break in?

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I’ve begun using the Lee Shaver break in for any new barrel. Here it is.

Excerpt from “Breaking In a Barrel” by Lee Shaver:
Several years ago, I developed a process for breaking-in barrels for lead bullet use
that eliminated the afternoon of shooting and cleaning with jacketed bullet. It
began because I would occasionally have to get bad leading out of a barrel for a
customer, and when you charge what a gunsmith must charge to stay in business
you don’t want to spend an afternoon scrubbing the lead out of a customer’s gun.
And I’m sure the customer would rather not pay for said services.

What I learned was that when scrubbing lead out of a barrel, I could run a tight oily
patch through a few times and then take the patch off the jag. I would then unroll a
little 0000 steel wool and cut a piece the size of the patch. Place that over the
patch and then run it all through together. (The proper fit is when you have to
bump the rod a few times with the palm of your hand to get it started in the bore.)
When you shove that steel wool over a patch through the bore of a badly leaded
barrel, it may sound like paper tearing as the lead is ripped out of the barrel in a
pass or two. I can clean the lead out of the worst barrel in about ten or fifteen
minutes that way, and an average leaded barrel will be clean in a few strokes.

After using this technique for a while, I began to notice that the rifles that I was de-
leading that way seemed to lead less afterwards, which got me to thinking. We use
fine steel wool on the outside of old guns all the time to do some cleaning or spot
rust removal, and it does not damage the surface of the steel. It just scrubs it.
Which lead me to consider the fact that we are trying to break in a barrel by
smoothing the surface without cutting, and it seems to me that process would go
much quicker if we used something on the inside of the bore that was closer to the
hardness of the barrel instead of lead or copper. So I started trying the steel wool
and oiled patch technique on new barrels before shooting them. I use it about as
tight as I can get in the bore and wear out a steel wool pad or two in about 15
minutes, then I go and shoot the rifle.

How well does it work you might ask? On a few occasions, I have built a new rifle
and taken it to a match without ever having fired the rifle. All have performed
flawlessly in their first match and several times I won the match or set a record
with them. On one occasion, I set a new 300 yard range record with the first 13
shots out of a barrel. This method has become a service we offer to our customers
here in the shop and I have shared the technique many times with others.

So the next time you get ready to shoot that new rifle, just remember it is important
to break in a barrel properly, but if the operation you are doing to the barrel cuts –
it is not breaking it in. It may be making the barrel smoother, but to break the
barrel in you need to polish the bore by burnishing not cutting either by shooting it
or scrubbing it.
Lee Shaver”
thank you for posting
 
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Maybe I missed it. And I do not want to march deep into forbidden territory. But I can not recall either break in problems or break in discussions with the barrels of new unmentionables. Is this strictly a ML/BP thing?
I have several acquaintances that will tie you to a stake and burn you alive if they find out you just grab a new rifle of any type and go to shooting.
The gospel according to them is fire one round. clean. fire two rounds. clean twice as much. fire five rounds. clean for half a day.
next session repeat the above.
i won't shoot with them anymore as i don't want to be the cause of their arrest and incarceration for murder and torture.
I grab a new gun, fire it for a year or two and then clean it before i sell it. makes their heads spin around. :D
BP guns excepted.
 

Rock Home Isle

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When one gets a new muzzleloader is there a need to shoot so many shots before the barrel is broke in? The same question for a barrel that has been realigned like from Bobby Hoyt? Thanks
I’ve fiddled with so many guns over the last couple decades, the only interesting gun is an accurate gun. I appreciate a beautiful well made firearm, but I’ll keep a gun that is accurate, regardless of pedigree. For most accuracy issues, there’s either rough spots, or burrs in the barrel, or the crown of the barrel is rough or not aligned.

If I’m having accuracy problems, especially with any modern reproduction…inspect the crown on the muzzle and collect patches from your previous shots. The technology is so good, I feel confident in saying that modern barrels are all good quality, not like it was back in the 70’s and 80’s.

I’ve just found that with a brand new barrel, I take a small pad of Scotch Bright, or a cleaning patch with valve grinding compound and Lapp the bore. When lapping the barrel, it usually starts out rough and gritty in the bore, then after so many strokes it smoothes out.

I have a .50 calibre Pedersoli Alamo Rifle that I got back in the mid 80’s…that gun would not produce a group smaller than a pie plate at 50 yrds. I could not find a ball/patch combination that would work. My boss at the time was a long time blackpowder shooter, told me to Lapp the bore…that gun was suddenly shots touching at 50 yrds and 2” groups at 100 yrds. I retired my CVA Mountain Rifle after 10 years of faithful elk hunting service, and the Alamo became my elk rifle for the next 15 years, harvesting elk every year…till it was replaced by a .54 calibre CVA Big Bore Mountain Rifle. The .54 has proven to be amazing elk medicine.

This summer I plan on rebarreling my old CVA Mountain Rifle to a .54 calibre flintlock.

