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The Complete Guide To Airsoft Lubricants

 2nd Jan 2018

Airsoft guns are complicated beasts and ensuring that they are operating smoothly and efficiently is absolutely paramount to their continued operation and longevity.

However, lubricants can be tricky. There are multiple different materials and lubricant types. Not to mention a whole list of when you should and shouldn’t use them. Use this guide as your complete resource in how to lubricate, with what product, and when to lubricate your airsoft guns.

Use the table of contents below to skip to the section relevant to your airsoft gun.
 

THE BASICS OF AIRSOFT LUBRICATION
 

ELECTRIC AIRSOFT GUNS

AEG Rifles

AEP Pistols

Electric Shotguns
 

GAS AIRSOFT GUNS

GBBR (Gas Blow Back Rifles)

GBBP (Gas Blog Back Pistols / NBBP (Non-Blow Back Pistols)

Gas Sniper Rifles

Gas Shotguns
 

SPRING AIRSOFT GUNS

Spring Sniper Rifles

Spring Pistols

Spring Shotguns

The basics of airsoft lubrication

Before we get into the nitty gritty of which airsoft guns need which care etc, we’ve got to cover the basics of airsoft gun lubrication.

Do not lubricate hop-ups or Barrels

Airsoft Hop-Ups and Barrels work on friction. Lubricants were invented to stop friction. If you put lubrication in your hop-up, it will stop working.

A hop-up needs friction to put back-spin on the BB, this is how it generates lift through the air and gives you better range using a physics phenomenon known as the “Magnus Effect”.

Sketch of Magnus effect with streamlines and turbulent wake.svg

If lubrication gets on your hop-up, your airsoft gun’s range will naturally decrease. Avoid this, at all costs.

Avoid petroleum based lubricants

Petroleum based lubricants have a habit of eating into certain materials, especial rubber. Hydrocarbons (like petroleum) love to eat through rubber, so ensure that your airsoft lubricant is a different kind. Silicone based lubricants are a popular choice amongst airsofters.

Do not over-lubricate

When it comes to lubrication, less is always more. There’s a temptation to lather it on nice and thick, but it’s wasteful and actually harming the performance of the airsoft gun.

A completely dry gun has no lubrication and will struggle to move without lots of force. A little bit of lubrication will free up those moving parts and allow it to move. Lots of lubrication actually begins to get in the way of other moving parts, you have to fight against it and it becomes a magnet for dirt and debris, creating an abrasive paste which will quickly wear down the weapon.

Different parts require different lubricants

It’s a fairly common and easy mistake to make to assume that a lubricant, is a lubricant, is a lubricant. However, different lubricants are created for different purposed and there’s no “1-in-10” lubricant that does everything perfectly.

Metal on Metal contact requires a thick, molybdenum based grease like our Gun Grease LT2. It’s designed to reduce metal on metal friction in firearms and is more than heavy duty enough to stand up to the high speed rotations of gears within gearboxes.

Plastic on Metal and Plastic on Plastic requires something much finer and less viscous, like our Silicone Oil 35. Its thin viscosity provides an even film across the friction surface without hindering movement. Alternatively, for fast moving plastic parts (such as pistons), you may wish to go for a thicker silicon grease, and get longer lasting lubrication.

Lubrication is not always about friction

Up until now we’ve mainly spoken about how using oils and greases can reduce friction, increase efficiency and reduce ware. However, silicone oils and greases are also used to refresh and protect o-rings.

An airsoft gearbox is filled with o-rings which help ensure that the amount of air which propels the BB is consistent. If the o-rings dry out, they become brittle and lose their ability to seal against air pressure (or gas pressure) causing an inconsistent FPS.

Silicone oil helps to stop o-rings from drying out and keeps them lasting longer.

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Electric Airsoft Guns

Electric airsoft guns work on batteries, motors and gears and so it’s important to ensure that the internals are well lubricated. If you don’t, parts can easily get worn out and break.

Gearbox de una aeg

AEG Rifles

The most common airsoft gun type on the market (and therefore the first one we’ll cover) is the electric rifle, commonly referred to as an AEG.

