Lubricating your spring gun: Part 1 – chambers & mainsprings

by B.B. Pelletier

I thought I would do something general that everyone needs, and this topic jumped out at me. Everyone wants to know how and where to lubricate a spring airgun. Before I begin, let me mention that this is a huge subject, so I had to break it into parts. Today, I’ll do chambers and mainsprings.

THE CHAMBER
We’ll start with the chamber because a lot of shooters think it’s the only place they need to lube. Of course, it isn’t, but the chamber is perhaps the most controversial spot on an airgun.

There are a couple reasons we lube the chamber. For one thing, it lubricates the sides of the piston seal and reduces drag and friction. Friction can melt a synthetic piston very quickly. Leather piston seals are kept supple and therefore better able to compress air if they are kept lubricated.

G.V and G.M. Cardew proved that spring-piston guns burn their lubricant to produce power. That’s spelled out in detail in their book, The Airgun From Trigger to Target. Anyone who has seen smoke roll out from a freshly lubed BB gun knows this is true. Of course, you want to avoid the more powerful explosion we call a detonation. Actually, a detonation is only different in how much fuel is burned in each explosion. When a spring-piston gun fires, a little of the lubricant flashes into oxidized gas, which can be called by many names such as an explosion, a diesel or a burn.

Here are the guidelines for lubing the chamber
Everything I say for rifles also applies to pistols but in smaller doses.

For guns with synthetic piston seals use a silicone lube with a high flashpoint. A good one is Crosman Silicone Chamber Oil. Use VERY LITTLE – perhaps one drop every 1,000 to 3,000 shots. Use the least with modern Diana/RWS guns such as the models 48, 52 and the 350 magnum.

For guns with leather piston seals, use silicone chamber lube in greater quantities, because it’s constantly being wicked away and drying out. Perhaps, five drops every 500 shots is about right. Taploading guns with leather seals (older BSA and Hakim rifles) need even more lube than that. If you find an older airgun that has little or no compression, stand it on its butt and put 20 drops of silicone oil down the barrel. Wait several days, but periodically exercise the action by cocking and uncocking without firing, if the design permits. This often restores an older gun with leather seals.

For old BB guns, use petroleum oil and SOAK the leather seal over a period of days. If the gun has a shot tube, remove it and drop the oil down the large hole in the muzzle. It will seep through the compression chamber and into the leather seal. If the gun has an “Oil Here” hole, oil it 5-6 times with as much oil as you can get through the hole. Cock and uncock the action repeatedly to spread the oil. Be careful! Oil will run out of the gun and onto whatever it’s standing on!

For Crosman M1 Carbines and model 350 and 3500 BB guns ONLY, drop the oil down the rear (the smaller) of the two holes on top of the receiver. You only need three or four drops because these guns have a synthetic poppet-type valve rather than a leather piston seal.

For more modern BB guns made from about 1955 and on, the amount of oil should be small because they all have synthetic seals. Almost all of these guns have marked oil holes.

THE MAINSPRING
Oil the mainspring only if the gun makes noise when it’s cocked.
The more expensive spring guns are lubed very well at the factory and probably don’t need attention for many years. View every used gun with suspicion until you know its condition.

Spring lube is usually an oil, which is the easiest to apply. There are certain spring greases that have been available from time to time. The oils can be applied without disassembling the gun, but most of the greases require disassembly. A good oil to use is Gamo Air Gun Oil. Ten drops of oil is followed by cocking and uncocking (if possible) the gun in many positions to spread the oil as far as possible. Shooting will do the rest.

If you’re going to make a mistake in the lubrication of a spring gun, it’s best to err on the side of too little lube rather than too much. Guns can be ruined through over-lubrication, but almost everyone will recognize the signs of a dry gun that needs a little lubricant.

This posting will probably raise more questions than it answers. That’s okay, because those questions are going unanswered right now. Ask away!

47 thoughts on “Lubricating your spring gun: Part 1 – chambers & mainsprings


  1. The rotary breech makes it difficult to put the lube directly into the compression chamber, so here is what you do.

    Stand the rifle on its butt with the breech closed. Drop the oil into the muzzle and allow at least an hour for it to run down the barrel and into the compression chamber. I always throw in one extra drop for the barrel, because I know some of the oil will stay there.

