While airsoft guns are usually durable enough for rugged outdoor play, they’re also surprisingly delicate in some ways. Without regular cleaning, they’re susceptible to jamming, aiming issues, and mechanical problems.
Fortunately, keeping your gun in great shape is easy and requires no expensive gear or technical know-how. Here’s everything you need to know about how to clean an airsoft gun.
Do You Need to Clean an Airsoft Gun and How Often?
Yes, you need to keep your airsoft guns clean. Doing so has two major benefits.
First, regular cleaning improves the accuracy of the gun. The inside of an airsoft gun barrel averages between 6.04mm and 6.08mm, while most BBs have a diameter of 6mm. Even small amounts of dirt and debris accumulation can interfere with the ability to shoot straight.
Additionally, a lack of cleaning can result in damage to your gun. If the barrel becomes too clogged, the gun is more likely to jam. Even worse, if you have a fast-firing airsoft gun, jamming can result in a backup of BBs that can destroy the gun’s internal mechanism.
How Often Should You Clean Your Airsoft Gun?
Cleaning frequency is a hotly contested topic in the airsoft community. Some folks say you should clean your gun after every shooting session, while others feel cleaning is only necessary about once a year or every 10,000 shots.
Personally, I recommend cleaning your airsoft gun after every 2,000 rounds fired. After firing around 2,000 rounds, enough buildup can impair the gun’s accuracy.
You’ll want to clean your gun more frequently if you play outdoors, especially in sandy areas.
How to Clean an Airsoft Gun: Basic Steps
Fortunately, learning how to clean an airsoft gun is easy.
You’ll need the following:
- Cleaning Rod – A long, thin rod with a loop on the end. They’re included with new guns or readily available from any airsoft supply store.
- Cleaning Cloth – A microfiber cloth is best because it won’t scratch the barrel, but you can use paper towels or even an old T-shirt in a pinch. For best results, you’ll want several pieces.
- Cleaning Solution – I recommend either Teflon gun oil or silicone oil. Some people prefer Teflon because it leaves less residue.
You’ll also want a clean, flat work surface in an area free from dust and drafts.
How to Clean the Barrel
Cleaning the barrel is a simple three-step process:
- Dampen your cloth with your cleaning oil. You only need a drop or two.
- Thread the cloth through the loop at the end of the cleaning rod.
- Finally, insert the cloth/cleaning rod into your barrel. Twist it around as you move it back and forth.
If the cloth is dirty when you remove it from the barrel, then the barrel isn’t clean. You’ll want to repeat the steps above with a clean cloth. Don’t be surprised if you need to use several cleaning cloths.
Bonus Tip: Use light-colored cloths, as they show dirt more easily.
How to Clean the Exterior
Cleaning the exterior isn’t as vital to performance as cleaning the barrel, but you still want your gun to look its best.
Avoid harsh cleaning products. They can damage and dull the paint.
Instead, use a damp cloth for the larger sections of the gun’s exterior. As with the interior, a microfiber cloth is best. Make sure it’s clean, as even a small bit of dirt or debris can scratch the gun.
Use a soft-bristled brush to clean the contours of the gun. You can find small brushes made specifically for gun cleaning, but I’ve found that even a soft toothbrush will work just fine. Cotton swabs are also effective.
How to Maintain the Magazine
Performing regular maintenance on your magazines helps prevent damage and improves firing performance.
If you have a spring-powered airsoft gun, unload the magazine completely after every use. Leaving the magazine loaded for long periods of time places unnecessary pressure on the spring, which drastically shortens its lifespan.
If you have a gas-powered airsoft gun, maintenance is more important – and slightly more complicated. Always leave the magazine pressurized when stored. Also, you’ll need to keep it lubricated by dropping a few drops of silicone oil into its internal compartment.
Do You Need to Lube/Oil Your Airsoft Gun?
Yes, lubrication helps prevent damage and improves the gun’s overall performance. How you lubricate your gun depends on whether it’s electric or gas-powered.
For both types of guns, make sure you remove the magazine and empty the chamber before you start the lubrication process.
To lubricate a gas-powered airsoft gun, you’ll first need to remove the rear pin. You’ll see two foam pieces. Gently pry them open and add a few drops of oil to the components behind.
Lubricating an electric-powered airsoft gun is slightly more complicated. You’ll need to remove the pistol grip (there’s a screw in the base) to access the motor. Remove the cables attached to the motor and then pull it out. Spray silicone oil into the small hole at the motor’s base.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to general questions people ask about how to clean an airsoft gun.
Do you have to take the gun apart to clean it?
No. For general cleaning, you don’t have to disassemble your gun. However, you have to disassemble small sections of electric and gas-powered guns to keep them properly lubricated.
Do cleaning pellets or cleaning BBs really work?
Cleaning pellets are special ammunition made from materials that absorb dirt and debris. You load them in your gun and fire rounds for about five minutes.
Cleaning pellets remove buildup and debris, but they’re not nearly as thorough as the rod-and-cloth method I described above. Personally, I use cleaning pellets about halfway through a long day of shooting but then use a cleaning rod back at home.
How to keep your airsoft gun clean while playing?
Keeping your gun clean isn’t much of an issue if you’re playing indoors. However, you’ll want to be careful outdoors, as dirt and debris can easily find their way inside the barrel.
If your gun stops firing, immediately release the trigger. Check the barrel for obstructions. Then, switch off the hop and turn the gun upside down to unjam it.