Stainless - 5-10 one-shot cycles, 1 three-shot cycle 1 five-shot cycle. Chrome moly - 5 - 25 - one-shot cycles, 2 - three-shot cycles, 1 - five-shot cycle. SERVICE LIFE: Quite often we get asked about the service life of a barrel or how long will my barrel last? The truth is a complicated result of many factors; ultimately service life is determined by a combination of cartridge, cleaning practices, shooting style, etc. A barrel is “Shot Out or at the end of its service life when the throat erosion has resulted in the bullet no longer able to be seated to touch the lands and still remain in the case by a reasonable amount, and heat checking/cracking has progressed several inches forward of the throat. These are the normal determining factors that cause degradation in accuracy from when the barrel was ‘fresh or new. Cartridge choice, powder selection, pressure (a combination of powder selection/amount, bullet weight, and cartridge design), and cleaning procedures will ALL have an effect on how long of a service life your particular barrel has. No two pieces of barrel steel will have the same exact properties either. We can give an “average barrel life for a particular cartridge if it is a common one used in competition, but that is no guarantee of any round count due to all of the listed factors above. Most cartridge designs larger than .223 Rem or .308 Win in powder capacity to bore ratio will begin to erode the throat measurably in less than 1000 rounds.

    RandallH

    Also read this: http://www.rifle-accuracy-reports.co...-break-in.html
    Last edited by RandallH; 07-02-2015 at 08:48 AM.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2003
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    Beaumont, Texas
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    Default Re: Barrel Break-in Procedure

    RandallH. Thank you so much for taking the time to submit such a detailed response. The information is exactly what I was looking for.

    John in Texas

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Littleton, CO
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    Default Re: Barrel Break-in Procedure

    John,

    Glad I could help.

    Speedy (Link at bottom of my post) is back in Texas now. Not sure exactely where.
    I met him at Trinidad J.C. as part of the summer N.R.A. program.
    He is a great guy and always willing to share his knowledge of the sport.
    I am sharing what he taught me.

    RandallH

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Beaumont, Texas
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Barrel Break-in Procedure

    RandallH. Speedy is in Roanoke, Texas. Roanoak is about midway between Fort Worth and Denton. I wish he was closer to me. His shop seems like a great place to drink coffee and hang out. I live in southeast Texas about an 8 hour drive in good traffic.
    John in
    Texas
    Last edited by John in Texas; 07-03-2015 at 09:50 AM.

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