How to treat a new airgun
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- New airgun — what do I do?
- Be careful!
- DO NOT GET IT “TUNED” FIRST THING!
- Lube it?
- Pre-charged Pneumatic (PCP)
- Multi-pumps and single strokes
- Spring piston guns
- Do I need to clean it?
- What about disassembly?
- How should I protect my new airgun?
- The most important thing
Every so often I am inspired to stop and cover the basics for our readers. Many of you who have been with me off and on over the past 13 years (yes, this blog turned 13 this month) will find the things I am about to say rudimentary, but each of you went through them in your own way. My recent encounter with the Sub-1 crossbow made it clear to me what it’s like to have something about which you know very little. And, as I was in the midst of my discoveries, reader Johncpen asked this.
“When lubing the bolt of a PCP like a Benjamin Maximus would you use silicone oil on the O-ring and Remington oil behind that or just silicone oil on the whole thing?”
To which I responded, “I lube anything that might get into the reservoir with silicone. Metal to metal I lube with gun oil.”
Then he said, “I apologize I do not understand. Does the metal-on-metal (rear part behind o ring) portion of the bolt have the potential to get into the reservoir and therefore I should use silicone?”
I must have said something in return, because he said this next, “Thank you. One more question. Do I ever need to lube the trigger on a Benjamin Maximus? If yes, how often and what Lube? I have white lithium grease but would get something better if you recommend. Thanks”
At this point I realized that Johncpen was having the same doubts about his Maximus as I was about the Sub-1 crossbow. Different technologies; same first encounter. So I said this, “The Maximus trigger should not need lubrication for a long time. When it does, a drop of gun oil is all it needs.
You have inspired me to write a special blog about new airguns and how to treat them. I hope to get it out next week.”
Today I fulfill that promise.
New airgun — what do I do?
That new airgun arrived. When you opened the box it made an instant impression. Maybe you were taken by the way it was packaged, or maybe it was larger than you envisioned. The thing is — it’s real now and you are all by yourself.
The first thing to watch out for are those customer reviews of the gun you now hold. You don’t know those people from Adam and some of them are people you wouldn’t trust out of your sight. As you read their comments, try to picture what kind of person is writing. If they seem like braggarts, don’t listen to them. They will tear into perfectly good airguns, screw them up and then blame the manufacturer for the problems they caused.
Look for the reviews that substantiate their claims with reasonable data. If 5 owners tell you they get groups of 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch at 20 yards with a certain pellet in the same model airgun as yours, you can probably bank on it.
DO NOT GET IT “TUNED” FIRST THING!
Over the 25 years that I’ve been writing about airguns I have seen several people buy a brand new airgun and never even shoot it. They will ship it to a tuner who is the latest rage on some forum. Then they get it back and shoot it for the first time. The thing is — these people have no way of knowing whether the gun they now have is the way it is because that is how it was made or because the “tuner” made it that way. All the talk sounded so good when they were reading about it on the forum while washing down their Pringels with a Coke.
My advice is to shoot the airgun. Shoot it and then shoot it some more. I once bought a Beeman C1 carbine that was rough as a cob when it was new. It was hard to cock, buzzed when it fired and had a horrible trigger. But it had cost me all I could afford, so I just shot and shot it. Then one day I happened to notice that the trigger had slicked up all on its own. It was now very nice. I couldn’t recall the day it had changed — just that it had. The cocking was also much lighter. I estimated it had 3,000 to 4,000 shots on it by that time. The rifle still buzzed when it fired (Michael — I’m thinking of you now), so I took it apart and lubed it. And that rifle was the one that taught me the artillery hold.
This subject is complex because it depends on many things — the type of powerplant and sometimes the specifics of the airgun in question. I will explain.
For CO2 guns always use a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the 12-gram or 88-gram CO2 cartridges. If it is a bulk-fill gun, drop some Pellgunoil into the fill port connection, where it will be blown into the gun with the fill. YOU CANNOT OVER-OIL A CO2 AIRGUN THIS WAY. Even if you immerse your airgun in a pool of Pellgunoil, you cannot over-oil it. What the gun doesn’t need will be blown out as it shoots.
