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What is the tendency?

This report covers:

  • Back to BB
  • First test — break in
  • The FIRST R1?
  • The second R1
  • Lube tune
  • Summary 1
  • TX200 MarkIII
  • BSF S55 and S70
  • Gamo
  • Cheap springers
  • Summary 2

Today we are going to talk about a topic you readers know more about than I do. What is/are the tendency/s of certain airguns, as they break in? I think I need to explain that.

Reader Tomek commented on the Gamo Hunter Extreme accuracy test yesterday. He said —

To be honest I expected this rifle to be not so accurate, even terrible. It is not so bad.”

“What is your experience with magnum springers? Do they kick more in .177cal or in .22cal? Is there a tendency like this at all?”

“General thoughts generated after reading this blog: actually, almost all springers need to break in first. After that they are usually more polite. This means most of the testing out of the box does not reflect the actual performance. I mean not only some cheap equipment needs time to get to the nominal working point. Example – HW30s will be smoother after 500 shots out of the box and this impression is much better than directly out of the box. I do not mention buzz noise etc. So sad it is – without tuning almost all springers have buzz or some additional vibration issues. Anyway, the trigger like Rekord does not really changes – but many will be completely different after 2k shots.”

“FWB300s after tuning (including the piston steel ring change) needed approx. 1000 shots to get stable velocity and the high end of the shot cycle performance. I mean, there can’t be better. I can imagine that the brand new one (which is acutally the case now) also needed so long to be stable. It does not directly reflects the accuracy in 10m distance but you can feel the difference.”

My feeling is the high end equipment needs more time to be stable and it will stay stable for life then. Cheap stuff usually is good after 100 – 300 shots.”

Back to BB

Let’s talk about that. You mentioned springers and that is what I will talk about today. As far as the difference in recoil between .177 and .22, I have no experience with that. But I do have experience with new spring-piston airguns.

Years ago I wrote a book titled The Beeman R1 Supermagnum Air Rifle. I wrote that book because I had written so many reports about it in my Airgun Letter newsletter. There were nine of them in the newsletter and in the book they became the R1 Homebrew section that is the bulk of the book. Many were centered on breaking in a new R1 and on tuning the R1 (HW 80) to be a smoother and better (easier cocking, more accurate) shooter.

Beeman R1 book
The R1 book.

First test — break in

Okay, Tomek, here is part of your answer. I tested the first R1 by shooting a thousand shots and testing velocity at the start and then after 200, 500 and finally 1,000 shots had been fired.

The FIRST R1?

At the end of the thousand shots the first R1 had broken one of the two tabs on the spring tube that the forearm screws attach to. I sent it back to Beeman for repairs, which they did, but out of courtesy they lube-tuned it before sending it back. Obviously all the factory grease had to be removed before welding the tab back on the spring tube, but the lube tune they did included de-burring the rifle. That was something I wanted to avoid because of my test. I called them and explained what I was doing and they actually sent me a new replacement rifle! That’s service!

The second R1

The performance of the second R1 was remarkably similar to the first — enough so that I can now comment on how a high-end spring-piston air rifle breaks in. In the first 20 shots there is some detonation and the velocities of all pellets are faster. The cocking effort was insanely high for an R1 — something like 48-49 pounds.

After 500 shots are fired the velocity had dropped for all pellets, and that was true on both airguns. The cocking effort was still quite high.

After 1,000 shots the first rifle was shooting all pellets slower than it had at 500 shots, but the second rifle was shooting them all slightly faster. The cocking effort for both rifles dropped to less than 45 pounds by this point, and I attribute that to the parts on both rifles wearing in.

Build a Custom Airgun

Lube tune

I then did a standard (for the 1994 timeframe) lube tune. That would be de-burring, putting moly grease on the moving parts and Mainspring Dampening Compound on the mainspring. The velocity dropped by over 40 f.p.s. (RWS Hobbys dropped from 847 f.p.s. to 805 f.p.s.) and the cocking effort decreased to 39 pounds.

