- 5-10 one-shot cycles
- 1 three-shot cycle
- 1 five-shot cycle
- 5 - 25 - one-shot cycles
- 2 - three-shot cycles
- 1 - five-shot cycle
Below are our recommendations for proper break in and cleaning of a barrel. The information below is meant as a guideline and not meant as step by step instructions. If you have a better way that works for you without damaging the bore or using improper chemicals, by all means continue to use your methods. Many successful competitive shooters will use these instructions to the letter, some will disagree.
LONG & SHORT TERM STORAGE:
Your Krieger barrel has been shipped to you with a SHORT TERM rust inhibitor sprayed in the bore to protect it from corrosion during shipping. Upon receipt of your barrel, you should first review the order confirmation and/or packing list to make sure the barrel matches the specifications you ordered. The very next thing you should do is clean the bore and apply a bore protectant suitable for the length of time it will be stored. This can range from a light gun oil all the way up to a preservative grease or cosmoline. The same should be done after a barrel is fit to your rifle.
Preventing oxidation/corrosion in the barrel is the responsibility of the customer. We cannot be responsible for a barrel that has been improperly stored, neglected, or abused by either the end customer, gunsmith, or a distributor.
BREAK-IN & CLEANING:
With any premium barrel that has been finish lapped -- such as your Krieger Barrel --, the lay or direction of the finish is in the direction of the bullet travel, so fouling is minimal compared to a barrel with internal tooling marks. This is true of any properly finish-lapped barrel regardless of how it is rifled. If it is not finish-lapped, there will be reamer marks left in the bore that are directly across the direction of the bullet travel. This occurs even in a button-rifled barrel as the button cannot completely iron out these reamer marks.
Because the lay of the finish is in the direction of the bullet travel, very little is done to the bore during break-in, but the throat is another story. When your barrel is chambered, by necessity there are reamer marks left in the throat that are across the lands, i.e. across the direction of the bullet travel. In a new barrel they are very distinct; much like the teeth on a very fine file.
When the bullet is forced into the throat, copper dust is removed from the jacket material and released into the gas which at this temperature and pressure is actually a plasma. The copper dust is vaporized in this plasma and is carried down the barrel. As the gas expands and cools, the copper comes out of suspension and is deposited in the bore. This makes it appear as if the source of the fouling is the bore when it is actually for the most part the new throat.
If this copper is allowed to stay in the bore, and subsequent bullets and deposits are fired over it, copper which adheres well to itself, will build up quickly and may be difficult to remove later. So when we break in a barrel, our goal is to get the throat “polished without allowing copper to build up in the bore. This is the reasoning for the fire-one-shot-and-clean procedure.
Every barrel will vary slightly in how many rounds they take to break in For example a chrome moly barrel may take longer to break in than stainless steel because it is more abrasion resistant even though it is a similar hardness. Also chrome moly has a little more of an affinity for copper than stainless steel so it will usually show a little more color if you are using a chemical cleaner. Rim Fire barrels can take an extremely long time to break in, sometimes requiring several hundred rounds or more. But cleaning can be lengthened to every 25-50 rounds. The break-in procedure and the cleaning procedure are really the same except for the frequency. Remember the goal is to get or keep the barrel clean while breaking in the throat with bullets being fired over it.
Finally, the best way to tell if the barrel is broken in is to observe the patches; i.e. when the fouling is reduced. This is better than some set number of cycles of shoot and clean as many owners report practically no fouling after the first few shots, and more break-in would be pointless. Conversely, if more is required, a set number would not address that either. Besides, cleaning is not a completely benign procedure so it should be done carefully and no more than necessary.
This section on cleaning is not intended to be a detailed instruction, but rather to point out a few do's and don'ts. Instructions furnished with bore cleaners, equipment, etc. should be followed unless they would conflict with these do's and don'ts.
You should use a good quality one piece coated cleaning rod with a freely rotating handle and a rod guide that fits both your receiver raceway and the rod snugly. How straight and how snug? The object is to make sure the rod cannot touch the bore. With M14/M1 Garand barrels a good rod and muzzle guide set-up is especially important as all the cleaning must be done from the muzzle. Even slight damage to the barrel crown is extremely detrimental to accuracy.
There are two basic types of bore cleaners, chemical and abrasive. The chemical cleaners are usually a blend of various ingredients including oils, solvents, and ammonia (in copper solvents). The abrasive cleaners generally contain no chemical solvents and are an oil, wax, or grease base with an extremely fine abrasive such as chalk, clay, or gypsum.
