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How long can you leave that mainspring cocked?

This report covers:

  • So how LONG does a mainspring LAST?
  • Sometimes mainsprings break instead of bending
  • That being said…
  • One final thought
  • Summary

Reader thedavemyster made the following comment this past Monday:

“Last night, I went to shoot my HW30S, and I realized (to my horror!) that I had put her away cocked; I had cocked the rifle to do a wipe down of the breech face as well as the face of the transfer port, then, like a dummy, I forgot to hold the barrel, take off the safety, pull the trigger, and slowly close the barrel. Hence, the rifle was cocked for 3 days — very uncool!

I shot some targets, and it seemed to shoot OK, but I recalled how you always say the chronograph is the tool to check the health of an airgun; I tried it last night, but there wasn’t enough light to get any velocity readings.”

So, today I took her out with the sun right overhead, and fired 5 shots through the chronograph to see how much power I had lost. Surprisingly (to me), the shots were: 507, 505, 504, 502, 503 for an average velocity of 504 fps. Prior to this, it was a very consistent 485 fps (with 13.43 g JSBs) for a 7 foot-pound rifle. Now it’s a 7.56 foot-pound rifle — an 8 percent energy gain. I was expecting the opposite!”

Not that I’m complaining; I’m pleased as punch (especially since the gun is still shooting one ragged hole off a rest at 15 yards). But have you ever experienced an anomaly like that with a springer?”

I told Dave that I had never experienced that with a coiled steel mainspring. But then I thought about it and realized what I had done back in January of this year. I was reporting on Baracuda pellets in the report titled, Baracuda pellets then and now. In that report I was testing the performance of various Baracuda pellets and I used a PCP (my Air Arms S510XS) and the ASP20 to test them for accuracy. Both rifles performed admirably, but when I tested the ASP20, a curious thing happened. Here is what I said.

“The ASP20 can still shoot! And here is something that is a little curious. When I broke it open to cock it the first time, the barrel went all the way down without resistance. Either all the gas had leaked out of the piston or I had cocked the rifle long ago and never fired it. There was a pellet in the breech, so I fired it. It hit the target below where I aimed, so I reckoned the rifle was still good. I then fired four more shots just to check the sights, though I didn’t adjust the scope at all.

How long had the rifle been cocked? Well, not less than five months but more likely over a year. I really don’t know.”

I am not making any claims for gas springs/gas pistons. I’m just reporting what happened.”

Then I remembered a test I did way back in 1994. It’s a whole chapter on my Beeman R1 book titled “Mainspring failure test.” Here is what I said about that. And, by the way, when this report was written in 2006, I wasn’t letting people know that I was really Tom Gaylord.

So how LONG does a mainspring LAST?

Tom Gaylord published the only report I know about on the subject of mainspring life. In his R1 book, there is a chapter called the Mainspring Failure Test. He tested a factory R1 spring, a Beeman Laser spring, a Venom spring and a Maccari custom spring by cocking them all and leaving them cocked for ONE FULL MONTH! That’s 735 HOURS of being cocked. Throughout the test he took shots at intervals to see how the springs were holding up, then recocked them until the next test shot. Each spring was test-fired this way 23 times during the test.”

R1 book

The mainspring that lost the most power was the Beeman Laser spring. After being cocked for 735 hours, it had 93.25 percent of the power it had at the start of the test. The factory spring retained 93.89 percent of its original power. The Maccari spring retained 94.65 percent of its original power and the Venom spring retained 96.93 percent of its original power. The Venom spring was slightly bent and had begun to vibrate – something Gaylord stressed it did not do before the test. The factory spring was ever-so-slightly bent and both the Maccari and Laser springs were still perfectly straight.”

bent mainsp[ring
This old mainspring served an honorable life in a military trainer, which means tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of shots. Even if it is a replacement, it still shows lots of service. The coils are bent AND collapsed.

