Many of us learned to shoot with air rifles and so they tend to have a special emotional pull for us.
But enthusiastic amateurs often get carried away carrying out home repairs on their air rifles and many gunsmiths can regale you with tales of finding knitting needles jammed down barrels; pellets jammed in one on top of another and customers turning up with bits of airgun in a bag, unable to put the piece back together again.
To help you avoid these mistakes – but maintain your airgun – here is a step by step guide featuring Jonathan Beauchamp of Greenfields Gunsmiths in Salisbury, Wiltshire. He strips a BSA Meteor and replaces the breech and piston seals. The BSA Meteor is a legendary airgun and is still in production 55 years after its introduction because it remains a firm favourite among young target shooters and hunters. But like most things it occasionally needs a bit of love and attention and, in common with any spring air rifle, the seals and springs wear out and will need to be replaced.
Understand how an air rifle works before attempting any home repairs
Jonathan advises you to check that you are using the correct tools and have some understanding of how an air rifle works before attempting any home repairs. In addition if you have bought an airgun second-hand you cannot be sure of what the previous owner has done to it. So watch out for overly- powerful springs or unexpected internal damage when you strip it down.
Step by step guide to maintenance of your air rifle
Step 1: Jonathan breaks a BSA Meteor that requires replacement airtight, breech, and shock-absorbing seals
Step 2: He starts by carefully removing the stock and trigger-guard from the air rifle
Step 3: With the Meteor gripped by a lead-covered vice to prevent damage, the two locking pins are removed to free the trigger mechanism
Step 4: Having removed the end cap, Jonathan keeps tension on the spring using a screwdriver while removing the spring retaining pin
Step 5: Jonathan places a large piece of wood against the spring, removes the screwdriver and gently allows the spring to relax against the wood
Step 6: Sliding the spring out from inside its housing
Step 7: Having removed the locking pin that connects the barrel to the housing, Jonathan now removes the cocking lever enabling the piston to be removed
Step 8: With the cocking lever out of the way, the piston can be carefully removed from its housing
Step 9: Removing the old breech seal using a small hook
Step 10: Removing the piston head from the piston
Step 11: The piston on the Meteor has two seals – one acts as a shock-absorber, the other seals the air chamber. Here, the air seal is being removed
Step 12: Comparing worn-out and new breech seals, shock-absorbing seals and airtight seals
Step 13: Replacing the new breech seal – they may only go in a short way. Grease them slightly before replacing
Step 14: The shock-absorbing seal and airtight seal are replaced on the piston and are both greased
Step 15: The inside of the chamber, or housing, is given a light oiling before returning the piston
Step 16: After returning the piston, put the cocking lever back in place and reattach the barrel before returning the spring
Step 17: The spring may need a little light greasing from time to time
Step 18: The spring is put back under pressure using the screwdriver and its retaining pin put in place
Step 19: Putting the trigger mechanism back into place
Step 20: Replacing the end cap
Step 21: The woodwork and trigger-guard are now put back on and the refreshed Meteor is fired and tested