Here’s everything you need to know about lubricating an airsoft electric rifle:

You’re going to need 2 or 3 different lubricant types. There are a huge range of different materials in an airsoft gearbox, you can’t tackle them all with one product. We suggest Gun Grease LT2 for metal on metal and Silicone Oil 35 for the plastic parts, at a minimum.

Guns are (generally) lubricated poorly from the factory. It might not be the first thing you want to do when you get a brand new toy to play with, but you will definitely be wanting to ensure that it lasts for as long as possible. A lot of airsoft guns are sold into the market with sub-par lubrication globbed onto the internals with little consideration for what it’s going to do to the operation. It may sound odd, but even a brand new gearbox can benefit from new grease and oil.

If you feel comfortable doing so, take your gearbox apart, use a degreasing spray to remove the old lubricant and replace with the following lubricants…

Gears are a metal on metal contact, with high rotational speed. For this application you should be using a high viscosity molybdenum based grease like our Gun Grease LT2. (Designed for real firearms).

Piston rails guide the piston back and forth. This can be lubricated with either Silicone Oil or Silicone Grease. We recommend Silicone Grease, due to its viscosity and ability to cling onto the fast moving piston. However, if the piston is metal, us Gun Grease LT2.

Cut Off Lever. Not a common one that people think about lubricating, but without lubrication, it might not actuate fast enough and cause overspin-esque symptoms (where the gun continues to fire briefly after you stop pulling the trigger). Lubricate this lightly with LT2 grease (if metal) and ensure it moves freely.

Piston Head, Cylinder Head, and Air Nozzle o-rings. These need to be kept fresh to ensure that your FPS remains consistent. A few drops of Silicone Oil 35 on each o-ring will ensure they stay fresh.

No lubricant is needed in the Hop-up or barrel areas. This will completely ruin range and accuracy and is very difficult to clean out.

If your rifle uses a realistic bolt or any other realistic moving features, you may wish to lubricated these like a real firearm using gun oil. You may also wish to coat the surface in a thin layer of gun oil to ensure that it doesn’t begin to corrode.

AEP (Electric Pistols)

Electric pistols are just tiny versions of AEGs. They use the same technology (spinning gears, air compressing pistons, motors and batteries); they just do it in a much smaller package. Due to this, the parts are smaller, under more stress and require much more care to ensure they last longer.

Here’s everything you need to know about lubricating your airsoft electric pistol:

Many AEPs have plastic internal gearboxes. This means that the internals of an AEP can be relatively fragile and it’s important to look after them. This involves carefully ensuring that they are well tuned and perfectly lubricated. Due to the potential plastic internals, this is best done with Silicone Gun Grease.

Not all AEP gearboxes are plastic though, some higher end AEP gearboxes are completely metal. If you happen to be lucky enough to own one of these, the gears need to be lightly coated (after cleaning) in Gun Grease LT2.

Gears should be lubricated with Gun Grease LT2 if metal or Silicone Grease if plastic.

Piston slides should be lightly lubricated with Silicone Oil 35 or Silicone Grease to ensure they are move easily and freely during firing. However, if the piston is metal, us Gun Grease LT2.

O-rings – There should only be three o-rings to remember to lubricate in an AEP, the piston head o-rings, the cylinder head o-rings and the air nozzle o-rings. Ensure that these are all well lubricate to prevent inconsistent and poor fps.

Additionally, you may wish to put a very light amount of lubricant into the magazine well, to aid in the removal of magazines. However, only do this lightly, no-where near where BBs sit and only if necessary.

Electric Shotguns

Electric shotguns, at the time of writing, are relatively rare. The only real offerings on the market are Tokyo Marui based systems, such as the AA12 and the SGR12. However, no doubt these systems will become more and more popular.

The internal workings of the TM design is very similar to an electric rifle, the only difference is that the piston is attached to 3 different piston heads, each in their own cylinder, with individual air nozzles and cylinder heads.

The internal lubrication required is therefore very similar to an AEG rifle outlined above.

Gears need to be lubricated with Gun Grease LT2, with a light covering on all metal surfaces that come in contact to reduce friction.