Sometimes mainsprings break instead of bending

A full MONTH of being cocked is more abuse than anyone can heap on a spring gun in ten years of normal use. However, (and this is a long list of “howevers”) a Chinese spring rifle MAY have an improperly stress-relieved mainspring that can fail in less than 1,000 shots. An older Diana from 1986 to 2000 will often have a broken mainspring from improper stress relief. That is not 100 percent guaranteed, however. One inch of spring will be broken off one end of the mainspring. Sometimes it’s an inch off both ends of the spring. The broken piece or pieces will wind into the mainspring with the result that the airgun will shoot smoother than it ever has.

broken mainspring
Close examination of the break point of a mainspring reveals a shattered structure, typical of an over-stressed steel that was not properly stress-relieved. The shading seen in the steel is real – not caused by shadows.

An FWB 124 will often have a bent mainspring from failure due to excessive pre-load (how much the mainspring is compressed when at rest). An HW77 with a factory spring may fail after about 12-15 years of little or no shooting for the same reason. An older Russian spring rifle may fail due to the spring wire being too weak for the application.

The Diana spring problem is a classic failure that’s still happening today, though not as often as it used to. It takes a chronograph to find it because the rifle will shoot smoother than ever.

That being said…

Just to be sure of what I knew on this subject I went and looked at the R1 book. In the Mainspring Failure Test I saw that both the HW factory mainspring and the Venom mainspring did actually increase in power after being left cocked for up to 19 hours. Look at a portion of the chart.

mainspring chart
Look at how both the factory spring and the Venom spring fought to stay alive. Even at 29 hours cocked the factory spring was still 100 percent.

One final thought

Dave, one last thought. You said you tested your rifle with the sun directly overhead. Does your chronograph have sky screen diffusers and were they positioned over the sky screens when you tested? If not, please retest your rifle outside in the shadow, where the sky screens “look” at the sky but can’t see any sun. An overcast day is perfect for this. I have seen direct sunlight fool a chronograph, though it’s usually by hundreds of feet per second — not the few that you saw.

Build a Custom Airgun


Coiled steel mainsprings are a remarkable technology. I have had airguns over a century old whose springs were still doing their job. The lesson today is to use them but not abuse them.

49 thoughts on “How long can you leave that mainspring cocked?”

    • Edw,

      Oh yeah. Stephen Archer did a temperature test with two sproingers, one with metal spring, one with gas spring. Both did not care for cold weather.

      Leaving it cocked for long periods (days) is not good for them, being close to fully compressed. As for a few hours in the woods, unless it is a cheapo spring it will not likely take a set.

    • For hunting a gas spring is the way to go.
      When the critters are in the neighborhood, I keep a cocked and loaded, safety on, gun by the backdoor. It may sit there for days or a week. If the critter raise their ugly heads I have exactly 5 seconds or less to get o shot off. If they see me first, gone.

      If you can load and cock and aim and fire your steel springer in under 5 seconds. Now try doing this without making a sound. My way the noisiest thing is clicking off the safety, which on a Diana 340 N-tec is very quiet.


      • Same here. I have an older Gamo Whisper, where I swapped out the spring for a gas piston 15 years ago. I don’t mind leaving it cocked. It’s my go-to pesting gun.

        I generally don’t leave it cocked/loaded, but it gives me flexibility if I “miss” a moment to shoot. I can be patient, leave it cocked, and watch for the squirrel to come back.


  1. BB,

    Surprised you didn’t also link to your other article: /blog/2012/03/resizing-a-mainspring/?swcfpc=1

    The best way I can think of to improve the steel springs airguns use is to have metallurgists study the dynamics occurring and let them determine the proper type of spring steel that ought to be used.


    • Siraniko,

      That is a pretty good thought. There is a problem with that thinking though. Time is money. Engineering time is real expensive. The proverbial “they” are trying to keep costs down.

      That is why the real nice sproingers cost so much. That bunch took the time.

    • Yogi,

      No need. Once a spring has been “scragged”, it can take a good bit of time before it will take a set. There is a good chance that all of your sproingers have a bit of preload. How long have some of them been preloaded?

