I’ve been meaning to write this guide for quite some time now. A few years perhaps. Following the recent completion of the Record Champion restoration project, I thought it was time to get this guide written.
A word of caution. These air pistols have an oval concentric piston design. As such, the piston seal is oval. The seals are as rare as hen’s teeth and I am unaware that anyone has been able to make functional aftermarket replacements. Luckily, the material used for Champion seals is rubber and seem far less likely to deteriorate. Whereas the Champion’s sibling, the Jumbo, was fitted with a harder seal material, perhaps polyurethane, that often crumbled with age due to bacterial or fungal degradation.
Before starting work on any airgun, please consider your safety. Ensure the airgun is not loaded and not cocked! Your eyes are very precious and are not replaceable. They can be easily protected with inexpensive safety glasses that can be purchased from any hardware store. Airgun mainsprings can be under considerable tension and if not carefully released, can result in parts flying across your workshop leading to injuries or damaging nearby items. When using power tools, do not wear loose clothing or jewellery that might become entangled in the machine. Think are you working safely before turning the tool on.
working environment and tools
It’s important to ensure that you have a good working environment to service your air pistol. A solid workbench with enough surface area to place your pistol without tools getting in the way will be of great benefit. Use an old blanket on the work surface to protect the finish of the pistol as you are working on it. I prefer to use a sheet of neoprene or a foam exercise mat rather than a blanket as it won’t slip on the surface of the work area.
No special tools are required to disassemble the Record Champion. All you need is some parallel pin punches, a small hammer, a set of slotted screwdrivers, some jewellers screwdrivers, a chopstick or something similar that won’t damage metalwork or the finish, some molybdenum grease, circlip pliers and the pellet probe removal tool. If you do not have the pellet probe removal tool, you can use an M4 x 55mm bolt.
You may also require the usual cleaning tools such as a toothbrush, q-tips and rags.
You often see many airguns with damaged screw heads. This is because damaged or poorly fitting screwdrivers have been used. Always ensure that your screwdriver tips are not worn and always use a screwdriver bit that fits the slot snugly, and as widely as possible. If a screw will not turn, it may be seized. Try soaking in penetrating oil for a day then have another go. The screw may have had some thread lock applied. Sometimes the thread will disengage with a little more effort, other times the screw needs to be gently warmed to soften the thread lock.
Damaged screw heads can also be caused by over-tightening them. No screws on this air pistol need to be tightened down hard. Just turn until they stop with gentle pressure. Then nip then slightly by 1/8th of a turn.
let’s get started!
There are a couple of stages where you may need to cock and de-cock the pistol. With later variants, if you close the cocking lever, you will not be able to open it again to de-cock the pistol. The later variant of the Record Champion has a device installed that prevents double cocking of the pistol. The intention is to prevent jams by ensuring no more than one pellet can be loaded into the breech at any time. If you have such a variant, be sure not to close the cocking lever without de-cocking the pistol first as you will not be able to load a pellet to safely fire the pistol. We all know that dry-firing a spring-powered airgun is a bad idea as the piston will slam into the end of the chamber causing damage to the piston seal. That’s why you should either de-cock your airgun or load a pellet and fire it. Using a pellet allows pressure to build up in the compression chamber as the piston is released which slows the piston down and cushions the blow at the end of its cycle.
To safely de-cock the pistol, firmly hold the lever and the grip open whilst pulling the trigger to release the piston. Be extremely careful whilst doing this to prevent the lever snapping closed on your fingers or a nasty injury may occur!
Step 1: Remove the Muzzle Nut
The muzzle nut is the key to disassembling the Record Champion. It’s not obvious that this needs to be removed. However, without doing so, it is impossible to remove the upper half of the pistol. It is at this first step where many come unstuck as often, the muzzle nut has seized. This happened on one of my Record Champions and the only way to remove it was to hold the nut in a collet in a lathe, lock the lathe and unscrew the whole pistol from the nut.
