Hakim air rifle: Part 7
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Hakim is a large, heavy military trainer made in the 1950s by Anschütz.
This report covers:
• Synthetic piston seal
• Piston lube
• Mainspring lube
• Trigger adjustment
• Eley Wasp pellets before
• Eley Wasp pellets after
• RWS Superpoint pellets before
• RWS Superpoint pellets after
• RWS Hobby pellets before
• RWS Hobby pellets after
This has been a detailed look at a rare Hakim air rifle trainer that was made for the Egyptian army in 1954 by the German firm of Anschütz. In Part 6, I showed a detailed disassembly of the rifle that included solving a problem with a sticky screw. Today, I tell you how I lubricated the rifle’s action and how it performs after the lubrication.
As I mentioned, every part inside this powerplant was bone-dry. It’s no wonder the gun was vibrating! The wonder is that it worked at all.
Synthetic piston seal
I started the lubrication with the piston and the synthetic piston seal. That’s right — I said synthetic seal! A lot of you guessed that because this rifle was made in the 1950s, the seal had to be leather. In fact, it was always synthetic. And not the kind of synthetic that dry-rots like Diana, Walther and Feinwerkbau used in the 1970s. The seal in this Hakim is over 60 years old and is still fresh and pliable. It’s in perfect condition. I haven’t seen another Hakim seal as nice as this one, and I’ve been inside more than 20 of these rifles over the years.
The seal is a parachute design, meaning that a groove around the edge of the seal inflates with pressurized air when the piston travels forward, pressing the seal against the compression chamber wall and sealing it better. The center of the seal is open, making it look like a donut from above. A cone-shaped steel nut extends ahead of the seal and fits into a similar depression at the end of the compression chamber. Diana uses a similar seal today, and theirs is a little larger, making it the perfect replacement when a Hakim seal is damaged.
The Hakim piston seal looks just like this Diana seal.
I have found these rifles with pellets, finishing nails and small screws embedded in their piston seals — all evidence of previous attempts at using improper ammunition. While they may not wear out in the conventional sense, these seals can be damaged by intentional acts. So, it’s good to know there are replacements. And the Diana seals available today are made from synthetics just as tough as the original Hakim seals.
I used moly grease on each part of the piston and seal. The front and rear of the piston are larger than the main body, so they’re the only places that contact the inside of the spring tube. Each point received a heavy coat of moly grease — 1 in the picture. The piston seal sides and the washer behind the seal also received a heavy coat of moly — 2 in the picture. And the piston rod, which serves as the mainspring guide and also as the part that catches the sear in the back, was coated with moly — 3 in the picture.
The numbered arrows correspond to the instructions in the text.
When this was done, the piston was slid back into the spring tube that had been previously cleaned with alcohol and dried, though I must say it was pretty clean at the start. The heavy moly grease on all the contact points transfers to the walls of the spring tube and compression chamber this way. I used to also grease the inside walls of the tube separately, but I found it unnecessary because the piston grease transfers so completely this way. The moly particles bond with the steel in the tube walls, and the lube becomes almost permanent. Guns I lubricated this way over 15 years ago are still going strong.
Next, I lubricated the mainspring, which is in brand-new condition, by the way. Hakims springs aren’t under much preload, so they don’t tend to wear out when the rifle isn’t in use the way magnum springs are. So, this spring could easily be more than 50 years old!
The rifle had been buzzing when it fired, and normally I would use a heavy grease that Jim Maccari used to call velocity tar. I called it black tar, since that was what it looked and smelled like. It was probably a type of open gear lubricant. But I decided not to use it on this rifle. Instead, I reached into my bag of vintage tricks and pulled out a jar of Beeman Spring Gel. Don’t bother looking for it — the Beeman company stopped selling it 20 years ago. It usually doesn’t quite kill all the buzz in a vibrating spring gun, but I had a gut feeling this Hakim was different. It was so dry that perhaps this lighter, less viscous grease might work well. And the nice thing is that it doesn’t usually rob too much velocity. I coated the mainspring all over and slid it into the gun. Remember, the piston rod is coated with moly grease (number 3 in the above photo), so that will transfer to the inner coils of the mainspring every time the rifle is cocked and shot.
