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How to Clean an Airgun Barrel: The Basics

Selective focus shot of a rifle at the gun rangeThere are a number of things that can go wrong with an airgun but if your accuracy becomes off, the enjoyment of the activity can already go out the window.

While expert shooters can always make adjustments, not everyone will be able to do so right in the middle of a skirmish or in a competition.

Luckily, keeping your airgun accurate is pretty easy. You’ll already go a long way just by learning how to clean an airgun barrel for this very purpose.

Should You Clean Your Airgun?

While searching for the steps on how to clean an airgun, it’s highly likely that you’ve also seen some recommendations against the said chore. There are folks who don’t believe that you need to clean your airgun barrel so some will definitely say that.

The thing is, lots of Olympic airgunners don’t clean out their airguns. This results in lots of people believing that they don’t have to do so as well. If it works for experts who use their airguns on a daily basis, why shouldn’t it for you?

The science isn’t clear for this but based on lots of avid airsofters’ experience, it’s just better to clean out your barrel from time to time. Some anecdotal evidence has shown many that their airguns can be fine and accurate until it’s not. The transition can be very quick.

While shavings and oil residue can help smoothen the travel of your pellets at first, excess lead and oil can become hindrances to the necessary movement after a while. The way they fill the pores aren’t always guaranteed to be systematic and even, so once they start to accumulate, inaccuracy can easily be experienced. Cleaning them regularly would be easier, especially since serious buildup will be tougher to clean out.

You can also easily soil your airgun, especially if you like to use it outdoors. It can be dropped in mud or other stuff that can plug its muzzle. When this happens, you definitely need to clean it out and you need to know how to clean an airgun barrel properly if you want the best results.

If you want to err on the side of caution, it’s best to just clean your airgun barrel every now and then. Again, you don’t need to do it very often, so if you’re daunted by the task, this might ease your mind a little.

How to Clean Your Airgun Barrel: The Basic Steps

Man with airgun rifle in a forest

So how do you actually clean your airgun barrel? Here are some of the most basic steps recommended by experts.

Get the necessary tools you need.

You need to use the right tools to clean out your airgun barrel if you do not want to damage the rifling in any way. You can get a commercially available cleaning kit or put together one using this list:

  • A fishing line. It should be thick enough to provide some stiffness so you can easily feed it through the barrel.
  • Lubricant spray. Airgun oils are recommended but some find popular commercial products like the WD-40 handy, too.
  • Cleaning patches. You can either buy them or cut up some cotton squares from old cotton shirts or garments.
  • A pair of scissors and plastic straw are also essential to have on hand.

You will also need a gun cradle to hold up your airgun or you can use an airgun tripod. Some personal protective gear is necessary, too, since you’ll be exposed to lead, a poisonous material. It’s best to wear a mask and a pair of gloves.

Read the instructions on your kit.

There will be an important step-by-step guide on these cleaning kits so you can be sure to use them properly. If you’re using a DIY kit, this video demonstrates the process nicely.

Generally speaking, however, the steps in the process will be a lot like these:

  1. Prepare your airgun. Set it up on a cradle or tripod and cock the rifle then apply the safety. Make sure that it doesn’t contain pellets and it’s not ready to fire any time soon. Remove the muzzle end cap, if there’s one.
  2. Some kits require spraying some airgun oil down the barrel to loosen up debris and residue. Make sure that the airgun’s bolt is closed before doing this to prevent getting oil into the action. Let the oil sit for a while before moving to the next steps.
  3. Feed the pull-through or fishing cord into the barrel. Use the drinking straw as a guide to make the movement easier. Just make sure to hold onto the straw so it won’t get fed into the barrel as well. Thread the pull-through all the way down the barrel and out of the breech.
  4. Get a piece of cleaning cloth and spray it with some oil or lubricant then hook it onto the loop in the pull-through. This is the tricky part because you need to position the fabric to make sure that it will wipe the insides of the barrel effectively. Some double up the patches for this.
  5. Carefully pull out the cord or pull-through following the direction of the pellet. Be careful and do not tug too much to avoid damaging your airgun barrel. Take out the patches and check how dirty they are.
  6. Repeat from step C to E until you end up with clean patches. Do another round using dry patches to wipe down the barrel and remove the excess oil left by the previous cleaning patches.
  7. You’re now done! Put your airgun back together. To be more efficient, add some grease on the caps, bolt, and hinge during the assembly so they’ll get some maintenance, too.


Keeping your airgun in top shape is always ideal if you want to make the most out of these non-firearm items. Cleaning the airgun barrel is just one of the easier maintenance techniques there is so make sure to give it a go from time to time.

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