Monday, November 07, 2005

Improving accuracy with a spring-piston airgun

by B.B. Pelletier

This post comes from a reader comment. Could you list in order what you would advise a new shooter to do to improve accuracy? Today, I will address spring-piston guns.

1. Break it in!
A spring gun seldom performs its best right out of the box. A break-in period of 1,000 to as many as 4,000 shots is required to settle things in. Robert Beeman said in his catalog that adult airguns don't wear out - they wear in. That's especially true for sping-piston guns.

I have mentioned more than once that Gamo triggers become better over time. In fact, it takes a LOT of time to wear one in. The guns I've seen with good triggers had over 4,000 shots through them. I had a Beeman C1 carbine (made by Webley) that took just as long to break in. Out of the box, it was rough to cock, had a heavy trigger and a very harsh firing behavior, but after 3,500 to 4,000 shots, it became very smooth. How do I know? I kept the empty pellet tins.

2. Don't over-oil it!
This used to be a big problem. I don't know if it still is or isn't, but shooters apparently thought they had to oil the heck out of their piston seals. Their guns would be swimming in oil. Even when you use the correct silicone oil, you set up conditions for dieseling when there's too much of it. Better too little than too much.

3. Use good pellets!
I can't believe how many shooters cling to some hopeless pellet because they WANT it to do well in their guns. You know the definition of insanity? Doing a thing repeatedly and hoping for different results. I recommended several pellets in the September 8 post, More on pellets! There are others, of course, but why not start with the best and experiment after you know what your rifle can do?

4. Learn how to hold your gun for best results!
With a springer, that usually means holding it as loose as you can, but there are exceptions. The Beeman Kodiak/Webley Patriot apparently wants to be held firmly for best results. Experiment with your gun until you know it better than anyone. Then, you'll know what it takes.

5. Learn to use a scope!
Skipping this step is a real accuracy killer. Some shooters don't know they must place their heads at exactly the same place on the stock every time if they expect to get results. "But B.B., to do that I would have to raise my cheekpiece, because when my head is against the stock I can't see the scope!" Ah Ha! Read my postings on scope use. There are a bunch, so use the Blog index published on September 30.

5.a. Learn to use a scope LEVEL!
If your scope sits two inches or more above your bore, you have to use a level every time you shoot. Or, you're just hip-shooting from the shoulder! I have seen groups tighten from over 1" to less than 1/4" just from using a level. Of course, points 1 through 5 had already been addressed before seeing this much improvement!

6. Clean your barrel!
Not the usual way - that doesn't work with an airgun because there is no burned powder residue or fouling to clean. But if an airgun bore is RUSTY, it needs to be cleaned. And, most of them are. Use JB Non-Embedding Bore Compound on a brass or bronze brush. Run it from the breech if you can - 20 times down the length of the barrel in each direction. In the first few passes, you will FEEL the crud being removed. JB is a very fine abrasive used by benchrest shooters. Their barrels cost several hundred dollars. It will not harm your bore if used correctly.

After cleaning, remove all traces of JB, then, and ONLY then, clean the barrel with a good gun oil. Do not use Hoppes No. 9 unless you know for certain you can remove all the residue it leaves. (Don't use WD-40 for anything on your gun!) Dry the barrel and start shooting.

That's pretty much it! No fancy tune-ups required. It's always the basics that deliver the best returns, and these are all pretty basic.

56 Comments:

At November 07, 2005 8:43 AM, Anonymous bamboo007 said...

I am not a new airgunner, been shooting on and off for years but I admit I shoot like a newbie..same old wide groups. I am a CO2 shooter.

To a new airgunner or old airgunner who shoots like a newcomer like me, will a gasram rifle a good choice? I shoot metallic silhouette, field target and occasional rodent control, will the gasram be perfect considering it is almost maintenance-free and most of all never needs recharging CO2 or compressed air?

 
At November 07, 2005 9:26 PM, Blogger turtle said...