After that I did several other tunes that came in kits. The most dramatic was the Mag 80 Laza kit from the UK that was made and sold by Ivan Hancock. His parts pushed the cocking effort back over 50 pounds, but the velocity of the RWS Hobby pellet went up to 892 f.p.s. And the vibration? There was none! Zip! Nada! This tune was the smoothest I had ever shot until experiencing the 22 mm tune kit from Tony Leach for the TX200 Mark III.

Since then I had David Enoch’s brother, Bryan, tune the R1 for me. In my opinion the R1 is really best in .22 caliber and Bryan’s tune is almost as smooth as the Mag 80 Laza tune I just described.

Summary 1

My experience with the Beeman R1 is that a quality spring gun gets a little faster after shooting it awhile and also becomes easier to cock. Now let’s look at a second premium springer.

TX200 Mark III

The TX200 Mark III from Air Arms comes to you from the factory shooting as smooth as a tuned air rifle.  Yes, the 22mm tuning kit that Tony Leach sells does make it slightly smoother, but at the cost of a lot of power.

What I have learned from testing several TX200s (I used to own a Mark II, as well) is they always increase in power as they are shot. And not by just a little, either. I watched my Mark III TX increase by over 100 f.p.s. as it was shot. It didn’t get smoother, but it also didn’t become harsher, either.

BSF S55 and S70

I had a BSF S55N and two BSF S70s. None was new but all were untuned. The BSF S55 and S70 both increased in velocity with shooting and their triggers became both smoother and lighter. And I owned an S60 whose trigger also became smoother with use. In fact the BSF triggers became “smooth” to the point they were unsafe. I have a hole in the ceiling of my office to prove that.

Gamo

Tomek, my experiences with shooting springers a lot primarily focuses on the air rifles I have mentioned. Several of those I’ve shot from new.

I did once shoot someone’s older Gamo breakbarrel that had 3,000 to 4,000 shots on it. That rifle cocked easily and shot smoothly and the trigger was quite smooth and positive. 

Cheap springers

I have almost no experience with inexpensive spring-piston rifles. I do test them for this blog, but I don’t spend the kind of time that it takes for a thorough break-in. Someone else will have to address that. Like I said at the start — you readers have more experience with this than I do.

Summary 2

Like all things mechanical, spring-piston airguns wear in with use. I have first-hand experience with the premium ones; I am assuming the less expensive ones are similar. If you ask me today I would say that is their tendency.

30 thoughts on “What is the tendency?”

  1. BB,
    My .22 HW30S was pretty darn smooth when I got it (I must have lucked out), but after nearly 3000 pellets through it, it shoots even more smoothly, and cocks easily with one finger.
    It’s so smooth that I have no plans to take it apart ever…until it breaks a main spring or something.
    I plan to just keep on shooting it “as is,” and enjoying it a whole big bunch. 🙂
    Blessings to you,
    dave

  2. Tom and all,

    Things also have the tendency to go downhill if not used for a long time. Seals perish, pistons dry out, oils evaporate and metal rusts. So everything must be used every so often to avoid this from happening.

    Siraniko

  3. Dave and friends: I most unfortunately have the disease that requires that I “take things apart to figure out how they work “. Unfortunately, this I did with my TX200 MKIII after just a couple of years usage. That however, is a different story. Anyway, my precious rifle was returned to me by Air Venturi quickly and in perfect shape. I’ve been shooting the TX200 regularly since early Spring of this year when I returned from travels. The rifle had been exposed to extreme temperatures all Summer, often well exceeding 110 degrees. My main question us to ask if the chronograph readings in the 640 fps range is considered within the normal range? The rifle is uncannily accurate at my usual target distances of 25 to 50 yards. It does quite well at our various metal targets out to more than 100 yards, but beyond that, this old man’s shakey eyesight and arms reached have reached their limits. I love this rifle, but is 640 fps within the normal limits for this .22 cal jewel? Thanks, Orv.

