What to Expect From Your New Magnum Air Rifle

Magnum air rifles, those with a muzzle velocity of above about 1200 fps, can be a real challenge to shoot well. They can also offer experiences you may not expect if this is your first time shooting such an airgun. If you have purchased a new magnum air rifle – either spring piston or Nitro Piston gas ram – we hope you will find the advice and information here helps you gain maximum enjoyment from your purchase.

Safety First!
Obviously follow all the normal safety procedures you would expect when handling any gun and as described in the User’s Manual supplied with the air rifle

Cocking and Loading.
Brace the butt of the air riflefirmly against your hip for support, then pull down on the barrel to cock the gun. Keep pulling down hard until you hear a click and the barrel no longer needs to be pulled to stay down. The gun is now cocked and you can load a pellet into the breech. But here’s the key – FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY, NEVER, EVER RELEASE YOUR HOLD ON THE FRONT END OF THE BARREL WHILE COCKING OR LOADING YOUR AIR RIFLE! AND NEVER TOUCH THE TRIGGER AT ANY TIME WHEN DOING SO! This will prevent the unlikely event of the barrel flying shut with huge force and causing a potentially very dangerous accident.

The First Few Shots.
When your gun is new, you will find that a number of shots can be very loud and produce smoke from the barrel. This is called “Dieseling” and is normal with all spring/piston airguns, but particularly with magnum air rifles. It’s caused by lubricants used in the assembly of the gun literally burning due to the intense air pressure generated when firing. Dieseling normally subsides after somewhere between 5 and 200 shots, after which the gun will shoot much more smoothly.

Magnum spring gun air rifles shoot with considerable power. The action of the gun gives it a strong recoil – which surprises many first-time users!

Use an “Airgun Rated” Scope.
Be warned! Magnum air rifles will destroy scopes that are not “airgun rated”, even if they can cope with .50 caliber BMG! This is because spring/piston and gas ram air rifles have both a FORWARD and reverse recoil on shooting. It’s the forward recoil that brakes scopes. That’s also why magnum air rifles must be shot using the “Artillery Hold” as is described next.

In spite of the weight, length and recoil of magnum air rifles, you will find that best accuracy will be obtained by NOT grasping the gun tightly. Again, this surprises many new owners but this is common to all high power spring/piston air rifles. Simply rest the forend of the gun on your open hand and pull the buttstock against your shoulder gently. This is called the “Artillery Hold” and you can see it described in the “Spring Air Accuracy” video in the Archer Airguns YouTube channel at http://www.YouTube.com/ArcherAirguns. Holding a magnum air rifle when shooting will give bad accuracy that’s not the gun’s fault.

Continued shooting with a magnum air rifle will cause the stock screws and scope mount screws to work loose with time. If these screws loosen, accuracy will be impaired until they are tightened again. For this reason, we suggest removing the two screws on either side of the forend and the screw just in front of the trigger guard, then re-assembling them with a drop of Loctite Blue threadlocker to keep them in place. The screws retaining the scope rail on top of the gun can similarly be locked in place with threadlocker: Loctite Red can be used here as there should be no need to remove these screws for the life of the gun.

Barrel Droop.
Some break barrel magnum air rifles shoot “low” at long ranges – say 30 yards and greater. This low shooting is often known as “barrel droop”. If your air rifle shoots low and the effect cannot be corrected by adjusting of the scope fitted to the gun, you may need to invest in an adapter that angles the scope mounts down to counter the effect.

Cleaning and Lubrication.
Many firearms shooters are pleasantly surprised to find that there’s no need to clean air rifles after shooting. This is because there is no combustion residue as is produced by firearms cartridges. In fact there’s rarely a need to clean an airgun barrel, but if you do, please use a flexible airgun cleaning rope or “Bore Snake” and not a solid rod which may damage the delicate rifling. Don’t use Hoppes or other firearms cleaning solvent – it’s not necessary and may damage seals in the gun. Some people like to use a drop of Crosman Silicon Chamber Oil in the chamber occasionally, as is described in the User’s manual.

Do NOT use Crosman PellGun Oil, or any other lubricant for this as it may cause a dangerous explosion.

Finally, Here’s Some “Don’ts”.
Don’t “dry fire” your spring piston or gas ram air rifle without a pellet in the barrel. Doing so will cause irreperable harm to your air rifle that is not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

Don’t move the trigger adjustment screws unless you really know what you’re doing. It’s possible to set the trigger into an unsafe state if any adjustment is not done correctly. Leave this to experts!

The heading photograph shows the Stoeger X50 magnum air rifle.