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Old February 4, 2014, 11:07 AM   #1
Magnum Wheel Man
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science or myth behind barrel break in ???

so I see several barrel makers & lots of serious shooters have a specific "break in procedure"

I like to think of myself as pretty science grounded in how I think, & I've yet seen a "good" explanation of what firing 1 shot, then "cleaning" then firing 2 shots then "cleaning, & such whatever your routine is... I don't get how the barrel is "seasoned" any differently than firing 5 "fouling shots" then cleaning, or if it's the "cleaning" why a barrel that was shot 20 - 40 rounds & cleaned the same amount of times, suffers anything from the one shot clean procedure...

anyone want to tackle this, & get me to understand how "properly" breaking in my barrel, can offer any increase in accuracy or long term use, over the life of the barrel ???
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Old February 4, 2014, 11:24 AM   #2
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I wave a chicken feather dipped in goats blood over the barrel. You gotta go from receiver to muzzle. The other way doesnt work

Ok seriously, i wanna hear this. Ive got a new 308 i gotta shoot
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Old February 4, 2014, 11:59 AM   #3
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Quote:
I wave a chicken feather dipped in goats blood over the barrel. You gotta go from receiver to muzzle. The other way doesnt work

Ok seriously, i wanna hear this. Ive got a new 308 i gotta shoot
Without using 2 or more feathers you are wasting your time, sheesh, where did you learn to clean
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:01 PM   #4
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By not cleaning for 20-30 shots you are allowing copper jacketing to fill in the 'imperfections' which you are trying to smooth out by breaking in the rifle. This is why you're instructed to clean every 1-2 shots, at least for the first few shots. By cleaning every shot, you're getting that jacket fouling out of the 'imperfections' and slowly smoothing them out with each shot, as long as you don't let them get filled in with fouling. If you do let them get filled with fouling, no real harm or foul, you just wont be smoothing out those areas of the barrel. There is no magic in barrel 'break in.'

The whole idea is to smooth out the imperfections in the bore, by firing rounds, and cleaning. By having a more 'perfect' bore, it will be easier to clean, and also it should accumulate less fouling for a given number of shots. This doesn't make the rifle more accurate, but it could maintain acceptable accuracy for more shots.
Some rifles will benefit from a 'break in' more than others. Some barrels wont improve with a break-in at all. As I've stated there usually wont be any change in accuracy, a 'break in' wont make or break your gun. What it should do, if done properly, is reduce the frequency of cleanings once the barrel is broken in, it'll make the fouling easier to remove, and due to the slower build up of fouling, because there are less or no imperfections, which are stripping jacket material off the bullet, onto the bore, you can maintain best possible accuracy for a longer number of shots. I guess some could argue that by having some of the jacket material stripped off, in the bore, that it could slightly throw the balance of the bullet off, and reduce accuracy. Personally, I don't think it would be noticeable.

Last edited by JD0x0; February 4, 2014 at 02:09 PM.
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:05 PM   #5
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as with any machined parts there can be small imperfections(stated above). these can me rough sides, burs, ect. when you shoot and dont clean for a bit, you allow the dirt and grim to wear and sand down these imperfections to were the rifle becomes more set in its ways. im having to do this for my howa in 308., you just should follow it as a guide to help make your weapon better fitted to its equipment
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:23 PM   #6
Brian Pfleuger
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I know only my own experience.

I have never NOT done a barrel break-in. I clean after every shot for the first 10, then after 15 and 20, then I shoot it like I want to.

My guns are always very accurate, don't get dirty bores quickly and are very easy to clean. My uncle does the same thing, his guns are the same as mine. Accurate, clean and quick to clean.

Much different than what I read on the forum, about degrading accuracy after 5 shots, guns that won't shoot MOA, massive copper build-up, how to get it out, etc, etc.

Does it work or not? Who cares. It certainly doesn't hurt anything and it sure seems like it helps. Worst things that's happening is I'm "wasting" 20 rounds and an hours time.
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:28 PM   #7
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I should mention this before someone comes in and says it. There was talk about barrel manufactures making up 'break in' because it would cause people to shoot their guns more, and therefore replace barrels more often, and cause the manufactures to make more money from sales. The idea was that if you shoot 50 rounds, it takes that much off the barrel life, and if enough people do it, they will sell more replacement barrels, because of this 'extra' wear and tear. Personally, I think that's hogwash. I did all my 'brake in' while doing first sight in and group testing. So no ammo or 'barrel life' was wasted. No 'extra' wear has occurred. It's not selling more barrels, unless the people cleaning them are doing so improperly and ruining their barrels.
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:33 PM   #8
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thank you for the explanations...

now... how can one shot from a copper jacketed bullet do anything to remove imperfections in a steel barrel ??? I can see it, if there is literally a loosely attached sliver, that was flopping around in there, but any "wire edge" edge on the rifling would continue to cut into the copper for a long time, & if the barrel was that "rough" it would probably benefit from fire lapping, with a compound or treated bullet...

with the differences in hardness between the barrel material, & the bullet jacket, I find it hard to believe the bullet is doing anything to the barrel with one or two bullets... also if copper is fouling the imperfections, I'd find it also unlikely that a few strokes of a brush would remove much, without the addition of a copper solvent...

