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Air Guns Fill couplings — no standard?

Fill couplings — no standard?

Foster and probe
When I spotted this fill coupling in my airgun toolkit it inspired today’s report.

This report covers:

  • Benefits of a PCP
  • PCP limitations
  • Threaded fill fittings
  • Fill probes
  • AirForce Airguns fill device
  • The Air Arms “huh?”
  • Foster fitting
  • However
  • Only rifles
  • Summary

Today I want to discuss precharged pneumatic (PCP) fill adaptors. This is one thing that keeps many airgunners at bay, where PCPs are concerned.

Benefits of a PCP

The benefits of a PCP are many, starting with accuracy. A PCP is more accurate than any other powerplant, plus easier to be more accurate than any other airgun powerplant.

PCPs are more powerful. They are easier to make powerful.

PCPs recoil very little. Oh, they all do recoil, despite what people think. Unless the airgun has a recoil canceling device installed, such as the one on my FWB P44 target pistol, there is some movement, even if only a little.

Big bore airguns recoil noticeably. For example, when I shot the new Umarex Hammer Carbine it kicked the poo out of me. I was unprepared for the recoil that felt greater than a 30.06, but less than a .375 H&H. A combination of extreme bullet weight and the light weight of the carbine were the contributing factors.

PCPs can be lighter in weight than spring guns.

PCPs don’t require much technique to shoot well.

PCP limitations

The lack of standardization of fill devices is a huge problem in the PCP world. It’s even worse than you may know, which is why I want to discuss it today.

Threaded fill fittings

In the beginning of the modern PCP air rifle era that started with Daystate in 1980, the fill fittings were threaded hose connectors that, of course, screwed onto threaded fittings on the guns. Someone looked at those fittings and said, “That’s too simple!. Everyone will be able to fill airguns with those! We can’t have that!” I think the guy who said that used to manage supermarket chains, where he invented the concept of rearranging the shelves every few months, after seeing that the seniors had learned where things were.

Fill probes

Yes, fill probes were early, but not the kind you know today. The early ones were needles that attached to scuba tanks. The air rifles were jammed down on them, the needles went into the end of the rifles’ reservoirs and opened valves and filled the reservoir in seconds! The fill was too fast and too hard on seals that heated from the rapid compression, so this type of fill device never went far. I wish I had a picture of this type probe to show you.

The second type of fill probe was and still is called a safety probe. It’s safe because it can’t be blown out of the gun and at the person doing the filling. That may sound trite but there was a time when fill-hose blowoffs were pretty common. Unfortunately nearly every airgun manufacturer who used this type of probe made it proprietary for diameter, length, placement of holes for the air and location and size of the sealing o-rings.

fill probes
“Safety” fill probes. Try finding two that are alike.

That picture may bring a smile to some dark-siders. Unfortunately it’s not half of the story! The problem with the safety fill probe was and still is that every company made/makes a different one. 

Build a Custom Airgun

AirForce Airguns fill device

AirForce gave us the air tank that unscrewed from the back of the rifle. It needed a proprietary fill device of its own.

AirForce Airguns fill device
Early Airforce fill device.

Like many other airgun manufacturers AirForce recognized their mistake and, as soon as practical for their business plan, they brought out rifles with the most common male Foster fitting permanently attached to the airgun.

The Air Arms “huh?”

Air Arms has been singularly unique in the PCP filler device world. While most of the rest of the world, except the Koreans the Turks, and the other Brits have realized that the Foster quick-detachable filler is the way to go, Air Arms has remained a staunch opponent to standardization.

When the Air Arms Shamal was made a long long time ago, quick-detatchable fillers didn’t exist. So no shame for Air Arms creating what they did to fill that rifle. It was a simple and straightforward male threaded fill port, to which a threaded female coupling was attached. But when most of the rest of the world went to a standard Foster, I think Air Arms held a secret company competition for the craziest fitting anyone could design. The winner is what I call the Air Arms “huh?”.

Shamal muzzle cap
The Air Arms Shamal had a threaded fill port. Remove the cap and attach your hose to the threaded port. Dennis Quackenbush made the Foster adaptor seen above.

S510XS fill coupling
The fill port on an Air Arms S510XS.

S510XS fill adaptor
The Air Arms “huh?” fill adaptor.

Foster fitting

Now I come to what we often refer to as the almost-universal Foster fill fitting. The smarter PCP makers have installed these on their airguns.

Male Foster fitting
Many makers of PCPs fit a male Foster fitting to their rifles. This is BB’s Goldie from Air Venturi.

Yes, the Foster fitting set, male and female, is an elegant fill solution. But there is a “however”.


Not all male Foster fittings are the same. I have encountered several that will not accept some female quick-disconnects. This seems to be a standardization problem with the specified dimensions.

Only rifles

I haven’t even attempted to address filling PCP air pistols. It’s just as much a mishmash, but with other complications thrown in. All things considered the filling of PCP airguns is the biggest hinderance to a whole-scale customer conversion.


As I wrote today’s report it became clear that I was writing an open letter to airgun manufacturers. Some companies like AirForce and Crosman have figured it out and standardized on the Foster. Others use fill probes and even the “huh?”.

There are other issues like fill pressure levels, removable air tanks and so on, but the fill device remains the world’s biggest hindrance to greater public acceptance.

Or, I’m wrong. You tell me.

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.

81 thoughts on “Fill couplings — no standard?”

  1. B.B.,

    I was just going through a bin of my portable electronic chargers…need I say more!
    The photograph of the various fill probes did bring a wince and a smile.
    Most fittings could be turned into Foster or the PCP modified to a male Foster if you had machining skills or you knew a machinist.
    The problem is also fittings/hoses that are not up to the 4,500 PSI (310 BAR/ Pascals) safety Standards and how to tell (they have markings) if they are.


  2. The fill probe fiasco is still going on.

    AEA Airguns have taken a step backward.

    They have 2 different size fill probes in use, in current production airguns.
    One is a probe that uses a 7mm foster fitting, and the other uses an 8mm foster fitting.


