How I clean an airgun…
If you follow any the media I create, whether here on the Baker Airguns Blogs, the Baker Airguns Youtube Channel, or my personal ALL THINGS AIRGUN Youtube channel…then you probably know I’m of the opinion that air rifles DO NEED to be cleaned and given periodic maintenance. While there are plenty of others that disagree with me, I stand firm in my conviction. My very first blog was actually called, “Yes, you should be cleaning your airgun.” In that blog, I provide evidence to support my claim. My next blog was called “How not to clean an airgun.” In that one, I warn the reader of the dangers of using the incorrect cleaners, solvents, and oils on an airgun. Naturally, many people have asked me how I personally clean an airgun. I will address that today.
First and foremost, I absolutely always clean and inspect a new airgun before I use it. I do this whether it is actually new, or just new to me in used condition. I want all production/assembly lubricants and protectants completely removed, as well as any products a previous owner may have used. This is within reason, of course. Take a brand new springer, for instance. I won’t remove the piston and clean off their lube and put mine on, but I will shoot the gun and clean the barrel until the excess lubricants they used stop coming profusely from the chamber. I don’t want that in my barrel doing unexpected things to pellet velocity.
The only solvent that I ever use on an airgun is 91% isopropyl alcohol. I use it just like you would use a firearm solvent on a firearm. If I’m using patches and a rod, I’ll soak a few patches in it for my “wet” barrel cleaning. If I’m using a Boresnake, I’ll simply dampen a portion of the snake with it. Next comes dry patches (or a dry snake) until they come back out as white as they went in. Lastly, I’ll run a patch dampened with silicone oil through the barrel. I use only a TINY amount of silicone, as the goal is merely to thinly coat the barrel. I almost never use a brush of any kind in an airgun barrel. If I ever do, I use one with nylon bristles. If you clean your barrel regularly, you should almost never need anything more aggressive than this.
Strictly speaking, you should never clean any gun barrel from the muzzle end. The reason is that the crown of the barrel, which is pertinent to the accuracy of the gun, absolutely can and will be damaged from sticking things in and out of it. Having said that, there is sometimes little choice. When I’m forced to make the choice of cleaning a gun via the muzzle end or not cleaning it at all, I will in fact clean from the muzzle. When I do this, I am exceptionally careful not to touch the crown at all if I can help it. I only use brass or aluminum cleaning rods, and never coated steel. I basically take every measure I can to not touch the crown, or to touch it only with something softer than itself if it cannot be avoided.
The rest of the gun gets cleaned off with alcohol, and then a thin wiped off coating of appropriate oil. On the exterior steel pieces of most guns, I will use Crosman Pellgun Oil. On any aluminum or polymer pieces, I use Crosman Silicone Chamber Oil. While you can use silicone on steel, I usually don’t. Silicone permanently bonds to steel and forms a barrier that petroleum oils cannot penetrate. Thus, the preservative qualities of the oil are nullified. That barrier can also cause a problem when refinishing steel. Don’t get me wrong, the sky will not fall if you wipe steel with silicone, but I generally do not do it. The more astute readers might have noticed that I said I always run a patch with a little silicone on it through the barrel as the last cleaning step, and that I also just said that I don’t clean the exterior pieces of steel with silicone. Aren’t most barrels made of steel? Is this a dichotomy? Yes, most barrels are made of steel…but since I’ll constantly be shooting pellets mildly lubed with silicone through the barrel anyway, and I’ll never refinish the inside of a barrel…it makes no sense to not use silicone in that application. Sorry for that run-on sentence, btw.
What I’ve given you here is a generic overview of my cleaning process, but every gun will have specific needs. You should always consult your owners manual and follow all manufacturer recommended cleaning and maintenance schedules. I’m not just saying that because you should say it. I’m saying that because you should do it. There is no shame in reading. Common sense also plays a role in any gun cleaning. If you take the shroud off of an FX Crown to remove and clean the barrel liner and notice the air stripper and barrel exterior are covered in what looks like silver “Tin-Man” paste…yes…that’s lead and you should clean it off. Things like that. The more you clean a specific airgun, the more you’ll learn what to do and what not to do. The process will become more efficent and more effective simultaneously. The important thing for the accuracy, reliability, and longevity of your airgun is that you are cleaning and maintaining it in the first place.
Donnie Reed is our Sales Manager and general airgun guru here at Baker Airguns. He was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, and qualified as both a Rifle Expert and Pistol Expert. Donnie is now a competitive airgun shooter, focusing primarily on field target and benchrest competitions. He has won both PCP and piston class field target matches, as well as local benchrest competitions. Donnie also runs the Youtube channel and Facebook group ALL THINGS AIRGUN. His first college degree is in Mathematics and Sciences, but he is still pursuing another in Physics and Astronomy.