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Maintaining your airgun suppressor

Today reader Ian McKee, whose blog handle is 45Bravo, tells us about how to maintain airgun suppressors, which are silencers.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at blogger@pyramydair.com.

Take it away, Ian

Maintaining your airgun suppressor
by Ian McKee

This report covers:

  • Airgun suppressors
  • Cleaning
  • Shrouds
  • Baffles
  • BB-gun suppressors
  • Fini

A lot of airgun manufacturers are working very hard to make their products quieter to be backyard friendly for customers. 

At this point in time, we as airgunners have the luxury of not having to jump through the Federal Regulatory hoops and pay the tax that firearm owners have to, to own suppressors. This is subject to the laws in your area though. Some states like New Jersey treat a Daisy Red Ryder  BB gun the same as a firearm. And suppressors/silencers of any type are strictly verboten. 

Airgun suppressors

Some airguns are fitted with a factory-installed device that is completely sealed, and not intended to be removed or user serviced. Other models have shrouds that surround the barrel to contain the muzzle blast of air as the pellet leaves the barrel. Some airguns like the Benjamin Marauder family of airguns or the AirForce Airguns SS-series of airguns have moderators inside their shrouds that can be disassembled. 

airgun suppressor AirForce
This is how the Airforce smallbore SS airguns are suppressed. 

AirForce airguns have removable baffles inside their shrouds that can be cleaned when needed or replaced if one or more of the baffles somehow becomes damaged.

Other airguns let you choose your own aftermarket suppressor. These guns are equipped with threads at the muzzle of the barrel or shroud so you can remove the suppressor for storage or clean it easily if desired.

Cleaning

Whatever type you have, after many shots, most of them will become fouled with lead dust, hence the nickname LDC (Lead Dust Collector). These may require some type of cleaning or servicing. Airgun systems do not foul as much or as quickly as one on a firearm because we do not use a chemical reaction to propel the projectile, but they still do get dirty.  

FIRST A WORD OF CAUTION: Most airgun pellets we use are lead-based pellets, and if you decide to clean or service your muzzle device you should protect yourself accordingly by using the proper protective gear.

At the minimum safety glasses, protective gloves, and a protective mask should be used, and either a disposable work surface, or by washing everything thoroughly when you are finished. And make sure you wash your hands before handling anything to remove any lead contamination.

Shrouds

With shrouded guns the outer shroud can normally be unscrewed from the receiver, and an end cap can be removed so they can then be cleaned with Ballistol. Or you choose an airgun-safe cleaning solution. 

You would clean the shroud much like a shotgun barrel, using either patches on a cleaning rod or an appropriately sized pull through bore snake-type system.

I say an airgun-safe cleaning solution, because most airguns may use an o-ring to isolate the barrel from the shroud or to seal the end caps. A strong solvent can attack the o-rings and make them sticky and thereby harder to remove next time. Or the solvent could possibly find its way into areas that have o-rings that hold pressure. That would be not be good. 

Baffles

If your gun has baffles, they are normally stacked in a certain orientation. Pay attention to how they are arranged in the tube. Also they will sometimes have a spring that will hold tension on them. The tension isn’t much usually but you need to be aware that it is there, so be prepared.

airgun suppressor Marauder
This is the correct Marauder baffle orientation. 

After cleaning the inside of the shroud and the baffles, I normally wipe everything down with a lubricant to provide a thin protective layer that I think makes it easier to clean the next time it needs it. But your mileage may vary.

The same cleaning steps also apply to the removable muzzle devices that are threaded onto the barrel. Most of the ones manufactured for retail sale can be disassembled for servicing. The 3D-printed ones are normally one piece and cannot be disassembled, but if desired they can be washed out with warm soapy water and air dried. 

Hunting Guide

BB-gun suppressors

With the introduction of the Crosman DPMS SBR and other modern designs of BB guns, some people are adding aftermarket suppressors to make them more backyard friendly. While these guns are not extremely loud, they do rate a 3 (medium) on the Pyramyd AIR scale.

When firing them a great deal of the perceived noise is from the action cycling right next to your ear. When you are 20 feet or more away from the gun, an airsoft suppressor makes a big difference in the muzzle report.

Because they operate at a lower pressure than the pellet guns, the BB-gun devices are either hollow, or sometimes they are filled with foam baffles to slow down the expanding gasses.

