Resealing the Beeman P17 air pistol: Part 1
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is written by reader 45Bravo. This is Part 1 of his report on resealing the Beeman P17 air pistol. This report will go differently than some in the past. We will first learn how to reseal the pistol and then I will test one for you in the usual way.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
And now, over to you, 45Bravo.
Resealing the Beeman P17 air pistol
This report covers:
- What it is
- The reliability problems tend to come in 2 forms
- Where this pistol came from
- The repair — things you need:
- The easiest and most common repair
- Editor’s notes
My Beeman P17 pistol just died! Should I toss it and buy a new one, or should I fix it? Perhaps that sounds wasteful, but for an air pistol that costs less than $30, maybe not so much. If you haven’t been living under a rock, you probably have heard of the Beeman P17.
What it is
The Beeman P17 is a Chinese-made copy of the German-made Beeman P3, or Weihrauch HW40 PCA single stroke pneumatic pistol.
The P17 evolved from the Marksman 2004 that B.B. did a short blog on back in February 2006.
It is a single-stroke pneumatic, single shot pistol, styled after a modern semi automatic pistol. The grip is very reminiscent of a Walther P99 9mm firearm, though I have linked you to the CO2 pistol that looks the same.
The pistol has fiberoptic sights, an 11mm dovetail rail running between the front and rear sight, a very good trigger, and a dry-fire option, it also delivers excellent accuracy for the money.
The Beeman P17 has a hit-and-miss history of reliability issues that can be expected from a $30 copy of a $230 pistol.
The reliability problems tend to come in 2 forms
1. Not building pressure.
2. Dumping its air as it is cocked.
Both problems are easily repaired. Even with the reliability problems, in my opinion this is the best thirty dollars you can spend on an air pistol. Let’s get started!
Where this pistol came from
A fellow GTA forum member posted about his P17 dying after about 2500 pellets. He said he was going to buy a replacement, as he had gotten his $30 worth out of it. He wanted to upgrade to the Air Venturi V10.
I asked if I could buy it from him to write this blog about repairing them, and he kindly donated it to the cause.
My theory is, if something doesn’t cost you anything, and a replacement is inexpensive, you might as well take it apart and learn from it.
Even if you can’t put it back together when you are finished, you still have a neat bag full of spare parts, that is actually a 3D jigsaw puzzle, waiting to be assembled.
The repair — things you need:
2.5mm Allen wrench
2mm Allen wrench
A 13mm wrench or an adjustable wrench
1/8-inch pin punch
A thin flat blade screwdriver to help separate the grip panels
Your favorite o-ring lube
1 #117 o-ring, for the main piston.
2 #009 o-rings, one for the breech seal, one for the valve body seal.
1 #006 o-ring, for the valve seat seal.
Many people say to use a #116 o-ring for the main piston seal, but on this particular pistol the #117 fits better.
The o-rings can be sourced online, or from local stores as they are not subjected to CO2, I bought enough for 2 reseals from a local Ace Hardware for less than $4.
Yes I could have gotten higher quality o-rings for more money, but since this is a price point pistol, I wanted to see how long hardware store o-rings will last.
The easiest and most common repair
The pistol doesn’t build pressure when pumped.
1 – Make sure the gun is unloaded.
2 – Pull the “hammer” back to open the action, (it is actually just a latch to keep the barrel latched closed.)
3 – Using the 2mm Allen wrench, loosen the set screw in the muzzle end of the piston arm.
Using the punch, just push out the cross pin holding the piston in place.
Pull the piston out, and wipe it down and examine the o-ring. You will probably notice a small divot cut in the o-ring. This is normally caused by a small burr at the air inlet in the receiver tube.
Replace this o-ring with the largest o-ring and set it aside.
Looking into the opening of the receiver tube, you will see a small hole at the front that allows air to enter when the barrel is fully extended in its cocking stroke.
As you run your finger over the port on the inside of the compression chamber, you will feel a burr if there is one. We need to remove that burr or it will cut the next piston o-ring, and the next and the next…
Tip: I put paper towels inside the main tube to clean and seal the tube.
Using 0000 steel wool, you remove the burr. When you are finished, any particles of steel wool will be removed when you take out the paper towel.
If your pistol was not building pressure, but you could feel some resistance when cocking, you can now lube the piston and o-ring (the manual says to use white lithium grease,) and reinsert the piston in the tube. Replace the front pin and tighten the setscrew to hold pin in place and you are done.
Cock the pistol, point it in a safe direction, and function test the pistol by dry-firing. Hopefully it is fixed. Unfortunately that was not the case with the pistol I got, so that is something I will cover in Part 2.
I never had a problem with my Beeman P17. After 15+ years it still functions fine. But like many of you I have wondered what the differences are between the genuine German-made Beeman P3 and the Chinese-made P17. The prices are so far apart that there must be some differences.
When I was at IWA (the German SHOT Show in Nuremberg) in 2006, Hans Weihrauch, Jr. told me his company fixes P17s (they were called Marksman 2004s at that time) because people think his company made them. They do it to maintain goodwill, though there was not a licensing agreement between them and the Chinese back then. I don’t know if there is one today. What can the differences possibly be?
Because this pistol is a classic and because I am curious, I bought a used Beeman P3 off Ebay to examine. It comes with a $200 premium dot sight and the price for everything including shipping was less than that, so like 45Bravo mentioned, I won’t be out anything. And with this report plus the one that’s coming I will be able to fix it if anything goes wrong. Just for fun I followed this post and disassembled my P17’s piston. I then cleaned it and lubed it with lithium grease. The inlet hole in my pistol had no burr.
When I test the P17 for you after this resealing report is finished, I plan to move on and also cover the P3. Maybe we will finally learn the difference between a $30 pistol and one that looks similar yet sells for $230!