Breaking/Sighting in Hunting Rifle

goebs66

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May 26, 2015
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52
First off, I don't believe in "breaking in" barrels with the cleaning between every shot. Seems like a total waste of time and a good way to wear out your rifle even faster. But I do have a question about when a barrel is ready to maintain accuracy. I just received my Sako 85 7mm rem mag, and was thinking about giving it a good cleaning and then taking it to the range to sight in with about 20 rounds at 100 then 200 yards. After that, do you guys think its good to go for hunting? Is the barrel "broken in enough"?
 

Laelkhunter

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Oct 20, 2011
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New Orleans, La
I have been doing lots of reading on the pros and cons of breaking in a new barrel. Some say with a factory grade hunting rifle barrel, it doesn't matter, and it won't help much. Then some say with a quality after market barrel, they are pre lapped after the rifling process, before it is shipped out.
Most of what I have determined is that when the throat or "leade" is cut, it is usually rough, and due to where it is and how it is cut, it can't really be polished or lapped by hand, so it can only be smoothed out by firing ???
I am waiting to get my .340 Wby back from the gunsmith. It has a Lilja stainless match barrel installed. When I do get it back, I will definitely break it in, one shot, then remove carbon, then remove copper for ten shots. Then fire two shots and clean for ten shots, then finally three shots, and clean.
It might make the difference, and it might not. Once you go through the tedious process, you might be glad you did, but once you decide not to break-in, and then fire 20 or 30 rounds, you obviously can't go back and do a proper break-in.
I should get my rifle back within the next week or two, and with the high temps, I will want to take it easy, and cleaning between shots will help it cool
between shots, which I can also use to "Sight-in" the new scope, plus I can see where the first shot POI changes (if any) on a freshly cleaned barrel.
If you clean properly, and take your time, and by all means use a quality bore guide, you should be able to safely clean your barrel without damage.
 

roninflag

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Feb 27, 2006
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az
i shoot my gun. then i clean with shooters choice mc-7 and shooters choice copper remover following the instuction on the jar. after 20 rounds or so, if i change loads or powders. in an f-class match i shoot 66 rounds minimum , after than many cleaning takes longer. in that case a lot times i will squirt the foam cleaner in a barrel to get it started.
 

J E Custom

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Jul 29, 2004
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Texas
First off, I don't believe in "breaking in" barrels with the cleaning between every shot. Seems like a total waste of time and a good way to wear out your rifle even faster. But I do have a question about when a barrel is ready to maintain accuracy. I just received my Sako 85 7mm rem mag, and was thinking about giving it a good cleaning and then taking it to the range to sight in with about 20 rounds at 100 then 200 yards. After that, do you guys think its good to go for hunting? Is the barrel "broken in enough"?


Just a comment.

There are many opinions on the breaking in of a barrel. I wont try to change anyone's opinion
on it so you can do what you want, (Its your barrel).

There have been many debates on barrel break in and you should do a search and read them
and make your decision based on what you think is best for you.

I did not break in barrels for many years (Did not think it was necessary) then I bought a rifle that just would not shoot as well as I wanted it to. So out of desperation, I decided to do the traditional
shoot and clean break in. (This was a factory rifle).

After a thorough cleaning. I started the process.

After 7 to 8 cycles I began to see some improvements in both accuracy and cleaning.

With nothing to loose I continued the shoot and clean until I saw no appreciable improvement.
(Just over 20 rounds) now the rifle will shoot an average 1/2 MOA when before it could not get less than 1 1/2" groups at 100 yards.

Now I do a break in on all barrels Custom or factory. (Custom barrels normally break in in less than 10 rounds and the factory barrels are somewhere between 15 and 25 shots normally).

The downside to barrel break in is time. It can be boring and time consuming.

The up side is accuracy and barrel life. A clean barrel will last longer because of the carbon removal between shots. and accuracy will be more consistent.

If a break in is not performed, you will never know the accuracy potential of your weapon and finding a good load will normally take a lot more rounds.

This is just my opinion and experience with break in so take it however you want.

J E CUSTOM
 

goebs66

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May 26, 2015
Messages
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I've done my research and believ it's a good way to wear the barrel out even more rather than get it to last longer. If you do the research you should come up with the results I did. I was simply asking is 20 shots through a barrel enough to have it "broken in" enough for it to be a consitent in a hunting situation? I didn't want to learn more about cleaning haha just a round count...
 

FEENIX

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Great Falls, MT
+1 on Jerry's comment!
 

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Laelkhunter

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I've done my research and believ it's a good way to wear the barrel out even more rather than get it to last longer. If you do the research you should come up with the results I did. I was simply asking is 20 shots through a barrel enough to have it "broken in" enough for it to be a consitent in a hunting situation? I didn't want to learn more about cleaning haha just a round count...

What type of accuracy are you getting from the barrel now? If it's 2 moa, then like J E CUSTOM replied, break in might make it a better shooter. If it's 1/2 moa, then leave it alone. Accuracy for hunting is approx 1 moa, minimum.
Until you actually shoot it, it would be difficult to determine if it is "hunting accurate".
 

goebs66

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May 26, 2015
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What type of accuracy are you getting from the barrel now? If it's 2 moa, then like J E CUSTOM replied, break in might make it a better shooter. If it's 1/2 moa, then leave it alone. Accuracy for hunting is approx 1 moa, minimum.
Until you actually shoot it, it would be difficult to determine if it is "hunting accurate".

