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CO2 Crosman model 116 .22-caliber bulk-fill CO2 pistol: Part 1

Crosman model 116 .22-caliber bulk-fill CO2 pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Neat fix for bulk-fill CO2 guns

Crosman 116 pistol
Crosman’s 116 bulk-fill pistol is a .22-caliber single-shot pistol with power and accuracy that surpasses many of today’s air pistols.

Before we start, a word on the “fix” for CO2 guns that Dennis Quackenbush gave me. Some folks are concerned that this will ruin the guns it’s put into. Well, it will soften the seals, and eventually those seals will dissolve into a jelly-like material that won’t seal the gun. How fast that happens depends on how much of the automatic transmission sealer you use. But here’s my thinking. The gun already doesn’t work. If this restores it to operation for a few years, or even for only a few more months, that’s more than you have now. In the end, you may need to replace all the seals anyway, but that was what you faced when you decided to do this. No permanent harm has been done. And you got some use from a gun that needed seals.

Don’t add the sealant if you don’t want to — that’s always your decision to make. But some of you are glad to know that there’s a quick, cheap way to fix many of these guns right now.

For those who are paying attention, we’ve actually reported on the 116 in the past. One of these is a blog that I did, and the other is a guest blog by blog reader Paul Hudson. Today’s blog is just the beginning of a traditional 3-part report, so we’ll be looking at this gun in greater detail.

History of bulk-fill CO2 guns
Carbon dioxide guns descended from pneumatic guns in the 1870s, when Paul Giffard first started building and selling his 4.5mm, 6mm and 8mm gas guns for the public. They were based on the Giffard multi-pump pneumatics that had been around for 20 years, but these new guns offered something the older pneumatics didn’t. They could be fired many times from one charged tank of gas. When the tank was finally depleted, it had to be returned to a filling station, which was hopefully located in the same country as the gun! That inconvenience overpowered the novelty of the guns that fired without gunpowder, and they did not last very long.

Giffard air pistol

Giffard gas pistols can be restored to work today — 130+ years after they were made!

Crosman started experimenting with building and selling entire commercial shooting galleries for the public in the early 1930s, and they chose gas guns for these galleries. Each rifle, designated the model 117, was tethered to a large tank of CO2 (that was essentially a fire extinguisher) located inside the gallery, and they must have gotten tens of thousands of shots from one tank.

After World War II, Crosman redesigned the model 117 into a rifle that used a self-contained 12-gram CO2 cartridge, and they designated it the model 118. Perhaps a number of unsold model 117 rifles were rebuilt into model 118 rifles and sold to the public because 117 airguns are extremely rare today. Model 118 air rifles, in contrast, do exist in numbers large enough for many collectors to have them.

But these aren’t the guns we’re looking at in this report. We’re looking at guns like the model 111 (.177 caliber) and 112 (.22 caliber) gas pistols that were filled from 10-oz. tanks of CO2. These started selling as early as 1950 and ended production in 1954, according to the Blue Book of Airguns. The 10-oz. tanks that filled them were designated as the model 110, though not very many people know it. These 2 pistols had 8-inch barrels and got as many as 70 shots per fill of gas. Of course, that depended a lot on the density of the fill, or how much liquid CO2 was put into the gun’s reservoir.

Bulk-filling in brief
When you fill a gas gun from a bulk tank, the liquid CO2 inside the tank used for filling is under tremendous pressure from the gaseous CO2. Carbon dioxide has a vapor pressure of 853 psi at 70˚F. When it’s forced as a liquid into a reservoir of any size, it evaporates instantly until the pressure inside the reservoir reaches the same pressure as is inside the tank that’s doing the filling. This liquid will remain a liquid until the gas pressure in the tank drops, such as when filling another tank or a gun. Then, some of the liquid will flash to gas, boosting the pressure back up to whatever is dictated by the ambient temperature. So, CO2 is a gas that regulates its own pressure. Unfortunately, it’s also a world-class refrigerant!

