Pneumatic Pnews

Monday, August 07, 2006

Should you clean your airguns?

by Tex Force

Cleaning is a question that comes up a lot. Do airguns need to be cleaned and, if they do, how to go about it. The short answer is, some airguns need to be cleaned.

Of course airguns do not suffer from the heat and burning powder residue of firearms. They also shoot slow enough that they USUALLY do not get lead deposits, but there are a few exceptions to this. Crosman pellets are made from lead that has antimony to make it harder. They function better in repeating mechanisms that way. But, if you shoot them at speeds much faster than about 850 f.p.s., they will deposit lead in the bore, just as firearms lead up when harder non-jacketed bullets are used. Contrary to popular "wisdom," pure lead does not lead the bore until velocities exceed about 1,200 f.p.s. Then they start leading, too.

Cleaning the barrel
If you have been shooting hard lead pellets at high velocities, there is a good chance your barrel needs to be cleaned. I covered how to clean airgun barrels in the posting titled Clean your barrels for extra accuracy, so I won't repeat it here.

Cleaning the action
Many airguns are protected from the elements enough that they really don't need their actions disassembled and cleaned the way firearms do. I have a Beeman R1 with 15K shots through it, and the action is still running fine. My 1978 Sheridan Blue Streak, which probably has the same number of shots, is still going strong after 28 years. In fact, in all my shooting experience, I have seen only a few airguns that really did need to have their actions cleaned. They were CO2 and multi-pump pneumatics that had lain in the Crosman repair center for 40 years (some of them). They were dusty and really did need to be disassembled and cleaned. I haven't seen a gun that was used that ever did. Perhaps, if someone stored a gun in a barn next to the hayloft, it might get that dirty, but I haven't seen it.

I take that back. There is another class of airgun I have seen that needed immediate stripping and cleaning. That was the gun that someone had tried to "slick up" by greasing the action. I have seen some pretty gross guns that were "tuned" in this way. They look great on the outside, but the insides are swimming in grease. They needed to be stripped and cleaned, then lubricated properly to have their power restored.

Cleaning the trigger
Triggers are a whole different story. If someone has lubricated them, they probably do need to be cleaned. And, some new triggers come over-greased from the factory. I clean them with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs. For the really tight areas, a swab won't reach; a paperclip can be bent into a scraper to scrape out the grease.

Cleaning the finish
Many airguns have synthetic parts and finishes that never need cleaning. These are best wiped down and that's all. The Daisy Red Ryder is one such gun. On the other hand, the Gamo Hunter Elite has a blued finish and needs to be wiped with a silicone cloth to give it protection.

Long-term storage
I know I've said this before, but DO NOT store any airgun in a foam-lined case for a long time. A week is about where a long time begins. The foam in those cases absorbs moisture from the air, and your guns will have all sorts of moisture problems if you forget this rule.

So, do you need to clean your airguns? The answer depends on what you have been doing with them, and YOU must be the judge!


  • What do you recommend as padding in place of foam?

    By Blogger D.B., at 7:53 PM, August 10, 2006  

  • D.B.,

    Well, all foam is not created equal. There is some in the expensive cases that is not hygroscopic. If you have to keep a gun in a case (never recommended), then try one of those. Doskosil, Pelican, and Zero Haliburton are all names you can trust.


    By Anonymous Tex Force, at 6:32 AM, August 11, 2006  

  • I never use silicone on guns, air or otherwise; once it gets into the stock you'll never be able to touch up the finish.

    My favorite a a cloth with a little Brownells Polarized Oil, or Birchwood Casey Sheath. Or you can buy the oddly mislabeled Beeman "Non-Polarized Oil" for a few dollars more ;-)

    By Blogger michael edelman, at 11:10 AM, October 26, 2006  

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