A break-in period is a vital step and should be a key focus when getting a new gun you intend to carry or serve in a self defense role. When you get a new pistol, rifle or shotgun, you are getting a freshly finished product made of metal, wood, polymer, or some other material shaped by man to serve a purpose. These guns are mostly designed with exacting tolerances and springs designed to provide the perfect tension needed in order to make the gun work when the user calls for it to. When being made, gun manufacturers have stages of QC where they inspect a few guns from each batch, or may even inspect them all. The problem is that in some cases, not all problems that can show up will be evident from a visual inspection. The most stress you can put on these guns in order to uncover issues is to shoot them. This does not mean that the factory test fire is good enough, but rather that it is a verification of functionality, not integrity. What I am referring to is running your gun for several hundred rounds, if not a couple thousand before trusting it to function perfectly every time you call for it to.

I prefer to use a longer break-in time for all my guns than is normal. I found that this number works best, no matter the caliber, unless otherwise specified. The IWI Tavor is a good example of a gun that has a specified and well researched break-in period with strict guidelines. Now this is for a good reason, but sometimes people can see this as a daunting task. People today want a gun that can be 100% reliable and ready to carry out of the box. This is not always a reasonable expectation for many guns, since some of their tolerances can cause failures to feed from stiff extractor springs, failures to extract/eject due to weak extractor springs, etc. Some issues like parts breakages could crop up in only 100 rounds. This has happened to me and my wife plenty of times, and we accept that as a possibility for all guns. My most criticized and questioned problem was a Glock 23 Gen4 that did not want to feed the bullet. The face of the bullet would push to the right and I would have to take tension off the round and use my index finger to push it into position. This happened every other round sometimes, but every mag had this issue, right out of the box. No matter the mag I used, and yes I tested about 5 or 6 different ones, it still gave me issues. Then on my first Glock, a Glock 17 Gen3, the top pin retaining the trigger and extractor walked out of the frame. I noticed it and had to keep pushing it back in. Did this every time I shot it and unfortunately i didn’t have the patience to deal with it and I just sold it, which i regret. This happens and shouldn’t turn people off to a certain brand, but make them realize that no gun is infallible. It is a machine and should be treated as such. I am not distrusting of Glocks, but I do treat it like any other pistol and give it a thorough break-in in order to ensure its reliable enough to carry.

Guns that have early breakages are not crap, but just have manufacturer defects. If your car broke down ten miles out of the dealership parking lot, are you gonna stay away from that whole brand? You can, but that isn’t good judgement unless it becomes a pattern. If you have a problem that keeps happening over and over again after sending it back to the manufacturer for warranty repairs, that may be a sign that the gun is a Lemon and should be replaced. But don’t bash the company for the pistol being a Lemon. If the next one also gives you a hard time, then I say it is up to you to decide the next course of action and I will respect your judgement of the companies product.

My advise is to use a safe and well tested break-in period of 2000 rounds. I found this to work best because I have had issues crop up at almost every round count, even past 1200 rounds. Some components may not get molded just right or heat treated poorly. Heat treating properly and with precise timing and temperatures can make a huge difference in a spring fatigue life. Metal recipes may have gotten diluted, which can cause metals to become brittle and crack very easily under pressure. The first thing to give problems in my experience is springs. Just be mindful if you have one gun you run a lot and want it to continue to run, get extra springs and be ready to have to replace them. This is the best advice that I can pass onto you. Just be ready for something to give out and remember that it is better to happen now than when you need it to work.

by David Donchess

David served in the USMC for a few years, deployed twice and got wounded. Retired and moved to Alaska. Has a passion for reviewing and testing guns and gear of all kinds. Enjoys working to dispel myths and show that you can train and practice in a realistic, safe, and practical way.