airsoft-gun-maintenance

How to Clean Your Airsoft Gun

Don’t know how often you need to clean your airsoft gun, or even if you need to clean it?

Sure, it may not be a real steel gun, but your airsoft gun does require a little bit of upkeep. Depending on how often you shoot, you may even find out you don’t need to clean it as often as you clean your room.

Messy-Bedroom-via-Lucas-Fowl
Messy Bedroom (via Lucas Fowl)

… You do clean your room, right?

Anyways, cleaning and maintaining your airsoft gun isn’t actually as hard as it would seem reading forum responses on the topic. While the more technically inclined among us may feel like tackling the more complex parts of cleaning, but for the rest of us, it’s pretty simple to clean your gun in between trips to the tech.

So, let’s get to it!

How Often Do I Need to Clean My Airsoft Gun?

Estimates vary… widely. If you search for advice, you’re going to find a variety of answers, each based on a player’s own experience.

specna-arms-8kiKzs-b5tc-unsplash
Airsofters

Clean too often, and you risk damaging your gun or forcing yourself to lubricate it more often than you’d need to, thus spending more than you need to on maintenance. Clean not often enough, and you’re faced with buildup, loss of accuracy, and potential damage. Obviously, you want to clean when you need to.

So, how often is that?

We’ve found the magic number to be somewhere around 2000 rounds. Whether you go through this is an event or it takes you months, it takes about 2000 rounds for enough buildup to occur to make it worth cleaning your gun.

Spray and Pray
Spray and Pray

As you fire BBs, they will leave behind microscopic traces of plastic, which will accumulate over time. Obviously, your gun’s unique quirks, the quality of ammo you use, and other factors will affect buildup, so pay attention to how your gun’s accuracy diminishes with use and maintain as necessary.

Obviously, you’ll want to clean your gun more often if you play in bad conditions, like rain or sandy windstorms, or if you dump your gun in the dirt. 

Haboob
Not good playing conditions.

Honestly, it’s still better to overclean than to under-clean your gun.

To Tech or Not to Tech: When Cleaning Needs to Go Pro

Okay, we’re pretty big fans of DIYing stuff, but we also know that there are times to talk to a professional airsoft tech, too. 

airsoft tech
Airsoft tech at work

If you know your way around your gun and have a robust toolset, you probably could clean and lubricate the gearbox and internals of your gun just fine on your own. We’re not going to walk you through that since, well… it really depends on your individual gun and we just don’t have the space to do that.

If you’re a new airsofter, though, and want to gain some critical information for keeping your shiny new gun happy, listen up! We’re writing this for you.

Anyways, getting back to the original point, we wanted to talk a little bit about when to take your gun to a tech, and when to do it yourself.

Even the newest airsofter can clean their own barrel with the right tools–tools which often come with the freakin’ gun. This is probably the cleaning task you’ll need to worry about the most often, so it’s great to learn to do it on your own.

We’d say that, if you aren’t comfortable with a certain cleaning task–like opening up your gearbox and taking it apart–don’t do it. These things can be super tricky to put back together, and lost parts will ruin the whole thing.

You can, of course, learn to do it. We encourage this. But also, we’re not going to give you a hard time for opting to go to a tech and having them do it right the first time. 

Pro tip: if you want to get a feel for working on internals, ask around or look for a beater of a gun. You can mess around with it, and it won’t be too sad if you end up breaking it.

How to Clean Your Airsoft Gun: The Basics

Again, we can’t get into the nitty-gritty of cleaning every type of gun, just because we don’t have the space or the attention span to do that. And I don’t want to. So there.

But there are some basics that are pretty universal, so we’ll go over those. For the details, we suggest consulting your specific user manual. If your gun didn’t come with one (used guns, yo), there’s a pretty good chance you can plug in the brand and model of your gun and “user manual” into Google and get a PDF version of it.

And now, the basics of cleaning your own airsoft gun!

Cleaning the Barrel

Chances are, your gun came with a barrel cleaning/unjamming rod. If it didn’t, they’re a few bucks to pick up and are 100% necessary to keep on hand so… get one.

airsoft barrel cleaning
This is a real steel gun but… same concept applies.

