What maintenance is really required?
This is a topic that comes up very often. In this article I’ll attempt to bring a little clarity to the subject as best I can. First and foremost, if your airgun outlines specific maintenance instructions, then I would recommend that you follow them as prescribed. Airguns such as RWS / Diana carry a limited lifetime warranty through Umarex USA, and provide very specific maintenance instructions about their products. Following their carefully outlined maintenance schedule will ensure the warranty is not impacted throughout the life of the product. Now, if your airgun did not come with specific instructions, I hope the next section will provide some direction.
Things NOT to do.
Spring and Gas Ram airguns are both powerful and delicate. While they can send lead pellets down range thousands of times without issue, many can also fail after a single misuse. Here are things to avoid:
- Never dry fire a spring or gas ram airgun " dry firing is when you cock the gun and then fire it without a projectile in the breach. This will create massive amounts of stress on the seal and power plant. While some guns may be able to handle this abuse, others will fail after only a single dry fire event. Don’t do it, it’s bad for your airgun.
- Never put combustibles in the compression chamber – Regardless of what you see on YouTube, never put anything combustible into the compression chamber of your airgun. Doing so will cause an explosion when the gun is fired, increasing the pressure and heat well above the tolerance level of the components. This will blow seals and break power plants.
- Only use the proper ammunition – “Proper” ammunition is defined as ammunition of the right caliber and consistency as to fit properly in the breach. If you find pellets that vary in size as you are using them, i.e. some fit tight and some very loose, then discontinue using those pellets as the loose pellets may act like a dry fire and prematurely wear out your airgun, blowing seals and breaking power plants.
- Never put combustibles in the compression chamber – Yes, I know I already mentioned this…but it’s that important. Having provided customer service and warranty work for a nationally distributed brand for over a year, I can tell you with great authority that many of the products sent in for “manufacturer’s defects” were there because of misuse and abuse, not because the products were defective. One of the most common causes was consumers dumping all manner of “oils” down the compression chamber. Some did so because it “made the gun more powerful” and others did so believing it was required to help “lubricate the main seal.” In either case, it caused seals and other components to fail. Just don’t do it.
Now for things you CAN do, and NEED to do.
There are many things that you can do to keep your spring and/or gas ram powered airgun running at peak performance. Here are some tips:
- The best thing you can do is go shooting – All guns come with some sort of factory lubrication. Shooting them causes that lubrication to circulate around all the internals and helps keep things working properly.
- Check the stock screws and scope mount screws – regardless of the cost of the airgun, spring and gas ram powered airguns tend to loosen their screws. If you take the time to check them before each outing, you’ll be sure to have a far more successful shooting experience. It’s no fun to get out on the range or in the field to find your point of impact wandering all over the target. Most of the time, it’s easily fixed by just tightening everything back down.
- Keeping the rust off – I just returned from filming the 2015 Season of American Airgunner in Arkansas. In Lake Havasu Arizona, 30% humidity is considered “unbearable” to most folks. In Arkansas, that’s not even hitting the radar of humid (currently 87% this morning). The point is that I very seldom have to think about rust on my guns where I live because it’s just so incredibly dry. But while away, I had to continuously monitor my guns and keep the metal oiled to prevent rust buildup. I had them all in soft cases and had to store them all in my RV or in the cab of my truck. It was a constant battle. The product that I prefer for this is Air Venturi’s MP-5 Oil. It works on all the external woods and metals and will easily remove light surface rust from the finish of your airguns.
What about the internals?
Well that’s a good question. If your airgun was built properly, you really shouldn’t need to do anything other than what I’ve described. If the accuracy starts to decrease and you’ve already checked all the screws and they are tight, then you may want to try cleaning the barrel. As for the power plant and main seal, there’s really little that you can do that won’t possibly make matters worse. My suggestion is to contact the manufacturer, if possible, and find out what they suggest and follow their instructions. They built it, they should know how to resolve issues that come up. In the next article I’ll talk about other types of airguns and some critical “DOs and DON’Ts” with them, so keep your eye on the blog!