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My smallest 3 shot group

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Unread 11-03-2008, 11:37 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: OHIO
Posts: 2,417
Re: My smallest 3 shot group

I break in every custom barrel and have no regrets. I don't believe it hurts the bore whatsoever if done properly with top quality cleaning equipment. I'd say the average break-in is about 12 rounds. What's the big deal? By break-in, I mean, no more visible copper streaks in the base angle of the lands and none on the land surface after 1 shot.

I believe Hart makes some of the finest barrels. I have one. It was also a bitch to clean and took the longest to break in. But it sure shoots well.

Krieger, Speedy, and others have just as much information as to why a bore should have a break-in as those who opine otherwise.

The problem is, that no 2 rifles are just alike and I truly believe that it is impossible to compare one rifle to another even if built by the same smith, using the same reamer, technique, etc.

I don't have the answers or proof, but with each round shot on a new barrel, there is no denying that copper and powder fouling is being laid down on the surface and it builds up with each shot. I've read about "carbon/fouling glazing" etc., even though I don't know how critical it is in affecting accuracy.

Ultimately, my question would be to those who shoot benchrest AND hunt a lot....why is it that so many benchrest shooters tend to do a "break-in" and clean often and thoroughly, while those who hunt say it's a waste of time?

I have a rifle that will hopefully be done fairly soon. It is a 6.5x284 and will have a Bartlein 5R gain twist to finish at 25" with 8 twist at the muzzle. I will not do a barrel break-in and see how it does.
Derek M.

Last edited by Derek M.; 11-03-2008 at 12:04 PM.
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Unread 11-03-2008, 09:47 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: east central fl. /n.c. pa.
Posts: 801
Re: My smallest 3 shot group

well this break in subject was recently discussed on another site. im sure guy can recall that. personaly, i dont have a clue whats best. ive never been told to break in a barrel by any gunsmith. ive been told the record gun at williamsport, got no special break in. im of the opinion that some barrels are just a little better than others, and thats the difference. of coarse a good lefty shooter dosent hurt either.
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Unread 11-04-2008, 09:51 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: North Idaho
Posts: 1,877
Re: My smallest 3 shot group


I did not break the barrel in. I did my usuall sight in (3-4 rounds), shot some 3 shot groups (another 6-9 rounds) then shot a few distant plates for trajectory validation (another 5-6 rounds), then took it home and cleaned it. It easly has 1800-2000 rounds through it (I'd have to look to be sure) and I have cleaned it 4 or 5 times.
I have noticed with most of my rifles that they respond well to this program, but all are different. Two examples:
1. My 280 Ackley Imp "Sheep Rifle" shoots scary small groups for the first 30-40 rounds and flatly needs to be cleaned to shoot well and by this I mean it goes from sub 1/2" to 1 1/2" @ 100. This is the worst case I have seen from a custom barrel.
2. My "Shop" 7 WSM first shots from a clean fouled with 3 shots barrel will shoot a hole typically 1/4"ish. It will then open to 3/4" after 6-10 rounds, then somewhere around 30 rounds it goes back to the 1/4-3/8" rifle it should be. It will hold this level of accuracy for quite sometimeat least to 250-300 rounds that I know of.
I've had about the same experience with 338 cal. stuff. My current 338 Edge has 436 rounds throught it and has been cleaned twice. Once at 12 rounds and once at 26 rounds. It will on demand shoot well under 1/2" any day and usually closer to 1/4". I used it the other day to get a first round hit on a 13-15" rock at 1514 yards. I just see no reason to clean it right now if it won't do anything for me. I have also noticed that on most of my rifles that thay seem more consistant when well fouled. Like I said earlier some are different but most have worked like this for me.
Factory rifles - I have seen few factory barrels respond well to the shoot the crap of of them technique. After scoping many of them it makes sense to me. The few that did respond well showed the same lack of copper fouling traits that the custom barrels did. It would seem that this is a key issue and I think most will agree with that. Most good shooting factory rifles I have had needed to be cleaned often to keep accuracy. When they did start to go south performance wise copper fouling was very evident.
I guess the bottom line is this if your rifle is shooting well what are you hoping to accomplish by cleaning it? NOTHING. If your shoot it more are you damaging it? I HAVN"T EVER SEEN IT HAPPEN. I tell people all the time if you want to break in go ahead but I don't. If you rifle is still shooting well with 30 rounds down it and you want to clean it you can but I wouldn't. In the end everyone must do what they feel the most comfortable with. I am most comfortable shooting until I see a performance drop then cleaning and starting the process over.
Shawn Carlock

Last edited by Shawn Carlock; 11-04-2008 at 09:56 AM.
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Unread 11-04-2008, 11:31 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Central Washington
Posts: 491
Re: My smallest 3 shot group

Having read about the snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan, they certainly aren't cleaning like the BR guys! They are cleaning much more like Shawn talks about, and they are in much worse conditions than any of us as far as external dirt, etc.

The only rifle I have extensive experience with high round counts is my 6.5 Grendel, and I shot over 700 rounds between cleanings without seeing any significant difference in accuracy that I could attribute to the gun.

My best group with it is 1/4", and after 2000 plus rounds, it will still shoot those groups when I am shooting well.

I typically clean it every 500 rounds or so, but mostly because I feel guilty if I don't! And that is a dirty gas gun, not a clean bolt gun!


The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

Thomas Jefferson
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Unread 11-04-2008, 12:01 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Long Island, New York
Posts: 2,422
Re: My smallest 3 shot group

I am a clean bore freak. Every rifle (or hand every time it returns from the range. Often the rifle will only have 20-30 rounds down the tube, sometimes even less. I normally bring 3 rifles to the range so that they have plenty of cool-down time between strings.

SHAWN, you've got me thinking now because sometimes I shoot incredibly small groups and other times OK groups with the exact same load, in the same firearm when wind conditions favorable. I often wondered what would cause this.

I did notice just recently that my 7STW needed more than the usual 2 fouling shots to settle down. After 7-8 rounds groups shrank noticeably. Unfortunately, I went home and cleaned the bore again.

I think I'll give your non-clean bore idea a chance to prove itself. After all these years I'm not sure I have the will power to put a dirty gun back in the display cabinet, but I'll try. :>)
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Unread 11-04-2008, 12:23 PM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: South of Canada and North of Wyoming
Posts: 6,068
Re: My smallest 3 shot group

Thanks for the input Shawn. My current Sako 300 WSM is shooting terrible, about 2-4 MOA depending on the load and day. It's new and I did do a barrel break in with it and copper fouling dropped off dramtically after the 13th round of break in, to almost nil. The factory will be replacing it after hunting season and based on what you've said I think my approach will be to shoot a five shot group for a base line accuracy check and then do the break in for it. After that I will shoot it without cleaning until I see accuracy drop off.

Thanks, and that is very cool about your son and daughter too.

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Unread 11-05-2008, 03:52 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Virginia
Posts: 305
Re: My smallest 3 shot group

Wow ! Great shooting !

...and to think I was happy with a .783" 3 shot group. I have a long way to go.
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