  3. It would be nice if PA contracted someone to sort of make adapters to convert or switch them all to use a single size Foster fitting for us.
    They do have adapters for sale but there is probably a need for more. Even a list of companies that could assist in obtaining them would be nice.
    A conversion to leak proof quick disconnect fittings would be even better although they would cost some. No pops on disconnect.

  4. Tom,

    I sure am glad there is some form of progress in standardization, now if they would only settle on just ONE standard.


    PS Section Benefits of a PCP 2nd sentence: “A PCP is more accurate than any other powerplant, plus easier to be more accurate than any other airgun powerplant.” (Maybe you could have stopped after the comma, the sentence just sounds wrong or that could have gone as plus it is easier to achieve accuracy than in any other airgun powerplant.)

  5. BB,

    It would indeed be nice for the various airgun manufacturers to “standardize” on one type of fill fitting, but which fill fitting? When shopping for a new Foster fitting for an air tool to use with my small shop compressor, I soon discovered a wide array of Foster fittings. When the rest of the world does not have a standard for an air coupling, how can we expect the airgun world to have one?

    The fill fitting is not the issue with many not going over to the “Dark Side”. It is the cost. Not only are the “top shelf” PCPs expensive, but putting air in them can be very expensive.

    A halfway decent hand pump is going to cost over $100. Some of them claim to be able to fill to 4500 PSI. Really? That may be so, but when you start talking about filling a big bore, that is a lot of pumping.

    How about a tank. A 3000 PSI tank does not cost that much, but most PCPs today fill to that and above. So if you go with a tank that fills to 4500 PSI, break out your wallet because that is going to cost.

    How are you going to put air in that tank? You are likely going to go to a dive shop and pay for having that tank filled or you will buy your own compressor to fill it yourself.

    Recently, there have been a plethora of small compressors hitting the market for filling the PCPs directly. That is all well and good, but these small compressors still need a power source. You are not going to drag a power cord or carry a car battery with you as you trapes through the woods hunting fuzzy-tailed tree rats.

    Of course, how many shots do you really need? I have a .22 Maximus. It fills to 2000 PSI, something easily filled with a hand pump. I get over twenty good shots from that fill. Legally, I am only allowed six tree rats a day. My “new” .22 Talon SS fills to 3000 PSI. I can also fill it with a hand pump. It gets almost double the number of shots.

    I also have a .457 Texan LSS with CF tank. It only gets about three good shots per fill. That would be an incredible amount of hand pumping. It is time to break out the tank and/or compressor. The question still becomes, how many shots do you really need? I would hope that you need no more than two shots to kill a deer, at most. If you need more, you had better go back to the shooting range for a while and leave those poor deer alone.

    If you are shooting target, you should be able to easily bring your fill device with you. The problem still comes down to cost. A decent sproinger is still cheaper than a mediocre PCP. No, it is not likely as accurate or as powerful, but it is still a lot cheaper.

    No, fill couplings are not the big issue. Should they be standardized, yes. On what?

    • Agree with most of this. Fill couplings, while they ought to be standardized, are not the big issue. Filling itself, especially the ridiculously higher creeping pressures are the issue. As far as pressure goes, 3000 psi, high as it is, ought to be sufficient—lower would be much better, like some of the early air rifles. The filling device itself ought to be fairly inexpensive as well, and definitely not more than the $300 price point PCP. So also should be the portable tanks for refills in the field.

      I grit my teeth and got a Hatsan Spark Compressor in 2020 for as low as I could—around $500 if I recall—since that was the least expensive and most cost effective solution at the time and I was fortunate enough to be able to afford it. That was the primary barrier to going PCP.

      And while we’re on the affordability topic, any air rifle or pistol had darned well better be able to shoot the $6.25/500 .22 Crosman Premier Hollow Point Pellets really well!

      • MisterAP,

        Demanding that all airguns shoot the Crosman Premier pellets accurately is a bit much. You would be doing good to get the various companies to agree on fill probes. Crosman Premiers are not accurate in most Crosman airguns.

        The reason many of today’s air rifles are so high in pressure is it increases shot count. Hey, I am good with one or two shots if they are accurate.

        • I agree, RidgeRunner. I still try them, in every new gun I get, but they disappoint me. And it is a little annoying that they are not less expensive than the imported ones.

      • I have yet to find an airgun in my growing collection that will shoot Crosman hollowpoints better than any other. I know they are out there because we have seen it here from time to time. They are the pellets that always seem to be in stock at the nearest big box store that starts with W and ends with mart.

        But Ibthink I know what you are getting ar, Mister AP. I really like it when the best or 2nd best pellet turns out to be a ‘cheapie.’ I have a number of guns that favor the H&N Econ II. At $0.01 per pellet, they are among the cheapest. I gave away as a present a Crosman Mark II that favored the H&N Excite Plinking pellets. Those pellets even look cheap! But they all went into the same raggety hole! On the other hand, I had another gun for a while that shot only shot expensive non-lead pellets the best, H&N Match Green at $0.10 per shot. Oh well. Got to feed them what they like, but it’s nice to go on a cheap date once in a while.

  6. B.B.

    I remember the MCI vs AT&T lawsuit. What we got out of that was a universal landline telephone plug.


    PS maybe somebody should create a kit with all the possible fill probe combinations and adaptors.
    I laugh at guys at the range who go around asking if anybody has such and such probe or adaptor.
    Serves the Dark Dummies right!

    • “Dark Dummies?” Oh pish. I’ll pass on the awkward dancing/gymnastic gyrations before each shot. Not to mention the precision maneuvering gravity fighting antics for each single shot reload. So there! 😛

  7. Sorry Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier), I think you’re wrong! I am convinced that the number one problem is not the choice of fitting…

    Until reading today’s blog article, I didn’t realise the disgusting mess that greed and ego has made of a simple interface between power source and precharged pneumatic airguns.

    The biggest hindrance, as always(!), are greedy egotistic people. Let’s just call it ‘politics’ and realise that common sense doesn’t have a chance, eh. 🙂

    For people like me, the precharged pneumatic system is flawed:
    Despite all the advantages, which tempted me to buy a long arm and a handgun, it’s always the intermission for reintroducing air/ pressure – stirrup pump for me – that spoils my fun.
    Yes, an emotional detraction that defies logic but is real. 🙁

    My multiple pumps per shot airguns are also dust collectors.

