How should I clean my airgun barrel?
By B.B. Pelletier
You don't always HAVE to clean your barrel
Airgun barrels do get dirty. They collect dirt in the bore from the oil in the barrel. Oil gets there for many reasons. In spring guns, the mechanism puts it there (through the transfer port). In pneumatics and gas guns, we sometimes oil the pellets. Some pellets even come pre-oiled or waxed. So barrels do get dirty, but the deposits don't remain inside.
Every pellet down the barrel scrapes out the deposits from the pellets that went before. This is why many airgunners never clean their barrels.
Faster velocities and hard pellets can deposit lead in the bore
As velocities climb above 900 f.p.s., some pellets will leave streaks of lead on the surface of the bore. Hard pellets are the worst. Pure lead pellets are soft and don't leave lead deposits as easily, but pellets that have antimony in their alloy are harder and more prone to scrape off. Try to scratch the head of a pellet with your fingernail. If it's soft, you'll be able to leave a scratch mark - but you won't leave a mark it if it's hard.
4 rules for the proper cleaning of airguns
Unless you know your barrel has lead in it, all you need to do is:
1. Run several clean patches through the bore to remove the dirt and grease. Remember, you DO NOT have to do this unless you want to! Many Olympic champions do not clean their airguns - ever! But there is no harm in cleaning, unless you make some fundamental mistakes.
2. Clean from the breech if at all possible. You want to protect the rifling at the muzzle because damage there will spoil the gun's accuracy.
3. Do not use solvents to clean an airgun. A good grade of gun oil on a patch will remove the dirt, but keep that to a minimum.
4. Dry the bore after cleaning unless the gun is going into long-term storage, in which case a light film of good gun oil is best.
Some tips when more cleaning is necessary
Has a formerly accurate airgun started spreading its shots around? You may need to remove some excess lead buildup. A brass or bronze brush is the best way to remove lead. You will have to scrub back and forth. Since this can damage the bore, don't do it more often than necessary.
For airguns that present a challenge, there are flexible cleaning cables that pull the patch through from the muzzle. When using a cable of any kind, pull straight out of the muzzle and don't let the cable ride against the side of the bore.
Airgun barrels aren't hard
Steel airgun barrels are made from what the industry calls "dead-soft" steel, just like .22-rimfire barrels. This material takes the rifling button better, giving a smoother surface; and the low pressure of the cartridge (or airgun mechanism in our case) cannot damage the steel.
Many airguns have brass barrels. These are even softer than steel and can be easily damaged by improper cleaning methods. Cleaning an airgun barrel is not hard, as long as you remember to preserve the delicate muzzle and not use solvents. The best advice is to only clean when you see a need.
The easy way to clean CO2 guns!
The Crosman Maintenance Kit is perfect for CO2 guns. The two powerlets have Pellgunoil in them to lubricate the entire firing mechanism, and the felt pellets clean the bore! Simply follow the directions on the package.