For all you long time airgunners out there, you may find this article a bit tedious. But, for those new to airguns, I hope that you will take the time to read it. What’s more important, I hope you take it to heart. It just may save the life of your new airguns.
Dieseling is a BAD thing…
I have a diesel truck. It doesn’t have spark plugs to create the internal combustion, it’s done by sheer pressure and the heat that it generates to ignite the fuel. In my truck this is a good thing. In my airgun it’s a very bad thing and here’s why.
When you fire your spring or gas ram airgun you are essentially acting like the piston in a diesel engine. You have a piston that’s forced forward by a mechanical device which creates great pressure. When the friction holding the pellet in place can no longer overcome the pressure generated by the piston, the pellet breaks free and flies out the barrel. It’s all very safe and can be repeated thousands of times without issue. But, if any type of accelerant is added to the equation, things change very quickly. This is when your airgun turns into a mini-diesel engine.
The heat created by the fast moving piston and high pressure is more than enough to ignite any sort of flammable liquid or gas introduced into the compression chamber. This will make a very loud noise and really add some ZIP to whatever pellet you are shooting. (COOL! Right? – Not so much) It will also cause serious damage to your gun.
Here’s what happens with prolonged dieseling. The piston seal is a type of plastic or nylon. If you put a match to plastic what happens? It melts. Pretty simple. When an airgun is caused to diesel using things like Rem Oil, WD40, 3 in 1 oil, etc., it quickly deteriorates the seal. Once the seal goes, that leads to a whole new set of issues.Torn seal caused by prolonged introduction of combustibles into the compression chamber.
Part of what makes a spring/gas ram gun work is a small amount of back pressure provided by the pellet. The new Benjamin Trail NP2 has a very strong warning in the box stating that dry firing your airgun will void the warranty. Unlike firearms, many of which you can safely dry fire for trigger practice and training, you can’t with spring and gas ram guns. The pellet causes just enough back pressure to keep the heat in a tolerable range for the seal. When you exceed that level, you run the risk of weakening the seal and causing premature failure. Once that happens, it leads to other things.
Dieseling and dry firing are not the only two things that can cause a seal to fail prematurely. Using poor quality ammo can also be a factor. Certain commodity (cheap) ammo can be all over the map with regards to size. If you are using ammo that feeds in the breach with varying amounts of force, you may want to set it aside for another use. Ammo that’s too loose and that does not seal properly in the rifling can be very similar to a dry fire event and not provide the necessary back pressure to preserve your main seal and other internal components. This is most prevalent with ultra-magnum springers and gas ram powered airguns.
Once the seal is weakened and has begun to fail, it’s just a matter of time until more serious issues come up. Without sufficient backpressure, the piston is going to just slam into the head of the compression chamber over and over. This will eventually cause springs to break and gas rams to fail. In short, we all need to pay attention to what’s going on with our airguns to make sure they maintain their performance and accuracy.Broken spring caused by failed seal which was caused by prolonged dieseling.
Hum.. I see this on YouTube, why is it bad?
Look.. I get it. I was someone who used to spay WD40 into my friend’s (I did not have an airgun yet) Crosman Phantom. He started it actually. One day he said, “look what happens when you do this…” BANG. We did not know any better, not that not knowing is a good excuse. We never took the time to read the manual and that’s where a lot of new airgunners get into trouble. YouTube is NOT a replacement for reading a product manual.
Yes. You will see all manner of stuff on YouTube telling you to do this or that with your airgun to supposedly improve its performance. If I can give you a bit of free advice it’s simply this: stick to the manufacturer’s specifications and approved maintenance procedures if you want to maintain your warranty and keep your airgun in good working order. Your airgun was designed to operate within a certain set of parameters. When you start creating situations outside of those parameters then it’s only a matter of time before the consequences catch up with you. Next time you see a new “thing” from a YouTuber telling you that adding this or that into your gun will make it better, ask them if they will provide a written warranty, performance guarantee, and agree to cover any damage to your airgun should it occur. You see, the manufacturer has provided a written warranty, albeit some are better and more inclusive than others.
Long live my airguns…
While I really tried to stretch things in the past with my airguns, I’ve learned that sticking to using them as they were intended to be used keeps them operating correctly and with a lot less issues. It may not be as fun as tinkering around, but I want things to work when I pick them up to use them. So the moral of the story is this: if you want to tinker, just know that doing so may yield undesirable results. If you can be OK with that, then by all means tinker away, just always remember to do so safely. However, if you’re going to be upset if you ruin your airgun, then it’s best NOT to turn that first screw. Shoot it as it was intended to be used and just enjoy it. If you’re looking for more capability like more power and accuracy, it may be that it’s time to upgrade. And hey, who doesn’t want a new airgun!