By Scott Smith
I am sitting at my computer with the weather on TV; most of the country is covered in cold, snow and rain. For those in the southern climes, this will pass quickly but for much of the country this is winter and it lasts for twelve to sixteen weeks. How do you get trigger time without freezing?
The answer is a quality CO2 powered replica firearm. I chose a Sig P226 that looks and feels just like my 9mm that I carry. Before you gasp and scream blasphemy, hear me out.
Sig’s P226 .177 sixteen shot pellet pistol ($110.99) has the same controls as my P226 9mm, fits the same holsters and at fifteen feet is just as wicked accurate. While you do not get the report and recoil of a 9mm, you have the same feel in your hand. This allows you to practice your draws and target engagements since Sig offers a complete target system. Two things are different on the pellet pistol from the centerfire pistol; the safety is not a spring loaded decocking lever, it’s a safety and the slide will not lock back. These features are minor differences that do not affect getting quality trigger time in my garage.
When the big brown truck delivered the CO2 version of the 226 and targets I was pleased to see there was a number of targets Resetting Quad Shooting Gallery ($69.99), a “Texas Star” ($77.99) and Air Reflex ($27.99). The star and spinner are designed to stick in the ground so they will not work in the garage, but the Resetting Quad Shooting Gallery is ideal for indoor use (again if you have a safe area). I have been able to test the spinners and star at my gun club. The star does not spin nearly as fast as its competition version but for practice it is a lot easier to set-up and transport than an armored steel centerfire model. One important note, do not reuse pellets; they do not look it but they do deform on the spinners and will jam the airgun.
When shooting the P226 pellet pistol you will know when the CO2 cartridge is running out; the accuracy rapidly drops off and the slide does not cycle. I found this to be around sixty shots (four to five “magazines” full; each end holds nine pellets) with the 12 gram cartridge, with the 25 or 40 gram versions I am sure this will easily double or triple. When the cartridge is full your will easily knock down the “steel” targets and punch holes in a cardboard IPSC target. The steel not reacting is one of the first clues you need to chance CO2 cartridges.
The P226-pellet pistol not only allows one to practice basic shooting drills, it also forces you to work on trigger control. The fire controls are not as crisp as a quality pistol so they force you to work on the basics. This pellet gun has helped make me a better shooter because of this. The small “steel” targets also have no room for error for proper shot placement; forcing you to stare down the front sight on target. Another bonus of the pellet gun is you can do dry fire drills without fear of damaging the engagement surfaces of your centerfire pistol. In all the years I have fired Daisy airguns and now Sig Sauer’s I have not had a pellet gun break from dry firing one.
A big bonus of true size replica handguns is being able to teach a non-shooter to shoot without fear of recoil or muzzle noise. While safety glasses must be worn to protect your eyes, hearing protection is not. Without all the noise and felt recoil novice shooters will not develop the dreaded flinch many do when starting out centerfire firearm. The cost per shot is substantially less with a CO2 powered true copy gun like this Sig P226 .177 caliber versus a 9mm or 22LR.
While these pellet guns allow shooters to practice the basics of shooting, they allow us to do something else; have fun. When a lot of folks get out their serious 9mm P226 they forget, shooting is fun. Pellet guns allow us to put fun back into practice. When was the last time you plinked at a beer can with your 9mm or 22LR, try it with a .177 pellet gun? I tied one to a string to hang it from the seven yard target frame at the club and had a ball making it dance with each shot. Not only was it fun making that can “dance”, but it teaches you to track the pistol on a moving target. Shooting hanging bowling pins is about as close as you get with a centerfire handgun; but they lack that twang/clang of a pellet hitting an aluminum can and are just not as lively.
Sig Sauer CO2 powered versions of several of their handguns and rifles. They all feel like their centerfire siblings to allow you to have the fit and feel of your full size firearm. I can recommend owning at least one copy cat quality airgun for practice and fun shooting all year round. CO2 powered firearms will help you shoot fast, shoot fast, shoot accurately and bring fun back to shooting.
This is the CO2 P226 in FDE on the left and my well used 9mm P226 on the right in front of the Quad Shooting Gallery.
The back of the grip opens where a CO2 cartridge is installed to power the pistol. It rests on the dual feed magazine.
I was getting ready to shoot in the garage on a balmy 15 degree morning.
This is a pistol view of my garage, note the heavy canvas drop cloth to stop any misses. As with any firearm make sure you have a clear back stop to contain pellets.
Sig’s “Texas Star” for airguns, it works as well as those I have shot in USPSA,IDPA and three gun competition.
Sig’s Quad Spinner rack, like the Gallery it has auto reset and is a lot of fun.
The Air Reflex is a spinner that reacts when you hit either target, if you get really fast you will be able to make it spin.
Scott Smith is a Disabled Veteran serving in the Army and USAF Reserve. He has been a federal police officer, is a charter member of IDPA and is actively involved with USPSA and various three gun competitions.