Maintaining CO2 and PCP airguns is not that dissimilar to maintaining spring and gas ram airguns. There are a few differences and some key details that are very important. In this next article, I’ll walk you through some of the basics. As always, the manufacturer’s recommendations ALWAYS supersede my suggestions. Please ONLY use fuel, ammo and maintenance products approved by your airgun manufacturer.
Fuel – Stick to the manufacturer specifications
It’s critical, whether you are shooting with high pressure air or CO2, to only use propellants authorized by the manufacturer. This is more critical with PCP than with CO2. PCP airguns are wonderful products. They are very powerful and accurate and don’t need special techniques to see repeatable accuracy. They do require a regular source of High Pressure Air, however. That could be via hand pump, scuba, scba, or other carbon fiber and/or high pressure air tank. So long that you stick to compressed, dry breathable air, and stay within the manufacturer’s stated max pressure, you should be fine. However, if you try to circumvent using “air” by substituting some other high pressure gas, you could find yourself heading to the hospital. One of the most common substitutions is liquid oxygen. As you can imagine, the moment pure O2 hits any sort of petroleum lubrication things get ugly real fast.
Another common substitution is to try and adapt nitrogen. This is less problematic, and since it’s an inert gas there’s no chance of combustion, but the pressures are much greater with nitrogen and that opens up another can of worms. If the manufacturer endorses the use of nitrogen, then by all means feel free to use it in accordance to the manufacturer’s guidelines. If not, stay safe and stick to dry breathable air via a tank or a quality hand pump.
Lubrication – CO2
CO2 guns require very little in the way of maintenance. Like spring and gas ram guns, the external components can be maintained using Air Venturi MP-5 oil. The internals, however, need something else. There are two products that I use to lubricate the internals of my CO2 airguns. The first is Crosman’s Pellgun oil. One drop on the tip of each new cartridge is all that’s required. The lubricant, which is safe for o-rings, is spread throughout the airgun with each shot, keeping everything well lubricated. The other product is RWS Chamber lube, a silicone oil that will not harm o-rings. The process is the same: one drop on the top of each CO2 cartridge and fire away. Do not use any petroleum-based lubricants as they will eat the seals and ruin your gun. Pellgun oil and RWS Chamber lube are the best options.
Lubrication – PCP
Again, and I will continue to emphasize this over and over, only use what your airgun manufacturer recommends for any internal or external lubrication. I use Air Venturi’s MP-5 oil on the external components of my PCP airguns and for cleaning the bore. You should NOT have to lubricate the internal components of your airgun unless you are having to rebuild it for one reason or another. I really like the Hatsan PCP airguns because of their removable cylinders. All the parts that could “leak” are in one neat little package that only takes about 5 minutes to rebuild. When I put them back together, I use RWS Chamber lube, a silicone oil, during reassembly. This helps everything seal up and prevent leaks over the long term.
Cleaning the bore – CO2 and PCP
As with spring and gas ram powered airguns, you should not need to clean the barrel of your PCP or CO2 airgun unless you see a serious change in consistency. When that occurs there may be several easy ways to clean the bore and then again, it may be a real pain. It will all depend on your specific airgun. First rule is to always clean from the breach. This may require some disassembly, based on your airgun. If you are fortunate, you may be able to use something like the new Bore-Whip from Swab-Its or some other type of pull-through cleaning device. Be careful about using anything that may grab and damage the breach o-ring found in most CO2 and PCP airguns; i.e. some boresnakes have a metal brush embedded into the cord which can damage or dislodge the breach o-ring.
The best method that I’ve found is to remove the barrel from the action and clean it apart from the airgun. This way I can see the breach o-ring clearly and make sure that it remains intact and in place during the cleaning. Obviously this can be an involved process depending on your airgun and should only be attempted if you are 100% confident in your abilities to successfully complete the process. In many cases it may void your airgun’s warranty, so please keep that in mind.
Perhaps the most critical point to remember ensure your PCP and CO2 airguns continue working properly is to keep them clean. Any sort of dirt and debris can cause leaks and render your airgun inoperable. With PCP Airguns, it’s important to only use clean dry air. Introducing moisture into your airgun’s cylinder can cause real issues down the road. My final tip for CO2 is to always remove 12 gram cartridges after you are done shooting. Why is this important? The seal that presses against the tip of the CO2 cartridge will wear out much sooner if it’s constantly compressed. Some are not replaceable, which means when they no longer seal, the gun simply has to be replaced. It’s better to use up a .50 CO2 cartridge than ruin a $100 airgun.
I hope that this short series has been helpful. Please keep your browsers pointed to the blog as we’ll have some great new articles coming out very soon!