As CO2 liquid flashes to gas and expands, it takes a lot of heat from its surroundings. So much, in fact, that shooters run the risk of instant frostbite when a CO2 cartridge exhausts to the atmosphere. Because of this, CO2 will cool the gun in which it is used. As it cools, its vapor pressure drops. Guns that are fired fast in rapid succession will shed hundreds of feet per second of velocity. Many shooters think this is the CO2 bleeding off and losing pressure, but it’s really just a reaction to the rapid change in temperature. Shoot the same gun slower, and the velocity will remain high and consistent much longer. That’s true for all CO2 guns, whether powered by cartridges or bulk gas. Just for clarification, fast means as fast as you can pull the trigger, and slower means waiting at least 10 seconds between shots.

The 116
The 115 and 116 models are very similar to the models 111 and 112; except, instead of 8-inch barrels, both these pistols have 6-inch barrels. The Blue Book says they were introduced in 1951 and lasted until 1954, but what I think actually happened was all 4 pistols went away when the first model 150/157 came out. That was the first gun Crosman made that used a 12-gram CO2 cartridge. Their gas reservoirs, which are brass tubes under the barrel, are scaled to fit the shorter barrel, so of course they hold less gas. I’ve seen a .177 version of this pistol — the model 115 — get as many as 50 powerful shots on a fill, but I think 30 is a more realistic number. We’ll test the 116 over a chronograph and figure out the actual performance data for ourselves.

All 4 pistols and the 2 rifles that were their companions (models 113 and 114 in .177 and .22 caliber, respectively) have adjustable power! That’s right, they had adjustable power all the way way back in the early 1950s. A screw at the rear of the receiver is turned in to put more tension on the striker and thus give longer valve open time and more power. In that respect, these pistols function very much like modern PCPs.

Crosman 116 pistol power adjustment
Turn the lower knob in to increase the power — out to slow down the gun and get more shots per change. The upper knob is where you grab the bolt

The sights are also adjustable. The rear sight is a simple notch and the front sight is a tall squared-off post. The rear sight leaf slides from side to side in an oval slot with a lock screw holding it position. A second smaller headless screw provides a range of elevation.

Crosman 116 pistol rear sight
The rear sight slides from side to side and also adjusts up and down.

If the grips appear similar to what you see today, they are! Crosman got it right the first time and really didn’t change it that much over the decades and across the models. These grips come in 2 pieces that wrap around the grip frame, where today they’re flatter panels that leave the frame showing through; but the overall shape and angle are very similar.

The finish is paint, which was completely expected and acceptable in the 1950s. The barreled action is painted with a gloss black paint and the grip frame is painted with a crackeled finish. Hobbyists can reproduce these finishes today, so it’s not surprising to see an old gun that looks like new.

The barreled action is made mostly of brass tubing and parts, and the grip frame is made of pot metal. Small parts such as the trigger, sights, screws and power adjustment knobs are steel.

The grips are plastic, and the .22 models started out with reddish-brown grips, while the .177 models were sold with whitish grips that sometimes have thin lines of other colors running through them. Of course, you can find any color grips on a gun today because the grip frames are all identical and a lot of swapping has been done in the past 60 years. The grips are ambidextrous and only the crossbolt safety keeps the entire gun from being completely friendly to people favoring either hand.

The pistol has a conventional turnbolt that both cocks the striker and opens the breech to load a pellet. I call it conventional, but it will only seem so to someone who has seen a lot of 1930- to 1950s-era airguns. There’s no bolt handle. Instead, you turn a knurled knob counterclockwise; and when it unlocks, pull it straight back until the sear catches the striker. Then, the pellet trough is open to load one pellet. Pushing the bolt back home and twisting it clockwise seats the pellet into the rifling and also aligns the gas transfer port with a hole in the bottom of the hollow bolt.

If these pistols can be said to have a weak spot, it’s the trigger. It’s a thin blade acting on a direct sear that releases the striker. It can be easily gunsmithed to be a light release, as long as you appreciate that it may not always be safe that way. I’ve owned all 4 models of this pistol, and a 111 that was my first one had a very nice, light trigger. The trigger on this 116 is neither light nor especially crisp. It’s better than a lot of modern pistol triggers but is only average for one of these older vintage guns.

I’ll never forget the accuracy of my first 111 pistol. I actually thought it was almost as accurate as a 10-meter target pistol. At 10 meters, I had little difficulty keeping 10 shots on a nickel. But since I haven’t shot this 116 yet, I have no idea where it’ll be. I do know that Crosman called it a target pistol, and it’s hard to argue that it isn’t. I think you’ll be surprised when I test it.

