Dear Editor Can I use Co2 air rifles without a section 1 firearms licence issuled by the police? Somebody told me that they’re illegal, but I’ve seen them in your magazine and for sale in the shops, so that doesn’t make sense. Are they more powerful than normal airguns? The ones I’ve read about were quite low powered. Also, what are the advantages of Co2 compared to a normal spring gun? I really like them and would like to buy one but I don’t want to get into trouble. Steve
Hello Steve Yes, you can. The old restrictions were removed a while ago and you can quite legally use a sub 12 ft.lbs. rifle without a licence, just as you would a spring-piston one or a pre-charged pneumatic. I understand the reason they were on licence was that it was believed they were indeed very powerful, but that’s not the case. The most powerful one I’ve ever tested delivered less that 10 ft.lbs. of muzzle energy, so was nothing special in the horespower stakes.
When the authorities understood this they were recategorised as being the same as other sub 12 ft.lbs. airguns. This has been very good news, mostly for those who enjoy shooting pistols and revolvers ideally suited to the ultra-popular, 12-gramme Co2 capsules that fit neatly inside their grips. This has led to a boom in the choice and variety of handguns on sale today. There are a few Co2-powered rifles, but not all that many. There’s the Hamerlli, pictured, which is among the most powerful, and the hugely popular Crosman Ratcatcher series which has many variants. These small, light and inexpensive guns have accounted for tens of thousands of rats over the years and have a cult following in the upgrading and customising world. SMK also offers a choice of models that are inexpensive and again ripe for customisation. The advantages that Co2 guns have over others include the fact that they’re usually quite cheap and simple to maintain. Guns used in and around farmyards often get knocked, scratched and dirty, so having a cheap gun can make good sense. Go along to your local gun shop and handle a few models to see if they’re what you want, and perhaps need.
You can use Co2- powered rifles like this without a licence quite legally