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S.G. & Y. Precision Rifles, LLC - Barrel Break-In & Cleaning Procedures

by Speedy Gonzalez

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 Rifles, 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 bore scopes 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 employed. Anyway here goes for what it’s worth.
 

SPEEDY’S RULES FOR PROPER RIFLE HYGENE & BREAK-IN
 

A. Bore guides:
 

1st Rule of Thumb:
If the brush will go through it, it’s too damn big!
 

2nd Rule of Thumb:
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 or severely damaged and life shortened by cleaning without a proper 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 one thing, keeping the solvents out of the trigger and action (refer to rule #1).
 

A LUCAS bore guide is made up of two sections. One is a guide similar to most available on the market. What sets the Lucas apart from the rest is its smaller second guide which has a hole reamed just large enough to for the rod to pass
through it. This section then slips into the main one and keeps the cleaning rod centered in the bore no matter how you bend the rod up and down or side to side.
 

B. Solvents:
 

There are three solvents we recommend they are as follows:
 

1) SWEETS 7.62
 

Sweets is used in our in our cleaning procedures only as a bore lubricant prior to pushing the brush through the barrel. Sweets is composed of mostly large soap molecules similar to household dishwashing detergents. Because of the lubricity provided by the soap in the Sweets it allows the brush to easily slide through the bore on its first pass. Not to mention removing all of the loose powder and carbon residue left in the barrel prior to cleaning.
 

NOTE: Sweets can also be used in extreme cases of copper fouling. The procedure in this worst case scenario is as follows.
A) Brush the barrel with Sweets (kiss brush good-bye).
B) Let bore soak 5 to 10 minutes (No Longer on Chrome Molly Barrels. Sweets and CM don’t get along very well together for very long).
C) Now soak a patch with HYDROGEN PEROXCIDE and very, very slowly push it through the bore. A chemical reaction will take place between the Ammonia in the Sweets and the Hydrogen Peroxide causing all copper to go into suspension as the reaction takes place. The muzzle of your rifle will look as if it has rabies as the patch slowly nears the crown and you see all of the foaming reaction that is taking place. The blue green colors you see as the patch exits the barrel will amaze you.
D) Inspect the bore after you patch it out with Butches(see below), by placing a Q-Tip just inside the crown. This will light up the bore and allow you to check for any remaining copper. If there are still traces of copper a second application will usually finish the job.
E) At this point you should clean the barrel a described below. If the barrels is chrome moly, we recommend that it be put up using SPEEDY’S FORMULA also described below. The black powder solvent portion of the formula will protect the bore from any rusting or pitting as it does black powder flintlocks or cap & ball long rifles.
 

2) BUTCHES BORE SHINE
Through out the years we have tried every type of solvent there is known to man and then some you don’t even want to hear about. But none have ever done as good a job as Butches Bore Shine. Used on a regular basis Butches will keep even the largest overbore barrel as clean as the day it was chambered.
 

3) SPEEDY’S FORMULA
The Speedy Formula is used for the protection of the bore when putting a firearm up for the season or prolonged storage. For those of you poor souls that do not have Butches Bore Shine available to them this solvent is a very good second choice. This was the best we had found up to the advent of Butches.
 

SPEEDY’S FORMULA is made up as follows:
Mix 2/3 Hoppes No. 9 Plus Black Powder Solvent with 1/3 Regular Hoppes No. 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.
 

C. Procedure for “Break-in”:
Although we at S.G. & Y. Precision Rifles feel an extensive break-in procedure is not necessary for the custom barreled rifles we build since they all have a hand lapped finish in them. The procedure probably does have some merit when applied to a factory barreled rifle that has an, as machined finish from the factory and a non lapped bore surface.
Custom barrels are lapped to impart a finish to the bore that will produce as little copper fouling as possible throughout the length of the barrel.
 

Before firing that first round through the barrel, we will clean the barrel as if it had been shot, by following these simple steps.
 

Step 1)
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. If you do have one, proceed, and give yourself one “At-A-Boy” for being astute enough to have purchased the proper tools for the job.
NOTE: One “Aw-Sh*t” wipes out all “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. Remember this is going to serve as our lubricant for the brush as we push it down the bore for the first time. Try this dry and you will see why we apply the Sweets. The sound coming from your barrel as you run a dry brush through it resembles that of stepping on a cat’s tail while wearing your wife’s high heel shoes. Not a pretty picture (unless you’ve shaved your legs recently).
 

Step 3)
Next, run the brush through the lubricated barrel only enough to expose the entire brush as it exits the muzzle. 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 the 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. Plus we get to make an extra $40 when you need to re-crown the puppy. OK, back to our Step 3. Once the brush is exposed, saturate it well with Butches Bore Shine or Speedy’s Formula and SLOWLY run the brush through the bore 10 complete back and forth passes while keeping the rod as straight as possible. This is where the Lucas bore guide really pays for itself! Remember, the key word is slowly. We are not trying to break any land speed records today. 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 Butches Bore Shine or Speedy’s Formula and pass it through the bore. Follow this with 2 dry patches and then with a chamber mop or patch wrapped around a brush on a short cleaning rod, dry the “CHAMBER” of the barrel with Brake Kleen or lighter fluid.
 

NOTE: We wrote “DRY THE CHAMBER” not the bore of the barrel.
 

Next, gently wipe the crown off with a soft cloth or patch and lube your bolt (let’s not gall the lugs just yet). Now, you’re 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.
 

D) Additional Cleaning Tips:
 

1. Never, ever use a Stainless Steel cleaning rod in Stainless barrels! They are much harder than the barrel's steel and can damage a barrel beyond repair in a New York minute. We highly rods with ball bearing handles My #1 choice, the John Dewey coated rods ( Note: Make sure that the handles continue to spin freely on the Dewey rods. They have a habit of locking up after the bearings take a set into the red plastic handle. This is easily corrected by purchasing a box of 3/32 loose ball bearings and filling the races completely).
We have also seen several powder-coated rods that have scratched the bore through its entire length, once the powder coating started to chip off.
 

2. Each time you clean your rifle, you may wish follow the last dry patch through the bore with a patch soaked with LOCK-EEZ if the bore felt a bit too dry as you passed that last patch through it prior to drying the chamber. 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. LOCK-EEZ is available at S.G. & Y. Precision Products and most NAPA stores around the country.
 

3. 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 an IOSSO BLUE 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 of Butches Bore Shine. Then patch out the bore as if you had brushed as usual, and you’re again ready to shoot.
 

E. Follow the outline above and make it your regular cleaning program and I promise that your barrels will deliver their greatest potential accuracy and extend their life without a lot of grief and hours of wondering if they are clean.
 

Good Shooting,
 

Speedy Gonzalez
Trinidad State Junior College & Brownells Technical Assistant