70 thoughts on “Crosman model 116 .22-caliber bulk-fill CO2 pistol: Part 1”

  1. If you want yourself a Garand better get it soon.


    “One new policy will bar military-grade weapons that the U.S. sells or donates to allies from being imported back into the U.S. by private entities. In the last eight years, the U.S. has approved 250,000 of those guns to come back to the U.S., the White House said, arguing that some end up on the streets. From now on, only museums and a few other entities like the government will be eligible to reimport military-grade firearms.

    The ban will largely affect antiquated, World War II-era weapons that, while still deadly, rarely turn up at crime scenes, leaving some to question whether the new policy is much ado about nothing.”

    P.S. BB sorry I missed your birthday yesterday big guy.

    • SL,
      I hope you have yours. This stuff is crazy, soon (if they have their way) only criminal will be able to have a firearm. You know air guns will be next then sticks and stones.

        • I will soon…….saving my 22lr ammo for now. Stocked up on CO2 and pellets. The Dasiy 622x and Crosman 1077 have seen a lot of action lately. I take them along in case I run into people who like to shoot and are not into airguns. We have a good time.

      • caveman,

        Crossbows, long bows, blowguns, slingshots….

        Tom & I have talked about this, and the gov’t will have to regulate lathes, steel pipes and other items sold at Home Depot to prevent people from making guns at home. Americans have a fighting spirit and have fought tyranny before.


          • who needs a 3D printer when you can get a sweet 80% ar lower with no paperwork for $100. They are making them out of a kevlar polymer blend. Easy to finish and stronger than aluminum. I have one I’m working on right now. When I take it to the range to test fire it nobody will even be able to tell it’s a plastic lower unless they take my ar15 apart and look real hard at it.

      • caveman

        I don’t use gun violence to defend myself. Sometimes I use harsh language. If I am really, really mad I take a page from the UN’s playbook and write a strongly worded letter.

        What really chaps my hide is that the government does these things knowing they won’t make a danged bit of difference, but give the appearance of doing something to those that are too dumb to know any better.

        This current measure is the act of a petulant child angry that he didn’t get his way the last time he tried to shove gun control down America’s throat.

      • /Dave,

        Over the past three or so years, poll after poll have nationwide approval of Congress’ performance — from both Republican and Democratic voters alike — ranging from 10 percent to 20 percent. One major poll even showed approval for The Congress below the approval rating for cockroaches!

        And yet at the same time poll after poll shows voters’ satisfaction with the performance of their own specific Congressman at an average of about 80 percent.

        There is your answer.

        But hey, don’t blame me. I think Congress stinks as a whole, AND I voted against my Congressman the last two times, but the cockroach is still in there!


    • Good thing I already have mine then. I have my AK47, which is a very sweet gun by the way, An AMD65, also a sweet firing gun. It won’t be long until I have my custom AR15 and a 300AAC blackout upper for when 5.56 NATO just doesn’t do the trick. The nice thing about 300AAC blackout is it uses the same bolt as the 5.56 NATO, but sends a 7.62mm at around 950 fps. Plenty of punch for home defense without all the noise. I guarantee you that there isn’t any criminal crazy enough, drugged up enough or suicidal enough to try and break into my place. Just to add to the fun my AK47 also has a razor sharp bayonet on it for if I run out of ammo and they are still moving. So they need to pray that isn’t the first thing I have handy when they make the worst mistake of their life.

      I wonder if I can still get the parts for an AK74 though. That will be a challenge if they start saying no more parts kits.

    • Sounds like another of those Darwinism ideas to me, although if I am not mistaken, do they not use propane to power some of those airsoft guns? I think they call it green gas or some such, probably to reduce the chance of some fool figuring out that it is flammable and deciding to modify his airsoft gun so that it ignites the gas as he fires it.

    • Bob,

      Under U.S. law such a gun would be classified as a firearm, since it uses a chemical explosion to power the shot. I assume you meant the butane would combust?

      If not, I thing the current airsoft guns that use propane gas (green gas) are similar enough to answer your question.


