Airgunners in the northern hemisphere are in the middle of their annual cold season. Yes, with Christmas and the New Year in the rearview mirror we are now set to embrace the 6-8 coldest weeks of the year in the months of January and February. Coincidentally, sans the birth of my son, these two months are my least favorite months of the year, even leaving the hot, humid misery of Arkansas’s August a distant third place.
While most of my reasons for hating January and February are based on the obvious- daylight savings enhanced short days, bitter wet-cold temperatures, and Murphy’s Law events that tend to happen outside on the coldest, most miserable days. There is one rather selfish reason to pine for the warmer temps, and that is shooting CO2 powered pistols and airguns.
To be sure, it can be done! You just have to be strategic about it.
What Happens when you shoot CO2 guns in the cold? Here’s the Squatch getting about ½ the performance from a pair of fresh, but cold CO2s in his Steel Strike. Click Image for video.
The Best Ways to Deal with Airguns in the Cold
What happens with airgun CO2 when the temperatures dip down below 65 degrees Fahrenheit is that it freezes the air gun valve much faster than it would otherwise. A frozen valve means no control on what is going through it. In much simpler terms, the BB gun stops working. That’s really about all there is to it. Too cold, no shooty-shooty. But, there are a few things you can do to help overcome the cold.
A few packs of Hot Hands or similar chemical heaters can help sink some heat into an otherwise cold CO2 magazine or air pistol. I like to put a few activated heaters packs into a large jacket pocket or a small ice chest. Letting the gun or magazine warm-up for a few minutes between reloads can help prolong the shooting. If you have a spare airgun magazine or multiple guns, just alternate them and keep one in the warm pocket while you shoot the other. You can also just take a break in between reloads and head in for a few minutes. With the CO2, magazine, or pellet gun back into a room temperature environment, you and your gear can thaw out before you get ready to go back out.
Do avoid getting either the CO2 or the airgun too hot. Yes, pressurized gas and lots of heat are not good bedmates. Therefore, don’t toss the CO2 or your gun on top of a heat register, wood stove, or other direct heat source. Play it safe, know the precautions and warnings found in the product manuals, and use your head!
Inside Baseball: Shoot Inside!
Of course, if you are blessed to have a basement, shop building, or garage that can retain a bit of heat, and it’s safe to shoot there, setting up an indoor range is super easy and a much more comfortable option than shooting outside when it’s cold. Many firearms-centric shooters like @MyketheGreat have been training inside with our Elite Force Airsoft gear for years now. Now that I mention that, green gas used in airsoft pistols doesn’t like the cold either. Whatever the case, winter won’t last forever and spring will be here before we know it. Hopefully.
Mark Davis, avid outdoorsman, family man, and outdoors writer is the social media specialist for Umarex USA.