USA – Gun sales across the country are setting record highs, with the FBI reporting more than 21 million background checks for new firearm purchases in 2013, crushing the previous record of 19.6 million in 2012.
We would estimate that the majority of those 1.4 million new gun owners are also novices when it comes to breaking in firearms. The following will help gun rookies get more comfortable.
Similar to a new pair of shoes, a firearm needs to be broken in as soon as you purchase it. One of the first things to know is that depending on the type of gun, the break-in process varies. For example, breaking in a semi-automatic handgun is different than the process for a rifle. Breaking in a rifle, also known as seasoning the barrel, can be broken down into two basic steps:
- Clean the bore (inner surface of the barrel) of any burrs left over from the manufacturing process. These microscopic ridges prevent live rounds from making full contact with the barrel, which can slightly alter the trajectory of a bullet. Fire several rounds through a new rifle and immediately clean the barrel with your choice of brush and bore paste. Repeat this process at least five times in cycles of 25 shots.
- The second step is using your choice of bore cleaning foam to dissolve any powder, copper fouling, or other foreign particles that will alter bullet trajectory. KG12 Bore Cleaner and Wipe-out Bore Cleaning Foam are two popular choices.
The main difference between breaking in a rifle and handgun are the number of rounds necessary for proper seasoning. Some gun owners believe 200 rounds is enough, but others suggest that firing 500 rounds without a malfunction is a good indicator of a safe and reliable gun. But before you get that far, disassembling and visually inspecting the working parts of your new gun are necessary.
All new firearms will come with a manual detailing how to take your pistol apart. The gun should be thoroughly cleaned before taking it to the range for breaking in. If everything passes the eye test, lubricate the gun per the manufacturers specification, but use a few extra drops for the break-in. Use full-metal cartridges first, then fire at least 40-50 rounds of the defense ammunition you plan to use once the gun is broken in.
Ask range employees to clarify anything you're confused about, particularly if you have to pay a fee to use the facilities. There is no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to firearms, especially training and the breaking in process.
Your time at the range can serve double duty, as you can also adjust your sights while breaking in either a rifle or handgun. Aim and fire three shots at a close-range target (20 yards away or less) until all of the bullet holes are within an inch or two of one another. Adjust the rear sight higher if your points of impact are too low, and vice versa. The same method should be used for impact points too far to the left or right. Repeat this process until all your shots are right on target. For scopes, move the cross hairs lower and to the right if your points of impact of high and too far left.
New gun owners who are unfamiliar with sights and scopes would benefit from practicing on an interactive rifle range. They will make understanding the concepts associated with sights and scopes much easier, and help you get more comfortable making adjustments on the fly.
Most people buy a gun and let it sit around for years in a night stand drawer gathering dust until the need to defend their home arises. Properly breaking in and maintaining your firearm will ensure the safety of both you and your family when the time comes.