Barrel Break In A Waste of Time

This is a discussion on Barrel Break In A Waste of Time within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Just read an interesting set of posts by Gale McMillan a world class barrel maker whose barrels apparently hold a number of world records. He ...

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Thread: Barrel Break In A Waste of Time

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array LongRider's Avatar
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    Barrel Break In A Waste of Time

    Just read an interesting set of posts by Gale McMillan a world class barrel maker whose barrels apparently hold a number of world records. He says that barrel break in is a complete waste of time and reduces your barrels lifespan by exactly the number of break in rounds you fire, plus whatever damage you do while cleaning he says he sees more barrels damaged by cleaning than worn out. Whats your take?
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    Distinguished Member Array Chooie's Avatar
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    I don't believe in breaking in rifling, but I do believe in breaking in the action. Friction points inside the gun may smooth up over time, but this is because the same parts rub against each other for many, many cycles. A bullet travels through a barrel exactly once.

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    "He says that barrel break in is a complete waste of time and reduces your barrels lifespan by exactly the number of break in rounds you fire, plus whatever damage you do while cleaning he says he sees more barrels damaged by cleaning than worn out. Whats your take?"

    I Agree.
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    The question was related to the barrel and not breaking in the action. Not trying to flame the OP, but per the credentials he stated, he's obviously the expert. Why would you question that on a forum like this? Seems pretty obvious.
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    Never broke in a weapon in my life. I shoot 'em and monitor performance. I do, however, believe in cleaning the bore often. I have single shot .17 and .22 caliber rifles with thousands of rounds through them that have never seen a cleaning rod. In my opinion the smaller calibers (.17 and .22) get more bore wear from cleaning rods than shooting. I use bore snakes on these calibers.

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    I would tend to agree with a widely renowned expert myself

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    Just to keep within warranty perameters, I follow whatever procedure is outlined in the owners manual. IIRC, I followed what I would consider a break-in procedure for my issue in the military. This was back in the 70's.
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  9. #8
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QKShooter View Post
    I Agree.
    Ditto.

    And so does Karl Schuemann of Schuemann barrels who is world renowned as manufacturer of arguably the worlds best and most accurate handgun barrels.

    Cleaning

    Probably the hardest task when cleaning your gun is deciding about cleaning the barrel chamber and bore. The primary problem is a lack of well documented information. An additional
    problem results because the steel which has been most commonly used for pistol barrels has some characteristics which complicate the decision. A detailed explanation of some of the characteristics of the 416 stainless steel used to make custom and replacement pistol barrels can be found in the "steel facts" section of the website.

    My Personal Practice has become to never clean the bore of my barrels. I do use a brass rod to scrape the deposits out of the chamber.
    But, I've learned to leave the bore alone and it very slowly becomes shinier and cleaner all by itself. Years ago I occasionally scrubbed the bore with a brass bore brush. But, doing so always seemed to cause the bore to revert to a dirtier look with more shooting, so I eventually stopped ever putting anything down the bore except bullets...

    Source - http://www.schuemann.com/LinkClick.a...bid=67&mid=445
    The only exception to this rule of thumb would be toward shotguns with rifled barrels, rifles shooting foreign corrosive ammo and blackpowder firearms.
    But even still with blackpowder/pyrodex and corrosive primer ammo all one needs is a 50/50 mix of water and Windex to disolve and displace residue followed by a swab of light oil.
    No bore brushes and what not necessary.

    I run a lightly oiled barrel snake through my .22LR top ends barrel roughly once a quarter to remove caked residue which affects cycling function, not accuracy, as well as lead depositing.

    Aside from that with normal copper jacketed ammo I too adhere to leave the barrel alone.

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    I should clarify that I don't think "breaking in" a barrel is harmful to the barrel.
    I just don't think that it does anything positive for the barrel or for accuracy.

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    Distinguished Member Array nutz4utwo's Avatar
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    I agree.

