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Airgun Lubricants – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By B.B. Pelltier

Lubricating an airgun is necessary, yet it can be tricky at the same time.

To begin with, airguns are often made of different materials than firearms, so cleaning and lubricating them with the same products you use on the rest of your guns is not a good idea. You probably already know that airgun O-rings and other synthetic seals on airguns may be sensitive to gun solvents, but did you know there are airgun metals that are also sensitive to gun solvents?

Don’t Use Ammonia

Ammonia will attack and dissolve aluminum parts. Some airguns, most notably those from AirForce, like their popular Talon SS, have lots of aluminum parts in them. Many other rifles and pistols have aluminum parts but do not advertise it. Were you also aware that many gun cleaning solvents, such as Sweets 7.62, contain a lot of ammonia? And, military rifle bore cleaner is also loaded with ammonia.

Airguns have no combustion and usually do not shoot copper-sheathed bullets, so they don’t get the same corrosive deposits that firearms do. So, it isn’t necessary to clean their barrels with nitro- or copper-dissolving compounds.

Avoid WD-40

Okay, them’s fightin’ words! Everybody likes WD-40 for the shine it puts on blued metal and for its pleasant aroma. Yes, that’s all true, but if you allow it to dry on things, it leaves a gummy film that can take weeks of hard work to remove. It has no place in airgunning.

Use Silicone Oil – Wisely

Silicone oil, such as Crosman silicone oil, is an airgunner’s mainstay. It seals the pistons in spring guns and seals everything in pneumatics and CO2 guns. But, most airgun-grade silicone oil isn’t very good at lubricating metal-to-metal joints.

That’s not to say ALL silicone oils are poor metal lubricants. And, when used on synthetics that ride on metal, like some O-rings, silicone oil and grease may be best for the job. Thoroughly read the manufacturer’s recommendations to know what works and what doesn’t.

What about Moly?

Over the past 15 years, lubricants containing molybdenum disulphide, or moly, have really blossomed in the shooting sports. Moly is a compound that forms a bond with most steels, making a slick surface that doesn’t wear away. It’s always best when adhering to metal in its dry state, where the grease that’s often compounded with it as a carrier does not remain on the surface. Unfortunately, many shooters are not aware of that.

Moly is very slick, but it can be hindered by its own carrier grease or oil. If the surface to which it is applied has extremely close tolerances, such as in triggers and some firing mechanisms, moly grease will actually slow things down and bind them from operating correctly.

On certain jacketed bullets in firearms, moly performs wonders, making the bore ultra-slick after long use. When applied to pure lead projectiles such as pellets, where the lead has great lubricity of its own, moly coatings are often a waste of time.

There are many more airgun lubricants and applications I want to cover with you in the future. Until then, read the package carefully.

69 thoughts on “Airgun Lubricants – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

  1. Of all the articles on air gun maintenace I have read, none ever recommend the use of a petroleum-based oil, ever, and yet several airgun manufacturers market them. Gamo Air Gun Oil, for example, is described as a general purpose oil for all air guns (with exception made for spring piston chamber) and is petroleum-based. My question is, exactly what aspect of airgun maintenance is an oil like this intended for? Why is it even on the market?

  2. All petroleum-based oils are for lubrication. Synthetic (silicone) chamber oil is for SEALING. That’s the difference. The piston seal needs a film of lubricant to seal its sides, and the adiabatic heat of compression upon firing is so high it also has to have a high flashpoint.

    Many silicone oils are actually not good lubrication oils because they have too low a viscosity.


  3. Can Crosman Pellgun oil be used for putting on tips of C02 cartridges and lubricating moving parts? The tube doesn’t specify what type of oil it is, but the directions that came with my air pistol specify it by name for both purposes. But I thought I should check with you first. Can it be used for cleaning/lubing a barrel?Thanks.

      • Toto Jr.,

        Welcome to the blog.

        If Delto silicone oil has a high flashpoint, then it might work. The oils sold as silicone chamber oil all have high flashpoints.

        Lithium grease is okay for a 12-foot-pound gun, but probably not for one that hits 20 foot-pounds.


        • my main spring sir is 11 1/2 inches in length i brought to mr. maccare, i was supposed to use mos2 grease but it was out of stock that why i bought lithium grease….my springer sir is beeman r1 does it advisable the lithium grease to the main spring? do rocol moly paste and loctite moly paste is good to the synthetic piston seal?