    Inserting a fresh little, oil-droplet topped, CO₂ bottle is ok, probably because it’s a relatively quick job. 🙂

    I also have pneumatic airguns that require a single stroke of the onboard pump arm for every shot, which I don’t mind – at all! 🙂

    I wonder whether my solution is a precharged pneumatic, multishot airgun that has an onboard pump? Shame that the latest versions, like FX Independence, Seneca Aspen, Nova Vista, etc…, all appear to be unreliable! 🙁

    Or, how about small precharged pneumatic air-cartridges – one per projectile – that are prepared in sufficient numbers – pressurised and loaded – before the day’s session. Shame that L.E.P. air-energy-cartridges are said to be slow leakers, which probably explains why my LEP-revolver, though wonderful to handle, is a hopelessly imprecise shooter. 🙁

    I enjoy trialling and erring with what’s here now, and I also very much look forward to the future… 🙂

      • thedavemyster that is my “… hopelessly imprecise shooter”, which is to say a compressed-air cartridge with pellet, single action revolver.
        Great idea (!) but not the shooting results… 🙂

        Seven years ago, Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier) wrote an article,”Brocock air cartridges”.
        ( /blog/2006/01/brocock-air-cartridges/ )
        I bought mine from Germany.
        ( https://www.versandhaus-schneider.de/product_info.php/products_id/7004
        or here:
        https://me-sportwaffen.de/sportwaffen/druckluftwaffen/me-single-action-army/494/me-single-action-army-4-5d-kal..177-4-5-mm?c=238 )

        • hihihi,

          The required small reservoir is the major Achilles heal of the single shot PCP system. Even IF your fill procedure was NEAR flawless the charge variation and valve tolerance variation is still going kill accuracy. Another great concept on paper but illogical in the execution possible.

          I’m so glad you brought up the topic of GREED.
          Having most of my PCP airguns (Pistols and Rifles) from Dennis A. Quackenbush (DAQ) all of his fill fittings are one STANDARD Foster fitting! He also makes them to one specification that seems to work well with almost any female fill fitting out there. He is one of those Salt of the Earth individuals who could have charged almost triple the price or more for anything he produced and charged you total price on order placement (for your year long plus wait for your airgun!) instead he set prices to provide him with cost of production and a Living Wage. This proves that it can be done.
          It seems that John McCaslin of AirForce is of a somewhat similar makeup but chose to go into full production instead of Boutique production.

          There is a glimmer of hope for the Human Race but it is fading fast.
          The Book of Revelations perhaps comes to mind?


          • shootski, with the pictured stirrup pump (blue tube), I can, as per design, fill every cartridge with exactly one stroke’s worth of air.
            I have yet to bother to measure the resulting pellet velocities but, it is claimed to be up to 110 m/s (~360’/s) which, to me, says, close target plinking only. And that’s just fine for open sights. 🙂

            The valve is basically a door that the hammer kicks open and keeps that way, to let it all out. 🙂

            So, my guess is, it’s something else that so badly affects my revolver’s precision.

            Of course, it doesn’t help that there’s a gap between the cylinder and the barrel, but that considerable loss of power affects every chambered pellet equally. So…

            … what could it be that varies so much to impede consistency?

            Well, I think it’s probably related to the fit of each pellet in it’s cartridge, and then, it’s transfer into the barrel upon being shot.

            For an extreme example, and sadly too often, I will shoot, only to discover that the reason for the different sound and lack of impact noise on target, was caused by the pellet having previously dropped out of the tip of the cartridge, ie a pelletless ‘dry shot’… 🙂

          • Shootski,
            Or “The Late Great Planet Earth,” by Hal Lindsey. FM read it a few years ago, thought it might be a little far-fetched an interpretation of Revelations but given recent events, trends in human behavior and whatnot, does not seem so far-fetched now. No matter, let’s forge on with faith and reason, keep on enjoying our airguns and their accessories and always strive to be an EHB – Excellent Human Being.

          • There are still good generous people out there; I got my Adult Red Ryder back from the pawnshop with no cost. I’ve decided to keep it until I find the unicorn antic I’m looking for. Yes, a weak springer shooting lightweight .177 pellets under 400 fps is a unicorn nowadays. 🙂

            • “at” no cost, I meant to say. I, pretty much, gave his money back.
              Anyway, there was a browning buck mark air pistol for an extra 5 bucks. I walked out the shop in a deep thought. Perhaps, I should’ve just bought that. An air pistol for in door fun, right? I might return the red ryder and get it, or just get it and keep them both. I’ll let you folks know when I make up my mind.

          • thedavemyster, yeah, not bad to look at and handle too, but, as for precision, well, I shall shoot the thing outside in daylight tomorrow (it’s currently a dark 23:00) and report my results back here, ok. 🙂

              • thedavemyster, my best result was as per picture below.

                I shot my 4,5mm calibre air cartridge revolver over 10 metres (10.94yd), benchrested and indoors (rain), so no wind.
                The pellets were six lightweight RWS Club wadcutters (0,45g=7.0gr) that I grouped in just over two and a half inches (65,75mm~2.589″). 🙁

                Today, while I tried time and again to get six pellets on the target, I also measured the their speeds and realised a very wide spread from 28,7 m/s (94.16’/s) to 52,1 m/s (170.93’/s).

                For a fun comparison, I then shot my CO₂ powered SAA revolver that also uses cartridges, but only to hold the six pellets and achieved an inch smaller group (38,88mm~1.53″) which had a spread of 4,2m/s (~13.78′). That’s more like it, eh! 🙂

                So, it seems, my air cartridge revolver is an airgun that I can genuinely blame for my poor accuracy… 🙂

    • hihihi, consider the handpump as a good workout. Stronger arms will make you a better shot. If the tank is a reasonable sized one, then building some extra muscles shouldn’t hurt.

