Things you need when you buy a PCP

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

• Equipment to fill the gun
• Silicone chamber oil
• Diver’s silicone grease
• Plumber’s tape
• No such thing as Teflon tape
• A chronograph tells the whole story
• Other things?
• Summary

Today, I’m writing this for the sales representatives at Pyramyd Air, who are always asked what else you’ll need when you buy a precharged airgun. Precharged airguns need some things to go with them to operate smoothly. Think of  the batteries you always need for electronics. Are they included in the box or do you have to buy them extra?

Equipment to fill the gun
This is the big one! How does air get into your new gun? Back in the 1980s, customers were surprised to learn they had to buy the fill device (also called a decant device, hose and gauge, and other things) separate from the airgun. They never thought about people possibly owning two such guns that one fill device would service. And they also didn’t appreciate how much these fill devices cost — and how much could be saved by not buying a second one that was identical.

These days, most people know you need a fill device of some kind to connect an air source to an airgun, but there’s more to it than just that. Some companies, such as AirForce, Crosman, Daystate and Dennis Quackenbush, use the now-common Foster quick-disconnect fittings that simplify everything. One common fill hose services all the airguns made by these companies. On the other hand, Air Arms, BSA, Evanix and others still have proprietary connections. The question is: What do you need to fill your new airgun?

Pyramyd Air provides an easy solution to this dilemma — a little decision tree that helps you find exactly what you need for your new airgun. You can try it out right now and see how it works. Select any PCP on their website and look at the product page. I’m going to choose the Air Arms S510 Xtra PCP Carbine.

On that page, find the tabs where you see these words:

Description  Specifications  Customer reviews  Questions & Answers  PCP Hookup

Click on the words PCP Hookup, and you’ll see the tool they’ve provided. Don’t be embarrassed if this is new to you. I didn’t notice it until Edith came into my office and walked me through it — and I write this blog!

PCP hookup
When you click on PCP Hookup, this is what you’ll see.

Now, click on the air source you will be using to fill your PCP, and the complete connection requirements will come up. Try several of these fill source options (by clicking the reset button), so you can fully appreciate what they’ve done for you. As the fill source changes, so do the connection requirements. If no additional adapters or hoses are shown after you click on your preferred fill device, that means none are needed. And it states that at the top of the left side.

PCP Hookup

When I clicked on the Hill MK3 pump as my preferred fill device, it said on the top left column that I didn’t need any additional hoses or adapters to make this fit the Air Arms S510 Xtra FAC PCP air rifle. If I wanted to find other fill devices, I would click the “reset” button to go back to the full list on the PCP Hookup tab.

Like Einstein’s relativity equation, everything sounds simple after seeing this software tool. But airgunners have lived 34 years without it and can tell you — it isn’t obvious!

[Editor’s note: Whether you’re looking for hand pumps or carbon fiber tanks, always check out more than one fill option. Some devices are more expensive, but they may already include the hoses and adapters you need and may end up being more economical than buying a fill device that requires you to buy additional hoses and adapters.]

Silicone chamber oil
If you’ve read even a couple weeks worth of these reports, you’ve seen me recommend silicone chamber oil for sealing airguns. This stuff is so necessary that veteran airgunners should all know they need it. When I worked at AirForce Airguns, I was responsible for testing every valve they made. When a valve leaked (and a small percentage of them did leak on the first test) it was my job to fix it. There are just two things that can fix most high pressure air valves — getting rid of dirt and silicone chamber oil.

I would use a heavy rubber mallet to smack the valves, causing them to pop open loudly under pressure. That also blew out any dirt that was in the sealing surfaces and also made a perfect impression of the metal valve face in the hard synthetic valve seat. It was like breaking in leather shoes. Once broken-in that way, that valve would work reliably for — well, I don’t really know. I have some valves that are now 14 years old, and they still hold indefinitely.