Well maybe a Kodiak rifel is in my future afterall...avail in gas ram...more forgiving of a pcp shooters hold...very nice...

and yet another question for when ya get back. Re: deiseling...there is alot of hubbub about using Slick50 as a pellet treatment and I have to ask is a heavily back pressured pellet like a Kodiak or Eun-gin in .22cal gonna light the stuff up at 900 fps?

 
At November 09, 2005 7:39 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

bamboo007,

A gas ram airgun will not give you the accuracy you want.

Tell me what models of CO2 guns you now use, and we'll start from there.

 
At November 09, 2005 7:51 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Turtle,

Where is a Kodiak available with a gas ram?

Since no spring gun can get a Kodiak pellet, let alone an Eun Jin, up to 900 f.p.s., the dieseling question is mute. A Kodiak rifle (Patriot) will get a Kodiak pellet into the high 700s. I would guess an Eun Jin might be somewhere in the 500s.

B.B.

 
At November 09, 2005 8:48 PM, Blogger turtle said...

I'd thought I'd read there was a add-on ram available in the past...I assumed there may be one floating around with some patience.

 
At November 09, 2005 8:52 PM, Blogger turtle said...

....sounds like I shouldn't hold my breath...

 
At November 09, 2005 8:54 PM, Blogger turtle said...

...The deiseling question was re: my PCP...

 
At November 10, 2005 4:50 AM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

Turtle,

I've never heard of a PCP dieseling. I'm not sure it's possible.

B.B.

 
At November 10, 2005 10:15 PM, Anonymous bamboo007 said...

I am using an Armscor Executive CO2 rifle in .22 cal. I made a custom stock and designed a two stage trigger. It is made in the Philippines.

My best grouping with this rifle clamped to a vise, at 15 yeards is 2 inches c-t-c. The H&N Match Pellet is worse with it at 4 inches.

 
At November 11, 2005 4:59 AM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

bamboo007,

Okay, the Armscor rifles are not known to have good barrels. We need to find you a real adult air rifle. The problem with Armscor is quality control. One barrel will be great while the next one will be poor.

If you have a cleaning rod, push a pellet through the barrel. You'll probably have to go in from the muzzle because I don't think the bolt comes out easily. I bet you will feel rough and loose patches in the barrel and I bet there is no choke at the muzzle.

A fix for your gun if you like it in other respects is to get someone like Dennis Quackenbush to install a better barrel.

A Sheridan Blue Streak will group on a nickel at the same 15 yards.

Do you own any other air rifles?

B.B.

 
At November 12, 2005 4:45 AM, Anonymous bamboo007 said...

Yes, my first air rifle I got in 1984 and still in good condition up to the present is the Squires Bingham Model .22. It has a short barrel of just 16 inches, but yes I have read your post that barrel lenght do not affect accuracy, but my this one makes a two-inch group at 30 yards.

Yesterday, I messed with the valve spring of my Armscor, increased the number of coils, and I was surprised to find I grouped 20mm at 30 yards. So accuracy with CO2 rifles are very much affected by tuning the valve spring.

Whether by accident or mistake by the factory, my Armscor seem to have a choked barrel. I pushed a pellet from the receiver end and found it became noticeabley harder to push a few inches from the crown. Does this mean it is choked?

The bolt can be easily removed from the rear of the receiver tube without dismantling the barrel.

 
At November 12, 2005 9:17 AM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

bamboo007,

Yes, you have a choked barrel. If it is also made of steel, I have a posting next week about a special cleaning process that may improve your accuracy.

B.B.

 
At November 20, 2005 8:29 AM, Anonymous bamboo007 said...

What is a FWB124 Sporter? With these steps, can a FWB124 Sporter be accurate enough to compete with in field target? I am interested because I found a FWB124 Sporter for sale, though with a bas seal.

 
At November 20, 2005 8:30 AM, Anonymous bamboo007 said...

oops..a typo..that should be "bad seal"

 
At November 20, 2005 10:20 AM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

bamboo007,

An FWB 124, sporter or deluxe, is the accuracy equivalent of a TX 200. In other words, the most accurate of all spring air rifles.