  8. If there was an airgun manufacturers association or even more broadly, a pneumatic tool manufacturers association, a standard could be agreed upon. Sort of like firearm cartridges have saami to set standards and precise cartridge dimensions and tolerances. I’m afraid Yogi may be onto something. There will probably have to be a catastrophic accident with the associated lawsuits before a standard is agreed upon.

  9. I believe that hihihi described the problem to the point; greed and ego. And Roaming Greco described the solution, at least a way to it; mass response. Like cell phone companies that are now more or less obliged to a common charging port.
    Besides all these I always wondered how much power can be extracted from one shot out of the 12 g CO2 cartridge. Could it be, with all that mass production, an affordable solution to repeating, powerful air shots? Not many of course but as R.R. said how many do we need to hunt?

    • Bill,

      See my Reply to hihihi a few replies up.
      I was taken by the Brocock Air Cartridge concept when new until i thought out the issues and dropped it from further consideration.
      The single cartridge approach is a firearm driven solution and doesn’t work well for a number of reasons; with both manufacturer and operator issues virtually impossible to overcome.


      • Shootski
        It seems that we were posting during the same period.
        I have the same thoughts about the BAC concept but my point was not on these as you can see. I was wondering about co2 That’s why I said all these about cheap mass production. I was hoping that that you of all readers might have the answer of how much power can be extracted from a single shot from a 12g co2 inlet/cartridge or however you may call it.

        • Bill, I imagine the answer to be, measured in foot pounds of energy, quite a lot ! 🙂

          My ‘LTL Alfa 1.50’, CO₂, 7-shot repeater pistol, sold as a means for self defence and classed as a marker (as in paintball marker), produces over 14 ft/lb for every one of it’s loaded, fifty calibre rubber balls (well, it did, before it stopped repeating), whereafter it was noticeably de-oomphed, ie the 12 grams of CO₂ nigh-on exhausted! 🙂

          So, 7x 14ft/lb per 12g CO₂ bottle!

          I now, also, wonder how heavy a projectile, via how long a tube, can be propelled by one twelve gram carbon dioxide bottle discharge? Should be quite some Oomph! 🙂

          And, before anybody reminds us, we are, of course, well aware that the units of Oomph vary depending on surrounding- and CO₂-gun temperature. 🙂

          Bill, please, what are your thoughts?

          • hihihi
            As per our conversation with Shootski below it seems to me that carrying a co2 powerful gun might be easier than a relatively powerful pcp. No need for further equipment and quite reliable. My point was if co2 can provide power for some repeated shots in a simple way.

        • Bill,

          I always upgraded my CO2 containment to much larger volumes than the 12gram capsules so i don’t know the MAX power possible for them.
          My CO2 was never in the Big Bores but in .25 caliber, 24″ barrel, 40 grain bullet 80+ FPE at the muzzle is possible at average air temperature.
          I never got into maximization of CO2 FPE since it was so much easier to just switch to air or even Nitrogen and get another 50% more power with no other changes.
          I think i remember BIG Bores getting surprising levels of power but the ambient temperature required made hunting in most of the World questionable with Co2.
          I’ll bet Siraniko is a far better source for CO2 power capabilities since he is in the Philippines and CO2 was the prime power for a long time.


          • Shootski
            Now, 80 fpe from a 25 cal IS serious power for a start. Isn’t it more convenient for a hunter to rely on 12g instead of carrying bottles or a pump when out in the woods?

            • Bill,

              That is from a CO2 Bottle IIRC about a half+ Kilogram of liquid CO2 for maybe 10 full power shots. It was real loud and obviously, from the condensation cloud, still flowing CO2 when the Boolits left the muzzle. That air rifle had a custom made expansion chamber (plenum) added before the valve to ensure gas and not liquid in the valve.
              As far as convenience for a hunter the full dump 12gram would need to be inserted and pierced for follow-up shots unless you had a really big revolver type cylinder holding one powerlet and one projectile in each chamber.

              KISS says that is a questionable concept.
              I have also weighed powerlets and found they aren’t all the same weight. When I fill my bulk fill bottles i always weigh them before i chill them in the freezer and then after the fill to be certain they are not overfilled.

              FYI: In the field a partial CO fill and quick vent will chill the bottle (wear gloves) and allow a complete fill of liquid to the correct weight.


            • Bill,

              For the Big Bores I might carry something like this: /product/air-venturi-100-cu-in-carbon-fiber-tank?a=8955
              in my backpack or packed in my Pulk if i’m skiing or snowshoeing. But usually with 2-4 full power shots on a fill i don’t bother since i won’t shoot unless i know it is a kill shot. If i’m Base Camping i will have cylinders in my tent. But i usually ski a 15 to 30 kilometer loop for a day hunt from a warm cabin or even the SkiShed (Winter 2nd home) in Wasatch Mountain Range.


        • Bill and Shootski,

          Velocity testing in the Philippines is rather unscientific depending on the ear of the tuner and varying strength of plywood. Can’t answer the question since we only used bulk fill with CO2 and eschewed the adoption of the 12g CO2 capsule since it was imported and only afforded a few shots to our gas hogs. I do recall a demonstration in my youth of a .36(?) caliber ball bearing fired from a CO2 rifle smashing through a 1/2″ plywood at 10 meters.


          • Siraniko,

            Thank you!
            I suspected that the fills would be bulk fill.
            Is CO2 still popular or has Hpa taken over as the gas of choice now? Co2 is still a really cheap fuel when bulk filling in the USA especially compared to the 12gram powerlet costs.
            20 pounds is about US $25.00 last time i filled my cylinder.


            • Shootski,

              For those that cannot afford a PCP airgun and pump from the get go invest in CO2 initially then convert them to PCP later on. Our boutique makers have wizened up and are cautious in what they convert and instruct the new owners what they can and cannot do with their converted airguns. The price of a new boutique PCP is still not cheap but is steadily going down.