Piston. The piston may be metal or plastic in construction. If metal, you should lubricate the slides where they slide against the gearbox housing with Gun Grease LT2 (Our specific metal grease). If the piston is plastic, you should use a silicone based lubricant, such as our Silicone Grease. It’s sticky enough to keep the piston lubricated, even with high a high rate of fire.

Piston Head, Cylinder head and Air Nozzle o-rings should be lubricated with a silicone based lubricant to ensure that they provide a good seal. This can be done with Silicone Oil 35, or Silicone Grease, depending on your preference. Note that there are multiple piston heads, cylinder heads and air-nozzles which will need lubrication in a tri-shot gun. 

Remember, these are new systems, upgrades and spare parts may not ways be available (or cheap). So take care.

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Gas Airsoft Guns

Gas airsoft guns are designed to function very similarly (mechanically) to a real firearm. With that in mind, the care and maintenance of genuine firearms carries over to replica fire arms. However, within gas guns there are additional extras that need to be taken care of such as o-rings and seals.

GBBR (Gas Blow Back Rifle)

Gas blow back rifles are filled with moving parts that actuate on the trigger pull to operate the weapon realistically like a firearm. Just like a real firearm, the internals need to be spotless and well lubricated for smooth operation.

 

Trigger Assembly. The trigger assembly is full of sears and springs which should be individually lubricated with Gun Grease LT2. It should operate smoothly and freely without any grinding. It’s always handy to take pictures (or video) of the disassembly process, to ensure that everything goes back together correctly.

Magazine O-rings. Gas magazines store gas to be shot by the rifle, as such they need to be gas tight and the valves need to move freely. Otherwise, they simply won’t work. There is a fill valve on the bottom of the magazine which contains o-rings. If these o-rings dry out (by leaving the magazine empty of gas whilst in storage) they will no longer seal the gas inside. A drop or two of Silicone Oil 35 onto the valve should help keep it fresh.

There is also a large valve on the “rear” of the magazine, this button valve is struck by the “hammer” inside the gun. This releases gas and shoots the gun. Naturally, if this valve gets stuck, the gun won’t fire. Additionally, if this valve doesn’t seal properly, the gas will escape. Again, a drop or two of Silicone Oil 35 onto the button face as well as down the valve port (the small hole on the top of the magazine) will help keep it fresh. Do not get this gap confused with where the BBs go. You don’t want slippery balls.

Gas Routers. On the top of the magazine, you’ll see a rubbery surface with a hole in the middle. The hole in the middle is where the gas from the magazine is routed into the gun (hence the name – gas router). This gas router is rubber, because it seals against the inside of the gun and losses the lease possible gas in the process. Since this is a sealing surface and one that gets used regularly, in rough conditions, you want to lubricate this surface with Silicone Grease – the thicker consistency means it won’t be wiped off as easily when skirmishing. 

Piston. There is indeed a piston and o-ring set-up inside most gas blow back rifles. Inside the blowback housing and feed nozzle, you’ll find a piston with an o-ring (or rubber face) on it. Ensure that this is lubricated with Silicone Oil 35 or Silicone Grease. Do not be tempted to simply spray the oil through the gas port in the feed nozzle onto the piston head. This is too much lubricant and will get onto the hop-up rubber and ruin your accuracy. Take the time to disassemble the rifle and lightly lubricate the piston head correctly.

Bolt. The bolt is a big weighty piece of metal that travels back and forth within the gun. It’s moved by the pressure of the gas and returned by a heavy duty spring. The less energy this takes, the less gas it takes to fire the weapon, the more efficient it is and the faster the rate of fire/trigger response. A well cleaned and lubricated bolt is a step towards this.

The bolt should only contact the receiver in specific areas, so ensure that they are clean and lubricated properly with Gun Grease LT2. You shouldn’t need to cover the entire bolt in grease. It might seem that that would help the bolt travel, but you’re only adding weight to the bolt and accumulating dirt. Only put grease in areas of friction.

GBBP (Gas blow back pistol) / NBBP (Non-Blow Back Pistol)

Gas pistols are one of the most common gas weapons in airsoft. Electric versions are not the most reliable, and many players love the realistic action and feel of a gas pistol. So, how do you lubricate a gas pistol?

