How I’m Breaking In My New Pistol

How I’m Breaking In My New Pistol
How I’m Breaking In My New Pistol
How I’m Breaking In My New Pistol
How I’m Breaking In My New Pistol

I just picked up a new Smith & Wesson M&P. I figured I own enough Glocks so it was time to diversify to another gun I’d be willing to bet my life on. But of course, you don’t buy a new gun and then immediately start carrying it, so let me show you how I’m currently breaking in this new gun and what you may want to consider doing too.

First, head to the shooting range. I know a lot of folks like to clean their brand new guns before they shoot them, but I don’t think it is necessary. If you love cleaning guns then go for it, but I don’t, so again, the first thing I do is go to the range.

At the range, I shoot the heck out of my new gun.

What I did  is go through a series of drills. I shot the FBI’s new qualification course and I also did plenty of reloads. You want to test out every aspect of this gun to make sure everything is functioning properly. In other words, now is the time to find out if you need to adjust your sights or if you got a bad magazine.

After I put about 500 rounds through the gun, then I cleaned it.

Obviously, you can clean it when you’ve shot more or less, but 500 rounds is the number I like to stick to. But just because you’ve put 500 rounds through your gun and it functions flawlessly that doesn’t mean you’re ready to carry it.

Next, you need to go to the range and run your self-defense ammunition through it. You need to make sure your hollow points feed properly and the gun doesn’t jam with this different type of ammunition. I haven’t done this part yet since my gun is so new, but when I go to the range next I’ll put 150 to 200 rounds of self-defense ammo through it.

I realize self-defense ammo is a lot more expensive but this is very important to do. I know some guys who shoot two or three rounds of hollow point ammo and then start carrying their gun. Personally, I’m not comfortable carrying a gun I’ve only shot a handful of defensive rounds through, which is why I recommend at least 150-200 rounds.

Once I’ve put the hollow points through my gun and I’m sure it functions flawlessly, then I’ll give it another cleaning and start carrying it. But until then, my new gun won’t be on my hip, on my nightstand, or anywhere else throughout my house because I haven’t gone through the break in procedure that I’m comfortable with.

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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
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I’ve had three guns from three different manufacturers recently that had a bunch of malfunctions on their first shooting. Then after a thorough cleaning and oiling, they worked flawlessly.

The shooters of these guns were very frustrated and didn’t trust their guns. They also had very little familiarity with them because they had never taken them apart. All that to say, I’m now a fan of cleaning before you shoot.


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The first time you get a new weapon with metal shavings inside you will abandon that seriously flawed reasoning of shoot first.


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James Van Valkenburg

Please, clean first. Excess oil, grease and who know what else.
Otherwise, I liked the advice. It would take about 500 rounds just to limber up a pistol, but I would clean after every 100 rounds just to verify and check for any unusual wear.

Personally, I prefer the older models of firearms, some would say war surplus, but I say vintage. If you do carry an older pistol, the wear marks on the slide and other places will help in placing any lubricant you may need. I have found the older firearms to be more reliable and better made. But that is just my opinion.

Bill Harrison

I agree with the reliability of the “vintage’ guns which is why the firearm I carry is a 1964 colt cobra .38- yes a REVOLVER. I know that’s a dirty word in some circles but I have never had a malfunction especially on the two times when I needed it most.

James Van Valkenburg

Bill, My backup and the one my wife wants to carry is a mid 60’s Colt Agent in 38Spl. Yes, very reliable.


Agree. My first gun – and still my favorite (fits my hand SO well!!) – is a 1970s Czech police issue CZ-70 .32ACP. Lots of marks where the slide and so forth go; makes it easier for this novice to do good work.

I usually stay out on the road (trucking) for a couple months at a time – one of the first things I do is gather the CZ – as well as the others, and Mom’s guns – and give them all a thorough cleaning. I enjoy working with them; also gives me a chance to reacquaint myself with them. Helps clear my head a bit. Can’t run several hundred rounds through each one – ammo is simply too durned expensive and rare!! Can’t even find .22 LR any more!!

James Van Valkenburg

Texas, Good to see another fan of the “older” CZ’s. Mine is a CZ-50 (32 ACP) and a CZ 75. One nice feature of the older weapons is the engineering, built like a tank and already broken in.


