Updated: Nov 28, 2020
Produced by Andy's Airgun Review for Vector Air, here is your guide to setting up your brand new PCP Air Rifle.
This was initially developed for the new shooters who have purchased the GX40 kit. however, a lot of the knowledge gained within this guide can be transferred to other PCP rifles, but please always read your manual first.
See below for the video and the written guide.
Step 1 - Checking you have anything
Step 2 - Assembly
Fitting a Scope to an Air Rifle
Fitting a Silencer to an Air Rifle
Step 3 - Charging the Gun
Probe care and use
Filling the gun
Step 4 - Loading the Magazine
Step 5 - Zeroing your gun
Care and Maintenance
Step 1 - Checking you have everything you need
So, you have just picked up your new PCP Air Rifle, you want to get out shooting... Well first let's check you have everything you need. Most Rifles come with the filler probe and at least one magazine included. However, this is not always the case on some high ticket Air Rifles.
So what do you need
The Air Rifle (Obviously) and it's manual.
Fill probe and any adapters you need for your fill source (tools may be necessary)
Magazine (if the rifle uses one)
Targets for Zeroing
Unsure what is compatible with your rifle or after a whole kit to avoid complications? Contact us for assistance
Step 2 - Assembly
99% of Air Rifles come pre-assembled from the factory. However, included attachments normally need to be added on by the user.
Scopes and Mounting
Let's start with the Scope, this has to be mounted with scope mounts to the top rail of the airgun.
There are many different types of mounts, but you must ensure you have the correct mount type and enough height for your scope to clear your rifle's barrel/block. Firstly ensure your mounts are the correct type. There are 2 specific mount types, 9-11mm Dovetail and Picatinny(RIS). These two are not interchangeable, however, there is a third name you will see - Weaver - weaver is is a non-standardised mount type however it is close to Picatinny(RIS).
The differences between mount types are somewhat obvious however the names can be confusing. The main way to identify the differences is that 9-11mm Dovetail is just that, 11mm wide. Picatinny(RIS)/Weaver are 20mm Wide and normally feature recoil ridges however they are sometimes smooth, the best way to ensure is to measure the top width.
The body diameter of your scope will determine the size of the ring you need. The most common size is 30mm in diameter, the less common and older 1-inch diameter is being phased out, however, some scope manufacturers will exclusively use 1-inch.
The required height will be determined by the size of the riflescope’s objective lens (the large end). Ultimately, correct sized rings will ensure the riflescope clears the top of the barrel, while not leaving too much of a gap.
Ring heights are often split into three different sizes Low, Medium and High.
To select the correct height ring to calculate the height of half of the riflescope’s widest point (normally the objective bell of the scope), you will then need to know the height from the bottom of the ring mount to the middle of the ring mount, select the ring mount height that is just over half of your riflescopes widest point. This will ensure the riflescope clears the barrel when in the ring mounts.
Traditionally shooters will try and fit the riflescope with minimal clearance above the barrel. This helps the line of sight be nearer to the bullet trajectory which will give better results when changing target distance.
Some rifles’ rails will sit slightly higher than the barrel. If the riflescope’s objective bell is going to be above the barrel then this extra height difference can be taken into account.
The first rule with anything attached to a gun is DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN! Finger tight is enough, if you are leaving an impression on your hand or having to use a tool other than an Allen key or screwdriver you are doing it wrong!
So what your going to do first is identify the Front and Back mounts, this can be done by finding the recoil peg on the bottom (if your mounts don't have this, then move to the next step). The mount with the peg is the back mount (located closest to your eye), on PCP's it is unnecessary as it is designed for Springers or Firearms. You can use the supplied tools to recede the peg back into its hole for it to be then mounted for PCP's.
Now separate the mounts top and bottom pieces and then place the bottom parts onto the top rail and lightly tighten the screws, you may need to adjust them.
You can now offer up your scope and rest it on the mounts, here you will have to shoulder your rifle with the scope on, and move your scope back and forth until your eye and scope are a suitable distance for you to see clearly through it.
Once you are happy, you can then loosely secure the top parts of the mounts. With the scope loosely mounted, you can now shoulder the gun in a comfortable position, ideally with your cheek on the stock of the gun, now you can level the scope to the gun and double-check your positioning.
