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.

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.

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!

Diana 27 – a golden oldie

by B.B. Pelletier

Let’s take a look at one of the longest-running airgun models ever made – the Diana model 27. The history given here is condensed from Blue Book of Airguns, Fifth Edition.

My Diana 27 was made in 1967 for the Hy-Score company. It’s a Hy-Score 807.

A long run
Diana is a German airgun firm with a long, colorful history.
Started in 1890, the company survived two world wars and numerous civil upheavals, as well as several crushing depressions. In the U.S. today, Diana is so closely associated with RWS that many people believe RWS makes the airguns, but that isn’t the case. Diana makes them, and RWS simply imports them into this country under their own label.

The model 27 was first made in 1910, though it looked much different back then. The gun had only a buttstock – no forearm at all. In fact, it wasn’t until after World War II that the model 27 got a normal-looking stock.

Many names, but just one gun
The Diana model 27 has been sold in this country under several names.
Just a few of the important ones are Beeman, Original, Hy-Score, Winchester and Milbro. All but Milbro were actually German Diana model 27 guns under other names.

The Milbro guns deserve more explanation. As partial reparations for World War II, the United Kingdom secured the rights, tooling, machinery, parts and drawings of Diana air rifles. Millard Brothers of London made Diana guns in Scotland that were also sold in the U.S. under the Daisy brand name, though I don’t believe they ever made the model 27 for them. During the years when Milbro made Dianas, the restarted German firm had to use the name “Original” to avoid confusion. After Milbro folded, the Germans got back the Diana name.

The Diana 27 was famous for the trigger with the ball bearing sear
Diana pioneered a type of trigger that uses three ball bearings to hold the piston when the gun is cocked.
A complex arrangement of springs, bearings and nested cages and bearing races keep pressure on the piston stem until the trigger releases it. Adjusting this trigger is difficult, but once it is adjusted properly, it is as nice as any conventional trigger.

The 27 was just the right size and power!
This was not a magnum airgun.
In .22, it shoots medium-weight pellets in the mid- to high-400s. In .177, it gets close to 600 with medium pellets. Why do so many airgunners flip over the gun? Because its so smooth, so easy to cock and light enough to shoot offhand all day long. A 27 is deadly accurate and so understressed that it keeps on shooting long after more powerful guns need a spring change.

I have owned three model 27 guns. The first was a .22 Hy-Score 807 that came from a pawn shop for $18. It was rusty and beat up, but it shot beautifully and I loved it. I eventually gave it to my best friend. Number two was a real Diana .177 that was in sad shape. I bought it for $20 at a gun show, and the dealer was “kind enough” to cock and dry-fire it once to show me that it worked! I repaired it and eventually let myself be talked out of it by someone who wanted it even more.

The .22-caliber model 27 you see above is the last one I bought, and it’s NOT for sale. I paid $110 for it 12 years ago, and I have since tuned it to be even smoother. It used to be a “go-to” airgun, but my Blue Streak and TX 200 have shoved it aside. Still, when I want smooth, light and just right, I pick up my trusty Diana model 27.

How to shoot one-handed

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we start, look at the SEARCH bar in the right column! Now you can search all the past postings for specific terms. The September 30 index will probably come up a lot when you do, but you should also get the actual posting that you’re interested in.

Now for today’s post. Shooters seem to have forgotten how to shoot one-handed. They think you have to be an Olympic champion – or at least a contender – to have the talent for shooting one-handed with any accuracy. I’m not an Olympian, but I learned how to do it anyway. Here’s a true story how I taught someone with no interest or experience in shooting how to shoot one-handed – accurately. You can do it, too!

Many years ago, I had some relatives stay with me for several weeks in a small apartment. When they arrived, they noticed a metal pellet trap attached to the front door. I had exactly 19 feet in which to shoot air pistols in that apartment, and it involved standing at the end of the hall and using the front door as my backstop.

“I can’t do THAT!”
The husband of the visiting couple was intrigued that anyone would shoot indoors with a pistol. Because the distance was so short, I used 10-meter rifle targets, which have a bull about 1.25″ across. He said he didn’t see how anyone could hit a target so small. I told him that I thought he could do it just as well as I. He laughed and said,”No way!” so I challenged him to a small bet. I bet him that he couldn’t MISS the black bull from 19 feet if he really tried to hit it.

You can’t miss!
Long story short, he took the bet. I started him at five feet from the target. He argued that was ridiculous – nobody could miss from that close, but I asked him to just be patient. We were wearing shooting glasses and were the only ones in the apartment at the time. After approximately 25 shots – all of which landed inside a dime just below the bottom of the bull, I moved him back to 10 feet. Same argument. Same result.