Don’t know about the 75, but I do know the 70 is a slightly updated version of the 50..

The 70 is a bit heavy for its size, but that comes from the all- steel construction. It’s nicely balanced, and has very little recoil.

Unfortunately, because my shape doesn’t really allow a waistband conceal holster, I’m forced into a pocket carry holster – and the 70 is a bit too bulky for that. I’ve gone with a Baretta Tomcat (with beefed up side rails), because of its size and it also takes .32 – only need to find one calibre for both pieces. But the 70 is my bedside piece!


CZ makes some very good handguns! I found that the CZ-82 and CZ-83 are very well built, affordable and accurate. Love mine and got some great deals on the last batch that was imported… Like new, un-issued (verified by a reputable gunsmith).

Lynn B Tussey

M&P … No external or manual safety. I bought one…..returned it because I could not get comfortable with the whole no external safety issue thing. It made me feel dangerous instead of safe. That’s not a comforting feeling when you carry concealed.


I also have an M&P shield, that last switch on the right… it’s a safety…
Did you have the shield or another model?

Colonel Tussey

I had the M&P 40….not the shield, I’ve heard good things about the shield though


I have an M&P 40 Compact and M&P Shield 40, both are very nice, the Compact certainly nicer to shoot. The Shield however is not as bad as one might imagine, being a lightweight 40 caliber. I like it better than the Sig P290. The M&P series are just all around nice shooting, reliable weapons, my first handgun was an M&P 9mm Full Size. Haven’t had a single issue in 4+ years of ownership. Oh yeah, I cleaned it before shooting it the first time.


I believe there are two models of the Shield – one with a safety and one without.


The Shield only comes with a safety…..unfortunatly. I never use mine.


I bought the M&P 40c and the external safety was an option with that gun, I got it with the safety. It was a good gun, but right off the bat had to send it in to get the Magazine Release Spring replaced as the magazine was disengaging with every shot. With it replaced? A fine carry gun. Gave it to my son for his birthday as he was drooling over it all the time. I have enough other fine guns to carry and play with!


Finger is the external safety, Dry Practice is the control. I don’t own any handguns with external complexities. Each to their own. Also I clean before shooting a new gun and 500 rounds? Not in my world of constricted availability, maybe a year ago but not now.

James Van Valkenburg

That may be, but I am old school. Just can’t get comfortable with the trigger finger being a “safety”. It seems counter intuitive to me.

Big Sweet John

Please clean first…I agree with the rest of the advice


I’m old school, and why I carry a revolver. Although I have a Ruger and a 9mm Taurus for the back up, just in case… the only one I leave home with is a Taurus .357 or .38 Special.


But its a Smith and Wesson! Enough said 😉 Good article. Interesting point of view, I’ll keep this in mind with my auto’s. but I love my wheelguns.

Eric Berman

Cleanliness is next to Godliness! Clean and shoot the clean again!

Guido Panzini

Good article thanks. But I’ll clean it first.


I have a M&P 40c and I went right from the purchase to the range with it. My responsibility to myself and my family and the other people on the range that day, Required that I dismantle & inspect that gun (oil if necessary),but NOT clean . I would have if it needed it. I also ran it through its riggors with a lot of rounds. That new gun feeling without a safety was strange, but after some extensive dry fire practice and then a few IDPA shoots became very comfortable. This is my PCF. LOCKED ,LOADED & READY !


For new pistols I always get the manufacturers grease off of it, put some lube on it, and shoot 100 rounds then clean it. Rinse and repeat. for 500-1,000 rounds. After 500 rounds, I’ll go 150-200 per range session. One important thing this article left out is that the break in process also allows a chance to round off the burs that come from the manufacturing process. I just had a client purchase a SA-XDsub-compact, and she’s been breaking it in using this process. While giving her cleaning instruction I felt the sharp burs on the end of the slide, they’ll round off after about 1,000 rounds.


‘Sharp burrs’ is indicative of a fast manufacturing process. Lifetime of tech experience gives an eye for detail. SW mod 59 had those ‘sharp burrs’ when new. Each slide movement right out of box shaved off alloy from the frame rails. 500 rounds without tuning would have rendered it a useless loose goose. A complete de-burring with various tools rendered the weapon totally burr free. Been personal ‘carry’ over 40 years with no issues. Old 59 saved bacon, paid for itself one occasion and still ‘squirts’ lead on target.

