How to Break In a Rifle – Everything You Need to Know

How to Break in a Rifle
Alfred Mendoza

If you’re just a beginner and a new owner of a beautiful rifle, you should learn about breaking it in. No, we’re not telling you to break your new gun – we’re talking about the rifle barrel break-in process.

This step is one of the first things you need to do before becoming a great shooter. We’ll show you how to break in a rifle in this guide. 

1. Set Up A Shooting Location

You’ll need to find the perfect location to break in your new rifle. This should be done in a safe and regulated area. Find the nearest shooting range from you to spare you the hassle if you left some needed supplies at home.

2. Prepare The Items You Need

The next thing you need to do is prepare for the break-in procedure. Here are the items you’ll need:

  • At least 30 bullets; having more is better for just-in-case moments
  • A cleaning bench (you can bring your own if the shooting range doesn’t provide this)
  • A cleaning rod made from nylon or carbon fiber
  • A nylon brush that’s the correct size for your new rifle barrel
  • A jag to hold the cleaning patch (this goes at the end of your cleaning rod)
  • Cleaning patches that have the correct size for your new barrel
  • Cleaning solvents: copper fouling solvent, carbon remover, and gun oil
  • A bore guide with an O-ring to prevent solvents from getting into the barrel breaks

You can invest in these items for future cleaning. If you’re going to buy new barrels for your rifles, you’d be happy to have these items in your storage.

3. Shoot One Round & Clean

Take the first shot. Then, proceed with cleaning. Make sure that you know how to clean your rifle properly in order to avoid any accidents. The cleaning process isn’t that complicated, but make sure that you understand how to do this before breaking in a barrel.

Start with the rod and the jag attachment, and attach the carbon remover solvent-soaked patch. You should be able to remove carbon fouling in the bore with this method. Repeat this step a few times until no copper shows on the patch.

Next, use a nylon bore brush soaked with copper solvent. You’ll notice that it would be difficult to do this at first because of the rough barrel bore.

rifle break in

Factory barrels that come with a hunting rifle are typically like this. What you can do is run the brush between 25 up to 50 times, then, rerun some dry patches. 

Finally, take your jag and patches and use gun oil in the bore. After running it a few times, take a dry patch and clean the excess oil. 

Do this ten times before proceeding to the next step. Doing so means that you’ll be shooting ten single shots and cleaning them in between. Do note that you don’t need your target to be too far away. It’s enough that it’s at a glance access and has a safe distance from you.

Read: Can You Fly With Your Rifle?

4. Shoot Three Rounds & Clean

After the single-shot rounds, you can move on to the three-shot rounds. For this, you’d need to repeat the process five times. In total, you’ll be shooting 15 rounds in this step.

After the first few rounds, you may notice some copper and powder fouling up to this point. This is normal. The tool marks within the barrel are also nothing to be worried about.

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5. Shoot Five Rounds & Clean

Be ready with more rounds for this step.

You’ll be firing five rounds now and then do a thorough cleaning of your barrel. 

A quick tip is to remove excess oil and fouling before moving to the next step.

This may affect the performance of this rifling process.

If you have a hand-lapped barrel, this won’t be such a problem as the bore is treated to create minimal fouling.

Shoot Five Rounds And Clean

6. Shoot A Fouler Round

Step 6 involves a fouler shot. The idea for this is to clean the remaining solvents after you clean the barrel. Don’t expect your shots to be accurate or perfect during this step. Note that this is a crucial step to properly break rifles. You will only need a single bullet for this.

7. Shoot Three Rounds For Accuracy

Finally, test your gun’s accuracy. Fire the first three bullets in one direction. They should be grouped perfectly if you appropriately did the barrel break-in. If you didn’t do the steps correctly, your rifle would have poor accuracy as fouling, and excess solvents can affect your gun’s performance.

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What's the Purpose of Breaking In?

The manufacturing process of rifles doesn’t include cleaning, so the barrels would typically have copper fouling and other elements in the bore that would affect the performance of a rifle. 

A bullet jacket is very smooth and needs to go through a smooth bare metal barrel, and this is why you need to break in your rifles. Even when hand lapping and fire lapping are done during manufacturing, shooting helps in smoothing the bore of a new barrel.

Also Read: Full Auto Bolt Carrier vs Semi-Automatic


No, you don’t need special tools to break in your barrel. The only thing you need to get is the typical cleaning tools for your gun.

In total, you’ll need 24 bullets to finish the breaking-in procedure, but you can bring extra rounds for contingencies.

Parting Shots on How To Break in a Rifle

Breaking in a new rifle barrel may be a time-consuming process, but you’ll only need to do this once for new barrels in order to unleash the true accuracy potential of your gun. After you have finished this procedure, you’d notice the difference with just one shot compared to the first time you used your gun.

There could be better ways to break in rifles in the future, so make sure to check gun reviews and the latest industry news for you not to miss anything important!

1 thought on “How to Break In a Rifle – Everything You Need to Know”

  1. Thank you for sharing this comprehensive guide on HOW TO BREAK IN A RIFLE. As an avid hunter, I know firsthand how important it is to take good care of your rifle. Not only do you want to ensure accuracy and precision when out in the field, but you also want to make sure that your rifle will last a lifetime. This guide was incredibly helpful and gave me a great overview of the necessary steps to break in a rifle. I especially appreciated the detailed explanation of the different stages of the process, including cleaning, lubrication, and accuracy testing. After reading through this guide, I feel more confident in my ability to properly break in my rifle and maintain it for years to come.

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