by Eben Brown, E. Arthur Brown Company, Inc.Brand new gun barrels will have microscopic burrs on the surface of the bore... They're left over from the machining processes used to make the barrel and are completely normal. These burrs wear themselves smoother and smoother each time you fire your gun... Its a process that old timers sometimes call "seasoning", and when a barrel is fully seasoned, it will be shooting with its best accuracy and velocity. In recent years, the seasoning "process" has become more directly addressed and is popularly referred to as a "Break-In Procedure." Now, there really is no exact Break-In Procedure that works the best for every caliber, cartridge, barrel, or bullet material... Certainly with regular firing and cleaning every gun barrel will eventually reach the optimum broken-in/seasoned condition. But, to make break-in or seasoning a purpose in itself requires an awareness for how well it is progressing and a wisdom to change your approach when results indicate a change is needed. In other words, Breaking-In is not a science but rather the art of a wise, skilled rifleman. And so to my mind "Seasoning" is a better term to describe what goes on as a bit of Rifle Wisdom.
It is the intent of this article to provide you with the wisdom to properly season any rifle barrel. And even though there is no exact Break-In/Seasoning procedure, there IS a common purpose... Summed up by these two points:
First, the rifled bore is broken in (seasoned) by the friction, pressure, and velocity of fired bullets against the bore surface. Simply put, this is accomplished by alternately firing and cleaning in a thoughtful, methodical way.
Second, for the seasoning to to be most effective, the rifled bore surface must be clean... To allow consistent and direct contact with each fired bullet. In fact its the cleaning process that makes the seasoning procedure more or less effective depending on the caliber, cartridge, barrel,... And even the bullet material.
USP Bore Paste for Break-In Cleaning - We've gravitated to USP Bore Paste as our first choice for a cleaning process during break-in or seasoning of any barrel. Being a softer-than steel abrasive substance, Bore Paste works like sand paper to remove any kind of fouling quickly, reliably, and safely (it's softer than steel). It removes carbon, lead, and copper equally well... Which makes it an excellent first choice cleaner for use in break-in/seasoning of all gun barrels.
Wipe-Out Bore Foam Gun Cleaning Solvent - This used to be our first choice and we still recommend it highly for regular cleaning of carbon, lead and copper from gun barrels. Leave it in 15-30 minutes to dissolve most fouling. Leave it in overnight to dissolve the really difficult fouling. Sometimes break-in fouling is the difficult kind.
KG 12 and KG Gun Cleaning Solvents - This is another option for cleaning your gun barrel. KG 12 can be very aggressive and quick in removing copper. Other KG solvents are excellent for carbon and lead removal.
Different Results Require Different Cleaners - Sometimes Wipe-Out dissolves the best. Sometimes KG 12 dissolves the best. Whether its a different kind of copper, a harder lead, or what... Sometimes you have to switch to a different solvent or cleaning method to get the bore clean between break-in shooting sessions.
Copper Fouling can be a challenge... You might consider reading our Free Tech Report on Advanced Copper Removal.
PROCEDURES: Use These and Then Adjust After You See the Results - You’ll have to get a sense for how much break-in your barrel needs. Watch the amount of fouling on your patches and detect when it seems to become less prevalent and more consistent. For example, on Chromoly (blue) barrels we recommend fire once, clean once, fire once, clean once for 5-25 shots. Chromoly is more resistant to abrasion than stainless. So, on stainless we recommend fire once, clean once, fire once, clean once for only the first 5 shots. Likewise, small calibers tend to break in differently than larger calibers. So, watch the color of your patches to see a point where the amount of fouling between shots settles to a consistent amount. When it settles, go to the next break-in step.
Chromoly (Blue) Barrel Break-In: 5-25 one shot cycles, 2 three-shot cycles, and 1 five shot cycle.
Stainless Barrel Break-In: 5 one shot cycles, 1 three shot cycle, and 1 five shot cycle.
Solvents Recommended - Avoid harsh cleaners that contain a high concentration of ammonia. For a mild abrasive/lapping and cleaning action, we recommend USP Bore Paste... It’s especially useful for breaking in barrels but also a great regular bore cleaner. For serious copper removal, we recommend Wipe-Out bore foam followed with Butch’s Bore Shine (for mild clean-up after Wipe-Out). For lubrication after all cleaning, we recommend Clenzoil... Which protects the metal and also helps to reduce fouling. Something new is KG-12 Copper Remover and KG-2 products...