The best airsoft designs use acoustic foam like what is used in sound studios to deaden ambient sounds.

airgun suppressor Airsoft
This is the stackable foam airsoft/BB gun suppressor design.

I have pictured the type of suppressor I have on my Crosman SBR. About every 3,000 rounds, the soft foam inserts get compressed from the blast of CO2 gas that exits the muzzle with each shot.

They do not need cleaning as there is no lead fouling from the steel BBs or the frangible Air Venturi Dust Devils.

On the model I have I remove the device from the gun, then unscrew the rear end cap. You can then see if the foam baffle stack is compressed or not.

If the foam isn’t compressed, just reassemble the device, and continue on. But if there is a gap between the last foam insert and the rear end cap, you need to remove the entire stack, and reinstall them in the same order, taking care to not compress the inserts during the process.

Fini

Since they are on airguns, cleaning is not something that NEEDS to be done regularly. But it is something I choose to do as regular maintenance. It also gives me the chance to inspect the gun for wear, and check to see if any screws are loose. 

Shoot safe and have FUN!

Ian

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

31 thoughts on “Maintaining your airgun suppressor”

    • Yogi, most of the sound you hear on a springer is caused by the spring itself. It’s why a gun will seem loud to the shooter, but quiet to anyone say, 20 yards away.

      • I agree with you.

        Yogi, your head being against the stock transmits everything into your head.
        Think a mechanics stethoscope.

        Or if you didn’t have one, my dad taught me to use a long screwdriver and put the blade against the engine, and the handle against his temple. Instant mechanics stethoscope!

        A well tuned springer or a GISS system (the dual opposed piston) springer should be just a dead thud when fired.

        But sadly many are twangy or buzzy power plants to some degree.
        Until the owners follow BB’s many tutorials about how to reduce or eliminate that trait.

        Ian.

  1. Thanks, Ian, and a bit for the point that lead dust is a potential hazard.
    Note that regular Ivory-type soap is a good cleaner (I prefer _Camay_, it’s the nicer smelling GoJo), and it leaves a soapy residue. Wipe that with a little oil and now one has soap+oil=grease! Grease makes a stay-put tacky layer to either lubricate and/or collect more lead dust. I realized this from a Paul Harrel video on cleaning firearms (thank you, sir!), where it is the 2000-teens-whenever and he is still cleaning his guns with Ivory soap and following with a light oil wipe. The chemistry is brilliant.
    Also note that noise loves resonance, and in this case it fills gaps with… more noise. And old gappy stuff thus starts to rattle and makes noise, so shim any gaps in stacks with whatever fits: o-rings, thicker garden hose o-rings, foam wads, plastic bits, fine chamois donuts, oakum, whatever. Compress, no, but snug, yes! I think that is what that Marauder spring does.
    Mike

  2. 45Bravo,

    Nice and very informative article. Any tips on ensuring alignment of the bore to the silencer stack so that the pellet doesn’t hit the baffles/washers?

    Siraniko

    • Enlarge the holes. Most folks recommend when using a silencer, to go up in caliber. When you wish to silence a .177, use a .20 or .22 silencer. If you want to silence a .22, use a silencer for .25.

      Sometimes orientation (rotation) of the baffles will sometimes eliminate this issue, but some do not allow for such.

    • Siraniko,

      Not 45Bravo but more times than not (at least on well made and installed suppressors) the problem is actually the projectiles instability (wobble/Yaw) on barrel muzzle exit and entry into the suppressor body. IF the projectile is a good design the initial instability will be dynamically/aerodynamically EXTINGUISHED within a fairly small number of calibers of flight. If the Internal dimensions of the suppressor are smaller than the projectile Yaw you will clip the “Technology” inside as RidgeRunner discusses in his reply.
      On my Emperor V3 the design is specifically for airguns and has NO baffles (those are mostly to slow down firearm produced high speed gasses as Ian correctly points out) instead Donny used the volume to further cool (which robs the contained air of energy {adiabatic process}) and also expand into the metal mesh and felt body liner to absorb shockwaves and turbulent flow which would otherwise be turned into sonic signature. The contained expansion is the key to airgun suppression effectiveness as is demonstrated by the 6.5″ extension (an empty can) on my Emperor V3 reducing the sound level dramatically with NO internal “technology”…LOL!

      shootski

  3. Ian,

    This is a most helpful article for the unwashed, pun intended.

    Perhaps it is time for a blog on why a silencer works and the basics of how some accomplish such?

