Now that I’ve got my new airgun and I’ve followed the manufacturer’s suggestion for a reasonable break in period, it’s time to see what it can really do. Before I start cramming things down the bore in the way of cleaning products, I need to get a baseline for its performance. I’ll shoot the RWS Hobby pellets in the related caliber across my chrony to get my starting velocity numbers. Next I’ll shoot a couple of mainstream pellets for groups at 10 yards. This gives me a good starting point.
First things first, time to clean the barrel
How I clean the barrel is going to be determined by the type of airgun I’m working with. The rule of thumb is that I always want to clean from the breach and push out towards the muzzle. There are some airguns where that’s not practical and I’ll address those at another time. The most common type of airgun that I run across these days, is the standard break barrel in .177. It is going to be the easiest to clean and Arigun Depot has the perfect product to get the job done.
The Hoppes BoreSnake Rifle Cleaner is the simplest and easiest way to keep an airgun barrel nice and clean. It’s amazingly simple to operate. Simply drop the weighted end down the bore and then pull it out from the muzzle. This works great even if the airgun has an integrated suppressor. Just make sure to keep the bore perpendicular to the ground and gravity should do the rest, guiding the weight through the baffles and out the muzzle.
On occasions a rifle may have a really dirty bore that requires a more aggressive initial cleaning. In these cases I have a couple of options. I can use a cleaning rod and some other accessories such as nylon or bronze brushes, cleaning patches, and possibly a bore mop. There’s also a process called “seasoning the bore” that I’ll cover a little later in this series. Or, If I don’t want to “scrub” the dirt out for some reason, I can try to lift it out chemically using Beeman MP-5 oil. I use this stuff all the time on my airguns; it’s an exceptional product. I’ll soak the front of the BoreSnake with MP-5 oil, pass it down the bore, and then let it sit for a while. The MP-5 oil will loosen up the gunk in the bore and make it easier to remove with just the BoreSnake.
Loose stock bolts kill accuracy
Once I’m satisfied that the barrel is clean enough for government work, it’s time to check out the stock bolts. This is a MAJOR cause of inaccuracy with spring or gas ram airguns. One my favorite guns is the Umarex Octane in .22 caliber. It’s got a great feel, good power, great scope, and a phenomenal price tag of just over $200. As I was reviewing this gun for American Aigunner, I noticed my groups starting to open up for no apparent reason. I got so flustered that I grabbed another airgun just to make sure that I wasn’t going crazy. Once I determined that it was NOT me, as I could shoot just fine with the other rifle, I took another look at the Octane. I about kicked myself when I finally noticed that the stock screws had become loose. Once they were all tight again, the groups shrunk right back down and I was back in business. We all have that “blind spot” that seems to always gets us; for me it’s the darn stock screws!
Anyway, keeping a few simple tools always handy is a simple solution to that problem. A more permanent solution is to remove them, clean them, and then Loctite them so they don’t loosen up again while shooting.
Picking the Perfect Pellet
The last step to begin getting better accuracy, is knowing the best pellet for your airgun. I’m going to devote at least one whole article on this topic, so I’ll keep it short for now. There are dozens and dozens of pellets choices in all shapes and sizes. I keep a pretty good selection here in the shop at all times. The only way to know what works best in a particular airgun is to methodically start shooting controlled groups with the different pellets. I generally start to see a pattern that’s related to weight, shape, or some combination of both. Once I’ve got an idea of what may work, then I grab a sampling of what I believe to be compatible pellets, and eventually drill down to the best pellet. One of the easiest ways to do this on a budget, is to look for sample packs. Airgun Depot has sample packs from the following manufacturers: RWS .177 Sample Pack, H&N Hunting Sampler in .177, H&N Hunting Sampler in .22, H&N Field Target Sampler (various head sizes), and the Winchester “Dial-A-Pellet” in .177. These kits will let you try several different pellets for the price of about 1 tin of normal pellets.
Time to get airgun specific
While this article focused on break barrel airguns, the recommendations really apply all around. But, now it’s time to get in to some more specific tips for accuracy and performance. So keep coming back to the blog for more tips to get the most accuracy out of your airgun!