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Old October 7, 2009, 06:02 AM   #1
spodwo
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Break in Period? What does that actually do and mean?

I have read SO many threads about a pistol not working and the response is "you need to break it in", "fire a couple of hundred rounds to break it in"...etc.

This apparently is well accepted by all. I have even stated as such but then I got to thinking....essentially WHAT gets broke in? What actually happens in the 2-300 rounds fired to the pistol?

When someone fires a new semi - auto pistol [versus a wheel gun - does that actually need to "break in"?] some perform flawless. If one doesn't perform well then "break it in" and it will work better becomes a very common response...

Outside of ammo variances/quality and shooting new "gunky" pistols [ones not getting cleaned before shooting] which can cause issues - what does "breaking in" actually do? I might add that there can also be user errors - "limp wristing" is a common reason for FTEs.

I am looking for specifics from the great masses here....

One think I can think of - the feed ramp gets "polished" by the bullet.

My thoughts, to an extent, are that something quality made should have little to no "break in" required. Also - "breaking it in" seems to be used as more of an excuse to a quality issue.

"Oh it will work better after you break it in..."

Thoughts?
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Old October 7, 2009, 06:10 AM   #2
spyderdude
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Some handguns especially 1911s are built to such tight tolerances, they need to have a live fire break in period to allow the parts to loosen up a bit and make the gun run better.... or something like that. Some people might recommend you fire 250 rounds through a gun to consider it "broken in" or you might hear other people say 500 rounds is the minimum. If you want to find out for sure, contact the manufacturer and see what they recommend.

Even quality gun manufacturers come out with a lemon every once in awhile.
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Old October 7, 2009, 06:28 AM   #3
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I've been asking the same question for years. I think a Break-in period is a bogus claim.

* "Parts loosen up" Just what exactly gets loose? If 200 rounds make it loose, then 2000 would make it fall apart.
* "The trigger gets smoother" In 200 rounds? Does your gun wear that fast?
* "Burrs are removed" Burrs where?
* "Parts are mated" They weren't before? The metal parts wear that fast?

If the pistol works one time then it should work all the time...unless it's a bad design from the start. Problems are not fixed by shooting.
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Old October 7, 2009, 06:28 AM   #4
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break in

Quote:
This apparently is well accepted by all.
Not by me. When I buy a gun, I want it to work 100% right from the box. So far that has been the case. I have ten different semi-auto pistols in calibers from .22 to .45. Two 1911s. They have all worked virtually flawlessly (with the right ammo) from the get go. One of the 1911s - a Gold Cup - has at least 50K rounds through it. I can count the FTFs on the fingers of one hand. Maybe hard to believe, but true nonetheless.
If there is anything like a break in period, it is when the shooter is testing ammo to determine what is best for a particular gun. For example, one of my .22s - a High Standard - does not like CCI ammo but it will shoot Federal 711 without a hiccup. The 1911s (a Springfield and the Colt) don't seem to care.
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Old October 7, 2009, 07:15 AM   #5
Uncle Malice
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I haven't had any guns that really need a break in period, but I certainly understand the concept.

Have you ever worked with machining tools?? The slide and frame(of metal framed pistols) are machined out of pieces of metal. This can mean minor surface inconsistencies.

When you have two metal surfaces rubbing against each other that are freshly cut out of metal, you don't think that they will smooth out after several hundred high impact trips back and forth??

That doesn't mean the pistol will wear down after being shot a few thousand times... not ALL guns require a break in period, but it's a good suggestion to make sure that any minor surface imperfections are essentially polished out by the parts moving against each other.

Why is this a hard concept to understand?
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Old October 7, 2009, 07:46 AM   #6
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I bought a NIB SA Champion. Brought it home & cleaned it before shooting it. It was an FTF//FTE machine.

So, I called Deb in CS.

After asking some questions about ammo & mags she says break it in. I asked her what/how to break it in.

Her answer:
500 rds of Winchester White Box Ammo. Clean as needed. Use high quality mags.

It was almost magic. By the time I'd hit the 500 rd mark my problems were gone.

Now I will have an occational FTRTB, caused by handloaded LSWC.

