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Old Yesterday, 07:04 AM   #1
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Join Date: January 24, 2016
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New Rifle Break In?

So I have been shooting rifles for 30 years, and clean them after any trips to a range, or maybe once a season for just hunting, but I have never done anything like the following that I came across on the internet:

"Most hunting rifle barrels have not been properly broken in, which helps to minimize accuracy-reducing fouling. If not properly broken in, we have observed hunting rifles to completely foul out in as little as five rounds. Many will foul out at fewer than 20 rounds. When a barrel fouls out, accuracy is dramatically reduced. Properly breaking in a rifle barrel is a must for our target rifles and our hunting rifles. We believe that this step is very important to optimize the accuracy potential of your hunting rifle. You will not have to worry about your rifle fouling out during the hunting season.

The break-in process is simple but takes time at the range. Use any inexpensive ammo that you can find. Start with a clean barrel, fire one shot, and clean the barrel. Make sure that you get all the copper out. Repeat the single shot/clean routine for five shots. Next, fire two shots and clean. Repeat three times. Now, fire three shots and clean. Repeat three times. Cleaning the barrel should become easier and copper fouling should be minimal."


I just bought a Cooper, easily the nicest rifle I have ever owned, so I do want to treat her right. It is NIB, but of course they have the three shot group card from the bench showing its sub 1/2" MOA. So it has been fired at least three times already, and is (or was) obviously very accurate.

Should I be doing the break in described above when I take her to the range for the first time to sight in, or should I just go shoot and then clean when I get home?

Thanks in advance
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Old Yesterday, 07:25 AM   #2
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Got you beat, I've been doing it wrong for over 50 years. Only rifle i have ever had loose any accuracy was an old rem 22 with 1000's of rounds shot. Guessing here it just wore out after a bad "break-in period" Congrats on your cooper. Hope you get alot of good answers, I am curious too.
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Old Yesterday, 08:40 AM   #3
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Thanks, s3779m

After reading through manual from mfg ("when all else fails, read the directions"), it says clean bore every 5 rounds for the first 20, so that is what I will do, though I would still like to hear if anyone has a best practices opinion on the blanket recommendation above
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Old Yesterday, 09:25 AM   #4
Join Date: September 7, 2009
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I don't subscribe to the "break in" of a new barrel.
I shoot and clean just like any of my "used" barrels
We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.
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Old Yesterday, 09:54 AM   #5
Llama Bob
Join Date: January 13, 2016
Posts: 84
Break in of new barrels is a myth. Yes, the first shots will flatten out some imperfections in the barrel, especially if it was never lapped, but it has nothing to do with whether you clean it after every shot or not.

In general I wouldn't get excited about accuracy until you've got at least 50 rounds down the tube though.

Also, the idea that fouling degrades accuracy is generally false. When tested under controlled circumstances, the conclusion is generally that it takes many hundreds if not thousands of rounds before copper or powder fouling causes an accuracy problem, and even then a couple wet patches without brushing will remove enough gunk to remedy the problem.

Cleaning, especially brushing, is the #1 killer of barrels far ahead of throat erosion. The people with the most interest in you cleaning more are invariably people who have a replacement barrel to sell you.
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Old Yesterday, 10:14 AM   #6
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The meter really pegged out on that last one.

Knowledgeable shooters (benchrest shooters, for example) carefully break in their barrels and keep them clean thereafter.

The other kind of shooter does not.

A properly broken in barrel will be easier to clean than one that has not been treated properly, and will also tend to be more accurate. - A moot point to shooters who never clean or maintain their firearms anyway.

"Grandpaw never cleaned his gun, and he killed a deer with it!"

Give me a break.
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Old Yesterday, 10:20 AM   #7
Join Date: October 1, 2014
Posts: 35
Did the break in thing on my 700 ,cleans faster than anyother rifle i own .so to me it is worth the extra work
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Old Yesterday, 10:23 AM   #8
Llama Bob
Join Date: January 13, 2016
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So help me out here - both my 700s that are designed for accuracy have no problem shooting < 0.25MOA groups. How much smaller would those get if I'd engaged in the magical thinking of barrel break in?

