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Is barrel break-in really needed for factory guns?

 
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  #1  
Old 01-11-2005, 12:28 PM
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Is barrel break-in really needed for factory guns?


Later this week I should be getting a new factory rifle in 308 win and started thinking about the first few times it will be shot.
So I searched on here and found some threads on barrel break-in procedures. Maybe break-in procedures are for custom guns but I thought a hand-made barrel would already be smoothed out by the maker. Which would reduce the need for break-in in the first place.
Currently own a VS in 22-250 and a VLS in 308. Neither gun was "broken-in" using the procedures described in those threads. I just shot the guns (without letting them overheat) and cleaned them when I was done. I'd say that their accuracy was in the .5 moa dept with factory loads and a little better at times with reloads.
Some of the prescribed methods talk about the bullet smoothing out the rough spots. How can copper (even under high pressure) remove metal and/or smooth it?
Another method was to use Flitz, JB paste or steel wool. I'd be concerned that too much metal is removed. What happens if the metal removal is uneven in certain spots and good in another? Maybe that's being too anal...
I used to use Shooters Choice, CR-10, Butch's and other cleaners along with metal brushes and patches. Then I discovered Wipeout bore foam and use only nylon bristle brushes and a patch /jag combo. For the last year or so I haven't used a metal brush in my barrels and the accuracy actually got a bit better. I think that is really related to Wipeout performing a thorough cleaning of the gun.
Now if the advice is to still use a "shoot one, then clean" procedure for 10 to 20 shots, how do I do that with Wipeout? That's a waste of a lot of foam.
Some guys say they never break-in a barrel and it works for them.
So who do I listen too?
Thanks for your help
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Old 01-11-2005, 12:48 PM
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Re: Is barrel break-in really needed for factory guns?

I would suggest you listen to yourself and your intuition.

Barrel break in is full of urban legend that getting a clear answer is a big waste of time.

Mechanically, all that is being done is to remove any rough spots. Whether it is with a bullet or lapping compound really doesn't matter.

The most recent rifle I have is a Savage 110 in 270. Rds 4,5, and 6 went into 1/4". All I did before firing was to clean out the oil in the bore. I would suggest barrel is broken in.

Personally, I don't bother with barrel break in. I just shoot and see what happens. If accuracy degrades quickly, then I hand polish with some JB bore polish and non embedding compound. This just takes the 'edge' off the lands. About as gritty as toothpaste so removing metal would take a lifetime.

A bit more shooting and a barrel will settle down, IF it is ever going to. A mis manufactured barrel is never going to improve. A well made barrel will shoot from the get go.

I really don't see the point of breaking in a match barrel. If this is a quality lapped barrel, any thing I do is only going to degrade the finish and cause wear. I would just shoot it as is. If a match barrel looses accuracy quickly due to fouling, I got a lemon and its back to the shop.

My 2 cents..

Jerry
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Old 01-11-2005, 08:36 PM
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Re: Is barrel break-in really needed for factory guns?

It seems that almost every custom barrel manufacturer recommends "their" particular method of barrel break-in. That tells me that there is something to the break-in process.

Presumably, a rougher factory barrel would have more to gain by barrel break-in, but who knows?

VH
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Old 01-12-2005, 12:54 AM
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Re: Is barrel break-in really needed for factory guns?

I believe barrel break in is even more beneficial for the factory barrels as they are much less uniform, more rough, and have more metalurgic impurities. I also break-in my custom barrels but they always take fewer shots as they are already smooth. If a custom barrel doesn't get easier to clean by the 10th shot, it is going back to the manufacturer.
As for your question of the copper bullet smoothing out steel, I will just say that it definetly does at some point. You can tell all of a sudden when it takes half the time to remove the copper then it did before. It might be on the 11th, 20th, 33rd, or 50th. Who knows, but you will be able to tell when it happens.
A good solvent for break in is Butch's or Montana Extreme, but my favorite as of recent is Coppermelt. It would be easy for you to use Coppermelt since it takes the same patch/brush combo that you've already been using. It will also reduce break-in time from several days to several hours.
Bottom line: Just do it. It is recommended by the guys who make the barrels. When you buy a brand new car, do you follow the manufacturer's advice and keep it under 60 mph for the first 500 miles? I would. After all, they know it best, and guns are really the same. Any brand new chunk of steel that has been machined and will be exposed to high intensity pressure will benefit from a break in period whether it is an engine or a barrel.
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Old 01-12-2005, 10:06 AM
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Re: Is barrel break-in really needed for factory guns?

Thanks for all of the responses so far. goodgrouper, I followed the break-in for my new Trailblazer because an engine has steel on steel parts. Copper on steel seems hard to imagine as being an abrasive.
So when the new VSF arrives I'll give the break-in procedure a try. There's a bottle of CR-10 somewhere in the bunker. I'll be curious to see if there is any fouling or accuracy difference from my VLS. Plan on using the Black Hills 175 SMK load to do it.
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Old 01-12-2005, 10:18 AM
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Re: Is barrel break-in really needed for factory guns?

If I have my gunsmith lap my factory barrel, is there still any need for a break in period? It seems that it would still be needed because there have not been any shots fired, so the barrel has not been subjected to high heat/pressure. If I would still need to break in the barrel, should I skip the hand lapping and save some $$, or do both?

Philip
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Old 01-12-2005, 10:35 AM
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Re: Is barrel break-in really needed for factory guns?

Philgood80,
I would still break the barrel in if you let your gunsmith lap it.
I would also be very informed on his process as hand lapping is a "feel" job and it takes a great deal of experience to do it right. Dan Lilja of Lilja Barrels says that he only has a few guys lap his barrels and they have to build up years of experience to get the "feel" of it. I would talk to a few other guys that have had him lap their barrels and see if they're satisfied. It would really suck to have a 270 barrel turn into a 7mm!
Another way you could go is to use the great fire-lapping bullet kits from David Tubb(not the ones from Neco)as you break in the barrel. I have seen these bullets put a mirror finish in many many factory barrels without making them one caliber larger like the ones from Neco!
Just my two cents.
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