Knowing basic air rifle maintenance is key but sometimes it's best to take your gun to a professional.

Your questions on air rifle maintenance answered

1. How can I tell if my air rifle needs a service?

Q: Does my .22 air rifle need a service? I have been using a Webley & Scott Mark 3.22 air rifle, which I acquired new in 1974. It has never been serviced and recently the accuracy has fallen off. Do you think it needs a service? Also, how long should the main spring and pistol washer last? 

A:  If you have noticed no decrease in power but only an increase in group size, then it is unlikely the rifle will need a major overhaul. As for the accuracy fault, it is probably because you have been using unsuitable pellets.

Your rifle is a true .22 size with a bore diameter of 5.6mm. If you have purchased pellets recently, it is certain they are 5.5mm diameter. These smaller pellets will be under-size in the barrel of your Mark 3 and will not produce the same accuracy or consistency as would the correct 5.6mm pellets.

If you have been using mineral-based lubricant on the spring and washer then this could also affect the accuracy. As your rifle has a leather piston washer, only leather oil or any other non-mineral oil, such as Neatsfoot or any animal or vegetable-based oil, should be used. Never use standard gun oil, as it contains silicon, which could cause wear on the breech plug.

Correct mainsprings, if required, leather washers and correct lubricant are still available. With normal usage mainsprings and washers should last for at least 10,000 shots before needing replacement.

2. Changing the spring on an air rifle. Should you?

Q: I’ve been using a Weirauch HW80 air rifle for 15 years on my smallholding. Recently, the rifle lost power and it became very inaccurate. On the advice of a friend, I bought and fitted a high-powered mainspring, made from square sectioned wire, and replaced the barrel seal.

Though now very powerful and difficult to cock, the recoil is unpleasant and accuracy not consistent. How can I rectify this?

A: If you feel unable to spend more money on your rifle by taking it to a professional airgun repairer, then I would suggest you remove the ‘high-powered’ spring and fit a good quality mainspring manufactured specifically for the make and model of the rifle.

The spring you fitted is obviously unsuitable and could cause damage to the air rifle. Some air rifle maintenance is best carried out by a professional.

It is possible that damage has already been caused to the piston seal which is 15 years old. You have already replaced the breech sealing washer, so if you replace the piston head and fit the correct replacement mainspring, suitably lubricated, you rifle’s original performance will be restored.

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