Oh, and neither has ever been cleaned either.
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Old Yesterday, 11:05 AM   #9
Join Date: October 1, 2014
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possibly a one holer but to late now
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Old Yesterday, 11:25 AM   #10
Llama Bob
Join Date: January 13, 2016
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Well, at least absurdity is in fine form.
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Old Yesterday, 11:27 AM   #11
Llama Bob
Join Date: January 13, 2016
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By the way, I've found that interest in cleaning rifles is completely cured by buying a bore scope. Once you see what cleaning does to the throat of a rifle (no one has yet invented a bore guide that keeps the rod off the lands at the throat) it's pretty hard to ever get excited about cleaning again.
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Old Yesterday, 11:32 AM   #12
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See the sticky in the General rifle forum, "The Wisdom of Gale McMillan:

Originally Posted by Gale McMillan
Posted: 09-25-1999 10:10
The break in fad was started by a fellow I helped get started in the barrel business . He started putting a set of break in instructions in ever barrel he
shipped. One came into the shop to be installed and I read it and the next time I saw him I asked him What was with this break in crap?. His answer
was Mac, My share of the market is about 700 barrels a year. I cater to the target crowd and they shoot a barrel about 3000 rounds before they
change it. If each one uses up 100 rounds of each barrel breaking it in you can figure out how many more barrels I will get to make each year. If you
will stop and think that the barrel doesn't know whether you are cleaning it every shot or every 5 shots and if you are removing all foreign material that
has been deposited in it since the last time you cleaned it what more can you do? When I ship a barrel I send a recommendation with it that you clean it
ever chance you get with a brass brush pushed through it at least 12 times with a good solvent and followed by two and only 2 soft patches. This
means if you are a bench rest shooter you clean ever 7 or 8 rounds . If you are a high power shooter you clean it when you come off the line after 20
rounds. If you follow the fad of cleaning every shot for X amount and every 2 shots for X amount and so on the only thing you are accomplishing is
shortening the life of the barrel by the amount of rounds you shot during this process. I always say Monkey see Monkey do, now I will wait on the
flames but before you write them, Please include what you think is happening inside your barrel during break in that is worth the expense and time you
are spending during break in
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Old Yesterday, 11:40 AM   #13
Llama Bob
Join Date: January 13, 2016
Posts: 84
Exactly true, but I'm sure someone will be along with a little meter to tell Mr. McMillan he's wrong and needs to clean twice after every shot for 200 rounds before he can drop to only clean once after every shot
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Old Yesterday, 11:59 AM   #14
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Join Date: May 26, 2012
Location: Central Florida
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Barrel break-in?

I've done it both ways and see no perceivable difference.
If you're gonna get old you better be tough;Gettin' old ain't for sissies!!
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Old Yesterday, 12:10 PM   #15
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I actually do own a borescope, a Gradient Corp model that is very nice.

- And guess what? I have yet to see the alleged "cleaning damage" on any of my firearms, all kept squeaky clean. - No evidence whatsoever of damage to the lands where they begin and guess what else? I've been happy with the accuracy that I'm getting.

The best way that I know of to reduce the amount of cleaning required is to properly break in the barrel - but this is a point that will always whizz right over the heads of the folks who do not believe in taking proper care of their firearms in the first place, and then like to get all butt-hurt if somebody talks about proper gun care.

The "Do not clean" camp comes up with some really good ones from time to time... My favorite is how a bronze brush is going to destroy steel rifling. I always get a giggle out of that. - They must have stayed up all night and put away half a case of beer to think that one up.

- Kind of like 9-11 "truther" Rosanne Barr insisting that fire cannot melt steel.

Physics... It's the law.