          • Siraniko,
            That’s pretty cool about the ball smashing through the plywood at 10 meters!
            I read somewhere online (LOL! =>) that a single 12-ounce CO2 cartridge contained about 200 fpe…I believe they were talking actual usable energy, not the theoretical energy.
            A number of CO2 revolvers I’ve had over the years have averaged 3 fpe for 50 shots.
            That would be a cumulative 150 fpe, over time, from a short barrel (6″).
            On the physics forums, d3mm (see entry #7) claims 522 joules (383 fpe) cumulative energy for 48 shots:
            An article from the National Library of Medicine had some interesting stats:
            Assuming the 300 fps velocity aligns with the 40 gram (1.41 ounce load), that would be 123 fpe for a single shot from a single CO2 cartridge.
            However, as I understand it, these old police batons didn’t fire their bean bag load by piercing the CO2 at the instant of firing (as that would waste too much gas), but rather all of the on-board CO2 from that single cartridge was transferred into a reservoir; and upon firing, all the CO2 was exhausted.
            (If someone who ever used one of these knows more, please correct me; thank you!!!)
            Blessings to you,

            • Bill, Shootski, hihihi, Siraniko, and thedavemyster have been discussing CO2 as an alternative to PCP airguns.

              Shooting almost entirely indoors at 5 yards or 7 yards, I have found 12-gram CO2 cartridges a convenient and economical power source for my low-powered guns. I attach some notes and calculations below as a contribution to the discussion.

              (1) CO2 12-gram cartridges – variability of fill:

              Shootski mentioned variability in nominal 12-gram cartridges. Stephen Archer has a useful 3-part article in Hard Air Magazine 2018:

              He finds some variability in every brand. The common Crosman cartridges had both the greatest variation (about +/- 10%) and by a small amount the greatest average amount of CO2. The +/- 10% checks with my experience over a few hundred cartridges, judging fill by shot count.

              (2) CO2 12-gram cartridges – costs

              If you buy 12-gram CO2 cartridges in boxes of 40, they usually cost about 50 cents a cartridge. A single cartridge will give you 50 shots or more from a blowback pellet pistol or from a 600 fps low-powered rifle or around 100 shots from a pellet revolver (no gas spent on blowback). You are therefore spending a penny or less per round.

              As Shootski points out, bulk CO2 is much cheaper than cartridges. The larger 88 and 90-gram cartridges are about double the cost per gram compared to the 12-gram cartridges: PA is charging $20 for two and $200 for 24, which works out to about $1.10 per 12 grams.

              (3) CO2 shooting and environmental policy

              If anyone brings up the need to reduce CO2 emissions, you can offer this calculation: A box of 40 twelve-gram cartridges totals 480 g of CO2, about half a kilogram. At 50-100 shots per cartridge, one box gives you 2000 to 4000 shots, releasing half a kilogram of CO2. The EPA tells us that burning a gallon of gasoline releases a little less than 9 Kg of CO2. Shooting the 40-cartridge box is therefore equivalent to burning about 1/18 gallon of gas, a bit less than a cup. Using the EPA’s exact numbers, I get 0.054 gal; at 30 miles/gallon, that’s 1.6 miles.

              So if you want to balance the emissions impact of your CO2 shooting, every time you finish a 40-cartridge box, find a way to eliminate a 2-mile grocery-store trip.


              • Guy, thanks for your interesting findings! 🙂

                If I understand it right, then the little 12g CO₂ bottles hold the gas, under pressure, in liquid form. So, the pressure/ propelling power remains the same as long as some liquid CO₂ is left in the reservoir.

                Only after the last liquid CO₂ has been used, does the remaining, gaseous only, CO₂ quickly drop off in pressure and may as well be exhausted in favour of a fresh little CO₂ bottle.

                So, what I’m getting at, is, all those differences in fill level make absolutely no difference in the amount of power. The only difference is, the number of shots. So really, no worries! 🙂
                Here’s an interesting tidbit I learned at my last vineyard visit and guided tour:

                All bottles of champagne for example, wear those fancy foil sleeves around their tops and necks. I was naively wrong in assuming them to be a posh dressing up, of a posh bottle of fizzy white wine, to justify the posh price. 🙂

                I now know that those foil scarves are much more than that!

                Apparently every vintner finds it difficult to fill bottles to the exact same level, even though they (almost) all use a machine to do so…

                Yes, that’s right, that foil cover around the neck is there to hide the exact fill level of each bottle, or, in other words, to make each bottle look identical! 🙂

                Of course, when shopping, you could just turn every bottle upside down and chose the ones with the smallest bubble showing. I have neither seen such, nor will I ever do so. 🙂

                Also, what a lot of effort it must’ve been, to work out the cost per shot when using the various CO₂ units. Thanks. 🙂

                Personally, if I were aware of the costs while shooting, then I think that would interfere with my enjoyment. 🙂

                As for environmental implications, oh dear(!), that’s such a politically laden topic about which I feel too strongly to express my thoughts fully here.

                So, I will just say that I do not believe in “Global Warming’, “Climate Change”, “Climate Crisis” or whatever the latest word is from our ‘authorities’ or their ‘scientists’ and especially their mainstream media ! 🙁

                So, I will continue to cause emissions of CO₂, methane and whatnots without the slightest twinge of guilt (but in fear of the vengeance of the powerful against dissidents, and their army of tree-hugging greenies). 🙂

                • “So, I will continue to cause emissions of CO₂, methane and whatnots without the slightest twinge of guilt….”

                  And eat your beans at every meal!

                  In case you don’t know the childhood song:

                  Beans, beans the musical fruit,
                  The more you eat, the more you toot,
                  The more you toot the better you feel,
                  So eat your beans at every meal.

                  And let the greenhouse gasses do their thing!

                  I guess the environmentalists are not point sources of greenhouse gasses.

