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Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Fri, 06 Aug 2010 13:44:25
by KaosDad
By "new" I mean "from the factory with only test shots fired."

Does it need to be "broken in"? If so, how?

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Fri, 06 Aug 2010 13:51:04
by gunderwood
Generally, all you will get is opinions. It helps to know what the firearm is though and how you intend to use it.

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Fri, 06 Aug 2010 15:20:12
by OakRidgeStars
If it's a Kimber, then you will need to put 500 rounds through it before they will consider the weapon "broken in"

I'm sure every manufacturer has their own magic number, so check the owner's manual already :roll:

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Fri, 06 Aug 2010 15:28:46
by VBshooter
Additionally if you search the web you will find a million and one opinions about that subject.. My opinion is shoot the geun and enjoy yourself,,,Most modern guns are tough and can handle whatever you throw at em.. And if they don;t then they weren't that good to begin with.

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Fri, 06 Aug 2010 15:30:53
by KaosDad
Well, I was hoping for a general answer as I have heard all sorts of opinions. I didnlt mean just rounds through the barrel. For example, I was told with my AR would take 100 rounds, one at a time, swabbing the barrel after each shot.

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Fri, 06 Aug 2010 18:34:52
by CowboyT
My experience:

Just clean your gun before the initial firing to get the manufacturing oils out of it, then go shoot it and have fun. That's all I've ever done, along with the normal, regular cleaning that you're supposed to do, and mine shoot great.

Note that some guns, like some Porsches, are already a little "broken in" from factory pre-ship testing. Ruger, I understand, fires at least one round through each gun before it's shipped. Dunno about other manufacturers.

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Fri, 06 Aug 2010 19:05:15
by gunderwood
KaosDad wrote:Well, I was hoping for a general answer as I have heard all sorts of opinions. I didnlt mean just rounds through the barrel. For example, I was told with my AR would take 100 rounds, one at a time, swabbing the barrel after each shot.

Generally barrel breaking is BS. There are special cases though and if your manufacturer requires a "break-in" period to honor their warranty (don't know of any off the top of my head), do it regardless.

Here is my two cents from a lot of research. Here is a good comment on why you break-in a barrel:
If you asked ten riflesmiths how to break in a barrel you would get twelve answers on how to do it. I think it's more important to understand what you are trying to achieve with the process. I own a Hawkeye borescope so I am able to inspect the bore for copper fouling and monitor the process as it happens. The goal is to remove microscopic "burrs" from the bore, most especially on the corners of the lands. There are also radial tool marks in the throat that you are trying to smooth out. The bore must be CLEAN and DRY for each shot so the bullet can either burnish the rough spots or grab the burrs and strip them out. I like to completely scrub out the barrel after each shot and inspect with my bore scope. I can actually see the copper diminish as the barrel becomes smoother. For those of you who don't have access to a borescope you can feel the difference with your cleaning rod if you use a good jag and tight fitting cotton flannel patches. The bore condition in a brand new barrel is like sharkskin, it has microscopic "hairs" that lay down towards the muzzle. If you scrub back and forth with short little strokes working your way down the bore you will feel the hairs grab the patch when you pull back on the rod. As you shoot and clean you will feel the barrel smoothing up and getting easier to clean. Some barrels break in with just a few shots, some may require as many as twenty. If your rifle isn't starting to group and cleaning up easily after twenty shots you might consider having your smith hand lap the bore. I do not reccomend fire lapping unless you are a fan of lots of free bore in your barrel.
All the above is directed towards factory barrels. If you purchase a custom barrel they are hand lapped to a beautiful smooth finish. If your smith hand stones his reamers and pumps oil down the barrel (as he should) while chambering there should be no radial tool marks in the throat therefore virtually no break in is needed, maybe five shots to make you feel good.
http://snipersparadise.com/sniperchat/i ... ing+barrel

Of course this is from a thread recommending a barrel break-in process which for the types of barrels discussed, I'm about to not do. :enlighten:

Match Grade Barrels
If it has a real match grade barrel, do not do anything special to it. Those were lapped at the factory and are good to go. Just go out and shoot them like normal, but don't go hog wild. Leave some spacing (time delay) between the rounds. Clean like normal.

Factory Barrels
If it is a factory barrel there are some benefits to lapping it. Technically it is lapped when shot, but it is much slower than hand/fire lapping. The amount of benefit varies greatly from non-existent to extreme; such is the quality control of factory stuff...poor. The process is potentially only worth it if you are shooting a low cost tactical/benchrest rifle. If this is a tactical carbine (AR) or a hunting rifle, don't bother. David Tubbs makes a great fire lapping kit. Hand lapping instructions can be found here: http://snipersparadise.com/sniperchat/i ... ing+barrel

In summary, unless you have a low cost barrel (factory) and are trying to get the maximum accuracy (read not hunting, not self defense, not plinking, read as competition) most break-in procedures are pure superstition from an engineering point of view. Most benchrest shooters do it because they have developed a routine and would always wonder how much "better" it would have shot if they had just done X. Good quality chrome lined barrels, like ARs, don't have these burrs and should be treated like a match barrel. I.e. hard chrome don't stick too well to poor quality barrels with burrs.

Barrel break-in procedures are an attempt to make up for a poorly manufactured barrel. If really want accuracy, do it right and hand or fire lap it or just buy a better barrel in the first place.

Semi-Autos
Semi-autos have lots of moving parts and sometimes like to "wear in." All guns should be cleaned from the factory and lubed up properly before shooting for the first time. During the "break-in" period, slow fire is advised. Don't go crazy emptying mags, just slow aimed fire. After 100-300 rounds you will notice certain surfaces being "polished." Some springs will be "softer." After a few rounds (your call), have fun.

A note about springs.
The engineering answer is that springs do not wear out from long term compression or elongation when operated in a non-deforming range. Springs wear out with cycles. Practically this means that mags don't wear out being stored full of ammo, but rather loading and unloading (doesn't matter how they are unloaded either). Trigger/hammer springs, recoil springs, etc. also wear out with cycles. Some people will argue this till they are blue in the face and always bring up an example where it "obviously" happened. They are wrong, nothing more too it.

However, it should be noted the key requirement that you don't elastically deform a spring. I'm certain that some springs in firearms are designed to operate at the max or past the max for non-deforming compression (we don't elongate many springs, but it applies either way). This means that when the spring is fully compressed it is actually being "bent" out of shape. The spring has elastically deformed. A bent spring obviously will no longer provide the same tension it did before being deformed. This is the bit of truth behind the myth. I believe that some manufacturers in order to get one or two more rounds in a mag, have designed the spring to deform when fully loaded. Clearly leaving a mag loaded accelerates this process. The same can be said for other trigger/hammer/recoil springs. When new, they provide too much tension, but "break-in" and are deformed just enough to function properly in that firearm.

However, at some point the deforming is done and no further "break-in" will be observed. Calling this "break-in" is mostly misleading and some obsessive compulsives will replace any spring that doesn't feel like a new one. Funny their firearms never work better than anyone else's and sometimes they work much worse.

Between parts self "polishing" and spring deformation, some manufacturers recommend a break-in period. You can't really screw it up if you cleaned and lubed it properly. The firearm may not function properly during that period and if you call tech support, they will more than likely tell you to shoot it some more and get back to them.

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Fri, 06 Aug 2010 19:21:48
by gunderwood
CowboyT wrote:Note that some guns, like some Porsches, are already a little "broken in" from factory pre-ship testing.


Most firearm manufacturers do at least a test firing. Some states/localities require casings be submitted from the manufacturer. Generally, they all do it, but it is usually 3 rounds.

It always cracks me up when people talk about the break-in process for sports cars.

They swear it has to be done, but anyone who has spent any time around real race engines already knows that is BS. Upon completion of assembly, race engines are warmed up (external heaters, idled, etc.) and then run through the revs under load (a test fixture). Running an engine hard to break it in (polishing essentially) creates an engine with more HP, more torque, etc. Most high end sports cars are also done this way. There are "secrets" about how to do this process, but they all involve running it hard; usually differences about how to rev it, load it, how long to run it at red line, etc.

These same manufacturers then recommend a slow break in period...it has nothing to do with the engine "needing" it. It has everything to do with idiots who think they have way more driving skill then they actually do. The "break-in" period is so they have some time to get use to the new fast car. Manufacturers and dealers stress the importance of it because it is bad policy to kill your buyers.

I think some manufacturers make up break-in periods so that new shooters who are limp wristing (etc.) don't send them in for warranty work.


As a side note...

Back in the old inline four turbo days of F1, BMW actually was buying used 1.5L engines with several hundred thousand miles on them. They found that the heat treat of such engine blocks was amazing and couldn't be replicated easily/cheaply. So they bought used engines, stole the block and built F1 race engines around it (rules required real production blocks IIRC). It allowed them to up the boost to insane levels because the new/old block engines could take it. This is the same class of engine they eventually got to put out at least 1200HP (estimate range from just over 1200 to 1500HP). No one really knows because they maxed out the dyno.