Providing yours isn’t seized, you can remove the muzzle nut using a set of circlip pliers. Be very careful though for should the circlip pliers slip, you may damage the finish of the soft metal of the nut.
When re-assembling, apply some grease to the threads to help prevent them from seizing. Also, there is no need to tighten the muzzle nut down hard. Just enough to hold it in place.
Step 2: Remove the Magazine
If you haven’t already, remove the magazine. Normally it will release and slide out easily. If you feel any resistance, do not force it as it might be caught on the pellet probe. Forcing the removal, or insertion of the magazine can, and most likely will break the plastic pellet probe. You will not be able to purchase a new one and the only recourse is to have one made, or sell the pistol for parts! If you encounter resistance, cock the pistol and whilst the cocking lever is fully open, remove the magazine. Be extremely careful to keep your hands and fingers out of the return path of that lever for should the sear release, that lever is going to come down hard on your hand or fingers!
Safely de-cock the pistol if you cocked it to remove the magazine.
Step 3: Remove the Pellet Probe
The pellet probe is mechanically connected to the cocking lever. Access to the pellet probe is via two windows. One at the rear, and one on the right-hand side of the pistol. The two access windows are normally closed off with a single plastic plug that slides into the pistol via the rear access window.
Remove the plastic plug by pressing is it through the right-hand side access window and then slide it backwards and out of the pistol.
You should now be able to see the back of the white plastic pellet probe through the rear slot. It will be square in shape with a hole facing you. If you are lucky enough to have a complete pistol with a box and accessories, you will find a plastic threaded bolt with a hexagonal head. Screw this bolt into the hole of the rear of the pellet probe. If you don’t have one, you can make do with an M4 x 50mm bolt.
At this stage, the pellet probe still cannot be accessed through the right-hand side window as it is in the firing position in the breech of the barrel. To retract it, the pistol must be fully cocked and the cocking lever returned partway so that the pellet probe locating screw can be seen through the window. You will need to hold the lever in place to keep the screw in the access window. I use a bamboo chop-stick under the cocking lever as you can see in the photograph.
Once you gain access to the screw on the side of the pellet probe you can loosen it. You do not need to remove it entirely which will save you from losing it. Just loosen it enough so that the probe can be withdrawn from the rear of the pistol using the removal tool.
Open the cocking lever fully, remove the chopstick and de-cock the pistol safely.
You now have full access to the barrel should you wish to clean it or remove any jammed pellets.
Step 4: Upper Frame Removal
Remove the two large screws on the left and right-hand sides of the pistol near the muzzle. Then remove the two small screws at the rear right-hand side and the single small screw on the rear left-hand side.
Once all five screws are removed, the upper frame can be lifted away from the lower frame at the rear of the pistol and then slid back to disengage the barrel from the lower frame.
Step 5: Remove the Mainspring, Barrel, Piston and Breech Seal
Remove the mainspring and the barrel. Then slide the piston out with the aid of a soft object such as a chopstick. There is a breech seal pressed into the breech within the upper frame. This can be pushed out from the magazine side with a suitable tool. It’s a white or clear tube similar to the breech seals used on Weihrauch air rifles. A suitable replacement can be made from some polyurethane tube of 8mm outer diameter, 5mm inner diameter and about 4 or 5mm long.
Step 6: Replacing the Piston Seal
The piston seal is attached with two screws. It’s a simple case of removing the screws, removing the seal and fitting a new one and replacing the screws. It’s not such a simple matter to find a new piston seal though! They’re no longer manufactured and no spares shops have any stock. It’s quite an effort hunting some down. If yours is damaged, there’s probably not much point continuing from here on. By the way, I don’t have any spare seals, so please do not ask.
Step 7: Rear Sight Removal
If you feel the need to remove the rear sight, remove the adjusting screw and the tensioning spring. Then use a parallel punch and a small hammer to drift out the pin and remove the sight assembly. This is of course not necessary if you are just servicing the pistol.