      • Toto Jr.,

        There is no way I can tell how powerful a mainspring is by its relaxed length. But since your rifle is an R1, I think the lithium grease is too light for it. I would watch the rifle for signs of galling, which is a scraping feeling during cocking.

        I have no experience with either of the Moly paste greases you mentioned. I only use Air Venturi moly grease that is formulated to the same as the Beeman M-2-M Moly grease was.

        You should just shoot your rifle and watch it for signs of trouble. If you see them, you know it’s time to remove that lithium grease and use the right stuff. Sorry, but I can’t keep track of non-airgun products.


  4. Hello. What lubes do you use to lubricate the air compression chamber and air compression seal for an izh-46m. Also, what do you use to oil the cocking lever and bolt pivots. Thanks

  5. Jim,

    Use Crosman Pellgunoil on the pump head. On the 46, the pump head serves the same function as the inlet valve of the compression chamber. Use regular machine oil to lubericate all the pivot points. Three-in-One is fine.


  6. Toyota,

    If I said yes it would be a guess. This stuff isn’t made for that purpose. It may work well, but there’s nothing to recommend it. It’s a hydraulic oil used for fluid couplings, not for sealing.

    Why don’t you just spring for a bottle of Crosman Pellgunoil, or, if mail-order is too much of a problem, just buy a quart of 20-weight non-detergent motor oil with as few additives as you can find.


  7. thank you for your answers B.B,

    btw, yes the problem is i can’t find the crosman pellgun oil here in my city, even in my country.

    so, now i just use “all purpose silicone spray” which doesn’t contain petroleum.

    it is said that it is “safe for rubber”. I spray the tip of CO2 cartridge until it gets a little bit wet before install it on my CP88.

    Yet i haven’t had any problem with its seal, because i have been using it for 2 month yet, but i’m not really sure about what i have done.

    do you think it is safe for my CP88?

    thank you

    • Just bought a RUGER BLACKHAWK ELITE and instinctively ran a couple dry patches through the barrel, very familiar with firearms, air rifles not so much. Anyway just read that your not supposed to clean air rifles hope I didn’t do any damage…

  8. What I think doesn’t matter, You have been using this material and it hasn’t done any damage. Even if you were to stop using it, the seal has already been exposed.

    I think if it was going to damage the seal it would have done so by this time. You might as well keep using it.


  9. following the above post which is also mine, you mentioned that there are guns that they are well lubricated during manufaction and dont need oiling (springs, compression chamber) for several years:

    1) is hw97k one of them?
    2) does the hw97 needs chamber oil?
    3) does it need lubricating on the chamber walls?


  10. Silicone oil,

    What you have heard about galling applies only when there is metal-to-metal contact. In the compression chamber you have synthetic-to-metal contact. The oil is not for lubrication, it is there to seal the edges of the piston seal, like the oil in your car’s engine.


  11. HW 97K,

    Weihrauch guns typically have too much grease on the mainspring. It migrates to the compression chamber. So most of them don’t need chamber oil for at least the first 5,000 shots.

    If your gun squeaks when it is cocked, it needs three drops of silicone chamber oil.

    If the gun is ever tuned with moly grease on the chamber walls, it won’t need chamber oil for many years.


  12. so you say that applying oil on the chamber walls is not needed for now and when it does(after how many shots), applying silicone oil inside the compression chamber becomes unnecessary

  13. HW 97K,

    I said it PROBABLY isn’t required now because Weihrauch guns TEND to be over-lubed at the factory.

    I said to wait about 5K shots, or until the piston seal squeaks.

    The chamber walls are synonymous with the inside of the compression chamber. They are what gets lubed when you lubricate the compression chamber. You drop the oil through the air transfer port in the center of the sliding compression chamber.

    The exterior of the sliding compression chamber needs very little grease, but if that is what you have been asking about, it doesn’t hurt to put a couple of dots of Tetra Lube grease on the exterior chamber walls.


  14. Hi B.B. As always helping people. I have a Gamo Big Cat .22 and put 2 drops of Break Free CLP oil inside the trigger area with the intention to soften it since it quite heavy, will it work? The screw to shorten the firing road is very tigth, and until now I could not made nothing. Please, give me your advise. Thanks a lot. Vicente.