Some guns just run right out of the box & others need a break in period.
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Old October 7, 2009, 08:52 AM   #7
spodwo
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Quote:
essentially polished out by the parts moving against

Quote:
Why is this a hard concept to understand?
It is NOT hard to understand - metal on metal wears. But with that line of thought - you could rack the slide several hundred times over a couple of days while sitting in front of the TV and save the ammo cost. Seems less expensive to do...

I understand the concept but I also think that breaking in is sometimes used as fanboy excuses for manufacturers lack of quality.

Specifically - what else does putting 500 rounds through do that polishing the ramp and hand racking the slide NOT do?

What else does "breaking it in" specifically do?

I have heard two examples of what putting bullets down the tube does and one is from me...
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Old October 7, 2009, 09:20 AM   #8
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I've never had to break in a gun,but i still will put at least 200 rounds through it just to see how it will do with different types of ammo.I need to know what my guns will shoot good and where my ammo is going.
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Old October 7, 2009, 09:50 AM   #9
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somewhat like the manufacture is telling you:

"We speared no expense [your $$ of course] in making this gun pre-out-of-sorts.
This is such a finely crafted piece of equipment that it needs some time and, at your expense, a couple hundred rounds of quality ammo fired through it.
This will allow the parts to get to know, and learn to get along with, each other.

"The manufacture knows you understand these procedures are necessary because in buying our quality [ high priced] product you show yourself to be a discerning
consumer currant with the knowledge that spending more means buying better.

ps: If it still displays less than perfect performance after the initial break-in-period please repeat the process before calling our toll free India hot-line for assistance.

pps: When contact with us becomes necessary please note the number on your manual: it guarantees that your first consult will not have an Open Ticket charge.
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Old October 7, 2009, 10:04 AM   #10
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I don't keep a gun that requires a break-in to work properly. That means it was poorly manufactured from the beginning and critical parts are out of spec.

What some manufacturers (I won't mention any names) do is crudely fit parts together and hope that several hundred increasingly expensive rounds later the improperly fitted parts will grind themselves into submission and just barely begin to work.

No thanks.

I take my pistols out of their box, wipe them off, run a quick patch down the bore and start firing. If it doesn't work reliably from that point forward, it's sold or traded as I have no time for poorly designed or finished handguns. I certainly don't have the patience to expend $300+ worth of the ammo constantly clearing frustrating malfunctions hoping that eventually the faulty pistol begins working.

If that's how certain companies want to do business, they need to include a certificate for $300 worth of free ammo that's included with the purchase of their handguns.
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Old October 7, 2009, 10:19 AM   #11
Uncle Malice
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Quote:
But with that line of thought - you could rack the slide several hundred times over a couple of days while sitting in front of the TV and save the ammo cost. Seems less expensive to do...
I agree with that to an degree. It's true that this could help to an extent as well.. but you will NEVER generate the same amount of force and friction that firing a round does. SO do save some money... hand rack it a few hundred times.. then fire a hundred or two hundred rounds and see where it's at...

The guns that I hear of requiring the most break in period is 1911's... and that's because they are made to very tight specs. The metal is very close together. If it has a couple of malfunctions straight from the factory, that doesn't mean it's a bad gun or a lemon... it just needs to be smoothed out. I've seen many instances where Dan Wesson 1911's need to be broken in and then they work wonderfully. Does anyone think Dan Wesson makes crappy guns?? I sure don't.

I need a friend like Sturmgewehre who will sell me his guns at a discounted price after it has any kind of failure. lol.

This kind of stuff can be seen even in something as basic as a plastic Rubik's Cube. When you first take it out of the package it's dry and crummy to rotate. The rough plastic grinds together and makes it a chore to work with. Pop a few pieces out... pack a bit of Vaseline in to it... put it back together and work the cube over for a week or two. Once the Vaseline as lubed up all the axis' and the plastic has been smoothed out by the sides all running together it works like well tunes machine. I understand that an $8 Rubik's Cube is totally different than a $2K 1911... but the basic principle is still the same.