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Sat, 07 Aug 2010 12:53:04
by zephyp
I agree on the barrel break in which is BS. There is such a thing as seasoning a barrel or a gun which is different...machined parts arent perfect and may have burrs, etc from the factory. Firing X rounds and some minor tune ups will knock those down.

With that I would not trust a pistol for SD until I've fired an arbitrary 100 or so rounds through it...

@Cowboy - +1 on the initial cleaning to get the factory gunk out...

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Sat, 07 Aug 2010 18:22:12
by Vahunter
I read an article once that was written by a barrel maker. I can't remember who it was but he said a quaility rifle barrel doesn't need to be " broken in ". I had always thought barrel break in was a bunch of BS anyway.

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Sat, 07 Aug 2010 23:36:05
by gunderwood
Vahunter wrote:I read an article once that was written by a barrel maker. I can't remember who it was but he said a quaility rifle barrel doesn't need to be " broken in ". I had always thought barrel break in was a bunch of BS anyway.

The point of breaking a barrel in is to "polish" it. Quality barrels (read not factory) don't need this because they already had it done when they were made. Sure, a rifle with a factory will settle down a bit quicker if you clean it after every shot, but it isn't a big deal. The burrs will get knocked down either way. Generally, for anything a factory barrel is good enough for, it simply doesn't matter IMHO.

If for some reason you are competing or need maximum accuracy out of a factory barrel, hand lap it and be done.

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 16:03:30
by jrswanson1
I did the break in thing with one of my 6.8 ARs. Best group ever with it, 3/4" 5 shot group at 200 yards. I did the same thing with my Remington 700, it gets 1/2" groups at 100 yards. The 6.8 AR and 5.56 AR didn't get that treatment. They're not sub-MOA. I'll keep doing the break in thing with new rifle barrels.

Jim

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 19:09:57
by LFS
I'll make a deal with all of you. If you are unsure about the need for a break-in of your firearm, lend it to me with the necessary ammo and I'll do the break-in for you. :machinegun:

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 22:45:00
by gunderwood
jrswanson1 wrote:I did the break in thing with one of my 6.8 ARs. Best group ever with it, 3/4" 5 shot group at 200 yards. I did the same thing with my Remington 700, it gets 1/2" groups at 100 yards. The 6.8 AR and 5.56 AR didn't get that treatment. They're not sub-MOA. I'll keep doing the break in thing with new rifle barrels.

Jim

Every gun is different. Even two guns straight from the factory shoot very differently and want different loads. This is the reason you end up with stories that go like this:

"My brothers, best friends, uncle has a stock Remington 700 that will out shoot your custom rifle. He shoots 1/4MOA groups with factory loads all day. Why did you spend $X on a custom rifle when you could just buy a stock one and shoot just as well?"

The point is, that while there almost certainly is a factory Remington 700 that can out shoot a custom rifle, it isn't the norm. Most shoot 1-1.5MOA. You get a decent number (I'm making this number up, but the concept holds), say 20% that will shoot under 1MOA. Perhaps, 5% will even hold under 3/4MOA. Factory guns have HUGE variances and sometimes the tolerances stack up in your favor.

The other reason for this is what I call the "magic group." We've all had them. You occasionally get an outstanding group and of course that is what ends up on the Internet. Take your Remington 700, shoot 10, five shot 100yd minimum distance groups (five at a minimum). If there are obvious fliers (probably you), I'll let you toss one of the five out from the MOA calc. Of the ten "corrected" groups I'll let you through out 2 or 3 of the largest groups. Of the remaining 7 or 8 corrected groups, average the MOA. If it is less than 1/2MOA, I'll be impressed both by your shooting and that rifle.

On any given day (rifle quality aside) most shooters can't hold sub MOA on demand. I don't mean the best group, but virtually every group. People claim their rifles are 1/2MOA when they shot it once (and usually a 3 shot group too). I've seen and owned factory rifles that maybe one group in 10 or 20 is 1/2MOA...that isn't a 1/2MOA rifle, you just go lucky. The only group that makes it on the Internet is the one "magic group."

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 02:35:52
by Jakeiscrazy
It is true with some, a friend of mine had a Benelli the needed 200 or so rounds of 00 buck before it ran right. I was there when he was breaking it in. It jammed every shot at first but became better as time went on. By the time we got to 200 it was flawless. Barrels?I don't have a clue! I don't shoot well enough to know anything about accuracy!