      • BB
        I just remembered there was something I read before in the past else were. That Benjamin or Crosman was trying to be one of the first (highest fps) guns available at the time (I believe in the 50’s era).

        They was injecting some type of flammable gas into a port before firing the gun.

          • BB
            That’s sounds like the gun I’m talking about.

            And I can’t remember nothing anymore with out making a note. Or for that fact I need to make a note to remind myself about another note sometimes. (joking about the note thing)

            But have you ever seen one of them either guns perform ?

            • GF1,

              I’ve seen the guns, but never seen one fired with the injector. I don’t know anyone how has. The Baracuda pellet was invented for that model because the gun was blowing the heads out of lighter pellets. Round balls are the usual ammo in one.

              Smith documented shooting one in his book, but the piston seal was blown and it didn’t work right.


  2. I thought about your ATF sealant for dealing with a leaky disco, but somebody gave me an even better solution that I’ll try when I get new parts for the gun that I suspect will be a permanent fix to a vexing problem. Instead after I polish up all the insides of the gun again I’ll carefully seal the thing with RTV sealant around the o rings. That way there can’t possibly be a leak. Then I’ll seal around the base of the pressure gauge the same way. These are the only two points in the gun I have issues so They should fix quite well with that sealant. It’s the exact same stuff I have been using for years to seal cooling systems in engines when I am doing something like replacing a water pump or thermostat. I figure if it can seal a hot high pressure system like that it should work for a cooler system generating less pressure than a pressurized engine cooling system.

    In the end it seems like less work to strip down your leaky gun and replace all the o-rings than to turn them into goo which you are going to need to clean out of the gun before you put it back together with new seals. You can have new seals in that 116 in around 15 minutes. I’m being generous with that time since I know I can have a disco together in around 10 minutes which is similar in design just a bit longer tubes.

    • I was having a leak around the foster fitting on my Edge. We have a two part sealant we use on threading at work. It did not hold. What did finally work was heavy duty teflon thread tape.

      I seriously doubt the RTV will work, but it might if you give it plenty of cure time.

      If you have not tried it, I would recommend to lubricate the o rings and other seals with silicone grease.

      • I’ve tried just about everything including some large amounts of grease which got the o-rings sliding down the air tube like they weren’t there. So I’m pretty much down to my last try before I start replacing major parts of the gun. I already have to replace the air gauge and the internal parts it screws into since with my last attempt that aluminum deal inside stripped out, my pressure gauge shot itself across the room and broke. I also decided to replace the air valve again since I have heard leaks coming from there. If that doesn’t stop it the gun is getting a stainless steel body tube, and perhaps a stainless steel breech. I figure if it needs replacing it will be replaced with the best I can get. Not like I haven’t already worked on the thing until it’s every bit as good as a Marauder already. Now I just need to fix that pesky leak.

  3. Victor,

    I have been thinking of the problems you are having with your P17. Doing research on them, I came up with some ideas you might be able to use.

    On removing the piston, it seems the pin in the cocking linkage has a small hex set screw that will need to be removed before driving the pin out. If you have the infamous burr, it will be at the air inlet port on the bottom of the compression tube.

    If your gun is firing on the closing of the cocking lever, you have a much more serious problem. There is a fix for that, too.

    The mechanism that sets the automatic safety and releases the air valve is contained inside the handle. Remove the right-side hand grip. Inside is a series of springs and levers that actuate these parts. There is also a small set screw that is used to adjust the trigger.

    Apparently, some guns have burrs on these moving parts that can interfere with their operation and, in extreme cases, even cut the springs themselves. You would need to inspect these and deburr them. As the trigger sear raises, it releases a spring-loaded lever that pushes upward on a pin on the bottom of the air valve.

    The safety slide should move from “fire” to “safe” as the cocking lever is raised. This is the first thing that happens when the cocking lever is raised. Something is wrong if this isn’t happening, as your gun should not fire if the safety is engaged.

    I think the problem with a cut seal on the piston (which is probably what you have) is unrelated to your other problems.

    The P3/P17 is a very good design. I think problems with the P17 are due to inconsistency in quality control in manufacturing. Some guns are well-built and the equivalent of the P3. Others, not so much. My experience with the P17 would indicate that QC has tightened up, but maybe mine was just built more carefully than yours. Even with its potential problems, I still think it is a far superior gun to the others in its price range. Competitors in this price range are typically CO2, smooth-bore,
    no blowback pistols without consistent accuracy. In my limited experience, the next alternative in accuracy is the Gamo P23, when shooting pellets. This pistol also uses a rifled barrel, and sells for about twice as much as the P17.