We recommend the use of good quality, name brand chemical cleaners on a proper fitting patch/jag combination for your particular bore size and good quality properly sized nylon or bronze brushes.
So what is the proper way to use them? First, not all chemical cleaners are compatible with each other. Some, when used together can cause severe pitting of the barrel, even stainless steel barrels. It is fine to use two different cleaners as long as you completely dry the bore of the first cleaner from the barrel before cleaning with the second. And, of course, never mix them in the same bottle. NOTE: Some copper solvents contain a high percentage of ammonia. This makes them a great copper solvent, but if left in the bore too long, can damage/corrode the steel. Do not leave these chemicals in a bore any longer than 10-15 minutes MAXIMUM! DO NOT EVER use straight ammonia to clean a barrel.
Follow instructions on the bottle as far as soak time, etc. Always clean from the breech whenever possible, pushing the patch up to the muzzle and then back without completely exiting the muzzle. If you exit the muzzle, the rod is going to touch the bore and be dragged back in across the crown followed by the patch or brush. Try to avoid dragging items in and out of the muzzle, it will eventually cause uneven wear of the crown. Accuracy will suffer and this can lead you to believe the barrel is shot out, when in fact, it still may have a lot of serviceable life left. A barrel with a worn or damaged crown can be re-crowned and accuracy will usually return. Have the crown checked by a competent gunsmith before giving up on a barrel that may otherwise be in good condition.
This information is intended to touch on the critical areas of break-in and cleaning and is not intended as a complete, step-by-step guide or recommendation of any product. Use a quality one piece cleaning rod that is either vinyl coated or carbon fiber, a rod guide proper for the action you are cleaning, and chemicals, jags, patches, and brushes that you have determined work best for you. There is no right answer to cleaning products and equipment, however under no circumstances should you use a stainless brush. If you choose to use brushes in your cleaning use only quality bronze phosphor brushes or nylon. Clean them after every use to extend their life. Copper solvents will dissolve a bronze brush rather quickly.
The following is a guide to break-in based on our experience. This is not a hard and fast rule, only a guide. Some barrel, chamber, bullet, primer, powder, pressure, velocity etc. combinations may require more cycles some less. It is a good idea to just observe what the barrel is telling you with its fouling pattern and the patches. But once it is broken in, there is no need to continue breaking it in.
Initially you should perform the shoot-one-shot-and-clean cycle for five shots. If fouling hasn't reduced, fire five more cycles and so on until fouling begins to drop off. At that point shoot three shots before cleaning and observe. If fouling is reduced, fire five shots before cleaning. Do not be alarmed if your seating depth gets longer during break in. This is typical of the “high spots in the throat being knocked down during this procedure. It is not uncommon for throat length to grow .005-.030 from a fresh unfired chamber during break in.
Quite often we get asked about the service life of a barrel or How long will my barrel last?. The truth is a complicated result of many factors, ultimately service life is determined by a combination of cartridge, cleaning practices, shooting style, etc. A barrel is “Shot Out or at the end of its service life when the throat erosion has resulted in the bullet no longer able to be seated to touch the lands and still remain in the case by a reasonable amount, and heat checking/cracking has progressed several inches forward of the throat.
These are the normal determining factors that cause a degradation in accuracy from when the barrel was ‘fresh or new. Cartridge choice, powder selection, pressure (a combination of powder selection/amount, bullet weight, and cartridge design), and cleaning procedures will ALL have an effect on how long of a service life your particular barrel has. No two pieces of barrel steel will have the same exact properties either. We can give an “average barrel life for a particular cartridge if it is a common one used in competition, but that is no guarantee of any round count due to all of the listed factors above. Most cartridge designs larger than .223 Rem or .308 Win in powder capacity to bore ratio will begin to erode the throat measurably in less than 1000 rounds.
Thank you for choosing a Krieger barrel.
Beyond the basics, Reloading for accuracy
With the recent influx of new shooters, as well as veteran shooters, new to the world of custom rifles, we have seen a lot of confusion on match prepping ammo for such firearms. Please understand, prepping ammo for a match or minimum SAAMI chamber can be very different than prepping ammo for a NATO chamber or a loose chamber on a factory rifle.
Please feel free to critique and correct as you see fit with your own personal experiences. We are typing this as veterans of competitive shooting (including but not limited to: High Power/Service Rifle, Bench Rest, Silhouette as well as Bullseye Pistol) as well as reloading for the same, but we don’t know everything there is to know about shooting and reloading. We have made our own mistakes in the past, and have learned from them. We hope to pass some lessons learned on to reloaders/shooters who are struggling with similar issues but aren’t sure what or who to ask.