I haven't shot it yet. I was planning on putting a box or two of cheaper Federal or Winchester ammo through it first just to get on paper and get used to recoil. And then putting in my expensive ammo, re sighting in at 100 then 200. And then dialing up to 600 and achieve Sub-MOA there... And THEN I was thinking it would be hunting ready!
 

Engineering101

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Maple Valley, Washington
I've got a dozen hunting rifles give or take. I pretty much ignore the barrel break in. I just start load development. The one thing I do is clean after each range session if it is a new barrel where I might not with a rifle that has had several range sessions. These rifles shoot 200 yards 4-shot groups that run from 1.5 inches down to 0.5 inches. When I get a load that will do the 1.5 inches or better I move over to the 600 yard range and if that works out, I go hunting. I don't need any better than that. If I was doing bench rest competition I might think differently but for what I'm doing no need to mess with "break in".
 

Laelkhunter

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Oct 20, 2011
Messages
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New Orleans, La
I haven't shot it yet. I was planning on putting a box or two of cheaper Federal or Winchester ammo through it first just to get on paper and get used to recoil. And then putting in my expensive ammo, re sighting in at 100 then 200. And then dialing up to 600 and achieve Sub-MOA there... And THEN I was thinking it would be hunting ready!

That should work fine. Keep us posted on your progress. Good Luck !!
 

J E Custom

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I've done my research and believ it's a good way to wear the barrel out even more rather than get it to last longer. If you do the research you should come up with the results I did. I was simply asking is 20 shots through a barrel enough to have it "broken in" enough for it to be a consitent in a hunting situation? I didn't want to learn more about cleaning haha just a round count...

That's great !!

I was just trying to help you get the most of your rifle. As far as the Research, most people that know me know that I research everything and then try to prove or disprove it. In my mind, I have proven the benefit of a proper break in based on experience and results.

I have built many custom rifles and would not give the 1/2 moa guarantee if the barrel is not broken in properly. In most cases the rifles will shoot well below the 1/2 MOA requirements if broken in properly and in many cases below 1/10th MOA

I under stand that not everyone needs 1/2 MOA or less accuracy but why not try and get every bit of accuracy that a rifle barrel can produce.

You also ask about the round count that a barrel needs to be "Quote" broken in. There is no good answer because all barrels are different and require more or less rounds to break them in and if you don't clean between some number of rounds It will never get broken in because the copper fouling will prevent the bullet from contacting the barrel and breaking it in.

Just an observation not a sarcastic question, If break-in means nothing, why worry about it. Just shoot it and be happy.

I don't claim to know everything and don't want to force my opinion on anyone, just help those that want help.

Good luck with your rifle.

J E CUSTOM
 

phorwath

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Location
Alaska
I've done my research and believe it's a good way to wear the barrel out even more rather than get it to last longer. If you do the research you should come up with the results I did. I was simply asking is 20 shots through a barrel enough to have it "broken in" enough for it to be a consitent in a hunting situation? I didn't want to learn more about cleaning haha just a round count...

There's at least two reasons you're not getting the answer to the question you've asked.

1) Virtually everyone posting on this Forum practices a barrel break-in procedure contrary to the method you subscribe to - thus they have no experience with your method of barrel break-in;
2) There is no one-size-fits-all number answer to your question.

Based on your preferences, I don't think a number of shots break-in answer is going to matter to you or your barrel, either way. Just sight in and go hunt. Pretty sure you'll be happy. And if you're not, you won't admit it anyway.
 

goebs66

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Joined
May 26, 2015
Messages
52
That's great !!

I was just trying to help you get the most of your rifle. As far as the Research, most people that know me know that I research everything and then try to prove or disprove it. In my mind, I have proven the benefit of a proper break in based on experience and results.

I have built many custom rifles and would not give the 1/2 moa guarantee if the barrel is not broken in properly. In most cases the rifles will shoot well below the 1/2 MOA requirements if broken in properly and in many cases below 1/10th MOA

I under stand that not everyone needs 1/2 MOA or less accuracy but why not try and get every bit of accuracy that a rifle barrel can produce.

You also ask about the round count that a barrel needs to be "Quote" broken in. There is no good answer because all barrels are different and require more or less rounds to break them in and if you don't clean between some number of rounds It will never get broken in because the copper fouling will prevent the bullet from contacting the barrel and breaking it in.

Just an observation not a sarcastic question, If break-in means nothing, why worry about it. Just shoot it and be happy.

I don't claim to know everything and don't want to force my opinion on anyone, just help those that want help.

Good luck with your rifle.

J E CUSTOM

Thanks for the input. Check this out:
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 break in method A very large number would do more harm than
help. The reason you hear of the help in accuracy is because if you
chamber 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 1 to 2 hundred rounds to burn this bur 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 smithe would. Another tidbit to
consider, Take a 300Win Mag. that has a life expectancy of 1000 rounds.
Use 10% of it up with your break in procedure for ever 10 barrels the
barrel maker makes he has to make one more just to take care of the
break in. no wonder barrel makers like to see this. Now when you flame
me on this please include what you think is happening to the inside of
your barrel during the break in that is helping you.

Gale McMillan
NBSRA IBS,FCSA and NRA Life Member


I was talking about his comment that after a certain number of rounds the barrel settles in and starts shooting its best... I didn't mean my question in the "cleaning the barrel break in sense".
 
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