  2. Now I have some I would really like to “calm down” a little bit. I have my Webley/Hatsan Tomahawk that could really stand to be calmed down a bit. I had been thinking of shortening the spring a little bit at a time until it was where I was happy with it. I will have to give this some thought.

    I do have one issue with this though. The strain on the trigger assembly. If it is built correctly with proper materials, I guess it should not hurt it. More thought.

  3. RR
    Not sure I know what you mean on the trigger assembly. You mean if you leave a spring gun cocked.

    Yes that could eventually take its toll on the trigger sear. It’s holding the pressure of the compressed spring. If that’s what your talking about.

  4. BB,

    Interesting blog!

    As kids our springers were low power (guessing at 350 to 450 fps) Czechoslovakian rifles that saw a lot of use with 500 pellets a day being common. That kinda use amounted to the spring being compressed for 5 or so hours a day, every day for the whole shooting season (from early spring through to late fall).

    Over the first season, we noticed an increase in power as the rifle broke in, an increase in power after I did a “super tune” (disassembly, clean, deburr, grind the ends of the spring flat, polish and moly lub) with a gradual decrease in power (to about the original factory level) by late fall. At this point the rifle had settled to its power level and pretty much stayed there. A small increase in power could be had by shimming the spring but the gain was not worth the effort. Never saw a broken spring though a bit of scraging was common.

    I know that you are always shooting and writing for the blog. But still, when I saw your comment that you hadn’t used you ASP20 in so long I thought WOW – that would be grounds for a munity in my gun cabinet LOL! I rotate my rifles to keep them all happy, there is a coveted place by the basement door where the gun-of-the-day waits for my frequent 5 minute shooting sessions 🙂


    • Yeah, good idea – rotation – have to draw up a schedule for that. Best thing to do with our guns, whether sproingers, PCPs, whatever, is to use and enjoy them frequently. Use it or lose it applies to them – and us too. Now that spring is here, time to spring into action and do some shootin’! 😉

    • Hank

      Me too on rotation. While we often express envy that BB gets to shoot so many different airguns he would have to hire someone to keep his inventory in shooting rotation. Hmmmmm!


  5. BB,
    Several years ago when my local Sportsman’s Warehouse closed I bought half a dozen or so BSA Supersport XL airguns new in boxes. I posted them for sale at a very good price and they were all spoken for within a few hours. I shipped all the guns and then started to receive emails. Almost all of the guns were cocked when the new owners received them. I hadn’t thought to check to see if they were cocked before selling them. I didn’t want to shoot them prior to sale since they were brand new in the box. I offered to take the guns back but everyone said that they shot fine and no one sent one back.
    David Enoch

  6. BB,

    Like a telepathy 🙂 Recently I tuned my HW30 with Oteva main spring based tuning set. It was working great but delivered too much power. 9ft.lbs I found too much, and the recoil was not easier to handle. I decided to weaken the mainspring and leave it cocked for 24 hours. There was not even 3fps difference after 24hours cocked.
    This topic is a never-ending story in the springers world. Of course I asked my known best tuners (they live from tuning airguns) how it is. They all told me to just do a test using few different spring types is not enough to get the final statement. There is too much variation in between one type, not mentioned many different suppliers of one type of the spring… Afterall they all told me to take 200 springs and make the test would make some sense I understood. Some will not change, some will lose a few percent, some will kneel down. But a good mainspring should not be affected. So the really broken ones or weak after some time beeing cocked were not good out of the box and would not take long working in the system anyway.

    So much regarding gas ram! —-> Edw, you are right with your first post!

    Original HW mainspring – HW50 after stable shooting thousands of pellets over one night cocked lost 2 ft.lbs and stayed stable then… One gay left his springer for 2 weeks cocked on the same mainspring and “lost” like 6fps. It is sometimes surprising…
    Some guys are just cocking shortly before they shoot and watch to not cock over 60sec time. Nonsense…
    I try not to leave cocked springer unnecessary. As I don’t hunt, I usually cock to fire. This 24hours cocked experiment recently showed again that there is no reason to worry about it very much.
    Much worse is to use too heavy pellets for the system. The experience is that usually the rear side of the mainspring suffers the most, weaken or even break. The spring wire below 3mm diameter is not supposed to shoot ultraheavy pellets. It also depends on the weight of the piston, compression chamber…
    Often people “ just got this feeling” something is different with the system – as I always keep on sayin: take a chrony and check it!

