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Barrel break in
Picked up a Remmy 700 5R yesterday. I know there is a lot of varying opinion on proper barrel break in for precision rifles. I've already cleaned her up good after bringing her home. I find myself leaning toward a 10 shot break in followed up with copper removal and cleaning then straight into sighting in and shooting groups. I've seen this method recommended across the wise and powerful internet, and it was recommended to me yesterday by Scott at Sniper Country PX when I picked this beauty up. Before I commit myself to that approach I want to hear from some of you since I value the opinions of all the shooters here on this board. More of you have forgotten more about rifles than I will ever know.
The law? The law is a human institution...
P89;103433 Wrote:

Is this a technique that you have used?
The law? The law is a human institution...
P89;103433 Wrote:

Pretty much what I would do except for the cleaners used. Not that I'm bashing their cleaners I've just never heard of that particular mixture. Then again most of my virgin rifles were in the sub $1000 category so I didn't actually do much research.

Basically I just fired one round, clean it, fire 2, clean and inspect for anything that looks odd/damaged, then do a series(2-3) of 5 shots with cleaning in between. Then move to 10 for 30-50 rounds with cleaning in between. Toward the last few 10 round strings I'd be getting my scope close if its not already(like within 3-4"). Then final cleaning and sight-in.

It's time consuming but for a nicer rifle I think it's worth it. For the lower end stuff I don't think I'd be spending as much time. But that's just me and my limited knowledge. I can't really recommend what to use to clean because as I've stated I never did that much research, I just used what I had which was regular Hoppes and CLP(foaming).
"What you're feeling now ain't the worst pain. The worst thing is not feeling the hurt anymore."
csmith;103475 Wrote:
P89;103433 Wrote:

Is this a technique that you have used?

Yes. When I did my build I, like you, wanted to break it in right.
I got all kinds of crazy suggestions, in the end I tried this and it seems to work. I really don't have a bench mark to work from, the ideal situation would be having two matched rifles and seeing what happens through trial & error. I'm not dropping that kind of money just to see what the difference is.
When you break in a barrel, you're not smoothing out anything with the lands and grooves down the barrel. You're actually only doing one thing, and that has to do with the chamber, specifically the throat area. When the chamber is reamed, there are little burs at the throat area where it meets the lands and grooves. The rest of the chamber area is polished, but not the throat, because it's very easy to change the dimensions or shape of the chamber, so the throat is left alone. Krieger explains this well on their site, and it's something that you should probably read. Realize that this isn't all about smoothing everything out, it's about smoothing it out and getting the copper and carbon fouling out of the bore before it builds up very much.
"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. 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 released into the gas which at this temperature and pressure is actually a plasma. The copper dust is vaporized in this gas 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.

Barrels will vary slightly in how many rounds they take to break in because of things like slightly different machinability of the steel, or steel chemistry, or the condition of the chambering reamer, etc. . . 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 the same 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. (Chrome moly and stainless steel are different materials with some things in common and others different.) 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 clearing procedure are really the same except for the frequency. Remember the goal is to get or keep the barrel clean while polishing out the throat.

Finally, the best way to break-in the barrel is to observe when the barrel is broken in; i.e. when the fouling is reduced. This is better than some set number of cycles of "shoot and clean" as many owners report practically no fouling after the first few shots, and more break-in would be pointless. Conversely, if more is required, a set number would not address that either. Besides, cleaning is not a completely benign procedure so it should be done carefully and no more than necessary."

Notice that they aren't telling you some set procedure because it's different for every barrel and different materials. The barrel is broke in when it's not fouling as much, because the burrs in the throat area have been cleaned up. Can you do this without a "break in" procedure? Sure, you can do it without a break in procedure, but you'll usually have a pretty good build up of copper plating that will take a while to get out. I realize that you don't have a Krieger barrel, but the principles of breaking it in and why you can do it, still apply. It's not that it will necessarily affect the accuracy so much, or that the rifle won't shoot properly if you don't do it. The principle is that it's easier to clean the rifle a few more times when there's just a little bit of fouling, than letting all the copper build up and try to get it out in one sitting. It's difficult to get a lot of copper out, and don't believe all the hype about how easily the "blue scrubbers" (blue indicates copper, etc) take the copper out, it's not very well. I have tests where people tested bullets in different cooper solvents and weighed them to see which one removed the most copper. In 2 different tests it appears to be "wipe out" with and without the accelerator worked best, which is what I use, but even it did not remove all that much copper fouling. Some people say that break in procedure was made up by custom manufacturers to shoot out barrels faster, so that the BR crowd would spend 10% of their barrel life just breaking it in, another good percent making their reload, and then the last half competing with it before they needed another one. This might be the case for some rifles, but even if it took 100 rounds to break in your barrel (which it won't), on a .308 that's not even close to 5% of the barrel life. I personally cleaned my Krieger after every shot for the first 3 shots( 1-1-1). I then cleaned it every 3 shots for the next 9 (3-3-3). I then cleaned it every 5th shot for 10 more (5-5). After that it wasn't fouling significantly anymore and I haven't cleaned it since.