Gas pistols can vary in materials greatly, so when it comes to lubrication, remember the golden rules of: Plastic on Plastic contact or O-rings need Silicon Oil 35 or Silicone Grease. Plastic on Metal or Metal on Metal needs Gun Grease LT2.

Slide – The top slide on gas pistols (providing it’s blowback) are prone to getting dirty and dry through skirmishing. Most pistols, even if plastic, will have metal slides for durability. Polish and lubricate the length of these slides with Gun Grease LT2. If however, certain parts of plastic rub on plastic, use Silicone Gun Grease here.

If your pistol is NBB (non-blow back), there’s no need to lubricate the slide as it does not move.

Magazine – Like all gas magazines, the valves need to be constantly lubricated with Silicone Oil 35 to ensure they stay gas tight. Turning the magazine upside down will reveal the fill valve (where you fill the magazine with gas). A few drops of oil on this will keep the o-rings fresh.

The feed valve at the top rear of the magazine should be oiled similarly. The hammer within the pistol strikes this valve (the button on the back of the magazine) and releases gas into the pistol. If this valve isn’t lubricated, your pistol may struggle to cycle properly. Put a drop or two onto this button and a drop or two into the hole in the gas router (the rubbery square at the top). Actuate the valve back and forth a few times to work the lubricant in.

Gas Routers – The gas router, as mentioned above, is the rubbery part on top of the magazine which routes gas from the valve into the pistol. It’s made from rubber-like material so that it can create a tight seal with the loading nozzle. If this rubber gets dry, it won’t make a good seal and it will let inconsistent amounts of gas into the weapon (this creates an uneven fps). We recommend that you put silicone grease on the surface, so that it stays fresh for longer.

Outer Barrel – It may not seem it, but the outer barrel (the fake barrel that surrounds the inner barrel) moves inside the slide. It shifts ever so slightly to allow the slide to move freely. Naturally if this isn’t clean or lubricated properly, it can bind and cause the pistol to malfunction. It should be fairly clear on the outer barrel where it rubs against the slide, use this as a guide to lubricate. Use the materials guide above to work out which kind of lubricant you need to use.

Trigger Group – Whilst this is all “hidden” inside the pistol, it can get surprisingly grimy if left neglected. The entire trigger group is relatively easy to remove from all gas pistols. Providing you pay attention to the assembly order and positions (take photographs or video), it’s perfectly safe to fully disassemble, clean and lubricate. Since these parts are almost always metal, use Gun Grease LT2 here.

Piston – The piston is hidden inside the feed nozzle, inside the slide. This requires silicone oil 35 or silicone grease. Do not spray into the air nozzle, as this will easily find its way onto the hop-up rubber and ruin your pistol’s accuracy. Instead, completely disassemble the parts and put a light film on the sealing parts. This should prevent it from contaminating the hop-up.

Feed Nozzle – The feed nozzle springs back and forth inside the pistol slide and loads a BB from the magazine into the hop-up chamber. This is usually a plastic component, so use a silicone based lubricant sparingly on the outside surfaces that contact a plastic slide. If you happen to have a metal slide (and/or a metal loading nozzle) use Gun Grease LT2.

These parts can get dirty and gritty relatively quickly, so ensure that they are clean and lubricated regularly.

Gas Sniper Rifles

Gas Sniper Rifles, particularly the bolt action kind, are finely tuned tools; quality, correct lubrication is essential to their continued accuracy and consistency. Without proper care, gas sniper rifles can become inaccurate through poor seals and difficult to operate.

Despite the difference in looks, a gas sniper rifle works close to how a GBB rifle or GBB pistol works. The only difference is that there’s no “blow-back” function, which makes them substantially simpler, resulting in higher accuracy.

Here’s where you need to pay attention to when lubricating:

Trigger Unit – The trigger unit is a small tolerance series of bars, sears and levers which actuate the sprung hammer on the pull of the trigger. The entirety of this section will be made of metal. It’s important to ensure that this whole unit is kept clean from grit and dirt as otherwise it will bind and you will struggle to pull the trigger when it matters.