Cheers.
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Old October 7, 2009, 10:44 AM   #12
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What actually happens in the 2-300 rounds fired to the pistol?
Any machined part will have irregularities in the surface, even the most mirror-polished piece. When two such parts mate, these irregularities rub against each other and may cause excess friction. This friction may cause the action to feel rough, or slow, or - in a worst case scenario - cause a failure. "Breaking in", otherwise known as "lapping" (you auto guys know about that), lets the parts rub together, smoothing each of them to a mirror image of the other.

I believe, while most guns will operate effectively from the factory, ANY gun benefits from a break-in period and will be smoother and more efficient afterwards. How long is the break-in period? As you fire the gun more and more, you will feel the trigger smooth and maybe lighten, and the slide moves more freely and easier. In a revolver, the trigger will lighten and the cylinder rotate more easily. Compare the feeling to ice skating before the Zamboni and after the Zamboni. As multi 1,000s of rounds are fired through it, the gun will go from new to breaking in to normal use to beginning to wear to worn out. Don't panic. Most handguns will take many, MANY more rounds through them that we'll ever fire in our lifetime before "wearing out".
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Old October 7, 2009, 10:46 AM   #13
spodwo
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This will allow the parts to get to know, and learn to get along with, each other.
Is this a firearm or a group therapy session?

Pretty funny stuff, claude and to a degree - that is what I am hearing manjufacturers saying sometime.
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Old October 7, 2009, 10:52 AM   #14
spodwo
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I know there are many types of trigger and firing pin arrangements...it seems like some would have less "breaking in". For example - my PT709 has a nice trigger for the size and price point of a pistol.

The best double action trigger pull - out of box - is my Colt Python. And I have to tell you that the overally the best trigger pull of a revolver - was my .357 Dan Wesson. It rivaled the pull of the Python.

So having said that - the "break in" on those two, to me, were non existent.

Going back to semi autos - it seems to me that the more modern composite type pistols need less of a break in than the old all metal types - if you go with the logic of "wearing it down"...
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Old October 7, 2009, 10:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
I understand the concept but I also think that breaking in is sometimes used as fanboy excuses for manufacturers lack of quality.
I had Sig pass this line of BS to me with a GSR about 3 years ago.

I spent several hundred dollars and hours of frustrating range trips sending nearly a thousand rounds of retail ball ammo in small lots from numerous manufacturers (after all, brand "X" is bad ammo... you should get brand "Y" ammo instead) downrange.

"Break in" to me is synonymous with poor quality control.

That Sig was accurate, no doubt about it. And the slide operated like it was on greased ball bearings, it was so smooth. There was no break in needed in regards to those parts. It was an off-spec mag release hole in the frame that was causing my problems.

But, I got to experience the joy of Customer Service BS and the "break in" excuse.

Life's too short for bad guns that need a break in. Ditch 'em, or use them as ballast to hold your safe down, or use them as project guns for caliber conversions or something else... but move on to something that works properly the first time for your defensive or competitive guns.
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Old October 7, 2009, 11:09 AM   #16
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On the one hand, it's nice not to need a break in period...

... we all prefer guns that work out of the box.

On the other hand, nobody complains about the advice to keep the RPMs down on a new motorcycle until 500 miles, or on a car or truck after head gasket replacement.

In other words, guns aren't the only mechanical objects that sometimes need to wear in a little.

However, this period, whether hours, miles, or round count, should be finite.

Cheers,

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Old October 7, 2009, 11:22 AM   #17
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I have a S&W M&P AR15. For the first few magazines it wouldn't feed correctly and jammed quite a bit. I thought 'what a piece of crap', but I stuck with it and kept shooting it. After probably 60-70 shots it started working fine. Now it is super reliable and has not had any type of malfunction for months.
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Old October 7, 2009, 11:41 AM   #18
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I get it, BUT

I am an engineer and design things for a living, so I get the idea of a "break in" period, lapping and parts fitting to each other.

I am also okay with [U]some[U] of this on lower priced weapons.

NOT on semi custom and custom guns. If the manufacturer is willing to charge $1500 or more for a 1911 or whatever, then they can also design a "machine" to cycle the action and break in the pistol, or fire the X number of requisite rounds through it, so that when you purchase the gun and go the range, it is ready to shoot.

