Airgun lubrication — spring guns: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Airgun lubrication — spring guns: Part 1

This report addresses:

• Identifing and lubricating high-stress parts
• Lubricating with moly
• Lubricating triggers
• Lubrication intervals
• Lubricating mainsprings
• General lubrication
• Preserving the airgun with oil

Well, the immediate response we got to the first installment of this report made it one of the all-time favorites. In that report, we looked just at the piston seal, which I said was half of the lubrication solution for a spring gun. Today, we’ll look at everything else.

Parts under high stress
The moving parts of a spring gun are the powerplant parts, the trigger group and either the barrel, when it’s used as to cock the gun, or the cocking mechanism if the gun isn’t a breakbarrel. When airguns were simpler and less stressed, all of these parts could be lubricated with gun oil or lithium grease. But today’s guns are stressed to higher limits and generally need something more specific and better-suited to each application.

The high-stress parts are the piston, spring guides, mainspring, cocking shoe or other linkage contact with the piston, barrel pivot bolt and the sear. Any part that has several pounds of force exerted on it should be considered a high-stress part. In a vintage gun, I still use lithium grease on most of these parts. But for the sear, where I want the minimum resistance, and for the pivot bolt, which takes the force of cocking, I’ll use a grease that’s impregnated with molybdenum disulfide. Moly is not a grease, by itself. It’s a metal that, in the form molybdenum disulfide, is a solid lubricant that bonds with metal surfaces and provides a low coefficient of friction between the treated surfaces. It’s highly resistant to wear and remains in place for a very long time.

I use products like Air Venturi Moly Metal-to-Metal Paste for this application. I also have a half-pound of molybdenum disulfide powder that can be brushed onto ferrous parts and then burnished in.

Dr. Beeman warned against using moly on triggers, as it would make them too slippery to work safely. I was an early proponent of applying moly to sears. But — and this is extremely important — the trigger has to be adjusted perfectly, or it will become unsafe. No trigger should ever rely on friction to make it safe. It should rely on geometry for its safe operation; and if it cannot depend on that, then lubricating it with moly is very unsafe. I’ve had several improperly adjusted airgun trigger sears slip and allow the guns to fire without warning, so Dr. Beeman’s caution is well-taken.

The benefits of using moly in the right places are reductions in the cocking effort and in the trigger-pull. But it takes experience to know when to apply moly and when not to. The only way to get this experience is to lubricate many airguns and watch them as they perform.

A good oil for all other applications is RWS Spring Cylinder Oil. It can be used for general lubrication of hinge points and even the mainspring, itself. Use something like this when I recommend using oil.

Lubrication intervals
Once lubricated with moly, the job will last for years and even decades before needing lubrication again. Greases like those with lithium in them are more prone to dry out and harden. They must be monitored. You can do this by eye if the greased part is visible — such as the mainspring, by looking through the cocking slot. Or, you can do it by watching the gun’s performance. This is done both by feel and with a chronograph. Here is yet another reason to own a chronograph — to evaluate the health of your spring guns.

Notice that I haven’t told you exactly how often to lubricate your guns. That’s because it varies depending on use, climate, storage and the products you use. There’s no way to accurately give a lubrication schedule with all these variables. All you can do is watch your spring guns and know when to act.

Mainspring lubrication
“They” (the people who make and sell airguns) sell oil for lubricating mainsprings. Surely “they” know best. Right? Sometimes they do, and other times they’re just copying what has gone before. If you get a new airgun (whether it is brand new or just new to you) and you note that the mainspring is bone dry, then of course a little oil on the spring would be a good thing. Nothing inside your spring gun rubs against other metal parts as much as the mainspring. So, some oil is better than no oil. But oil isn’t the best lubricant for mainsprings.

A coating of moly paste is much better. Make sure you get it around the entire circumferance of the spring wire, because the spring rubs the guides on the inside of its coils…just as the outside of its coils rubs the inside of the piston.

Mainsprings are one part where some experience comes in handy. If the gun is lower powered, like a Diana 27 or a Slavia 631, I like lithium grease the best. When it migrates forward into the compression chamber, it doesn’t detonate in these guns. Instead, it lubricates the piston seal; and because it does, I use it heavily on these mainsprings.