This area requires a thin layer of Gun Grease LT2. A thin layer will keep it moving freely without attracting and holding onto too much dirt.

Magazine valves – The gas magazine is similar to pistol and rifle gas magazines. It will have a fill valve on the bottom and a flow valve on the rear. These valves contain seals which, if not properly lubricated, turn into leaks. A few drops of Silicone Oil 35 on the surface will ensure that they remain sealed.

Gas Router – The gas router on the top of the magazine routes gas into the Gas Sniper Rifle’s cylinder. If you allow this to dry out, you won’t get a consistent seal against the rifle’s magazine and your accuracy will suffer over time. Ensure that this seal remains lubricated and in good condition, with Silicone Grease. The grease has a thicker consistency which will last on the gas router for longer.

Cylinder – The cylinder has two important parts to consider when lubricating. The outer surface and the gas port seal / router. The outer surface of the cylinder often rubs against the interior of the receiver. If this isn’t perfectly clean and lubricated, it can scratch and grind and as you move the bolt, making it much harder. These two surfaces are usually metal on metal contact, so we recommend Gun Grease LT2.

The gas port (on the bottom of the bolt) takes the gas from the magazine and puts it into the hop-up chamber to force the BB down the barrel. This surface rubs and seals against the magazine’s gas router due to the moving of the bolt. To ensure that this rubbing doesn’t ruin either seal, a thin coat of Silicone Gun Grease should be applied. The rubbing moving of the bolt means that Silicone Oil 35 may wear out faster than grease, so in this instance, we suggest Silicone Grease.

Cylinder Head – The tip of the cylinder head / feed nozzle may have an o-ring on the end of it for a better seal. With this o-ring, you must be very careful to not over-apply lubrication, since it directly interfaces with the hop-up and BBs. A very tiny amount of Silicone Oil 35 is appropriate here. If over-applied, remove with our degreasing spray and start again.

Gas Shotguns

Gas shotguns, like electric ones, aren’t too common on the airsoft field, but systems such as the Tokyo Marui M870 are available. These systems are finding their way into the second hand market and will definitely need some maintenance. Whilst inherently, each system is different, here’s what you need to look out for when cleaning, lubricating and maintaining your gas shotgun.

Stock – The stock seems like an odd place to start when talking about lubrication. However, guns like the fixed stock TM870 which happen to have a removable gas reservoir in the rear have a number of hidden o-rings. As you’re aware, o-rings need to be maintained; otherwise your shot gun will leak everywhere.

When you remove the stock, there may be an o-ring between the stock and the receiver (usually on the receiver side). This stops gas from leaking out from the joint between the two, whilst ensuring the gun can still come apart. This o-ring requires a drop or two of Silicone Oil 35 to keep it fresh.

Inside the stock will also be a valve to take the gas from the gas reservoir (which is often removable) into the weapon. This may need to be removed and the o-rings lubricated with Silicone Oil 35.

Gas Reservoir – The Gas Reservoir (if your shotgun has one) can be treated like a gas magazine on any other gas weapon. The only difference here is that there are no BBs to worry about. The reservoir will have a fill valve. Just like any gas magazine, you’ll need to give this a drop or two of Silicone Oil 35 to keep it in top condition. These reservoirs will also have a solid push valve to release the gas into the gun. This valve will need similar lubrication to prevent leaks.

Trigger Group – The trigger group is a solid metal arrangement of sears and leavers and it’s likely to become full of gunk and grunge after a few game days. Make sure that you occasionally remove it, clean out all the grit and dirt and re-lubricate it with Gun Grease LT2.

Receiver Mechanism – Inside the receiver are a number of small moving parts and movements. We’re not going to go through each of the individual little parts and tell you how to lubricate them. However, if you follow the rule of thumb of: metal on metal contact needs Gun Grease LT2 and any contact that has plastic or o-ring contact needs a silicone based lubricant, you will be fine.

Pump Action – The pump action mechanism, despite the handle being plastic usually, is a metal on metal slider, which requires Gun Grease LT2 for a smooth slide. Try not to get any on the outer grip, as you’ll struggle to operate the action.

