Maintaining Your AirSoft BB
Airsoft is such a fun hobby, but it can also get expensive if you don't take care of your BB gun. It's not uncommon to pay $500 for a good airsoft gun, and it would be a tragedy if it were to malfunction just because it wasn't maintained correctly. You'll want to do a thorough cleaning after every few uses. (Some discriminating players do so after every game, but this is probably overkill.)
Depending on the type of firing mechanisms in your AirSoft gun (spring, electric, gas, or gas blowback) there are different parts to maintain. In all cases, the first step is to remove the magazine or clip, disconnect the battery or gas connection, and make sure the BB gun is completely free of all ammo.
Try not to shoot your AirSoft gun without ammunition, as this can cause excessive wear and tear on the moving parts. The BB gun is designed to compensate for resistance involved in launching the pellets, and it should be used that way. This is especially important with spring airsoft guns (regular BB and pellet guns too). The springs are elastic, and cocking and firing them more than is necessary can greatly shorten the life of the spring itself. Related to this point, be sure not to leave any spring airsoft gun cocked. This contracts the spring, and if left in that position for extended periods of time, the spring will be ruined.
Once you're sure the AirSoft is empty and not cocked, carefully disassemble it and thoroughly clean it with a soft cloth dampened with a mild detergent solution. Clean the barrel inside and out. Do not immerse the BB gun parts in water to rinse them. Just wipe them clean with a slightly moist cloth.
Next, you want to lubricate every moving piece in your AirSoft gun (unless otherwise instructed by the manual). Use only silicone-based oil to do this, as petroleum tends to eat away at rubber O-rings and can sometimes damage the BB gun's finish. Be careful with the magazine so it does not get clogged. If your weapon is gas powered, remove the valves and put a small amount of oil in the reservoir. There are some gases available containing silicone, which make this step unnecessary, so look for those if possible. Also, cover any bare metal with a thin layer of oil to prevent corrosion, especially at the end of the season, as you're readying your airsoft gun for long-term storage.
Once everything is clean and lubed up, the last step (and sometimes the hardest) is to reassemble your AirSoft gun. Once you've pieced it together, you'll want to fire a few test shots to get things moving smoothly and to make sure it's still operable. Keep your BB gun maintained and it should last for many years of good, clean fun!
If you have any problems or are afraid you'll mess things up by attempting a thorough cleaning yourself, take your AirSoft gun to a local gun store and ask them to help you out. Or, if you have friends who are more experienced with AirSoft, ask for some training. Most enthusiasts are happy to lend a hand to a newbie!