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AEG Maintenance

A question posed in response to the AEG vs. HPA blog:

Maybe the next blog should be about maintenance? How often. What should you be doing. How deep should you be digging into your replica.

My somewhat flippant response was “Clean your barrel”, but that got me thinking about all the really bad advice I’ve seen, so you may be in luck, gentle reader, as this will most likely be a short one.

The biggest thing that really needs to be read, understood, and followed is yes, Virginia, there really is such thing as too much lube.  Players are using lube for everything.  And too much lube where it’s needed.  The boneyard M1A1 gearbox I recently took apart had so much grease in it that it was slippery on the outside.

Slippery and filthy dirty because dirt clings to lubricant like the overly attached girlfriend.  This leads me in to my very first point:

Yes, Keep Your Barrel Clean

This is the absolute easiest thing you can do to help keep your replica in good operating order.  It doesn’t take a particularly large chunk of something to really fuck the BB’s spin, and before you know it, your shots are all over the place, even more so than what is typical for airsoft.

Somewhere in the annals of airsoft history, someone came up with the idea of using silicone oil to “clean” your barrel.  DO NOT DO THIS – this is a great way for little dust particles to quickly build up to bigger dust particles in your barrel.  When confronted with this information, the “use silicone crowd” says: “Well no, you clean it with the silicone oil, then dry it out with a clean patch.”

This is not how oil works.  There will always be a sheen of oil left in the barrel; that’s its job.

I chalk the whole “clean with oil” thing up as akin to when EVH trolled the entirety of the guitar community when he said that for the best possible tone to boil your guitar strings in water before putting them on.

So, with that said, what CAN you use to clean your barrel?  Honestly, whatever you want.  If you think that silicone oil is the greatest thing since sliced bread, keep on doing it.  It’s your game, remember?  Use Drano for all I care, it’s completely up to you.  I’m still going to charge you $25 an hour to fix your replica when you screw it up.

I know of someone who uses Hoppe’s #9, which makes sense, as Hoppe’s is a solvent and does a good job at removing powder, lead and metal fouling (that’s what the label says).  Even though the ingredients aren’t listed on the label, they *are* listed on the MSDS, available here.

Kerosene, Ethanol, propan-2-ol amyl acetate… over 3 pages of ingredients.  But it smells nice. 😊  Does it work?  I’m sure.  But if you’re going to use Hoppe’s #9, I strongly urge you to completely uninstall your barrel, because that shit will eat through your bucking.  Don’t believe me?  Link below.

What does the all-knowing and wizened Bear use?  Isopropyl alcohol.  It’s not great or perfect, but it *does* actually clean, in conjunction with a cleaning patch, and it evaporates quickly.  You can also leave your hop chamber and bucking in place since isopropyl alcohol will NOT damage natural or silicone rubber.  Don’t believe me?

Even if you have zero technical desire or inclination, I would recommend that you at least learn how to remove the inner barrel so you can give it a good douching.  M4 style is easy.  Things get super complicated from there (AKs, MP5s, etc).  Your best best is to jump on YouTube and see if there are any “field strip” videos available for your specific replica.  Again, I cannot recommend Pheas Airsoft strongly enough.

Wet the cleaning patch in the alcohol, run it all the way through the barrel and out the other side, then run it all the way back out.  Take a peek down the barrel; if it’s still dirty, repeat the process with a clean patch.  The key here is *all the way through* so gunk isn’t pushed part way down the barrel, and that is the exact thing that we’re trying to avoid.

To be fair, the closest column of guns is all rentals. But I still have to make sure they’re all operating at peak ability.

The best part:  the inside of your hop chamber and your bucking are also cleaned during this process.

Honestly, that’s all I do… and since I have the luxury of spreading a stupid number of replicas over two and a half or three dozen games per year, they really don’t need a lot of attention.  Not even the rental units, really.  I’ll check the barrels about once a month and wipe down the outside.  Unless they get dropped into the mud, or in a puddle.  That when they get stripped and really cleaned… and if it has an ETU (like my M16A1), it gets a trigger trolley because that ETU shit the bed while enjoying its swim.

What about magazine maintenance?

Unless you drop your mag in the mud, or a soft sandy spot, I wouldn’t worry about it.  Whatever you do, do NOT grease the inside.  Not only will this collect ungodly amounts of dust and dirt inside the mag, but it will also transfer it to your BBs as well as grease them up, and you’ll never get them to hop.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Pistols?  Pistols are their own nightmare.  Learn how to fieldstrip your pistol and scrub everything down the best you can with your cleaner of choice.  I use isopropyl alcohol and an old toothbrush.  Use a minimal amount of grease on the slide guides (if it’s a GBB).  Too much grease will collect dirt.

I will say this though, don’t oil up anything in the gasflow path, otherwise your pistol will stop hopping BBs.  I got so outrageously mad at my 1911A1 because it went from being a powerhouse with .32s to barely hopping .25s.  I later figured out that was thanks to some really bad advice I took regarding a squirt of silicone oil at the puncture point for CO2 cartridges in the mag.  After I cleaned up the barrel and bucking, I’m easily hopping .32s again.  And *shock surprise* it’s still not leaking.

This is another thing I don’t like about green gas.  First point is green gas is severely underpowered, as compared to CO2, especially in cooler weather, but the second reason is that it is literally liquid propane mixed with a lubricant of some sort.  Propane is a hydrocarbon, and will tear up any natural or silicone rubber in the gas path (reference above chart again, please).  The lubricant lubes everything, which is great in theory, but now you’re dealing with a half-eaten hop rubber that doesn’t hop and a barrel full of dirt.

So, when should you delve deeper into your AEG for “maintenance”?  I’d say when your FPS has dropped or has gotten inconsistent.  At that point you’re looking at a potential airseal problem.  If you’re trigger-happy, yes, it could be a spring issue.  If you’re unsure, take it to your local tech and let them sort it out.

TL; DR ->

Back to the original question:

@thechefe, an “old fart getting fartier.”

Maybe the next blog should be about maintenance? How often. What should you be doing. How deep should you be digging into your replica.

    • For rifles (AEG, HPA, BASR), keep your barrel clean. Wipe down the exterior with mild soap and warm water, unless you want it to develop a “well-used” look.
      • Pistols, I’d clean them after every game.  It’s quick and easy and pistols are notoriously finicky.
    • There’s really no need to dig deeper into your replica unless you’re upgrading things, or you’ve noticed a decline in performance.

What do you readers do for replica maintenance?  I’d love to know.

Special shout-out and THANK YOU to my dear friend @thechefe for always being supportive.  And who extensively airsofts with his kids; seriously Dad of the Century shit there.  And who is just an amazing human being.

As always, if there are things I should add, or things I got wrong, please let me know.  Cite your sources though.


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