But silicone oil was needed for the o-ring that seals the valve inside the air tank. We actually used a light industrial silicone grease that works very well when you can apply it directly to the parts; but when the gun is together, it’s hard to get grease to go where you want. Light silicone oil will go everywhere, and I cannot remember how many hundreds of airguns I’ve fixed with it — the most recent being the Crosman 2240 that has the HiPAC air conversion installed.

I’ll even go farther and advise you to get a bottle of silicone chamber oil with a needle applicator. That applicator is very handy for putting the oil exactly where you want it. You’ll also find it wonderful for oiling piston seals on a spring gun through the air transfer port.

Diver’s silicone grease
I just said that silicone grease and oil could be used interchangeably, but what I didn’t say is that you pick the one that best suits the job. That’s why I also have silicone grease on hand at all times. If there’s an o-ring that can be seen, like on the bottom of 200- and 300-bar air fittings, use the grease instead of the oil. For the o-ring that seals the HiPAC air tank to the Crosman 2240 pistol, use the grease. Not only does the silicone grease seal air just like silicone oil, it also remains on the parts for a long time. I have 3 jars of it, and one is always in my range bag.

Plumber’s tape
Here’s a product that Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry! But no worries, because just about every hardware store stocks it. Plumber’s tape is for sealing joints that thread together.

plumbers tape
Plumber’s tape is not sticky. It seals the smallest holes in threaded joints.

If this is new to you, it’s tape that doesn’t stick to anything. It has no glue! It is elastic and rather thin, but when you wrap threads with it the correct way, it expands into the smallest crevices and seals the threads against air loss. And, having written that, I guess I will now do a report on how to properly wrap threads for a repair.

Plumber’s tape lubricates the threads, so joints go together tighter (farther), plus it deforms easily, blocking those same threads. It also keeps threads from seizing, so they come apart easier.

No such thing as Teflon tape
Many people call this Teflon tape. But it isn’t. Teflon is a registered trademark of Dupont; so, unless they make the tape (they don’t at the present time), it isn’t Teflon. It’s more correctly called PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) tape — but plumber’s tape is probably the best name for it.

It’s not expensive, and I use it a lot; so, I keep several rolls around the house. I also keep a roll in my range bag, where it’s saved a PCP field test more than once.

A chronograph tells the whole story
You knew I was going to recommend one of these, didn’t you? If not, you’re a new reader of this blog. This is one of the most important diagnostic tools an airgunner can own. A chronograph tells you how fast the pellets are traveling when they leave the muzzle of your airgun.

For many years, I used the Oehler 35P printing chronograph. I was raised in a time when Oehler chronographs were the most accurate instruments money could buy, and writers had to have one to be taken seriously. Then, I started writing this blog, and my chronographing needs increased tenfold! When I did a test of the Shooting Chrony chronograph, I was impressed with how convenient it is. I now keep one set up in my office permanently, which is where all my indoor velocity data is gathered. The price is right, and the unit is small, rugged and easy to transport. And it has an anchor point to mount it to a camera tripod.

If you want a choice, I’ve read good reports about the Competition Electronics Pro Chrono Digital Chronograph. The Bianchi Cup uses it, and that’s a big-time firearm competition! It doesn’t cost much more than the Shooting Chrony, so you have two good instruments to choose from.

Other things?
Is there more? Of course, but these are the essentials. The chronograph you can live without for a little while, but the other things you really should get right away.

Buying your first PCP airgun always seems to be a leap of faith. You’re going where you’ve never been, to places others have warned you to avoid. You’ve done the research, but you still wonder if the good stories aren’t all just part of a grand scheme to hoodwink you.

I’ve told you about all the things I think you absolutely need when you get a PCP. Pyramyd Air has coined a new word for them — PCP necessories. Obviously you don’t need 2 chronographs or 2 different silicone oils, but you’ll eventually need one of each if you’re going to enjoy your new precharged airgun to its fullest.