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Barrel break in

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I’m getting into the  precision shooting and came across an awesome deal on a custom rifle that’s never been fired. I’ve been putting off shooting it until I have a full day set aside for barrel beak in. But there are a few people telling me that the newer barrels don’t need to be broken in like the older ones. Is there any truth to this? I only get one chance at doing it right so I don’t want to mess it up. 

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Not really.  You can do it if you like, but not many people do that anymore.

 

You will most likely see a velocity bump around the 150-200 round mark with cut rifled barrels.  Plan on reworking your pet loads at that point.

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If this was any other forum you would've just started a 12 page debate with all of the emotion and rage of a 9mm vs. 45 ACP thread. The number of precision rifle guys still breaking barrels in seems to be dwindling daily, and barrels are shooting better than ever.

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13 minutes ago, TonytheTiger said:

If this was any other forum you would've just started a 12 page debate

That's why I asked it here and not the other forum. Just trying to get a straight yes or no answer, not a 2 hour lecture.😉

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4 minutes ago, blacklab said:

That's why I asked it here and not the other forum. Just trying to get a straight yes or no answer, not a 2 hour lecture.😉

But the entertainment value is higher elsewhere!

 

I'm not real into the PR scene but the high level PRS guys I know as well as all the guys that I've spoken with say barrel break in is a thing of the past. 

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I have enough entertainment in my life don't need much more...………...going to have to think about this for awhile. I my have to just take a leap of faith and skip the break in process so I can hang out with all the cool kids.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, TonytheTiger said:

If this was any other forum you would've just started a 12 page debate with all of the emotion and rage of a 9mm vs. 45 ACP thread. The number of precision rifle guys still breaking barrels in seems to be dwindling daily, and barrels are shooting better than ever.

Then there’s the .40/10mm crowd who just clean fire three clean again and run it 😂

 Worked fine for my 18” BHW barreled AR Build 

 And I also agree with Tom Freeman shoot it awhile to settle everything in then play with pet loads.  

 

Edited by Amerflyer48

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Posted (edited)

Definitely clean it before you send that first round. Make sure the barrel is clean and dry.

 

I still do some break in. Not a ton, but some. I figure why not, I just spent +$700 on the barrel and I am at the range and have the time. I play with another rifle or 22 while waiting for barrels to cool off anyway. I split the difference between "over-the-top" break in and none at all.

 

I clean after the first round (lots of copper). I only use patches, and Boretech Cu+2 not brushes. Then I'll shoot 3-5 clean a little. Then maybe shoot 5-10 and clean. I use the time/rounds to zero the scope get velocity too. 

 

I may be a sucker, but I immediately start load development. If nothing else, I will find a bullet and a seating depth the barrels likes. When it speeds up, those 2 things should not change.

Edited by Delfuego

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I'd say it depends on the barrel. Most custom barrel manufacturers say break in is not necessary as their barrels are hand lapped and most of the roughness is removed. Factory barrels ie. Remington, Browning etc may need some break in to prevent excess copper build up as their rifleing is going to be much rougher.

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Most barrel manufacturers post on their website their break-in process. I suggest checking out the website of your barrel maker to see what they suggest. 

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People who recommend barrel break in are people who sell barrels, I have worn out 2 308 barrels, a 260, and a 6.5 creedmoor barrel on my Surgeon, and the current 308 tube on it is close to 11k rounds on it and still shoots 1/2 MOA, keep carbon in check, and shoot, less time doing anything else means more time shooting, what will yield better results

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i good quality hand lapped barrel chambered with a sharp reamer wont take much for a break in. my last pac-nor took 7 rnds to quit fouling. some barrels just arent worth the effort, but a good one is, and a good one wont take much.  shoot 1 , clean 1 while sighting in, using good cleaning practices and you will waste zero rounds, and cause zero extra wear on your barrel. on the other hand, if you are a hack with a cleaning rod, best not to do anything.

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I really don't get the argument that new barrels don't need any break in.  Kreiger and Bartlein are two of the biggest names in precision rifle barrels and both have break in procedures posted on their web sites.  Same for most big name builders, such as GA Precision.  So do as you wish, but I go with what the experts recommend. 