    • Hoppalong Doc,

      I have similar disease. I improve things. I’m happy when I know “this is the end and it can’t be better”. I dismantled every airgun I have. This has to end 🙂

      640fps in .22 – it can be more, but the question is do you need it? Is it accurate? Is it nice to shoot? When there is double yes just leave it be. Many times I did tuning for more power and come back after a short time – there is this best working point where everything is just like it should be.
      “Tomek, what is the best HiFi equipment?” – the one that sounds good for you is the best! 🙂

      • Tomek,
        I’ll go a bit further on the best HiFi equipment. How about the one that ‘improves the sound’ and is ‘infinitely adjustable’ to your liking?
        Something with three different range speakers in each Quad Surround Sound Speaker System with All Around Fader Option, three Graphic Equalizers to pass through including one for Variable Music Hall Reverberation Sound, and one with a Sound Range Selection option, Speaker Power Option that can shake your home, a Multidimension Adjustment Option and last but not least, a clock for automatic on and off.
        I can just about eliminate the singer or the music sometimes just for fun. Glass door integrated component towers with matching tower speakers were big back in the eighties.
        But, believe it of not, from what I was told, the best ‘quality’ sound of the era came from a home built HealthKit system?

        Personally, I would never detune a perfectly good airgun for less power. Just get another that fills the bill. It will no longer have or be what it was designed to be.
        OK till death do you part I guess. After that it’s a misfit.

        • Bob,

          HiFi is my next disease. “I’ve had them all.” Again, two 12-inch full-range speakers are waiting for me to do something weird…. The last project was 3-way speakers made for live concert feeling in my living room weighing 47 kg each, based on an 18-inch PA woofer. I made that decision to build new set after watching some live concert and my (the only speakers I bought and not designed and build by myself!) expensive speakers were not able to do the dynamics like it should be… My thesis at the polytechnic was “horn loudspeaker theory.” I made full-range rear-loaded horn speakers and was able to test them in an anechoic chamber using professional measurement equipment as a student, this was my personal “end of normal”. Years of doing NVH for living is on top. Equipment for the music – it is like with airguns, there are some HW30s and some magnum big bore ones 🙂 You NEED THEM ALL!!!

        • LOL! Bob M likes to spend outrageous fortunes on his sound system. When I was younger and did not have tinnitus, I may have liked playing with your system for a bit. Would I want to own it? No, but it was nice to listen to it once.

          Now, when it comes to airguns I may not be as good at hearing as I used to be, but I can still see pretty good. I also admire the craftsmanship that I see in many of these old gals.

          When I was a young whipper snapper, I had some pretty nice sound equipment, but it was not my thing. Shooting is.

      • Thanks, Tomek. Do I need more? I don’t know, and what would I do with the extra power? I certainly don’t know. So, my answer to you is a double yes. The rifle shoots great . . . so nothing to be done. Orv

    • Orv,

      What pellet? The velocity is on the low side for a Hobby and too fast for an Eun Jin.

      It sounds like it’s where it should be but what pellet gave you that velocity? We can’t say anything until we know the pellet that averages that speed.

      If it is an 18.1 grain JSB, I would say you are about where you should be.

      BB

      • BB. I have been shooting this rifle with JSB 15.86 pellets. A surprise, for me at least, has been that the AA 16 gr. pellets shoot so differently. Being made by JSB, I thought that they’d shoot the same too, but no, they shoot quite a bit differently. Sure, I can and do fix that, but I’d just as soon shoot the JSBs. Several other brands, weights and configurations have been tried as well, but the gun just likes shooting the JSB 15.86 gr. pellets. I haven’t shoot the JSB 18 gr. pellets just yet, but I will. Thanks, Orv

  4. BB,

    Thank you for going deeper, this topic is without bottom. You did a great job on R1. This will stay forever!

    How interesting is to see different approach regarding tuning – there are many tuning kits which follow some special way to improve things. There is a philosophy behind it.

  5. Hi everybody,

    very interesting topic…

    With my Weihrauch HW30S (yeah, that one again…) I wonder whether I got a particularly nice model.
    As I reported in my review, it had a very slight twang in the beginning. I put a little Liqui Moly LM47 grease + extra moly powder on the spring and after some shooting, the buzz is completely gone. I also managed to adjust the trigger very much to my liking. I was planning on putting in a tuning kit and tuned Rekord trigger, but this gun is already shooting how I imagine a tuned gun would shoot.