Last edited by ballisti; Yesterday at 12:17 PM.
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Old Yesterday, 12:20 PM   #16
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I've been hunting for more than 50 years and I consider breaking in the rifle, is shooting it as many times as needed to zero the new scope you mount. Normally 6 rounds, first three to get on paper and second three to confirm.
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Old Yesterday, 12:23 PM   #17
Brian Pfleuger
Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: Central, Southern NY, USA
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I've always followed a break-in procedure very similar to that outlined in the OP.

I've always had exceptional accuracy and near zero copper fouling in my rifles.

I've seen what Gale McMillan says about it. I respect him greatly and he forgot more about firearms and barrels than I will ever know.

I've also seen other highly respected experts who disagree with him.

I've also seen somewhere around 3.14x10^19 threads on the question, and they all go about the same, just like this one is. I doubt the issue will be resolved now.
Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
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Old Yesterday, 12:37 PM   #18
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+1 Mr. Pfleuger, this subject has been brought up so many times that it is becoming mundane. Some people swear by it, most scoff at it, in the end there is no real way to prove or disprove its worth. If you use good technique and the proper tools while cleaning it certainly can't hurt, on the other hand if you don't you could damage your barrel. So to each their own, if you believe then do it, if not don't.

OP: Congrats on your purchase, I look forward to reading your experience with the rifle.
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Old Yesterday, 01:16 PM   #19
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Righto, Mr. Peeza.
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Old Yesterday, 01:27 PM   #20
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Having a Cooper rifle, Mdl 22 VLM,6.5-284. I say shoot it first.

I went to the range the first time and did 50 rounds. I had to start from scratch, no store ammo for this rifle. I wanted to shoot not clean. I had tried that once with a new Vanguard,300WBY. That rifle copper fouled bad!

When I later went to clean my rifle, I was amazed! It didn't take ten minutes. No copper. I had learned the hard way on the Vanguard. No brass brushes, jags, or patch holders..

I read about rifle break in back in 06 and tried it on MKV 340WBY and the 300
WBY Vanguard. I cleaned for about one round and decided that this wasn't why I come to Mile 16. This is BLM land, I had the best spot, and thought it not courteous to sit on the best spot while I did hours of one shot clean, two shot clean.

Barrel break in may be therapeutic for some shooters and for some rifles, it just didn't work for me.

Enjoy your fine new rifle. My Cooper is the most accurate, fun to shoot rifle that I have ever owned. I always wanted a varmint rifle that will kill a moose.
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Old Yesterday, 01:39 PM   #21
Llama Bob
Join Date: January 13, 2016
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Whether a rifle fouls fundamentally comes down to bore machining and lapping. A rifle like the Cooper, which I believe has a hand lapped bore, is unlikely to foul much. A vanguard that's designed to a $500 price point is a whole different animal.
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Old Yesterday, 01:40 PM   #22
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I have never followed any special procedure to break in a rifle barrel myself, and never noticed any issues with accuracy or cleaning because of it.
This past Christmas I gave both of my sons their first center fire rifle as gifts. The manufacturer recommends a specific break in procedure, and as a learning experience I insisted that both boys follow it. Not saying that it will make any noticeable difference, just saying that I don't think it's necessarily a bad way to introduce someone to a 'new to them' aspect of shooting. Them doing so certainly won't hurt anything.
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Old Yesterday, 03:07 PM   #23
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I think that if "barrel break in" gives you one more reason to go the the range...
It's a good reason.
Get out there an let us know how the new rifle shoots!
I'm right about the metric system 3/4 of the time.
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Old Yesterday, 03:26 PM   #24
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This something we will be debating till the Crack of Doom. My first range session with one of my SIG SHR 970s, in .270, I fired a 1.25" group at 100 yards and I am FAR from being an experienced long range shot. Wood to metal-or plastic-fit and proper screw tension more important IMHO.
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Old Yesterday, 03:46 PM   #25
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All rifles will shoot better and be easier to clean after 50-100 rounds have been down the barrel. The rifle doesn't know if you cleaned it after every shot, after every 5 shots, every 10 shots or after 100 shots.

You can find dozens of people who have tried it both ways, they all claim their method works best.

I'd rather spend my time shooting than cleaning.
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