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Spring Airsoft Guns

Spring guns vary greatly in airsoft. You can have the lowest end of the spectrum with a cheap spring pistol used as a last resort or you have one of the most expensive spring sniper rifles ever to grace this planet.

Spring Sniper Rifles

A spring sniper rifle is so accurate because of its repeatability and consistent gas delivery between shots. However, if your rifle falls into disrepair, it will begin to suffer in accuracy. Here’s how to ensure that it stays accurate and easy to operate.

Cylinder – Due to how spring guns work, this can be tricky to get right. When the bolt is pulled back, it’s against spring tension and when pushing the bolt forward, the piston inside can cause it to bind and push against the receiver. A thin layer of Gun Grease LT2 should help to free up the movement and make it easier to reload.

Cylinder head – The cylinder head screws into the cylinder and at the base of the threads is an o-ring. If you find that you are having trouble with gas efficiency, remove the cylinder head and add a dab or two of Silicone Gun grease.

Why Silicone Gun grease? When it comes to sniper rifles, consistency is key. Silicone Oil 35 has a thin consistency which is great for most applications. However, there’s potential that it gets picked up by gas flow when shooting and find its way into the barrel or onto the hop-up rubber. The thicker consistency grease won’t let that happen.

The cylinder head may also have an o-ring on the feed nozzle. Be very careful when lubricating this o-ring as it comes in contact with BBs and the hop-up, use the absolute minimum lubrication possible.

Piston Head – The piston inside the cylinder is what fires forward on the trigger pull, compresses air and shoots the BB through the Barrel. The cylinder head is one-piece (usually) with the piston. On the head of this piston are o-rings to give a good seal against the cylinder wall and compress the exact same amount of gas each time the trigger is pulled. Lubricate this o-ring with Silicone Gun Grease to keep it sealing well.

Trigger Group – The trigger group locks the piston in place when re-loading and transfers the trigger pull into releasing the piston. If this isn’t a smooth operation, it can be hard to let off accurate and precise shots. Thoroughly clean and degrease the trigger group and re-lube with Gun Grease LT2.

Spring Pistols

Spring pistols are not often on the “high end” of the airsoft market. Regardless, if you’re reading this, it means something to you and you want to keep it going for as long as possible.

The majority of spring pistols are made from plastic, as such, there’s only a need for Silicone Oil 35 or Silicone Grease. A careful take down of the pistol should illuminate the areas that need to be lubricated, but pay careful attention to:

Slide – The slide that you pull back in order to “prime” the gun for firing. This should have a small amount of lubricant on the slide rails.

Piston – The internal piston needs to slide freely and the piston head’s o-ring should be fresh and lubricated for a good seal.

Trigger Mechanism – The trigger mechanism is likely made of lightweight plastic which may break if used in anger. Keep this lubricated with silicone gun grease.

Overall, you want to ensure that these parts of clean and lubricated sparingly to ensure their long life.

Spring Shotguns

Spring shotguns are quite common on the airsoft field. They’re relatively inexpensive RIFs to purchase, but offer good effectiveness against close range targets. It’s a brave soul that decides to take one of these apart, but here’s what you need to know about lubricating one.

Pistons – The shotgun will have 3 different cylinders and 3 different pistons for the 3 barrels. Each one will have individual o-rings inside that need lubricating with Silicone Oil 35 or Silicone Gun Grease.

Slide – Most of the slide assembly is a mixture of plastic on plastic-or-metal-on-plastic connections. Here, use Silicone Grease to ensure smooth operation. However, for metal-on-metal connections use Gun Grease LT2.

Trigger – The trigger mechanism will most likely also be plastic-on-plastic contact, which will require Silicone Gun Grease.

The key to the longevity of these weapons is careful cleaning and lubrication. When you’re maintaining these weapons, keep an eye open for areas of wear and tear, particularly plastic parts. This is where you can plan to replace parts before they fail and investigate why they may be failing in the first place.

Our lubricants are sold across the world for airsoft, firearm and air rifle applications. Ask your local retailer about stocking Abbey Supply...

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