    B.B.


  2. I have a Beeman R7 purchased new this year. I have launched perhaps 1800 projectiles. Synthetic chamber seal on this rifle? How to apply the correct chamber lubricant?
    Thanks.


  3. Yes, your R7 piston seal is synthetic. If it doesn’t squeak, it doesn’t need any lube, however, a drop or two won’t hurt this gun.

    Break the barrel open and drop the oil into the transfer port, located in the spring cylinder directly behind the barrel when it is closed.

    After oiling, cock and uncock the rifle several times in different positions to move the oil around the seal edges.

    B.B.


  4. B.B.,

    So many terms! For us newbies, would you post one or more close-up photos identifying the rifle/pistol anatomy? It would be worth a thousand words!

    Thanks,
    Bill


  5. I have a vintage Hy Score 800 air pistol, which features a concentric design. I realy enjoy shooting it, but that is for another conversation. It does not have leather or synthetic seals but steel rings, much like the rings found on an auto piston. I have read that these air pistols were designed to be “oil burners”.

    What type of oil would you recommend for my Hy Score pistol?

    Thanks,

    Fred


  6. Fred,

    I’ve also had an 800 and the earlier 700. I used petroleum oil, like 3-in-1, in mine.

    They aren’t very accurate, but both the novelty and uniqueness of the design make them exciting air pistols.

    B.B.



  7. I don’t know how much of an “overdose” we’re talking about, but waiting for several weeks with the gun pointed down to drain the oil is the only way, other than shooting it out. Unless you want to disassemble the gun.

    What are we talking about?

    B.B.




  8. b.b. sir
    i was wondering about the year and some history that you might know on ampex ampell single shot co2 pellet pistol.
    it is in very good condition,it leaks a little at the peircing point where the powerlet goes.
    any info will be great.
    thank you,
    bob


  9. bob,

    Ampell pistols appear to have been made from 1968 to 1975. Have you used Crosman Pelgunoil on the tip of the new powerlet? It should seal that leak.

    B.B.


  10. Beeman sold a lot of silicone oil by recommending that shooters squirt some in after every tin of pellets. But that technique was developed by Ladd Fanta for leather-washer sealed guns, whose piston seals need regular replenishment.

    A modern gun with a synthetic piston seal and a minute amount of silicon grease and moly is good for many tens of thousands of shots without additional lube. Silicone oil squirted into the chamber is just shot out within a few dozen shots.


  11. Hai B.B.,

    I have an old Air gun BSA Airsporter, my question is… Where do you put the lubricant for the Chamber and for the Main Spring of these rifle? How many drops i can use for each? when or on what condition i can use the oil for these rifle? What kind of oil i can use for the Chamber and for Main Spring for these rifle? any special warning for my rifle about the oil issue?

    For to many question from me so… Thanks B 4

    R. Farry


  12. R. Farry,

    Chamber oil goes down the air transfer port behind the barrel. Spring oil goes on the mainspring. You should be able to see it, but if not, remove the stock.

    Why are you lubing your rifle? Does it act like it needs lube or are you just doing it because you think you should?

    A rifle needs very little lube, and it’s best to keep shooting until they show signs of needing attention.

    B.B.


  13. BB,

    I recently bought an RWS 48. The manual indicates a requirement to put one drop of RWS Chamber Lube into the Compression Chamber Port with a 3-12″ applicator needle. Please indicate the location of the Compression Chamber Port (is it the same as the air transfer port), and the method of using the needle to apply the oil.


  14. Yes, the air transfer port is what they call the Compression Chamber Port.

    Stick needle into port. Squeeze bottle until 1 drop of oil comes out needle and drops into port.

    You don’t need the needle. Just drop the oil as far into the compression chamber as possible (the cupped seal that closes on the breech) and stand the rifle in the corner on its butt for an hour to let the oil run into the chamber.

    Do this only after one year or 3,000 shots have been fired.

    B.B.


  15. I have had an RWS 48 since 1996 but was only used rigorously the first year. It was stored up until about 3 years ago. I have never oiled the mainspring. Looking at the manual, I have no idea how to get to it. Do I need to remove the stock? Thanks.


