There is much discussion about 'shooting in' a barrel. Everybody seems to have their own way of doing it, so this is a brief monograph about how we do it.
But first, a few words on why 'shooting in' a barrel is necessary. No matter how well lapped or how finely finished the internal surface of the barrel is, the first few bullets down the barrel seem to leave a significant fraction of themselves behind as heavy metal fouling. A subsequent bullet shot up a barrel with heavy metal fouling will tend to press that fouling into the barrel causing dints and roughness in a bore that the barrel maker has gone to a lot of trouble to make smooth and even. So it is important to get all that metal fouling out before shooting another bullet up the barrel.
When we shoot in a barrel, we fire one shot and then use a phosphor bronze brush and Shooters Choice to clean the barrel of powder fouling and loose dirt. Having dried out the barrel with a few patches, we squirt some Forrest bore foam up the barrel and leave it sitting for 24 hours to get out all the metal fouling. There is no way to quickly clean metal fouling out of a barrel and we find Forrest bore foam seems to do the job best as the foam clings to the whole interior surface of the barrel.
After 24 hours the Forrest bore foam has turned dark blue, but all traces of the metal fouling is gone. Now (after cleaning out the bore foam....) we fire another shot and repeat the process.
We do this about five times. Finally, we fire five shots and then give the barrel a final 24 hour soak in Forrest bore foam. The bore of the barrel will now have been 'conditioned' and metal fouling should be minimal from now on. Yes, we take a week to shoot in a barrel! But there is no quick way to remove heavy metal fouling. Anyone that says there is doesn't have a bore scope!
Using moly coated bullets seems to minimise the metal fouling during this shooting in process and makes it all a lot easier.
For general cleaning after shooting, we use a phosphor bronze brush dipped in Shooters Choice. This is pulled down the barrel from the muzzle a few times to loosen off the powder fouling. The barrel is then cleaned out using dry patches. It is important that the phosphor bronze brush is clean and in good condition. It should be kept in container so that does not pick up any sand and dirt. If the brush collapses on one side, as some makes tend to do, then throw it away and use a new one. A phosphor bronze brush will do no harm to your barrel provided it is free of dirt and in good condition. It is also important to clean out the chamber and the area in front of the locking lugs, just behind the back of the barrel.
I should just say at this point that we are getting no favours or promotional payments for mentioning Forrest bore foam or Shooters Choice. I mention these products because that is what we use - for now. Someday, we may find something that we like better for one reason or another and then we will use that instead.