Should You Break In A Rifle Barrel?

Auto Draft

When it comes to the topic of whether or not you should “break in” the barrel of a new rifle, there are really only two schools of thought.

1. Yes, of course, you should. 
2. No, of course, it’s not necessary.

And guess what? They’re both right. It just depends on your firearm. (And your viewpoint.)

Foaming Bore Cleaner Stilllife from Shooter's Choice being applied to a firearm via spray can.THE BREAK IN PROCESS
After manufacture, barrels will have minor imperfections (mostly from tool marks, rifling, and drilling) that bullets will endure. The point of breaking in a rifle is to smooth the interior surface of the barrel to diminish those imperfections.

Although there are many different opinions on the “right” method of breaking in your firearm, the steps almost universally include cleaning the barrel to remove any oil or grease remaining from the manufacturing process, then firing the rifle a number of times (some say one time, some say five, it varies), then repeating that process to a total of around 50 shots (depending on who’s giving the advice).

The idea is that a smoother barrel will result in greater accuracy, minimize fouling, and reduce the frequency of cleaning throughout the life of the rifle.

If you have a mass-produced, factory-manufactured barrel, there’s a better than average chance your barrel will have some burrs, inconsistencies, or factory marks that could use some smoothing out.

Breaking in your barrel will enable those “breaking it in” rounds to diminish the imperfections that are part of most mass-produced barrels.

Just what methodology you want to use (clean after one round, clean after three rounds, etc.) is up to you—as is how many total rounds you should fire to break in your rifle.

High end rifle lying next to ammo beltWHEN NOT TO BREAK IN YOUR BARREL 
Some barrels, especially nicer ones, come “lapped” from the factory. “Lapping” is a process of polishing the interior of the barrel by running a broach through the bore to smooth out all inconsistencies while maintaining concentricity.  The lapping process is used in more sophisticated manufacturing processes on higher quality rifles, generally.

High-end rifles that have been lapped are unlikely to need a break in process. The same goes for cold-hammer forged barrels. Broached or button rifled barrels, and electric discharge machined barrels should also be smooth, and thus not need to be broken in.

Like many issues regarding firearms, breaking in a rifle barrel is a topic of strong viewpoints. As always, the measuring stick is your own judgement, and what works best for you and your firearm.

Firearms Legal Protection provides uncapped legal defense for members who use a firearm (or any legal weapon) in self-defense or the defense of others. Unfortunately, when people use a weapon in self-defense they could be arrested, jailed, or face extensive legal costs. Firearms Legal Protection provides members with peace of mind in these difficult situations by covering all attorney fees and providing other benefits, including bail bond protection and incident scene clean-up. Firearms Legal Protection operates a 24-hour attorney-answered emergency hotline for members. All Firearms Legal Protection members receive legal protection against Red Flag laws, and are provided access to webinars, product discounts, and more. Protect yourself. We’ll Protect you.

The information given on this website is not legal advice. The information that may be posted in any format on this website is of a general nature and should not be construed in a person’s own situation as legal advice. If you so desire legal advice, please consult an attorney in a one-on-one setting to get legal advice that pertains to your unique circumstance.