    Besides, 99% of shooters (myself included) need to spend more time practicing and training and less time worrying about our equipment.

    I do think barrels change over time. They generally do not change appreciably between round #1 and round #10,000, but they will change as they wear in the the long run.

    Damage due to mishandling or poor cleaning is something important to watch out for.

  12. #11
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QKShooter View Post
    I should clarify that I don't think "breaking in" a barrel is harmful to the barrel.
    I just don't think that it does anything positive for the barrel or for accuracy.
    I'm of the same opinion here. But......I do believe in fire lapping for accuracy. I've never followed any "barrel break-in" procedure on any of my firearms.

  13. #12
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    More from McMillan on barrel cleaning as being a waste of time, coin, and barrel life...

    How to Break-in a Barrel
    -- A Dissenting Point of View
    How to Break-in a Barrel

    ~~~

    TheFiringLine Forums > The Hide > The Art of the Rifle
    The wisdom of Gale McMillan
    The wisdom of Gale McMillan - TheFiringLine Forums

    - Janq
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    Senior Member Array rachilders's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chooie View Post
    I don't believe in breaking in rifling, but I do believe in breaking in the action. Friction points inside the gun may smooth up over time, but this is because the same parts rub against each other for many, many cycles. A bullet travels through a barrel exactly once.
    I agree essentially, though I personally will run a patch with a light coat of oil down the bore after the first two or three shot with a new rifle/pistol and wipe off the action. After that I consider the barrel broken in. OTOH, I HIGHLY recommend a good cleaning (inside & out) of the barrel and action before firing the gun for the first time. Over the years I've seen new guns who's barrels/bore were packed with grease, dirt, bits of metal from the manufacturing process and packing "gunk" so thick you couldn't see light through the bore when holding it up for inspection. FWIW, a friend once told me he purchased a supposed unopened, NIB rifle. When he was inspecting the barrel for the first time he couldn't see light thru it. He ran a small wooden dowel - I use wood myself since there isn't a possibility of scratching the metal with soft wood - down the barrel to see if something was blocking it and a broken aluminum snap cap fell out! I seems the base of the blank case had broken off and the rest of the round had slipped several inches past the chamber into the barrel.

    Anyway, after that initial cleaning I'll usually run a clean patch down the barrel after I've finished shooting a gun for the day, then a patch with a light coat of oil. That seems to do the job and I've never had a problem related to a dirty bore in the past 45 years. I will suggest that those who never clean a barrel need to monitor their guns closely for any sign of rust or pitting. As we all know, if a gun sits for extended periods without at least a good oiling, you run the risk of corrosion.
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    Senior Member Array PointnClick's Avatar
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    An article I posted in February...


    From Reloadersnest.com



    Larry,

    A break-in procedure in any of the accepted forms won't hurt your rifle. So if you choose to do one, it will also fit into your required fireforming anyway. The fireforming will just take a little longer. Many folks use a break-in so that they don't have to regret not doing it later in case a barrel doesn't perform up to their expectations. Superstitious. Please bear in mind that this is a "well-documented procedure" (and argument), but it does not necessarily provide "ultra accuracy results" by any means. There are always going to be mediocre barrels and poor barrels and sometimes we get one of those and there isn't anything that you can do about it except to send it back to the maker and see if they will exchange it. But for the most part, we are truly blessed with a large majority of top flight barrels and barrel makers.

    I've seen those 1 hole targets from the factory and on 4 ocassions, we couldn't get those rifles to shoot like their targets. We called the factory and discussed the problem and they gave us their loads. Still not up to the targets shipped with the rifles. We shipped the rifles back and the barrels were switched. Good customer service! I wouldn't worry.