  4. As has been pointed out to Yogi’s question, silencers on sproingers are almost useless. Although they may actually work to an extent, they are mostly there for the marketeers to have something to brag about.

    I have noticed in recent years that many sproinger barrels will be totally shrouded in plastic with a built-in silencer on the end. This is done to reduce the thickness and length of the metal barrel (reduce cost) and still provide leverage length to allow ease of cocking. It has been shown in the past that the barrel of a sproinger needs only be less than ten inches long to provide the maximum of velocity the power plant can obtain.

    Most silencers on sproingers are also designed to be a great cocking handle.

    If you truly wish to silence a sproinger, you must work on eliminating any vibration in the power plant. I guess this is a plus for the gas springs, though I personally desire to go a different route.

    • RidgeRunner,

      BUT R.R.

      My SIG SSG ASP20s LOOK so KOOL with the CAN on the end; they make cocking the barrel feel even lighter than the already LOW cocking force for a MAGNUM GAS Spring piston airgun! LOL!

      shootski

      PS: can’t shoot those light pellets in the .177 because of that pesky external CRACK!
      Bummer… ;^)

      • shootski,

        The ASP20s never had the chance to catch on with me. They were very expensive and disappeared from the market very quickly. Before I had the opportunity to buy one with the polymer stock, they were gone.

        I am certain that supersonic crack really bothers you.

        • RidgeRunner,

          “I am certain that supersonic crack really bothers you.” It really does!
          Not because of needing to wear ear protection or the neighbors but because the .177 pellet/bullets (slugs) drop below supersonic once just outside the muzzle. That slowdown gives sparrows, starlings, and all the other MANY invasives: https://abcbirds.org/blog20/invasive-birds/ time to hear the shot JUMP leading to a missing the extreme prejudice event.
          I use the K.I. Simple S. solution and just select a heavier pellet/bullet.

          shootski

          • shootski,

            All of my .177 are subsonic, so that is not really an issue with me. My problem tends to be in the opposite direction. The noise reaches them before the pellet does. Learn to anticipate their movement.

    • RR

      My Hatsun 95 originally was the gas spring version and had a loud ping sound. After replacing with a steel spring the ping was gone. The sound now is less objectionable to my ears than before. However my ASP20 doesn’t ping.

      Deck

        • RR

          Mine didn’t or wasn’t advertised in manual or box. In any event it failed to function after a year or two. I opted for steel spring when Hatsun Repair (USA) offered that option.

          Deck

          • Deck,

            I myself prefer a steel spring for that very reason. I was sorely disappointed when the on BB was testing for Vortek failed. I keep hoping for a variable gas spring, but before long I will likely be too old to truly enjoy it.

  5. 45Bravo,

    Great Guest Blog!
    Your safe cleaning tips are spot on as one of the most important things to keep in mind.
    I would only add to not drink, eat, or smoke while servicing a suppressor and doing a thorough hand cleaning.
    There are sticky sheets to trap Lead (Pb) and Alloy particles on your work surface as well as under and around indoor traps very effectively. If you use a vacuum cleaner for clean up make certain it has a HEPA filter system.

    shootski

  6. Ian

    “At this point in time, we as airgunners have the luxury of not having to jump through the Federal Regulatory hoops and pay the tax that firearm owners have to, to own suppressors”

    . We have been warned repeatedly that any suppressor that can be removed is subject to getting an ATF license requiring a $200 fee. This may not be getting enforced now but it can be whenever feds choose.

    Deck

    • Decksniper,

      “This may not be getting enforced now but it can be whenever feds choose.” This may be the current administrations INTENT but research by any number of airgunners has brought to light that that agency has NO leg to stand on.
      The key to that agencies problem is intent, intent, INTENT! Just be certain to use that word repeatedly if an agent from that agency hassles you.
      They have sent Cease & Desist letters (reportedly) to a number of LDC manufacturers similar in nature to what caused the Patriots of Boston (NOT the Football-Team) to have a TEA Party down at the harbor. The response by some manufacturers is to stop selling them directly to avoid the backdoor attacks using local zoning regulations and other legally suspect tactics to get CONFORMANCE.
      IF for NO other reason every USA Citizen who votes should give strong consideration to their vote.
      Folks it isn’t JUST about LDCs…

      shootski

  7. Thank you for a great blog!

    Guys, how dangerous really it is with this lead? When I shot in the basement? Clean the area? I always wash my hands after shooting, but… is it enough? When I vacuum all the lead rest and so?

