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Maintain your airgun with this easy step-by-step guide

Want to make sure your airgun performs its best? An expert gunsmith shows you how to maintain it at home using a photographic step-by-step guide.

maintain airgun

Did you learn to shoot with an air rifle? It’s the way many shooters start off their shooting career.

Whilst you may be a good shot now, your education may have fallen short when it comes to maintaining and servicing your rifle. What’s the best way of doing this? How can maintain your airgun yourself and make sure it performs its best? (Read our guide to the best airgun pellets.)

There are plenty of enthusiastic airgunners around who have carried out misguided home repairs on their guns. Many gunsmiths have stories to tell 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. (Enjoy garden airgunning? Read our list of the best air rifle targets.)

Here’s how to maintain your airgun – tips from an expert

We thought it best to give you a guide showing you how, using clear photographs. So here’s one 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 58 years after its introduction. That’s because it’s a firm favourite among young target shooters and hunters.

But like a car you use regularly, the gun needs some servicing and attention from time to time. 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.

The definitive step by step guide to maintenance of your air rifle

maintain your airgun

Step 1: Jonathan breaks a BSA Meteor that requires replacement airtight, breech, and shock-absorbing seals

air gun stock and trigger

Step 2: He starts by carefully removing the stock and trigger-guard from the air rifle

air gun locking pins

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

air gun maintenance

Step 4: Having removed the end cap, Jonathan keeps tension on the spring using a screwdriver while removing the spring retaining pin

Airgun cleaning

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

Air gun spring

Step 6: Sliding the spring out from inside its housing

Air rifle cocking lever

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

Removing air gun piston

Step 8: With the cocking lever out of the way, the piston can be carefully removed from its housing

Air gun breech seal

Step 9: Removing the old breech seal using a small hook

Airgun piston

Step 10: Removing the piston head from the piston

Air seal on airgun

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

Airgun shock absorbing seals

Step 12: Comparing worn-out and new breech seals, shock-absorbing seals and airtight seals

Replacing airgun breech seal

Step 13: Replacing the new breech seal – they may only go in a short way. Grease them slightly before replacing

Shock absorbing seal on airgun

Step 14: The shock-absorbing seal and airtight seal are replaced on the piston and are both greased

Oiling airgun chamber

Step 15: The inside of the chamber, or housing, is given a light oiling before returning the piston

Reattaching airgun barrel

Step 16: After returning the piston, put the cocking lever back in place and reattach the barrel before returning the spring


Airgun spring

Step 17: The spring may need a little light greasing from time to time

Replacing airgun spring

Step 18: The spring is put back under pressure using the screwdriver and its retaining pin put in place

Airgun trigger mechanism

Step 19: Putting the trigger mechanism back into place

Airgun end cap

Step 20: Replacing the end cap


Airgun trigger guard replaced

Step 21: The woodwork and trigger-guard are now put back on and the refreshed Meteor is fired and tested

This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.