    Plasma from the burning powder will melt the very tiny burrs that are present in some barrels. However, and you can take this to the bank, there is no copper clad bullet or plasma that will remove machine marks. Machine marks have to be lapped out. Barrel steel runs between 22 and 28 Rockwell and copper just isn't going to do any smoothing without having something abrasive on the surface of the bullet. The plasma turns the surface of the steel into what is referred to as alligatoring because it resembles the texture of alligator skin but this is after many hundreds of shots and extreme heat.

    I will say this once more, the very best barrels are lapped by the maker at least once if not twice with a lead lap and some form of fine lapping compounds. These barrels usually don't need any more than a few shots to get the barrel to stop coppering.

    Gale McMillan, one of the Deans of Barrel Makers and record holder wrote a series of responses to a group of folks concerned about barrel break-in. He categorically denied that it did anything to enhance the accuracy of a well made barrel.

    "Hint: overheating is not the critical factor."

    And just to finish up this discussion, here is a statement by Ernie Stallman, another one of the Deans of Barrel Makers and a noted competition shooter.

    BREAK-IN PROCEDURE FOR BARRELS by Ernie Stallman/Badger Barrels

    Jacketed bullets

    For the first ten shots we recommend, if possible, using jacketed bullets with a nitro powder load. Clean the oil out of the barrel before each shot using something as simple as Windex which will soak the oil out of the pores. After firing each bullet use a good copper cleaner (one with ammonia) to remove the copper fouling from the barrel. We do not recommend anything with an abrasive in it since you are trying to seal the barrel, not keep it agitated.

    After cleaning with bore cleaner, clean with Windex after each shot. Use Windex because many bore cleaner use a petroleum base which you want to remove before firing the next shot. This will keep the carbon from building up in the barrel (oil left in the pores, when burned, turns to carbon).

    To keep the temperature cool in the barrel, wait at least 5 minutes between break-in shots. The barrel must remain cool during the break-in procedure. If the barrel is allowed to heat up during the break-in, it will destroy the steel's ability to develop a home registration point, or memory. It will have a tendency to make the barrel "walk" when it heats up in the future. I am sure we all have seen barrels that, as they heat up, start to shoot high and then "walk" to the right. This was caused by improperly breaking in the barrel (generally by sitting at a bench rest and shooting 20 rounds in 5 minutes or so). Then, for the rest of the guns life the man complains that barrel is no good. If you take a little time in the beginning and do it right, you will be much more pleased with the barrel in the future.

    If you look into the end of the barrel after firing a shot, you will see a light copper-colored wash in the barrel. Remove this before firing the next shot. Somewhere in the procedure, around shot 6 or 7, it will be obvious that the copper color is no longer appearing in the barrel. Continue applications through shot 10.

    If you have any ammunitions left, you then may shoot 2 rounds and clean it for the next 10 shots. this is simply insuring that the burnishing process has been completed.

    IN theory you are closing the pores of the barrel metal which have been opened and exposed through the cutting and hand lapping procedures.


    FWIW...
    "Who is to say that I am not an instrument of karma? Indeed, who is to say that I am not the very hand of God himself, dispatched by the Almighty to smite the Philistines and hypocrites, to lay low the dishonest and corrupt, and to bust the jawbone of some jackass that so desperately deserves it?"

  16. #15
    Distinguished Member Array SonofASniper's Avatar
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    The description that Point and Click just posted is correct.

    Most people think a break in is a matter of running a bunch of rounds though the barrell. That is just going to wear the barrell out.

    However, as described above, there is a point to it, and there is a process, and I personally don't believe that these master smiths and world record holders are being totally honest when they say they don't do a break in.

    For the vast majority of people, a break in process is unnecessary, especially because they are not going to take all the additional steps and procedures to maintain a precision rifle.

    The break in process is really a small part of the whole picture in precision shooting. Only those who are part of that cult will have an appreciation for it.
    I will support gun control when you can guarantee all guns are removed from this planet. That includes military and law enforcement. When you can accomplish that, then I will be the last person to lay down my gun. Then I will carry the weapon that replaces the gun.

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