To be honest, the jury is still out on routine barrel cleaning for airguns. Many top-notch shooters only clean their barrels when they notice a decrease in accuracy. If you simply must clean your barrel regularly, do so at 500-round intervals, using a pull-through and a cleaner-degreaser.
With a springer, tighten the stock screws, wipe down the finish with a gun rag, and regularly apply a drop of lubricant to the cocking link and cocking slider. Most modern springers do NOT require chamber oil. Older guns with leather seals may benefit from a couple of drops of chamber oil every tin of pellets or so.
With a pneumatic, all you need to do is lubricate the bolt surface with synthetic gun oil and use your normal lube on your pellets, unless the manufacturer’s recommendations say differently.
With springers, store your gun uncocked and never discharge the gun without a pellet. Springers rely on the back pressure provided by the pellet to prevent the piston from slamming into the end of the cylinder and causing damage. If you absolutely must discharge a springer without a pellet, press the muzzle tightly against a phone book and then pull the trigger. On the other hand, pneumatics should be stored uncocked with air in them.
When is it Time to Send Your Gun to the Service Shop?
With precharged pneumatics, usually the only reason for sending a gun to the shop is a leak – you may have an inlet or exhaust valve or o-ring that is bad. The other cause for concern is deteriorating accuracy that isn’t cured by cleaning the barrel.
With spring-piston rifles, there are several symptoms that may suggest sending the gun to the shop: harsh firing behavior (after the gun is broken in), loss in accuracy, noise or increased effort on cocking, loss in velocity, or problems with consistency in velocity. The first thing you should do, however, is check and tighten the stock screws.
If the springer has been sitting around without being fired for a long time, the seals – particularly older synthetic seals – may deteriorate with age. As a result, if you have an old gun that hasn’t been shot and is behaving strangely, it may need to be resealed.
Supplies You‘ll Need to Maintain Your Airgun
Fortunately, the list of necessary equipment for airgun maintenance is short:
- A quality toolkit, with gunsmith-style bits.
- A quality cleaning kit with pull-through or coated rod, dictated by your type of rifle.
- Some cleaner-degreaser.
- Lubricant for the cocking linkage for springers.
- Chamber oil for springers – but only if your gun absolutely requires it.
- Lubricant for the bolt surface for pneumatics.
- Pellet lube for pneumatics.
If you don’t already have these supplies, order them when you purchase your gun. Then you’ll be ready for many happy years of shooting.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott