New Barrel Break-in And Cleaning Methods

357lover

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Joined
Mar 20, 2018
Messages
29
Location
Winston Salem, NC
I'll have to say this was most helpful. I never gave a thought to this proceedure and was about to pump several hundred rounds thru my new Thompson.
I will definitely follow your advice and try my best not to ruin my barrel.
 
Last edited:

jrock

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Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,073
You won't ruin a barrel without break in. I think it really helps with minimizing fouling which means more shots with consistency and easier to clean.
 

Greyfox

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Jan 21, 2008
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5,527
Location
Northeast
Thanks Len! Nice write-up. For several years, I have pretty much standardized on BoreTech Eliminator for general cleaning, and the specialty products; BoreTech CU+2 Copper solvent and BoreTech Carbon Remover, when needed. My cleaned barrels are wiped dry and get a thin coat of Montana Blend Bore Conditioner.
 

WildRose

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Feb 3, 2011
Messages
12,075
Location
N. Texas and S. Africa
So for greasing the lugs would something like Carlson's choke tube grease work?
Probably but I've always found to be pretty messy. It's basically "anti-seeze" for choke tubes.

I've just used the white lube or high pressure/temp automotive grease for decades with great luck.

Just put a tiny dab on with a q-tip, work the bolt a few times, wipe off what you can see. Just like oil you want a very thin layer and excess will only attract dust, dirt, and grit.

I seriously think we do more damage with over cleaning and lubricating than with infrequent cleaning and lubricating. The only exception to that which I've found are the ultra fast rounds like the .204 and 220 Swift. They are so small and so fast they are very temperamental.

My huntin clients and shooting friends refer to the "WildRose Test". "If it runs for WR you know it will run forever because he never cleans his guns". That's the cleaned up version anyhow.

In general I run them all until I have a problem such as a drop off of accuracy, then I'll clean the snot out of them, lube them, and start over.

This is why everything I have is stainless or stainless and cerakoted.
 

J E Custom

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Jul 29, 2004
Messages
10,319
Location
Texas
I am a big believer in barrel break in for many reasons as discussed in the past.

The benefits in reduced fouling along with longer barrel life and faster load work up make it worth while in my opinion.

But today, I wanted to see if there were any more benefits to barrel brake in so I performed a test that I had not seen anything about it and this is the results.

I built myself a 260 AI using a 788 rem action and a 3 groove Lilja varmint contour barrel.

The loads were fire form loads in the middle of the 260 loading using a 123 Hornady match bullet.

The test was to chronograph the fire form loads as I did a breakin of the barrel to see if there were any changes in velocity during this process.

Here are the velocity readings.
Clean barrel
1st shot = 2790 ft/sec
clean barrel
2nd shot = 2808 ft/sec
clean barrel
3rd shot = 2831 ft/sec
clean barrel
4th shot = 2854 ft/sec
clean barrel
5th shot = 2868 ft/sec
clean barrel
6th shot = 2878 ft/sec
clean barrel
7th shot = 2890 ft/sec
clean barrel
8th shot = 2894 ft/sec
At this point the barrel appeared to be broke in because it cleaned up well and velocity seemed to remain close to 2890 ft/sec with SDs below 8.

There was no point to figuring SDs during break in because the velocity kept climbing but once it settled down SDs were good (Especially for fire forming loads)

Velocities during break in had a 104 ft/sec total spread but once break in was finished, the average velocity improvement over the first round was averaging 80 to 85 ft/sec faster than the first shot in the new barrel.

This was just one test and i am sure some barrels will exceed this improvement if break in is done correct and some will not, but it does show me that there is another advantage to doing a breakin beside less fouling.

I don't know what a barrel would do if it was not broken in, or when or how many shots it would take before it would reach its average max velocity from the first shot.

NOTE: All loads were as exactly the same as I could load them, so I feel the test was valid and at least I learned something from it.

J E CUSTOM
 

WildRose

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Joined
Feb 3, 2011
Messages
12,075
Location
N. Texas and S. Africa
I am a big believer in barrel break in for many reasons as discussed in the past.

The benefits in reduced fouling along with longer barrel life and faster load work up make it worth while in my opinion.

But today, I wanted to see if there were any more benefits to barrel brake in so I performed a test that I had not seen anything about it and this is the results.

I built myself a 260 AI using a 788 rem action and a 3 groove Lilja varmint contour barrel.

The loads were fire form loads in the middle of the 260 loading using a 123 Hornady match bullet.

The test was to chronograph the fire form loads as I did a breakin of the barrel to see if there were any changes in velocity during this process.

Here are the velocity readings.
Clean barrel
1st shot = 2790 ft/sec
clean barrel
2nd shot = 2808 ft/sec
clean barrel
3rd shot = 2831 ft/sec
clean barrel
4th shot = 2854 ft/sec
clean barrel
5th shot = 2868 ft/sec
clean barrel
6th shot = 2878 ft/sec
clean barrel
7th shot = 2890 ft/sec
clean barrel
8th shot = 2894 ft/sec
At this point the barrel appeared to be broke in because it cleaned up well and velocity seemed to remain close to 2890 ft/sec with SDs below 8.

There was no point to figuring SDs during break in because the velocity kept climbing but once it settled down SDs were good (Especially for fire forming loads)

Velocities during break in had a 104 ft/sec total spread but once break in was finished, the average velocity improvement over the first round was averaging 80 to 85 ft/sec faster than the first shot in the new barrel.

This was just one test and i am sure some barrels will exceed this improvement if break in is done correct and some will not, but it does show me that there is another advantage to doing a breakin beside less fouling.

I don't know what a barrel would do if it was not broken in, or when or how many shots it would take before it would reach its average max velocity from the first shot.

NOTE: All loads were as exactly the same as I could load them, so I feel the test was valid and at least I learned something from it.

J E CUSTOM
Good info. Most of mine seem to settle in with fifty shots or less. If it takes more than that I start thinking I have a dud.
 

J E Custom

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Joined
Jul 29, 2004
Messages
10,319
Location
Texas
Good info. Most of mine seem to settle in with fifty shots or less. If it takes more than that I start thinking I have a dud.

Thanks, I thought it would be less of a spread (15 or 20 ft/sec) but it was interesting.

I always suspected this, but never tested the theory. I am sure the velocity increase will change barrel to barrel. The next time I brake in a factory barrel, I will perform the same test (If I can last long enough to perform it).

With the data i have, as I do accuracy testing I always use a chronograph and if it changes one way or the other I will post the velocities for comparison to the first.

J E CUSTOM
 

Havard

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2018
Messages
130
Location
Mississippi
Would like to ask a question; I have an A-Bolt as well as X-Bolt that I didn’t follow a break in procedure with. I was simply ignorant to the process. ABolt has had a couple box’s of rounds through it and the X has maybe the same. Would I benefit from trying to do a cleaning / copper removal process now? The X (.308 Win) finally settled down and quit walking all over the target. I feared if I cleaned the copper it would be erratic again. Was never taught about barrel break in till recent.
 

phorwath

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Joined
Apr 4, 2005
Messages
6,485
Location
Alaska
I would still clean and follow the barrel break-in process.
It won't hurt anything, other than your $wallet. It could help to put an improved surface finish on your bores.
 

twister

Well-Known Member
LRH Team Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2018
Messages
177
i broke in a couple rifles this year and have done like this post but i have switched to the gretan rifles method. i am amazed at the difference and i have done somethat were still giving me copper issues after 40 rounds and its just amazing at how fast they change using the graphite. well worth 12 dollars.
 

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