Winning the Cold War

Winning the Cold War

The battle between CO2 and the thermometer Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

Back in the Old West guns had to work no matter what the temperature. With CO2 powered Peacemakers it isn’t quite as cut and dried. Depending upon the gun, CO2 can be problematic at temperatures below 50 degrees (CO2 works best at between 70 and 80 degrees), but as this cold weather test will show, there are always exceptions. (The custom 5-1/2 inch Colt holster by Chisholm’s Trail is now available from Pyramyd Air)

Using Nitrogen in place of CO2 has its benefits if the temperature is well below minimum for CO2. But there is another question, CO2 super cools when rapid firing is involved, this could be fanning a single action, like the 5-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemaker or using a select fire semi-auto, such as the Umarex Model 712 Broomhandle Mauser. I have put these two classic 19th century handguns (the Broomhandle was initially developed in 1895), into a 21st century battle to see how well Nitrogen survives the ultimate test of an air pistol. read more

Winning the Cold War

Winning the Cold War

The battle between CO2 and the thermometer Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

If you find yourself on a winter day with a need to shoot a CO2 powered air pistol in 28 degrees, it will work for a short time. How short? Depends upon the air pistol, its internal design, and how soon the CO2 loses PSI and velocity drops to the point where the pistol won’t function. With the Gletcher Tokarev TT-33 it turned out to be 90 shots with the first four of five 18-round magazines maintaining at least 346 fps velocity and 1.25 inch accuracy at 21 feet. This is what you would definitely call a best case scenario.

Over the years I have had varying results with CO2 in cold weather, particularly with blowback action pistols, but also with single and double action revolvers. My most disappointing test was two winters ago with a Peacemaker that got about two reloads from a CO2 cylinder before the BBs (this was before the pellet models were introduced) almost rolled out of the barrel. With a couple of semi-autos I managed two magazines before the CO2 failed to power the slide. The temperatures were almost always in the 30s. For this most recent test it was 28 degrees with a light wind and the test gun was a Gletcher Tokarev TT-33 blowback action [1], which completely surprised me by performing exceptionally well in below freezing temperatures. With the ProChrono chronograph using infrared screens plugged into an outside power source, I was able to clock velocity for each magazine I shot. After only a few minutes exposure to the outside weather, having come from a 70 degree room where the CO2 had been loaded into the pistol grip, the first 9 shots fired clocked from 355 fps to 327 fps with an average velocity of 346 fps. I went through five 18-round stick magazines before the gun clocked a low of 276 fps and then was unable to continue firing. That’s a total of 90 shots over a period of 15 minutes outdoors in 28 degree weather. This is the best result I have ever had with a CO2 pistol in below freezing temperatures. The Gletcher Tokarev TT-33 has been an exceptional gun since it was introduced, but I would have to say it is an all around performer despite having a stick magazine and separate CO2 channel in the grip frame. The blowback action is snappy, even at 28 degrees. The bottom line here is that I picked a gun that happens to perform well in cold weather. read more

Winning the Cold War

Winning the Cold War

The battle between CO2 and the thermometer Part 1 Part 2

By Dennis Adler

The airgun that came out in the cold; I used my custom weathered finish Gletcher Tokarev TT-33 for this test of CO2 vs. Nitrogen in below freezing temperatures. (The Russian semi-auto model seemed an appropriate choice for the artic chill). The shot count is 18 rounds for the Tokarev CO2 model’s stick magazine, so we’ll see how many times I can shoot and reload with CO2 before the outside temperature brings things to a halt.

I have two things in common with CO2; I don’t function well in cold weather or extreme heat. CO2 likes to be at an optimum temperature range of no less than 60 degrees and no greater than 90 degrees. That’s actually the extreme ends, between 70 and 80 degrees is really where CO2 functions best. When the temperature gets above 80 degrees, pressure (PSI) increases with CO2; the upshot is you also get slightly elevated velocities and at around 90 degrees you begin to see vaporization of the CO2 leaving the barrel (very cold air meeting very hot air). This looks like a trail of gun smoke, some people call it wisps. An airgun based on a centerfire or rimfire pistol or rifle is even more realistic looking with a smoking barrel, but high temperature is not conducive to proper functioning, especially with blowback action models. The higher PSI can be hard on the action and seals. At the other extreme, temperatures from 50 degrees to just above freezing, the CO2 is chilled, and already being cold to begin with, the PSI is lowered and performance drops rapidly along with velocity. In a very short time of exposure to freezing temperatures CO2 powered blowback action pistols stop working. Revolvers don’t fair much better after a few minutes. Whenever I have had to shoot tests outdoors in winter I keep the gun in a warm coat pocket between shooting sessions, or even pull the car nearby and keep the gun in the heated vehicle so the CO2 is at 70 degrees before taking it out to shoot. This extends my shooting time but the end result is still the same after a few minutes. read more

ASG CZ P-09 DT FDE

ASG CZ P-09 DT FDE

A basic 4.5mm Tactical Trainer Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

Another excellent feature of the ASG CZ P-09 is the full length 1913 Picatinny rail which allows light and light laser combinations to seat all the way back to the triggerguard. This also proved advantageous with the compact LaserMax Spartan green laser. This is a very affordable targeting laser that works with centerfire, rimfire and CO2 pistols that have full length rails.

As a training gun the ASG CZ P-09 falls a little short of the mark because of its 8+8 rotary stick magazine, separate CO2 channel and not having a slide that locks back on an empty magazine (but there are centerfire guns that don’t lock back, too, so this really isn’t a non starter in my book; I carry a Ruger LCP as a backup and it doesn’t lock back on an empty magazine). If the ASG model has any one flaw that taints its use for training it is the added pushbutton release on the left-side thumb safety. If you can get past that, then the P-09 begins to show its better nature as both a serious 4.5mm shooter and a decent training gun with benefits. read more

ASG CZ P-09 DT FDE

ASG CZ P-09 DT FDE

A basic 4.5mm Tactical Trainer Part 2 Part 1 Part 3

By Dennis Adler

As CO2 models based on actual centerfire handguns go, the ASG CZ P-09 scores an impressive 95 percent accuracy. It overcomes the lack of a functioning slide release, an almost insufferable additional thumb release button on the left side safety, and a poor finish on several cast metal pieces, with a slide contour, fit and finish that is exceptional. The polymer frame with its 1913 Picatinny accessory rail is spot on, as is the trigger shape, slide release button, removable backstrap and military-style lanyard loop. 

There is no current means by which a pellet-firing semi-auto can provide the full handling experience possible with a blowback action BB model. A few have come close, others like the new Sig Sauer P320 have taken a different tack with a higher capacity pellet-firing stick magazine, but the underlying issues of no self-contained pellet and CO2 magazine remains the biggest problem. The only exceptions are the new Hatsan H-1911 and just previewed ASG Dan Wesson 1911 (but they don’t have blowback actions). Manufacturer’s take other technical shortcuts in building pellet-firing semi-autos by eliminating features that cannot work, like slide releases and slides with actual ejection ports, which become molded-in features, (again except for the new Hatsan and ASG Dan Wesson 1911s). The ASG CZ P-09 follows the same approach as the Sig Sauer, with a molded-in ejection port, which is the gun’s least attractive and most telling feature. read more