  7. tomek

    Interesting point about using too heavy pellets for a given springer. This subject doesn’t get much comment. Certainly the problem has been mentioned in the Cardew books and in this blog. I’m thinking most readers who shoot springers have shot a heavy pellet and experienced a rougher than usual shooting cycle. It just seems to get overlooked in testing pellets. But BB likely knows that some weights are too heavy for the gun being tested.


    • Deck,

      What happens when shooting too heavy pellet for the system (light piston and mainspring wire relative small diameter – which is below 3mm)? The piston hits the “air pillow” (we call it like that – what is the American word? 🙂 ) and the piston jumps fast back in the opposite direction, then goes back moving forward again and compress to the bottom of the compression cylinder. This fast getting hit back causes the mainspring to suffer mostly in the first inch area (looking from the beginning which is where the trigger is). Most mainsprings will kneel a bit in this area or even bend. Some will brake if they are not stress out properly. This jumping back on the “air pillow” causes this rough shot cycle very often. We are talking about the last approx. 0.1 – 0.2 inch off the piston travel.
      If the piston will only stop or suddenly slow down shortly before end of the compression cylinder the acceleration is not so dramatic if it is going to jump back. There are also some wave-phenomena going on in the mainspring. Depending on the working point of too heavy pellet the system may stress the mainspring dramatically. You can observe energy loss after even 100 shots like this, definately after 500 (in worst case, sometimes it takes longer).

      • tomek

        On page 105 of Cardews’ book “The Airgun from Trigger to Target”, the Cardews call it a cushion of compressed air. Pillow works for me.

        Thanks for your detailed explanation describing the stress.


      • Good for you. Tomek. You have very interesting and insightful comments, and you are not letting the language barrier stop you from sharing them with us. Certainly, it would be easier for us to fine tune your translation than it would be for most of us to learn Polish. So I encourage you to keep the comments coming.

        To your point, using a pellet that is too heavy would be almost like a dry fire, but instead of hitting the end of the spring cylinder, the piston slams into the air cushion with the heavy pellet holding it in place for a brief moment, causing the piston to jump back and create vibrations and other havoc.
        Similarly, I remember reading that if you use a pellet that is too light in a springer, it may allow the piston to hit the end of the cylinder just like a dry fire.

        So we can conclude that for a spring piston airgun, there can be pellets that are too light and too heavy. Well I learned something new.

        I can imagine that the pellet diameter may also have an effect. If a very tightly-fitting pellet is used, might it not have the same effect as a very heavy pellet? The instant the piston hits the air cushion, the pellet may not have moved enough to swage the pellet down to the bore diameter and start moving.

        Do you think this is just a problem for the Magnum springers with a very strong spring or lots of preload?

        • Roamin,

          Thank you! I still try not to use any translators and I will make you sometimes suffer reading my “stuff”. Please correct me always, if required.

          The springer is a system with some particular working point which, to simplify, consists of the piston mass, the spring (wire diameter, preload, force, speed of extraction etc.), the seal friction characteristics, the compression cylinder diameter and lenght (not only air volume), transferport, the barrel inlet port, the pellet (mass, hardness, friction function in the barrel…). It means, with a defined system there are defined pellets which will be at the top of the working point and you will get the highest possible kinetic energy from the system shooting them. Usually the semi-strong / light springers are set up for rather light pellets (0,45grams – 0,53 grams in 0.177cal). Shooting heavier pellets will cause a drop of kinetic energy.
          The magnum springers have usually a long, strong preloaded mainspring with the wire diameter up to even 4mm. This is a monster spring. The piston is then usually also heavier. It means the working point of the system is set up for middle and heavy pellets like 0,6grams – 0,9 grams (in 0.177cal). There is the max kinetic energy to expect. Light pellet will start to move before the piston hits the bottom of the cylinder. It may even leave the barrel not getting the whole energetic potential (too early).
          YES – it may be like almost dry fire for the system.

