Maintenance of Spring Piston Air Rifles

Maintenance of Spring Piston Air Rifles

Spring Piston Air Rifles are a tried and true design that is loved by shooters for their simplicity. Spring Piston Air Rifles can propel shots at speeds exceeding 1000 fps! Spring Piston Powerplants are most common in break barrels, under levers, and side levers.

Spring-piston powerplants use a metal mainspring under high tension to propel their projectiles. In this article we will go through the steps of Spring piston air rifle maintenance for beginners!

An easy way to jump into target shooting and small game hunting, spring piston air rifles are beloved by shooters for their tried-and-true design. One cock from your springer is capable of slinging shots at speeds exceeding 1000fps!

Spring piston air rifles are also quite simple to maintain, which makes them great for beginners!

In this article, we will go over how to properly maintain your old or new Spring Piston Air Rifle so you can get the best performance possible out of it.

Break-In


Most new spring airguns require a break in period before they will perform properly. The length of this period and the number of shots required varies, but the general consensus is a period of around 100-500 shots should be sufficient to allow the mechanical parts of the gun to wear in. During this period accuracy and velocity may be inconsistent, but should improve over time as the number of shots fired from the rifle increases. If you notice worsening performance, increasing noise, continued smoking after 500 shots, it is possible there is a defect and the gun should be inspected.


During the break in period the barrel pivot hinge may loosen as the pivot wears in. If you detect barrel movement and a very loose hinge, it may be necessary to retighten the hinge bolt.

Barrel Cleaning


Before firing a spring airgun it is a good idea to clean the barrel and check the stock screws for tightness. Clean the barrel using either a pull through bore cleaner with cloth patches, or make a similar cleaning kit using weedeater line and clean soft cloth patches. Do not use steel rods or cable pull through’s. Do not use solvents normally used for firearms as they can cause damage to your rifle and cause detonation during firing. A mild cleaner such as Goo-Gone used with cloth patches is good for cleaning residue and oils left over from assembly out of the bore.

Stock Screws


Check the two forearm stock screws and the trigger guard screws on every new spring air gun for tightness. The best bet is to remove these screws, clean them with alcohol and put a drop of blue locktite on each, and then reinstall them snugly. These screws are often slightly loose from the factory and can work loose during shooting of your spring airgun very quickly, which can severely affect accuracy.


Scopes


When mounting your scope, follow the instructions included with the scope before attempting any modification of the scope mounting system. If the gun or scope is equipped with a “scope stop”, be certain it is in place and tightly secured. Spring air guns produce a double recoil effect that is very hard on scopes and scope mounts. You must use a scope and mounts that are approved for use on air guns or guaranteed shock proof to withstand the punishment an airgun can produce.

If you experience problems with scope movement, consider upgrading to stronger mounts, one piece mounts, or looking into installing an improved scope mounting rail on the gun. With high power magnum spring airguns, the first 100-200 shots can be very harsh and in some cases produce violent recoil. It is a good idea to allow 100-200 shots before attempting to mount your scope, thus allowing you to minimize the possibility of early scope failure.

Dry Firing


Never fire your airgun without a pellet in the chamber, otherwise known as “dry firing”. The high power spring and piston design of the power plant in your airgun relies on the compression created by a loaded bore to help cushion the piston as it reaches the end of the shot cycle. When you fire an unloaded spring airgun you greatly reduce this cushion effect, which can allow the piston to slam into the end of the compression chamber, causing serious damage to the seal, piston, and compression chamber.

Even if only testing or otherwise having to cock the gun for some reason other than actual shooting, you must either load a pellet and fire the gun in a safe direction, or if possible de-cock the gun without firing.

Oiling – Lubrication


Do not put oil of any kind into the compression chamber of your spring air gun. Years ago when spring air guns were fitted with leather seals, a few drops of oil dropped into the transfer port at the barrel pivot every several hundred shots was standard practice to help keep the leather seal supple and lubricated. This is still true for the very few modern air guns which continue to use leather seals.

Almost all airguns manufactured for the last 10 years are now fitted with synthetic seals which are self lubricating. These seals do not require oil and are specially designed to work their best without added lubrication. Adding oil to a spring airgun equipped with synthetic seals can cause harmful detonation; a condition where the oil within the chamber ignites under pressure, causing an explosion within the chamber and an extreme spike in chamber pressure. This can damage seals, cause spring failure, and in extreme cases possibly cause damage to the receiver and personal injury or death.


After every shooting session, wipe your rifle down with a quality gun oil. RemOil, Brownells and other similar gun oils work fine, and most oils used for wiping down the exterior of firearms are equally suitable for use with spring air rifles as well.

Stock Polishing


Most of the stocks on Chinese rifles come with a dull or matte finish. Here’s one way to get the shine found on many new firearms.


Beg borrow or, well don’t steal it, but get some automotive rubbing and polishing compounds and a jug of a good carnauba car wax. Rub (using small circles) the complete stock with the rubbing compound first, buff off the residue and check if the finish is smooth; should be shiny, if not do it again, just don’t use a hard pressure. Once it just starts to shine, rub it one more time going with the grain of the wood. Buff it out, and then going only with the grain of the wood, go over it with the polishing compound.


It should start to really shine by now. Buff off the residue and wipe the whole stock down with a clean damp cloth. Now put at least two coats of wax on it; the first one fills in the tiny scratches left by the polishing and the second will bring out the shine. If you have the time you can do more coats to fill in any of the tiny grain marks in the finish. Be real careful on any sharp edges as the compounds will cut right through and then you have a bald spot.

Safety


Do not leave your spring airgun cocked for long periods of time. This can cause spring fatigue, resulting in reduced power and spring life. This is also an unsafe practice as all airguns should be treated with the same respect and attention to safety as a firearm. Do not leave you airgun loaded, cocked, or where it is easily accessible to children. Never point your rifle at anything you do not intend to shoot. Always practice safe shooting and know your target and what lies beyond it.

Tuning a New Air Rifle


With the exception of safety, dry firing, and compression chamber oiling, a proper performance tune can reduce or eliminate most of the issues associated with the break in of a new air gun. When you opt for a performance tune from Flying Dragon Air Rifles, we perform the steps necessary to prepare the rifle for use as well as improve the lubrication and internal operation. Once tuned, your rifle should be ready for use, with only a basic inspection for screw tightness necessary after the normal break in period.

A new tuned rifle will be more accurate, smoother, less violent, and much more consistent than a new rifle without a tune. It will not need any oiling or lubrication for the life of the gun or seal, whichever comes first, and will only require normal care and cleaning to maintain its performance for thousands of shots. 

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