The 124 requires a lot of hold technique to group well, where the TX is more neutral.

I competed with a 124 in several FT matches and did as well as I did with any spring gun.

It's a gun to own!

B.B.

 
At November 28, 2005 2:48 PM, Anonymous StrandedAlbatross said...

BB...
As a newbie I'd appreciate some advice, or at least point me to where I can find thesometimes answer. Guess you must be pretty tired of being asked repetitive questions.

I've been given an Original 35 by my father in law. It was built in 1968 and is a right hand gun. I'm a leftie and need guidance in either setting up or some tips on how to adapt to this gun, or should I just give up and buy a gun with a left hand stock.

I sometimes achieve a group of 3 but it's hit or miss most of the time - no consistency.

I'm using a scope but have to keep adjusting it without any noticeable improvement.

As a matter of interest you guys in the US seem to use more powerful guns than we in the UK where we're restricted to a max of 12 ft lbs and shoot in our back gardens. Also advice and knowledge is more readilly available thru sites like Pyramid.

Your blog is a must each day and has already given me things to achieve.

Hope you can give a left hander some pointers.

Thanks

 
At November 28, 2005 3:30 PM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

StrandedAlbatross,

I don't think you have a right-hand/left-hand problem. What you describe is more of a technique problem.

The Diana 35, whether made by Milbro for the UK market or German FAC for the States, is still known for its sensitivity to hold. The rifle buzzes a lot and likes to jump around. You have to do two things:

1. Never rest the forearm on anything but the flat palm of your hand, and

2. Let the rifle move as much as it can when it fires. That should tighten up your groups EVERY time, and you should have no problem holding zero, if you shoot that way.

HOWEVER, if your scope has one or both adjustments run all the way out until the return spring is very relaxed, you wil get a shift of zero. The scope ajdustment knobs have to have some spring tension to hold the zero point.

Here is a simple test. Dial the scope knobs to the center adjustment point for each knob. I don't care WHERE that puts the pellet! Now, using a very large piece of cardboard, draw an aim point in the center and shoot at it. Make the point as small as possible and put the target 20 meters away, if you can. Hold the gun as loose as possible and concentrate on that aim point for every shot.

You should end up with a tight little group somewhere on the cardboard. If you do, you know the gun is shooting fine. You will need to use an adjustable scope mount to get the crosshairs and the impact point to agree.

I bet this works. Please try it for me.

Regards,

B.B.

 
At November 30, 2005 2:56 PM, Anonymous StrandedAlbatross said...

Thanks BB - I appreciate your time and advice on my problem.

I'll work on your suggestions and post you the results. May take a few weeks due to a busy work schedule and nights closing in about 4.15pm, but will persevere.

Thanks again

Ian

 
At November 30, 2005 3:24 PM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

Ian/StrandedAlbatross,

Take your time. When you do come back try to post to this blog posting, so I can review what you have already said.

You may need to remind me.

B.B.

 
At December 05, 2005 9:28 AM, Anonymous strandedalbatross said...

BB

Took some time off work today and worked on your advice for about 3 hours. Guess what a great improvement. The gun is shooting fine now and any errors are down to me entirely-bad breathing, snatching or just clamming up.

However I did notice that having set up and getting reasonable groups I changed from milbro caledonians that came with the gun making them about 37 years old to crossman accupells. The pellets immediately started impacting an good inch low at 20 yards. My question is do different pellets have such different trajectories and why? I've noted the scope settings so can change back.

Regards Ian

 
At December 05, 2005 9:38 AM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

Ian,

Congratulations!

Yes, pellets will shoot to different points of impact. This is due to their velocity, their drag and some other things. The faster ones often shoot lower because they get out the muzzle before recoil affects them as much.

Keep up the good work and try JSB Exact pellets (the domed ones). I think you will get even better results.

B.B.

 
At December 05, 2005 1:31 PM, Anonymous Ian said...

BB

I've ordered the JSB Exact pellets and can't wait to try them.

