Congratulations! You have a new Air Gun
Whether this is your first Air Gun or just another addition to your collection, congratulations. This guide is aimed more at those who are new to the sport and hobby of Air Gunning in general, but it is our hope that at least some of this will be of use to those with some experience under their belts as well.
Visually Inspect your Air Gun
If you do nothing else, please take a moment to give your new Air Gun a close visual inspection. Make sure your Air Gun has an even barrel crown. Make sure there is no visible damage on the Air Gun. Make sure there are no missing parts. Shine a light down your unloaded new air gun to make sure there are no visible scratches or signs of damage in your barrel. Take a picture of the new, un-fired Air Gun along with the packaging it came with. Take a picture of any receipt you have as well in case you need to return the Air Gun.
Clean your Barrel
In most cases, a new air gun is going to have a dirty barrel. A VERY dirty barrel. Most of this gunk is a mixture of oil and residue from the machining process, though sometimes other foreign items will be found in there as well (such as graphite and dust). Build a DIY bore snake (See the video tutorials later in this article for details) and using it along with some Goo Gone in lieu of traditional solvents to clean this residue from your rifle is a recommended first step in preparing to enjoy your new Air Gun.
Check and tighten those screws
Loose stock screws can result in horrible shooting groups and can potentially result in accelerated wear and tear on your Air Gun. Hand tight is fine here, especially if your Air Gun has a synthetic stock. Loctite is one option to keep the screws from coming loose over time, but another is to use PTFE Thread Tape.
Enjoy your Air Gun
Most Air Guns seem to shoot better after a healthy feeding of a few tins of pellets. This helps to season the barrel, as well as to ‘break in’ the action and the like. Don’t worry too much about accuracy until after you’ve gotten two to three tins worth of pellets down range. After you’ve reached that point, it is time to start experimenting with different types and manufacturers of pellets. Some Air Guns can shoot any pellet without a problem. Others are very fussy and will only group with one or two specific pellet lines. From personal experience I find JSB’s to be a good starting point when testing a new Air Gun. They are a consistent pellet which so far work well in all of the Air Guns I’ve tested.
A note to those accustomed to powder burning firearms
Airguns may look like a traditional firearm, but there are some distinct differences. The two most important ones happen to be related to barrels and cleaning. Unlike traditional firearms, you need to be aware of the following when maintaining your Air Gun:
Cleaning tips unique to air guns
- A number of air gun barrels are made of lower grade metals than their powder burning counterparts. This makes them more prone to scratching
- For this reason, do NOT insert metal rods into your Air Rifle barrel
- Likewise, metal brushes (even brass ones) should be avoided as they may scratch your barrel
- You do not need to clean your air rifle barrel as often as you would a traditional firearm
- The more you shoot your air rifle, the more the barrel will ‘season’. Lead residue may fill some of the microscopic scratches inside the barrel. This may help with accuracy and consistency
- Avoid using any petroleum based solvents when cleaning your air gun barrel. These can result in a potentially harmful situation called dieseling
- Most cleaning solvents can potentially damage the seals on your air gun. Instead use Goo Gone
Making an air gun safe ‘Bore Snake’
Since traditional metal cleaning rods are out, one of the best tools out there for cleaning your barrel is a DIY boresnake. I make mine out of plastic weed trimmer line, either using a single or double strand depending on caliber. Here are a pair of instructional videos showing how to build both the single and dual strand versions of the DIY Boresnake.
Finally, when it comes to Air Guns, never forget that:
You’ve Got To Check Your Screws.