How To Know If An Air Rifle Has Been Cocked

How To Know If An Air Rifle Has Been Cocked

This is one of those questions that comes up time after time, and for good reason. Carrying a cocked air rifle in a public place is a criminal offence and when coupled with the fact that storing an air rifle in the cocked position can seriously damage your rifle – it’s well worth knowing the facts about this topic. But before we get into learning how to know if an air rifle is cocked, let’s look a little into how spring powered air rifles work to make it easier to understand.

HOW DO SPRING POWERED AIR RIFLES WORK?

Without getting too technical, let’s have a quick explanation on what goes on inside a springer air rifle. All spring piston air rifles have a spring loaded piston pump inside a compression chamber which is separate from the barrel. Once the gun is cocked, the piston moves backwards, compresses the spring and catches on a clip called the sear.

When the trigger is squeezed, it releases the piston from the sear, which allows the spring to decompress and forces air from the compression chamber to propel the pellet from the barrel. 

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO KEEP A SPRINGER COCKED FOR A LONG PERIOD

Because the spring is used to propel the pellet from the gun, it’s important not to keep the air rifle cocked for a long period of time. This doesn’t mean it can’t be cocked, loaded and held for up to an hour or so for hunting convenience. But it does mean you shouldn’t take it home and store it in the cocked position.

Why? Well, if you do leave the air rifle cocked for a long time, the spring will weaken. With as much as a 6% loss of velocity after just 4 weeks. The longer the air rifle is left cocked, the more damage the spring will undergo. For instance after 12 weeks there can be up to a 27% loss of velocity, which is a quarter of the original power of your air rifle!

For more information see this gateway to airguns article: https://www.gatewaytoairguns.org/GTA/library/Keeping%20a%20Springer%20Cocked.htm

DON’T COCK YOUR AIR RIFLE UNLESS YOU INTEND TO FIRE IT

The best way to know if your air rifle is cocked is to only cock it when you intend to use it. Never leave it for any length of time in the cocked position, unless you’re prepared for your air rifle to lose power and possibly need repair.

It’s also not advisable to “dry fire” it as you can damage the mechanism (dry firing means firing the airgun without loading a pellet). This is because the pellet creates pressure, which acts as a buffer, stopping the piston head from hitting the end of the compression chamber too hard. Without this buffer, the spring snaps back much faster which can damage the spring.

HOW TO KNOW IF AN AIR RIFLE IS COCKED

To see if an air rifle is cocked, just apply gentle pressure to the tip of the barrel or cocking lever:

  • If there is fairly strong resistance, the air rifle is not cocked. 
  • If there is little or no resistance, the air rifle is cocked.

So it is important to get to know your gun and also be aware of how it feels when cocked and when not cocked. Buying an air rifle is quite an investment and to protect your investment it needs to be maintained.

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