Once you have got your scope positioned, you can now begin to tighten the screws, do this diagonally like you would the wheel nuts/bolts of a car to ensure one side is not tightened more than the other. Again these do not want to be too tight, there will sometimes be a gap between the top and bottom mounts as well as around the mounting pieces, this is quite normal.
Congratulations you have fitted your scope, we will cover zeroing the scope later.
Silencers, Suppressors, Moderators and other barrel attachments.
Now if you have not got any barrel attachment you can skip this step, however, if you are considering using your new PCP in your garden or for pest control, we recommend purchasing one.
So let's get something out of the way first off, we will probably get some flack for this but here goes. Silencers and suppressors are in fact different things. A silencer is the name given to a muzzle mounted device that reduces the sound of the projectile leaving the barrel. A suppressor is a muzzle mounted device used to help eliminate muzzle flash and reduce noise. Both Silencers and Suppressors are Moderators. However, as for the correct nomenclature, it doesn't really matter, "Silencers" are poorly named as it is impossible to "Silence" any gun as physics won't allow you. Whereas a Suppressor was designed with Firearm muzzle flash suppression in mind, so don't worry about it.
There are no real silencer types however there is certainly popular terminology used to define the 3 types of silencers. These are used to roughly identify the internal structure of the silencer and can influence the sound, performance and behaviour of the gun.
The most popular type is Foam-Filled silencers, these are easy to manufacture and are normally the cheapest type. The use the foam pockets to increase the internal surface area of the silencer to help reduce the sound. In terms of noise suppression, these are the least effective, however, they also display negligible effects on performance or handling.
The second most popular is Baffle-Stack silencers, these use stacked cones with intricate venting to force backdrafts and turn the noisy Turbulent air into quiet Laminar flowing air. These are a lot more efficient and are favoured by the military, however, for air rifles, the turbulent air inside the silencer can cause some slight handling changes such as drift which can result in clipping the internal structures of the silencer. They are also considerably more expensive to purchase due to the complex manufacturing process.
Finally, we have Monocore/Monolithic style of silencer. This is the middle ground of the silencers, they are relatively quick to produce and are quite efficient. They represent the best value for money, however, they do cause more interference with the projectile than the other types of silencer.
Barrel Mount types
As with the scope mount types, we have unnecessary confusion when it comes to barrel mounts, the world of airguns use an outdated and frankly confusing imperial 0.5"-20 UNF mount, however, to be even more confusing, not every airgun uses this mount type, FX and Weirauch notoriously use bespoke mounts meaning that you will have to purchase one of their moderators. Replica weapons are likely to use the same mount type as their real counterparts, this is the same system as airsoft weapons with the most popular option being 14mmx1 CCW mounts, a style adopted by the military.
Fitting - not cross-threading or over-tightening
Fitting a silencer is not necessarily difficult, but it is worth reiterating that cross-threading is a distinct possibility especially for polymer or aluminium silencers. They should be carefully mounted and not overtightened.
Shooters occasionally identify drift when using a silencer, however, 90% of the time it is the result of the silencer becoming loose causing slight wobble that the projectile then clips. This is normally the result of not butting the silencer up to the end thread. The majority of silencers have more thread than that of the barrel to allow for countersinking, so when screwing the silencer on, get to the end of the thread, and then give a short but sharp turn to lock the thread on.
Note on silencer fitted for travelling - Traditional Steel silencers are fine to store on the gun when it is in a bag, however, lightweight silencers are made of softer materials and can bend when mounted to the gun and in a flexible case. If you are wanting to keep the silencer on the gun to preserve the life of the barrel thread, it is advised to purchase a hard case.
Charging the gun
Filling or charging the gun is the place where a lot of things can go wrong.
Under pressure can result in the gun not having the power to expel the projectile, resulting in it getting stuck in the barrel, repeated misfires can result in permanent damage to the barrel.
Overpressure can cause the safety valve to blow, resulting in a gun that cannot be charged and will not be covered by the warranty. It is there to protect you, these are very high-pressure items that can result in serious injury when mistreated.
To avoid this issue, identify the fill pressure of the airgun, this is normally located in the user manual and on the gun itself - please check both and then take the LOWEST number as some rifles are downgraded for UK limit and will not operate at the pressures required for unrestricted weapons. THIS DOES NOT MEAN OVERFILLING THE GUN WILL GIVE YOU MORE POWER! quite the opposite, it will damage your gun.
