Breaking in your gun (unless recommended from the manufacturer) is like cleaning your gun…mostly subjective. I’ve known gun owners who have let their guns get so dirty that their suppressor eventually welded to the barrel and I’ve known other gun owners who are so particular about keeping their firearm clean, you wouldn’t know a shot’s been fired through it. There isn’t really a right way. I mean, you don’t want your suppressor welded to your barrel, but you don’t have to clean after every range trip, either.
When you get a new gun—just like when you get anything new—you are super eager to try it out. Though it is highly suggested you field strip and clean it first, there is nothing stopping you from shooting it right out of the box. It won’t break it or void the warranty. However, the best option is to…
Yes, break-in your gun.
Now, I use the term ‘break-in’ lightly. I know that some get worked up over this subject and believe that modern machining should technically make all guns function perfectly right out of the box and though I don’t disagree with that, it’s unrealistic. I don’t necessarily expect a perfect running handgun as soon as I drive it off the lot.
Even the most high-end meticulous manufacturer can accidentally leave behind microscopic machining burs, metal shavings and grit in the bore and barrel. Also, most manufacturers pack their firearms full of a protective coating to prevent rust.
When you bring your new pistol home, it’s a good idea to:
- Read the manual.
- Field strip the gun.
- Thoroughly clean every part until your patches come out clean.
- Apply gun oil or gun lubrication on all moving parts.
- Operate the slide, trigger and safety with either dummy rounds or dry.
- Dry fire safely per your manufacturer’s manual. (Semiautomatic handguns are safe to dry fire.)
- Go shoot it!
However, this is where it gets interesting…
The jury’s out on how many rounds you need to shoot to hit the magical “broken in” number. I read somewhere to shoot one round, clean, shoot two rounds, clean, shoot three rounds, clean and so on. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Anyway, all these internet experts claim a magical “break-in” number from 100 to 1,000. Because everyone has a different opinion, I conclude about 200—and definitely 500 rounds—will be enough—of both practice and self-defense ammo. I usually start out with 100 rounds of practice ammo the first time I shoot a brand-new gun. Should you clean it after then? It won’t hurt. After all, copper build up and fouling do cause malfunctions.
When you head out to the range with your brand-new investment, take a complete cleaning kit including a rod, gun oil/lube and a rag in case you run into issues.
So, don’t get frustrated if your gun doesn’t run 100% smoothly or reliably at first. Manufacturers that make their guns to very tight tolerances, like Kimber, Kahr and Wilson Combat state in their manuals their recommended breaking-in periods. Your new gun might just need loosening up a bit!
Your gun is no good if you don’t know how to use it. The worst thing you can do is bring the thing home, stick it in the safe and forget about it until something goes bump in the night. Instead, don’t worry about following a stringent set of some internet expert’s rules of breaking-in your new handgun, just get out there and shoot it!