I know your time is probably taken up fully, but if you could find the time I'd be pleased if you could do a review on the Diana/Original Model 35, together with what velocity and ft/lbs to expect. Mine is the Original 35 built in 1968 in Germany and has the red recoil pad.

Thanks Ian

 
At December 05, 2005 2:34 PM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

Ian,

I'll try to do it for yiu.

B.B.

 
At December 06, 2005 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks BB I look forward to reading it.

By the way how do you manage so much input and knowledge on so many things re airgunning ?

Ian

 
At December 06, 2005 1:02 PM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

Ian,

I'm just an old airgunner. Heck - I could do a month's worth of posts just on the major mistakes I've made.

B.B.

 
At December 11, 2005 10:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hay guys i am totally new to spring piston air guns but i can shoot good with 22rifels and sutch.Any way i wont to get an accurate one for target shooting and pest removal.Going to spend 200$to 450$what would be a good company that isnt going to go out of business and replacement parts will be available?(gammo)or(rws).was also looking at fixed barrels waste of time or worth it?

 
At October 26, 2006 6:55 PM, Blogger Ashcan said...

Hey BB. I know this to be a bit off topic, but I am new to adult airguns. I recently purchased a RWS 350 magnum. It's very nice and accurate to boot. I purchased some front sight inserts but cant seem to remove the existing one. Any tips on the best way to do this without scratching up the front sight. Also, what would you recommend to oil the piston seals on the rifle. Thanks

 
At October 27, 2006 5:05 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Ashcan,

Unless you have fired 5.000 shoits through your 350 Magnum, it's not time to oil the piston yet. Diana air rifles have a remarkable piston seal that lasts without lubing far longer than most other types. And they also detonate (explode the oil) when you oil them. So it's best to hold off oiling any Diana rifle as long as possible.

As for the front sight, are you certain it comes apart? Many front sights that look like they disassemble are one-piece cast sights. I looked for the owner's manual on Pyramyd Air's website, but it's not there. If you still have it, the manual will say whether your front sight element is replaceable.

B.B.

 
At December 05, 2006 2:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please suggest me the good kind of scope and the good kind of mounting for my air gun "BSA AirSporter .177" The shaking of the rifle cause the mounting and the scope turn bad.

Thanks - R. Farry

 
At December 05, 2006 6:43 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

R. Farry,

I recommend a Leapers scope oif the appropriate power - the power you want.

It won't shake apart.

And buy a good mount for it.

B.B.

 
At January 08, 2007 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you say you should not use Hoppes No. 9?

 
At January 08, 2007 8:08 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Hoppes No. 9, which I use all the time for my firearms, has ammonia in it to dissolve copper fouling. It will destroy certain seal materials. Even the vapors can do damage.

B.B.

 
At January 09, 2007 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Hoppes No. 9 is just used in the barrel of the gun, can it still do damage to the rifle?

 
At January 10, 2007 12:07 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Hoppes has VAPORS that will harm aqirgun seals.

B.B.

 
At October 22, 2007 4:45 PM, Blogger Elmar said...

Hi BB.I replaced the mainspring,Leather piston washer and buffer ring and lubricated the correct way on my BSA CLUB .177.Before my refurb,the rifle shot relatively good groups on target(point of aim).After the work done,it groups very tightly(5 shots,half inch consistant groups at 15 meters) but the problem is that it groups about 10cm above point of aim,but in-line.My rear-sight is on its lowest and the front is fixed so cannot be adjusted for elevation.It runs between 655ft per second and 763ft per second depending on pellets used.What may be the cause of this?ASny suggestions greatly appreciated.Elmar

 
At October 22, 2007 6:14 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Elmar.

I suspect your loading tap isn't seated properly.

B.B.

 
At October 23, 2007 4:27 AM, Blogger Elmar said...

Thanks for that.Any suggestions on how to test it and how to rectify if there is a problen.
Great blog you have here,keep up the excellent advice and reviews.