 

Kreiger

 

With any premium barrel that has been finish lapped -- such as your Krieger Barrel --, the lay or direction of the finish is in the direction of the bullet travel, so fouling is minimal compared to a barrel with internal tooling marks. This is true of any properly finish-lapped barrel regardless of how it is rifled. If it is not finish-lapped, there will be reamer marks left in the bore that are directly across the direction of the bullet travel. This occurs even in a button-rifled barrel as the button cannot completely iron out these reamer marks.

 

Because the lay of the finish is in the direction of the bullet travel, very little is done to the bore during break-in, but the throat is another story. When your barrel is chambered, by necessity there are reamer marks left in the throat that are across the lands, i.e. across the direction of the bullet travel. In a new barrel they are very distinct; much like the teeth on a very fine file. 

 

When the bullet is forced into the throat, copper dust is removed from the jacket material and released into the gas which at this temperature and pressure is actually a plasma. The copper dust is vaporized in this plasma and is carried down the barrel. As the gas expands and cools, the copper comes out of suspension and is deposited in the bore. This makes it appear as if the source of the fouling is the bore when it is actually for the most part the new throat.

 

If this copper is allowed to stay in the bore, and subsequent bullets and deposits are fired over it, copper which adheres well to itself, will build up quickly and may be difficult to remove later. So when we break in a barrel, our goal is to get the throat “polished without allowing copper to build up in the bore. This is the reasoning for the fire-one-shot-and-clean procedure.

 

Every barrel will vary slightly in how many rounds they take to break in For example a chrome moly barrel may take longer to break in than stainless steel because it is more abrasion resistant even though it is a similar hardness. Also chrome moly has a little more of an affinity for copper than stainless steel so it will usually show a little more color if you are using a chemical cleaner. Rim Fire barrels can take an extremely long time to break in, sometimes requiring several hundred rounds or more. But cleaning can be lengthened to every 25-50 rounds. The break-in procedure and the cleaning procedure are really the same except for the frequency. Remember the goal is to get or keep the barrel clean while breaking in the throat with bullets. 

 

Barlein

 

The age old question, “Breaking in the New Barrel”. Opinions very a lot here, and this is a very subjective topic. For the most part, the only thing you are breaking in, is the throat area of the barrel. The nicer the finish that the Finish Reamer or Throating Reamer leaves, the faster the throat will break in.

 

Shoot one round and clean for the first two rounds individually. Look to see what the barrel is telling you. If I’m getting little to no copper out of it, I sit down and shoot the gun. Say 4 – 5 round groups and then clean. If the barrel cleans easily and shoots well, we consider it done.

If the barrel shows some copper or is taking a little longer to clean after the first two, shoot a group of 3 rounds and clean. Then a group of 5 and clean.

After you shoot the 3rd group and 5th group, watch how long it takes to clean. Also notice your group sizes. If the group sizes are good and the cleaning is getting easier or is staying the same, then shoot 4 – 5 round groups.

 

If fouling appears to be heavy and taking a while to clean, notice your group sizes. If group sizes are good and not going sour, you don’t have a fouling problem. Some barrels will clean easier than others. Some barrels may take a little longer to break in. Remember the throat. Fouling can start all the way from here. We have noticed sometimes that even up to approximately 100 rounds, a barrel can show signs of a lot of copper, but it still shoots really well and then for no apparent reason, you will notice little to no copper and it will clean really easy.

 

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Many of these barrel makers admit to publishing break in procedures to pacify there customers who constantly badger them for a break in procedure

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16 minutes ago, BrianATL said:

Many of these barrel makers admit to publishing break in procedures to pacify there customers who constantly badger them for a break in procedure

Thats exactly what two well known barrel industry guys have told me. If some BS instructions keeps the company from fielding endless calls asking about barrel break in its worth it.

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Hey, if you guys don't want to bother, that's fine.  Obviously it's your barrel and you can do whatever you want with it.  But I've had quite a few high end custom bolt guns built and they've all had more copper fouling when new than when they had a few rounds through them.  If you want to say that doesn't make a difference in the long run, that's your opinion, and there's probably no way to prove it difinitively one way or another.  But I don't see the harm in what amounts to about 20 minutes time plus minimal cost and effort.

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1 hour ago, ltdmstr said:

Hey, if you guys don't want to bother, that's fine.  Obviously it's your barrel and you can do whatever you want with it.  But I've had quite a few high end custom bolt guns built and they've all had more copper fouling when new than when they had a few rounds through them.  If you want to say that doesn't make a difference in the long run, that's your opinion, and there's probably no way to prove it difinitively one way or another.  But I don't see the harm in what amounts to about 20 minutes time plus minimal cost and effort.