    Meanwhile, my P17 has had 300 pellets shot through it with no problems. I do not intend to tear it down unless it starts giving me trouble.


    • Have you seen the pictures from the Beeman/Marksman move, when they left California if I’m not mistaken.
      There were PALLETS of returned guns, mostly Marksman 1010 but still quite a few P17, they had a few employees destroy the guns before putting them in the dumpster for good.

      I think it was posted on the Yellow a few years ago.


    • Les,

      I bought my P17 at Kmart before I discovered any of the online airgun stores. It worked well, until I exceeded the store return date. I think I paid around $25 several years ago, so I didn’t give it much thought at first. But the more I held it, and thought about it, the more I liked it. I just became too flaky. I hadn’t lost power, like I recently explained until very recently. That’s sort of a newer issue.

      Yes, I did take it apart, and saw the springs. There is one spring that keeps wanting to pop-out towards the rear, so it’s a bit of a pain to put the grips back together. Since I don’t know how that one spring should be situated within the handle, I’m not sure if it’s out of place. I don’t know if it’s the reason for the gun firing automatically when closing the top?

      My thoughts, like yours, are that the issue has to do with QA, more than design. I’m actually quite impressed with some of the details of this gun, including it’s accuracy, feel, and fully adjustable rear sight, and the trigger. Looking down the barrel, I see that the rifling is more pronounced than a lot of other airguns (not that this necessarily means a lot, but it seems like it would to me).

      I love the feel of this gun, the clarity of the sights, the the nice trigger. If I could get it to work well, I’d probably shoot it almost every day. It feels better than my Gamo Compact, which I also like.

      Thanks for the information!


      If you happen to take your handle apart, and if you can send me a picture of how things should look like (i.e., spring placements), I’d greatly appreciate it. My e-mail is, vector@collector.org. Thanks again!

        • Victor,

          Google “P17 trigger problems”. Scroll down to “Canadian Airgun Forum Weihrauch HW 40 and Beeman P17”.

          There will be photos of both the P3 and the P17 showing the parts inside the handles. They look identical to me.

          The spring you mention sticking out the back is shown. I would think it just presses against the backstrap of the handle when assembled.


  4. J/F,

    I have worked for several years in Ford and Chevrolet parts departments in Minnesota. It was my experience that more batteries fail in hot weather than in cold.

    Battery failure in cold weather is usually not the fault of the battery. People who insist on driving their cars in very cold weather (down to -30F) without keeping their engines properly tuned put an undue strain on their batteries trying to get these things to start. Sometimes they burn out their starters. But more often they will keep cranking until their battery is drained. They then give up, and leave their vehicle sitting in the cold with a drained battery.

    A battery holding a charge will not freeze down to -30F. But a drained battery will. The water/acid in a discharged battery will freeze and expand, destroying the plates inside. So the battery gets blamed.

    On the other hand, in hot weather, the high under-hood temperatures can boil the water out of a battery and accelerate the destruction of the plates. High ambient temperatures slow the cooling of a shut-down engine, inducing more starter drag and further taxing the battery. In cold weather, a failing battery will usually give some warning, as the engine will crank slower as the battery puts out less power. In hot weather,batteries often fail with no warning. They will work just fine, then suddenly fail the next time. This is what happened to me yesterday. The battery had enough power to run accessories, but not enough to crank. I did not know if the problem was in my battery, my starter, or a bad connection. I charged the battery, but it still would not work. When I replaced the battery (which was 2-1/2 years old, but had only been used for two months), it started right up.

    I had stored that battery indoors, up off the floor, and kept a charge on it “just in case”.


    • We don’t have the extremely high 100+ degrees here or if we do it’s exceptional but the -40F isn’t out of the ordinary in the winter over night. Like you said the battery is low and people still crank it before they need to get to work and as soon as the car started they run every accessory (radio, heat, defroster, heated seats) and the battery may not have time to get back to fully charge so it will drain and damage the battery.