  15. Can I just use motor oil to lubricate the metal on my break barrel air rifle? I won’t put any in the compression chamber; I’ll only use it to lubricate the metal parts.

  16. Hello, i appreciate you answering all these questions on here, must be hard work.

    i was wondering if u could help me.
    i have ordered a Weihrauch HW45.
    the only oil i have is bisley gun oil. is that all i need just to put on moving parts? should i buy any other stuff because its spring powered i think. or anythong for the seals on it? thanks for any help 🙂

    • Cullen,

      For the most part you don’t need to oil your HW 45 at all. Mine is 20 years old and has more than 10,000 shots through it and I have never oiled it. Too much oil can cause problems with your new airgun, but it is almost impossible to have too little oil unless you take the gun apart and clean all the parts in some strong solvent that removes oil.

      The piston seal should only be oiled with silicone chamber oil, like this stuff:


      But the HW45 has a Teflon piston seal that is self-lubricating, so it never needs anything. I have never oiled my piston seal.

      Just shoot the pistol about 5,000 times and see how smooth it becomes.

      And welcome to the blog.


  17. Hello. Thought I’d come back here for some good advice. I’ve got my HW45 and it is a great Pistol.
    I’m looking for a good shop or a red dot site. I’ve done some research and I’ve seen that scopes are more accurate. So I think I’ll go for one.

    I’m wondering if u know any decent mounts I can buy and a scope? I know the gun needs a unusual 13mm size mounts. And I don’t want to buy some that will slip due to recoil.
    Thanks a million for some tips. 🙂

    • Cullen.

      You have posted to a vaery old report. I am almost the only person who will ever see it.

      When the HW45 recoils, the scope bases try to move forward, so the front sight acts as a scope stop.

      Any good 11mm scope mount should work. I mounted Chineese dot sights on my Beeman P1, which is an HW45 by a different name.

      It was the Tech Force 90 seen here:



  18. You don’t need to oil you HW45 at all, i have that since last 10 years and has more shooots
    through that, till yet i never oiled it.Because if i use alots of oils than later it
    will create a problem with your airgun. But you have to clean or wash all the parts in some solvent that removes oil.

  19. I’m very new to airguns, well new to being a fanatic that is. I’ve tried to lead a lot in a short period of time. I have a friend who gave me some “Secret Sauce” to lube my old Blue Streak, which I’d left too long without using or maintaining, and it worked great. Really great, actually. So I got curious as to what the secret could be. Where I work, we do “trib” testing. It’s basically testing the condition of oil during different stages of life within a gearbox. We send samples out and have it analyzed by an independent lab. The report we get back is thorough enough for us to know what oil was used, type, weight, chemical composition, etc., recommendations are then made by the analyst. We sent off a sample and found that it is very similar, and I mean VERY similar to Enerpac Brand Hydraulic Oil, which is incredibly expensive and not at all worth buying even the smallest retail container, of since it would be more than enough to last dozens of air rifles several lifetimes. But if someone could find a similar oil in a reasonably sized container, it may be worth buying as a well rounded lubricant. It would work for both static and dynamic seals, as it is designed for them, and is 32 weight so it would be heavy enough to adequately lubricate metal to metal moving parts.

  20. Happy New Year BB. I just changed my old Big Cat for a Hatsan 85 Sniper Vortex .22 caliber, so I have 2 questions. First: Is OK to oil the barrel with a bit of Break Free CLP oil? Second: Manufacturer advertise 800 FPS, my rifle and another reviewers get only about 700 FPS at sea level, will improve this with time? Thanks for your always great advise. Vicente.

    • Vicente,

      Welcome to the blog.

      I don’t know how CLP will behave around airgun seals, so you’re on your own there. But why CLP? Ballistol, which is widely used around the world for rust prevention is perfect;y safe with seals.

      Generally speaking, spring guns do get a little faster as they break in. Dianas are the exception. They generally slow down.


  21. Any advise on using Kellogg’s 57500 Pure Silicon on a Benjamin Marauder .22 PCP rifle? I know petroleum based products are a no-no and so would appreciate any advise on an aerosol based product. The intent is to clean out the air reservoir and lube the o-rings on the cap and valve assembly.

    • Jetjedi,

      Welcome to the blog.

      I don’t know about this product. What’s needed is a silicone oil that has a high flashpoint, so0 if this product has that it’s okay.

