Mike Morton shares 10 top tips to help you get the best accuracy and enjoyment from your CO2-powered handgun.
1. Use The Right Ammo
Most shooters know that it’s essential to find the most accurate projectile for their airgun, but in the case of a CO2 pistol the gun may not function at all if it’s being fed the wrong ammo. Pellet-firing pistols may not cycle properly if the pellets are too long, while BB guns may not feed correctly with another manufacturer’s brand of ammo. It’s always a good idea to match like for like, so here I’m using Umarex steel BBs in the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 M2.0 – a licensed replica that’s also made by Umarex.
2. Work Out Where To Aim
While some CO2 pistols are fitted with adjustable sights, many are fixed. That’s not a problem, just learn where to aim by shooting, evaluating and adjusting. But remember you’ll probably need to change your point of aim when shooting at a different distance or when the weather’s turned significantly hotter or colder.
3. Wear Safety Glasses
Most CO2 pistol shooting is carried out at shorter distances, and even when using a proper ammo catcher and backstop there’s always the risk of a ricochet, so safety glasses are a must. They’re generally inexpensive, while your eyesight is priceless. And it’s still a good idea to wear them when shooting pellets, not just BBs which have a greater ricochet risk.
4. No Need To Max Out Your Mag
I always like to keep a count in my head of how many shots I’ve taken when I’m shooting a BB gun, and I find it easier to count in multiple of five. The Smith & Wesson M&P 9 M2.0 that I’m using here has a magazine capacity of 18 rounds. While the gun works perfectly well with 18 BBs loaded, I prefer to load just 15 as I find it easier to count off three lots of five. This system may work well for you too.
5. Use A Proper Ammo Catcher
A lot of CO2 pistol shooting is carried out in the back garden – that’s one of the joys of shooting – and an ammo catcher is the perfect device to contain all those spent pellets or BBs and minimise ricochets. And if the catcher proves too noisy for the neighbours, stuff some old clothes inside and turn down the volume.
6. Get A Grip
Blowbacks can have a fair bit of recoil, which is part of the attraction for many CO2 shooters, and need to be handled accordingly. Whether you like to shoot one- or two-handed, don’t adopt a vice-like grip, but hold your pistol more gently, much like you’d do with a spring-powered airgun.
7. Be Aware of The Temperature
Muzzle velocity will be affected by changes in temperature with a CO2 gun, far more than with a pre-charged pneumatic. Shots will generally fall lower in colder weather and will land higher in hotter conditions, so it’s best to learn your point of aim in normal conditions and make adjustments when necessary.
8. Moderate Your Rate Of Fire
Carbon dioxide is stored under pressure in a liquid form inside the capsule, and when it’s suddenly released and turned back into a gas when a shot is fired it cools down rapidly. It’s fun to squeeze off shots as quickly as you can, but CO2 needs a few seconds to rest before it can deliver the same pressure for the next shot, meaning accuracy could suffer if you keep pulling that trigger too rapidly.
9. Stop Shooting Before It’s Too Late
CO2 can run out quickly, especially when the action is coming thick and fast, but it’s essential to heed the warning signs and not try to squeeze out any extra shots. When you hear the power drop off – the muzzle blast will be softer – it’s time to stop, otherwise you run the risk of getting a jam or even a pellet or BB stuck in the barrel.
10. Familiarity Breeds Content
Spend plenty of time with your gun. Learn how it works, where the controls are and how to load it with both gas and ammunition. Shoot it. A lot. When everything starts to become second nature you’ll find yourself concentrating more on your shooting technique than managing the hardware, and you’ll definitely have more fun.