In more powerful guns, starting at the FWB 124/Diana 34 level, I switch to moly for mainsprings. When the grease that suspends the moly moves forward, it can cause problems, but since I lubricate very lightly with this grease, there’s seldom a problem. That is what I mean by experience making the difference.

What about gas springs?
Gas rams or gas struts, to use their colloquial terms, don’t need the same kind of lubrication as steel springs. The gas piston unit itself is lubricated internally, so you never have to do anything with it. And many of them have synthetic bearings on the outside that suspend the moving parts, isolating them from the rest on the inside of the airgun.

Nitro Piston 2 buttons
The rear of the Nitro Piston 2 piston is buttoned for friction and vibration reduction.

Moly should be used for the bearing areas of a gas spring and use it very sparingly. These units are very quick and will detonate petroleum lubricants if they’re present.

The rest of the gun
Once again, experience is needed, but it boils down to using moly on high-stress parts like the baseblock spacers on a breakbarrel and oil on the common linkage parts.

base block spacer
Here’s a telling photo. The baseblock spacers (the one that looks like a washer) on either side of the block should get some moly on both sides, as well as the pivot bolt (bottom left). The other parts, like the cocking link, only need oil.

Lubing the barrel?
The barrel doesn’t need to be lubricated. Spring guns are always expelling tiny droplets of oil and grease into the bore. This is enough lubrication for the bore if lead pellets are used. I can’t tell you what to use when lead-free pellets are fired because each material has its own requirements. I would contact the manufacturers for that. Not the dealers — the makers of the pellets.

One last thing
Finally, you’ll want to wipe down the entire gun…metal, plastic and wood…with Ballistol to protect against corrosion and damage from acidic fingerprints. This is the way to store your guns for a long time without worrying about rust. Check them from time to time and renew the external oil coat as needed.

I hope this 2-part report addresses your concerns about lubricating spring-piston airguns. We still have to look at pneumatics and gas guns separately.

66 thoughts on “Airgun lubrication — spring guns: Part 2

  1. BB

    Since you brought it up, do you think you could do a review of the Slavia 631? I know you tested this gun in the past, but not with the new and improved three blog treatment. This is one of those easy cocking, sweet shooting guns that I know you enjoy spending time with, and many of our readers may not know about them since they are no longer available in the US.

    As a side note, they are one of the easiest guns to lube and tune if you decided yours was too dry, or if you just wanted to add parts 4, 5, 6 etc to the blog series.


    • How incredibly timely that this post and blog entry was put up, because before I came on the computer to check the blog, I had literally just tore down my own 631 and lubed it with some good lithium grease, as it was getting a bit crunchy/scratchy on the cocking stroke. I love this little gun for its more than ample backyard accuracy, easy cocking effort, and light weight. Its really kind of a shame they aren’t any more popular than they are here in the US. I suppose it would be next to impossible to sell these guns to new airgun shooters if they seen them sitting alongside your $100 “1000fps” chinese imports, and that is likely a big reason no one really bothers with them. Unsurprisingly they have a bit more popularity with our northern Canadian neighbors that have to put up with a 495fps limit, lest they require a full blown firearm license.



      • I’d gladly review my 631. I don’t have a chrony just yet however; I’m trying to get one for my birthday in a couple weeks, so I’ll be able to have some velocity data in addition to accuracy with various pellets. So as long as you could wait a couple weeks or so, I’d be honored to try my hand at a guest blog review.


  2. I see with the tubes if grease various high pressure high heat greases, and one is a moly/lithium grease. Is this a good choice for a moly grease or are these tubes of grease a heavy automotive grade product that might not be very good in a springer. They say high heat and pressure, moly and lithium.. is this a good tube to have? One would last forever. I figured Id ask first, though it sounds to be exactly what your saying.


    • That would be a pretty good grease to use anywhere that BB said to use lithium grease. The moly paste that Air Venturi sells is heavy with moly and is dark grey.


      • This one is a dark grey, just says “impregnated”, doesn’t give any percentage. Probably the same stuff repackaged so I’ll give it a try


        • On my old BSA, I lubed the spring with lithium and once I inserted the piston all the way, I lubed the tube. When I inspected it recently, I wiped the tube clean before reinserting the piston and then lubed it with lithium and moly paste for giggles. When I oil my seal, I use a couple of drops of silicone oil even though I could use any light oil. Just so you are aware, my seal is leather.



