You’re in tight against a doorway, readying to pie the corner into a room. What do you want in your hands? That lengthy airsoft M4 is good at covering a long hallway, but now, with it pressing against your shoulder, barrel pointing at the door jamb, it’s looking a little too lengthy. You’re going to expose more of yourself to the enemy when you peek in. What you want in your hands is a trusty sidearm with the reliability of carbon dioxide gas behind it. With the best CO² pistol, you’ll be ready to breach and clear your way to victory.
Short On Time? Here Is The Bullet List:
- Best CO² Pistol for the Operator on a Budget: Valken Tactical Airsoft 1911
- Best CO² Desert Eagle: Desert Eagle .50 AE by Magnum Research
- Best Selective-Fire CO² Pistol: Taurus PT99 Full Auto by SoftAir
- Best CO² Airsoft Revolver: Crossman GF600 GameFace ACG357 8-Shot Revolver
- Best CO² Airsoft 1911: Elite Force 1911 Tactical
- Best Overall CO² Pistol: Cybergun Sig Sauer P226 X-Five
**Below are our more detailed reviews. Click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Any airsoft pistol will let you get closer to cover so you present a smaller target, but only CO² pistols offer more consistent projectile velocities. These pistols use pressurized steel 12-gram cartridges of carbon dioxide gas. Some pistols store the cartridge in the grip of the gun. Some hold it in the magazine. They come in both blowback and non-blowback action. Compared to green gas pistols, CO² pistols are unaffected by extreme temperatures. You can buy 12g cartridges of CO² in bulk, saving you money. You’ll find the cartridges these airsoft guns use in any big-box retailer. The typical pistol will fire between two and four full magazines on a new cartridge.
Spent CO² cartridges are easier to dispose of responsibly than green gas cans. When you insert a cartridge into a magazine or the grip of your pistol, the gun punctures the cartridge at the top, cycling the gas into the system within the gun. For this reason, you can be sure that the cartridge is completely spent when you remove it from the magazine. Some recyclers won’t accept green gas cans because there’s no way for them to know if the can is empty. This poses a safety and pollutant risk. Check with your local scrap yard or recycler to see if they will accept empty cartridges.
One of the drawbacks of CO² pistols is of a more tactical nature. Because you can’t top-off a CO² cartridge between rounds like you can with green gas magazines, you run the risk of having an empty CO² cartridge in your sidearm when you need it most. Changing out the cartridge in the middle of a firefight will almost certainly earn you a trip back to respawn.
To avoid this problem, try to keep track of how many times you’ve emptied a specific magazine. You’ll know roughly when you need to change the cartridge. If you happen to load an empty magazine into your pistol, simply pop the mag out and insert a new one. If that one’s empty, well….there’s always time to change out the 12g cartridge between spawns. If the CO² pistol holds the cartridge in its grip, it will be even easier to keep track of when you need to replace it.
CO² and Feet Per Second
CO² pistols tend to shoot rather hot. Some have a muzzle velocity of 400 feet per second. We’ve even heard of one firing at 600 FPS! Typically, the box of an airsoft pistol will show the velocity of the projectile as it leaves the barrel. The box will also display the mass of the BB the factory used to test its FPS. To make their airsoft gun seem more impressive on the shelf, manufacturers will test with .12 gram BBs. This leads to a higher FPS. Since no one ever takes to the field with .12s, you’ll see a lower FPS when it comes time to chronograph your CO² pistol.
Unfortunately, most indoor fields will restrict the use of any airsoft gun that measures higher than 400 FPS at Chrono. Most outdoor fields will let something that hot play, though they may restrict at what range you are allowed to engage a target. If you think there might be an equipment restriction at your local field, feel free to ask the owner or an administrator. Their first job is to run a safe game, and they will work with you to make that happen. Keep in mind what types of fields are available in your area when making a purchasing decision.
CO² Pistol Care
As you may know, a can of green gas is just propane with a silicone oil additive that helps lubricate the pistol as it is fired. The CO² gas in a 12g cartridge is untreated, meaning it’s just the gas. Using 12g cartridges alone without proper maintenance will undermine the lifespan of your pistol. You must clean and maintain your CO² pistol before and after use. But this is the case with any airsoft gun.
A responsible airsofter must know when and how to take care of their equipment. Apply silicon oil to the moving parts by hand between games. The most common cause of leaking cartridges is a dry seal. So, when you change cartridges, apply some lubricant to the seal where the CO² feeds into the gun.
How to Choose a CO² Pistol
When it comes time to decide which CO² pistol to buy, you need to consider some of the following. Do you want an airsoft pistol with blowback or non-blowback action? Nothing in airsoft is more satisfying than a strong blowback on a CO² pistol. However, blowback pistols are typically more expensive than their immobile siblings.
The less expensive non-blowback pistols tend to have very few external metal parts. The really inexpensive ones are almost always made of that plastic that feels like a toy. So, if you want something that looks and feels as strong as it shoots, you’ll need to spend the extra cash. Fortunately for you, CO² pistols come in many configurations. There are revolvers with simulated shell reloading for added realism. With these, you’ll be given shells which you will hand load BBs into. The 12g cartridge will go in the grip. You’ll also find CO² pistols with selective fire options. You’ll have a choice between safe, semi- and full-auto, just like a full sized rifle!
Best CO² Pistols on the Market
Best CO² Pistol for the Operator on a Budget:
Nothing beats the feel of a true American classic in the hand than the M1911. This Valken Tactical 1911 is a great choice if you’re just getting started in airsoft. It’s also for the player looking to test the waters of the CO² pistol world without diving right in. Though it does not have blowback action, you get everything else there is to love about a CO² sidearm. The 12g cartridge fits in the grip, so you only have to change out one of them when you’re empty. Extra magazines are readily available. While the Valken Tactical 1911 Chronos a little high, you can bring that FPS down with heavier BBs. As a bonus, those heavier BBs will compensate for the accuracy problems because of the pistol’s lack of a hop-up.