    Weihrauch HW35E (made in 1980 or so): Very calm even with a weakened and canted spring. When I replaced the spring, I installed two spring guides and shortened one so it can act as a top hat in the piston. Not sure I even noticed a difference other than restored power.

    My other experiences:

    Weihrauch HW75:
    Trigger went from very good to fantastic. Cocking effort may have reduced a little bit. The screw attaching the compression tube to the valve came loose and I didn’t feel like sending it in. I fixed it myself and put some thread locker on it.

    Weihrauch HW45:
    Detonated like crazy in the beginning, once a blue flame came out of the muzzle (entertaining, but probably not good for accuracy. Trigger may have improved as well, but I don’t remember since I had no reference back then – it is fantastic now.

    Diana LP 5 G: Mine is a 1988 model that looks like new. I once checked the spring and it too looks like new.

    Diana 35 Commemorative: Barrel lock was a little stiff and cocking was a little “scratchy” in the beginning. Both improved. Little vibration. I think it was the same with my 31 Panther.

    Diana Twenty-One FBB: Trigger went from atrocious to “just bad”, safety was *very* stiff in the beginning. No vibration.

    FWB300S: My two rifles are from 72 and 78. I replaced springs + seals in both. Not sure I noticed any break-in. These things always shoot into the same pellet sized hole. If they don’t, they either need repair or it’s your fault.

    Stephan

    • *** These things always shoot into the same pellet sized hole. If they don’t, they either need repair or it’s your fault. ***

      Stephen,

      I have a several Feinwerkbau 10 meter airguns (100, 300, 603 & P8x) and they are all like that …and it’s always my fault 😉

      Hank

  6. BB,

    I feel that all mechanical devices benefit from a breaking in/settling in period. Good quality products with smooth finishes and tight tolerances see a small improvement where parts with a rougher finish show a more noticeable difference.

    Other than getting baseline stats, I don’t test or tune an airgun until its seen a minimum of 200 shots and prefer to shoot a tin (500 count) or two before getting into it seriously.

    The cheap springers we shot as kids were not that well made and had lots of room for improvement.

    Typically, on a new springer I’d give it the preliminary tune – flush out the factory grease and relub with a heavy oil; shoot a tin of pellets through the airgun then disassemble, clean, deburr, polish, shim, lubricate with good (regular) grease and reassemble with upgraded hardware.

    After the full break-in (5,000 shots – about a week’s shooting LOL!) the airgun would get the another inspection and tune with the main difference being that Molybdenum grease would be used this time. Using Molybdenum in the preliminary tune would interfere with the break-in.

    You could easily identify a springer that had been tuned like this – it was smoother, quieter and a lot faster than a new out of the box rifle.

    In those days I used to charge two boxes of pellets for a tune. 🙂

    Still enjoy my springers but have to admit that it’s the dark side that has most of my attention these days.

    Hank

  7. I have only two springer rifles. A Beeman HW30 177 with the San Rafael address. I bought it new in late November 1982. I have shot it a lot over the years. Was smooth and still is. No buzzing. The Rekord trigger was and is still smooth. I guess not all HW 30s have Rekord triggers? The other springer rifle is also a “Beeman.” It was a new 22 rifle given to me about 3 years ago. I believe it was made in China. The cocking effort is so high that I have shot it little. Also, its big and heavy. The build quality seems OK. It came with no owners manual. I emailed Beeman requesting a manual, but was never sent one. The the HW30 is such a nice rifle, I have no interest in shooting the China Beeman.

    • sw1917,
      Not all “HW30” rifles have the Rekord trigger.
      If it is an “HW30S” rifle, then it has the Rekord trigger.
      “The the HW30 is such a nice rifle…”
      If I were you, I would just shoot that rifle, and be happy…that’s what I am doing with mine. 🙂
      Blessings to you,
      dave

  8. B.B.,

    Interesting topic.
    But couldn’t it apply to most anything that launches projectiles?
    Or does it actually apply to more than JUST the device?
    What i mean is that the owner gets “broken in” at the same time; especially if they have not read the Owner’s Manual.
    If that Owner issue is true then how much do we attribute to the leaning curve and how much to the physical break-in of the device?

    Just wondering…

    shootski

  9. That blows my mind. Thanks, shootski.

    It is true for me, that I get used to things, and they break me in as much as I break them in.

