How long will a spring airgun last?
by B.B. Pelletier
Today’s posting was one I have wanted to do for a long time, but a question from Jeremy prompted me to do it today. Two days ago he asked, “I have a couple more questions about the Gamo 850. 1. How long would the break in be? 2. How good is the scope that comes with the 850? 3. What would be the longevity of the 850? 4. How would i maintain the 850?”
1. How long to break-in?
I think almost every spring gun needs at least 500 shots to break-in, with the TX200 being the sole exception (maybe the BAM B40, but I don’t know that, yet). I’ve seen Gamos and Webleys that were still breaking-in after 3,000 shots. The rougher the gun, the longer the break-in takes. I’m guessing that the Gamo 850 will take several thousand shots before it’s fully broken-in.
2. Is that scope any good?
I’ll be honest, scopes that come bundled with airguns are often selected on the basis of price. HOWEVER, scopes in general are very good these days. That scope is probably a great one to get you started. I doubt it’s going to break on you the way scopes used to break on spring guns 20 years ago. And, after you’ve used it for a while, you’ll know better what you really want.
3. How long will the 850 last?
This is the question I really wanted to address. Friends, I have owned a few spring airguns that were over 125 years old and still working. They didn’t come with a lot of performance back in 1870, so they look pretty puny compared to today’s giants, but they do hold up! I had a wonderful BSA underlever that was made in 1914 and still worked as good as new after I made a new piston seal.
The thing that differentiates today’s crop of spring guns is their construction and power. The old guns were overbuilt for the power they delivered. Today’s spring guns are pushing the envelope of possibility. Still, because they use modern synthetics, I think they have just as good a chance to last, not 100 years but 400 years and more! Naturally, their springs will wear out many times and those piston seals will have to be changed, and there will come a day when the parts will have to be made because they no longer exist, but I really think such longevity is possible.
Of course, in the wrong hands, the same gun can be destroyed in a short time. Here are the leading causes of the destruction:
- Disassembly without a clue how to put it back together.
- Over-oiling the piston.
- Over-cleaning the barrel.
- Experiments to “see what happens,” such as pulling the trigger with the barrel open to watch it snap shut, which is the No. 1 destroyer of spring guns.
4. How to maintain the 850?
Jeremy – this is the best question you asked. Before you ever shoot your rifle, I recommend cleaning the barrel with a one-piece rod and a brass brush laden with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound. This will bring out the inherent accuracy right away. Then, never clean the barrel again unless the accuracy falls off. If you have the rifle but lack the materials to clean it, go ahead and shoot it, but clean it this way as soon as possible. Or, just shoot it for 500 shots, and you’ll pretty much accomplish the same thing.
Second, don’t oil your gun too much. None at all until you have at least 2,000 shots through it. The exception is if the piston squeaks when the gun is cocked.
Third, wipe your gun after every handling. Use a cloth that has silicone on it. Pyramyd Air sells such cloths (Beeman and G96 brands), but they’re easily made from an old t-shirt and some silicone spray.
And that’s about it. How about if you report back to us after you’ve had your gun for a while and tell us your impressions?