AirForce Air Rifles on CO2
A great line of air rifle gets even better, now that they can be adapted to run on CO2!
by Tom Gaylord
I have the best job in the world, because when new stuff comes out, I get to test it. Like the new CO2 adapter for AirForce air rifles - I got to test all three rifles before anyone.
I already had a long background with all three AirForce guns from both my times testing them as an airgun writer and the three years I worked at the AirForce plant. But that experience was all shooting with air; CO2 was a new adventure. Knowing its characteristics I knew the velocity would be lower and there would also be more usable shots on a fill of gas. For some shooters, running any airgun on CO2 fed from a large bulk tank is ideal simply because you can shoot forever before needing to top off the tank. But until now, the AirForce guns had never been able to use this gas. A new adapter now allows the rifle to be connected to a CO2 tank.
WHAT IT DOES
This adapter lets you operate any AirForce air rifle - the Talon, Talon SS and the Condor - on CO2. No changes are required to the rifle - just attach a CO2 tank and begin shooting. The CO2 is contained in a large tank that replaces the standard AirForce air reservoir, which also serves as the butt of the rifle. The AirForce adapter is long enough to make up for the short length of a CO2 tank, so the length of pull remains the same. You can use any standard paintball tank with this adapter, and Wal-Mart sells filled tanks for under $20. These can be refilled for a small charge at any paintball store around the country.
LET'S EXAMINE THE ADAPTER
This is not just a simple coupling! It contains an entire Condor valve! Because CO2 operates at one-third the pressure of air, all AirForce models can use this adapter. Even though the Condor valve is huge compared to a standard valve, the lower pressure of the CO2 gas allows the two standard rifles to use it without any alterations.
INSTALLING THE ADAPTER ON ANY AIRFORCE RIFLE
Connect the adapter to a CO2 tank by simply screwing them together. I put three drops of Crosman Pellgunoil inside the adapter before I put the parts together, so it will get blown into the valve when the gas starts flowing. As the connection nears completion, you will feel it pause just before the adapter pushes open the CO2 tank's valve. A couple turns more and the adapter and valve are filled with CO2 gas. The final few turns are harder, because now there's 850 psi pressing on the CO2 tank's O-ring. Keep turning the tank until it stops.
After the adapter is on the tank, attach the tank to the rifle the same as you would a standard reservoir. The adapter is made of blued steel and looks like it will last a long time. After that, there is nothing left but to shoot! The power adjustment wheel doesn't have as broad a range on CO2 as it does on air, but there is a small range of adjustability on all the guns.
POWER AND VELOCITY
CO2 is a lower pressure gas than the air used by AirForce airguns. Also, the CO2 gas molecule is much larger than the atoms of gases in air. So, the power is lower when operating on CO2. CO2 is also dependent on temperature for its pressure. In warm weather the pressure rises, in cold weather it declines. Operation is not recommended below 50 degrees F, as performance will be slow and sluggish.
Here's what to expect from .22 caliber rifles at a temperature of 85 degrees F:
Talon SS: 610 f.p.s. on high power/495 f.p.s. on low power
Talon: 650 f.p.s. on high power/475 f.p.s. on low power
Condor: 734 f.p.s. on high power/685 f.p.s. on low power
In case you aren't that familiar with CO2 in other .22 caliber rifles, the Condor is shooting about as fast as CO2 rifles ever do. Only a few wide-open Philippine guns shoot faster, and they're not accurate. The Talon SS on high power is just as fast as the Crosman 2260 and just as accurate as it is when powered by air. The accuracy holds for all the AirForce rifles. CO2 just limits the practical range to 50 yards and less.
NUMBER OF SHOTS PER CO2 TANK
This is where things get good. CO2 gets many TIMES more shots per fill than air. Where a Talon SS gets 35 powerful shots per air reservoir, with a 20-oz. CO2 tank, the number climbs to well over 1,000! Well over! A 12-oz. tank delivers fewer shots, of course, but the number is still in the high hundreds.
As long as you already own a PCP, it doesn't hurt that you can make it into a great CO2 rifle too. And, if you include the MicroMeter tank, there's a third possibility from just one gun! No other air rifle in the world is this adaptable. Most shooters will use high pressure air for hunting, for cold weather and for the longest range shooting (beyond 50 yards). They will shoot CO2 outdoors in the summer because they will get a full day's worth of shooting on a single tank. When the weather turns cold they will bring the CO2 converted gun indoors, where the lower velocity and noise are beneficial.
ARE ANY MODIFICATIONS NEEDED?
Shooters sometimes ask about adjusting the top hat of the CO2 adapter valve. Don't do it! The adapter uses a Condor valve, which is already set at the maximum spacing for the average gun. CO2 isn't as fussy about clearances as air anyway. Just attach the adapter to a CO2 tank and use it as it comes.
Don't worry about the seals of your gun, either. The most important seals are in the valve anyway, and they have been formulated for use with CO2. There are only two additional O-rings in the gun and they just seal the connection between rear of the barrel and the valve. They will continue to work well on CO2, as well as high-pressure air.
SHOOTING CONDITIONSThe barrels in all AirForce rifles are from Lothar Walther, so that's a great pedigree to begin with. I knew the rifles should be just as accurate on CO2, if somewhat more sensitive to the wind at longer range because of the lower velocity. The day I picked for my test could not have been better. There was zero wind and a light overcast that had been fog an hour earlier. I set an intermediate target at 30 yards to get the scope zeroed, and the real target out at 50 yards for the record shots.
I tested the Talon SS and Condor in the interest of time. A Talon, with its 18-inch Lothar Walther barrel will be right in between these two rifles, so not a lot is gained by testing it, as well.