AR-15 Break-in Process: Should you Break it In


Whether You Should Have an AR-15 Break-in Period or Not.

Is there a break-in period for your AR-15? Today, we’ll discuss if you should have an AR-15 Break-in Process. When you invest in an AR-15, whether for self-defense, sport shooting, or competitive shooting, proper break-in will help ensure peak performance and reliability. In this blog post, I will guide you through the AR-15 break-in process, sharing my experience and insights to help you maximize your rifle’s life span.

Understanding the AR-15

Close up of AR-15 rifle

Before we delve into the break-in process, let’s briefly discuss the AR-15. Originally designed by Eugene Stoner, the AR-15 (ArmaLite Rifle 15) is a lightweight, semi-automatic rifle known for its modular design and versatility. It has gained immense popularity among civilian shooters, law enforcement, and military personnel. The AR-15’s gas-operated, direct impingement system and its compatibility with various

accessories make it a favorite among gun enthusiasts.

Why Break-In an AR-15?

Some gun owners might wonder if the break-in process is necessary for their AR-15. The answer is yes, and here’s why: The break-in process allows the rifle’s moving parts to settle into their designated places, smoothening the action and improving overall reliability. Additionally, it aids in ensuring consistent accuracy, reducing the likelihood of malfunctions, and extending the rifle’s lifespan.

The AR-15 Break-In Process

AR-15 M4 Rifle

Now, let’s get to the heart of the matter: how to break in an AR-15 effectively. Remember that this process may vary slightly depending on the manufacturer and model, so always consult your firearm’s manual for specific instructions. However, the general break-in steps remain largely the same.

Cleaning and Lubrication

Before firing your AR-15 for the first time, thoroughly clean all its components. Ensure that there is no excess grease, debris, or metal shavings from the manufacturing process. Once clean, apply an appropriate firearm lubricant to essential moving parts like the bolt carrier group, charging handle, and buffer spring. Lubrication is critical to prevent excessive friction and wear during the initial rounds.

Gun Cleaning supplies

Step 2: Start with Quality Ammunition

Opt for high-quality, factory-made ammunition of the appropriate caliber for the break-in process. Using reliable ammunition reduces the likelihood of ammunition-related malfunctions during the break-in phase. When choosing ammunition, consider the following factors:

  • Reputable Brands: Stick to well-known and respected ammunition manufacturers. Companies with a long-standing reputation for quality and reliability are more likely to produce consistent and safe ammunition.
  • Consistency and Quality Control: Look for manufacturers prioritizing consistency in their production process. Ammunition with consistent performance is crucial for accuracy and reliability.
  • Match-Grade or Target Ammo: If you’re looking for high-quality ammunition for precision shooting or target practice, consider “match-grade” or specifically labeled “target” ammunition. These rounds are typically designed and manufactured with tighter quality control standards for better accuracy.
  • Bullet Type: Different bullet types are suited for various purposes. Decide whether you need full metal jacket (FMJ) rounds for general practice, hollow points for self-defense, or match-grade bullets for precision shooting.
  • Reviews and Recommendations: Check online reviews and seek recommendations from experienced shooters and gun enthusiasts. They can provide valuable insights into the performance and reliability of various ammunition brands.
  • Price: High-quality ammunition often comes at a premium. While investing in reliable ammo is essential, consider your budget and strike a balance between quality and cost.
  • Compatibility: Ensure that your ammunition is compatible with your firearm’s chambering (e.g., .223 Remington or 5.56x45mm NATO).

Step 3: Start Slow and Steady

AR-15 break in period

During the initial firing sessions, resist the temptation to fire rapidly or engage in extensive rapid-fire drills. Start with single shots and allow the rifle to cycle properly between each shot. This measured approach allows the parts to wear gradually and evenly.

Plan on looking over the rifle components for usual wear after shooting when you clean the rifle.

Step 4: Regular Cleaning and Inspection

Between each shooting session, perform regular cleaning and inspection of your AR-15. Attention to the bolt carrier group, chamber, and gas system. Ensure that carbon buildup is minimal and there are no signs of excessive wear or damage. Be sure to lubricate with every cleaning session lightly.

Step 5: Gradually Increase Round Count

As you progress through the break-in process, gradually increase the number of rounds you fire during each session. Introduce double taps and controlled pairs, always monitoring the rifle’s performance closely. While you ramp up shooting, stay consistent on the ammo you are shooting.

Step 6: Test Different Ammunition Types

Experiment with different types and brands once you’ve fired a few hundred rounds of the initial ammunition. Staying consistent to this point eliminates variables if the gun starts performing differently.

This step will help you determine which ammo performs best in your AR-15 and further improve reliability and accuracy.

AR-15 ammo

Best Practices During the Break-In Process

Now that you understand the break-in process’s essential steps let’s explore some best practices that will complement and enhance the procedure.

Practice Proper Shooting Techniques

AR-15 Training- Force Solutions

During the break-in process, focus on practicing proper shooting techniques. This includes maintaining a stable shooting platform, mastering sight alignment and sight picture, and employing proper trigger control. Consistent shooting techniques help develop muscle memory and improve your overall shooting performance.

Keep Your AR-15 Well Lubricated

Regularly lubricating your AR-15 during the break-in process and beyond is crucial for optimal performance. Remember that the AR-15 operates under high pressure and heat, and proper lubrication helps mitigate wear and tear.

Monitor and Record Performance

Maintain a shooting log to track your AR-15’s performance during the break-in process. Record the ammunition used, the number of rounds fired, any malfunctions encountered, and accuracy results. This data will help you assess your rifle’s progress and identify potential issues.

AR-15 Break-in Process Conclusion

Woman breaking in AR-15

The AR-15 break-in process maximizes your rifle’s performance and reliability. Following the steps and best practices outlined in this blog will enhance the rifle’s function and deepen your understanding and connection with your firearm. Treat your AR-15 with care, maintain it regularly, and it will serve you dutifully for years to come.

AR-15 Break-in Process FAQs

How long does the break-in process take?

The break-in process can vary in duration depending on factors such as the quality of the rifle and ammunition, shooting frequency, and personal shooting practices. Generally, a thorough break-in process may take anywhere from 200 to 500 rounds.

Can I use hand-loaded ammunition for the break-in process?

It is advisable to use factory-made ammunition during the initial break-in process. Hand-loaded ammunition may not be as consistent as factory ammo, affecting the rifle’s performance during this critical phase.

Is the break-in process the same for all AR-15 models?

While the fundamental principles of the break-in process remain the same, specific manufacturer recommendations may vary. Always refer to your firearm’s manual for model-specific guidelines.


  • Michael Hodgdon

    A firearm, shooting, outdoor, and hunting enthusiast for over 35 years. Thank you all for the suggestions on topics you would like to see; we'll keep posting as you keep sending them in. Please comment; we will try to answer all comments quickly.

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