  16. RWS 48,

    Why do you think your mainspring needs oil? Does it make crunching sounds when you cock the rifle?

    To oil the mainspring the stock must come off the gun. There is a hole under the spring tube through which a small section of the mainspring can be seen. This is the only way to oil the spring of this gun without disassembly.

    B.B.


  17. I have recently purchased a Diana/RWS 46 (My first air rifle) and I also am wondering if you have to remove the stock to oil the mainspring, as suggested for the model 48? Also I have a RWS 4x mounted and every time I get it zeroed in and put it away, the next time I pick it up it needs to be re-sighted in. I am using the Meistergugelns. Everything is tight, so is this scope an example of Chineese junk, or what?


  18. RWS 46,

    There are too many questions for me to answer. You probably do have a scope problem, but not a broken scope. Your problem is in the mounting. Please read my articles about scope mounting in the articles section of this website.

    I’m on an extended trip and cannot answer you better until Feb. 14. Can you please contact me then?

    Try Crosman Premier pellets…7.9 grains. They should shoot better than the Meisters.

    B.B.


  19. I have a 40 yr old Sheridan 5mm pellet rifle. Which air chamber oil should I use? Have no idea of seal being leather or synthetic. Which products should I use or avoid in regular maintenance? Thanks in advance for any help. Phil


  20. Phil,

    Never clean the barrel.

    Always store the rifle with a pump of air.

    Oil the pump piston head with Crosman Pellegunoil.

    To get to the pump piston head, lay the rifle on its back and open the pump handle all the way. The piston head is just visible at the end of the pump slot. Drop 3-5 drops of Pellgunoil on the head through the slot and then pump and shoot the rifle several times to spread the oil.

    Putr a drop of Pellgunoil on each of the pump linkage pivot points.

    That’s about it for maintenance.

    B.B.



  21. Phil,

    I said DON’T clan the barrel – EVER. So you don’t need a cleaning kit. The barrel is brass and it doesn’t get dirty.

    Use Pellgunoil. Pyramyd Air has it in stock and it’s the only thing I can recommend, other than 20-weight non-detergent motor oil.

    B.B.


  22. Is oil or pellet residue ever a problem. I used to have actual Sheridan oil, but it is no longer available. I had a cleaning rod I made from a wood dowel and used to run a patch down it occasionally, is that not good?


  23. Phil,

    Pellet residue really isn’t a problem in these guns. Yes, there will always be some, but it gets blown out the muzzle and doesn’t accumulate.

    The way I told you to oil the gun is more than just a way to keep it sealed. By putting it on the pump head (the pump piston), it gets blown completely through the gun, carrying any dirt it may encounter out with it.

    Now, your wooden dowel is no problem for the rifle. Very few people use a wooden rod. I was concerned that you might use a metal rod, which would harm the rifling at the muzzle. That would destroy the accuracy in time.

    B.B.





  24. Hi there,

    Great post -I have read every word with great interest (being a novice airgunner but being ever so eager to learn!) Quick Question: I have a Wiehrauch 35 that despite being plenty old enough than I am I adore deeply. The problem is that it does feel ‘rough’ when I cock it and possibly recoils a bit more than it should (I think). It did have a new spring about a year ago so its unlikely to need that oiling but I do know the previous owner didn’t treat it particularly well (leaving it cocked while stored and suchlike) Is it just likely to need a spot of chamber oil? I have been told by a friend I should never put oil down it but your post of using a high flash point silicone lube makes more sense, it does afterall have moving parts. What is your take on it? Richard (from across the pond in England)


  25. Richard,

    Do you know if your rifle has a leather seal or a synthetic one? That makes a big difference in the oiling schedule.

    I don’t like that it’s feeling rougher during cocking. That’s not a good thing for a spring gun to do. It often means that the cocking shoe is galling in its track. You need some good grease there.

    HW 35s are not the smoothest of airguns, but they don’t cock rough, as a rule.

    Tell us more.

    B.B.


  26. B.B.,
    I have a Walther PPK/S bb handgun with blowback and was wondering if it’s ok to use standard multi-use silicone spray (like CRC Heavy Duty Silicone) to lubricate it. And if so, where precisely should I lube it (the chamber? the rails? both?). Thanks!

