Many of our customers upon taking delivery of their new gun or barrel are in a quandary as how to go about breaking-in that new barrel for maximum life and accuracy. With so much written in magazines these days stating use this, don't use that, brush, don't brush...what's a person to do?? At S.G.&Y Precision, we have a unique opportunity to inspect many barrels on a daily basis with our video borescope. Consequently, we see the results of a variety of break-in as well as cleaning procedures, and most of them leave the rifle owners with their mouth agape when they see the fruits of their misinformed labor on our color monitor. We have seen practically new barrels ruined with less than a hundred rounds shot through them by some of the crazy and sometimes humorous break-in methods. Anyway here goes for what it's worth.
Bore guides - If you don't have one get one! Without a good bore guide you are just wasting your time trying to break-in a barrel or cleaning it for that matter. More barrels are destroyed by cleaning without a bore guide than by shooting. There are many types and brands of bore guides available on the market and range in price from $5.00 to $50.00. The only one we recommend is the Lucas two-piece bore guide. They are the best insurance you can buy for that new barrel. All other bore guides in my opinion are only good for keeping the solvents out of the trigger and action.
Solvents - We recommend Sweets 7.62 for copper and a solvent mix of our own (Actually Pat McMlllan gave me this formula) for powder fouling and for cleaning/storing your gun for the next match or season. This Speedy Formula is made as follows: Mix 2/3rds Hoppes # 9 Plus Black Powder solvent with 1/3rd Regular Hoppes # 9 Nitro solvent. Let this mixture set overnight and it will form a sort of gel that adheres very well to the brush and cuts powder fouling to a minimum. Note: Butches Boreshine may be substituted for this Speedy formula.
Procedure for "Break-in"- Before firing that first shot, clean the barrel as if it had been shot by following these simple steps:
Step1 - Insert Lucas bore guide into receiver and chamber. If you don't have one stop here and get one, if not, just shoot your gun and forget trying to take any care of your barrel at all. Lf you do have one, proceed and give yourself an "At-A-Boy" for being astute enough to have purchased the proper tools for the job. Note: One "Aw-Shit" wipes out all your "At-A-Boys".
Step 2 - Run one wet patch of Sweets through the bore and let soak for approximately 30 seconds. Do not patch this out.
Step 3 – Next, run the brush through the barrel only enough to expose the entire brush. Yes, I know that you still have 12 more inches of cleaning rod you could push out the end of your barrel but we want to protect that new crown. Also. if that rod hangs out that far, you will eventually start wearing down the rifling at the crown from about 4 to 7 o'clock. This is very bad "JU-JU" for accuracy. OK, back to our next step. Once the brush is exposed, saturate it well with our Speedy Formula or Butch's Boreshine and SLOWLY run the brush through the bore 10 complete back and forth passes while keeping the rod as straight as possible. This is when the Lucas bore guide really pays for itself. Remember, the key word is slowly. We are not trying to break any speed records. Let this sit a minute or two and proceed to the next step.
Step 4 - After you have let the barrel soak for a few moments, saturate a patch with the Speedy Formula or Butch's Boreshine and pass it through the bore. Follow this with 2 dry patches and then dry the chamber with Brake Kleen or lighter fluid. Next, gently wipe the crown off with a soft cloth and lube your bolt (lets not gall the lugs just yet). Now. your ready to shoot your first shot. Then follow the schedule below to complete your barrel break-in.
1. Clean barrel / lube bolt / 1 shot.
2. Clean barrel / lube bolt / 5 shots.
3. Clean barrel / lube bolt / 10 shots.
4. Clean barrel / lube bolt /10 to 15 shots and clean again.
Each time you clean you may also follow the last dry patch with a patch soaked with LOCK-EEZ. This is a graphite powder suspended in a quick evaporating carrier that coats the bore slightly before passing that first round through a completely dry bore.
We are always asked about powder fouling and how to remove it. The only product that we have seen that really does a good job on powder fouling, especially on the carbon ring that forms just ahead of where the neck ends in the chamber, is IOSSO Bore Paste. This is used with a Pro-Shot nylon bristle brush and worked slowly in the neck and throat areas, then slowly down the entire bore. Follow this up with a few wet patches, then dry the bore as usual. and your ready to shoot.
Follow the outline above for your regular cleaning program and I promise that your barrels will deliver their greatest accuracy and life without a lot of grief and hours of wondering if they are clean.