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Pellet Lubes

If you read airgun catalogs and web sites, you’ll notice that there are a number of lubricants sold that are designed to be used directly on pellets. Do they work, and are they worth it? Yes, and maybe.

I used to lubricate pellets for field target matches- after carefully cleaning, sorting and sizing them. After all, in competition, often it’s the attention to tiny details that seperate first place from the rest. For field use and plinking, I don’t really see a need- although it’ll help there as well.

Lubricating seems to have a number of benificial effects. One, it pretects pellets from further oxidation. Two, it prevents the buildup of lead in a barrel- something that, even in very small amounts, might cause a change in shooting behavior. Three, it seems to increase velocity a little in some guns, which will flatten trajectory. And fourth, it helps prevent rust in barrels. This is more of a problem in pneumatic guns than in spring guns; in a spring gun, the air entering the barrel is very hot, and tends to vaporize any moisture that may be there. In a CO2 or PCP gun, the gas cools down rapidly from room temperature as it enters the barrel, chilling it, and causing any moisture in the air to condense.

For CO2 and PCP guns, just about any lubricant can be used so long as it doesn’t attack the rubber seals on the gun. I’ve seen things like STP and even WD40 recommended by some shooters. A favorite with the PCP shooters at my club was a light furniture wax! Spring guns are pickier; you must use a non-combustible lubricant. Any fuel in the chamber will ignite when the hot air coming from the combustion chamber hits it, causing unpredictable behavior and depositing carbon in the barrel.

Most of the non-flammable pellet lubes are silicones in a light solvent that quickly evaporates. Some shooters use products like 3M Scotchguard, which is pretty much the same thing, and is about a tenth the price of a product bottled and sold for airgun use.

Whatever lube you use, use it sparingly- a few drops is enough for a tin of pellets. If you can see it or smell it, you’re probably using too much.