      I do know that regular silicone chamber oil does work well in pneumatics.


    • Arsalan,

      Welcome to the blog.

      Use Ballistol (available around the world) for rust prevention. And I recommend not cleaning the barrel unless the gun becomes inaccurate. Airguns don’t need to be cleaned unless they lose accuracy. Then clean them with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound on a wire brush.


  22. Hello B.B.

    Hope you’re well. Remember me? I guest wrote the article on the .22 Tactical Diana 52 many years ago. It’s still shooting fine even after so many years. Chronied recently and a very respectable 21 ft/lbs was the answer. Not too shabby for a 27 year old gun!! Granted it got a Venom tune some ten years ago. But still!

    I’m writing to you because I bought brand new 460 in .177 and was wondering what’s the best way to lubricate it. I haven’t lubed the 52 except while tuning it and wiping it with an oily rag after every use. The oil I use for wiping is silicon based as I recently found out. But it’s very viscous unlike other silicon oils and hasn’t caused any galling yet.

    I was wondering what’s the best oil for the cocking linkage? Right now, it has a light grinding feel and is very tight. Will a drop of fully synthetic engine oil hurt? I can get ballistol locally, but no other gun oils.

  23. Interesting problem here and hopefully you can help me to find a solution.

    I have a Daisy Powerline 990. It was my second air rifle my dad bought me.

    It has set unused for about 20 years. In that time, the seals on the CO2/Pump selector rod have hardened and become sticky. As I tried to clean the sticky residue with pellgun oil and get it working again, I managed to break them apart. While I have a set of seals just ordered, I ran into another problem. The two seals that seal the compression chamber seemed to have hardened and become sticky as well. This has prevented me from removing this tube. You see what I mean at 6:35 in this video on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUpicU2HrFk

    I have tried soaking 3-in-1 for about a week. I just put some Royal Purple 5w30 into the chamber since one of the marketing items for this oil states that it cleans and renews oil seals.

    My question, who knows something that will work for certain to soak into these seals, or should I just let the detergents and additive package of the Royal Purple do its thing?

      • B.B.

        Thank you for that. I read it over, and I have a question. Are you saying that you expect this to soften and loosing the seals that are stuck to the aluminum piston tube of this multi-pump pneumatic?

          • Well then I will be happy to be a test case for the community. I’ll let you know how it works out.

            Do we have any information or data on synthetic motor oils or various forms of synthetic lubricants for lubrication of various parts of air rifles? I can understand if we should not use them on high velocity springers, or maybe we can if they aren’t susceptible to diesling.

              • B.B.

                I thought that may be the case. My Googling skills were coming up empty as well. I would assume synthetics with high flash points would be something to consider given that what I have found indicates that silicone lubricants may not be that great at lubrication but are great at sealing, like for the piston chamber of a break barrel. I know I know, invent the better mouse trap, right? Why mess with what is known to work well, right? lol

                It occurred to me that various forms of other synthetic liquid lubricants could be used in general as I was brain storming for options to try to get my gun’s seals to loosen.

                I realize in my case, I need something really that won’t be for long term usage, but rather simply to get the seals to let go so that I can replace them and that will not harm other parts of the air rifle. It still got me thinking.

                Thank you much for what you do. I’ve found a wealth of knowledge on this site and from your posts. Also, thank you for the warm welcome and for indulging my questions.

  24. Hi BB.

    I have just inherited a brand new Umerex beretta 92fs

    Now, it was leaking, so I bought some silicone spray lube, and sprayed it into the co2 seal and it works perfectly. however it is 3 in1 and has petroleum in it. Im freaking out now thinking I have done damage. How can I remove it, and replace with airgun silicone oil?

    Any help would be appreciated

  25. Thanks for the quick reply. Thats great. This thing has been in storage for years. It looks like some of the grease is a little less viscous now… but it is sealing perfectly. I will only use the airgun silicone oil I have for the seal and also get some Crosman Pellgunoil for the future.

    Is it possible to purchase and replace the Co2 seal for umerex guns?

  26. Hi there sir. I just bought an Umarex Glock 17 it’s a co2 powered blowback and I’m wondering if I can use the manufacturer recommended RWS spring cylinder oil for the slide or should I just only use it on the co2 cartridge. I’m new to air guns and am having trouble learning how to take care of one.

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