BTW... I've never broken in a barrel with the one shot clean method, but I'm anything but a disciplined bench shooter, so I have to respect those that shoot much better than I, but I'm trained to question the methods...

BTW#2... I do like to run a wet patch with a good penetrating oil down the barrel, followed by a dry patch to assist with keeping any fouling from sticking... I like to use Kroil myself
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:35 PM   #9
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You know, that is the thing about barrel break-in myths. Nobody seems to know what is the correct amount of anything in whatever order or pattern.

I liked the notion that it cleans better by being more fouled. I am going to have to cogitate on that for a while.

That barrel makers don't even seem to agree on what is or is not proper in this regard indicates to me that the process is suspect in terms of necessarily being better than not doing it.
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:36 PM   #10
Brian Pfleuger
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Water erodes granite, given enough time. Cleaning rods wear out muzzles, given enough repetitions. My fingers are much softer than steel but I can bend a sliver or jagged edge and wiggle it until it breaks off.

Try it. If you don't like it, take the blue cleaning rod and go back to... whatever you've always known. If you like it, take the red rod... and your barrels will never be the same.
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:39 PM   #11
Art Eatman
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I started in with centerfire in 1950. My uncle was a gunsmith. I hung out at gunshops, listening to all the various ideas to achieve accuracy. I read many gunzines.

I never even heard of barrel break-in until the subject came up here, maybe 1999.

The world's premier bench rest shooter belittled the idea.

But, since the odds are likely 0.9999 against any harm, I figure a fella oughta do what he thinks is good.
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
and wiggle it until it breaks off.
how many licks does it get to the center of a Tootsie Pop ???... 1... 2... 3... 3 licks

I hope this thread stays civil, as I'd like to hear from those "in the know" & get an explanation, that I can define by science, & learn something...
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
also if copper is fouling the imperfections, I'd find it also unlikely that a few strokes of a brush would remove much, without the addition of a copper solvent...
Using copper solvent is part of CLEANING. How do you expect to clean the copper out without solvent? Using copper solvent is a huge part of cleaning and therefore, part of barrel 'break in'
No one said not to use copper solvent. It wasn't mentioned because it's such an obvious step in cleaning and should be assumed that it's needed if you're cleaning copper/jacket material from a bore.

Quote:
I liked the notion that it cleans better by being more fouled. I am going to have to cogitate on that for a while.
What!? Who said that? It cleans 'better' (more easily) because the bore is smoother so there are less areas for copper to accumulate. Here's an extreme analogy. Rub peanut butter on a very smooth surface like glass, and then rub peanut butter on a rough object like pavement/sidewalk. Take a wipe, and wipe each of them clean. Which one do you think cleans easier?
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:49 PM   #14
Art Eatman
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The subject is messy enough without arguments about cleaning processes themselves. Enough of that, already!
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:51 PM   #15
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again... I'm not a disciplined long range bench / target shooter, but I was always taught Hoppes #9 was what you cleaned the bore with ( which I didn't think was a copper solvent ) in fact, as a recreational shooter, I never heard of copper solvents for the bore, until the last several years, as I became an "enthusiast"

sorry ART... was responding at the same time
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:54 PM   #16
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I shoot 'em. Clean when dirty. Most all guns will shoot more accurately when 100-200 rounds have been through the tube. They seem to end up the same if cleaned once after the 200 rounds have been fired, or after every 2-3 shots. Some guns are more accurate than others, but If a gun and barrel is accurate, it will be just as accurate either way.
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Old February 4, 2014, 02:56 PM   #17
Brian Pfleuger
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My guns have NEVER seen a copper solvent until last year I thought maybe I'd try it and see what all the fuss was about.

I bought the foaming kind they sell at Bass Pro. Filled the bore, waited the prescribed time. Cleaned as prescribed. The can said it would turn blue. It didn't turn blue.

This was my .204, that has seen DOZENS of, probably well over 100, shots fired without being cleaned.

The barrel was "broken in" as were all my others. With dozens of shots down the tube since cleaning, it continued to shoot 1/2" or better at 100, 3" or less at 400. You can look down the bore after doing the day's shooting and still see the light reflect off the bore.

My other guns are the same.