 
At October 23, 2007 6:31 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Elmar,

I suspect from your writing that you are a Brit, so you understand the term "fiddly." The loading tap is fiddly and probably just needs to be looked at. I would suspect a sharp ridge prevents it from closing all the way, resulting in a shaved pellet. Longer range testing could reveal that. Shooting into water and then examining the pellet would reveal if it is deformed on one side. It takes a good two feet of water to slow a pellet.

I had the same problem with a Hakim (Anschutz) trainer and what it took was repeated disassembly and reassembly until the tap was finally seated correctly. By seated, I mean aligned, so the tap hole is in line with the breech when it's closed.

B.B.

 
At February 12, 2008 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a Beeman S1000 Spring Piston .177 air rifle @ 1000 FPS, and I find it most inconsistent. I have shot hundreds of different pellets, experienced with various hand positions and still cannot keep a tight group. At 25-30 yards, two shots are tight but the third & fourth are either high left or low right. I am currently shooting .177 Beeman Kodiak extra heavy pellets, which keep it in the zone, but just when I think, I have figured it out the inconsistent bug strikes again. Can someone provide some help?

Andrea

 
At February 12, 2008 5:10 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Andrea,

Let';s start with your hold. Your rifle is Spanish and extremely susceptible to hold. Balance the forearm just forward of the triggerguard on the backs of your fingers laid on sandbags.

Allow the rifle to recoil as much as it can. Do nothing that retards it from moving.

Check the breech pivot bolt to ensure it is tight enough that the barrel remains in position after cocking. If it falls down, the bolt should be tighter.

Try a different pellet, like the JSB Exact 8.4-grain or the Air Arms equivalent. The Kodiak is too heavy for the best accuracy.

Give these things a try and get back to me.

B.B.

 
At February 12, 2008 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advise ..I will try it. I have another question for you, here goes ..can you recommend a Varmint hunting air rifle that's inexpensive, accurate, powerful and have little recoil?

Andrea

 
At February 13, 2008 10:11 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Andrea,

Have you considered a Benjamin 392?

If you are stuck on springers, the RWS Diana is a wonderful rifle.

B.B.

 
At February 13, 2008 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BB, It's not that I'm stuck on Springer’s, it just happened to be the first gun I bought for varmints. As I stated in my previous comments, the gun jerks so much that I have become displeased with the performance. I would prefer a gun that’s has low recoil and delivers quite a punch at decent range, without the extreme cost.

 
At February 13, 2008 2:10 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Then for sure you want to look at the Benjamin 392. It's a multi-pump pneumatic, so there's virtually no recoil. Accuracy is okay, but not in the same class as a $400 spring rifle shot by someone using good technique. You can hit a quarter at 25 yards, if you can shoot.

Check it out, and also read my many blogs on the 392 and Sheridan Blue Streak.

B.B.

 
At February 13, 2008 10:32 PM, Blogger Bob from Oz said...

BB great list..congratulations!

How often should Theoban Eliminator 20 cal with CPs be cleaned? Just tried Beeman heavies and they shoot everywhere and I probably have used 6000+CPs prior to this.

Have been told to clean barrel since CPs are "dirty" and Beeman are 0.5mm smaller than CPs.

I was also told the myth not to use bronze in barrel. Your method with JB Bore Paste sounds good to me.

I have not cleaned this rifle barrel since new. I am amazed how badly it shoots now but I am out of CPs to test against the Beemans.

Have you tried Hoppes Bore Snake taking care with the crown?

Bob

 
At February 14, 2008 5:50 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Bob from Oz,

Your rifle definitely needs to be cleaned. After that, shoot pure lead pellets and you may not have to clean it again.

I haven't used a Bore Snake, but with the Theoben you don't have to. A solid rod works very well.

As for bronze in the barrel, I can't comment. I assume you refer to the Lewis Lead Remover? Just use the JB paste and your barrel will be sparkling. The difference in accuracy will be dramatic.

B.B.

 
At February 14, 2008 7:42 PM, Blogger Bob from Oz said...

Sorry BB, I was a bit vague, bronze brush in barrel wears out barrel = myth. Bronze is a lot softer than steel.

