View Full Version : Barrel Break in - yes or no?

November 20, 2010, 02:48 AM
There's a lot of hype these days about some manufacturers recommending a set barrel break in procedure with extremely frequent cleaning, saying this assures the long life of the barrel. Others, supposedly with high speed degrees in metallurgy, claim all you're doing is creating more bullet/bore contact that will promote bore ablation - and that this is basically a marketing scheme for them to sell more barrels.

Anyone with some actual, practical experience that can shed some light on the truth?

Added - aside, who cleans their barrels exclusively with boresnakes?

Double Naught Spy
November 20, 2010, 10:46 AM
You know, I took a Barrett Long Range class. The instructor was a former sniper (he actually was and appears occasionally on various firearms programs). His take was this. The barrel never stops changing. So everything time you shoot it, the "break-in" continues.

He didn't put any credence into break-in and seasoning the barrel. He did suggest inspecting the barrel before firing for burs and such. If visually clean, fire a few rounds and visually inspect.

Basically his take was that barrel brake-in was simply the last stages of polishing the barrel, removing burs and smoothing rough spots. Jacketing from your bullets will be pressed into imperfections in the barrel and smothing it out. This is beneficial to the barrel.

Once you clean your barrel and dissolve out all the jacketing pressed into the imperfections and you are back to having an "unseasoned" barrel.

If there is a real benefit to barrel break-in, it is that people are usually more careful with the barrel, cleanng, etc. while it is newer. YMMV

November 20, 2010, 01:00 PM
Too vigorous and improper cleaning can do damage to the barrel ! Shoot it , clean carefully and enjoy !

November 20, 2010, 01:02 PM
Asking about barrel break-in is opening a can of worms. Some people believe in it (I happen to be one of those), others pooh-pooh it. My response is this: it can't hurt, and it seems to have some beneficial effects. Will it turn your rifle into a sub-MOA shooter? No, that has to do with a lot of other factors, but primarily the quaity of the barrel and the mating of the barrel to the receiver. Will not doing it ruin the barrel? No, it will not, there are many, many people who never did and never will break in a barrel, and their rifles have not disintegrated. The real benefit of barrel break-in is an easier to clean barrel, and less copper fouling. Nothing more, nothing less.

And asking a sniper what he thinks is going on inside the barrel is like asking Homer Simpson to explain relativity: although they both work closely with the reaction, neither of them is qualified to discuss the particulars of it. I know several engineers who are highly qualified in metallurgy and high-pressure gas dynamics, and even they will tell you they don't have all the answers to that question.

Double Naught Spy
November 20, 2010, 04:06 PM
My response is this: it can't hurt, and it seems to have some beneficial effects.

I have never met a shooter that can tell the difference in shooting a gun whether it had "barrel break-in" or not.

We have compared the accuracy of two AR15s (Colts, same M4) where the other guy broke-in his with whatever the magic formula dejour was and I didn't. I fired approximately 300 rounds while he did his 100+ round barrel break-in. I also checked the game cameras, did some target maintenance, checked my feeder, etc. waiting for him to get through all his stages of cleaning. Shooting the same ammo, we can't tell the much difference between the guns. If barrel break-in improved his gun, then it seemed to make it on par with mine. They both shoot about 1 MOA and on a really calm day, maybe 0.8 (and after we put ACOGs on each).

I realize that two guns doesn't make for a significant scientific test, but they were two models of the exact same gun, bought within a couple of weeks of each other. I know haven't seen any documentation to prove that break-in actually does anything for the gun over just shooting it. I certainly haven't seen any such work with a statistically significant sample size to show the benefits of barrel break-in. Nor I have I seen any study that given the proper procedures for an optimized barrel break-in. People who do it all seem to have their mystical pseudo-religious beliefs about how many rounds between cleanings, staggered or equally spaced sets of shots, and some think you need to wait X amount of time between every shot so that the break-in is with cold bore shots (which takes forever to break-in a gun), and what cleaners to use at what points in the process.

They all have these idiosyncratic break-in methods, but thusfar I haven't found a single person who can justify why their particular method works over any other method or that can show me anything diagnostic to substantiate that barrel break-in improves the performance of the barrel. That is why I call it pseudo-religious as all of the beliefs around barrel break-in seemingly are based on faith.

I cleaned the gun after 300 rounds. I only brought 300 rounds to the range. I would have shot more, but ran out - hence doing all that other stuff. He cleaned his something like 15 times during the first 200 rounds and then thoroughly afterwards. Both guns are broken-in and fire comparably. I see no difference for all the time and work he put into his gun.

With that said, I am not totally closed-minded to the issue. If somebody out there can point me toward a source/article that can show how these complicated break-in methods do actually benefit the barrel and improve performance over not doing them, I would very much like to learn more about the process and just exactly how it works.

Too vigorous and improper cleaning can do damage to the barrel ! Shoot it , clean carefully and enjoy !
And that pretty much says it.