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AIR GUNS: SPRING CARBINE

Compressed air guns are at the peak of technology and have become widely known in recent years. Their precision and simplicity make them ideal weapons for the various different disciplines of recreational shooting competitions. It is important to mention that this type of gun is prohibited for hunting in Spain, in contrast with other countries where they are permitted for hunting activities. 

This type of compressed air gun includes a large variety of models on the market, with not only pistols, but also rifles and shotguns. Rifles can be classified according to their manufacturers (BSA, Gamo, Cometa, Norica Storm...), the model or its power. However, on this occasion we are going to classify compressed air guns according to the type of loading system they have. In this regard, depending on the rifle’s action mechanism, it can be classified into 3 types: spring rifle, CO2 rifle and PCP (Pre Charged Pneumatic) rifle or pre-compressed air guns.

 

Spring carbine BSA

 BSA XL TACTICAL spring carbine 4,5 mm. gauges

Air guns: Spring carbine Gamo

Spring carbine by GAMO SHADOW 640 model 4,5 mm. (177 inches) gauges

In this case, we are going to analyse the spring rifle, also known as the spring-piston rifle. This rifle has achieved a market position as one of the most sought-after compressed air guns among fans of recreational shooting sports. Their ease of handling, their reliability and their similar means of use to fire arms, along with economical maintenance and ammunition costs, are all factors which make the spring rifle ideal for those who are newcomers to the use of compressed air guns. The spring rifle has a loading mechanism comprising a swinging barrel. This mechanism is based on a manually activated lever which pushes the gun’s interior piston, compressing the air inside the cylinder. In this way, the pellet which is housed in the interior of the rifle’s barrel, is ejected at great velocity. The most common calibres of spring rifles in Spain are 4.5 mm (177 inches), the official calibre for competitions which usually use pellets made from lead and other alloys. Another very common calibre is 5.5 millimetres.

Mechanism of a sring piston carbine

Outline the main elements of an air rifle or spring

Two essential elements of the compressed air rifle are the spring and the piston. The compression spring is the piece of coiled wire which gives power to the gun. Its length varies according to the model of the rifle, although normally the number of spirals is never less than 29, or more than 40. The quality of the spring is very important since the power of the rifle depends on it. It is a part which occasionally has to be replaced as it loses strength with each shot, however, it is not difficult to obtain parts of this type at the gunsmith’s.

Air-gun spring

Spring for air gun

 

Another important element is the piston, which is the part which compresses the air inside the cylinder. The power of the rifle can vary depending on the weight of this part, therefore its design is very important, since it will determine the final performance of the compressed air rifle. In the upper section of the piston, there is the piston seal which is a part made traditionally of rubber or nylon, the function of which is to avoid air leaks at the moment when the piston makes its forward movement, when the gun is fired. This part has to withstand high temperatures, and offer the maximum possible resistance capacity at the moment when the piston is activated, so for this reason the seal and the piston should be greased with non-inflammable oils. In some instances, the temperature which is generated in the gun at the moment of release can cause the oils which lubricate the piston and the seal to ignite, producing what is known as “dieseling”. This process, if it occurs in a slight way, can contribute to the increase in power of the CO2 rifle, however, if the combustion is very intense this can result in seriously damaging the gun.

 Piece of a spring piston carbine

Piston seals for spring air-guns

A characteristic of spring-piston rifles is that they have a very pronounced recoil as a result of the piston’s forward movement. The recoil is the sharp thump which the gun makes on the shoulder of the shooter when the gun is fired. Therefore, the recoil of spring and piston rifles is very similar to that of a firearm, which to some extent makes it more difficult to control the weapon. The spring rifle can also experience vibrations during firing, which can affect its precision and accuracy. To control this, the coils include, in their interior, some rear guides attached to the spring to control its vibration at the moment of firing. The spring should be well attached to these guides in order to avoid such vibration. It is recommended not to fix the spring too tightly since the rifle would lose power, or too loosely as this could increase the vibrations. The back guides can either be made from metal or another synthetic material.

Carbine BSA 5,5 mm. calibre

BSA LIGHTNING XL Spring carbine  pellet-loaded directly into the canyon swing

A couple of pieces of advice when using and maintaining spring rifles are, firstly not to leave them loaded for hours or days as the spring can lose its elastic properties thereby reducing its firing power. Secondly, never fire the spring rifle when it is not loaded with pellets. Without ammunition to facilitate the compression of air, the piston seal will release rapidly, impacting with the piston or with the section known as the transfer port, which will result in serious damage. Keeping these tips in mind, you can enjoy your rifle while practising one of your favourite sports.

Air guns are use to practise shooting

Shotting with spring carbine

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