Barrel break-in could be the most debated subject of barrel care. The two schools of thought are, just shoot it, or shoot and clean for x number of rounds. I have tried both and from my experience the proper way to go is the shoot and clean. This is why:
It is a well known fact that a barrel, even a custom lapped barrel, will attract more copper fouling to the bore on the first few bullets down the tube. The single most important reason to shoot one round and clean out that copper fouling is to prevent a build-up which will be MORE difficult to remove if multiple bullets are fired down the virgin bore. Yes, we may clean it five times with 5 bullets fired, but you will notice that the fifth cleaning was much easier than the first. On the other hand, if we fire 5 bullets in succession we will have multiple layers of copper laid down, which will require more cleaning to remove. My opinion is that the 5 cleanings will leave your bore in better condition than the single cleaning after 5 shots. I have shot, bore scoped, and cleaned a couple of barrels during the break in, and the visual bore inspection was quite enlightening. Read More...
This is a thread for discussion of the article, Custom Barrel Care at 17X, By Jim See. Here you can ask questions or make comments about the article.
Jim, I agree with the one shot and clean method working up to a seasoned bore and I have had excellent results with a very similar process. Reading "Precision Shooting Bench Rest Primer" lead me to start useing JB bore paste and polish along with Kroil, I will only use Sweets 762 when the copper devils won't let go. It just seems wrong to not scrub out fouling between shoots when only 30 rounds are fired and a squeeky clean barrel seems to group better in the pipes I have fired ( I am sure you have put more bullets down barrels than I ever will). Can you explain further why carbon and copper build up would be benificial to accuracy vs clean as I have read from several shooters.
Your opnion is highly respected.
Bob the nailer
one ragged hole...the quest for accuracy continues.
NRA Life member
Varmint Hunter Association member
American Gunsmith Association
Bob, I never said copper and carbon build up are benifical to accuracy, What I said was let the barrel tell you when to clean. If your accuracy falls off at 30 rounds, then you need to clean. My biggest point with this article is to stress the importance of protecting the bore from anything that will change the internal finish and thus change the frequency of fouling.
I own two guns that come to mind, that can fire upwards of 100 rounds and the accuracy is still spot on. I will shoot either one of them 50 plus shots and then bore scope them and copper fouling will be absent. Carbon will lie on the bore as just a cloudy haze with no layered black build-up. I atribute this to being properly broke in and most importantly; NEVER doing anything to change the surface finish of the bore. (one is a 223 and the other a 260)
I think some guys out there attempt to brake in a custom barrel by the shoot and clean method. BUT they try to speed it up by using an abrasive paste to get the copper out during the first few shoots when cleaning is the most difficult. That is the begining of barrel failure in my opinion. That person will never see what WAS the full potential of that barrel, in both its abillity to remain free of fouling, and it's longevity in the accuracy department.
When I bought my first centerfire rifle, I regret to say that I made pretty much every mistake in the book where barrel maintenance is concerned. My first centerfire rifle still shoots OK by normal hunting standards, but it has always had copper fouling problems (now I know why). When it comes to assessing the damage caused by my ignorance, however, I have some questions:
1. How can I determine the extent of the damage to the bore?
2. If, as seems likely, the bore is damaged, can the bore be restored?