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Gamo P-23 pistol

by B.B. Pelletier

I’ve been asked to report on this pistol by many readers, so today I’m happy to respond. I first shot a Gamo P-23 right after it hit the market in mid-1998.

Slim and trim – the epitome of a pocket pistol. No wonder there is so much interest in the Gamo P-23.

Dual ammo
The P-23 is one of those curious air pistols that shoots either lead pellets or steel BBs. Naturally, it’s .177 caliber. When shooting BBs, the pistol is a 12-shot repeater that fires just as fast as you can pull the trigger. You can also load lead pellets singly for far greater accuracy. The rifling is designed to not have a problem with BBs, but to still grab the larger lead pellets and spin them. Only one type of ammunition can be in the gun at a time, because the linear BB magazine will try to load the barrel if there is anything in it.

Styling and fit
One reason the P-23 has lasted this long is that it looked right from the beginning. It’s styled to look like a SIG Sauer P230 pocket pistol, which is a very classic modern design. You can also see hints of the PPK in the gun, but not so many that it isn’t its own distinctive design. Pick it up, and it’s almost like holding a P08 Luger! It fits your hand and everybody else’s, too. As small as the pistol is, the grip is surprisingly large, so you guys with the first baseman’s mitts on the end of your arms should find this one of the nicer pocket pistols to hold.

Another nice feature about the looks is that Gamo made the CO2 cartridge loading cap almost flush with the bottom of the grip. After all the bad remarks I’ve read concerning the PPK/S grip, which hangs down significantly, I know this is a desirable feature.

To load the gun with either kind of ammo, the metal upper slide is unlocked and tipped forward. Pellets can then be loaded one at a time into the rear of the barrel, or BBs can be loaded into a spring-loaded magazine located on top of the synthetic frame. The loading port is funnel-shaped to ease the process. With the orange plastic magazine follower pulled down and locked out of the way, loading goes quickly.

With the forward half of the upper slide rotated forward, the BB port is exposed. Lock the orange follower out of the way and load 12 BBs.

Make a note that only the forward part of the upper slide is metal. The back part that doesn’t have to move is synthetic.

The trigger is double-action only, and it has a very light, even pull. There is a small, visible hammer inside the rear of the slide. Even if you catch it and pull back, there’s no full-cock notch for the trigger to catch. But you will find the double-action pull very nice. It’s certainly no hinderance to shooting because this pistol is meant for fast action – not targets.

Power and gas conservation
The P-23 gets about 400 f.p.s., give or take, with steel BBs and around 275 with light lead pellets. You can expect Gamo’s rated 60 shots per CO2 cartridge, but you’ll probably shoot them so fast that you’ll have to stop to take count before you’re convinced. After all, that’s just five magazines of BBs.

I was surprised by the P-23’s accuracy with lead pellets. Usually, these pocket pistols are more noisemaker than serious airgun, but at 23 feet I managed a half-inch group with five RWS Hobbys. BBs are not as accurate, of course, but they will still stay inside 4″ at 10 yards, which is good for BBs from any pistol.

My only big complaint is the rear sight. It moves sideways for windage and is held in place by a small setscrew. Tighten this screw too much, and it pushes the sight completely up and out of the receiver dovetail. The plastic sight dovetail in the receiver is simply too soft and flexible. Take care when tightening this screw.

So, I’m saying the P-23 is a good little air pistol. When it was new in ’98, I paid $62 for one. Over the years, they’ve gone down about $4, so there is even more incentive to get one than ever.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

29 thoughts on “Gamo P-23 pistol”

  1. I knew the P23 would accept round balls, because pyramyd air “highly recommended” them.
    Why is so much speed difference in BB and pellets?

    Will we have a report on Crosman 1088?
    It has a similar price than the P23, but has a 8 shot clip that works with pellets or BB. Plus it has double and single action. It looks like the perfect fun gun for me. I have been long time separated from hand guns (fire, CO2 or aire). But after my kid got a nerf dart gun (not from me) I may buy one.

  2. Fabian,

    Speed difference between round balls and pellets. The bore was probably smaller than .100 and the pellets take it better than the round ball. Their skirts collapse and the head band contact area is narrow. But a round ball has to squeeze down to get through. At least that is my guess.


  3. In cycling we use CO2 as a way to rapidly inflate tires (specially for racing or for tires requiring high pressure on the road).

    For that purpose there are 12g and 16g un-threaded and 12,16 and 25 threaded cartridges.

    Most people use 12 un-threaded whenever is possible because thanks to Crosman you can buy them for cheap (Hey, Crosman not only profits from shooting).

    And I was wondering if having some hand guns using 16 cartridges would represent an advantage, specially in “shoot as fast as you can pull the trigger” guns. 16 would seem like they can still fit in a hand gun and would have a little less temperature drop and more shoots per cartridge.

    I have no idea if any current gun could be fitted with the 16g cartridges but as a theoretically question. Would you say 16g vs 12g would represent an advantage? (I know about airsource and bulk, that is why this is for hand guns only).

    If there would be and advantage I could harbor the hope that Crosman would create a gun that uses 16g and then be so kind as to produce 16g cartridges and lower the 16g cartridges cost).