It gets harder
After another 20 shots, we backed up to 15 feet, and he began to wonder if he would still hit the target. What if he missed the trap and hit the door? I told him he could not miss. Besides, the door was sheathed in steel, so no damage would be done. To his amazement, the pellets started climbing into the bull at 15 feet. The hole never grew larger than a dime.

The full monte!
Finally, we backed up four more feet to the end of the hall. That was pretty scary for him, but he was also gaining some confidence in his ability. Shot after shot tore through the center of the bull. The group opened up to about the size of a nickel, but all his pellets landed inside the bull. After 75-100 shots at 19 feet, he admitted that I had won the bet.

Pride defeats prejudice
When his gun-hating wife returned to the apartment with my wife, he put on a shooting show for her. The ladies wore eye protection and stood in a bedroom to the side of the shooter. When his wife came out of the bedroom afterwards and examined the target, she was as amazed as he had been! Not one word was spoken about how bad guns are or how dangerous this activity was.

A shooter is born!
I had to depart on business for several weeks, so the relatives stayed in the apartment with my wife. When I returned home, I discovered that the man had shot up five tins of .177 target pellets! That’s 2,500 pellets in two weeks. Apparently, that’s what all he did all day long. I had told him to enjoy himself, and I guess he really did!

When he returned to his home, he bought an airgun – AT HIS WIFE’S INSISTENCE! Know what she said? “I still don’t like guns, but he had so much fun with that pistol and he got so good with it that I wanted him to keep on enjoying himself.”

The point is this: you can learn to shoot a pistol with one hand if you try, but you have to be careful. You may discover that you like it!

This is a true story.

Daisy Avanti 747: The perfect indoor target pistol

by B.B. Pelletier

Okay, today, it’s official. Christmas is just a month away! Time to start getting serious about that special present you want. Over the past months, I’ve talked about a lot of airguns, but today I want to show you a very special target pistol that’s made right here in the good old U.S. of A.: the .177-caliber Daisy Avanti 747.

I borrowed this picture from Pyramyd’s website because I like the look of the pistol! Pumping it is nearly effortless.

These pistols are quiet
This is a single-stroke pneumatic, which means it fires using compressed air and can only be pumped one time. Many single-strokes are hard to pump, but the 747 is one of the easy ones. The pump handle is so long that the compression stroke is almost effortless. The gun compresses a tiny amount of air – just enough to get the pellet up to speed for target shooting at 33 feet (10 meters) but no more. Because of that, THIS PISTOL IS VERY QUIET! It’s quiet enough to shoot in an apartment with thin walls and nosy neighbors. I used to shoot mine in my office at work!

They’ re accurate, too!
With a 747, it’s possible to hit an asprin at 33 feet. You don’t need to see the aspirin to hit it – just tape it to the 10-ring of a target and do your thing. I have actually done this in front of witnesses (which is the best time do do such things). Of course, the real trick is hitting the 10-ring. With a 747, you can be sure the gun isn’t holding you back.

The barrel is a Lothar Walther, which airgunners recognize as one of the best. Shooting as slow as this gun does, you never need to clean the barrel or give it a second thought. Just feed it good pellets and enjoy shooting!

What about pellets?
This is one time I will have to differ with Pyramyd Air over the choice of ammunition for a gun. They show Crosman Premiers and Daisy Max Speed pellets for the 747, but I would choose something else. This is a pure target pistol, and it needs wadcutters to punch perfectly round holes in paper targets. One of the best inexpensive target pellets I have used in these Daisys is the Gamo Match pellet. It appears very uniform and always produces great results for me.

Don’t forget targets
The only target on this site that is suitable for 10 meter pistols is Gamo’s paper target. Ten-meter pistol targets have much larger bulls than 10-meter rifle targets, so be sure you get the right ones! If you don’t already have a pellet trap for hanging targets, get the Daisy 850 pellet trap. Just don’t use this trap for magnum airguns; it’s ideally suited to guns like the 747.

The 747 is for adults – and not all of them!
I must make you aware that the 747 is an adult-sized air pistol. It’s not for your 12-year-old who can handle a 20 gauge shotgun. This is a large air pistol that takes a strong hand to hold. If you want something similar but lighter, take a look at the Gamo Compact. Although the weight is not that much less, the Compact is shorter, so the weight rests in your palm. The 747 is decidedly muzzle-heavy, which is great for target shooting, but it takes some strength to control. The Compact, on the other hand, is much harder to pump!

