Do Pellet or BB Guns Need CO2?


BB guns and pellet guns come in many different shapes and sizes. If you are looking into getting one, you may be wondering, do I need to get CO2 for my air gun?

Only some pellet and BB guns require the use of CO2 canisters. BB pistols are an example of a gun that is commonly powered by CO2 canisters, but most airguns are powered by a pumped spring or air canister.

There are trade offs to every setup that you may experience while airgunning. CO2-powered guns are no different. CO2-powered airguns have the benefit of possessing removable air reservoirs that can be quickly and easily replaced, providing automatic or semi-automatic action, sparing you and your arm from lugging around that mobile gym with you on your adventures.

But, because of those trade-offs, they are not seen all of the time.

Airguns that Use CO2

CO2 airguns generally have less power than most other airguns, but they have the advantage of being capable of shooting semi-automatic.

This table will give a quick summary of which kind of gun we talk about in this article we would recommend for which activity.

ActivityRecommended Propellent Style
Simple PlinkingAll: Spring, PCP, CO2
HuntingSpring, PCP
Pest ControlSpring, PCP
Replica ShootingCO2

As we mentioned earlier, CO2 powered airguns come with the benefit of having easily replaceable air reservoirs. These little canisters of compressed carbon dioxide gas come with set amounts of air pressure, and each time you fire a shot, it loses a little of that potential energy stored away.

Depending on the gun that you are firing and the caliber associated with said gun, you can expect anywhere between thirty and two hundred shots from one canister. I know, right? The reasoning for this wide range is that there are many different variables that can come into play, such as temperature, size of cartridge, type of gun, and so on.

Generally, the warmer your environment, and the fewer moving parts associated with your gun, the more powerful your shots will be, and the more you will get from your CO2 canister.

Because of this wide variance in reliability, and because of the limit of the peak amount of pressure in the cartridge, many higher-end airguns used for hunting take advantage of spring systems. These are usually seen in break-barrel style, and depend upon the movement of a spring to generate the air compression necessary to move a projectile.

Some other air guns will use hand pumps, which are dependent upon repeated pumps present on the gun to force air into a reservoir, all of which is released at the trigger pull. This results in some variability, but that variability is easier to control by using a different number of pumps, making them great for pest control around the house, or even simple plinking.

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