I ended Part 1 talking about preload tension. There are guns that use a great deal of preload tension with heavier duty springs; and there are guns that play it more “loosey goosey.” In my experience, the loosey goosey airguns tend wear out sooner than the more tightly wound models. So that’s where I’m going to pick up part 2 of this discussion.
The “Loosey Goosey”
The guns that I started with; Gamo Hunter, Remington Genesis, Crosman Phantom etc., all have little to no preload on their springs. They are compressed when not cocked, but there’s not a lot of tension there. You barely “need*” a spring compressor to work on them. (*Don’t ever try to work on an airgun without training and the proper tools. You’re likely to ruin your airgun and/or get injured in the process.)
My theory, and I’m hoping that some folks will want to chime in on this one, is that when going from uncocked to cocked, these springs are apt to wear out sooner and be more susceptible to spring fatigue than airguns that have a high preload tension and higher quality steel springs to begin with. These springs usually exhibit bending and warping very early on; and are the springs that tend to take a “set” from being cocked. These particular models are prime candidates for gas ram power plants.
Some truth’s about gas rams, sans marketing…
Here’s what’s not talked about concerning gas rams. Contrary to what’s been promoted, a gas ram actually has a harsher recoil than a traditional spring. It can also be harder to cock while yielding less velocity. When it comes to cold weather, it’s going to come down to the lubricant that’s used in the gun. A gas ram will need less overall and won’t need a thick dampening lubricant like a spring generally will, making the gas ram a great option if you’re always shooting in super cold weather. But ask yourself, how often are you out shooting for extended periods in sub 30 degree weather with your spring gun? I know that I never am.
A good airgun technician will use the appropriate lubrication for the customer’s environment. I have 2 proprietary lubricants that I use; a high temp variant that’s good from 30 to 300 degrees; and a cold weather version that’s good from 0 to 300. The cold weather version is not quite as effective as the hot weather variant when it comes to dampening qualities, but still very good overall.
How to choose…
So, how would someone determine what is the right technology for them? Again, this is my personal opinion and I may be proven to be all wet, but it’s what I’ve experienced personally and that is what it is. There are some airguns that are more susceptible to spring fatigue than others. Those that are may benefit from a gas ram conversion. We see those particular vendors moving heavily to the gas ram option, i.e. Gamo, Crosman, Benjamin, etc. Those that aren’t as susceptible, i.e. Hatsan, RWS, Beeman Sportsman RS2/RS3 Series, etc., may be better served by a proper cleaning followed by a simple tune and lube, rather than a conversion to a gas ram.
In the first article I mentioned that I was an early adopter of the Nitro Piston / Gas Ram technology. I bought it all; hook, line, and sinker with the Nitro Piston craze. If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I’ve had a bit of a chip on my shoulder over the whole thing as I believe I, and the rest of the airgunning community, was fed a line of marketing that was based on theory and not science.
Now that the dust is settling a bit, the picture is clarifying. Gas Rams, Nitro Pistons, IGTs, Vortex, Reaxis, etc. are here to stay. Like their spring counterparts, there have been good and bad implementations of the Gas Ram / Nitro Piston from many manufacturers. Crosman, Gamo, Beeman, Hatsan, BSA, Umarex, Stoeger, and soon even RWS, have products powered by gas rams. Some have been winners and some have been duds. Im not sure that’s all that different from their spring offerings. The new NP2 from Crosman is very exciting; as it was built from the ground up as a new product based around the Nitro Piston 2 power plant. I’m extremely hopeful that this could be the airgun of the future for Crosman and the airgunning community as a whole. We’ll have to wait and see if they can deliver on their promises.
Which technology is “better” is going to all depend on what the individual shooter is looking for and their overall budget. One thing for sure is, do your research and take all marketing with a grain of salt. Marketing is just that. It’s a process to get us to purchase something based on a set of promises about the product. I’m a lot more critical of “new” technologies today than when I started some years ago. I guess that’s why I love this job so much. I get to be the “show me” guy so I can keep providing the “facts not fluff.”