Do You Need to Break-In a Break Barrel?

Shooting, whether it be a rifle, pistol, powder burner, airgun, or bow and arrow, is a lifetime sport. You don’t have to be a super fit athlete to enjoy shooting. You can be young, old, healthy, and super fit or disabled and still take great joy from recreational shooting.

One of my favorite Instagram accounts is a fellow across the pond who shoots a rimfire target pistol and does quite well with it despite his vision issues. The point being, shooting is an activity a wide audience of people can participate in. So what does this have to do with breaking in a break barrel rifle? Glad you asked.

In the same way that we as shooters can take a long-range approach to recreational shooting, we take the same approach in making break barrel air rifles. One thing that is often overlooked in regard to break barrel air rifles is breaking them in.

Like any new mechanical device, air rifles need to be broken in before the shooter can expect optimal performance. Yes, it will work right out of the box, but the results will likely be a little inconsistent until the break-in process is completed. If you have recently picked up a new break barrel air rifle like our Ruger Impact Max Elite, the Umarex Surgemax Elite, or Ruger Targis Hunter Max this information is of the utmost importance for you!

So there’s a little more to it than just mechanical parts settling into their proper working relationship with each other. There’s quite a bit of oil from the manufacturing process that greatly affects the trajectory of each shot. This phenomenon is known as dieseling. Until that oil has dissipated the rifle can diesel and generate an odd trajectory for your shots.

What to Expect with a New Break Barrel Air Rifle

What we have always recommended for new spring or gas piston air rifles is a break-in period of at least 150 shots. Some rifles will be good to go with 100 shots and still some might require 200 shots to get settled in. During this time, don’t shoot for accuracy. Yes, do shoot at a target, and do employ all safety precautions in doing so. Just don’t expect hair-splitting accuracy during this time, especially if there is a widespread in velocity between your shots.

That being said, this would be a good time to work on the “artillery hold”, a method for getting the most accuracy out of your spring-powered air rifle.

Once the rifle is broken in you will notice very consistent shot velocity. This can be attested to by a nice small group on your target. However, if you are not employing the artillery hold or worse yet, shooting from a lockdown rest, you will likely still have erratic accuracy.

If you are hungry for some more good reading on brake barrel air rifle shooting, read this blog article we wrote on the subject a few years ago.


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