    David



  27. Hell B.B. Pelletier!

    I have a few questions. First off, where are all the areas I can use the gamo airgun oil on the spring of my break barrel? Is the oil alone enough to lubricate the spring and everything it touches? If so, should I remove all the grease from the spring (and everything it touches) before I use the gamo oil?. Finally, will the crosman Silicone Chamber Oil be enough to lubricate the piston of my break barrel for awhile, or should I keep applying moly lubricant often/when neccesary?


  28. Your mainspring doesn't require oil. Those instructions are for guns made 40 years ago. Modern spring guns seldom need lubrication of any kind.

    However, when the piston seal starts to honk like a goose, put one drop of silicone chamber oil down the air transfer port behind the breech. If you want to oil the mainspring, drop oil through the cocking slot. 5-10 drops of spring oil will do. Don't use chamber lube, because it does not have the viscosity needed for lubricating steel parts.

    If you disassemble your rifle completely, you can lube it with moly grease. It will never need lubrication after that, unless you shoot a lot. Perhaps after 20K shots you will need to relube the gun.

    B.B.


  29. Okay, thank you for responding. One last question from me I promise; Can I use moly and Gamo airgun oil on the mainspring at the same time? Thank you.



  30. I have a crosman optimus and it says to use crosman rmcoil to lubricate inside the chamber, but I can't find the oil anywhere in New Zealand. Is there a good alternative that you could recommend?

    Cheers



  31. Hello! Great article! I have an 1966 Gecado (Diana) Model 23. It was my dad's when he was a kid and for the past 15 years, it's been sitting in a closet. It's not been passed on to me. It's in great shape and still fires really well (thus, the leather seals still seem to be holding strong), but I want to give it a little TLC as I plan on using it with my daughter this summer.

    I purchased the RWS .177 Shooter's Kit and just curious on how I should apply the spring cylinder oil on this model gun (the kit came with an oiling needle)? How much oil should be applied?

    As well, with the chamber lube, since the compression is still good, how many drops of the lube should I put into the air transfer port? Is 5-drops enough (since it hasn't been done in who-knows-how-long)?

    Finally, with the leather seal around the air transfer port, how exactly should I apply the lube to this seal?

    Thank you!


  32. Kristin,

    First, stand the gun on its butt and drop 10 drops of oil down the muzzle. If you go through the air transfer port, located behind the place the pellet is loaded, you can use about 7 drops. Let the gun stand for at least a full day. The oil runs down and soaks into the piston seal this way. Household oil is good for this.

    Next, put about 10 drops of spring oil on the mainspring through the cocking slot. Then shoot the gun with pellets at least 20 times.

    The shooting will distribute the oil and everything should be good for you.

    B.B.


  33. I have a RWS 350 has not been lubricated for over 6 months. So I applied RWS Spring Cylinder Oil. I thik its over lubricated. It now after lubrication makes a very loud squeaky screeching noise when cocking. I think its coming from the main spring. Is this rifle safe to fire? Will it be gone in a few hundred shots? I'm concerned about if this rifle is still safe to fire.

    D.S.


  34. Oops!,

    You used the wrong kind of oil in your gun. Spring Cylinder oil is silicone-based and will not lubricate metal parts. In fact, it causes them to wear against each other with exactly the kind of sound you are describing.

    Silicone oil is only for the piston seal. It seals the edge of the seal and increases compression. But when put on the metal parts, it washes off the petroleum oil and allows the parts to scrape against one another.

    The best thing to do is disassemble the rifle and remove all the oil from the parts, then lube it correctly and never oil it again.

    These modern guns don't need to be oiled for years at a time, and if they have moly grease on their springs, they never have to be lubricated.

    B.B.


  35. BB,

    I have a very old BSA airsporter club and has never been lubricated in +- 30 years.I had the mainspring and plunger replaced.Now makes much more noise than before.Should I lubricate the chamber or spring?


  36. You used the term "plunger" instead of piston. That suggests you live in the UK. If that is correct, was the new plunger seal replacement leather? if so, then, yes, it does need frequent lubrication. If not, I would ask whoever did the work what they would recommend. That goes for the mainspring, as well.

    B.B.


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