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.