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How to Clean your Air Rifle

We are asked this all the time!

Having spent (probably) good money for your air rifle, you should now think about how to take good care of it! You probably want to keep it in mint condition and in the best possible shape by cleaning and maintaining it regularly, to ensure it performs at its best. Indeed if you do look after your rifle, it should serve you well for many years.

Air rifles contain many internal mechanisms that work together to allow you to shoot. These parts mostly need some form of cleaning and maintaining.

Here’s our advice!

Invest in a Good Cleaning Kit

Good doesn’t necessarily mean expensive!  We stock the Bisley cleaning kits which sell for less than £10.

What’s important is what’s in the kit. The basic tools for cleaning that you will need are patches, oil, a brush, cleaning rod and pellets.

Do not use water

The worst thing you can put in your air rifle’s barrel and on the rifle itself is water! Using wet and water soaked rag can cause rust to form in and out the barrel. When you want to use a wet rag to clean the inside of the barrel, pick something more dry and convenient, like a rubbing alcohol. Before running the rag through the barrel you will want to soak out any excess solvent.

Use cleaning pellets

When the gun is fired, the pressure and the acceleration of these felt pellets causes it to shrink in length and expand in diameter to the desired high friction, allowing the felt pellet to press itself into the rifling and follow the twist. This ensures that every part of the barrel is reliably cleaned. Ideal to carry with you for the last shot of the day, to quickly and easily clear the barrel. In order to prevent fibres remaining in the barrel, it is recommend that you insert a pointed lead pellet behind the felt plug and shoot the two together. The pellets can also be pushed in the barrel using a cleaning rod. We recommend that the barrel be cleaned with a pellet after every 100 rounds.

Keep one thing in mind, do not oil the barrel! If you oil your barrel it can get inside the rifle and damage the mechanisms. Another problem that can occur if you oil your barrel is dieseling. Dieseling is when the oil combusts as you fire a pellet through the gun, and over time, this process can damage your seals and result in loss of air in your rifle.

Do not forget the external part of the barrel too! Whenever your air rifle is exposed to water, take a dry cloth and dry the barrel too. Water will damage and rot the wood and metalwork so it is important to do this. You can also purchase some rust protection spray or silicon gun oil. Either apply a light coat of spray over the metal work, or get a cloth and apply a thin layer of silicon gun oil after every use. By doing this regularly, your barrel will be protected against rust and wear and remain looking as good as new.

Compression chamber cleaning

This is the part of your air rifle where air compression actually takes place. This comes in action when you’re shooting and the piston is moving forward. Today’s modern air rifles are made of self-lubricating synthetic materials. For this reason, re-lubrication should only be done during scheduled maintenance by an authorized professional such as Emmett & Stone.

Piston air rifles such as those that have a recoilless spring do not need much lubrication. So, remember, over-lubing is unnecessary. Use lubricating agents sparingly following product instructions and only use airgun-rated oils. Many other oils can damage the seals.

Some people believe that putting oil in the compression chamber made their  rifle more powerful, and others do so believing it was required to help lubricate the main seal. This is not the case, this can cause seals and other components to fail. Just don’t do it!

Pivot points of the barrel

These should be lubricated using light polarizing oil. But it should not be applied generously. You should also make sure that you apply the oil while the pivot points away from the breech seal and air vent.

Bore

If you want smoother performance and superb accuracy, you will need to get your bore cleaned following a routine schedule  The bore also needs lubricating, in which you must use only air-rifle exclusive products. Accuracy is decreased when grease residues get in the compression chamber. And even though they seem like they are clean, chances are, not really. Before storing your air rifle, make sure that you clean the bore and then lightly apply a coating of a lubricating oil. Once clean, wipe lightly with dry patches so no traces of oil will be visible.

Cleaning the Scope

Keeping the air rifle’s scope in mint condition is as important as the barrel too. If you neglect the scope, it will cause problems in your shooting. Dust can be removed with a soft cloth or compressed air as and when needed. Ensure the cloth is smooth, and will not scratch the lens and, secondly, to check it has no oil or grease on it first. Water, finger or oil marks on the scope can be eliminated by simply wiping them with a microfibre cloth.

The Woodwork

Your air rifles stock may be beech, walnut, hardwood etc. It is varnished, but as the time passes, the woodwork will show signs of ageing and dullness.

Woodwork is very easy to maintain in the case of air rifles, but you need to be patient. It’s as simple as wiping your gun down with ideally a silicon cloth when it’s been exposed to rain because water can cause damage the wood.

Cleaning the Trigger

The trigger mechanism is the key component of the air rifle. Whilst possible to service yourself, we recommend that you take it to an experienced gunsmith such as Emmett & Stone.

Conclusion

You should only allow a competent gunsmith to dissemble the rifle for further cleaning or maintenance purposes.

Make sure your air rifle is unloaded before you start to clean it! Also Make sure the air rifle is un-cocked before you start to clean it.

It is always better to under lubricate than to over lubricate the air rifle. Do not use firearm cleaners or low flash point oils in the air compression chamber and near the vent and breech seal as this will cause dieseling and damage of the seal.

Store your rifle in a dry place that is protected from water and other chemicals that can damage the air rifle. Wipe down the rifle after every use to make sure there are no grease or finger marks left. It is a good thing to purchase a rifle bag to protect your air rifle while carrying it and transporting on field. The rifle bag will protect your air rifle from knocks and general outside weather conditions.

Failure to clean and maintain your rifle can lead to inaccuracy, (just, you can sometimes blame the equipment!), wearing down, or worse total breakdown. Not only that, you can potentially hurt yourself or others when gun damaged due to improper maintenance and lubrication.

But all air guns are different: Spring piston, pre-charged pneumatic, multi pump pneumatic. Various methods of oiling and maintenance exist in order to ensure your gun is receiving the care that it needs.  If you’re not sure what you’re doing, you are better off leaving it to the professionals. An air rifle service won’t break the bank and will keep you shooting for years to come.  Enquire in store or ring 01628 474 187 to book in your rifle.