Pre-charged Pneumatic (PCP)
I would not oil a PCP airgun before I shot it. In fact, I would only oil one sparingly if it seemed to need it. A gun with a slow leak could use some oil. The oil gets on the o-rings and inner seals and lets the dirt particles slide off. It also coats the seals so they seal better — like the piston rings in your car engine.
For a PCP use silicone chamber oil — a special oil designed to seal, not lubricate. Silicone chamber oil has a high flashpoint temperature at which it explodes, where petroleum oil is more prone to explode at lower temperatures. I intentionally linked to RWS Chamber Lube and Dropper because I like the dropper for putting the oil into hard-to-reach places — like air transfer ports on spring guns.
Oh, and by the way — I recommended silicone chamber oil. Don’t ask me if skunk sweat will work, because that’s what they are all talking about on one of the British forums. I am no longer the Chairman of the International Association of Skunk Breeders and Ranchers, so I cannot speak to the benefits of skunk sweat with authority. USE SILICONE CHAMBER OIL.
Multi-pumps and single strokes
Oil the pump piston head of multi-pumps and single-stroke pneumatics with Pellgunoil. They don’t develop enough pressure to be dangerous. And oil them right out of the box, unless you notice they are already oiled. Oil them frequently. This is another gun you cannot over-oil, though with a single-stroke it’s wise to be sparing. I showed you how to do this.
Spring piston guns
Most spring guns do not need to be oiled when new. Unless they honk like a goose when cocked (the gun — not the goose) they should be fine.
Here’s the deal. Spring guns used to have leather piston seals that needed lots of oil. When synthetics came along they needed much less oil. Some need almost nothing. So, when did airguns change from leather to synthetic? There is no answer. Synthetic piston seals started in the early 1950s but there were still guns with leather seals in the 1980s. And, over time, guns have been converted from leather to synthetic.
If your airgun is brand new today it almost certainly has a synthetic piston seal. Lube it SPARINGLY, if at all! Maybe a drop of silicone chamber oil every 3,000 shots, or so.
What about the mainspring? Well, that’s what Tune in a Tube is for. I have written about it many times.
The other things on the airgun that need oil to move better can be oiled with a good grade of gun oil. As for triggers, they are very special and I would rather address them in a separate series of reports sometime.
Do I need to clean it?
This is a big question for new airgun owners. Do new guns need to be cleaned? Some do and others don’t. My advice is to shoot the airgun and see how it does. If it’s a TX200 Mark III that’s putting 10 pellets into a half-inch at 30 yards, leave it alone. If it’s a Chinese mega-magnum that puts five shots into 2 inches at 10 yards, go ahead and clean the barrel. It can’t get any worse! In other words, use your judgement and, if possible, just leave it alone.
What about disassembly?
You buy a new Beretta M92 BB pistol and you want to disassemble it like you did your M9 when you were on active duty. Stop and make sure the gun you have can be disassembled. These new lookalike airguns look so much like the firearms they copy that people want to treat them the same way. If disassembly means that much to you, make sure the gun you buy is one that allows it. Maybe it will have to be one of the higher-end airsoft guns, to allow complete disassembly.
Or let’s say you buy a new spring-piston air rifle and you just gotta see inside. Just know that when you open her up you void any warranty that came with the gun. Better to buy a cheapie springer to take apart and leave your new gun as it is.
How should I protect my new airgun?
•If it’s a multi-pump and you are able — store it with a pump or two of air inside.
•Wipe down the exterior wood, metal and plastic with Ballistol.
•Leave your PCP charged with air — filled completely is okay.
•Leave the scope caps on your scope when it’s stored.
•Don’t store airguns in cases with open-celled foam.
The most important thing
Of all the things you can do and not do to a new airgun, the most important thing you can do is shoot it. Shoot it and shoot it some more. That’s what it was made for. Shooting helps break in the gun and also familiarizes you with its operation.
Those are my thoughts on how to treat a new airgun. No doubt I have forgotten something vital, so now it’s your turn to talk.