      I never worked in a car dealership but I remember a battery failling on me once in the summer time, all the others quit during the winter.

      I’d like to get real, hard number stats on this…


  5. BB: The 150 I sealed up with the tip from the other day is still holding fine. Also , the seals from another 150 as well as a new O-ring (viton ,Parker mil spec ) which I submerged in the Bars stop leak show no signs of dissolving yet. From some research I did, it appears that some stop leak products are primarily conditioners, while other are solvents that soften the seals to achieve the sealing affect. It is worth noting that many machine shops that build valves ,use common petroleum jelly to condition O-rings as they are installed. Also the O-rings regardless of the manufacturer have a shelf life. I know this as my wife builds such equipment . It’s also worth noting that many of the folks who critize you for the blog the other day also advise againist Pellgun oil so that they can promote their own product, which of course is such a secret ,special mixture that only the seller and a handful of his wizards are allowed to know what’s in it. I have a small bottle of it that I keep on the shelf right next to my go faster sneakers and the pixie dust.

    • Robert,

      Thanks for this information! Dennis did tell me that the sealer oil does condition the seals, so it is possible there are 2 different kinds of products on the market. My 116 is still holding and a 150 I used it on is, too.


        • NO!!!!

          Use silicone oil or grease on sproinger breach seals, not this stuff. This stuff will likely explode when it encounters the high air pressures in a sproinger compression chamber or a PCP. It is not an issue with CO2 guns because the gas they use inhibits combustion.

          I had a detonation in a Gamo CFX that sounded like a powder burner going off with smoke out of the muzzle and from around the breach. It destroyed all of the seals.

        • for those old sproingers try two or three drops of silicone chamber oil (Pyramyd AIR sells it) down the muzzle and stand it in the corner of the closet for a few days. It will flow down the barrel and into the compression chamber and should lubricate the seals. If they are really old sproingers with leather seals, the seals will sop up that oil and love you for it.

        • James,

          This might work, but it’s an inappropriate fix, in my opinion. The whole point of this fix is to avoid disassembly of the gun. For a bulk-fill gun that saves a lot of work. But a breech seal is right out in the open and very accessible, so why would you need to do this?


  6. B.B.
    Thanks so much for the history of these bulk fill guns. I am already a history buff so it is great to learn more about the history of our airgun hobby. One question though. Since the Models 111,112, 115 and 116 apparently could be filled at home why was their production span so short? You mentioned the advent of the 12 gram powerlet as one possible reason but it looks to me like the reservoirs for these guns could hold more than 12 grams which obviously means more shots per fill.

    As long as the filling process was (is) relatively easy to do I, for one, would prefer bulk fill to powerlets for the increased shot count ,not to mention it would be cheaper. It just seems to me that if these type guns were reintroduced they might stand a chance of success.

    By the way, the Giffard pistol you pictured is absolutely beautiful.


  7. Since the CO2 freezes up the guns how can they make guns like the Steel Storm and Steel Force work when shooting in bursts? You fire 30 shots in a few seconds (which is a LOT of fun by the way).

    About the sealing and tranny fluid use, wouldn’t going back to pellgun oil “wash down” the transmission thing and stop the deterioration/extreme swelling of the rubber seals?


    • J-F,

      You partially answered the question that you asked. The whole answer is that CO2 guns are made to shoot in BURSTS, rather than in the full-auto mode without stopping, because they will freeze up.

      There are ways of mitigating the issue. Things like expansion chambers that don’t allow the cold gas to affect the pressure as much, since the parts of the gun are farther away from the gas stream. But in the end, all gas guns do suffer slowdowns from expanding gas.


  8. B.B., looking at that rear sight, I’m wondering if I could make it work on my Benjamin EB22. Anything would help as the factory sites are awful. That said, finding one of these rear sites would probably be a tall order. Thanks for the great read. I’m looking forward to the rest. Bradly

  9. B.B., I’ve been waiting to ask about this until what seemed like a reasonably relevant post, and I think this might suffice. Please do re-direct me if it turns out you’ve covered this subject before; I do not recall it during the time I’ve followed you here, but am happy to do the “back issues” thing if I know where to look. 🙂

    As usual you do a great job here, of putting an image around (in this case) the mechanics of how CO2 guns cool themselves to the point of affecting velocity. You also allude to what this might actually look like when it happens (“Guns that are fired fast in rapid succession will shed hundreds of feet per second of velocity”)…boy, would I like to see a lot more on quantifiable specifics like that!