Most of the returns that we see for function and even accuracy issues are traced back to improperly reloaded ammunition, or even poor or damaged factory ammunition, and can be solved by simply following these steps.
Properly sizing brass.
Get a case gauge for the cartridge you are reloading for, this is an invaluable tool when it comes to sizing brass. A case gauge is essentially a ‘chamber’ in a piece of steel with a hi/low limit step at the base to check headspace of your brass (checking from a datum point on the shoulder to the base of the case head), as well as a hi/low limit step at the case mouth to determine proper trim length. If one is not available for the cartridge you are loading for, have one made by a custom gunsmith.
Do not believe that screwing your sizing die down to the shell holder will properly size it. We have had two personal incidents where doing this (following the die manufacturers instructions) has pushed the shoulder back .050” too far on a set of .308 dies, and also did not size the shoulder back far enough (by .005”) on a set of .223 dies. In both cases, the case gauge showed this on the first piece of brass sized! The .308 was an easy fix, just unscrew the die in the press by the .050” that it was short. The .223 needed .005” removed from the top of the shell holder on a precision grinder to correct the problem. Now that shell holder is ‘married’ to that sizing die for life.
Some benchrest shooters and other advanced reloaders / long range shooters will even have custom dies made to re-size brass and seat bullets to there specific chamber, also using special "arbor press" type reloading presses for these operations.
If the shoulder on your brass is pushed back too far, at ‘best’ you will have accuracy issues, at ‘worst’ you can have a failure to extract or failure to fire because the cartridge is pushed too far into the chamber. Or, it could fire, stretching the brass too far, too fast, and you could split or separate a case. If it is not sized back far enough for the chamber in your rifle, you can have a failure to feed or completely close the bolt. Depending on the length and the rifle type, this could result in firing out of battery and can be extremely dangerous!
Properly sizing brass is even MORE important if you are firing brass in a loose chamber, then sizing it for a match or minimum tolerance chamber. Brass springs back a bit after sizing, and it is common for .223 Rem ammo fired in a NATO chamber to not size properly, even with a full length die, to fit into a minimum SAAMI .223 Remington chamber. In these cases a “Small Base” sizing die may need to be used, but still does not guarantee it will fully re-size brass fired in a loose chamber to the point that it will work in your minimum SAAMI chamber.
Whenever possible only fire new, unfired brass in a rifle barrel with a new match chamber, at least for the first time, then have that brass re-sized and used in that rifle/chamber only. Even rifles chambered with the same reamer can vary enough that brass sizing can be an issue. Please keep this in mind when you have an "It works in rifle "A" but not rifle "B" " issue with your ammo.
5.56 NATO is NOT .223 Remington. Although nearly identical in outside dimensions they should be treated as different cartridges. You can shoot .223 Rem in a NATO chamber, but it will expand to fit the looser chamber, and will not give premium accuracy. Unfired 5.56 NATO brass will “fit” into a .223 Rem chamber, but NATO ammo is loaded to higher pressures, making it unsafe, or at the least, uncertain in its pressures, to properly operate in a tight SAAMI .223 Remington chamber. 5.56 NATO ammo in a .223 Rem SAAMI chamber will almost always cause some sort of pressure and/or function issue and it should not be used.
There is a long running debate over this issue, and we do not wish to argue it. These are the findings that our experience has shown, and it is our company’s stand on it. If it’s worked for you in the past, you have been lucky. It will eventually not work, most likely when you attempt it in a minimum SAAMI spec chamber such as we provide. The solution to shooting both 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem through the same rifle with a moderate amount of accuracy is to use the .223 Wylde chamber. This chamber is looser than a minimum SAAMI chamber, but tighter than a NATO chamber. There is the issue of the ammunition still being within a dimensional specification to work, even in the Wylde chamber. We have seen some examples of M193 ammo with bullet diameters over .224". This condition will cause feeding, function, and pressure issues in any properly sized barrel/chamber combination.
Properly sizing brass also includes trimming the cases to the proper length for your chamber, and properly deburring/chamfering cases. If the case is longer than the maximum case length listed in your reloading manual, the neck of the case will actually flow into the throat portion of the chamber, “pinching” the bullet or severely increasing neck tension, resulting in high, or even dangerous pressures. This can/will also impede function and accuracy.