With the formalities out of the way now its time to jump into charging. Manufacturers normally supply the rifle with a filling probe which needs to be attached to the airline. There is very little standardisation of valve design, so most manufacturers will have their own design of adaptor.
Probe care and hints
For owners of several PCPs, this can be frustrating as constantly unscrewing adaptors from cables and adding different ones is not only time-consuming but may lead to air leaks, with threads becoming worn or dirty. We, therefore, recommend a Quick Coupler pack which is preattached to a quick-fit plug and enables the user to own adaptors for specific makes of rifle. Any adaptor/plug assembly can be snapped off and then, using a Foster style bayonet fitting, be coupled to the airline in a jiffy.
Any filling adaptor must be securely attached to the air supply cable (beware of using excessive force which may damage screw threads). Hand tighten as hard as possible before slightly nipping up with spanners. Deploying a bonded washer or Dowty seal – effectively a contained high pressure ‘O’ ring – should ensure a perfect seal.
Now before you go probing anything, it is best practise to put a drop of Silicon oil onto the O-rings of the probe, these are perishable items so this can help preserve them.
So if you haven't worked out already, there should be a cap or blank that is used to protect the filling valve from dust and debris. Remove this to reveal the valve (keep it clean and protected). Insert your lubed up probe into the fill valve with the airlines attached to your fill source.
To begin filling identify the correct fill pressure first. For compressors, you should be able to set the limit of what you want to charge to, for pumps, and dive tanks you will have to eyeball it.
For Tanks and pumps open the lock off valve SLOWLY! this will charge the line and the gun. Charge the gun to the desired pressure and wait for the needle on the charging kit to rise. Once a good air seal has been achieved and the cylinder is taking on pressure, momentarily stop charging; if charging from a bottle briefly shut off the air supply. This is due to the thermal transfer of pressurising air, as it heats, it becomes less dense so giving it time to cool down again will settle the pressure.
Once the gun is pressurised, DO NOT REMOVE THE PROBE! The line is still pressurised, slowly open the bleed valve to release the pressure, once it is clear you can remove the probe and re-cover.
Loading the Magazine
Multishot guns should include a magazine of some description. Sometimes this is a single shot tray, if this is the case then you can skip this step.
Each manufacturer has its own method of loading a magazine, it is best to check your guns manual to do this. However, most multi-shot magazines use the same technology, they normally comprise of a coiled spring that builds tension as you spin it, loading a pellet will stop the magazine unwinding, you can then advance the magazine to add the next pellet.
Zeroing your gun
Now time to get shooting, there is a multitude of scope zeroing methods, all of which we recommend you try. However, for this guide, we are going to recommend a basic zeroing method.
First up, set a target at 10-15 meters. Yes, it's not far, but it will be easier to identify is where the pellet is going if you don't actually hit the target. We also recommend the use of a bench rest or stand for best results
Load your magazine, and take one shot with the crosshairs on the bullseye. If your pellet hits the target, great, if it doesn't, move the target closer and repeat.
Once you have a pellet on the target, move the entire gun so that the crosshairs are now over the pellet hole and fix your gun in this position.
Now using the scopes Elevation (Up and Down) Turret (on the top) and the Windage (Left and Right) Turret (on the Right) move the crosshairs back over to the centre of the target. Please refer to the scope manual for how to operate the turrets, some require to be unlocked before turning.
Once over the Target take another shot
The hit should now be a lot closer to the target, repeat the process to fine tune this to your eye.
Care and Maintenance
As with all things care and maintenance is important, we advise investing in a cleaning kit that includes instructions on how to use it and how to care for your rifle. However, a good rule of thumb is to keep your gun dry to avoid rusting and wipe over the gun with an oiled cloth to help maintain the body, as earlier, ensure you look after your filler port and oil the filler probe.
You should now have a basic understanding of how your gun and its basic attachments work, this is not an exhaustive guide, it is to designed to get you out shooting, you can then find a more advanced explanation and hints online on specific items. We can also offer help and advice in-store online and over the phone so please contact us. We pride ourselves on ensuring our community is informed and looked after. Welcome to the club.