Cleaning And Maintaining Your Air Rifle
So you’ve bought an air rifle, now how do you take care of it? Have you got a gun cleaning kit and know how to use it? Care and maintenance is a vital part of the process of owning and using an airgun, and here Ross Mitchell of the Pellpax team explains what you need to know to keep your pride and joy in the best condition.
Air rifles contain many internal mechanisms which correspond together and allow us to shoot. Therefore it’s very important to know how to clean and maintain your rifle in order to keep it working at a high quality. There are many parts which make up an air rifle and most of them need some form of cleaning and maintaining. Here, I’m going to go through each part in detail discussing how to clean and maintain these various component parts, without damaging them.
The Barrel (Internal)
Airgun barrels do get dirty but don’t need cleaning 24/7. The main problem that occurs with barrels is a buildup of oil or deposits of metal from firing pellets. Oil is common in a spring rifle and often gets in the barrel from firing pellets. The one rule of thumb to bear in mind is that y0u should never oil your barrel. If you oil your barrel it can get inside and damage the mechanisms. Another problem that could occur if you oil your barrel is dieseling. This is where the oil combusts as you fire a pellet through the gun, and over time, this process can damage your seals and result in loss of air in your rifle.
Never oil the barrel and don’t clean it too much or you risk damaging it. Ideally clean after you finish a tin of pellets, by either firing a cleaning pellet though it or using a cleaning rod. One cleaning pellet after every tin of pellets will be enough to help maintain the barrel.
Just like the inner barrel, the outer barrel needs to be maintained. The metal is prone to rust and wear, so it is important that you look after this, to help keep your gun looking and performing to a high standard. Whenever your barrel is exposed to water it is important to get a cloth and dry it. Water can damage and rot wood and metal work so it is important to do this. You can also purchase rust protection spray or silicon gun oil. Either apply a light coat of spray over the metal work, or get a cloth and apply a thin layer of silicon gun oil after every use. By doing these regularly, your barrel will be protected against rust and wear and remain looking brand new.
Wipe water or oil off the gun, whenever it comes in contact with it. Apply a light coat with the spray or a thin layer of oil on a cloth and wipe down after every use.
It is just as important to maintain the scope as it is to maintain as the rifle itself. A neglected scope can cause problems when trying to line up your shot. Scopes are very easy to maintain and care should be taken if your hands, the rain, oil,. etc. come into contact with it. Dust can be removed with a soft cloth or compressed air and this can be done whenever it is needed. The two things to check for is that the cloth is smooth, and will not scratch the lens and, secondly, to check it has no oil or grease on it first. Water, finger or oil marks on the scope can be eliminated by simply wiping with a microfibre cloth.
Scopes can be cleaned as often as needed. For dust use soft cloth, soft brush or compressed air. For marks use a soft microfibre cloth and rub in a circular motion.
One thing that attracts people to air rifles is the beautiful woodwork that usually distinguishes their exterior appearance. Rifle stocks come in many varieties of wood including beech, walnut, hardwood and many more. Although varnished, over time the wood can show the effects of ageing, such as wear, tear, dullness, etc. You will wish to guard against this, particularly if you have an expensive rifle, such as a Daystate Airwolf or an Air Arms FTP900. The good news is that woodwork is very easy to maintain, if you’re willing to put the time in. It’s as simple as wiping your gun down when it’s been exposed to rain because water can cause damage and rot, if parts of the woodwork aren’t varnished. Also you can varnish your woodwork with a stick finish. This will give it a high quality sheen finish whilst also protecting it from mild impacts.
Wipe wood dry after it’s been in contact with water to prevent rot/damage. Use stock finish to varnish and protect against knocks.
The stock offers a comfortable yet firm support when firing your rifle. It allows you to get a steady aim but also acts as casing for the internal mechanisms. Although wiping the stock will protect it, people don’t realise water can get inside the stock and cause all the mechanisms to rust and seize. To prevent this problem simply remove the stock casing using the appropriate tool and put a tiny amount of oil inside the action. Use a gun oil and not motor oil! Motor oil is too thick and can slow/seize the internal mechanism, as well as soak and soften the wood.
Apply a small amount of gun oil to the action. Never use car oil as it is too thick.
The trigger mechanism is very important to a rifle. Most people prefer to take their rifle to a gunsmith to do maintenance work on this part, since if done wrong, it could prevent the gun cocking. If you want to do anything, you can take the casing off to reveal the internal mechanisms. After this you can use a degreaser spray on the trigger mechanism and then re-oil the appropriate areas. If you don’t feel confident doing this or you want additional work to be done on the trigger, it’s best to take it to an experienced gunsmith.
Take the side of the gun using appropriate tools. Either oil the mechanism or use degreaser spray and re-oil the mechanism.
There are a few general things you can do alongside these tips to prolong your air rifle’s life and appearance. When storing your rifle it should be in a dry place that has no risk of water or other chemicals coming into contact with it. A wipe down after every use to remove grease, finger marks etc., will help to keep your weapon in good condition. Transporting and securing your rifle in a gun bag will protect it from knocks and general wear. If you stand your rifle upright it should be stood on the stock and not the barrel.
My final bit of advice would be to regularly get your gun serviced. Taking this step will ensure it continues performing at a high rate and prolong the overall life of your rifle. The frequency with which you should get your air rifle serviced depends upon how often you use it. If you’re like me and go shooting once or less a week, then a service every two years will be enough.
However, if you use it more regularly then you will need to get it serviced once a year. If at any point you feel your gun is not performing like it should, or you think something might be wrong, then you should consult a professional. It’s better to be safe than sorry, because if there is a problem, and it isn’t addressed, it could get a lot worse.
Have you got any airgun maintenance tips of your own? Let us know in the comments below.