    Here’s my contribution to the overall discussion. My first airgun during my airgun “renaissance” was an Umarex Embark which was supposed to be the tool with which to teach my kids to shoot. After reading a good number of posts and comments in this blog, I knew I should break it in and find a pellet that produced decent accuracy. The trigger on that gun was rough. There was a lot of movement and rough spots in stage 2 and not much of a warning before the sear released. This was the official rifle of the SAR shooting program? But I learned that trigger and ended up turning in decent groups at 10 yards off a sandbag. After a while, though, the trigger changed. The rough spots smoothed out. Now I had a new problem–the rough patch that warned me that the sear would release soon was gone. Now it had a looong, smooth stage two and I could not tell when the release would happen. That’s good and bad, but for me, generally bad. Well the gun served as an intro to safe gun handling and range protocol.

    You cannot make adjustments to the trigger without disqualifying the rifle for the SAR competition, so I was hesitant to do so. But since there are no SAR competitions around, that gun has been collecting some dust. And since it was only like $110 new a couple of years ago, I think I will use it to learn about disassembling a springer, barrel bending, trigger mods, etc.

  10. Hank/Vana2 brings up a common bit of advice among gearheads, is to not use too slippery of a lubricant during break-in. For engines it would be to not use synthetic oil for the first 500 or whatever miles. I’m not sure I totally buy that as I’ve seen successful exceptions, but it does emphasize a controlled _wear_ -in as being necessary for long service life.
    Also important is to clean out that lubricant with all the wear particles and and replace with fresh.

    I can chime in a little on cheap springers! My Beeman RS2 .177 springer started out with the usual detonations then dieselings, gritty cocking and a light but unpredictable trigger, and that lasted through my tests of all the pellets I could find, around 500 shots. (Note for next time: don’t bother with selecting pellets until after break in, just shoot the cheapest pellet that doesn’t sound horrible). At that point I took it apart, cleaned everything, removed some weight from the piston and preload from the spring (removed a top hat weight), lightly polished and de-burred the spring, piston and cylinder, greased it all lightly and reassembled. It now cocked smoothly and the trigger broke predictably. Since then I’ve shot at least 4 x 500 pellets through it and it does seem even smoother, but not as big of a jump as that first break-in and cleaning. It is now my go-to practice rifle as it is accurate, but not easy.

    My only other springer that I’ve seen broken in over thousands of shots was a Browning 800 pistol. I got it barely used and the cocking and trigger were stiff and gritty. I just sprayed bicycle chain lube in the spring area and shot a few hundred pellets, until it started to have issues. Lubed, it was less gritty but still jerky to cock, and the trigger really smoothed out in those first few hundred pellets. I took it all apart, fixed the issues (the return spring and some alignment and binding in the anti-recoil system), cleaned and de-burred sharp edges, and lubed everything with grease. Then it was smooth and just got smoother. It was my favorite pistol, I would shoot it right handed and left handed. After a couple thousand pellets the shot cycle felt like it was a marble rolling over my index finger. A big heavy marble… OK, maybe a billiard ball. I gave it to a good friend, missed it and got the Hatsan version to replace it. That got a lube tune but I haven’t shot it much yet. I don’t like their right-handed-only ergonomic grips and can’t find their lefty grips in stock; I guess I’ll have to make some, someday.
    Mike

  11. Boy, some of you guys are really, really, into airguns, or just one at a time.
    I don’t think I have broken in any of the dozens of airguns I have. Some are NIB.
    If I did, I would not recognize any changes any way with so much time between shooting one or the other. Indeed, I am a collector not a shooter compared to most of you.
    Good weather and free time don’t seem to come together to often for me. Doing household chores like cooking, laundry, and cleaning with 50-to-100-mile drives to any stores or doctors, home repairs, acres of yard work and vehicle / equipment maintenance never ends. And now I need more rest than ever at 76.

    As mentioned before, I hope a shooting bench helps out there. Mostly just pest control and a little plinking.
    I finished pulling out and replacing my burned-out $10,000 utility pole after two months without power and still have some downed trees to cut up before the next wildfire event threatens before I get into building it.