          A very hard pellet which is additionally heavy will require a very big “ignition air pressure” to start moving. There it is – outside the working point of the system.
          YES again, to hit the air pillow is similar to dry fire again, even worst (more wave phenomena in the spring), because it is not one hit to the bottom but two (air pillow hit and back, then bottom of the cylinder hit again).
          The springers will work at their best somewhere in the maximum of the gauss bell distribution of the working point. It means you might kill the mainspring of a weak springer with rather heavy pellets and same story upside down – you will rather destroy the spring of a magnum airgun shooting 7grain pellets.
          It may happen, must not – depending mostly on the mainspring quality.
          Also the shooting cycle will be affected negatively when shooting pellet outside the working point of the system.

          “Do you think this is just a problem for the Magnum springers with a very strong spring or lots of preload?”

          Very good question. To stay pragmatic on this I will simplify and tell you that the “preload is getting all the kinetic energy from the compressed air volume”. The more preload you have, more will be your kinetic energy from a defined system. Until you will get to the physical end (max possible). How it works at the end depends on the working point. The high preload is not directly a sign for using heavy pellet (when the piston is light for example and mainspring is low diameter wire). All these parameters together define the working point and the best pellet mass. But definately the preload is there to squeeze every ft.lbs out of it 🙂

          Additionally: sometimes the working point of the system is set up for the short shooting cycle. It has a light piston with lots of preload, usually also light mainspring (diameter like 2,8mm). It will shoot very crisp with light pellets. It will suffer from heavy pellets. An example for optimization the shooting cycle with big preload. Result is a very short cycle. Change the piston to much heavier and the cycle will be longer but the heavier pellets are welcome then. Compromises… everywhere…

    • Air Rifle Headquarter has a warning about this on their website.
      Most people who shoot heavy pellets don’t care because springs are cheap and they like the extra FPE that the weight gives them.


  8. “In the Mainspring Failure Test I saw that both the HW factory mainspring and the Venom mainspring did actually increase in power after being left cocked for up to 19 hours.”
    Thank you for doing the research and posting that chart; this is exactly the type of info for which I was looking.
    As for this other questions you had: “Does your chronograph have sky screen diffusers and were they positioned over the sky screens when you tested?
    The answers are “yes” and “yes.” 🙂
    The sky screen diffusers, their positioning, the temperature, and the time and position of the sun were the same for the pre-leaving-the-rifle cocked average chronograph reading of 485 fps as they were for the post-leaving-the-rifle-cocked average chronograph reading of 504 fps.
    I was so freaked out by this result, that it caused me to make that comment and ask that question of you. Then, right before I hit the “send a comment” button, I almost deleted that comment, since it was actually off-topic of the rifle in that day’s report.
    However, we’re all airgunners here; and I figured all airgunners like a good airgun anomaly. 🙂
    Thank you for turning my anomaly into this most interesting report!
    Take care & God bless,

  9. Off-topic, somewhat, but with the threats of energy rationing in Europe and possibly elsewhere, potentially supply and shipping problems are going to make the past 2 years’ supply chain issues seem like a picnic. FM hopes to be proven wrong. He seems to pick the worst times to get interested in things which suddenly turn into Unobtainium. 🙁

  10. B.B. and Readership,

    Two points:

    I hope PA’s contract with their IT provider has PENALTY provisions!

    I’m glad that both of my Spring Piston airguns are GAS PISTON SIG SSG ASP20’s! I’m fairly certain from my years of reading Tom’s work with metal springs that it would take at least twice the money or half (or less) the power to get the same tranquil shot cycle of the “Best Break Barrels of this Century” bar none.

    Thank you B.B. for your HONEST & FACT based reporting that finally got me to jump the fence out of the Dark Side playpen for the SIG SSG ASP20s; most assuredly not a decision I made based on marketing gimmicks.


    • Shootski

      And don’t you just love the relatively low cocking effort required to get 20 foot pounds of energy. I am impressed by this every time I shoot my ASP20.


      • Decksniper,

        Well I guess so…kind of like Meat & Potatoes helped by the gravy…LOL!
        Deck so far cocking effort hasn’t been an issue for me even at 73; for that I thank God every morning and every night. I also thank him that my wife and I decided to budget and save for having two sessions with a personal trainer each week in retirement; about the best investment either of us ever decided to make!

        But I suspect being able to shoot over 300 shots in one continuous session is helped a bit by the under 40lbs cocking effort of the ASP20s.
        I also believe those of us who talk so glowingly (NO GLOWY THINGIES!) about our SIG ASP20s will be accused of biases since we are so few in number. I’m glad we can point to Tom’s blog reports to refute the doubters.

        I’m slowly learning how to shoot them and maybe some day I’l find THAT PELLET! At least almost all of the pellets so far hit inside the 3 ring at 50!

        Be Well and be Blessed!


        • Shootski, El Dumbo FM shoulda picked up a .22 ASP20/Whiskey-3 combo when they were there for the taking but glad you’re enjoying yours and may that enjoyment keep on going for a very long time.

          Airgun life is good!

  11. B.B., Extremely interesting blog today (for me anyway). I too bought into the gas ram must be better. Hmm, seems like hype. I also didn’t know about too heavy a pellet could damage a springer. I did know that a too pellet that is too lite could cause damage from not slowing down the piston enough. Or so I’ve read.
    I do have a question, is it “better” for a springer (the spring) to be shot every so often vs. setting for months on end not being shot?

    • Doc Holiday,

      “I too bought into the gas ram must be better. Hmm, seems like hype.” You are dismissing some thoughts and products by leading lights of airgun building. Dave Taylor and Ben Theobald for starters thought:
      “They are totally tireless. You can leave them cocked for as long as you like. Nothing wears out. The seals don’t wear. Recently I serviced gun number 25 from 1982, and it was the first time it had been serviced since it had been manufactured. You have to remember to shoot, or cock-and-decock, a gas ram every few months, otherwise the seal can get bonded to the bore, and that will cause failure.” More hype: “We found that if a gas ram is going to fail, it will do so within the first week. Otherwise, it will last for years. Right now, there are more of our guns out there that have never been serviced than those that have been serviced.” ???

      PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT Key item repeated for emphasis! Hope you read this Tom!

      “You have to remember to shoot, or cock-and-decock, a gas ram every few months, otherwise the seal can get bonded to the bore, and that will cause failure.”

      Ed Schultz, Director of Engineering for Crosman Corporation on Gas Springs. “Nitro Piston offers an advantage in longevity in modern spring guns that operate at the velocities that people want.”

      “When you are using a mechanical spring in an airgun, you are just doing bad things to the spring,” Schultz adds. “A rule of thumb in engineering is that you don’t want to stress a spring past 50% compression to maintain reliability, but that doesn’t work in a spring gun. Instead, you compress the spring almost 100%. You take up almost all the gap between the spring coils to get ultimate performance, and that tends to weaken the spring. And if you leave it cocked, you’re taking some life out of the spring. So you use special materials and do special heat treatments to deal with that, but you’re basically fighting a losing battle.”

      “But a gas ram, Nitro Piston, powerplant eliminates the weak link in the system. The gas doesn’t care if it is compressed, it’s not going to degrade the life of the powerplant,” he says. “A life of 5,000 shots is probably a good rule for estimating spring life in an average spring-piston powerplant. The life of a Nitro Piston powerplant is easily twice that, and at the end of that time, it will shoot close to the original numbers. It’s either working completely fine, or it’s not working at all.”

