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A comment to this answer on Firearms SE goes like this:

Police quality handguns usually are sold as "no break in required" by the manufacturer.

I tried to Google the "no break-in required" phrasing and looks like it is used in marketing a lot - anything like "immediate comfort with no break-in required".

So looks like it means something like "ready for use right after being taken out of the box" but I'm not sure.

What exactly does that mean?

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It should be clear by now, but: "break-in" is a general term not reserved for handguns and firearms only. I always presumed it came from the idea that things which will break because of manufacturing will break quickly, so one would actively manipulate the item to get it to break (or not). Alternatively, it sometimes means to use the item gently for the first few times. –  horatio Dec 28 '11 at 15:14

2 Answers 2

up vote 13 down vote accepted

The reference is to the "break-in" process. The word process is left out.

A mechanical system, at times, needs a break-in process because the mechanical properties smoothen themselves into place. A typical example is shoes. Shoes need to be broken-in so that they conform to wearer's feet. Another example is new car engines. Cars should not be driven above a particular speed until their engines are broken in. A third example would be the brakes in a car. With those both "broken-in" and "bed-in" are used.

For the gun break-in process, the reference is in particular to the barrel break-in process, although it also applies to the rest of the gun assembly. The gun break-in is also referred to as "seasoning your gun" or "seasoning your barrel". The process is arduous, requiring the user to fire anywhere from 100 - 500 shots from the gun and cleaning the barrel intermittently, anywhere from every 20 to every 5 rounds fired. Also, the process, if performed incorrectly, can damage the gun.

The gun manufacturers basically do this process on new guns beforehand, so that the gun is ready for normal use.

It is both a time- and cost-saving selling point, thus the advertisement.

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Considering the question was in response to: "How many rounds should I fire to determine whether my defensive handgun is reliable enough?", I think it's pretty clearly referring to a break-in period

a period during which certain restrictions or moderation in operating should be followed, as the avoidance of high speed, rapid acceleration, or severe braking for a new automobile.

The reason for the break-in period is two-fold: to guard yourself against manufacturing defects that may appear during initial use, and to "break in" some of the mechanical parts so they run more smoothly, similar to the way you break in stiff new shoes.

In the context of a weapon, worrying about manufacturing defects and accuracy for the first 100-or-so shots may be fine for a deer hunting rifle, but for a police weapon you're going to stake your life on? Not so much. Hence: No break-in required.

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You're most probably right, especially if we take into consideration what OP mentions about other products: "immediate comfort with no break-in required". I'll probably have to delete my answer. –  Irene Dec 28 '11 at 9:12

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