Posts Tagged ‘maintenance’

It is my heartfelt wish that you were very good this year, and Santa showed up with a Ho-Ho-Ho and a nice new air pistol or air rifle for you to enjoy.

So with that in mind, it seems proper to revisit the issue of cleaning and maintaining your newest airgun. Jared Clark of Airguns of Arizona was kind enough to share his expertise with me.

“The very first rule,” he says, “is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Virtually all of the precharged rifles and pistols and many of the springer rifles and pistols go out the door at having already been checked out by the expert staff there. They shoot the gun, chronograph it, and make sure that all is well before it is sent to you. By the time it gets to your door, it’s ready to shoot, so shoot your new gun and enjoy it!

Clark says, “With precharged guns, let the gun tell you when it needs to be cleaned. I have some guns with upwards of 10,000 pellets through them with no cleanings, but if I start to have accuracy problems, maybe it is time to clean the barrel.”

When it is time to clean the barrel, Clark recommends using a pull-through with a non-petroleum-based cleaner/degreaser on a patch. Run a couple of patches with the cleaner degreaser, then dry patches until you are getting mostly white cotton patches coming out the other side.

He says, “With really inexpensive springers, you might have some gunk in the barrel from the manufacturing process, so it doesn’t really hurt to clean, but most of the time you really don’t gain much.”

He adds, “Over time, make sure your precharged gun is holding air. Check the gauge to make sure everything is tight. In my experience, seals tend to last the longest when guns are used often.”

The big issue with springers is making sure that the stock screws are snug. Loose stock screws are the number one cause of accuracy problems in springers, according to Clark. It’s worthwhile to buy good tools like the Chapman gunsmithing kit for maintaining your airguns and tightening up those stock screws. If you are plagued by continually loosening stock screws, Clark recommends Vibratite for helping to keep them snug.

For springers over time, Clark recommends a drop or two of spring lube on the spring once a year.

He also recommends Napier VP90 as a basic treatment for the metal surfaces of any airgun that helps to seal them and prevent rust. It can be sprayed directly on the metal or sprayed on a cleaning cloth and wiped on.

Clark also flags a couple of things that airgunners should never do: don’t dry-fire springers and only dry-fire a precharged airgun when there is air in reservoir.

Finally, do not, under any circumstances, take your brand-new airgun apart. You will void the warranty and Airguns of Arizona will charge you a fee to put it back together.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock


Wives . . . you gotta look out for them, ‘cause sometimes they will nail you with an insight that is just cosmic in its significance.

Here’s what happened, I was wandering through the house this am when I noticed the book my wife was reading. About two-thirds of the way down the front cover was a cloverleaf which, in this case, was a symbol for the Holy Trinity. For me, though, it brought something else to mind.

“You know,” I said, “just the other day when I was visiting with the airgun benchrest folks, I shot Todd Banks’ air rifle and produced a group just like that – a little tiny cloverleaf. It’s a really, really (I could have added a couple of more reallys) accurate gun.”

“Okay,” she said, “but weren’t you telling someone a story today about a day when you shot two air rifles, got the same crummy results, and concluded that you were the problem?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well, how do you know that you weren’t shooting extra good when you got that cloverleaf? How do you know if it’s you or the gun?” she asked.

All I could say was: “Wow, sweetie, that is a darn good question . . . a DARN good question . . . how DO you know if it is you or the gun?”

So, in this blog I am going to attempt to make some progress on answering that question, but bear in mind that I don’t claim to have all the answers. So if any of the good readers of this blog have their own methods of sorting out whether it is you or the gun, you are cordially invited to post in the comments section of this blog.

From a theoretical standpoint, I think there are two key concepts in figuring out whether it’s you or the gun: (1) look for common factors and (2) eliminate variables.

Look for common factors. The day on which I shot two guns and got crummy results with both is a classic example of spotting the common factor. I was shooting a springer in the side yard and could not get it to group better than 1.5 inches at 20 yards. I stormed into the house, muttering darkly under my breath: “those darned springers are soooo difficult to shoot well . . .” I then grabbed a precharged rifle which I knew was a tack-driving sonofagun, shot it at 20 yards, and got nearly identical results. What’s the common factor here? The guy behind the trigger.

But if you shoot two different guns and get a good result with one gun and a bad result with the other, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not the cause of the bad result. I had a perfect example of that a few years back at a field target match. One of the fellows was shooting Hunter Division with a springer, and he beat me, fair and square, with a tuned springer. Afterwards, I asked if I could try his gun. I tried six times to drop a large target at close range and failed miserably, so much so that he thought maybe something had broken in his scope. He took the gun from me and promptly dropped the target. The problem was that I wasn’t holding his springer the way that he did. If I wanted to shoot his gun, I would probably have to re-zero it.

Here are some common factors you might look for: are you using the same scope on both guns? (A bad scope can really screw things up.) Are you shooting in conditions that are not typical of what you usually shoot in? (Wind from an unusual direction, even if it isn’t particularly strong, can wreak havoc with accuracy, just ask the benchrest shooters.) Are you using a particular tin of pellets with both guns? (Recently I talked with a shooter who has two “identical” tins of pellets – one shoots true, and the other habitually spirals the shot, and nobody can figure out why.) Have you recently changed your rests or shooting position? (That can mess things up in subtle ways. If you just changed rests and suddenly can’t shoot for beans, try reverting to your old rests and see if that doesn’t cure the problem.) Common factors will, in general, affect all guns that they touch. If it turns out that the common factor is simply that you are having a bad day, there’s hope that on another day things will be better.

The other thing that you have to do if you’re trying to figure out if it is you or the gun is to eliminate variables. With springers, in particular, you have to make sure that your scope mounts and stocks screws are snug. If any of those screws are loose, weird, erratic stuff can happen that can really affect accuracy. It should go without saying that, having made sure that none of the fasteners are rattling, you should test for best pellet by shooting groups off a rest. With precharged pneumatic airguns, make sure that you are charging to the correct pressure for that particular gun. If you are using a scope with a mil-dot reticle or any other reticle with multiple aiming points, make sure that you use those aiming points at the same power every time. If all else fails, try cleaning the barrel.

Every airgun sold by comes with a small pamphlet that I wrote on airgun maintenance. If you ask nicely, I bet they will send you a copy. The tips in there should prove pretty useful.

Okay, now, dear reader, it’s your turn: how do you tell if it is you or the gun?

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott