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Will lighter spring-piston components speed up locktime?

by B.B. Pelletier

William made an observation that lighter powerplant components would speed up locktime in a spring-piston airgun. I have had some experience with lightweight components, as well as some very heavyweight components, so I thought I’d make my answer today’s posting!

What is locktime?
Locktime is an old term that I believe originated in the days of flintlock rifles and muskets. A flintlock has a very long time from when the cock that holds the flint falls against the frizzen and the main powder charge ignites. After that, it’s just as fast as a caplock. If you watch the movie Patriot, you’ll see this clearly. The priming charge in the pan goes off several milliseconds before the main charge of gunpowder ignites. You see and hear two distinct explosions.

A good flintlock was one with a fast locktime, so there was less time for the shooter to flinch before the bullet left the muzzle. Having a charge of powder explode in front of your face is good cause to flinch!

Locktime and firearms
When self-contained cartridges came into use, locktime evolved to mean the time it took the hammer to fall against the primer after the sear released it. Again, faster was considered better at reducing random movement; though, if you examine that critically, you’ll be able to poke holes in the logic. Rather than fast locktime, a shooter is far better off with a more neutral hold and good follow-through. Hoping for a fast locktime seems bent on sniping the target at the critical moment it is in the sights, and it’s actually better to keep it there longer than to hope for a coincidental miracle.

Locktime and airguns
When it comes to airguns, locktime has to be considered for each powerplant separately, but William’s observation was about a spring-piston gun, so that’s what I’ll review. Locktime has no bearing at all on a spring-piston gun, and here’s why. In a spring-piston gun, the pellet doesn’t start moving until the piston has almost come to a rest. A fast locktime wouldn’t help accuracy, because that pellet isn’t going to move until all the recoil and vibration patterns have begun. Whether it takes one millisecond or ten milliseconds for the piston to stop after being released by the sear/piston catch makes no difference, because the pellet is still stationary at the end of it all.

That said, there have been experiments done to lighten powerplant parts and speed up the piston cycle time. Jim Maccari made a plastic piston to test this very thing and installed it in a TX200 MkII. The gun was lighter but vibrated so hard that it stung the off hand holding the stock. No additional accuracy was noted.

Tom Gore of Vortek made a gas spring for a Beeman R1 that was .75 lbs. lighter than the steel piston and coil mainspring in the stock gun. This unit was incredibly quick and also vibration-free. It did improve the actual accuracy because the lack of recoil and vibration made the rifle easier to shoot accurately. Gore went on to do the same thing for the Beeman Kodiak, which is the Webley Patriot. It reduced the weight of the gun and almost eliminated vibration and recoil entirely.

Another gentleman attempted to build a more powerful spring rifle by scaling up the Beeman R1 by 25 percent. His 11-lb. monster had bigger everything…a bigger piston and a bigger mainspring that was harder to cock, at 75 lbs. of force. But the power was actually less than what a stock R1 had, because the bigger parts took longer to cycle. Recoil was about like the Webley Patriot, which is to say, brutal. Accuracy was average, despite the rifle’s Anschutz barrel.

Perhaps, the greatest experience I’ve had with a balanced spring-piston powerplant was with an R1 tuneup kit from Ivan Hancock. The mainspring was incredibly powerful and the piston was heavy, but the parts fit so tight they had to be forced into the rifle with a rubber hammer. When that gun shot, it developed 22.5 foot-pounds of energy in .22 caliber, yet the recoil was less than half that of the stock rifle. Vibration was virtually gone and the locktime was very fast. That gun taught me that it isn’t any one factor that’s important to the performance of a spring gun – rather, it’s how they all work together.

By the way – yesterday was the day for shooting. I finally got a wind-free day at the range, so next week I’ll get back to the Whiscombe and address several of those questions we’ve been wondering about for so long.

32 thoughts on “Will lighter spring-piston components speed up locktime?”


    You stated the other day that you had installed a peep sight on your 392. I was wondering if you could answer my questions about the use and the mounting of one.

    is it as simple as screwing it on and then sighting it in? Or do I have to remove the rear sight. I’m only curious because I’m nervous that if I can’t use it right I want to fall back on the iron sights without having to re- adjust them if possible.

    Plus I have no real trouble with the iron sights it’s simple to line them up, I just want whats better, whats the best aplication for accuracy and for hunting situations. anyway thanks to anyone that can help me with this?

  2. Thanx for the great post BB!

    Wow! Now I feel really important! One of the select few who can boast about the fact that I inspired a post by BB! 🙂

    Seriously though, I have also done some more searching, and what I have found is pretty much what you said. It is a lot more important to have everything well balanced to eliminate recoil and vibration than to have a fast moving system. Of course if you can get both, that would be great!

    Thanks again BB!

  3. Nate

    i had the same questions for bb a few months ago 🙂

    installation is very easy. if you look at the picture pyramyd provides you will see two screws one is black the other surrounded by a silver ring. the silver ring screw is for elevation adjustment. it also has screws on top for windage.

    to mount it you unscrew the elevation and lift the whole top part out of the base. there is another screw under this piece of meatal. you screw both screws into the right side of the reciever where you can see two holes.

    i did partially take off the rear open sight because it became a hastle. i just unscrewed each windage bolt till they came out and removed the top piece. i left the bottom piece on incase i want to put it back on.

    i am a lefty snd i think this sight is desighned for righties. if you are a leftie dont worrie about it- itll work fine. i have mine set for 150 feet cause thats my plinking range. i could see it as a problem if you had to adjust it lower because of the noch sight base getting in the way

    i was worried it would be hard to line up. well its not. your brain does it for you so your eye will see the most light.

    to anser you hunting question i dont know. im not big into killing stuff.

    another advantage ive noticed is the sighs of the front post. if you do long range stuff you know that the front post looks very big and you cant even see your target. wheather by desighn or phenomenon the front sight looks much smaller and you can more eisily see your targets-very handy

    happy shooting

    Field Targetier

  4. Hi B.B.:

    You said a gas spring would reduce vibration and recoil in a Webley Patriot. Does that really improve accuracy on that rifle? Is a gasram conversion better than a spring-tune -for accuracy- on a Patriot?



  5. Rod,

    A gas spring isn’t necessarily better than a good steel spring tune, but a good gas spring like Vortek makes it more certain of achieving a good tune than trusting to the tuner. However, a good tuner can equal Vortek’s performance with the right blend of work. That’s what I meant when I told you that the Ivan Hancock R1 tune was the best I had ever seen. Even the Vortek gas spring wasn’t as good.

    Tuning spring guns is an art and a science.

    And, yes, reducing vibration makes it easier to shoot any rifle more accurately. There is less vibration to deal with, so your technique isn’t needed as much.


  6. B.B.

    First of all, thank you! I discovered your blog last night and saw your tip of using Pellgunoil on CO2 cylinders. I have a Gamo P-23 that I was only able to shoot about 50 rounds through before the cylinders stopped sealing in the gun. I assumed I would never be able to shoot this gun again, but today I went to Wallyworld for some oil, came home, and now I have my gun back! I can’t thank you enough.

    I really like the way the P-23 feels in my hand and the ability to shoot 10 or so lead BBs without reloading. I bought a Crossman 1008 after the P-23 stopped working. It shoots great for what I need (a backyard plinker), and it also has multishot capabilities. It just doesn’t feel as good in the hand to me. I think Gamo has a nice product here, but why don’t they tell us about the oil in the owner’s manual? For that matter, I didn’t see anythng about in the 1008’s manual, either.

    Anyway, you have a fan for life. Thanks again, and sorry if I rambled too much in this post.


  7. Harvey,

    Glad to have you as a reader!

    Why don’t they tell us about using oil on the tip of CO2 cartridges. I don’t know!

    Except this. In my travels I have been surprised by how little most people at these manufacturers’ facilities really know about airguns. Most of them don’t even shoot!

    Twenty-five years ago the employees were all veteran shooters and Pellgunoil was widely recommended in their literature, but the times have changed.


  8. Wouldn’t a lighter piston tend to make a gun prefer lighter pellets because it’s less resistant to rebound?

    also, do you know of anyone besides Anschutz and Lothar Walther who make airgun barrels for the aftermarket?

  9. BB,

    One question.You know im going to buy the UTG Type 96.Theres a TSD version and ( but 10 bucks more and has a 9×40 scope and the utg has the bbipod I think.)wich one should I get?
    Im thnking of the utg because im covered by leapers warranty but which one do you think I should get?

    Hernan (CF-X guy)

  10. B.B.–this has nothing to do with this post but I just wanted to say thanks-WE DO LISTEN AND TAKE YOUR ADVISE.I own an rws 350 in .177. After going thru the archives and pulling out everything about hold-breathing-shooting with eyes open-trigger squeeze-(you have the idea) I was able to shoot groups of 4 at 30yrds that would group inside a penny. And this was using the shoot and see targets-not only did the penny cover the pellet holes it also covered the green that was highlighted around the holes!!!!YOU KEEP POSTING THEM WE’LL KEEP READING THEM–THANKS Scott

  11. Field Targetier,

    Thanks for the input.

    One question though,

    I found them on ebay for 124 bucks.Does pyramid air match the price?
    Its an ebay store.


    Hernan (CF-X guy)

  12. well hernan
    i dont know quite what your asking but the tsd is $149.90 and the utg is $139.90. the utg comes with a bipod and the tsd comes with a scope. however if you had a scope i would recomend just getting weaver rings. you dont need high power scopes for airsoft because you need a large field of vision and lets face it airsoft just isnt as accurate as airguns. the maximum range is probly around 200 feet like many other sniper rifles. i want to here how it porforms when you get it!!

    Field Targetier

  13. Field Targetier,

    Your right.I own a gamo cf-x and I bought a leapers 3-12×44 scope and im not using the 4×32 that it came with.I might use the scope for the airsoft gun and get the utg.


    Hernan (CF-X guy)

  14. but, if you were to regard locktime as being the time from trigger break to pellet launch, if the gas spring is faster, there would still be less time for the pellet to launch before a movement. but it makes no difference, being so short. with a very nice springer, having undergone a very nice tune, why not buy a PCP, like the s200?
    trigger is just as good, barrel is just as good, and with very little recoil, accuracy is better. or is there something else to consider?

  15. i should add, could you ask tom (;)) if he is writing any more articles on his “all about airguns” blog? i havent read anything new on there since the last posting, which was december 10, 2006.

  16. why not buy a PCP, like the s200?
    trigger is just as good, barrel is just as good,…

    actually the trigger on the S200 is crap, but I understand what you’re getting at.

  17. Airgun barrels,

    Actually you can’t buy Lothar Walther barrels or Anschutz barrels aftermarket one at a time. You have to contact the company and arrange a business arrangement. In other words, you have to buy in qualtity. The quoted price for a single Lothar Walther barrel from LW in Georgia is $1,000. That’s a nusince fee to keep individuals from calling.

    There isn’t any money in supplying airgun barrels because aiurgunners haven’t been willing to pay for them. Even the inexpensive $100 barrels that 10/22 owners buy are considered too high by airgunners.


  18. hi anybody,
    does anyone know if you can use the dragon hicapa co2 magazine in a regular hi capa 5.1? other websights advertize it as using co2 and green gas. i was thinking the magazine might not be compatable. thanks whoever knows.

    Field Targetier

  19. Field Targetier,

    There is no way that the same magazine can operate on BOTH green gas at 115 psi and CO2 at 853 psi. They have to use two different magazines because the valves that are in the magazines have to be markedly different.


  20. bb ok thanks
    i was asking if you could buy two different magazines and they would still work in the same gun. i see what yur sayng though. pyramyd didnt put the co2 magazine under the acesories so i didnt know if it would be compatable or not. im just wondering if i can run it off green gas and co2 if i buy diferent magazines. my comment was kinda confusing.

    Field Targetier

  21. B.B.

    I’m planning on buying a B-Square mount for my Leapers 3-9×40 scope. The B-square as I understand is the mount that allows one to “align a scope with the barrel of a gun while maintaining the scope at its optical center.”

    Now, are there instructions on how to do this that come with the mounts? Or should I come to you when I’m ready? Haha, hope this doesn’t qualify as a dumb question.


  22. I was looking at the Mendoza RM2000 because it struck me as a novelty being a break barrel repeater but the description says that it requires a solid base pellet; are these readily available?

  23. No, solid-base pellets are only available in the Mendoza brand as of this time. Breakbarrel repeaters have a bad reputation for not feeding very well. Gamo used to have one that they bring back from time to time and it didn’t feed well, either.


  24. Please mr BB,please give theoben in the uk,an email,because they keep going on about faster lock times,they say its the time it takes a pellet to leave the barrle,i have read your blogg, and understand what lock time means,but they even advertise it in ther adverts,witch is missleading customers,because its something that doesent exist in our air gun world.

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