Beginners' guide: Gas-Powered Replica Maintenance
Unlike the staple Airsoft weapon, the AEG, gas-powered replicas require a certain level of maintenance to keep them running well. In this article, I outline how to keep your gas-powered Airsoft gun performing the same as the day you took it out of the box, and help avoid the disappointment of turning up to a skirmish only to have your pride and joy fail! Having experienced this I can tell you it physically hurts, especially when you have to reinvest in new magazines instead of the latest and greatest new Airsoft replica! Save yourself the trouble...
Generally, the most frequent and essential airsoft maintenance you will have to carry out will be to ensure that the seals in the magazine (which keep the gas in) are lubricated. When choosing a lubricant, ensure it is 100% silicone oil, as others may cause swelling or failure. You will need to lubricate the gas route bucking (rubber part behind the feed-lips), the fill valve (generally on the bottom of the magazine) and the release valve (generally a gold-coloured button on the rear of the magazine). Adding a small amount of either silicone lubricant spray or neat silicone oil will keep these surfaces and the o-rings in the gun fresh and ready for use. Coupled with keeping the magazine with a small amount of gas in at all times, carrying out this basic maintenance can make the difference between victory and disappointment.
GBB pistols/GBB rifles
It is also recommended that you field strip your GBB pistol or rifle replicas and lubricate the moving parts of the replica, particularly areas where metal contacts metal such as slide and frame rails and between the inside of the slide and outer barrel. There are a couple of different ways you can do this. The easiest method is to use silicone oil spray, a quick squirt inside (hold the jokes!) on the moving parts, avoiding the hop-up unit, cycle the gun a few times by hand and it should have enough lubricant to keep it running sweet for another skirmish. The areas to focus on will be the hammer group (towards the rear of the lower frame), trigger parts (you know where) and the blowback unit/nozzle in the upper slide. You can also make use of silicone grease on the frame/slide rails for even smoother cycling but beware, this will need to be cleaned off and re-applied regularly. This is due to its propensity to attract and capture dirt and debris to a greater extent than silicone spray or oil. I generally use an extremely thin coating of grease on the slide/frame rails and on the inside of the slide where it contacts the outer barrel, and silicone spray for the hammer group and gas seal parts (magazine, Blowback Unit, o-rings). This should be done after every skirmish or extended firing session to keep your GBB airsoft weapon running smoothly.
NBB pistols/Shotguns/Sniper rifles
Given their lack of a cycling slide or bolt carrier, these types of airsoft gun are much easier to maintain, although require just as much diligence in maintenance. Your attention should be primarily placed on the parts of your replica that hold the gas/facilitate its transportation to the working parts of the replica. In the case of NBB pistols, it is mainly the magazine that will need care, but with more complex and higher performance NBBs such as Mk.23 replicas, it is advised that you carry out a field strip and lubricate the trigger components and parts in the rear of the slide with a sparing amount silicone spray or oil, avoiding the hop unit and barrel as you would with a GBB pistol, as well as maintaining your magazine as outlined above.
In the case of gas-powered shotguns such as Tokyo Marui's KSG and M870, including the Golden Eagle 870 series it is important to lubricate not only the gas tank but the bucking inside the pistol grip or stock which meets it. It is also recommended that you frequently check the connection between the receiver and the stock/pistol grip, and take care to maintain the large O-ring present between the two, as you would any other rubber parts within gas replicas - with a sparing spray with your silicone lubricant. Other parts that may need some attention are the action arms which connect to the pump, and other internals which can be achieved with a quick spray of silicone lubricant into the shell magazine gate, aiming towards the rear of the gun. If you are having gas seal issues with your Golden Eagle shotgun, we recommend replacing the o-rings.
Most gas-powered sniper rifles store their gas in either the magazine or the bolt, meaning you will find similar parts to those described in the magazine maintenance section of this article as a part of the bolt. Removing the bolt, cleaning, and re-lubricating it should be sufficient, provided you keep the gas reservoir at least partially full whilst storing the replica. In the case of gas in magazine sniper rifles, the magazine will need the same maintenance as described above when discussing other mag-fed GBB and NBB replicas, as well as keeping the bolt clean and coated thinly in a lubricant of your choice (always 100% silicone).
As with any Airsoft gun, you should always store your gas-powered replicas sensibly. Once you have finished firing, always run a barrel unjamming rod through with the slide locked to the rear, to ensure there are no BBs left 'chambered'. Always store your gas replica without the magazine installed. Always keep your gas magazines out of direct sunlight (the same goes for your cans of gas) and away from particularly cold areas, as extremely low or high temperatures will damage the rubber components. To keep your seals and valve o-rings fresh, you should always store gas magazines/gas tanks and gas bolts with a small amount of gas in them (extra points for maintenance gas). After lubricating your gas-powered gun you should fire at least two full magazines through it, to clear out any surplus lubricant and ensure your gas replica shoots straight and true.
It is important to ensure dirt and dust do not get into the top of the magazine or gas tank, as this is the location of the gas route bucking, an essential part of the journey for the gas leaving the magazine and entering the gun. If dirt and grit get into this part of the magazine the valve will not be able to close, resulting in gas leaking or venting. This can be remedied by removing the valve using a valve key, cleaning it, replacing o-rings where necessary and reinstalling the valve. No brainer, but you should never store your gas magazines (or any) loaded with BBs, this is not only dangerous but it will wear down your magazine spring and cause misfeeds. On the subject of Gas shotguns, you should never "double pump" them, as this will cause the chamber to be overfilled and may break your nozzle when you return the pump a second time. For this reason, I recommend firing your gas shotgun in a safe direction (eye pro on) before you load it with BBs to ensure there are no bbs lingering in the chamber.
Never use anything other than 100% silicone lubricant on Airsoft replicas of any type. WD40 will ruin the rubber o-rings throughout the insides of your gas-powered replica and render it inoperable without a serious rebuild. This is due to the petroleum content of WD40 and other similar lubricants. There are silicone sprays available for maintaining treadmills for instance, which may work with airsoft pistols, but for the meager saving over buying an Airsoft branded lubricant with absolute guarantee it won't ruin your gun, is it worth it? Not in my opinion. There is a possibility that the gasses used to propel the treadmill oil are corrosive to airsoft rubber components which are generally soft, thin, and delicate. Treat your gas-powered replica right, and it will treat you right, much like a real firearm.
That's it for our Gas Powered Airsoft Maintenance Guide, check out our other buying guides be clicking on the arrows below.