CO2-powered airguns are very popular, particularly as pistols, as they have a number of great benefits. These airguns have no recoil and most are relatively small and light. Also, many CO2-powered airguns are multi-shot, as this method of propulsion makes it easy for manufacturers to include magazine operation by bolt action, or even semi-automatic in the case of many pistols. This gives CO2 air rifles low (good) RateAGun scores and makes them a great choice for many shooters.
CO2 airguns are easy to shoot well, because they can be shot with a tight hold. They’re ideal for new shooters and those experienced with firearms. They excel at plinking and informal target practice.
But note that many CO2-powered air pistols are designed for use with steel BBs, not lead pellets. This gives them great realism in use, but accuracy will not be in the same league as those airguns that shoot lead pellets through rifled barrels.
These guns are convenient. Once your airgun is charged with CO2, it will fire many shots before needing more gas – you just load pellets and fire. Unlike PCP airguns, there’s no need for expensive charging pumps or large air bottles and other complicated stuff. And unlike spring-powered air rifles, they don’t require lots of strength to cock the gun. Unlike multi-pump pellet guns, you won’t get tired and shaky with an extended shooting session.
CO2 is widely available in 12 Gram “Powerlets” and 88 or 90 Gram “AirSource” tanks from Wal-Mart stores, “big box” sports stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Gander Mountain and paintball stores.
All this sounds great – and it is – but of course CO2-powered airguns have their downsides. Because you need both pellets and CO2, they’re more expensive to shoot than spring-powered air rifles. They typically don’t have very high muzzle velocities and muzzle velocity drops in cold weather, if shot rapidly and as their gas supply runs out.
The heading photograph shows the Umarex Legends C96 semiautomatic CO2 BB pistol.