    • tomek,

      Lead (Pb) in the elemental form is NOT highly toxic to humans; however children are at slightly higher risk for various reasons. Absorption through the skin is minimal. Ingestion of any form of Lead (Pb) is not smart but the real danger is in some of the Oxides; and not all the Oxides are toxic. The ones generated in high heat (firearm primers, engines burning fuels with Lead additives, industrial/chemical processes) are the real danger.
      Proper hygiene, ventilation (if you shoot at higher velocities into metal targets or traps) and cleaning practices are useful.
      If you are worried about your exposure from any source get a baseline blood level test and then get your blood tested for serum Lead (Pb) at appropriate intervals.

      shootski

  8. Well, off topic, but the rifle in question does have what appears to be an OEM ldc. I seem to gravitate to the unusual. I recently bought a “Gamo Contender Multishot”, in .177 caliber. The price for what appears to be a rebranded BSA was too low to resist. What an orphan. I can’t find it in my 12th edition of the Airgun Bluebook. Google searches turn up nothing but similar named rifles. It strongly resembles the Gamo Dynamax rifle tested in this blog way back in February of 2010. I have been trying to get a manual for it, so far no luck. The blog comment was that the test rifle came without a manual either. I will say it hates JSB pellets, but it has been very accurate with the new Benjamin match pellets I tried. I am guessing that the fill pressure is 232 bar, but there are no markings on the air cylinder (I can’t find a serial number on the rifle either) to confirm that. I have been filling it to 200 bar, the lowest max pressure I have seen on BSA rifles of similar build. Any experience here with this rifle?

  9. I read the article and the comments with considerable interest. I have one springer pistol with a built-in suppressor, and it makes virtually NO difference in the sound level. The person who commented that the noise of a springer is largely mechanical is right on the money! I’ve experienced that for decades since I owned my first RWS/Diana Model 36 built in 1989. The baffles in the .177 air pistol don’t do much about noise but make the piece almost impossible to clean.

    I have an Hatsan air pistol with an attached (screwed on) air stripper. Now, THAT is a good thing for accuracy, and it isn’t an air suppressor. The aluminum extension also makes for a leverage increase for cocking the break barrel. That’s a good thing.

    I concur that the springer barrel length is probably optimum around a foot. My Model 36 has a 19″ barrel and it seems ideal for that power level and air chamber volume and spring power. Logic would seem to dictate that the singular and limited volume air blast probably ceases to add anything after that 19″ mark. I don’t have the physics knowledge to support my observation, but seems on the money. Others might have more insight about that.

    For me, over the decades with my springers, the biggest noise factor seems to be burning off any residual oil film that may have been deposited in the barrel from a rigorous cleaning. If I have a messy clean up, once I get felt pellets transiting the barrel with a flex rod push and come out clean but oily, I will usually push through one or two DRY felt pellets to sop up the film. Then, there is nothing to burn and make noise.

    It is, therefore always necessary to pay attention to the amount of film left after a vigorous cleaning and/or lubing of the air chamber with a high flash point silicone lube. The goal is little burning and thus little noise – at least as I see it. That prevents a noisy break barrel from making noise heard upstairs from the basement range and continues the possibility of the air arms to be hard to discern pest assassination tools.

  10. “The goal is little burning and thus little noise – at least as I see it.”

    LFranke,
    I heartily concur! I live on a 15-acre mini-farm; and we are outside the town limits, so I can shoot any kind of firearms on my property…yet I rarely do. Most of my shooting is done with quiet spring piston air rifles.
    The quiet is partly for my neighbors, and mostly for myself!
    I really enjoy being out shooting with no need for hearing protection (always have eye protection, of course).
    It’s nice to hear all the sounds of nature as I quietly plink away…airguns are just so cool. 🙂
    Blessings to you,
    dave

  11. RidgeRunner,

    “I am certain that supersonic crack really bothers you.” It really does!
    Not because of needing to wear ear protection or the neighbors but because the .177 pellet/bullets (slugs) drop below supersonic once just outside the muzzle. That slowdown gives sparrows, starlings, and all the other MANY invasives: https://abcbirds.org/blog20/invasive-birds/ time to hear the shot JUMP leading to a missing the extreme prejudice event.
    I use the K.I. Simple S. solution and just select a heavier pellet/bullet.

    shootski

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