Neck diameter or clearance between the case and the chamber is important as well. Common match rifle practice is to have about .002” to .003” clearance between the neck diameter of a loaded cartridge and the diameter of the neck of the chamber. This allows for the case to expand a minimal amount (extending brass life) while also allowing for dimensional changes in the steel as it heats up.
Any tighter than this and you can have pressure/function problems, any looser than this and you cannot expect the best accuracy out of your barrel. Neck turning/reaming brass is a great way to uniform brass thickness to give consistent neck tension on the bullet, but keep in mind, for every .001” you turn off the diameter of the neck, you increase the clearance in the chamber by .001”. So although you may be uniforming the neck thickness of the brass, you are making the neck clearance larger. The only solution to this is to use a “tight neck” chambering reamer when your barrel is fitted to your action. Then turn your necks for proper clearance in the chamber you have.
Other items to consider when prepping brass is cleaning primer pockets on fired brass, de-burr primer flash holes (inside), weighing cases and segregating them into groups, etc. The better quality brass you start out with, the better your results will be. We are not going to recommend particular brands of brass, bullets, primers, powder, etc. Nor will we give ANY load data for liability reasons. Every rifle will like something different as far as powder charges, type of powder, bullet seating depth, etc. This will have to be determined with your load development for each particular rifle.
A very important part of reloading for accuracy is weighing components. For maximum accuracy Brass & Bullets should be within about .2 (two tenths of a grain), and powder charges should be within .1 (one tenth of a grain). Brass can also be sorted by ‘water capacity’ in cc’s to segregate brass by volume or inside area capacity.
Some long range shooters, want powder charges closer than that. There are electronic scales on the market that will measure to .01 grains, but care must be used with these as they are extremely sensitive to vibration, noise, and even fluorescent lights! For reference, one kernel of Varget powder weighs about .03 grains, so unless you are using ball or flake powder, you can’t get to within .01 grains, but the ability to measure that small is helpful when trying to create the most accurate ammo you can.
Benchrest shooters are known to simply go by case volume and pay little attention to the actual weight of the charge. In theory, weight and volume would go together, but the ‘looser’ the powder is packed, the more volume it will consume while still having the same weight on a scale. They will use some extremely accurate powder measurers with drop tubes to give a very uniform volume of powder for each ‘throw’. A case that holds 90 grains of powder is going to be less affected by a variance of .1 grains than a case that holds 45 grains of powder. Keep this in mind when sweating over a variance in powder charges.
Bullet Ogives and Cartridge overall length.
Bullets of similar weights but from different manufacturers will have varying lengths and ogive shape. The ogive is the tapered part of the bullet between the tip and the bearing surface. This is the part of the bullet that first contacts the throat and will determine cartridge overall length when touching the lands.
Not only will bullets from different manufacturers produce a different OAL when touching the lands, but bullets from one manufacturer and from different lots can do the same. When setting OAL for ammunition that you are loading, always use a bullet from that particular box to set this length. If you are tracking throat erosion over the life of the barrel, use ONE bullet that you keep with your Stoney Point/Hornady OAL gauge. This way you are measuring the throat with the exact same ogive dimensions every time you check throat wear.
What we have found in most cases, the best accuracy is achieved when the bullet has about .010” to .015” jump to the lands. Some rifles need more jump, some need less. Some rifles give their best accuracy with the bullet “jammed” in the lands, meaning you set your ammunition LONGER than your OAL gauge shows as touching the lands. Caution should be used with this technique though as jamming a bullet in the lands, then trying to open the bolt on a loaded round can result in the bullet sticking in the throat, and you ejecting a case full of powder all over the inside of your action and trigger! Also, this method should NEVER be used with a semi auto, especially with a floating firing pin. The bullet hitting the lands can slow the bolts forward motion, causing the inertia of the firing pin to strike the primer with the cartridge out of battery. This can be extremely dangerous!
We hope this helps you get started. There are many books and publications on the market that cover these subjects in great detail and should be referred to. The information given here is to simply get you started down the road to properly create accurate ammunition for your competition or high end sporting rifle, and make you aware of the steps you need to take to produce the most accurate rifle with the best ammunition possible. This by no means is intended to give the highest level of reloading information. It is simply the next step up from basic reloading practices to help identify some of the additional steps "Beyond the basic's" that you need to know when reloading for accuracy.
Please check out Sinclair International for a complete catalog containing a great selection of basic and advanced reloading equipment for the novice through experienced shooter/reloader.