    My interest is that I am trying to plan out my “airgun strategy”, and want to understand better where CO2 guns might fit for me, here. I’m still very new to airguns, and with two small children in the house, both budget and time are tight; I am trying to assess the whole of what I intend to do with airguns in advance, and plan out my purchases/investments with best efficiency of both order-of-acquisition and overall outlay. (In this regard, I have found this blog to be incalculably useful, getting me past lots of assumptions I think I would have otherwise made in good faith, but in error. Thank you for that!)

    And so, I am interested in the behavior of CO2 guns (and, to the extent there are parallels, green-gas/propane Airsoft guns) for two reasons: 1), what you’re talking about here: the degrading effect that the rapid cooling has on shot-to-shot velocity; and 2) the effect of ambient temperature on velocity. I’m thinking principally about personal training here; given the purposes I envision for CO2 guns, I’m not nearly as interested in terminal performance as I am about having all shots sufficiently consistent that I do not need to adjust my aim point.

    So, for example, I’d love to see lots of quantifying data/examples on things like this:

    – At various common ranges, employing common “action” targets, using various common CO2 “action” pistols, revolvers and rifles, how many rapid shots might you expect before you start experiencing drop that you have to make a hold adjustment for? What would a required recovery time be for that? (Personally, I’m not likely to design drills or competition stages with all that many shots fired, but if the cooling phenomenon were to make even a traditional “El Presidente” drill impractical without a hold adjustment in the middle, then I might reconsider CO2 altogether for the purpose. I’m interested in where the firn lines are.)

    – At what ambient temperature(s) do CO2 guns lose such velocity that a hold adjustment is necessary (again, using various likely ranges, targets, and guns)? I’ve heard from lots of sources that CO2 guns “like” or “require” a certain minimum ambient temperature to work “best” or “properly”, and where I live in Alaska (Kenai Peninsula), we rarely see temperatures like those recommended. But all this seems to be anecdotal, not scientific. For example, at the Peninsula Fair last week, the 4-H match was shot outdoors, with CO2 rifles (Avanti 888), ambient temp in the high 40s with lots of rain, and nobody batted an eye. I’d have loved to have had a chrony with me that day. What is the real story? I’d like to learn more.

    – Likewise, is there a point where the power of the CO2 charge drops so precipitiously that, say, a blowback action pistol will cease to function at all? Maybe this is a ridiculous question to someone who has been around CO2 guns before, but it’s not obvious to me yet. 🙂

    Sorry for the extended narrative, but I try to be clear about what I’m looking for. I’d love to see more on this topic of the CO2 powerplant.

    • Kevin Wilmeth,

      You have asked several good questions that I have actually tested in the past, though they were not always documented in reports that appeared in this blog. Let’s look at velocity loss with CO2 first.

      I have tested this while filming the first season of “American Airgunner”, and also when I was writing “The Airgun Letter” back in the 1990s. A 15-shot BB pistol could very easily lose 150 f.pos. on a warm day when I pulled the trigger as fast as I could. And the Haemmerli 850 Air Magnum rifle lost about 100 f.p.s. when the bolt was worked as fast as possible. At 90 feet that will translate into a 3-inch vertical string instead of a group. But wait 10-15 seconds between shots and the group from the same rifle will be round and tight.

      Testing a gun this way is easy. Shoot a shot through the chronograph, then fire the remaining shots but one outside the chrono screens and fire the final shot through the chrono, again. You will see a clear indication of how far the velocity will drop.

      That was on a warm (80+ degree) day. On a cold day (50 degrees), the velocity loss would be over 200 f.p.s. and there would be no recovery until the gun was warmed in some way, like taking it inside a warm building for an hour or so.

      Although I have never tested how cold a CO2 gun will function, I would guess when the temperature gets in the 30s the gun will only have a couple shots before the latent heat of the mass of metal is used up and the gun ceases to function.

      For simplicity I tell shooters not to shoot CO2 guns in temperatures below 60 degrees F. That way I know they won’t get into trouble.