Car makers have figured this out, most cars today are "broken in" when you buy them and don't need further babying time.

Just my thoughts.

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Old October 7, 2009, 11:53 AM   #19
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I bought a new car, and rather than do that silly "break in", I just fired it up on a cold day and revved it to 7000 rpm for an hour in the garage. If it can't withstand running at redline, right "out of the box", I'm not interested.
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Old October 7, 2009, 11:55 AM   #20
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The reason they are not "broken in" is because people will buy them regardless. If I were to purchase a new, high dollar 1911 and it didn't work out of the box....it would go back to the company. There is no reason a $2000 firearm shouldn't be flawless out of the box.

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Old October 7, 2009, 12:07 PM   #21
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I restore cars for a living... I've been a mechanic for about 400,000 years. I invented the wheel and the Crescent wrench...
The second I give you the key's to your car, it is 100% road worthy and broken in.

Flat tappet cam engines are no longer made by the manufacturers so that is moot here. There is NO BREAK IN PERIOD for your engine!

Race motors are run them as you bring them right off the workbench..

So, car and firearm comparatives have no relevancy here.....

If a gun works better after a few hundred rounds, HOW does it work right out of the box?

Does anyone hit the target? Or do you gotta sift through a $100 bucks worth of ammo to get an accurate piece?

How can you AFFORD all that ammo? Buy a new 300 Win Mag for $XXX dollars or so, then go buy $300 bucks worth of ammo just to break it in?

what about a .45? Those 1911's of any make go for $900 or more, and you're supposed to go purchase and spend another hundred bucks or more in ammunition just to get it to fire correctly?
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Old October 7, 2009, 12:15 PM   #22
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I bought a new car, and rather than do that silly "break in", I just fired it up on a cold day and revved it to 7000 rpm for an hour in the garage. If it can't withstand running at redline, right "out of the box", I'm not interested.
Equating a automobile and a pistol is a rediculous notion. I would perhaps see your logic if your gun fired 7000 rounds per minute.

The most complicated machine made is the space shuttle and it's millions of components. Do you see that being broken in or red-lined? "Houston, we're going to fly for an hour at 600 mph to break this baby in, copy?"

You might as well claim my tosater needs a break-in period.

Break in period is nothing more than the manufacturer telling the consumer "the gun doesn't work because the person holding it has to learn how to use it...and don't bother us until you've learned."

Kahr famously claims a 200 round break in period. My Kahrs, (four of them), have either worked from round #1 on, or they have not worked well from round #1 to #1000. Break in had no effect...period.
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Old October 7, 2009, 12:15 PM   #23
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Could be worse

A fine violin takes about 40 years to break in properly. Now days some of the more expensive models are artificially aged using loud speakers.
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Old October 7, 2009, 12:20 PM   #24
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I bought a new car, and rather than do that silly "break in", I just fired it up on a cold day and revved it to 7000 rpm for an hour in the garage. If it can't withstand running at redline, right "out of the box", I'm not interested.
You've obviously never been to the Corvette manufacturing plant in Bowling Green, KY. The first time the engine is ever started in all new Vette's, it's immediately driven into a dyno room where it's taken to its max HP, torque and RPM's several times for testing. They don't "break them in" before conducting these tests.

I've owned countless 1911's in my life. Of the few that have been problematic, they all exhibited failures to feed early on. Those that didn't exhibit problems early on went on to fire many thousands of rounds trouble free. The two Kimbers I had were unreliable from round 1 through round 1000, even after trips back to Kimber. Of course getting Denis to take a gun back without you first firing 500 rounds first is like pulling teeth. Many people fire the prescribed 500 rounds only to continue to have feeding problems, which is extremely aggravating.

I've been around the block with 1911's a few too many times and what I'm telling you is from years of experience and from experience with many 1911's from all the top manufacturers. YMMV.
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Old October 7, 2009, 12:25 PM   #25
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Break in period is nothing more than the manufacturer telling the consumer "the gun doesn't work because the person holding it has to learn how to use it...and don't bother us until you've learned."
Bingo.

The break in period on cars is for breaking something in alright... the user to the car.
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