But I guess JB paste is a bit like fine valve lapping paste we used centuries ago when we rebuilt motors.

So only use when accuracy falls off in another few years?

You suggested lubricating CPs prior use. What do you suggest?

BTW Lewis forgot to send me Lewis Lead Remover down when he sent the CPs. Is it any good?

Bob

 
At February 15, 2008 5:59 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Bob from Oz,

So, you're from Australia? I know Lewis Reinhold of Beeman of Australia from internet and phone conversations. He is not the Lewis of the Lewis Lead remover. That's a firearm product and completely different. And I don't recommend using it in an airgun.

Yes, the JB paste is like valve lapping compound we used to finish a valve job with. Boy - that was a long time ago!

Clean only as required. I used the following to lube any Premiers I shoot in a Theoben. It was recommended by John Whiscombe. I call it Whiscombe Honey.

Hoppes gun oil and STP motor treatment, mixed half and half by volume. If you can't get Hoppes then use Remoil or another good petroleum-based gun oil. Mix it thoroughly and it never separates. Drop 20 drops on a foam liner than cover the liner (in a pellet tin) with pellets. Rolling around coats them.

B.B.

 
At February 15, 2008 6:39 PM, Blogger Bob from Oz said...

G'day BB

Picking Oz for Australia was pretty easy but coming up with Lewis Reinhold from Beeman was very impressive.

You suggested pure lead pellets. Lewis has sent me JSB Exact Diablo to try. Are these pure lead?

Bob

 
At February 16, 2008 8:40 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Bob,

Yes, JSB pellets are all pure lead. In fact, only Crosman pellets and a few other nondescript brands are hardened with antimony.

B.B.

 
At March 02, 2008 11:37 PM, Blogger Bob from Oz said...

G'day BB,

My supplies recommended by you are coming in slowly...got STP oil treatment but I have been supplied with Brownells J-B BORE BRIGHT BORE FINISHING COMPOUND. The one I have is reddish.

Is this the same as J-B Non embedding Bore Paste? Has there been a change of names or product?

Bob

 
At March 03, 2008 9:49 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Bob,

Bore Brite is a different product that Bore Cleaning Compound.

B.B.

 
At March 03, 2008 5:59 PM, Blogger Bob from Oz said...

G'day BB

Will Pyramid deal with overseas orders (to Oz) not for arms as such but ancillary equipment? I can't take your advice if I can't purchase the products.

Dewey has one agent in Oz who I tracked down yesterday. Evidently no gun shops will handle this line. He sells only to rifle associations but I was able to get what I needed from him. I asked him about the difference between JB Bore Paste and Bore Bright(which he also had) and he then succeeded in selling me some IOSSO Bore Cleaner which he said was the same as JB Bore Paste. OK I'm a sucker for a cool talking dude!


What is interesting is the jar of J-B BORE BRIGHT is made by Brownells, Inc. Montezuma, IA 50171. I would have thought if made in US it would be spelt BORE BRITE as you wrote.

I'm pretty sure it is the size/type of grit but can you please explain what is going on?

 
At March 04, 2008 6:07 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Bob,

Brownells doesn't make anything. They put their name on it and resell it all over the world.

Try the Iosso Bore Cleaner. It's probably pretty similar.

As for buying from Pyramyd, the shipping will probably be ruinous, depending on what you want to buy. They will send just about anything anywhere; all you have to do is contact them.

B.B.

 
At May 15, 2008 11:39 AM, Blogger Larz said...

I own a Diana 35, sposedly bought it new last year from the store. only just recently found out they havent ben built for over 20 years. but beyond that, im getting amazing accuracy out of it. went to the mountains and took a couple of A sized batteries along, set em up along a ridge, and camped about 120m away. there were 5 batteries. i shot everyone of em without missing once. is this even possible with an airgun? or was it just a fluke?

 
At May 19, 2008 6:13 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Larz,

It's pretty incredible. At 120 meters you should be holding a group of 15-inches. Hitting a small battery is luck. At 20 yards, though, a Diana 35 should stay on a dime.

B.B.

 

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