      You want to shoot pratical pistol with a pellet gun or and airsoft gun? I would try to shoot inn 70 degree weather, if possible.

      There is another side to this as well. Once while we were filming “American Airguner” outside in the Catskills on a sunny 80 degree day, all our CO2 guns locked up and failed to function. They had lain in the sun for an hour and were too hot to function. Putting them in the shade for another hour got them all working again.

      I hope this answers your questions.


      • Thank you B.B.; that goes a long way toward helping me to refine my questions from here onward. 🙂

        Let me ask this, then–and please forgive me if the answer is obvious: would a green-gas/propane powerplant (which I associate with Airsoft, not with pellets or steel BBs) be subject to the same cooling phenomenon as CO2, or would it be similar-but-less-pronounced, or is it not the same at all? If green-gas/propane is viable where CO2 is not, that would be a very useful place to start: I could immediately move on to the consideration of the usable accuracy and consistency of Airsoft BBs–which may well be a whole matter unto itself!

        Where I live, 50 degrees F is a warm day, and yet I’d sure like to be able to practice/train all year round. I’ve been wondering how much I could get away with if I was primarily practicing concealed-carry drills with pistols. So…I load, holster and cover inside (ambient usually no lower than 60, and the gun will naturally get at least some sympathetic heat from my body), then come outside and shoot “strings” that will usually be six rounds or less before reholstering.

        It sounds like what I need to do, ultimately, is to settle on one CO2 piece and one green-gas/propane piece, and just perform and document these sorts of tests myself, so that I can reflect on first-hand data instead of translated-from-another-climate data. I think I now know enough that I might be able to do that reasonably intelligently; if I’m careful in picking my initial test guns (and suggestions from the “commentariat”* here are welcome), I suspect I’ll be happy even if one or the other ultimately proves to be unworkable for what I’m trying to do.

        One way or the other: thanks. As things settle down a bit now that the fireweed has topped out (indicating the end of summer–and Alaskan summers are crazy in a way that nowhere else I’ve been compares to), I look forward to putting some more time and craft into airgunnery, and this I think will be a good candidate for my winter project. (Well…one of the winter projects. I’d also love to be able to put together a suitable hunting airgun for snowshoe hare–but that’s a different discussion thread as well. 🙂

        • Kevin,

          Green gas/propane has a much lower vapor pressure (115 psi versus 853 psi) than CO2. So, although it does tend to cool the gun as you fire, the effect is very small, compared with CO2. Also, the construction of airsoft guns is more plastic than metal, so the cooling effect is lessened.

          Although I’ve never tried it, I would think that airsoft is the way to go. CO2 would definitely be out for your climate, I would think.


  10. Some additional info about today’s blogged pistol and some info for Victor:

    There’s a Crosman 116 tear down/refinish on Another Airgun Blog:

    along with some new grips for the similar, long barreled 112 version

    And here’s some rebuild/modification info on the Beeman P17

    • Derrick

      I read the blog on checkering when you first wrote it, and I am just as impressed today as I was then. I can’t imagine anyone else doing a better job of checkering, first time or not. The renaissance man lives.

      As for overruns, I like them. They kind of prove the gun was hand checkered instead of stamped. They are like Cindy Crawford’s mole.

    • Derrick,

      Thanks! Lot’s of good detail. It seems that a lot of people love this pistol, and for good reason. I’m starting to wonder if it has a sort of cult following.


  11. Does anybody know if someone from Crosman and Benjamin was related or if certain people worked together at some point in time ?

    It has always seemed to me that their designs were similar. Especially the pistols.

      • SL
        Yep I knew about Crosman and Benjamin but wasn’t sure about Sheridan. But wasn’t the above guns older ? (1950’s era)

        The design of the trigger assembly seem to be similar of the new models that are made today.

          • BB
            That’s kind of why most of my air guns and pistols have been Crosman and Benjamin. Is the inter-changeability of the design.
            They don’t advertise or market it if you will like the AirForce brand guns do. But also I’m glad I got my Talon SS just for the fact of that there is so much you can change around on them if you want.

            But back to the above guns. Are you going to do a test to show fps with different pellets and the accuracy also ? I see above you are going to test for accuracy. But I would like to know what kind of fps they produced.

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