  3. BB
    You did another good job on this part 2 about spring gun lube that I’m second guessing myself a bit.

    I keep thinking I want to tear down my 54 air king and tune and do some lube tricks. It has not been apart ever in all the years that I have owned it. I totally have used nothing but the RWS spring cylinder oil that came in a kit with a special I got when I bought the gun. Here is the kit I’m talking about. And I used it like you said.
    “A good oil for all other applications is RWS Spring Cylinder Oil. It can be used for general lubrication of hinge points and even the mainspring, itself. Use something like this when I recommend using oil.”

    http://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/RWS_Rifle_Shooter_s_Kit_177_Caliber/1185

    The gun still shoots good. Doesn’t vibrate and the floating action is still buttery smooth. And I really never lube it alot. And it still maintains the same fps as when I got it. So that makes me want to leave it alone. Can you imagine that. Me wanting to leave something alone. :)



  4. What I have been thinking about is a mix of silicon diver’s grease and molybdenum disulfide for use on and around the spring and piston. That would greatly reduce the chance of detonation when it migrates forward.

    Does such a product exist to anyone’s knowledge or are we once again thinking on the edge and must create such remedies on our own until “They” see a large enough dollar sign to bring it to market?


    • RR,
      You dont want to use Silicon grease anywhere you have metal to metal contact. Leather, Rubber and plastic lubrication with silicon is OK but it can cause metals to gaul. I am not sure the moly could offset this problem but am pretty sure you would not the the performance you expected.


      • Please, folks… it is siliconE grease. Silicon is an element, and with oxygen it makes quartz — which means it makes sand…




      • Hello BB.
        I think these articles you write concerning basic maintenance and such, contain the kind of information most of us need to read. You have been receiving a lot of questions in the comments section lately on this very subject of lubrication in spring piston air guns. To have so much information about the various types of lubrication our my finger tips is priceless. This should answer all the questions about what type of lubrication to use on the various parts.
        I need to correct you about saying the HW 45 is a pneumatic. The HW40 and HW75 are pneumatic. The HW45 and HW70 are spring piston. I’m uncertain about the Beeman P1 and their numbering system, as the Beeman line of pistols are not available in Canada as far as I know.
        Ciao
        Titus


  5. B.B.,

    Like many readers, I have a specific question that exceeds the scope of today’s report. The manual for the Benjamin hand pump specifically states, “no lubrication required.” I know the caution about not wiping grease from the pump shaft, but not EVER lubricating it sounds like a “use it until it breaks” method.

    Thanks again,

    RB


    • RB,

      That pump is lubed with moly and other high-tech greases that most people can’t get.

      They really mean what they say. My Swedish hand pump operated for 12 years before failing (from dirt) and was never lubricated.

      B.B.


  6. Here is a question that was sent to the wrong address.

    Hi
    I know this is an old link but I hope you can help me ,, I’m sure this the same gun as I found in our old air raid shelter . I have been trying to free it since having had it soaking on oil I have just started to clean and try to strip it down.

    Could you help me with where I might be able to find parts and some other information please about this extremely rusty old girl

    Thanks Dave


  7. What do you think of the teflon lubes instead of moly? They seem to have fallen out of favor recently but were the big thing there for a number of years amongst the powder burners. They too supposedly imbed into metal to maintain lubricity, but I’ve never been able to tell the difference between a sear lubed with teflon or one with moly.


    • Dangerdongle,

      The problem with focusing on primary ingredients, like Teflon, moly, silicone, etc. is that most ignore the carrier.

      The carrier often gets blamed not the primary ingredient. Not saying the carrier shouldn’t be blamed but am trying to say you need to look closely at both and most folks don’t. The carrier is as important as the primary ingredient when it comes to planes, boats, high end fishing reels, airguns, firearms, camera equipment, etc. Knives, hinges, etc. not so much.

      kevin


  8. It would be nice if Pyramyd would sell Ballistol in the 16 oz containers. It’s a better deal than the small 6 oz spray can. I could then order it along with my pellets!

    Mike


  9. B.B.

    Thank you Sir for the wealth of info. Much obliged. Just need to know, is lithium grease the same as what is used at service stations?

