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CO2 air pistols are among the most versatile and easy to use air pistols on the market. They don’t require you to cock the weapon each time you fire, and they’re powerful enough to be consistently used for pest-control. But finding the right CO2 air pistol can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for.
We’ve already found the best CO2 air pistols on the market, so scroll down for a detailed overview of five fantastic firearms and a buying guide to help you choose the best for your needs. If you’re looking for CO2 Pistols for target shooting and practice, check out our other reviews here.
- 1 What is a CO2 Air Pistol?
- 2 How Do They Work?
- 3 Reviews of the 5 Best CO2 Air Pistols on the Market
- 3.1 Best Overall – Glock 19 Gen3 BB Gun Air Pistol
- 3.2 Runner-Up – Sig Sauer We The People 1911 CO2 BB Pistol
- 3.3 Best For Showing Off – Crosman Vigilante 357 CO2 Air Pistol
- 3.4 Best for Hunting Pests – Crosman 2240 Bolt Action CO2 Pistol
- 3.5 Best for Budget, Backyard Plinking and Target Shooting – Daisy Powerline 426 Air Pistol
- 4 What to Look for in a CO2 Air Pistol
- 5 Conclusion
What is a CO2 Air Pistol?
CO2 air pistols are a variation of air guns or air pistols, which all use compressed air or a different gas to propel a BB or pellet from a pistol barrel. These weapons are not the same as traditional firearms as they do not use gunpowder, nor do they fire bullet-shaped projectiles. Instead, they fire round BBs or pellets that can be made from a variety of materials.
Spring pistols use a massive spring inside the weapon that drives a piston to propel a pellet. These require the piston to be re-cocked each time you pull the trigger. Pump pistols use the titular pumps to compress the air needed to fire a pellet, requiring more upper body strength. Break-barrel pistols are powered by springs, though they use the barrel itself as a lever to cock the gun.
CO2 air pistols are distinct from many other types of air guns because they provide enough power to fire a pellet up to about 20 yards or more and still impact solidly on your target. In other words, they’re adept at landing pellets at 20 yards or so, meaning you can hunt pests or plink away during target practice with these weapons.
When compared to other air pistol types, CO2 pistols are more versatile and generalist thanks to their maximum power, which hovers around 500 feet per second, and ease of use. They use disposable CO2 canisters that can last between 50 to 100 rounds before needing to be changed.
Air pistols can be used for either of the above two purposes, but also for backyard plinking (just shooting for fun without being too dangerous) and for self-defense. While they aren’t powerful enough to be lethal to humans in many situations, they can provide more than enough pain to deter a would-be attacker. Not to mention that many CO2 air guns look just like regular firearms at first glance!
How Do They Work?
CO2 pistols work the most similarly to regular firearms compared to other types of air pistols. A canister of compressed CO2 gas is inserted into the firearm (normally at the grip). When you pull the trigger, the hammer is cocked, which opens the canister of gas to release a small amount of CO2. This air pressure change inside the chamber causes an explosion that expels the pellet in position out of the firearm barrel.
This is very similar to the way that a traditional gunpowder firearm works, although it’s not nearly as powerful and is thus a safer weapon in many situations. CO2 pistols are favored by many because you don’t need to re-cock the weapon at any point in between shots, allowing you to let off multiple pellets in rapid succession if necessary.
Reviews of the 5 Best CO2 Air Pistols on the Market
Best Overall – Glock 19 Gen3 BB Gun Air Pistol
This CO2 air pistol is made in the style of a classic Glock, with a 15-shot capacity and enough room for a 12 g CO2 cartridge. It fires .177 caliber steel BBs, making it ideal for both pest-control and for general target practice up to 20 feet away. Upper velocity is about 410 FPS.
It comes with Glock-style sights out of the box. But to make things even better, this pistol has an integrated rail at the top of the slider for Weaver-rail accessories like sights. Boosting your accuracy has never been easier.
It’s also built very well, from the trigger to the handgrip. The latter as textured areas where your fingers will rest to increase its grip, plus a smooth but solid trigger that is easy to accidentally misfire. Thus, this is also a safe pistol to use; you won’t likely drop it or fire it by accident. A CO2 Allen key, for replacing spent CO2 cartridges, is housed in the backstrap, making it easy to swap cartridges in a hurry.
Ultimately, it’s an air pistol that can serve in a variety of roles and which only weighs 1.6 pounds. It’s easy to use, provides plenty of benefits and uses, and is reminiscent of a classic sidearm favorite. What’s not to like?
Runner-Up – Sig Sauer We The People 1911 CO2 BB Pistol
This CO2 air pistol is significantly more expensive than our last choice, but it features a full metal blowback slide and frame, significantly increasing its durability and aesthetic value. Speaking of aesthetics, American patriots will appreciate the engravings on the side, which say, “We the People” and “1776”, respectively. The distressed finish to the metal adds to its worn appearance.
This pistol fires 4.5 mm steel BBs up to 340 FPS, providing good power and control. It’s not necessarily the best for hunting all types of pests, though the steel BBs should provide enough stopping power on their own for this task.