Another thing that I do with all my news guns, I start a routine of swabbing the bore with Break Free CLP multiple times per week, between shooting sessions. This product is an amazing cleaning product, but it’s also a penetrating oil…so all the crud and fouling that works into the micro-cracks and crevices of the bore, gets displaced. I’ll clean my bore after shooting then a couple days later run a CLP soaked patch down the bore, and there’s usually black on the patch. That crud will gradually get displaced by the Break Free. I’ll swab the barrel of the gun couple times a week for a month or so with a cleaning patch and Break Free…over time patches will no longer have crud on them and come out nice and white. CLP makes a noticeable difference, especially on smaller calibre firearms, .32 & .36, that tend to have fouling issues. And on my smoothbores as well.
 
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SDSmlf

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Maybe I missed it. And I do not want to march deep into forbidden territory. But I can not recall either break in problems or break in discussions with the barrels of new unmentionables. Is this strictly a ML/BP thing?
The competitive centerfire benchrest shooting folks I know do nothing with their new barrels, as they come lapped and polished with out of the box accuracy. Their cleaning routines are meticulous and unique to each individual. Interestingly, they get only 500 to 1000 or so ‘accurate’ shots out of a new barrel. And to close the loop, they typically load their cartridges at the range, kind of like muzzleloaders.
 
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I’ve fiddled with so many guns over the last couple decades, the only interesting gun is an accurate gun. I appreciate a beautiful well made firearm, but I’ll keep a gun that is accurate, regardless of pedigree. For most accuracy issues, there’s either rough spots, or burrs in the barrel, or the crown of the barrel is rough or not aligned.

If I’m having accuracy problems, especially with any modern reproduction…inspect the crown on the muzzle and collect patches from your previous shots. The technology is so good, I feel confident in saying that modern barrels are all good quality, not like it was back in the 70’s and 80’s.

I’ve just found that with a brand new barrel, I take a small pad of Scotch Bright, or a cleaning patch with valve grinding compound and Lapp the bore. When lapping the barrel, it usually starts out rough and gritty in the bore, then after so many strokes it smoothes out.

I have a .50 calibre Pedersoli Alamo Rifle that I got back in the mid 80’s…that gun would not produce a group smaller than a pie plate at 50 yrds. I could not find a ball/patch combination that would work. My boss at the time was a long time blackpowder shooter, told me to Lapp the bore…that gun was suddenly shots touching at 50 yrds and 2” groups at 100 yrds. I retired my CVA Mountain Rifle after 10 years of faithful elk hunting service, and the Alamo became my elk rifle for the next 15 years, harvesting elk every year…till it was replaced by a .54 calibre CVA Big Bore Mountain Rifle. The .54 has proven to be amazing elk medicine.

This summer I plan on rebarreling my old CVA Mountain Rifle to a .54 calibre flintlock.

Another thing that I do with all my news guns, I start a routine of swabbing the bore with Break Free CLP multiple times per week, between shooting sessions. This product is an amazing cleaning product, but it’s also a penetrating oil…so all the crud and fouling that works into the micro-cracks and crevices of the bore, gets displaced. I’ll clean my bore after shooting then a couple days later run a CLP soaked patch down the bore, and there’s usually black on the patch. That crud will gradually get displaced by the Break Free. I’ll swab the barrel of the gun couple times a week for a month or so with a cleaning patch and Break Free…over time patches will no longer have crud on them and come out nice and white. CLP makes a noticeable difference, especially on smaller calibre firearms, .32 & .36, that tend to have fouling issues. And on my smoothbores as well.
now that is an explanation. THANK YOU
 

hanshi

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The late Outdoor Life Gun Editor, Jim Carmichael, Even wrote an article on his process of breaking in suppository rifle bores. But he also admitted to using a ".32 muzzleloader" when he hunted squirrels.
 

SDSmlf

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The late Outdoor Life Gun Editor, Jim Carmichael, Even wrote an article on his process of breaking in suppository rifle bores. But he also admitted to using a ".32 muzzleloader" when he hunted squirrels.
Didn’t realize Jim Carmichel had passed. Had the opportunity to meet him and he was a down to earth guy. Do you have a link to his obituary, I can’t seem to find it?

He wrote about breaking in ‘production’ gun bores, but used his precision match barrels basically out of the box with no break in.
 

hanshi

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Didn’t realize Jim Carmichel had passed. Had the opportunity to meet him and he was a down to earth guy. Do you have a link to his obituary, I can’t seem to find it?

He wrote about breaking in ‘production’ gun bores, but used his precision match barrels basically out of the box with no break in.



Can't recall where I got the information and hope it wasn't presumptuous of me to repeat it. I have at least two books by him as well a a few by Jack O'Conner and Elmer Keith. I sincerely hope I am wrong.
 
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The competitive centerfire benchrest shooting folks I know do nothing with their new barrels, as they come lapped and polished with out of the box accuracy. Their cleaning routines are meticulous and unique to each individual. Interestingly, they get only 500 to 1000 or so ‘accurate’ shots out of a new barrel. And to close the loop, they typically load their cartridges at the range, kind of like muzzleloaders.
I've seen them do this, because they need to know the humidity and ambient temperature before loading fresh rounds so they load at the range before their string.
 
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A black powder round will generate enough heat and friction to take the sharp burrs of the corners of the lands. It may take up to 200 shots, but it will smooth the lands out enough to improve accuracy.
200 shots is pretty much 4 range trips worth of shooting for me , I better get out there more :)
 

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