    Errol



    • Based on my supply (I bought a grease gun and a case of cartridges for it back around 1982… I still have 6-8 cartridges, and that’s after giving a few away), Lithium grease tends to be a relatively low viscosity (for a grease) product (vaseline actually has less “flow”).

      Prior to Lithium grease, I recall encountering something that was purely petroleum based which had the color and transparency of tea, but was almost as “solid” as fresh spackling compound. And I recall some compound that had /fibers/ in it (probably deadly asbestos) meant for wheel bearings. (Though all Google finds is a reference to the length of tails when separating grease coated fingers)

      Hmm… Heat sink compound is a form of silicone grease: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grease_%28lubricant%29 … Anyone have any idea of how the zinc component would affect an air gun?



  10. Great article. I guess that a substantial part of the charm about airguns rests in the phase of cleaning and tuning. In my case, I don’t feel brave enough to dismount my AirArms, and I trust there is no need for that.
    PS, I still remember BB’s great help in getting my old Fwb 124′s rear sight. If BB or Mrs. Gaylord could send me an email… :)


  11. Right now I’m giving the red synthetic Mobile grease a try in the LG55 along with some more seal fitting. Seems to have done the trick so far but I’ll k/Daveow more when I get a few hundred shots in…

    We also have some blue grease at work that isn’t quite as sticky. Mobile makes it too but I need to do some research on it to find out what’s in it…

    /Dave



      • We used to use the red synthetic Mobil 1 greases in the gearboxes of giant printing presses when I was still working. It worked very well in ball bearings and smaller open gear trains so I know it was good stuff in that application. As for airguns, your guess is as good as mine, but I’d be interested in how well it holds up in your LG55 after some time, I’d reckon its superior to regular red lithium grease in most ways.


  12. This makes me sound completely negligent in taking care of my springers. But it’s also an opportunity to test how much they can take. After over 100,000 shots and the occasional external spray of Ballistol, the IZH 61 has had two mainsprings replaced and one piston seal. (We won’t count the bent loading rod due to human error.) Otherwise, it has function perfectly. But no doubt the very low power has had something to do with the longevity.

    G&G, yes, I was talking about firearms, but airgun replicas are relevant too. My purchase of the SW 686 was due entirely to B.B.’s glowing review of the airgun version. And his description of the Walther Winchester 94 was so enticing I was tempted to get it even though I have the firearm.

    Bub, that event sounds pretty cool. History and culture are what attract me to firearms. Otherwise, airguns are just a better deal in every respect.

    Gunfun1, you’re right. The fusion of electric and gasoline is the achievement of the Porsche 918. 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds! I’ve heard of problems with whiplash at those speeds.

    Matt61


    • Matt,

      Nice testimonial for the durability of the Izh 61! I forgot which one you have…. Plastic or metal? Either way, the Russians definitely know how to build stuff when motivated! If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t have so many Russian guns…

      Don’t hesitate on the Winchester (firearm). I have a Winchester 94ae in .44 mag with a 16″ barrel and just love the heck out of it! :-)

      /Dave


    • Matt61
      I don’t care how much that Porsche costs. I just want to drive it once. I will even sign a waiver to exclude any said parties of medical liabilities. Including whiplash. ;)


  13. Frankie sent this in to the wrong address. I’m posting it here fot him and I will answer it here.

    I consider the Air Venturi Bronco to be the best youth coil spring air rifle in its price range. My favorite feature above all else is its accuracy.

    1- Which gas spring rifle would be considered the Air Venturi Bronco for adults?
    2- Which rifle would be considered the Air Venturi Bronco in the PCP category?
    3- In the PCP episode of American Airgunner’s Round Table you mention having found the Holy Grail of PCPs that shoots 10-shot 1-inch groups at 100 yards. Which rifle is this?

    Thanks. -Frankie


    • Frankie,

      Thanks for this set of questions. Remember — these are just my opinions.

      1. Gas spring rifle that is as good as the Bronco. Until now I had no answer. There was a Benjamin Legacy that qualified, but it was discontinued. However, if the benjamin Trail NP 2 (Nitro Piston 2) turns out to be as nice as the one I shot at the SHOT Show in January — that will be the rifle to get. It should be out in a month, or so.

