Break-in issues (Accuracy & casing damage)
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Thread: Break-in issues (Accuracy & casing damage)

  1. #1
    Marksman Hoag's Avatar
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    Break-in issues (Accuracy & casing damage)

    After waiting far too long, I finally got my new XCR-L out to the range for the first time. I made sure the gas was set to 4 like the instruction manual says, and fired a three round set at 50 yds. I couldn't really call it a grouping, because although I was on the paper, the rounds were all over the place. The logical assumption was that it was me, so I gave the rifle to someone who is a very good shot. Same thing. It had a "grouping" about the size of a pie plate. The spent casings were being ejected about 30-35 feet, and the mouth of the casing was bent to resemble a crescent moon. (Sorry, no pics.) I turned the gas down to 3 and then 2, and that really helped with the casing damage, but accuracy was still not good at all. At 100 yds, (with an EoTech & 3x magnifier) the best grouping was about 4-5 inches. I only put 50 rounds down range that night, so there is still a lot of breaking-in to do. My two questions are: 1) All other things being equal, will the rifle's inherent accuracy get better as it breaks in? and 2) Should I leave the gas setting on 4 for the break-in period and not worry about how far the casings are being thrown and/or what is happening to them. (If it helps with the problem solving at all, it is in 6.8 SPC)

    On the plus side ... 3 of us shot the rifle that night and it left all 3 of us with big grins. What an incredibly fun gun to shoot!
    "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." ~ Sir Winston Churchill after the Battle of Britain.

  2. #2
    Rifleman Ghost-6's Avatar
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    Re: Break-in issues (Accuracy & casing damage)

    Hoag,

    Just a few suggestions before you try again...

    1. REALLY clean it thoroughly before you go back out there. The XCR can and will run dirty and can take a lot of abuse, but you want to break her in gently. Get all the carbon, brass chips, unburned powder and crud out. Be careful with the bore, but keep going until it is buckingham palace clean.

    2. Actually use a torque wrench to tighten the barrel bolt back on, 200 inch-pounds, or 16.67 foot pounds. Apply a witness mark to bolt and lower with something like nail polish or mechanic's dye marker.

    3. Check the alignment of the gas tube (holes down), regulator, and the piston, gas collar, spring and bolt. Other folks have gotten brand new rifles where things just weren't drilled or aligned correctly from the factory. Now that was years ago but anything mechanical can be made incorrectly, be meticulous, if something is wrong, it can be corrected but only you can spot a potential problem like that.

    4. Check the buffer, that's the rubbery horseshoe on the front of the stock assembly. Running at "4" will beat this component up but if you want it to shoot well across a wide variety of ammunition types and barrel lengths, you've got to break it in at "4". You can always replace it and they aren't that expensive. Loctite your ejector screws too.

    5. Lube it up thoroughly, preferable a few hours before you go loud. Any sort is fine, the manual suggests LSA but really anything is ok, CLP, rem-oil, SLP 2000, synthetic non-detergent motor oil, Just don't be stingy.

    6. Shoot slowly. You can (and should) test every magazine you own but I would suggest letting the barrel cool inbetween shots. A few guys and gals on this forum do the Camp Perry-style barrel break-in routine; shoot one, then clean the bore and bolt after every shot for 5 shots, (5 cleanings) then shoot 5, clean, repeat for 50 shots (10 cleanings) then shoot 10 shots, clean, repeat for 100 shots (10 cleanings). That is how palma and bisley rifle owners treat match barrels, with some variations. The XCR doesn't have a match barrel but you won't do anything but help it be as accurate and long-lasting as possible by proceeding this way.

    7. If you can, shoot at 50 meters instead of 100. Use a sandbag or bipod if you aren't well-practiced. At 50, a normal XCR should be capable of a 2 or 3 inch group with even the worst ammunition. Naturally if you have any Winchester white box or american-made brass-cased, non-corrosive ammunition this might help by removing one unknown variable from the problem. A 1/9 twist barrel will like 55, 62, 64, or 72 grain ammo best to stabilize but at 50 meters it won't matter much. Expect to mangle brass at this gas setting.

    8. If it still shoots terribly, come back to the forum and we will all pitch in to help.

  3. #3
    XCR Guru BuddyChryst's Avatar
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    Re: Break-in issues (Accuracy & casing damage)

    Ghost-6 seems to have said it all.

    My only addition is: listen to what the rifle is telling you. If you're flinging brass 30+ feet, turn the gas down. And I would double check that barrel tension.

