At the end of a fun day of target practice, competition, or small-game hunting (we’re talking rats, rabbits, and pigeons), it’s easy to lean your BB gun against the garage wall and leave the cleaning and maintenance for another time. However, despite being durable, typically low-maintenance objects, airguns still need some regular upkeep. Soon after use is ideal.
As an airgun owner, you’ve probably seen how dirty, sticky, or scratched up your rifle can get from being in the field. This doesn’t only affect appearance, it can also compromise the gun’s ability to function properly. For example, a scratched scope can hinder sight and a jammed safety can just be dangerous.
The good news is that caring for and maintaining BB guns is fairly inexpensive and simple. If you don’t already, look at it as part of the fun; getting to keep your air rifle in better shape for longer use.
How Do BB Guns Work?
BB guns work much the same as other firearms, only minus the explosion. Instead, the expanding matter is either plain old air or a gas like CO2. Before firing, the air or gas gets compressed to increase pressure. This means the air inside the gun has more density than the air outside.
Stored in an airtight container, the gas is released by pulling the trigger, allowing it to flow down the barrel right behind the BB. Due to the level of compression, the BB is propelled outward at immense speed.
BB guns belong to the airgun family, along with airsoft rifles. It’s important to note here that, although similar, they have very distinct differences that do not allow for a crossover of use. The main difference is in the ammunition.
Airsoft is a sport where airsoft guns are used for shooting plastic pellets at teammates to “take them out” and win the game. BB guns use 0.177 caliber steel BBs, giving the airgun its name, and can prove fatal if fired at someone from close enough range. To learn more about airsoft as a game and a rifle, check out www.airsoftcore.com.
Care and Maintenance
Like anything, especially of the mechanical variety, keeping your air rifle in prime condition will help it perform better, last longer, and ultimately, be safer than if you didn’t. Here’s a list of our favorite steps for airgun maintenance.
1. Read the Instructions
Yes, we know this sounds like the most obvious advice out there, but you’d be surprised how many airgun owners skip this crucial step! We definitely advise against it.
Each type of BB gun will come with its own exact specifications that are suited to that particular model. For example, one model might need less oil than another and if it receives too much, could get clogged and stop working properly.
The instruction manual has been put together for you by experts in the field for a reason. So, instead of trying to figure out the ups and downs of your air rifle on your own, let the directions streamline the process for you. It’ll cut down on time, errors, frustration, and money spent on repairs.
2. Handle With Care
We’re not just talking about safety here. We’re talking about making sure you don’t let your airgun bounce around in the car, or drop on sharp rocks, or get abused in some other easily preventable way.
Dropping it, or leaving it free to ricochet off different surfaces in a moving vehicle could cause damage to multiple mechanisms of your rifle. Things could get knocked out of alignment and parts that are meant to last a long time under normal use could have their lifespan severely shortened.
Another handling tip is don’t force it. If a button or lever (or trigger!) isn’t working or won’t budge, don’t push it. Try to gently figure out what is stopping it from moving properly and if you can’t, take it to a professional.
Careful handling also applies to things like pumping your airgun and loading a break-action, or break-barrel air rifle. With pumping, don’t exceed the recommended pumps (found in your instruction manual) or you could wreck important seals.
With break-barrel rifles, don’t slam the barrel into position after loading. The locking mechanism that holds the barrel in place also affects aiming accuracy and could be damaged with brute force.
3. Use Proper Cleaning Supplies and Techniques
When cleaning your BB gun, you should avoid using strong solvents or cleansers, and petroleum-based lubricants. These can damage your gun over time. Gun oil is a petroleum product, for example, and can actually eat through hard rubber.
All you really need is a soft, slightly damp cloth and a 100% silicone spray. Other necessary supplies are cleaning rods and bore pellets. Even felt cleaning pellets are available, but only really good for PCP rifles.
It’s also never a good idea to soak your airgun in liquids like lubricant or water. This puts it at high risk for rust formation.
Necessary airgun care depends on your type of BB gun, but it typically always revolves around proper oiling and greasing with the right tools and ingredients.
4. Stock TLC
We’re guessing the stock of your air rifle is a large part of why you chose that particular model in the first place. As the body of your airgun, you’re going to want to keep it looking sleek.
Oil-finished stocks need oil to maintain their smooth finish, while a lacquered stock can be protected with beeswax or furniture wax polish. For application, the wood first needs to be clean and moisture-free. Then you can apply the stock oil by hand, the heat from which helps to warm the oil and permeate the grain.
There are many different types of stock oil, but all of them are comprised of linseed mixed with other wood oils. Taking regular care of your stock will keep it pleasing to the eyes for years to come.
Sometimes it’s in the details. When it comes to maintenance, there are a lot of little things you can do to both preserve your BB guns and just make life easier for you. A few of these are:
- Pellet care – preserve your pellets by keeping them stored in their tin
- Flip-up cap – fitting your scope with a flip-up lens cap will protect your optics from weather, dirt, and debris, plus keep the glass pieces clean while in storage
- Check moisture – when going from cold temperatures to the warm indoors, make sure your rifle reaches room temp and is dried off and oiled before storing it
- Lens treatment – to avoid the visual disruption of rain while shooting, opt for a special lens coating that repels water and gives you a clear shot
- Take it in – get a professional to check out your airgun every year or so to make sure everything is swimming along nicely
- Rifle rest – this holds your rifle while cleaning so both hands are free
Putting these airgun tips into practice will help each outing be as fun and productive as the last. Give them a try and see what you think!
Although we’d all probably like to be out in the field using our BB guns as often as possible, they’re still going to be spending more time in storage than in use. This means safe airgun storage techniques are just as important as proper usage and maintenance. Here are a few things to consider.
1. Safety Locks
These are crucial if you’re storing your airgun at home in a closet or drawer. Keeping it secure from family members—kids especially could prevent damage, injury, and even death. Take the responsibility of owning a weapon seriously by keeping your stored BB gun locked at all times.
2. Gun Cabinet
This goes along with the safety lock idea. A gun cabinet is a step up in that it also allows for custom traits like being able to hold more or less, smaller or larger air rifles.
It works to keep them out of sight and separate from other household items as well. A gun cabinet is a safe way to store (and lock) your BB gun away from any children or teenagers at home.
3. Gun Safe
This is the king of airgun safety. Some states actually make having a gun safe a requirement for all firearm owners. These types of safes offer a high level of security for more than just your BB guns. They can also be used to store valuables like jewelry, precious metals, important documents, and more.
Gun safes are heavy and durable. They can last for years, even decades, and greatly lessen the chances of a thief being able to steal their contents. They also provide optimum protection against family members accessing your rifles.
4. Air Rifle Bag
An air rifle bag is not a safe storage option on its own. It should only be used in concert with the above-mentioned storage methods. At the same time, when it comes to transport as well as storage, one of these can act as an extra barrier against damage.
A note, here, on making sure to fully inspect your BB gun after every use and before storing. It should be unloaded and pointing in a safe direction with the safety turned on.
Have Fun, Be Safe
We hope you feel like you’ve received the official download on the proper care and maintenance for your BB guns. We even threw in some information on safe storage methods. If you enjoyed this article, we have a variety of other posts on gun care and safety for you to check out!