      2. The Bronco of the PCP world. This one is easy! It is the Benjamin Discovery, without question.

      3. I am so sorry that I don’t remember which PCP I referred to in American Airgunner as the “Holy Grail”, capable of one-inch 10-shot groups at 100 yards. I do know that I did shoot a single one-inch 10-shot group at 100 yards with the AirForce Condor SS during testing. But I would pick the Talon SS with a 24-inch barrel over the Condor SS, if I were to choose.

      Maybe one of our readers has seen the episode you refer to and can remember the gun I referred to?

      B.B.



    • I’m no BB but in my opinion it would be still be ok to use lithium based greases in a magnum springer, its just that the moly-based greases are much better suited for the higher stresses in high powered guns. Lithium is better in the lowered powered guns chiefly because it still works acceptably well, and doesn’t slow them down very much as lithium greases are lighter in viscosity than the severe duty moly based lubes. Moly is fantastic for preventing metal galling in very high pressure metal to metal contact, such as the piston’s sliding bearing surfaces inside the compression tube, and also serves to somewhat dampen the spring’s natural harmonics when fired as well, but how much difference that really makes is somewhat up for debate. Moly is such a proven tried and true lubricant in magnum springers, which has been tested to death by folks way smarter and with more experience than myself, it makes little sense to me use something else.


    • Joe,

      No, it is not okay to use Lithium grease in high-powered springers. Lithium grease will migrate into the compression chamber and detonate.

      Use moly in high-powered springers.

      B.B.


  14. I’m a bit confused. I’m new to air guns. I recently bought a Beeman RS2. I did a little reading about it, and found all this into on breaking it open, tuning and lubing. I got it all disassembled, didn’t want to do too much tune wise, so I just kissed some of the rough machining marks with some 400 grit sand paper. When it came time to lube, I did a Google search and found an article on here by a guy named Dunwight or something like that. I think he was European. Any way, he said just use some synthetic motor oil on the piston and seal and a little lithium on the rest of the parts and your good to go. Now it seems like you’re saying more substantial lubricants are necessary. Have I been damaging my gun shooting it like this? Do I need to open it back up and re-lube it?


    • Justin,

      That was reader duskwight, a Russian reader.

      What kind of lubes you use depend on the powerplant being lubricated. If it is a magnum, then the moly-basxed lubes are the best. For lower-powered rifles, and I think your RS2 probably qualifies, a lithium-based grease is okay. What velocity are you now getting with what pellet? That will tell us whether you need to do anything.

      The answer is probably that if the rifle seems to work as it is, it’s probably fine.

      Welcome to the blog. Please join us on out daily blog, where over 50,000 readers gather daily.

      http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/

      B.B.


      • Unfortunately I do not own a chronograph, so I can’t give you speed numbers. The box said 850 FPS on .22, but I’m not sure that’s realistic. Only pellets available local are Crossman Premiere (I have the .22 barrel on). It seems to shoot fine. Light dieseling. Action seems smoother though I doubt the cocking effort is any different. I’ll put some more rounds through it, if everything seems fine, I’ll leave it be, if it acts funny I’ll open it back up. Thanks so much for maintaining this site, your willingness to share your knowledge, and your speedy reply.


        • Justin,

          Based on what you say and the testing I have done on the RS2 years ago, I think you are okay as you are. Just keep a watch on how the rifle performs, listening for strange noises when you cock the gun or when it fires.

          B.B.


          • Update: I’ve put another hundred rounds through the gun since the lube job, that’s about 200 so far. The gun is still pretty inaccurate. In a five round group, 3 of the rounds will be in a group the size of a 50 cent piece, then the other two will be about three inches away. This is at 15 yards, shooting off a rest. Is the gun going to settle down after a few hundred rounds? Is it just THAT sensitive to how it’s held? I bought this gun to take squirrels at about 20-25 yards, shooting off the knee, is this gun capable of that? I’m wondering if I should open it back up and do a moly d and silicone lube, or maybe just return it and try a different gun. Thoughts?



              • Well I thought I was. From hearing you speak about it I assumed it was the same as the Navy taught me to shoot from the knee. I watched the video on your website and there is one important difference. I was taught to shoulder the weapon, which is fine for a firearm, but apparently not an air gun. Guess I have some more testing to do, letting the gun “float” without holding it fast against my shoulder. Thanks for the tip, and I’ll let you know if my groups tighten up.




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