        • Bill, this set of comments has gotten long; please see my response to Siraniko (just in case it’s not in your email train); I think it answers your question…to the best of my knowledge.
          If not, hopefully the Maestro himself (B.B.!) will weigh in on the subject. 😉

  10. B.B. and Readership,

    I was going to answer MisterAP’s post on fill source frustration directly up above but i think a separate Reply is warranted:

    As an early adopter of the PCP my inventory of fill sources has grown over the years.
    Aluminum Dive cylinder 3,000psi/80 cuft
    Two Steel Dive cylinders 3,600psi/100 cuft
    Two Carbon Fiber (CF) cylinders 4,500psi/100 cuft
    One CF cylinder 4,500psi/20 cuft
    Any number of small CO2 and Hpa bottles 3,000psi
    One 25 pound CO2 bulk fill cylinder.
    Over the years they cost some coin but some were dual purpose for SCUBA Diving and others just made sense since all of them will last a lifetime or at least 30years (for now) on the CF cylinders with minimal care.
    The real key concept is that they are almost all part of a cascade system that keeps the trips to the dive shop for fills at a minimum.

    Remember i shoot mostly gas hog Big Bores.


  11. Agreed that the Air Arms fill coupling is among the strangest. Bori (Air Arms Importer and assistant designer for Air Arms) always called the coupling a “Banjo”.

  12. Maybe the companies which design “outlier-type” fittings do so not only to differentiate their products from other manufacturers’ offerings but also to discourage “average” customers – as in those most likely to navigate to Big Box retailers – from purchasing their products even if price alone were not enough to discourage them. This would be a reflection, possibly, of a bit of an elitist attitude, to wit: “if ya ain’t smart enough to deal with our fittings ya ain’t smart enough to use our guns and we don’t want to risk a lawsuit when you can’t figure out how to fill and/or shoot them safely.” Or maybe “elitist” is not the right word but “realistic” is.

  13. I was just looking in my bag of fill adapters and found one I didn’t recognize. Your blog today answered that question. It is an Air Arms adapter. It may have come with my Shamal but my Shamal has a permanently attached foster fitting like yours did.

    I have at least half a dozen different sized probes. I have just recently realized that you can leave the probes in the guns. Why didn’t I think of that before?? That solves several issues: the o-rings on probes don’t get damaged from installing and removing them as often, I don’t need to lubricate the o-rings to prevent damage, I don’t have to have a place to store the probes, and I always find the right probe for the gun. It is a stupidly simple solution.

    David Enoch

    • DavidEnoch,

      The Pennsylvania Dutch hav an apt saying for that:

      Too soon Oldt, too late Schmart!

      Thank you for remembering to share with all the new and Oldt to PCP fill probes.


  14. Anyone who cares to read it

    I was just thinking about how many airguns does the average person who buys them might own. Not an “air gunner”, just the average , run if the mill guy who wants to shoot a PCP.

    As often as not, with the cost of such, one or two might be the mean. If that is the case, and since airguns always come with the fill probe included, the number of other probes out there don’t matter much to him

    It is only those of us who buy more guns than we can comfortably shoot in a sitting who obsess over the variety. Or those, like BB, who get to handle and shoot more than the rest of us could ever afford. The rest of the buying public really doesn’t care what anyone else uses as,, “they got theirs”.

    I only own two PCPs (I hope that doesn’t get me kicked from this forum), a first gen M-rod and a Challenger 2000 (Crosman). Both have foster fittings and so the dilemma of adapters has not affected me. Up till now, these two have filled my needs admirably. I am, however, considering another purchase,, I just haven’t decided on what to drop my dime. I expect that the Great Enabler will have a hand in that, tho.


    • Ed, a great comment. Do not buy another PCP. You don’t need any more. You have everything, a low powered and a high powered. I bet you’re a good shot; if you had several PCPs lying around your place, I wouldn’t have said that.

        • 🙂
          Not a bad shot. A tad worse than your full potential shot on a particular kind of shooting experience, given you shoot the same amount of pellets, let’s say, a year.

        • Let’s say, you shoot skeet. And you have more than a dozen 12ga over-and-unders. Cheap, expensive, guality and junk, all over. Every single one of them has its own shooting habits. They weight, pattern, and over all, feel different from each other. One shoots high, the other shoots left. OR, you have only one quality 12ga over-and-under for skeet shooting. You pattern it, adjust the stock for your body and style, and etc… You shoot only that one for skeet, and nothing else. As the clay bird flies, your eyes follow it, and your muscle memory does the rest.

          I felt the same with my dad’s Diana 27. That’s the one I still have at the summer house overseas. I only shot that thing from my childhood to adulthood. Then I had 2 more 27s for a brief time. When I shot at a flying soda can, for example, my muscles knew how heavy my good old 27 was and… Can’t explain in words – just my experience, I guess. I knew exactly where the pellet will go. I used lead pellets, all were about the same weight, no very heavy ones or anything. I feel that air rifle, I have a connection with it.

          I’ve only played Fender Jazz Bass. When I hold a Fender Precision Bass, I cannot play naturally. I have to look at the frets and what not. I can still play it, but not like the Jazz Bass.

        • Have only one quality over-and-under for skeet. Have only one quality PCP for shooting practice. Have only one quality 10m PCP for 10m shooting. Have only a 30S for plinking. And the list goes on. I believe you’ll become a better shot.

          Other than their old junk, 50 something Mirage III fighters were the only fighter aircraft that the Israeli pilots could get their hands on. It was not a necessarily a dogfighter. It was an interceptor aircraft, designed to ‘welcome’ the Soviet bombers. But, Isreali pilots practiced, practiced, and practiced with the Mirage III cannons and flew it successfully against much more manoeuvrable opponents during the Six Day War. Well, you must know the rest of the story better than I do. Feel free to tell me; I’d love to hear it again from you. Not necessarily a good example, but I think you get what I mean.

          Eh, I’ve told a lot. Perhaps I should’ve just said the famous saying, “beware the man with one gun, he knows how to use it.” 🙂

          Well, I have to hit the sack. If you’re still up, good night. Oh, by the way, I’ve been kayaking every weekend lately. You enabler. 😉

          • Fish,

            I wasn’t there for the Six Days War but I was for the 1976 failure of the IAF.
            The Six Day war example is not unique in any case since it is a copy of Operation Barbarossa’s Air Operations. The Luftwaffe scored a 100 to 1 kill ratio compared to the IAF 10 to 1 ratio.
            Beware of the man with one gun is certainly a consideration for many examples. I would also remind you that you need to be more aware of the Expert at all things Ballistic.