  4. Mr. Peletier,
    Perhaps you can help me. I’m trying to find out what the precise bore dimensions are for the Dragon Slayer 50. I have ordered one of these from Pyramyd. I have asked the question via the Pyramyd wesite without response, via the phone without returned calls and via email where the (very slow) response to my email titled “Question about the Dragon Slayer 50” was answered with “what rifle?” I’m interested in casting my own ammunition for this rifle (in addition to the rounds ordered from Pyramyd) and am trying to determine the best projectile diameter, or at least get in the ballpark initially. Do you know the bore dimensions for groove and land diameter, and/or have any advice on the topic? Thank you for your time,

  5. hi everyone,
    i have a new 392 and have been using generic crossman pointed pellets. these work fine but im gonna be placing an order at pyramyd soon and need other pellet suggestions. i know my gun is an individual but i would like to here about what kind of pellets other 392s like and disslike. i was also wondering if the beeman pellets such as the kodiak, bearcub round nose, and .22 trophy.
    i am open to all suggestion. thanks

    • I tried some JSB jumbo monsters in mine, they run 25.38 grains which I think was a tad heavy to the point that I was losing power but it put 5 into 1.5″ @ 20yds.Which surprised me! When I get my 2400KT I’m gonna try the 18 gr for a middle weight pellet with good energy retention downrange They are quality pellets as well as H&N’s offerings

  6. Jerry,

    No, I don’t have the bore diameter, but I know who to ask. This will take time because they aren’t going to slug the bore of a new rifle. We’ll get the dimensions from the manufacturer, and they will probably be metric, but you can convert.


  7. B.B.,
    Thank you very much for pursuing my request. I’ll be happy to convert metric measurements. I enjoy reading your blog and the comments section. I must say, I hadn’t expected a response so quickly!
    Thanks again,

  8. (Posted January 14, 2007 must have missed it)

    Hey BB!

    What would be good pellets to hunt with a Daisy 953? (I know it’s not a hunting rifle but I am only going for tiny birds) Today I got 6 (tiny) birds. (1 in the kneeling and 5 in the standing position) With RWS superdome pellets, is there any others that I should try?

  9. although the lenght is longer, is this gun overall smaller in the hand then the c11. how does it compare in size to the ppk? im looking for a pocket pistol and if this is the same size as the ppk this is a much better bet because it is similar in design, more versatile and has a much higher velocity for more realistic shooting

  10. The P23 is a copy of the SIG P230, which is a larger pistol than the PPK/S. Both are considered pocket pistols, but the P23 has a longer grip (front to back) which makes it feel larger in the hand. However, it does feel good.

    If you like the P23 over the PPK/S, get it!


  11. I have one of these but have always been slightly uncomfortable with the single-action trigger. The trigger pull isn’t particularly light, and it feels as though I’m pulling against a fairly strong spring. When the sear releases at the end of the trigger pull, and the hammer strikes the valve, the gun pulls very quickly to the right which I find affects accuracy when shooting single-handed. Other than that it’s a good size and weight and I find it to be very good. I bought it here in England, it cost me around £70, which is currently approximately USD $140 which compared to the $32 price tag in the States is not such good value.

    One more thing I’d like to point out, which will be obvious to some and not others, is that if you pull back the hammer with your fingers/thumb as described by B.B.Pelletier there will indeed be no latch mechanism to hold it back and if you happen to release it from a cocked or half-cocked position it will strike the valve and fire the weapon which may be a problem if you had a pellet in the breach.

  12. P23 Owner,

    You are describing double-action shooting – not single-action which is easy. Double-action shooting is harder. You should try it with a firearm some time! The P23 is actually pretty light.

    Yes the gun wants to pull and you must learn how to hold it so it doesn’t. That is why Hollywood movies are fake – because most real people can’t shoot fast as well as they are generally portrayed.

    However, this is a skill that can be learned and your P23 is a great teacher. Ammo costs are low enough that you can afford to invest in the thousands of shots that will make a difference.


  13. I have had a P23 for several years. It's cheap, good-looking and it can shoot really fast, but I hate the trigger action, which makes it really difficult to shoot accurately, even at short distances.

  14. Anonymous,

    Thanks for your comment on the P23 pistol. You posted it to a blog written 3 years ago.
    There are just a very few of us watching the old blogs for current comments/questions. B.B. writes a blog Mon-Fri at
    / where off topic questions are welcome.

    I cann't help you with the trigger on your P23 because I've never owned or fired one.

    However, if you repost to the current blog someone should be able to give you a hand.

    Hope to see you there and that you become a regular contributor.

    Mr B.

  15. Yes, I know. This is a very old thread, and no one will probably see this, but here I go.
    1. My P23 has “Use Lead Only”. BB used some steels to test his. Is there a drawback to using steel in this?
    2. The CO2 seals on mine.. are shot. Is there a kit to fix them? There is a pink (?) seal around the cartridge piercing pin (sorry if I use the wrong terms, I’m a mechanic not an “Airgunner”.. yet) that is destroyed.
    Thanx for your patience with a newbie.

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