      Schultz adds that a Nitro Piston powerplant has few moving parts, there is no spring torque, no vibration, no need for spring guides. “To make a spring powerplant really quiet and vibration free, you have to custom fit inner and outer spring guides because every spring is slightly different,” he says. “You don’t have to do that with a Nitro piston powerplant. There are billions of gas springs in use throughout the world. Automobile manufactures have adopted them because of their reliability, and we know how to make them with high precision. With a Nitro Piston gas spring powerplant in your airgun, you get a lot of the advantages of an expensive, custom-tuned powerplant at a more affordable price.”

      My SIG SSG ASP20 BUY – NOT BUY decision research notes say the above is from a number of interviews by Jock Elliot. I have some notes from the other side of the arguments…but in the final analysis they were all subjective BALOGNA! You have B.B.s testing of the ASP20 right here it made buying into break barrels easy.


      • The nitro piston I put in my Gamo Whisper Classic has been going strong for 15 years. Many a rodent has succumbed to to it’s combination of quiet operation, quiet shot cycle, and ease of leaving cocked. A great combo, especially in suburbia.


        • StarboardRower,

          It seems to be another topic we will be talking about for at least a few more decades. I hope I get 15 years out of my gas springs…looks like that will cost me the price of at least a few gross of pellets to boot!
          Just cleaned up a big (at least a 2 pounder) Norwegian that dropped with one of the JSB .22 EXACT JUMBO. It probably came into the neighborhood from one of the new Amazon HQ2 construction sites :^(
          We have been overrun by them since they started the implosions of the old buildings. My neighbors are cheering every time they hear a thump!
          Hope you get another 15 years or more out of your gas spring.

      • Shootski
        Glad you have had good luck with yours. Thanks for the insight. I have no experience with a gas ram therefore I can’t judge except for what I have read. I shouldn’t have worded my comment like I did. I would think since Weihrauch makes them too, they must be good. It’s like a never ending battle on which is better. Thank You for you take on these. And boy do I wish I had bought the Sig. The only thing holding me back at that time was no open sights. Now that it’s probably gone, wish I would have bought one anyway.

        • Doc Holiday,

          I think the biggest PRO in my research had a lot to do with being in my 70s and just getting started with non PCP or Pumpers!
          Early on as a practical shooter and hunter I couldn’t see a reason to make shooting my best harder. After all the wind and Mirage always remained challenging enough. I chose pumpers ad then adopted PCPs early. I particularly am sensitive to the torque roll in both coil spring Sproingers and behemoth single radial engine aircraft; Turboprops were better and on centerline jets with no propellers had zero torque roll.
          The shot cycle of the SSG ASP20 is a wonder. If they had put that in a sub 12 pound (non FAC) rifle I suspect it could perform with comparable PCP in the accuracy department; SIG already seem(ed)s to have the manufacturing of precision barrels down cold.

          I’ll let you all know if i sour on the SIG at some point…but so far it has been a box of chocolates with all cherries!


  12. Experts: so a spring is as good or better than a gas piston in holding up? It’s confusing for us that hasn’t dealt with a gas piston. Even Weihrauch touts it as better. Below is part copy and pasted from AG Depot/PA site:

    Crosman Mag Fire- include Nitro piston technology, allowing the shooter to get a reliable rifle, no matter how cold it is out or how long you leave it cocked.

    Gamo- Each Swarm is powered by an IGT inert gas piston. This gives the rifles improved cold-weather performance, smoother cocking and shooting mechanism, and less vibration. These features improve the rifle’s life and give you the ability to leave it cocked for prolonged periods of time.

    Hatsan- Hatsan Vortex gas piston, the Speedfire is an easy-to-shoot and aim air rifle. The gas piston allows for smoother cocking, shooting, and not having to worry about a spring failing. It operates great in cold-weather conditions, and you can cock it and leave it for hours at a time. This gives you the ability to pick up and shoot at any time.

    Umarex- a TNT nitrogen piston, which is a type of gas spring that offers the user advantages over a traditional spring-piston powerplant, such as smoother and quieter operation, lower recoil, and consistent operation despite low temperatures. In addition, a nitrogen piston lasts longer and is not susceptible to spring fatigue, and leaving it cocked for long periods does not result in damage to the airgun.