 

Just wondering what you consider "long run"?


Most guys running PRS/NRL plan on changing barrels every 1200-1800 rounds
especially the 6mm guys, which is like 80% of the field

for me, and I'm sure for others as well,
burning 5-10% of your barrel life and $100-$200 of ammo on "break-in" is hard to justify if there's no crazy advantage

now if we're talking BR or F-class shooting, then it's probably a totally different discussion
which I know nothing about,
probably don't want to either,  lol

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I typically go through a box or two of cheap factory ammo with a new barrel, then switch to hand loads.  Your right on the 6CM shooters.  Seems most change barrels around 1500-1600.  But guess I'm behind the times as I'm still running 6.5CM and with those I get well over 2k rounds.  Some close to 3k.

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Barrels speed up and it takes approx 100-200 rounds down range to get a consistent velocity. You're "breaking-in" any way during that time. Nobody I know will show up at a big match without at least 150 down the tube.

 

I think it's comes down to:

If you want to, knock yourself out.

If you don't want to, well that's ok too. 

 

No "empirical evidence" either way. I think it's dumb to argue about it. There are 20 page threads dedicated to "know it all's" arguing about this.

My recommendation is for the OP to decide to break-in or not break-in, and tell us how it went....

 

Cheers!

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On 7/6/2019 at 11:18 AM, Delfuego said:

Definitely clean it before you send that first round. Make sure the barrel is clean and dry.

 

I still do some break in. Not a ton, but some. I figure why not, I just spent +$700 on the barrel and I am at the range and have the time. I play with another rifle or 22 while waiting for barrels to cool off anyway. I split the difference between "over-the-top" break in and none at all.

 

I clean after the first round (lots of copper). I only use patches, and Boretech Cu+2 not brushes. Then I'll shoot 3-5 clean a little. Then maybe shoot 5-10 and clean. I use the time/rounds to zero the scope get velocity too. 

 

I may be a sucker, but I immediately start load development. If nothing else, I will find a bullet and a seating depth the barrels likes. When it speeds up, those 2 things should not change.

This sounds like a good compromise. I think I'll go with this.

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On 7/13/2019 at 3:10 AM, mmlook said:

 

Just wondering what you consider "long run"?


Most guys running PRS/NRL plan on changing barrels every 1200-1800 rounds
especially the 6mm guys, which is like 80% of the field

for me, and I'm sure for others as well,
burning 5-10% of your barrel life and $100-$200 of ammo on "break-in" is hard to justify if there's no crazy advantage

now if we're talking BR or F-class shooting, then it's probably a totally different discussion
which I know nothing about,
probably don't want to either,  lol

a quality barrel will take less than 20 rnds to clean up the throat. during that time you should be sighting in, and or working up your loads, so you are using up ZERO of the barrels useful life. of course as i mentioned before, if your a hack with a cleaning rod, skip it all. if you use good practices while cleaning you will do zero damage to your barrel. the only real downside is maybe another half hour of your time, but at least for me ive found a barrel that had a good break in at the beginning of its life cleans easier for the rest of its life, so that half hour gets more than made up for down the road.

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2 hours ago, lefty o said:

but at least for me ive found a barrel that had a good break in at the beginning of its life cleans easier for the rest of its life, 

This is the part about break in arguments that always chaps my ass. 

It cleans easier than what? A duplicate blank that was made consecutively out of the same lot of steel and chambered by the same smith and then fired at exactly the same rate with the same ammo with the only difference being one was broken in and one wasn't? Because thats the only way you could really make that argument seeing as how no two barrels are alike enough to make such a definitive statement. 

 

I don't care what you want to do with your barrels and I won't argue for or against break in. But since no one has come up with a quantifiable method of proving their theories its bothersome to see people speak with such certainty.

Edited by TonytheTiger

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while you certainly cant prove beyond a doubt because each individual barrel is its own animal, own and use enough new barrels in your life and some you break in and some you dont, and you will notice a trend. just my opinion.

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I want a picture of a chapped Tiger's ass, would make a great avatar. 

 

So do you clean the chamber before the barrel or do you clean the barrel then the chamber? Because all those micro shavings you're getting out of the chamber are going down your pristine barrel, either by a patch or a bullet. 

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