What to oil – Part 3 Finishing the spring guns
by B.B. Pelletier
Today we’ll finish with spring guns. In Part 2, we learned how to oil the piston seal and breach seal on a springer; now it’s time to discuss all the other stuff.
What else is there?
How a gun is designed determines where it needs to be lubricated. A breakbarrel, for example, has fewer places to lube than a sidelever or underlever. But if you think in terms of friction, you should be able to figure out the lube points on any new gun, whether it comes with a manual or not.
The cocking effort must be transmitted through some kind of mechanism. In the Gat-type guns that have push-barrel cocking (The Crosman M1 Carbine, for example), the mechanism is greatly simplified, and the need for lubrication is reduced. Still, they have surfaces in contact with one another as the barrel slides back to cock the gun. Those need some kind of lube. Oil is probably better than grease because Gat guns have a long run of close tolerances, and you don’t want the lube to gum up the action.
The Crosman M1 Carbine is a BB gun that cocks like a Gat.
A breakbarrel, in contrast, has only the pivot bolt, the sides of the breech or base block and the parts of the cocking link that need lube. For them, the load factor is higher, and a tough grease that won’t break down or run off when hot is the way to go. I use Beeman’s M2M moly grease for this part of the gun, and so do a lot of tuners. The moly particles bond with the metal surfaces they come in contact with, and they provide lube long after the grease is gone.
When the sliding cocking link is installed, it keeps the piston from rotating. It’s also lubed with moly.
For underlevers and sidelevers, a lever takes the place of the barrel and the need for lube remains the same. Find the spots where the pivot points are located and lubricate every surface that touches.
I’ve seen just the basic lube job I described above reduce the cocking effort by several pounds. Of course, the gun that did respond so well was in dire need of lubricant. Most guns won’t be in that shape, and a lube job will not have as dramatic an effect.
Here I have to burst some bubbles, as there has been a great disservice done to airgunners for the past 40 years. I’m speaking about oiling the mainspring of a gun. The disservice is the fact that oil isn’t normally the right lube to use on a mainspring. It is, however, the easiest lube to apply, which is why I think it has been pushed so hard. On many spring guns, there’s a cocking slot through which at least part of the mainspring can be see once the gun is out of the stock, so airgun dealers have told shooters they should apply oil through that slot.
But oiling isn’t enough for most mainsprings. They need grease, and the only way to do the job right is to disassemble the action and apply the grease directly to the spring. Sorry, folks, but that’s a fact. This is especially true for the modern magnum springers. Oiling just doesn’t get it, but it’s easy and shooters feels they’ve done their part when they do it.
With guns that shoot under 12 foot-pounds and have leather piston seals, I like to see a medium-weight grease used–something lithium-based, perhaps. For all others, I like the more viscous greases that don’t fling off–the black tars, if you will. How much you use depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. You may remember that I recently tuned an HW55 with just a kiss of black tar. It sped up the gun without bringing any vibration into the operation. That’s about as perfect as you can hope for.
Nothing responds to a lube job as much as a cheap trigger. And an expensive one barely changes at all, if you even notice it. There are triggers that become unsafe with lubrication. Those found on BSF rifles and pistols come to mind. I lube my triggers with Beeman M2M moly grease. Dr. Beeman once wrote that moly was too slippery for triggers, but I found that only the unsafe triggers had a problem. You shouldn’t lubricate them at all.
Well, that’s it for lubricating airguns. I’ve covered CO2 guns, pneumatics and now spring guns. Remember that it’s usually best to lube less than more, with the exception of Pellgunoil on pump piston heads and CO2 cartridges. There, it’s impossible for a reasonable person to use too much oil.