It’s interesting how so many airgunners are focused on power. This is not a new phenomenon by any stretch, and it makes sense. If you use your airgun for more than just target practice, you need to know how much power it produces to ensure it can and will get the job done. CO2-powered airguns, air rifles particularly, offer some great advantages, like rapid follow-up shots and stable power output. But do they have the power? And if so, what are some of the most powerful CO2 Air Rifles? Let’s get started.
How CO2 Works
CO2 is a wonderful power medium for airguns. It has so many advantages, with few but not insignificant disadvantages. Let’s look at the advantages first. CO2 is very stable and stored under pressure as a liquid at about 900 PSI. This means that regardless of the size of the storage vessel, provided it remains within optimal temperatures, liquid CO2 will produce about 900 PSI when released by the valve. As long as there’s a sufficient volume of CO2 in the cartridge or bottle, it will continue to produce about 900 PSI. That’s really awesome because the CO2 is essentially “regulated” due to the nature of the propellant.
Now to some of the negatives. We had to add a lot of caveats to the above, like “enough volume” and “optimal temperatures,” etc. As you shoot CO2, you will lose volume and decrease temperature. This will cause the pressure to drop, and velocity will suffer. On the other side of the equation, the pressure can climb if it’s too hot, so the valve will not open when struck by the hammer.
So as long as the temperature is optimal, and the firing cycle allows the temperatures to stay relatively even, i.e., don’t shoot too quickly, CO2 will deliver a great shooting experience. But we haven’t talked about power yet.
CO2 Power Output
Because CO2 produces about 900 PSI, that’s all you’ll get for power. Considering that most regulated PCPs operate at 1500 PSI up to 3000 PSI, CO2 seems to really lag behind. And if you are looking for hunting power, it does lag behind. But don’t count it out just yet because some CO2 rifles make the cut.
Before we get to our “top dog” for CO2 hunting rifles, let’s talk about a product that identifies how CO2 works and how you get more power out of CO2 products. There are two key elements you need for max power. The first is volume. Without sufficient volume in the valve, you won’t see any power increase. In the old days, we’d modify our Crosman 2240 valves by changing the volume inside the valve. It would give us a few extra FPS.
Secondly, you need to have enough barrel length to use the volume in the valve. The more volume you have, the longer the barrel can be. The longer the barrel, the more time the CO2 has to accelerate the pellet down the barrel.
Let’s take the Diana Chaser Rifle Kit as an example. This CO2 airgun ships as a pistol with all the parts to convert it to a rifle. This gives us the opportunity to see how barrel lengths impact power in a CO2 airgun.
As a pistol, Dianna Chaser has an 8.3” barrel and in .177 produces about 4.84 foot-pounds with 8.02-grain JSB pellets. With the same action and valve but using the 17.7” rifle barrel, the power increases to 7.55 FPE. That’s a 55.99% increase in power simply by adding more barrel length. This shows that barrel length is really the key to more power with CO2.
The Beeman Model 1085 QB II .22 Caliber Bolt Action CO2 Air Rifle
If you want the advantages of stable shot pressure, consistent accuracy, and ease of shooting without having to buy a PCP, then the Beeman Model 1085 QB II may be the right choice. We’ve mostly shot the .22 version, which delivers great accuracy and decent hunting power for the backyard. Using standard 18-grain class pellets, we get almost 9 FPE and hunting accuracy out to 30 yards. If you want to do some backyard pesting, squirrel hunting, or just have a bunch of fun shooting steel targets, this is our pick.
Have More Questions?
We hope this article helps everyone understand how CO2 works for airguns. But if we’ve missed your question, please give us a call. We are always here to help point you in the right direction.