    • Bob M,

      Speaking of shooting benches…
      I have the DOA Bench
      https://www.doashootingbench.com
      and have used it quite a bit. Then one day (recently) as i was folding it up one of the locking pins in a leg had half slipped out of the leg to frame locking hole. I spied a tiny small ball bearing on the ground just by luck; sure enough it was the retention ball; but no spring was spotted. In the hole or on the ground. I gave them a call and they were more than happy to send me two replacements (no charge) of the NEW interim design with a wire basket style retainer. They are working on a more elegant “T” handle design but having difficulties finding a USA based supplier.
      When they do get it in production i will certainly change all of them out for the hopefully non China upgrade.

      shootski

    • Bob M,

      reading about your challenges makes my life seem comparatively very easy indeed.
      I agree with your list of priorities and yet, it doesn’t seem to make sense when your me-time is so limited, hmmm… I wonder if and what, will eventually give way?

  12. My God, as I was writing that last entry about another wildfire they were, and still are, actively fighting Border Fire 38. But for now, the winds are in my favor. A total wilderness area where only illegal border crossers venture. They had to helicopter in firefighters and have an A310 aircraft helping them.

    Shootski … Nice bench but I have absolutely no storage space left and it would be covered in morning dew / water every morning left out all night and probably start rusting on day one. Seems like everything I try to do these days requires three additional things to be accomplished first.

    If my disabled ex-wife and old shipmate with Alzheimer’s were to pass on, I would have lots more time to shoot.
    I simply bit off more than I can chew in retirement, and I did not plan for others demanding so much of my time and attention. Life is simply not done sticking it to me, I guess. Just glad I’m not broke!

  13. Since ’89, I’ve been shooting, and therefore breaking in springers. I agree that they have a break-in period that has to be endured and actively pursued.

    When I get a new springer, the first thing I do is give the barrel 24 strokes (in/out) of Non-embedding Bore Paste with a bronze brush on my barrel rod. This is then immediately followed by a series of felt pellets PUSHED through the bore: first a very few dry to get the worst gunk out, then a series of Barrier/Sheath oiled pellets until they come out without soil, and finally a series of dry pellets to remove the Barrier/Sheath oil. That gets the machining crud out of the bores; particularly for Chinese or Turkish pieces.

    All the bearing points of the springer get a drop of RWS Spring Chamber oil. That is allowed to soak in and excess is removed. Also a few drops on the mainspring and allowed time to travel down the coils to the top of the chamber. All the screws get a gentle tweaking as well.

    The shooting then starts with some less expensive pellets with a relaxed attitude knowing that they will tend to be inaccurate for one tin’s worth of shooting – at the least. I shoot over iron sights and leave the scope, if I purchased one for the piece, in the box until the first tin of 500 is down range. If things are still erratic, I will shoot another 500. By then, the piece is stabilized or in the rubbish, so I either mount and sight in the scope or look for another use for it based on the “feel” of the shot cycle.

    I usually put 3 drops of RWS silicone hi-flash point Air Chamber lube in at the beginning of the break in. This usually diesels a while but I suspect that any original air chamber lube is helped to burn off and from then on only the RWS product is used every 500 or 1000 shots depending on whether there is an “honk” sound in cocking or increased erratic POI.

    The stocks get, if they are wood, many, many applications of Min Wax and Bee’s Wax applications with lots of buffing. The metal parts are always wiped down with Barrier/Sheath after the piece is handled.

    Triggers just take time to wear in. Over time, they usually “self polish.” This can, over time get too good and I have to adjust more resistance INTO the trigger on a couple of pieces – the most notable being my Beeman P-1 pistol that got so light it was dangerous.

    The main thing is to get some cheaper pellets for the break in, shoot them without getting too anxious about being fully accurized between PoA and POI for the first tin or two of pellets. Scopes don’t get mounted until after those break-in tins. Really violent springers may get a peep instead of a scope.

    This drill seems to work. Whether it works perfectly on the air arms every time is one thing, but it seems to let me relax and not get too overly invested in a new piece too quickly. It also minimizes any “scope chasing” that is really self-defeating and frustrating.

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