If you’re an airgunner who likes the quietness of the guns and the shorter ranges at which they can be enjoyed, the Daisy 747 is an ideal air pistol for you to consider and should be on your short list for Christmas!

Gamo Hunter 1250 Hurricane: Is it really all they say?

by B.B. Pelletier

Happy Thanksgiving! The Gamo Hunter 1250 Hurricane is a very different Gamo spring rifle. It’s unlike any of their other spring rifles in so many ways that I thought I would go over them for you today.

This is a LARGE air rifle!
I think the Beeman R1 is big, but the Gamo 1250 is even larger. It weighs pretty close to the same as an R1, but the long cocking-aid muzzlebrake extends the length of the 1250 another three inches. Cocking effort is stated as 58 lbs. on the Pyramyd site and that’s about what I got with the one I tested. That is eight pounds more effort than a Webley Patriot, and I think THAT is a hard gun to cock. So the 1250 is for hunting – not for general plinking, unless you’re The Hulk!

Does it REALLY shoot 1,250 f.p.s.?
Yes, in .177 caliber it really does shoot 1,250! At least, the rifle I tested did so for a few shots. That was with RWS Hobby pellets. The average velocity was lower – around 1,230 f.p.s., or so, but still! Not every gun will do that out of the box, of course, so please have reasonable expectations. And, you don’t ever want to shoot a diabolo pellet that fast anyway, unless it’s for braggin’ rights, alone.

What pellets to use?
In the .177 gun, shoot 10.5-grain Crosman Premiers or 10.6-grain Beeman Kodiak pellets to keep the velocity down around 1,100 f.p.s. Better still, buy the rifle in .22 and actually use all the power it has to offer. This is a hunting air rifle, and braggin’ rights mean nothing if you can’t hit your quarry.

For the .22-caliber rifle, Pyramyd Air has listed several heavier Gamo pellets. The Gamo Magnum Pointed .22 at 16.9 grains looks especially promising. I would add the 21-grain Beeman Kodiak to that list, because this is one air rifle that can really use the extra weight. You might even try the 28-grain Eun Jin. Who knows for sure until you try them? I wouldn’t be surprised to see 700 f.p.s. from a Eun Jin out of this bruiser.

The trigger is pretty good from the box
Gamo triggers usually need thousands of shots to smooth out, but the 1250’s seems uncharacteristically nice right from the git-go. I can’t comment on what it might be like after 4,000 shots, but maybe some of our readers can.

It’s a looker, too!
Gamo rifles are usually plain janes, so the Hunter 1250 comes as a very pleasant surprise. The metal polishing is quite good and the bluing is very deep and even. The hardwood stock is also well-shaped and finished very nicely. It rivals a top-of-the-line Diana from RWS. I think this is Gamo’s best looking airgun.

And it’s accurate
If you use the soft-hold technique, the 1250 is quite accurate. You’ll want to mount a scope; because of the fairly brisk recoil, I suggest you choose a smaller, lighter scope that won’t try to move under recoil. Actually, the recoil of this rifle is not as bad as the Webley Patriot, so I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Well, that’s my take on a rifle many airgunners believe to be a myth. The Gamo Hunter 1250 Hurricane is so very different from the rest of the Gamo line that you should consider it all by itself.

Crosman 2260: real value in a gas rifle

by B.B. Pelletier

Okay, you’ve been very patient – to the point that you think I forgot all about you and your favorite air rifle. You own a Crosman 2260 and love it!

Crosman’s .22 caliber 2260 is a direct descendent of the 160.

The 2260 has a great “family” history
The 2260 is the offspring of the famous Crosman 160, a rifle that airgunners still revere today. Crosman has made other .22s and they’ve made loads of CO2 rifles, but there doesn’t seem to be a.22 CO2 rifle that fits in between the 160 and the 2260.

From the standpoint of performance, the 2260 is well ahead of the 160. That older gun had a muzzle velocity in the 610 to 625 region and got about 30 to 35 shots per charge. The new 2260 does 600 f.p.s. and gets about the same number of shots – BUT does it with just one powerlet, where the 160 needed two! That represents a serious improvement in gas management.

The basics
This is a single-shot, bolt-action .22 caliber rifle. It has a manual safety, and the trigger is for sporting use, which means a heavier pull. The rear sight is a little too close to the eye. Since most owners will probably upgrade to a dot sight or a scope, it probably doesn’t matter.

If you want to use a scope, you’ll need a base
To mount a scope on the 2260, you need a special scope base that clamps to the barrel. It provides an 11mm dovetail to which standard airgun scope rings attach. There’s no recoil and no need for a scope stop.