Cleaning the barrel is incredibly easy. There will be a little loop on the end of the rod, which will allow you to thread through a scrap of paper towel, a cloth cleaning patch, or even a bit of an old tee shirt–whatever you have on hand.

Teflon Oil
Teflon Oil

Personally, we like to use Teflon gun oil to lubricate and clean our barrel, because it dries nicely and won’t attract dust. Many people recommend silicone oil for cleaning, and it will certainly get the job done, but we don’t like the residue it can leave. 

Whatever your pick is, dampen your cloth, towel, whatever, with a drop or two of oil after threading the material onto your rod. Thread the rod, cloth-first, into your barrel and gently twirl it as you move it down the barrel of your gun. 

Change out your cloth and repeat as needed until your swab comes out clean.

Voila! Clean barrel.

Cleaning the Exterior

While cleaning the barrel is probably the most important maintenance step, the exterior of your gun shouldn’t be neglected, either.

Brush Set
Use the soft one on the right–not the metal bristled ones!

A soft cloth and a soft-bristled brush, like a toothbrush, will be your best friends in keeping the exterior of your gun clean. You can use them to clean dust and knock grit off your gun. Cotton swabs can also be super useful to help you clean all the nooks and crannies.

What’s important is to avoid anything too abrasive, since you don’t want to scratch the finish of your gun.

Lubricating Your Gun

If you’ve cleaned your barrel, you’ve already lubricated that part of your gun. Yay! Now let’s get to the rest of it.

The first step is to remove your magazine and make sure there aren’t any stray BBs in your gun. So… point it in a safe direction and fire away!

All clear? Awesome. Now flip that gun over, cause we’re getting to work.

Now that your gun is upside down, drop or spray a little bit of silicone oil into your hop up, and give it a few minutes to soak in.

To lubricate the gearbox, you’ll need to remove the motor and locate the small hole on the bottom. You can drop a few drops of silicone oil into the hole and leave the box upside down to allow the oil to seep in and lubricate everything.

You might also see white lithium grease recommended for your gearbox, but it’s a bit hard to apply the paste without disassembling your gearbox. If you are taking it apart, though, it’s a great lubricant for gearboxes!

Magazine Maintenance

Finally, you’ll want to take good care of your magazines. These are easier to replace if something goes wrong but who wants to spend more money than they have to?

If you use an AEG or a spring gun, you’ll want to completely empty the magazine after you’re done playing. This takes tension off the follower and spring inside, and will greatly increase the lifespan of your magazines.

Gas magazines take a little bit more care. When storing your gas magazine, leave it pressurized. You’ll also want to lubricate the internals of your magazine, especially if you’re using straight propane or CO2 instead of green gas. A drop or two of silicone oil in the magazine internals is all it takes to protect your O-ring and keep your magazine useful for a long time.

Another thing to be careful with when using gas magazines is how you purge your magazine when it’s needed. A rapid purge of gas will freeze and ruin the O-ring, which leaves you with a sad, leaky magazine. Don’t use the release valve, since this will cause this issue and you’ll be bummed you did.

Instead, take a ballpoint pen or a small tool and gently (gently!) press the fill valve to bleed off the gas slowly. Or, y’know… shoot. Dry firing is a perfectly acceptable way to empty out a gas magazine!

Conclusion

Cleaning and maintaining your airsoft gun shouldn’t be some mystical ritual that only happens in the backrooms of airsoft shops. It’s not hard, and you can definitely learn to do it yourself. 

In fact, you should, which is why we’re here!

Take some time to sit down with your gun, your cleaning supplies, and our guide, and show your gun some love.

Any questions? Any tips? Share with us and our readers in the comments below! Don’t miss out on any of our new posts–give us a like on Facebook!

Milo Harrison

Milo's a desert rat by birth and grew up in the shadow of Nellis AFB. He first discovered paintball in high school, but quickly switched to the world of airsoft when he found out how much less it stung. He still loves a pickup game in the backyard, but these days, you'll usually find him at airsoft LARP events.

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