    Dented case mouths when on a high setting for break in does seem to be normal.
    Charter member of the vast, right-wing conspiracy

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  5. #4
    Marksman Hoag's Avatar
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    Re: Break-in issues (Accuracy & casing damage)

    Buddy & Ghost, thanks. I did put some different ammo through it, but all good quality "factory loads". I put 20 rounds of 110gr Hornady BTHP, 20 rounds of 110 gr V-Max, & 10 rounds of Remington 110gr Open Tip Match.
    "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." ~ Sir Winston Churchill after the Battle of Britain.

  6. #5
    Rifleman Ghost-6's Avatar
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    Re: Break-in issues (Accuracy & casing damage)

    Right, all good choices on loads. So we can rule out craptackular ammunition (and wild variations in gas pressure and muzzle velocity) as the source of poor groups. Pick whichever you have the most of and just shoot that one type next time you go. Big name commercial match loads are usually very consistent, much better than surplus, and nearly as good as handloads.

    After some inspecting and maintaining, get back out there and let the hot lead fly! 6.8mm has excellent accuracy potential and unless something is really broken or installed incorrectly, your rifle should tighten up and start performing admirably. The general concensus has been that because it has a lot of reciprocating mass sliding back and forth, the XCR isn't quite as accurate as a direct-gas impingement rifle like an M4 or M16. But because it is made better, has a more flexible gas system, thicker barrel, and much-improved trigger, it can out-shoot most other piston-type rifles like AKs or Galils. Because it is a little company, Robinson makes some rifles better than others. But a good break-in is KEY. Pretend its a Ferrari, enjoy, but be cautious and follow the manual until the break-in interval is complete.

    Keep going! And check to make sure your sights are nice and tight. I use regular M16A2 sights and I routinely have to tighten the Allen bolts back down after a few hundred rounds. If those things start coming loose you WILL be all over the page, even if you shoot like Carlos Hathcock.

  7. #6
    Marksman Hoag's Avatar
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    Re: Break-in issues (Accuracy & casing damage)

    Back at the range tonight. Swapped out the EoTech for an Aimpoint PRO. Much better on the accuracy side of things, and the cases seem to be less damaged. (I still don't think I would want to reload with them.) Thanks for your help in sorting this out. Now the big problem is that I don't get to shoot it as much as I'd like. (When I go to the range the other people look at it and go "Cool! Can I try it?") Its a great feeling to be the "kid with the coolest toys on the playground", so I let them. After tonight, 3 people were talking about getting their own XCR.
    "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." ~ Sir Winston Churchill after the Battle of Britain.

  8. #7
    Rifleman Ghost-6's Avatar
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    Re: Break-in issues (Accuracy & casing damage)

    Happy to help. LOTS of us have needed a hand getting the XCR to perform at its best. When she's all broken in, put the paper out at 500 meters and see how it prints. 6.8mm is still supersonic at that distance, see what happens. I'm not a superb marksman by any measure, but at 500m with an Elcan DR 1.5x-6x and a rock creek bipod, I can stay on the "echo" target. Enjoy the luv.

  9. #8
    Marksman Hoag's Avatar
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    Re: Break-in issues (Accuracy & casing damage)

    As expected, shooting it at "4" for the break-in did in fact beat the crap out of the buffer. It self destructed at the range tonight. I didn't notice till after I was done shooting and was cleaning the XCR that the buffer was nothing more than a couple of loose pieces of rubber. So, where can I order a new buffer? Is this something that I could pick up where I bought my XCR, or would Kermit or Naval Beaver would have it, or would I have to order it from RA? Can the gun be used without it?
    "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." ~ Sir Winston Churchill after the Battle of Britain.

  10. #9
    XCR Guru navalbeaver's Avatar
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    Re: Break-in issues (Accuracy & casing damage)

    Busy with vacation but get me your info and i can get you a price with shipping on saturday. Think i have a few in stock.

  11. #10
    Rifleman Ghost-6's Avatar
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    Re: Break-in issues (Accuracy & casing damage)

    Not sure what Kermit or NavalBeaver are asking for buffers price-wise. I keep 4 spares, including 1 inside the pistol grip (Magpul MOE). Don't shoot it without one! And while you've got it broken down, look for dents, dints or scratches at the rear of the receiver and on the tail-end of the bolt and spring guide. Its probably fine, I did the same thing when I broke mine in with 5.56 parts in, but inspection for unusual wear is a good habit to form now and stick to.
    Also, check your ejector screws, if you are still breaking it in, torque those guys down tight (they seat into helicoils) and paint a witness mark to see if they start backing out. They should have been red-loctited at the factory but check for yourself.
    Did the accuracy improve? Are the brass still denting or deforming the same way? 200 rounds might be just right for break-in but some rifles need more. The manual says your rifle is "good" after gas setting "2" pitches the brass 8-10 feet from the rifle, but you may need more break-in time to get there. Groups should have tightened up by now too, how do they look?

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