Before we get to today’s blog, and before you all pick up on AOA writing another entry, we need to make an announcement. Nearly seven years ago, we set out on a journey here on this very blog. At the helm was a highly qualified and keen spirited writer by the name of Jock Elliott. (Now before we press on, Jock is fine, and all is well.) Years break down to months, and months to weeks, and every week brought another great story, product review, announcement or the odd rant…every week…without fail. Jock is consistent that way, and for his efforts we should all be thankful. I know each of us at AOA could never express the thanks we have as the task of writing is not for the weak spirited, and the commitment to a weekly article would be difficult for anyone, and to do it with the grace and style ole Uncle Jock has would be near impossible. But alas, following several long and heartfelt conversations, Jock has requested to make his retirement a little more official, and without any hard feelings has stepped down from the weekly duties here. We could never allow him to get away completely, and we were able to tie him down with a less-formal commitment to jump in and share an article when possible. His first task, er…request by AOA will be to formally share his journey here and we ask that everyone chime in and give him the thanks he deserves. I don’t think he will stray too far, as his passion for airguns still burns strong!
Meanwhile, we have some new ideas, new articles, new techniques and even new writers lined up. Amazing how much it took to fill Jock’s well worn shoes! So stay tuned and let us know your comments as we continue on this awesome airgun journey! Now on to today’s blog…
For those of us who come from the firearm sport into airguns, or those who are just coming into shooting sports, there are many opinions and yet very little good information out there about maintaining airgun barrels. Powder burners are conditioned to spend a great deal of time addressing the barrel, where carbon build up and high heat make the barrel a nasty place! But airguns, on the other side of the coin, have no heat and no explosive reactions to overcome. So what to do about the barrel?
First off, put away your Hoppes #9 and any other cleaning fluid that works best in the firearm world! Oh, they’ll clean your airgun barrel as good or better, but the long term will result in total ruin of your seals and in case you didn’t know, an airgun of any type, without its seals, is a glorified paperweight! So unless you want to rebuild or pay someone else to rebuild your airgun, keep away from solvents that can harm o-rings or seals.
The same goes for big bristly brushes attached to steel rods. Unless you have a specific issue to attack, airguns don’t require abrasive action, so keep away from these things as well. It is not that the barrels are softer than firearms, but they often contain seals, or have seals nearby, and rubber or plastic does not hold up to even the softest touch by a wire brush!
So here we are, back where we started. How do you clean an airgun barrel, and is it even necessary?
Starting with the last question, the answer is yes. It is still necessary to maintain a clean barrel on an airgun. But you have to consider the fact that pellets leave behind little trace, so a clean barrel will remain so for a long time. Our rule of thumb here at Airguns of Arizona is that a new barrel will likely have remnants of oil and gunk from the manufacturing processes and storage procedures at the factories. This should be removed before use to achieve the best possible outcome in accuracy. But, once that is all gone, and the rifle is shooting well, we don’t recommend a schedule to keep with cleaning the bore. Like we tell many new and seasoned shooters, let the airgun tell you when it needs a good cleaning. If your accuracy is holding strong, leave it alone. When you start to see your groups widen and you know its not you or the conditions, by all means go straight to the barrel for cleaning and see if the problem goes away. Why, you might ask? Well, a mirror shine, ultra clean barrel may actually shoot worse than a slightly dirty one! It is quite common in our testing to clean a barrel and have the accuracy disappear. Then, after a handful of pellets have been run through the barrel, the accuracy snaps back in and you are back in the hunt. With lead pellets, there are no harmful chemicals in the barrel corroding the steel, so there is no issue with avoiding cleaning until necessary for accuracy.
Now on to how. We have grown fond of the simple pull through cleaning tool. Airguns range from break barrel spring guns with full access to the barrel from both sides, to tight breech and shrouded muzzle precharged pneumatics where accessing either side of the barrel can be tricky. This is where a cleaning tool like the Napier Pull-Thru shines!
Made of a strong cord with a loop on one end and a T-Handle on the other, the Napier Pull-Thru allows you to fish the device through the bore, add a patch/cleaning solution, and then pull it back through to remove the build up of lead and oils. The unit is sleeved by an outer rubber tube, and this gives the device some structure to allow it to slip down the bore. Once the patch is installed, you can pull gently to cinch the patch in the loop before pulling it back through.
When we say cleaning solution, we simply mean just that…cleaner/degreaser. Not harsh solvents needed. We offer the AOA Cleaner/Degreaser, but many use simple household cleaner as well. A couple drops on a patch, pulled through once or twice, followed by a couple dry patches, and you are all set.
What we like about the Napier Pull-Thu over the rest is two-fold. First is the strength of the components and the comfort of the handle. This unit is strong yet easy to use and does not pinch your hand when pulling patches. Next is the flexibility the unit has, which shines on a tight breech system like a precharged gun designed for magazine use. The Napier can be fished out the breech with ease, and a patch installed without trouble.
Patch loaded on a tight PCP breech.
Hopefully this clears up the question about cleaning an airgun barrel. We know that many people have their opinion about what works best, and we respect that fact. In our experience, where ease of use and good yet fast results are needed, the Napier Pull-Thru gets our recommendation. The OTIS system comes in a close second, and for those special circumstances like we alluded to above, if you need the power of a rigid cleaning rod, look to the Dewey line as they are coated in a durable rubberized finish to protect your bore, and they pivot on smooth bearings to prevent harm to your fine airgun rifling.
**Teaser Alert…we have a new writer on board, and he will be kicking it off next week!**
Until Next Time,
Get Out and Shoot!