- The price
- Strong polymer material that doesn’t feel like a toy
- Some metal parts on the slide
- 20 rounds in the magazine
- Chronos at 360-400 FPS with .20 gram BBs
- No hop-up unit
Best CO² Desert Eagle:
If you’re looking to turn heads on the field, then this is the one to go with. Get your inner Agent Smith on with this Desert Eagle .50 caliber from Magnum Research. Because of its huge full metal slide, this hand cannon delivers a heavy satisfying kick with its full blowback action. And get this: it can fire in full auto! While you won’t get to utilize this in most indoor fields, the selective fire feature makes it a great choice for a primary rather than a secondary or sidearm. It carries 20 rounds in its magazine, so you’re not going to get a lot of time on rock’n’roll. Still, it’s enough for a few suppressive bursts. And at 300 to 340 FPS, you’re well within the projectile velocity limits of indoor fields. The biggest drawback here is the price, but it’s worth every dollar to see the look on your enemy’s face when they’re caught in your iron sights.
- It’s a Desert Eagle
- Full- and semi- automatic firing modes
- Full metal construction
- The price
- You don’t have one
Best Selective-Fire CO² Pistol:
If you like the full-auto feature of the Desert Eagle but don’t like its price point, SoftAir has another option for you. With its more reasonable size, the Taurus PT99 is a great secondary for all of you airsoft snipers out there. You’ll be better able to defend yourself with its full auto feature if someone sneaks in close while you’re picking off their teammates. In the box, you’ll find an extra cartridge end cap, an essential part to keep the CO² in the magazine. This one clocks in between 290 to 330 FPS, so you’re totally fine running the PT99 indoors. Other reviews you may see may tell you it jams or doesn’t work. As long as you perform maintenance even before your first test fire, you can expect your PT99 to carry you through sticky CQB situations.
- Full metal construction
- Indoor-safe FPS
- 27 round magazine
- Breaks down like a real Taurus PT99 or Beretta M9
- Gas inefficiency when firing in full-auto
Best CO² Airsoft Revolver:
The biggest problem you’re going to have with any airsoft revolver is that they usually shoot at 400+ FPS, even with .20g BBs. You’re definitely going to have some difficulty trying to get this one cleared for indoor play, where CO² pistols really start to show their value. However, if you find yourself outdoors in a close quarters situation, or you’re just really itching to ask your enemies if they feel lucky, the Crossman GF600 is a good choice for you. One of the biggest advantages it has over other airsoft revolvers is it loads eight shots into its speedloaders. It’s also a double action revolver, so you won’t have to pull back the hammer each time you want to shoot.
- Full metal construction
- High-quality polymer textured grip
- Comes with 3 speed loaders
- Slotted barrel and rail give it an aggressive look
- Too hot for most indoor fields
- Out-paced by a semi-auto pistol
- No hop-up unit
Best CO² Airsoft 1911:
If you looked at the Valken Tactical 1911 above and were disappointed that it was not a gas blowback pistol, you may have just found what you’re looking for. This Elite Force 1911 Tactical is very popular in the airsoft world. You’ll find many videos on YouTube of popular airsoft content creators using this as their sidearm. For airsofters whose livelihoods depend on reliable equipment to consistently choose the Elite Force 1911 is a testament to the quality of this gun. The unique look of this 1911 will make you pop on the field. The threaded outer barrel allows you to attach a mock suppressor for the tacticool factor. You can also find models with a dark earth coloration to match your brown camouflage loadout.
- Rugged full metal construction
- Textured plastic polymer grip
- Gets 3-4 magazines to the cartridge
- Breaks down like a real 1911
- Indoor-safe 345 FPS
- Built-in Hop-up unit
- Only 14 rounds in the magazine
- Exterior paint may chip with continued use
Best Overall CO² Pistol:
This one is for all of you Sig Sauer fans out there. It has the look and feel of the real P226. This Cybergun pistol is compact, but still heavy weight with a snappy kick from the blowback action. And, with its huge 28 round magazine, you’ll be able to out shoot many pistols you’ll encounter on the field without the hassle of finding compatible extended magazines. Unlike many sidearms you’ll find, the P226 X-Five have a railed lower frame for you to attach a tactical light to give you that edge in close quarters combat. This CO² pistol is faithful to the real firearm with its metal and polymer parts. It’s low FPS means you can engage with any target at any range.
- Low 300-330 FPS perfect for indoor play
- Double- and single-action trigger
- Slide serrations to make chambering a BB easier
- Only 2 full loads before it needs a cartridge change
- Trademarks are painted on, not laser etched
Best CO² Pistol Final Thoughts
After the dust settles over this CO² pistol All-Call, the P226 X-Five pulls ahead because of its faithfulness to the real firearm and its magazine capacity. With its deep mag, you’ll need fewer reloads than your competitors. You don’t have to worry about it being restricted in an indoor field because of its low FPS. Remember, though, that FPS does not equal accuracy. Spend some time with your P226 X-Five in the yard and see this for yourself. This CO² pistol only needs as much care and maintenance as any other pistol out there. Don’t forget to apply silicon oil to the seal where the 12g cartridge meets the gun each time you change it out. Do that, and you’ll have a reliable sidearm that will help you dominate in CQB situations. So, sling that M4 to the side and ready yourself to pie the corner like a pro with your P226 X-Five.
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