It further includes a set of classic sights and a smooth trigger pull. Both will improve your accuracy to some extent, making this a great firearm for showing off or targeting practice alike. The only downside is the textured grip, which is arrayed with patriotic stars. This can feel a little strange or uncomfortable for those used to more classic grip designs.
Overall, it’s a great CO2 air pistol that provides decent power and accuracy with one of the more unique and iconic designs we’ve ever seen.
Best For Showing Off – Crosman Vigilante 357 CO2 Air Pistol
This isn’t just a CO2 air pistol; it also includes a holster specifically sized for this firearm and a 3-pack of magazines. Most pistols require you to purchase rounds separately, but not this one. The first BB clip holds six, which works well with the revolver-styled design of this air gun. An additional pellet clip can hold 10 pellets. You can use either type of 0.177 BBs or pellets depending on your preferences.
The trigger can be set to single or double action, allowing for excellent versatility and ease-of-use depending on your experience level. Each round fired, regardless of type, can reach a maximum of 435 FPS. Each shot has enough power to take down pests consistently.
The real value comes from the holster, which can be attached to be of a Velcro strap on its side to let it be worn with most clothing. This holster is perfectly designed to show off the firearm, so it’s phenomenal as a showpiece or for target practice.
All in all, this kit has tremendous value for money since it’s about the same as many other CO2 pistols but comes with lots of excellent accessories.
Best for Hunting Pests – Crosman 2240 Bolt Action CO2 Pistol
This bolt-action CO2 pistol delivers excellent power: up to 460 FPS with .22 caliber BBs. Thus, this pistol is particularly well-suited for hunting pests thanks to its excellent stopping power. It features an accurate sight that will help you hit your targets even at the upper limit of your maximum effective range.
It’s been ergonomically designed and has an ambidextrous grip that works just as well for left or right-handed users. The grip is designed with checkering textures, plus a thumb rest for either grip panel. It’s no stretch to say this is one more comfortable air pistols on the market.
The bolt-design allows you to easily cock and load the pistol while also providing the satisfying motion snappy sounds you’d associate with a bolt-action firearm.
This pistol is terrific for its stopping power and its excellent design. Being able to shoot pests consistently with either hand dominant is no small feat, but this pistol accomplishes it.
We’ve reviewed this brilliant classic from Daisy before! This affordable air pistol has a molded back grip for increased comfort and control, though it isn’t as durable as the rest of the pistol, especially the smooth bore steel barrel. This barrel fires .177 caliber BBs, taking them from a magazine that can hold up to 15 at a time and projecting them up to 430 FPS.
This pistol can be used effectively either for pest-control or for backyard plinking. It also features an integrated accessory rail to let you mount laser sights or similar attachments to improve your accuracy.
The trigger is another solid point, providing a smooth experience each time you pull it. The sights already included are decent as well; the front sight is a blade ramp and the read sight is fixed. Overall, it’s got a lot of great features to facilitate comfortable use and good accuracy, especially for the asking price.
This is a more-than-serviceable CO2 air pistol despite its affordability. While it’s not the most durable on the market, it does feature an excellent accessory rail and a decent trigger pull.
What to Look for in a CO2 Air Pistol
To ensure that you pick out the best CO2 air pistol for your needs, keep these major factors in mind as you browse.
Trigger quality matters a great deal for any kind of firearm, not just CO2 pistols. Smooth triggers with plenty of space for you to comfortably put your finger will enable you to take more accurate shots without jerking the weapon each time you fire. You should consider the size of your trigger finger before purchasing a pistol, as some loops are so small than you may not be able to reliably fire your weapon quickly if you’re not careful.
CO2 air pistols can shoot either pellets or BBs, or both. Pellets are spherical projectiles that have a “skirt” of material that expands when they emerged from the barrel of a CO2 pistol. This increases their accuracy and power and makes them an excellent choice for pest-control or for competitions that require you to your shots at the edge of your effective range.
BBs can be made out of plastic or steel and tend to be less aerodynamic and accurate compared to pellets. They’re more affordable, though, so they’re a good choice for fun shooting or backyard plinking.
Consider the material the pistol is made of. High-quality stainless steel or similar metals usually cost a little more but result in a more durable weapon, and one that is resistant to corrosive damage. Also look at the quality of the handgrip of the pistol. Better weapons have textured grips that provide better durability and help you hold the weapon even if your palms get sweaty.
Strictly speaking, the maximum power you can expect to attain with a CO2 pistol is about 500 FSP, and usually a little bit less. Break-barrel or PCP pistols are required to go above this velocity.
In general, having a high FPS rating is only important if you plan to shoot over long distances. Since a CO2 pistol is only accurate up to 20 feet or so anyway, there’s not much of a real difference between 300 FPS and 500 FPS in a real scenario. Higher is still better if you want to primarily use the air pistol for pest control.
Go for higher if you want greater speed and stopping power. If you’re looking for a pistol just for fun, this factor doesn’t matter so much.
Ultimately, the right CO2 air pistol for your will combine quality, affordability, and comfort. Consider your options carefully before you pull the trigger and you’ll enjoy your CO2 pistol for a long time to come. Good hunting!