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 08:48:05
by gunderwood
Vahunter wrote:I read an article once that was written by a barrel maker. I can't remember who it was but he said a quaility rifle barrel doesn't need to be " broken in ". I had always thought barrel break in was a bunch of BS anyway.


As I said before, there is a lot of myth about it and it has become superstition among many match shooters. I.e. they do it out of habit and would always worry if they didn't..."could I have won that last match if I did X?"

Here is a summary of what the barrel manufacturers say.

The biggest of them against it is McMillan: http://www.6mmbr.com/GailMcMbreakin.html
As a barrel maker I have looked in thousands of new and used barrels with a bore scope and I will tell you that if every one followed the prescribed [one shot, one clean] break-in method, a very large number would do more harm than good. The reason you hear of the gain in accuracy is because if you chamber a barrel with a reamer that has a dull throater instead of cutting clean sharp rifling it smears a burr up on the down wind side of the rifling. It takes from one to two hundred rounds to burn this burr out and the rifle to settle down and shoot its best. Any one who chambers rifle barrels has tolerances on how dull to let the reamer get and factories let them go longer than any competent smith would.

It all got started when a barrel maker that I know started putting break-in instructions in the box with each barrel he shipped a few years ago. I asked him how he figured it would help and his reply was if they shoot 100 rounds breaking in this barrel that's total life is 3000 rounds and I make 1000 barrels a year just figure how many more barrels I will get to make. He had a point; it definately will shorten the barrel life. I have been a barrel maker a fair amount of time and my barrels have set and reset benchrest world records so many times I quit keeping track (at one time they held 7 at one time) along with High Power, Silhouette, Smallbore national and world records and my instructions were to clean as often as possible preferably every 10 rounds. I inspect every barrel taken off and every new barrel before it is shipped with a bore scope and I will tell you all that I see far more barrels ruined by cleaning rods than I see worn out from normal wear and tear. I am even reading about people recommending breaking-in pistols. As if it will help their shooting ability or the guns'.

In other posts McMillan really hates barrel break-in.

Shilen: http://www.shilen.com/faq.html#question10
Break-in procedures are as diverse as cleaning techniques. Shilen, Inc. introduced a break-in procedure mostly because customers seemed to think that we should have one. By and large, we don't think breaking-in a new barrel is a big deal.

They only did it because they got so many calls/emails about it.


Krieger: http://www.kriegerbarrels.com/RapidCat/ ... anyId=1246
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. This is true of any properly finish-lapped barrel regardless of how it is rifled...
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 released into the gas which at this temperature and pressure is actually a plasma. The copper dust is vaporized in this gas 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.

They never claim anything about accuracy, but rather just ease of cleaning.

Lilja: http://www.riflebarrels.com/support/cen ... enance.htm
For an effective break-in the barrel should be cleaned after every shot for the first 10-12 rounds or until copper fouling stops. Our procedure is to push a cotton patch that is wet with solvent through the barrel. This will remove much of the powder fouling and wet the inside of the barrel with solvent. Next, wet a bronze brush with solvent and stroke the barrel 5-10 times. Follow this by another wet patch and then one dry patch. Now soak the barrel with a strong copper removing solvent until all of the blue mess is removed from the barrel. The copper fouling will be heavy for a few rounds and then taper off quickly in just one or two shots. Once it has stopped or diminished significantly it is time to start shooting 5 shot groups, cleaning after each one. After 25-30 rounds clean at a normal interval of 10-25 rounds. Your barrel is now broken-in.

Lilja is one of the few that seem to push it.

Bartlein: http://www.bartleinbarrels.com/BreakInCleaning.htm
The age old question, "Breaking in the New Barrel". Opinions very a lot here, and this is a very subjective topic. For the most part, the only thing you are breaking in, is the throat area of the barrel. The nicer the finish that the Finish Reamer or Throating Reamer leaves, the faster the throat will break in.

Shoot one round and clean for the first two rounds individually. Look to see what the barrel is telling you. If I'm getting little to no copper out of it, I sit down and shoot the gun. Say 4 - 5 round groups and then clean. If the barrel cleans easily and shoots well, we consider it done.

If the barrel shows some copper or is taking a little longer to clean after the first two, shoot a group of 3 rounds and clean. Then a group of 5 and clean.

After you shoot the 3rd group and 5th group, watch how long it takes to clean. Also notice your group sizes. If the group sizes are good and the cleaning is getting easier or is staying the same, then shoot 4 - 5 round groups.

