Three fast-shooting CO2 BB pistols

Monday, May 24, 2010

If you search Google Videos for “IPSC” or “IPSC shooting”, you’ll find pistoleers who can shoot fast and accurately. Guys like Rob Leatham are absolutely gun wizards, nailing steel plates and other targets with a speed and precision that has to be seen to be believed.

 If, like me, you occasionally get the urge to see if you can shoot fast and accurately, grab any one of the pistols we’ll be talking about this week, line up some soda cans against a safe backstop, and have at it – it’s fun.

 All three of the pistols below are CO2-powered BB repeaters. At top is the Makarov. In the middle is the Colt Defender, and at the bottom is the Umarex SA177.

 The Makarov is 6.25 inches long and weighs 1.5 lbs. It has an all-metal frame and plastic grips that slide back to access the bay where the 12-gram CO2 cartridge is held. The slide can be racked back to shoot the Makarov in single-action mode, but the slide does not blow back while shooting. The factory claims the Makarov will launch steel BBs at around 380 fps.

 Press a tab at the bottom of the Makarov’s pistol grip, and the magazine will slide out. Pull the BB follower down and back to lock it in place, and then you can load 16 BBs into the magazine through a loading port at top of the magazine.

 The Colt Defender is 6.75 inches long and weighs 1.6 lbs. It has an all-metal frame and plastic grips that slide back to reveal the compartment for the 12-gram CO2 cartridge. The Defender has an accessory rail under the barrel.

 What sets the Defender apart is that the magazine is permanently built into the frame. Just slide the BB follower down and lock it in place, and there is a cut-out into which 16 BBs can be poured for loading. The Defender is also the only one of these pistols that has a dovetail on top of the slide to which a red dot or laser could be mounted. Maximum velocity for the Colt Defender is 440 fps.

 The Umarex SA177 is 7 inches long and weighs 1 lb 11 oz. The frame is part plastic and part metal. The heel of the pistol grip opens to reveal the CO2 compartment, and a pushbutton allows the magazine to slide out of the bottom of the pistol grip. Slide the BB follower down and lock it, and you can load 16 BBs into a port near the bottom of the magazine. It also has an accessory rail under the barrel for mounting a flashlight or laser.

 A couple of things set the SA177 apart from the other pistols in this group. First, it has blowback action on each shot to simulate a semi-automatic pistol. Second, it has fiber optic sights. Maximum velocity is about 380 fps for this pistol.

 On paper, all of these pistols are pretty similar. Shooting them, I found that the Makarov is the slimmest in the hand, even though its specs are nearly identical to the Colt Defender. The Makarov moved the least in my hand when fired.

 The SA177 looked and felt the biggest, and with its blowback action, it makes the most commotion when it goes off, but that’s what shooting a blowback pistol is all about.

 The Colt Defender, however, was the pistol that I could shoot the fastest, putting as many BBs downrange as quickly as possible.

 You really can’t go wrong with any of these pistols. Which one will be best for your style of shooting depends on which characteristics matter most to you.

 Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–         Jock Elliott


  1. Chris says:

    Recently sold my Mak and bought the SA177. Sorta miss the Mak and loved how it stripped just like the real firearm. Great conceal carry practice piece. But am enjoying the subtlies of the SA177. Looked at the Defender but wanted a pistol with a drop-free mag. (love the grip angle of a 45 so it was almost a toss of the coin between the Defender and the SA177)

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Thanks for your comments, Chris!

  2. Jeff says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I cannot find spare magazines for both Makarov and SA177 anywhere on-line. Do you know of a source? They’re both fun to shoot though.


    1. Jock Elliott says:

      I don’t know of a source of spare magazines, but you might try calling or emailing the folks at Airguns of Arizona or UmarexUSA.

  3. Greg says:

    Who ever listed these pistols as the fastest CO2 pistols does not know what they are talking about. Crossman makes one that shoots 490 fps there is another one that shoots 550 fps.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      These pistols are listed as “fast” in the sense that they repeat — i.e. shoot the next shot — quickly, not that they have the fastest muzzle velocity.

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