Folks will argue until they're blue in the face. I just know what my guns do. I can't tell you the science.
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Old February 4, 2014, 03:00 PM   #18
JD0x0
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Hoppes #9 does have a mild copper solvent AFAIK. Unless they have two versions, one without one, I use hopes #9 and get the classic blue/green on my cleaning equipment. This indicates copper braking down and chelating. With most rifle ammo you have to deal with carbon fouling and jacket fouling. IME the carbon fouling is the easy stuff to get out, especially if you don't let it sit. Copper on the other hand, is the hard stuff. I always hear about using a copper solvent when cleaning. Maybe because we're in different areas, but the copper fouling IMO is the more important fouling to get out. It is usually what builds up on top of itself, and causes accuracy issues, and in extreme cases, pressure issues. I really don't think there is much need to discuss this in this thread much further, we are getting off track. Bottom line is, you should be dealing with copper fouling when you clean your guns, if they're shooting jacketed bullets, and if you intend to 'break in' your barrel properly, it needs to be dealt with. IMO
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Old February 4, 2014, 03:01 PM   #19
Magnum Wheel Man
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So... BRIAN... is that the qualities of a quality barrel, or of proper break in...

point being, if you had a roughly rifled barrel, & did the "one shot, clean" type break in, do you think it would shoot better than a quality ( smoothly ) rifled that had no "traditional" break in ???
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Old February 4, 2014, 03:01 PM   #20
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This should really be stickied since it settles this ridiculous myth..

This is a first hand account from Gale McMillan, who has forgotten more about rifles than most of us know.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...light=break+in

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gale McMillan
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
http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...threadid=60102

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gale McMillan
I will make one last post on this subject and appeal to logic on this subject I think it is the height of arrogance to believe a novice can improve a barrel
using a cleaning rod more than that a barrel maker can do with 30 years of experience and a * million dollars in equipment . The barrel is a relatively
precise bit of machining and to imagine that it can be improved on with a bit of abrasive smeared on a patch or embedded in a bullet. The surface finish
of a barrel is a delicate thing with more of them being ruined with a cleaning rod in the hands of someone who doesn't know how to use one. I would
never in a million years buy a used rifle now because you well may buy one that has been improved. First give a little thought to what you think you
are accomplishing with any of the break in methods. Do you really believe that if what you are doing would help a barrel that the barrel maker wouldn't
have already done it. The best marketing advantage he can have is for his barrels to out perform his competitors! Of coarse he is happy to see you
poking things in your barrel . Its only going to improve his sales. Get real!!!! I am not saying the following to brag because the record speak for it' self
McMillan barrels won the gold at 4 straight Olympics. Won the Leach Cup eight years running. Had more barrels in the Wimbledon shoot off every year
for 4 straight yearsthan any other make. Set the national 1000 yard record 17 times in one year. Held 7 world records at the same time in the NBRSA .
Won the national silhouette matches 5 straight times and set 3 world records while doing that . Shot the only two 6400 scores in the history of small
bore and holds a 100 yard world record that will stand for ever at .009 of one inch. All with barrels the shooter didn't have to improve on by breaking
them in.

Last edited by Dragline45; February 4, 2014 at 03:06 PM.
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Old February 4, 2014, 03:03 PM   #21
Magnum Wheel Man
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JD... I think I've noticed copper fouling most, on the 17 Remington ( of the rounds I shoot ) however since the rifle was my FIL's, I don't know how it was broken in...
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Old February 4, 2014, 03:05 PM   #22
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great post DRAG

although that is only one mans opinion

I'd personally be happy to beak in a couple barrels on new custom guns this spring, if I could wrap my head around some sort of scientific advantage to do so...
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Old February 4, 2014, 03:08 PM   #23
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Dragline 45 see post #7 made by me. I addressed what Gale was talking about. How does cleaning between every shot, during sight in, and group testing, sell more barrels? Gale's perception is that these people are just wasting ammo and cleaning in order to break their rifles in. If you're shooting anyway, to test the rifles groups, reliability, sight in. How does it sell more barrels if the shooter was going to be shooting those rounds anyway? The only difference would be cleaning between a few rounds, or not. I just don't see how that would sell more barrels. Gale's logic is flawed IMO.
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Old February 4, 2014, 03:11 PM   #24
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Quote:
Dragline 45 see post #7 made by me. I addressed what Gale was talking about. How does cleaning between every shot, during sight in, and group testing, sell more barrels? Gale's perception is that these people are just wasting ammo and cleaning in order to break their rifles in. If you're shooting anyway, to test the rifles groups, reliability, sight in.
Because with competition shooters swapping out barrels every 3000 rounds or so, or when the accuracy starts to degrade, the faster you can get them to put rounds down their barrel, or wear them out for that matter, the faster the maker sells more barrels.

Gale is a legend in the industry, I wouldn't even think to question his knowledge and expertise. If you think you know better than him, than do whatever you please.

Quote:
great post DRAG

although that is only one mans opinion
While that's true, his opinion holds alot of weight.

Last edited by Dragline45; February 4, 2014 at 03:24 PM.
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Old February 4, 2014, 03:13 PM   #25
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There is really no way to test this.

2 like barrels from same MFG will never be the same. You can't do the break in procedure on one and not on the other to see the differences as there are already differences in the unfired barrels. There is no way to manufacture 2 barrels EXACTLY the same. Can't be done.

This, to me, will always be a one person does it, the other doesnt, and both claim great accuracy. One believes it's due to their "break in" procedure, the other will claim his shoots fine without a formal "break in".

I've never done a formal procedure. Clean them when I get them home, take them and shoot them till I decide I'm done, (could be 20 rounds, could be 100+) take them home, clean, oil, and put away till next range trip. All my rifles shoot better than I can.
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