Beeman Spring Gel was a viscous silicone grease that quieted mainsprings while retaining velocity.
The end cap on the Hakim is a heavy piece of machined steel that threads into the spring tube. It contains the rear spring guide, which is hollow so the piston rod can pass through it when the rifle is cocked. This guide was also coated with moly.
The end cap holds the rear spring guide, which was also coated with moly grease (arrow). The mainspring was coated with Beeman Spring Gel, an obsolete silicone grease of high viscosity.
The rifle was then assembled in the reverse of disassembly. I did put moly on both points of the trigger sear contact. When the time came, they would break crisply. I also coated the outside of the cocking linkage that slides through the steel guide with plain wheel bearing grease. That eliminates most friction and also quiets the cocking cycle. It might take some effort out of the cocking effort, but it is already so light (18 lbs.) that it’s hard to determine. If it does anything, it’s only a fraction of a pound.
After the rifle’s action is assembled, it’s time to adjust the trigger. You’re adjusting the sear contact area, so this is critical. If it’s too narrow, the rifle could slip off the sear and fire on its own. The trigger adjustment is explained in the caption below.
The trigger is uncocked. The sear (hanging down) has to be pushed into position with the trigger by the piston rod.
The trigger is cocked. You can see the 2 surfaces that get the moly grease. Adjust the trigger by loosening the small nut and turning the adjustment screw in or out.
It’s time to install the stock and upper handguard and test the rifle. There certainly are a lot more steps to assembling a Hakim than there are for other air rifles!
Once the rifle is together, it’s time to test-fire it to see what the lube has done. I used both vintage Eley Wasp pellets and RWS Superpoints plus RWS Hobbys. With all pellets, the rifle now fires without a trace of vibration. There’s just a solid thump to let you know something has happened..
But I need to shoot the rifle through the chronograph to see what the tune has done to performance. Hopefully it won’t have slipped too much. The rifle was performing at the upper end of normal before the lube, and I’ll give you both the before and after numbers as I do this test.
Eley Wasp pellets before
Muzzle velocity averaged 454 f.p.s. Velocity varied from 450 to 466 f.p.s., for a 16 f.p.s. spread. Average energy was 6.64 foot-pounds.
Eley Wasp pellets after
Muzzle velocity averaged 445 f.p.s. Velocity varied from 436 to 454 f.p.s., for a 18 f.p.s. spread. Average energy was 6.38 foot-pounds. There was a slight power loss and a slight increase in variation.
RWS Superpoint pellets before
Muzzle velocity averaged 498 f.p.s. Velocity varied from 489 to 509 f.p.s., for a 20 f.p.s. spread. Average energy was 7.99 foot-pounds.
RWS Superpoint pellets after
Muzzle velocity averaged 491 f.p.s. Velocity varied from 482 to 497 f.p.s., for a 15 f.p.s. spread. Average energy was 7.76 foot-pounds. There was a slight power loss and a slight decrease in variation.
RWS Hobby pellets before
Muzzle velocity averaged 554 f.p.s. Velocity varied from 543 to 566 f.p.s., for a 23 f.p.s. spread. Average energy was 8.11 foot-pounds.
RWS Hobby pellets after
Muzzle velocity averaged 547 f.p.s. Velocity varied from 530 to 551 f.p.s., for a 21 f.p.s. spread. Average energy was 7.91 foot-pounds. T there was a slight power loss and a slight decrease in variation.
The lubrication was well worth the effort. The rifle now shoots like a Hakim should — solid and smooth. There’s no more buzzing when shot. Accuracy won’t increase, but this rifle will now be very pleasant to shoot, which is all I want from it.