            • shootski,

              I didn’t say it was unique. The point was the fact that they practiced on the same platform over and over again with determination, pushed it to the very of its limits, and got very good at shooting with it.


          • Fish, Shootski,
            You two have been making a good case for getting skilled with one gun, or a small number of guns — “beware the man with one gun, …”

            I’d like to suggest a reason for deliberately working with a variety of gun types.

            A long time ago, in New England intercollegiate sailing, the host school supplied the boats. Many used the standard Tech Dinghy; others used the almost-as-standard Interclub, with very different handling from the Tech. But many schools had their own individual designs, often with tricksy special features. One school even used 420s, a sloop that required different crew skills from the single-sail designs everyone else used.

            Anyone who mastered this circuit came out with the ability to step into any small sailboat and make her go.

            In the same spirit, I am trying to use airguns to educate myself about shooting and firearms in general.

            In handguns, I have a pellet revolver (shooting SA and DA), a pellet pistol simulating a DA/SA semi-auto, and an SA-only BB pistol closely duplicating a 1911. I’m practicing using open sights, a dot sight, and a laser. For rifles, I have a genuine 10-meter target rifle, military surplus via CMP, a bolt-action target rifle for timed-fire exercises, and a DA revolver simulating a semi-auto rifle for rapid-fire exercises. I’m mostly shooting the rifles scoped, but also doing some shooting using a dot sight and AR-type aperture sights.

            I would certainly shoot better if I concentrated my time on one or two weapons and sighting systems. But it is my theory that I am learning more by forcing myself to work with markedly different systems.

            What do readers think about this? I’d welcome comments and advice.


            • There is something to be said about having proficiency in multiple disciplines. Perhaps there is room in a lifetime to be proficient in many disciplines and an expert in one or two.

            • Guy,

              Your sailing example was better than my aircraft example. I got into aircrafts as shootski was a jet pilot.

              I’m a Sunfish sailor myself. I’ve fixed quite a few of them, opened inspection holes, dried out the old rotten floating foams, converted recreational lateens into racing ones, and sailed, sailed, sailed. I was very cocky, until…

              One summer, I visited a friend in RI; we toured the beautiful New England… I decided to rent a Laser and was overly confident talking to the rental folks. What a wreck that day turned into. Every five mins, I capsized the dinghy and found myself in water. Finally, a team member on a jetski showed up and asked me to bring the boat back to the beach. There were young girls working there as well, and all were laughing at me. Eventually, I was given a Hobie Wave instead. Wave is the simpliest beachcat around and rented out to the dumb tourists as it’s idiot proof. It doesn’t turtle due to the floating thing on the top of the mast and etc… They instructed me on how to right it and asked me to demonstrate my righting skills before letting me sail it. I righted it successfully a couple of times. What could’ve possibly gone wrong? Right? Turned out, a lot…

              Less than 5 mins into sailing it, I found myself in water. The boat had capsized. The floating thing in the mast prevented the Wave from turtling, but I couldn’t hold onto the boat on time; the wind took it away – fast. I swam, swam but couldn’t catch up with it. Two jetskis had to be sent to save my butt. Two folks on one jetski went after the boat, and the other came to my rescue. At this point, there was a little giggling audiance on the beach, watching the charade I was staging. There were avid Laser fleets in the area. These folks will judge the heck out of anyone sailing, and they were not kind to me at all. Anyway, I was brought back to the beach, waited for the boat to arrive as well, and sailed it again. About 8-9 mins later, I was in the water and the boat capsized again. This time, I didn’t let go off the boat, and I swiftly righted it up – that I was very proud of myself. Everything was going great until I realized I had forgotten to disconnect the main sheet system from the clew of the boomless sail prior to righting the beachcat. The boat sailed away itself before I could climb back on it. Again, I had to be saved, and the Wave was found a few hours later. They didn’t take my money that day and asked me not to come back. I was banned for life, unless I took their beginner class. What a humiliation that day was. I would’ve taken their unreasonably expensive class if I hadn’t had to leave the next day. Since that day, owning a Laser and mastering it is a goal of mine. It was a ‘recrational’ kind of Laser, and I think its sails were standart. I believe with radials I shall be in the right place considering my size. I am light.

              There is a lake here an hour away. There are constant winds from west to east. I sail a Sunfish there. But it is nothing like the great venues in New England. You live in heaven. There are fleets of almost all kinds of dingies in your area. People really go out and sail, even in freezing cold days. In my younger days, I sailed in some nice venues overseas but never raced. Got to have to race to improve.

              If I started sailing as a child and mastered Optis and then raced Lasers for years, I could sail anyhing today. Laser’s rig is amazing. You master all the lines, cunningham, outhaul, boom vang, traveller and etc… If you master a Laser, you can sail anyhing. RS Aero, Melges 14, anything… When you wanna crew at keel races, and you’re a Laser sailor, you’ll be picked right away. Sunfish rig is way way simplier than Lasers’. With a recreational Sunfish rig, which I find the race version redundant, you have only the mainsheet to worry about. Still, if I had had a few more days of vacation, I could’ve save my honor at that beach.

              Sunfish is not the fastest dinghy, cannot break any speed records. But I knew a guy who had a Hobie 14. He had only sailed that cat. He was able to push it to its limits. He’d smoke anything, all the Lasers, Aeros around and such. The only thing that passed him once was a Hobie 16 with a seasoned crew. He smoked a Weta as well.

              I find the dinghy races similar to the 10m competitions. One design under certain specs. ILCA Laser is produced by a few different manufacturers nowadays. But RS Aero will make you a great sailor as well. I tell the folks not to worry about what to buy. Just look around and see what fleets are popular in the area and make the purchase accordingly. RS Aero or ILCA Laser, both amazing boats when you master them. Racing them must be fun.

              Back to the subject. If you are a good shot with a tx200, possibly, you’ll be fine with a PCP as well. If you are a good shot with an hw30s, you’ll be good at shooting a diana 27 as well. It shall only take a little practice, unless you are trying a 350 magnum with lots of recoil for the very first time.Tyler Patner is a good shot, shooting any air gun. He proves my theory wrong.