If fouling appears to be heavy and taking a while to clean, notice your group sizes. If group sizes are good and not going sour, you don't have a fouling problem. Some barrels will clean easier than others. Some barrels may take a little longer to break in. Remember the throat. Fouling can start all the way from here. We have noticed sometimes that even up to approximately 100 rounds, a barrel can show signs of a lot of copper, but it still shoots really well and then for no apparent reason, you will notice little to no copper and it will clean really easy.

This is meant as guide lines only. There is no hard and fast rule for breaking in a barrel.

Bartlien seems impartial.

There are lots of others, but those are some of the big names.

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 09:43:51
by jrswanson1
gunderwood wrote:
jrswanson1 wrote:I did the break in thing with one of my 6.8 ARs. Best group ever with it, 3/4" 5 shot group at 200 yards. I did the same thing with my Remington 700, it gets 1/2" groups at 100 yards. The 6.8 AR and 5.56 AR didn't get that treatment. They're not sub-MOA. I'll keep doing the break in thing with new rifle barrels.

Jim

Every gun is different. Even two guns straight from the factory shoot very differently and want different loads. This is the reason you end up with stories that go like this:

"My brothers, best friends, uncle has a stock Remington 700 that will out shoot your custom rifle. He shoots 1/4MOA groups with factory loads all day. Why did you spend $X on a custom rifle when you could just buy a stock one and shoot just as well?"

The point is, that while there almost certainly is a factory Remington 700 that can out shoot a custom rifle, it isn't the norm. Most shoot 1-1.5MOA. You get a decent number (I'm making this number up, but the concept holds), say 20% that will shoot under 1MOA. Perhaps, 5% will even hold under 3/4MOA. Factory guns have HUGE variances and sometimes the tolerances stack up in your favor.

The other reason for this is what I call the "magic group." We've all had them. You occasionally get an outstanding group and of course that is what ends up on the Internet. Take your Remington 700, shoot 10, five shot 100yd minimum distance groups (five at a minimum). If there are obvious fliers (probably you), I'll let you toss one of the five out from the MOA calc. Of the ten "corrected" groups I'll let you through out 2 or 3 of the largest groups. Of the remaining 7 or 8 corrected groups, average the MOA. If it is less than 1/2MOA, I'll be impressed both by your shooting and that rifle.

On any given day (rifle quality aside) most shooters can't hold sub MOA on demand. I don't mean the best group, but virtually every group. People claim their rifles are 1/2MOA when they shot it once (and usually a 3 shot group too). I've seen and owned factory rifles that maybe one group in 10 or 20 is 1/2MOA...that isn't a 1/2MOA rifle, you just go lucky. The only group that makes it on the Internet is the one "magic group."


Just wanted to clarify a few things. The Remington 700 is a CDL. I get consistent 1/2" groups at 100 yards with a specific hunting load. The SPR in 6.8 SPC was getting consistent 1" groups at 200 yards, the 3/4" was the best of the day. I went through a lot of loads getting to those groups. The barrel on the SPR is an ER Shaw. The break in was recommended by the builder of this particular upper. Everyone at the 6.8 Forums who use this guys uppers do the same thing I did and get amazing accuracy out of these barrels. Maybe it's a psychological thing. I don't know. But if it isn't counterproductive, why not do it anyway? I dropped $600 for this upper. I spent $1100 on the Remington. If I spend $50 extra on ammo to do the break in, what's the big deal? It may not be necessary, but if it makes me feel better about it, I'll do it.

Jim

Re: Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 11:26:04
by SgtBill
My new weapon break in is clean it, lube it and shoot it. If I had a Benelli that jamed after every round from the box, you can bet your butt that it would be back to the factory and let them suffer the expense of the ammo to break it in.
Bill

Breaking in a new fire-arm

PostPosted: Sun, 10 Jun 2012 22:43:04
by CDRGlock
KaosDad wrote:By "new" I mean "from the factory with only test shots fired."

Does it need to be "broken in"? If so, how?


It is important to field strip, lubricate and inspect a pistol before firing.

I run at least 50 rounds of FMJ, in pistols, and then test JHPs. Depending upon how the gun feels, I may continue running ammunition through the pistol. To me, it takes about 200 rounds to feel springs loosen up from the factory, in Semiautos.

If it is a polymer, 50 rounds and a box of 20 JHPs work for me: Glock, S&W or SA XD. I put my diamondback DB9 up to 650 or so rounds when I realized it was never going to be reliable. I sold that POS.