    Diana & Weihrauch – Here are the benefits of a gas-piston powerplant: Smoother cocking Smoother shooting No spring torque No spring fatigue, even if you leave it cocked for hours Functions perfectly in cold weather Lasts longer than a metal spring

    Sure make me want to know which is truly better. To know the truth, one would have to compare guns of the same “class” I would think.


    • Doc

      I have an opinion on gas vs steel springers. I share it because I have one rifle that has had it both ways. I suspect that gas (or air) spring guns have less vibration than one with a coiled steel spring. Accuracy should be easier to attain if everything else were equal! Well my Hatsun 95 Vortek came with a gas spring. I often got 10 shot groups at 25 yards around .75 inches center to center. After 3 years the gas spring failed. Hatsun Repair gave me a choice to replace the gas spring or convert to a steel spring. I chose steel mostly because I was curious to compare the two designs. Accuracy is still sub one inch but not quite as good as it was. I’m still looking for a magic hold.

      I offer this opinion because everything else is equal. The barrel is the same. The trigger is the same. The scope is the same. The stock is the same. The pellet is the same. The shooting cycle does not seem to be harsher and the pinging sound is gone.
      Just my two cents.


      • Deck,
        Thank You. Makes sense. The only concern is the gas spring failed in 3 years. Funny that makers tout it as “better”. More expensive too (Hatsan 95 in spring vs gas piston). I would think a metal spring would last longer than that. I was wanting a new gas piston gun. Now I’m rethinking it.


        • Doc

          I’ve only been shooting airguns almost daily for the last 8-10 years thanks to this blog. I shoot 8 steel springers in rotation and have never had one to quit working. Conversely I have 4 (3 now) gas springers and 2 of those quit. One I converted to steel (Hatsun 95) and the other had to have the seal replaced because it only held about half the air. Before drawing conclusions from this we need to remember BB’s pointing out that auto trunk struts still work that are many years old.

          I lean toward steel springs because many folks can replace and or tune them. Not so the gas springer.


  13. I have got back into shooting my break barrels of late. I am not a good shooter generally of this type of airgun. In 2013 I bought a .177 Crosman Phantom springer. Didn’t shoot it much because it was LOUD! O much later bought a new F4 nitro piston of the same maker. Recently my neighbor bought a new Ruger Airhawk Elite II. I heard him and saw him firing it next door. It us a gas piston model. It didn’t sound very loud to me. He fought it over and had me shoot a 5 shot group at 15 yards. As to shooter, it sounded about like my Phantom. My group was about an inch shooting cheap Winchester round nose oellets, a pellet that had horrible accuracy in every other gun I’ve tried them in. But, the point isofthe fact that his loud Ruger wasn’t so loud to me next door, invigorated me to bring out the old Phantom, which I had named, “Old Fire and Brimstone”, and shoot it once again to find accurate pellets. I have settled on the RWS Meisterkugeln rifle pellets 8.2 grains I believe. Tried different holds and rests etc, and have been able to tighten the groups. My practical use for an airgun is night ratting on our chicken coop. The Phantom, now that I can better hit at what I’m aiming at, is absolutely devastating on these nasty little vermin. The 8.2 wadcutters make it look like the rats swallowed a grenade (I am exagerating dome). The nitro piston F4 is quieter for sure over the springer, making more if a muffled ” Whump” without all the “Sproing” of the springer. I also have an older model Tarzan Alpha springer, which is rated at around 500 fps, and it is a nice, light shooter for me. Lastly, I have a Daisy 1100S springer, but have not started any serious testing on that one. I’ve always admired the break barrels, but the scope destroying double recoil made accuracy difficult. But, I am happy to get back to shooting the Phantom, and being able to make life tough for the pests with it.

  14. Remember Theoben and the gas ram revolution? 🙂 “no more spring in the springer”…

    Gas ram may work fine until it suddenly does not work anymore. You get my point? 🙂

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