Break-In and Tuning The Ruger 77 MKII VT
November 1998
Barrel Break-In

In 1988, my last new gun purchase, I knew nothing about "Break In" so I did not have to worry about it. Now I know a gun should be broken in and was worried about it. I wanted it done right and "right" maybe a hypothetical term. I asked the question on one of the lists and got several answers. A friend had given me an article about break in so now it was just a matter of picking the method.

I went with the article, after reading it 2 or 3 times it seemed to make sense. The article was from the April 1998 issue of Petersen's Rifle Shooter. In a nutshell, it involved pouring boiling hot water through the barrel to clean it then the process of polishing it with JB compound or Rem Clean bore cleaner.

The article said fire 3 shots and clean for a total of 21 shots, I had purchased a single box of 20 shells so that would have to be close enough.

I had picked up a box of factory ammo Remington 50gr for break in, and headed for the range. The first 8 or 10 shots did not touch paper, but I really was not concerned. I was using a target backing about 16 inches wide so I started playing around to see where it was throwing the lead. Found it low and left, adjusted the scope a couple of times and got it close just in time to run out of ammo.

Ran a few of them across the chronograph and they clocked in around 3875fps. That is faster than anything I ever shot. I was having fun, then my tri-pod blew over and broke one of my skyscreens. They said there would be days like this.

The break-in article had gone on to say that after the first 21 shots, the rifle should be cleaned every 10 to 20 shots, but I cleaned every 3 to 5 for another 20 rounds, just to be safe.

Bolt Lugs

Got to messing around with the bolt lugs and colored them black with a marker. Re-inserted the bolt and operated it a few times. One lug was making about 60% contact, the other was 10-20%.

A little lapping compound from my scope lapping kit and about 20 minutes I had it making nearly full contact on both lugs.


I read an interesting article from my magazine archive called "How To Make your Rifle Shoot Good!" by Jim Carmichel in the 5/83 issue of Outdoor Life. One of the suggestions in the article was to check for uneven inletting of the stock which causes receiver stress. To check, simply stand the rifle on the butt pad and while holding your finger tips against the barrel where the barrel meets the forearm, "alternately loosen and tighten the action screws." Basically if any major movement is felt, then the receiver is actually being bowed or stressed by the pull of the screws.

To verify, simply cut a piece of a credit card to fit the recess in the stock where the recoil lug rests. Re-assemble and re-check.

Off to the bench I went. The barrel was already free floating from the factory but I wanted to see if there was any flexing going on. When I loosened the front screw, I noticed a considerable amount of movement. I added a shim under the recoil lug and noticed a major difference, however, I could still feel a considerable amount of movement so I added another piece. Now there was very little movement but you could drive a truck between the barrel and the forearm. I removed one of the pieces of plastic and called it good.

At the range I was not able to notice much difference but assume that all the little things add up. So my new rifle sports a little piece of plastic hidden from view but hopefully enhancing performance. Someday I will get brave and dump a little glass in the recess, but for now, I will leave it alone.


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Last Modified: Sunday, May 24, 2009 11:08 PM