As some already listed articles already point out, be aware that you damage barrels WAY more often by over cleaning them, than you do by not cleaning them. Shooting clean bore rifles is much more hard on the barrel than shooting it dirty. You also have the potential to damage the crown and/or the chamber by not properly cleaning your rifle. Even with a bore guide, it's possible to damage your barrel. This is why I refuse to clean my rifle after every shot for 20 shots, or something like that; you run a much higher risk making the barrel not shoot well by damaging it, than you do if you just shot it dirty. There are differences between cold bore and warm/hot bore shots in LR shooting. Shooting a clean bore rifle all the time DOES have an effect on your cold bore shot as well. There is clean cold bore and dirty cold bore deviation. When you want to talk about true tactical shooting, it's VERY important to know the differences. My rifle gets put up fouled, and it shoots GREAT fouled, that's how it should be. You're gonna have to account for it every time if it's constantly clean bore, and how it varies from your dirty bore shot. This results from the bullet sealing differently than if the bore was dirty. Since the carbon fouling and slight copper fouling helps fill in any low spots in the lands and grooves, and makes a better seal on the bullet.

You can break it in or not, it will not have any significant impact on how it shoots at any distance. It will merely have an effect on how easily the rifle cleans when you do decide to clean it after the throat area is smoothed out. After the barrel is "broke in" (meaning shot and the throat is smoothed out), the barrel will be just as easy to clean, regardless of if you used a break in procedure or not. If you don't do a "break in" and do it gradually, it could be a pain and take several cleanings that first time, but it might not. It's very rare that I clean my barrel so intensely that it's bare steel, in fact only when I was breaking it in. Lots of people may disagree, but that's just what I think.
Tomcat088, proud to be a member of since Sep 2012.
As far as cleaning, I don't like to use brushes on the bore. I've found that they don't necessarily clean a barrel any better than a foaming solvent, and then pushing patches through with a cleaning jag (NOT the slotted tip). As I said in the above post, I use Wipe-Out with the accelerator, but there's lots of other good similar cleaners out there. The post I put up here is one from a different forum, and it was made in August of 2009. I've followed that procedure since then, and my rifle is still as much of a tack driver as it was in 2009. So that may help you have an idea on the longevity.

If you choose to use a brush, only push it from breech (chamber area) to muzzle. Once the brush exits the muzzle, unscrew it, and pull the rod back out. You don't need to push and pull the brush through the bore. You have to be very careful with the crown since it's the last thing that touches the bullet as it exits the barrel, and pulling the brush back in can damage the crown.

Barrel break in can be pretty hotly debated, and I don't see the point of it. Lots of times, the way you shoot can be related to what's going on in your head, and how confident you are in a shot. If a barrel break in makes you feel like you get the maximum accuracy from your rifle, go for it. If these posts put your mind at ease about not screwing anything up, then don't worry about it as much and have confidence that the rifle still shot as accurately as if you did a barrel break in.

On snipershide, there was some debate about this a long time ago, and a very funny video came out of the discussion. It's not for the faint of heart, but if you want to see a very unique break in procedure, watch this video. Keep in mind this is a brand new and very nice Kimber Mountain rifle.
Tomcat088, proud to be a member of since Sep 2012.
I really appreciate the responses so far. Your personal experiences and opinions are what I value the most over the usual array of detailed step by step processes that can be found all across the internet.
The law? The law is a human institution...
csmith;103617 Wrote:I really appreciate the responses so far. Your personal experiences and opinions are what I value the most over the usual array of detailed step by step processes that can be found all across the internet.

I was waiting for Tom to weigh in with his take on this, I know he wouldn't stear someone in the wrong direction. He makes an excellent point too that no two barrels will be alike and everyone will have a different opinion when in comes to "proper" break in.
I guess I could have asked but I wasn't going to wade through all the hair brained ideas people have, so I just went digging and that is what I came up with. I did some research on the guy and it seemed legit, so I tried the process and it seemed to work. On a calm day I'm holding a really nice group at 500 yards so I can't complain.

I must admit the video is a new take on proper break in.
I have a Remington 5R and this is how I broke it in using Mike Rock's suggested method.

1. Burnish the barrel with Smooth Kote from Sentry solutions.

2. Shoot the rifle until accuracy starts to drop.

3. Clean gun when necessary. Remember, when you clean a barrel you're removing copper and lead that actually helps accuracy. You'll see that when you clean it your accuracy will drop until you get some fouling back in the barrel.

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