Which scope?
The barrel clamp bases will put your rings forward of the receiver, so select a scope with a lot of back-and-forth adjustability. I’m going to recommend a Crosman 0410 Targetfinder, because it has the adjustability you need and it’s selling at such a great price! It comes with scope rings that clamp to 3/8″ dovetails, which is what we want for this gun.

Accuracy worthy of a scope
The 2260 has all the accuracy you’ll need if you use the right pellets. Crosman Wadcutters are a good choice, as are Benjamin Sheridan Diabolos.

What about maintenance?
If you’ve read any of the past posts about CO2 guns, you know what I’m about to say. To keep a CO2 gun running a long time, there is nothing you need more than Crosman Pellgunoil. You put a drop of it on the tip of each new powerlet, and it gets blown through the valve where it lubricates every seal it contacts. This stuff is absolutely essential to the good health of gas guns, so never be without it!

Power & accuracy for less money
The Crosman 2260 is a powerful, accurate air rifle that carries on a long tradition of Crosman excellence. You can hunt with it, eliminate pests and generally have a good time just plinking. It has the power and accuracy of some of the more expensive CO2 sporters at 2/3 the cost.

Two more air shotguns – Paul and Vincent

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, we’ll look at two older American air shotguns. These two have nothing to do with the current fad of big bore airguns. Both were conceived as genuine shotguns to serve as replacements for firearms, though at reduced ranges, and both are .410 caliber.

Paul’s .410 air shotgun is a front-pump pneumatic.

First, the Paul
The Paul model 420 was created and made by William Paul from about 1924 to sometime in the 1930s. His first patent is dated Jan. 22, 1924. In all, Paul made about 1,000 guns, give or take a few, and I have handled one of the more common improved models.

Pump it many times!
Paul’s gun is pumped by a straight rod, similar to early Benjamin rifles, but requiring 150 pumps to completely pressurize the reservoir. All that work nets you around 10 shots, each with diminishing velocity. But shot No. 1 propelled a 54-grain load of No. 6 lead shot to 820 f.p.s. in an actual firing test conducted by Larry Hannusch. That’s about 80 foot-pounds, which is a lot of steam for a vintage gun!

The later Paul shotshells were rolled metal plate.

Like all air shotguns, the Paul uses hollow tubes to hold the shot charge. The early ones were made of cardboard, but the ones I’ve seen were made of rolled metal plate. Both ends of the tube are patched with paper, with the shot charge sandwiched in between.

A modern replica is worth as much as an original!
As an interesting side note, big bore maker Dennis Quackenbush made a handful of very accurate Paul replicas, which he sold at the Winston-Salem airgun show for several years in the early- to mid-1990s. They are much rarer than an original Paul and now command about the same money! The Blue Book of Airguns says a nice original Paul should fetch about $1,000 and a Quackenbush replica, of which there were just 10, will bring about the same.

Vincent came next
Frank Vincent was an avid trapshooter who wanted to do more than simply bust caps, so he designed and manufactured air rifles and an air shotgun of his own design from 1942 to about 1955. He may have made a total of 500 pieces, with the rifles being in the majority. His .410 shotguns were pumped by an underlever, similar to Crosman rifles of the time.

The Vincent air shotgun was an underlever multi-pump that looked more like an airgun than the Paul.

As luck would have it, I have also handled and fired a Vincent .177 rifle, though I’ve only seen and held the shotguns at airgun shows. Like the Paul, the Vincent is mostly handmade of brass and is remarkably light weight for its rather large size. That’s because it’s mostly hollow inside. A Vincent shotgun brings about $2000 today, and most of them are in pretty rough shape.

Many shots – more pump strokes!
The Vincent was tested by W.H.B. Smith and written about in his famous airgun encyclopedia, though he wasn’t certain of what he had or how well it was supposed to work. Larry Hannusch also fired a Vincent and got 714 with 200 pump strokes! That’s just over 61 foot-pounds for the first shot, and it was supposed to give enough compressed air for 12 shots of diminishing velocity.

The .177 rifle I tested leaked down so fast that shot No. 1 was just over 600 f.p.s., and only 13 total shots were possible. Smith mentioned getting a total of 26 shots, with a top velocity over 780! It’s obvious from his report that the gun I shot wasn’t up to snuff.

Not really credible as shotguns
Like the other air shotguns I have covered, neither the Paul nor the Vincent is a credible shotgun. To use them in the shotgun role would require vastly reduced ranges and lighter, more breakable targets. I see no possibility for hunting with shot, unless you are wingshooting moths! On the other hand, both guns deliver enough muzzle energy that a hit at close range would be very lethal if a solid bullet were used.