Over the course of the past couple of weeks we’ve made a point of giving you some ideas for how to use your “C-Virus Lockdown Time” to best effect, by using the time we have not playing to ensure that all your clothing and equipment is in tip-top shape for when fields and sites reopen fully once again.

There is of course another vital area where we can spend time in hand wisely, and that’s by giving our AEGs and GBBs some TLC; we’re not talking here about any upgrades or major work, just simply keeping your trusted “partners” in good shape generally! Bill tells what he does to keep his “babies” in good shape and ready for their next engagement…

First up, if you aren’t confident and comfortable with opening up your gearbox and taking it apart, just don’t do it in the first place! Gearboxes can be tricky blighters to work on at the best of times, so if you’re in doubt about how well things are working internally then speak to your local store tech; many stores, although not open fully at the moment, are still offering their services via “click and collect”, and from what I hear the tech side is busier than ever, with many of you looking to upgrade or give your favourite blaster a new lease of life!

I have said many times that although I know my way around the inside of and AEG I am no tech-head, preferring to leave intricate work to the “armourer”, the guy that knows the magic of the inside of an AEG intimately, and knows at a glance or a touch exactly what needs to be done. As good as “your mate” may be, I’d also advise that you don’t rely on their sometimes less-than-expert knowledge to do major internal work on your beloved gnu, as I’ve seen good friendships fail over the years when said “expert” makes a hash of even a simple repair or even the most basic bit of maintenance… pay an expert to do serious internal work, it’ll be money well spent!

At the moment many of us have our RIFs in storage, and my first rule for this is to ensure that all my guns are stored clean and safe. If you store your guns in an outbuilding or loft then do be aware that they will be prey to environmental conditions as ambient temperatures will be unregulated. This may not sound of much import, but unless you store your expensive AEGs and GBBs properly they will be open to changes in both temperature and changing levels of humidity… let’s remember that ingress of water to an electrical system is not a great thing, and that moisture leads to corrosion, so you need to ensure that they are clean and lubricated to protect them, and preferably stored in a good gun case or wrap.

What I look at is how, before storage, I can ensure that all of my AEGs and GBBs are ready to lift from the case, to have gas added to mags, to have a battery fitted, to load some BBs and be good to go each and every time! This of course starts with a thorough clean-up after each and every game, not once in a blue moon. My first step is always to clean the exterior, removing any mud or debris that may have accumulated; this does happen, we all take a tumble from time to time, right? A simple toothbrush and paintbrush are your friends here, and you can use them to brush away any loose debris or dust, making sure to get into all those little nooks.

Virtually every airsoft gun I’ve ever bought has come with a cleaning/unjamming rod, and these are provided for a reason… okay, hopefully we don’t need the rod to clear a jam that often, but we do need them to ensure that the inner barrel is clear from obstruction and clean, and indeed always nice and shiny! Here all you need to do if you maintain your ROF regularly is to add some lint-free cloth to the open end of the rod and run it back and forth in the inner barrel a couple of times… that’s it! Be careful not to jam the rod down the barrel too aggressively, as remember there’s a somewhat delicate hop-up mechanism at the receiver/body end. I use a little teflon oil in the last pass of the rod/cloth, although silicone oil is fine too. I own predominantly metal guns, some steel, some alloy, but as a matter of habit I always add a little gun oil (I like the Clenzoil brand) to a soft cloth and pass that over the entirety of the external parts prior to storage to prevent any corrosion forming. To conclude my “field clean” I add a drop of silicone oil into the hop unit just to keep it happy.

Batteries should be removed when you place an AEG in storage, and all terminals checked. Personally I usually charge and balance my own batteries after a game, and if you’re not intending to use batteries for a while, make sure you give them a partial charge before storing, and keep the battery at room temperature. Obviously some batteries like LiPos have additional requirements for safe storage, so learn about what you use, and maintain accordingly! Also remember to remove batteries from any optics that use them, and taclites too! You can also give the glass/lenses on your optics a wipe with a suitable cloth, replacing dust covers if you have them.

Magazines… there’s still a bit of debate on how to maintain and store your mags, but once again, personally I always remove BBs from both my rifle/carbine and pistol mags immediately I finish a days play. I do this for two reasons, firstly to ensure that the springs remain uncompressed (a badly compressed magazine spring can lead to feed issues), and secondly to avoid picking up a loaded magazine inadvertently when I’m in the workshop. I also check carefully the feed lips and seals on my gas mags for any obvious damage, empty gas mags of gas from the days play and then store with a small charge of gas in them to ensure that the seals stay lubricated. All my gas mags live on a shelf in my home office, at room temperature.

For my all my GBBs, both pistols and rifles/carbines the cleaning process goes a little deeper; pistols have the slide removed, the internal parts carefully cleaned and lubricated, and trigger units inspected, whilst my GBBRs get the “BCG” removed too. Cleaning a good, full-travel-bolt gas rifle or carbine is more akin to doing a field-strip and clean on a real firearm, and I have to admit that I love carrying this all-important maintenance out on them! I always lubricate the internals carefully, especially if I’m using CO2 instead of green gas, and pop a drop of silicone oil in and on the “airsoft parts” to protect O-rings and the like.

Ultimately, all AEGs and GBBs are different, but share many of the same fundamentals. To keep them running perfectly you need to carry out regular maintenance and cleaning, change and replace parts as needed, and focus on the parts inside and out that make up these guns do what they are supposed to each and every time you lift them from your gun case. This is by no means an exhaustive “how to”, just a few simple ideas to get the best life and performance from your chosen “primary and secondary” each time you need them to “do business”!