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A Beginner’s Guide to CO2 Powered Air Guns

We are finally entering the warm summer months of the year, the months where getting outside for BBQs, fish-fry’s, and, of course, trigger time is made much more pleasurable by virtue of longer days and warmer temperatures. But these days it isn’t just BBQ attendees pulling the trigger on BB guns to knock over a tin can while waiting on the ribs. No, there is a whole new contingent of air gun shooters who have suddenly picked up an air gun as a training alternative to their centerfire pistols. Since Umarex has license agreements with firearm manufacturers like Beretta, Colt, GLOCK, HK, S&W, and Walther, our .177 and 6mm replicas are a natural fit for the firearm shooter looking to train with air.

If you find yourself in the new to CO2-powered air gun crowd, there are a few things you need to know in order to get the best out of your new CO2-powered blaster.

The Essential Gear for Blowback Air Pistols

The bare minimum needed to start sending BBs downrange with an air pistol are the pistol, BBs, and CO2. However, you will need to pick up some silicone-based oil pretty soon. We rely on RWS Chamber Lube for this application. Why is this special oil so important? First, it soaks into the silicone-based seals used in the valve of the gun. Since CO2 is very cold when it is released from the cartridge, the seals in the valve go through a significant freeze/thaw cycle. In addition to becoming brittle, the temperature cycling will dry the seals out. Dry, brittle seals are seals that leak. A drop of Chamber Lube on the tip of new CO2 cartridges helps keep the seal supple so that it can continue to do its job.

Not all BBs are created equal. Some are just a little small, some are a little rougher, and some may be a little dirtier- Any or all of these conditions can lead to feeding issues in a semi-automatic style air pistol. Either the UX Precision Steel BBs or our Hornady Black Diamond BBs are excellent choices in the ammo department. If you have a pellet pistol, check out the 7-grain RWS Meisterkugeln Pistol. These are premium wadcutter-style pellets that are specifically optimized for CO2 pistols.

Likewise, CO2 that is clean and has a tip that won’t damage the puncture seal is crucial for shooting success. Umarex 12 gram CO2 cartridges aren’t filthy on the inside and have a nice smooth tip that helps keep the puncture seal from tearing or deforming.

Three Things About CO2 Guns

Keep it clean! Yes, there are some cool videos on YouTube where the talent torture test firearms by burying them in mud and junk. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that an airgun is just not going to work well if submerged in water, dirt, or mud. It might not ever work again if the goo can’t be cleaned out all the way. While most people wouldn’t dare abuse their firearm in that way, it does need to be stated that keeping the dust and grime off of your air pistol will certainly help it live a long time.

Most blowback air pistols can be field stripped just like the firearm they are based on. In these cases, wiping off the dust and oiling on the friction points can be very beneficial. For these metal-on metal friction points, a standard gun oil will work just fine. Just take care not to get this oil on the valve assembly.

Next, save the bone-crushing grip strength for shaking your daughter’s boyfriend’s hand. The easiest way to damage a CO2 seal in an air pistol is to over-tighten the CO2 puncturing screw. CO2 installation is a matter of “tight enough is tight enough”. Once the CO2 stops hissing, stop tightening the screw. This is especially important if you have proceeded past the first 3 or 4 CO2 cartridges without applying some RWS Chamber Lube. The dry seal can be galled by the cartridge tip as it is snugged into place.

Waste it. Huh? Rather than trying to save the remaining CO2 from one shooting session to the next, the best practice is to expend the CO2 and remove the empty cartridge before storing it. While the valve will hold the pressure for a while, it will not hold the pressure indefinitely. The number one cause of magazine failure in CO2-powered air guns is seal failure brought on by leaving the CO2 in the gun for storage. So our advice is to load up a few more magazines and continue shooting until the CO2 is played out.

Mark Davis, avid outdoorsman, family man, and outdoors writer is the social media specialist for Umarex USA.

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