              Let’s don’t get into skeet and trap.

              “Beware the man with one gun, …” seems like wise saying but perhaps not necessarily true. A guy who has shot a Diana 27 more than I’ve had, and also has shot many variety of airguns on top of that will be a better shot than me. Honestly, it all comes to having a practical place to shoot at the end of the day, and how much time you can invest into your hobby.

              Folks ask me what dinghy to start sailing with. Sunfish?? And I answer, “whichever dinghy gets you in water soonest possible.” “Buy the sailing dinghy that you can get your hands on today and start sailing already.”

              There are no Laser fleets around. No used Lasers to buy in the area either. The venue here is not that great at all. As long as I live here, I possibly won’t master a Laser.

              Nowadays, I don’t have a practical open area to shoot airguns either. No, I am not going to a range and deal with this and that either. So, I don’t practice my shooting hobby either. Recently, I set up a 5 m indoor BB range at home, and it’s boring as heck.

              So being a good shot is not about how many different airguns you have or if you practice with a couple air guns only. It’s about if you have a practical place to shoot so that you can reasonably make time for your hobby. So, I believe being a good shot is all about location, location, and location.


            • Guy Carden,

              I believe your approach has a better chance of making you an excellent shooter versus being an excellent shot with a (insert name of gun) but not with perhaps some other type, version, projectile method of propulsion.
              Fish and I don’t agree but we are having a grand discussion nevertheless. Fish doesn’t, it appears, believe in the transfer of skills from one type to the next. Although I flew jets i started training in high performance propeller aircraft (i’m that old) and flew almost everything operational during my Active Duty flying years. It wasn’t a hobby so maybe that is why i always became an expert in each aircraft i was assigned. The Navy seemed to think so too since I usually became an Instructor/Check Pilot in every type I ever flew. That is not a brag just how it was having a job in which your skills kept you alive.
              I learned to Target Shoot for fun and competition; I learned Practical Shooting in case my airplane failed me in the wrong place or my base was attacked.


              • shootski, you didn’t read my last comment. 🙂 I know it’s long, but…

                I’ve never said that I didn’t believe in the transfer of skills from one type to the next. It must.

                My theory just suggested one air gun for each discipline. I am against hoarding a dozen .177 12fpe springers, while practicing with one quality accurate piece would be better, for example.

                I don’t want to say no more; the idea is simple. I know a guy who told me that he shot over 10k shots a year, skeeting. Retired and money to burn, I guess. He had several shotguns, and I bet he is a better shot than that one shotgun guy who is, let’s say, poor.

                Still, what if the one shotgun guy is rich as well and also shoots 10k rounds through his one and only shotgun a year, skeeting?

                • Fish, Shootski,
                  I appreciate the discussion; very useful.

                  I’m not quite doing “one air gun for each discipline”:

                  For example, take the single discipline of rapid-fire/timed-fire handgun shooting at fairly short range (5, 7 yards actual, 10, 15 yards scaled), using a bunch of different drills. I’m shooting three airguns, trying to use each one to teach myself a different aspect of this type of shooting.

                  (1) SA/DA pellet revolver with a dot sight. For rapid and timed fire, I’m shooting it as if it was DA only. This lets me work on a DA trigger, and also work on precision, because there is zero recoil and the dot sight is much easier on my old eyes.

                  (2) DA/SA blowback pellet pistol simulating a semi-auto, with correct open sights and a laser. I can work on the DA to SA trigger changeover, and also use both open sights (hard) and laser (much easier). The blowback simulates recoil, so that shooting a .22 semi-auto at a range feels like exactly the same task. (I haven’t tried a centerfire semi-auto yet.)

                  (3) SAO blowback BB pistol simulating a 1911, with two correct-scale mags and a holster. This lets me work on draw, SAO manipulations around the draw, and mag changes. It also gives practice drawing with thumb and grip safeties. (A problem with this specific weapon is that the fixed open sights shoot low. I learned to compensate for this fairly quickly, but then I had trained myself to shoot high with any weapon that had correctly aligned open sights. I need to fix the sights before I can use this gun for anything precise.)

                  So within this one discipline, I am trying to educate myself about three different types of triggers and three different sighting systems.


                  • Guy,

                    It was a helpful discussion that changed my opinion.

                    My old 16ga sxs patterned to the left with the left barrel and to the right with the other. Only, I knew that little secret. I don’t think it would’ve lasted 10k rounds through it without a major repair though. 🙂

                    I am, now, convinced that our famous saying doesn’t fit very well when applied to the air gun world. Pellets and BBs are ultra cheap after all. Still, I’d suggest not hoarding a whole bunch springers with very similar specs. Buy a quality one and hold onto it, instead of having a dust collecting junk lying around the house. Put a leash on that impulsive buying urge.

                    Let’s say, you have a perfectly functioning HW90 at home, and something like ASP20 comes to the market. Just comment, ‘not bad,’ and move on. Don’t buy! I mean if you had a .177 HW30S, would you also need a Bronco?


    • Ed,

      So needs have been filed thus far by your two airguns.
      That means this next potential purchase is desire driven? Hmmm!
      This is The Path to the worst level of the airdiction you know. Don’t take that step unless you are certain you can at least put up a convincing show of sanity.


        • Ed,

          You have got me by about two years.
          My wife, of Fifty+ years, is the one who we doubt was sane when we were married. She knew I was in the Navy and flight training; I even wore my uniform to walk under the Sword Arch with her!
          The number of times she knew where i was by reading the papers would have overwhelmed many good women. Especially when she would get home and my prepacked warm weather or cold weather bag was missing and a note in its place.


    • I’m probably one of those folk. I’ve got my first rifle, a Fortitude G2. Wanted a semiautomatic, so got a SAM. Wanted a stronger one for pesting, so got a .25 DAR 3. Was done, but got a deal on a used Avenger bullpup. Besides the deal, wanted to try out the form factor. Those are the only PCP rifles I’ve bought. Perhaps someday I’ll look into a higher end one to see what the fuss is all about.

  15. Folks, a few other readings that I think may be worth it.


    Some interesting thoughts on the same line.


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