I have owned many handguns over the past 30 years. Revolvers and pistols. I would always clean and inspect them first and then run about 100 rounds through them. Clean and then repeat another 500 rounds. Clean again. The break-in time depends on the firearm. I have had Ruger revolvers, Smith revolvers, Glock, Colt and Sig pistols. I have no issue without an manual safety. In fact, never had one.


You must be independently wealthy .


I don’t know where you live, but unless you are reloading and drilling your own hollow points, the days of drilling 1000 rounds through a gun are long gone. Hell locally every store has limits of 100 rounds per customer, the shelves are emptied in minutes after ammo arrives.
I do agree you should not need to clean a new gun first, but you should disassemble it and inspect it for burrs, defects, foreign material, ect. FYI – Glock actually instructs you NOT to remove the factory copper grease but to let it work in.


Just read the Glock Gen 4 maintenance brochure; it says nothing of the sort about not removing factory grease. It specifically says: “Your Glock pistol should be field stripped, cleaned and lubricated as follows: 1. when brand new, before the first time it is fired, plus 2. at least once a month, plus 3. after each time it is fired, plus” . . . . that certainly is different.


Jim is right, the newer Glocks ( past year or so ) come with a copper lube and instruct it not to be removed. Internet does not always have ALL the information. MES Glock trained armored.


Armored ( fat fingers )


Still haven’t found written proof that you are not supposed to remove it. From all I’ve read, Copper Lube is designed for long term storage purpose. I did find this though: ‘Certified Glock Armorers are told that it is permissible to remove the copper lubricant on new Glocks. However, if you do decide to remove the copper lubricant, it is advisable to clean your handgun thoroughly then lubricate it before shooting it (3 drops where indicated) with a quality product intended for firearms.’

jim coughlin

Tell me where I can buy 500 r9ounds of +P+ 9mm ammo and I’ll give your idea a try.


I like cleaning a new gun. It is soothing and I can learn the operation and how it functions better. I have had new guns from the factory dripping in lube and others with no lubrication between the metal slide and frame. But the time it really hit home was cleaning a new Ruger 10/22. I put a patch through the barrel and an 8 inch piece of “zip tie” came out. I always clean a new gun. That piece of heavy plastic hangs on my reloading bench pegboard, as a reminder to never take anything for granted with firearms.


Texas, learning to reload was the best thing I ever did. Fortunately I got into it when components were cheaper, but bargains are out there for a diligent person. And the satisfaction of shooting more accurate ammo, and the savings are rewarding. Shooting more is possible. Next is trying casting…


Good article, but I would clean it first, also running 200+ rounds through a new gun will hone the trigger sear for a smoother trigger pull


I like the article, never thought about testing the gun with my hollow points, but I will next time at the range.


Someone else (citizens) must be paying for your ammo. You’re talking about 10 boxes of shells at $30 = $300 to get “familiar”? I must be a quick learner! But then again, I shoot Glocks and don’t need to deburr or wear down anything.

James Elliott

When I first got my Glock 20, I shot it using several different types of ammo to see how it would work. I found out fast that a couple of ammo don’t work well with the G20. But for the most part, clearing the gun was never an issue. I have never modified my gun…I learned to shoot it straight out of the box as it came. Now that 14 years have passed, I am thinking of tweaking it a little. I agree that taking the time to shoot the gun just after purchase makes sense. I bought a S&W 22 handgun for my son to shoot years ago and it was a used gun. Good thing we did because we had problems right from the start. Found out the firing pin was bad, the gun shop fixed it at no cost to us and it has worked well, but we had to use magnum 22 caliber ammo in order to be able to clear the gun.


Shot my XD 9mm right when I picked if up, No problems at all. Clean it every time I shoot it. Which I usually put about 200-300 rounds through it.


I put 200 rounds of reman ammo through my new glock 21sf yesterday, and planning on going in next week again, its not dirty, ran the brush through the barrel and it came out clean, only thing is theres just some black residue around the components on the inside and slide, but i ran a cloth through it all and looked “good to go” to my eye but im new so i dont know much, should i take it apart and clean it better? do i need to re-lube the barrel plus the rest of the main oil points? im new to shooting and take downs, please let me know thanks!