You may wish to count the number of turns from its current position to fully in before removing the adjustment screw. This will make it much easy to set the sight when you reassemble it.
Step 8: Pellet Probe Actuator Assembly
The pellet probe is moved forwards and backwards with the action of the cocking lever. The lever is connected to two pivoting links that connect to the piston push rod that not only retracts the piston but also pushes and pulls the pellet probe pivot arm link. The pellet probe pivot arm link connects the sliding arm on the right-hand side of the pistol to the pellet probe pivot arm on the left-hand side of the pistol.
The first step is to remove the pellet probe pivot arm link and the pellet probe pivot arm. The link is easily removed by lifting it out using a suitable tool. The pivot arm and its pivot pin also lift straight out of the frame of the pistol.
Step 9: Disconnect the Cocking Arm Links
The cocking arm links are connected to the piston push rod via a pivot bush. Lift the top cocking arm off the bush, then lift off the piston push rod. The bottom cocking arm can be moved out of the frame and the pivot bush removed from the arm.
Step 10: Remove the Cocking Lever
Remove the cocking arm pivot screw that is under the muzzle. The cocking arm can then be eased out of the frame with the cocking lever arms intact.
Step 11: Stripping Down the Trigger Mechanism
The trigger mechanism consists of many levers and springs yet it’s far simpler than it looks. All the pins should be removed by pushing them out from the right-hand side through to the left. The photograph below shows all the components of the trigger mechanism in relation to their place in the pistol.
Step 11a: Remove the Trigger Blade and Trigger Blade Spring
Ease the trigger blade pin out with a parallel punch and hammer. This is the first pin nearest the grip. Lift out the trigger blade and the spring which may be held captive in the blade itself.
Step 11b: Remove the Trigger Sear Lever and Sear Lever Spring
The next pin along holds the trigger sear in place. Remove it with the parrel punch and hammer. Underneath the sear lever, you will find its spring that is inserted into a guide hole in the frame.
Step 11c: Remove the Piston Sear Lever and Spring
The piston sear lever pin is a little different to remove. It’s quite a large pin and rather than spoil the aesthetics of the pistol with a large hole on the side, the designers decided to retain this pin with an e-clip rather than use the frame of the pistol. Remove the e-clip with a jewellers screwdriver. Push out the pin from the right-hand side of the pistol and out through the left. Lift out the lever and the spring which also has a guide hole in the frame.
Step 11d: Remove the Trigger Reset Lever and Spring
The final stage is to remove the trigger reset lever and its spring. Drive out the pin from the right-hand side and then lift out the reset lever along with its spring.
Step 11c: Remove the Trigger Adjuster (optional)
On the underside of the frame is the trigger adjustment screw. You can remove this if you wish although it’s not necessary when servicing the pistol.
Step 12: Optional Items
The remaining items do not need to be removed to service the air pistol. These are the side lever catch, the safety slide catch and the magazine catch.
The side lever catch is retained on the inside of the frame by a large e-clip. It can be removed without too much difficulty. Note that there is a spring between the catch and the frame that is not held captive.
The safety catch consists of two pieces. The catch on the outside of the frame and plastic arm on the inside of the frame. The arm is retained with a pin under the grips. However, the slide catch is pressed into the arm through the frame. This is not easy to remove and you risk marring or breaking it if you try to separate the two. I have managed this once when fully stripping one of these pistols down so that it could be refinished. Trust me, don’t try to remove it unless you absolutely have to.
The magazine catch is also retained with a pin that is found under the grips. It also has a spring.
Step 13: Reassembly
Reassembly is the reversal of this process. Lubricate the pins, the outside contact surface of the piston seal and the barrel where the inner face of the piston seal will travel. Also, lubricate the plastic bush on the top rear of the piston and the upper frame where it will make contact. Screws should not be overtightened! Just a small nip, if that, is required.
I hope you have found this guide useful. If you find any differences between your Champion and this one, please leave a comment below as it would be interesting to note any design variations during its production.
Until next time, happy shooting!