You will find a lot of opinions on barrel break-in. The Lilja article is a good one to read. Let me try to explain what you're accomplishing. Any barrel, when it's bored will get tooling marks in the bore and these marks and irregularities will strip copper from your bullet and cause fouling. Most of the fouling will come from the very first shot, then gradually build from there. Barrel break-in is a process to attempt to smooth out these marks and irregularities to reduce fouling, which leads to easier cleaning, more consistant shooting and longer periods between needed cleanings. It is important to clean after each and every shot because after the first shot, the barrel becomes fouled and follow obn shots accomplish nothing. So my philosophy is to accomplish a one shot and clean break-in until is complete, period. IMO, going to cleaning after each 3 shots is a waste fot two shots. You will know your barrel is broke in when your fouling drops off significantly or completely. After that you're good to go.
Now listen to this very carefully. it is important that you remaove ALL the copper each time you clean during break-in or you are spinning your wheels. This where most guys get it wrong. There are alot of guys who clean their bores and think their bore is clean when they get clean patches and they are very wrong. I have used many different cleaners including Butche's Bore Shine, Montana Xtreme 50 BMG, KG-12, to name a few of the better ones, and all of them left copper in the bore after I got clean patches with them. How do I know? Because I followed up with Bore Tech Eliminator or Wipeout and found a lot more copper. I haven't used Sweets yet, but it is an amonia based cleaner, similar to Butches or Montana Xtreme and I really doubt if it is as strong as Montana Xtreme 50 BMG.
In using BTE, I will soak a patch and push through slowly and ususally the first 2-3 patches will be black then start turning blue. A few more patches will usually be dark blue, then the patches start turning pale blue. At this point you need to scrub your bore a little using a nylon brush and a few drops of BTE and let it sit for about 15-20 min. Your final soaking on your first few shots should probably be close to an hour to make sure all the copper is out. In this way, you'll get a feel for how long you need to saok to get all the copper out. Factory barrels are a lot rougher than custom lapped barrels and require a lot more work. It will be a very slow process to do it right. If you dont do it right, you might as well not do it at all. I have tried most of the best copper removers out there and none compare to BTE. Wipeout and Gunslick foaming cleaner are very effective, but require long soaking of up to 8 hrs and it may take you 3 days or more to clean a barrel until it's broke in. You are looking at 1-3 hours of cleaning between shots to do it right with the best cleaner available. Depending on the bore, it will probably take about 10-20 shots to break it in. Another technique I use that will probably speed the process is to put some Montana Xtreme Copper Cream on a patch after the bore is clean and short stroke it (push the patch back and forth without pushing it all the way out) a few times in the bore. It's a mild abasive that will help in burnishing your bore and should speed the process. It is not a real good copper remover. it will turn your patch black which is porbably a little carbon residue and some steel coming off. You dont want to over polish your bore because that can be bad also.
On how far you should shoot, IMO, you will be the best judge of that based on the capability of Your rifle and you. My rule of thunmb for zero distance is usually 300 yds for bullets with an MV of about 3400 or more and 200 yds for less. At 3300 fps and 300 yds your bullets trajectory will be close to 4" high @ 175 yds and that's a bit much for my liking. With a 200 yd zero your bullet will drop about 5-6" at 300 yds. You could split the difference with a 250 zero. If you decide 300 yds is your max range, 250 yds would be a good zero.
Hope that helps and welcome to LRH.
Last edited by MontanaRifleman; 03-09-2010 at 01:10 PM.
The 85 gr Speer SPBT is a very good whitetail bullet. I have killed a lot of them with it. It is reasonably accurate and reasonably tough.
Secondly, I would tend toward a 300 yard zero but 200 will be OK.
I would not do very much to the rifle until it gave me a reason to do so. Fire your groups slowly letting the barrel cool between shots. I am currently working with a bone stock gun and the last trip to the range to test loads for accuracy saw it shoot two consecutive 0.4 MOA groups. I suspect by playing around with seating depths I can get it a little tighter. But even if that is the best it will do, I now know what my baseline accuracy is before doing any work on the gun itself.
Finally, I would say that you are welcome to come to this forum for advice but I do not think it is wise to get caught up in the quest for long range hunting until you have mastered short range hunting. At long range every thing gets to be very expensive and very difficult. Once you have gained enough knowledge of deer and their habits to believe that each and every year you will be able to kill multiple deer at 100 to 300 yards then you should contemplate increasing the level of difficulty. Being a good rifle shot is no substitute for hunting skill. A couple of years ago I took my daughter who had never hunted big game out west to hunt. I supplied the hunting skill and she supplied the shooting skill. It worked out well because both skills were present.
So, that is my advice. Keep things relatively simple and take things slowly. You do not need to spend much money to be able to load the truck up with deer every year.
After you are done with all the break in stuff. Learn to use a ballistics calculator, like jbm ballistics, and go out and shoot as far as you want, at targets. Set limits for hunting based on your equipment and ability, learned from shooting far at targets.
I think you are hooked with out firing a shot. Have fun, and getting the kids involved is great. They will remember it for ever. My father taught me to hunt and fish. They are my fondest memories of my father as a kid.
To hunt... or not to hunt...? What a stupid question.
I just finised typing out my instructions for when I go break in my barrel and sight my scope for the first time. (Step-by-step and shot-by-shot instructions that I can understand) I plan on going when I have about 5 hours, so I can clean after my first 10-12 shots, then start working my way out to longer and longer distances.
Hopefuly, I will settle in at 200 yards, but if I am only accurate at 100, then I will stop there, untill I gain confidence.
I have a 4-12X50 Nikon Buckmaster's. I know that I am comfortable at 100 yards. (On a borrowed gun that I was told was sighted accurate at 200 with a 3-9X50) Hopefuly my scope will give me some control with the extra distance. I also hope to get comfortable with MY gun and MY scope. You never realy know how someone else's equipment is set up.
I plan on practicing on targets and fruit untill I am fully comfortable at 200 yards. Taking my time and focusing on the basics of breathing, trigger control, and follow through. After that, I plan on learning about balistics and how to adjust the scope for wind interfereance and longer distances.
My scope has an adjustable "zero" mark. After I am sighted in, and set this "zero" Will I be able to adjust up or down for distance, then return to "zero" and count on it being accurate at the origonal setting?
Good thing is, where I hunt, all shots will be 225 or shorter, so I should be pretty comfortable taking ethical shots by next season.
I already have my eye on a Savage Cub for my oldest son. His arms are still a bit short, so I will probably buy it for him in another 6 months. I would just get him a Marlin 60 and cut the stock off with a jig saw, but I want to keep the barrel weight down for his first gun.
Thanks for the advice. I'll check out the balistics calculator when 200 yards gets too easy.
I should mention that when using BTE, if you use bronze brushes and/or brass jags, the BTE will eat away at these and give you a false blue reading. I use nylon brushes and nickel plated jags. And be very careful about bringing your jags back through the bore so you dont damage your crown.