Breaking In A Rifle Barrel

Varminter Magazine posted this video. They went to three barrel manufacturers during SHOT Show 2016 to find out if a shooter should break in their rifle barrel. They got responses from Shilen Rifles, Krieger Barrels, and Lothar-Walther.

Shilen and Krieger recommendations are very similar. Only Lothar Walther is a little bit different.

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at


  • JK

    Odd that nobody mentioned dancing naked around a fire, under the first full moon following a rainstorm.

    • Anon

      That’s just absurd, and has been misproven for a while. You have to sacrifice a first born cat on the fifth Sunday of July for the accuracy gods to take notice.

      • Swarf

        Anon my ass.

        I know Tom Sawyer and his dead cat fetish when I see it.

        • Mr.

          You just made this teacher’s lunch break!

  • Will P.

    I always lap a new rifle barrel with fine compound first thing. I like many shooters can’t afford top notch hand finished barrels, so there is always a chance that there are small machining burs left in the barrel. Now what happens when a bullet grabs that bur and drags it down the barrel? It’s going to leave a scratch(however minute) for copper fouling to build up in. I still do 3-5 shot groups and clean between for the first 15-20rds too. Is it all actually necessary? Idk but it really can’t hurt to put a little bit of extra work in from the start.

    • Bobb

      But it can hurt. You can totally screw up a barrel by messing up a hand lapping

      • Will P.

        Well if you don’t know how to properly hand lap a barrel I suggest either not doing or taking it to someone who does. I didn’t say my technique was good for everyone, but it seems to work for me as most of my rifles maintain 1MOA or less. I don’t do a full blown lapping job, I do just enough to knock any possible burs off. I have done full lapping jobs on some “bad” barrels, and they are very tedious and time consuming.

      • All the Raindrops

        Chances are he has made every barrel he’s done this to worse

  • Xeno Da Morph

    What about Melonite treated barrels?

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Break in it almost all bs anyhow, but the one consideration with melonite, is that it will not be “lapping” itself once finished. A bad barrel before melonite will be a bad barrel always.

  • RetroG

    Do I really need to watch 9 minutes of a video for three short paragraphs?

    • Swarf

      What are the three paragraphs? For those of us at work. Not that I would look at this site on the clock. I mean… damn.

      • Bobb

        1. Shoot single shots cleaning between each one ~5 times, then shoot some 3 shot groups cleaning between each time.
        2. Do the same as #1
        3. Shoot a 5 shot group and see how it shoots, clean if needed, don’t use ammonia.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    Ah yea… “Break in”…

    50% placebo, 49% myth, 1% intentional fouling

  • iksnilol

    Huh, only LW is remotely sane in regards to barrel “break in”.

    Personally, I just shoot 50 rounds of the ammo I intend to use with it. Not too quickly, not too slowly.

    • BrandonAKsALot

      That’s what I was thinking. The only one who basically said, hey, try thinking and problem solving.

  • Silver Bullet

    At age 73, I have always ‘broken in’ barrels. Shot no more than 12 rounds. Wait between each round for the barrel to cool thoroughly. Best done in cold weather btw/ Clean thoroughly and you are good to go. I know some serious hunters that also believe in the ‘mystic’. One in particular, a gun dealer. He had a Marlin .444 Guide gun and he said he just couldnt miss whatever he was shooting at. Says the people involved in the manufacture, the hands on guys,if they really put their hearts and souls into it then it is a real killing machine and it becomes magical. This guy has owned a lot of guns. I dont particularly ascribe to his theory but I do know how to break in a barrel.

  • Harry Peness

    HINT: The ASME knows a “tad” more about metallurgy than any gun maker.

  • Goody

    I can’t imagine a more boring fate than getting a brand new rifle to the range, only to spend the first two hours buggerising around with cleaning after every shot

  • DwnRange

    I use the method taught by my shooting mentor and rifle builder. Kreiger, high dollar or chrome-lined 4150 or 10/22, all barrels same same.

    Products/tools used: Sweets 7.62, full length Dewey cleaning rods, ONLY “nylon” bore brushes of the proper caliber and non-methanol SuperTech (or similar) carb cleaner for rinsing. Rem gun oil or Break-Free as lube. Use a proper BORE-GUIDE for the rifle, (AR, bolt-rifle) – a quality bore snake is a part of standard my kit also (in the “proper” caliber), in the field or off the back porch at the 800 yard range.

    1. Bore snake NEW barrel a few times before shooting to remove any crap/dust/particulates

    2. Shoot 6 to 10 rounds slowly to heat up barrel – as barrel should be WARM when cleaned, NOT HOT otherwise you melt the nylon bore brush.

    3. Using a proper bore guide for the rifle being cleaned, pour the Sweets 7.62 down the barrel (bore guide or muzzle end whichever you prefer), then, holding finger over muzzle, insert Dewey rod and NYLON bore brush – slowly, w/ finger blocking bore, insert the rod until brush touches finger, this finger pressure blocking the muzzle soaks the brush in the Sweets as it is inserted. Note: I generally mark the rod w/ tape to make certain no more than half of the bore brush will exit the muzzle.

    4. Draw cleaning back to the bore guide slowly and begin actual cleaning – in then out = 1 stroke, Using a vigorous but consistently smooth motion put 40 to 50 strokes – in/out. (As barrel is warm you will notice the Sweets will begin to “froth” and usually turn blueish as it comes out the muzzle (this is the copper. After 40-50 strokes, remove the rod and nylon bore bush).

    5, Rinse the bore thoroughly using non-meth carb-cleaner and repeat steps 3 & 4 – do this until the “froth” is “white” ie clean which indicates copper is removed (the first time make take 3 or 4 reps, but normally after using this method ONCE the barrel will normally only take 2 reps of steps 3 & 4 as copper will be removed by the Sweets and after second rep barrel bore will be clean)

    6. Run a cleaning patch or two to verify if bore is clean after step 5.

    Shoot the rifle 30 to 50 rounds and repeat the cleaning process – from that point on clean rifle using this method only after several hundred rounds (have seen Kreiger barrels go 300+ rounds or more before copper shows in lands, my ARs w/ chrome-lined bores tend to be similar) and simply use a bore snake after shooting between the proper cleanings.

    Break-in process is done – I have used this method on every custom Kreiger barreled rifle, AR15 chrome-lined barrel, or stainless steel custom barrel I own and never had any reason to do otherwise. My barrels shoot accurately and clean up is quick and bores go fairly high round counts before copper in visible in the bores. This is how was taught to do it and I have never used anything other than these products or this method.

    If rifle is to be put up, using Rem-oil or Break-Free on a clean patch and lube the bore.

    NOTE: Sweets 7.62 is NOT some mamby-pamby bore cleaner here – if left in your rifle bore it CAN RUIN YOUR BARREL – hence the carb-cleaner is ALWAYS used to rid the barrel of the Sweets, That said as noted I have never had to worry about my barrels and they go long round counts regularly (using moly or naked bullets, as one rifle I own I still have custom loaded moly-coated rounds for – I do not recommend the use of moly bullets any longer though as they can attract moisture and clean-up is much more messy, that said they are custom loaded rounds I used in competitions at one time which I still have and shoot in one particular CR6724)

    PS – the NYLON bore brush and the warm barrel are the trick IMHO – as my mentor always said “What is the purpose of cleaning your rifle?” (to remove copper), “What is copper?” (a metal), – “then why use a METALLIC bore brush?”

  • Slobberjaw

    Great video!