Many who buy a CO2 pistol for the first time are faced with the question, Diabolo or BB steel ball? What is the difference between the two projectiles and can I use them for any weapon? Today we want to take a closer look at the differences between the different projectiles for CO2 pistols. The standard for CO2 guns are diabolos, with a diameter of 4.5mm and an average weight of 0.45 to 0.6 grams. Before we get to the Diabolos, however, I’d like to talk to you about BB steel balls. What’s the matter with you? You should choose one projectile type per weapon!
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Steel ball or diabolo? Breakdown, target accuracy and angular momentum
For each individual weapon, you should choose a single projectile. This is important because the barrel of your gun is slightly turned. If you were to see the inside of your weapon barrel, you would see grooves spinning spirally. These grooves are there to allow a projectile to rotate slightly when firing. Due to this slight rotation, the projectile gets dynamic stability and therefore the target accuracy increases.
These grooves are not damaged by diabolos, because the diabolo rotates with the grooves or is turned on. Steel balls, on the other hand, sit in the Star barrel and do not rotate. With every shot of a steel ball the grooves are slightly damaged. The more often you shit a steel ball in your CO2 gun, the less of your spiral grooves remain in the barrel. If you should want to shoot Diabolo projectiles, their accuracy will not be so high anymore, because the projectiles do not receive any angular momentum in the shot. Without rotation sings the aerodynamic stability.
Therefore always make sure that you choose Diabolos or steel balls for each weapon!
The absolute standard for any CO2 gun is a 4.5 mm diameter diabolo. Of course there are also different shapes and types of diabolos, but before we get to the different types of diabolo, let’s have a quick look at BB steel balls. These are always the same and differ only in the shape of the alloy or coating. A further advantage results for allergy sufferers. Both do not affect the weight or the friction of the air, and therefore the different looks are only optical in nature, but have no influence on the flight behaviour or the accuracy of hitting.
BB Steel round balls caliber 4.5mm
Steel ball, that sounds quite martial for many people and much more impressive than a Diablo. In fact, however, you have hardly any noticeable effects from a steel ball – on the contrary, your shot is less precise. In principle, a steel ball behaves just like a diabolo. But not quite, because diabolos have a much more precise trajectory due to the aforementioned rotation of the projectile. Steel balls have no rotation and are therefore easier to influence by external influences, less stable in the flight path. This reduces the target accuracy by a few percentage points. So diabolos are better than steel balls.
Types of steel balls: copper plated, zinc plated and brass plated
The different steel balls differ in alloy and coating. There are both zinc and copper steel balls, but also steel balls with brass coating. The only difference here is that of optical nature and of course for all those who have allergies.
Magazine Use of steel balls is costly
Steel balls are also harder to insert into your magazine. While diabolos are relatively easy to handle due to the edges, the small steel balls are relatively difficult to control. The mostly large packages of 1,000 or 1,500 pieces are therefore relatively difficult to handle. For every single magazine you have to have 8 balls, of 8 balls one or two are usually lost on the table. Collecting the balls can be quite a task! If you have never shot with steel balls before, you might want to stay directly with Diabolos as a little tip! They are more accurate, can be used more quickly and are designed for air pressure or CO2.
So that steel balls don’t leave a lasting impression on you, we’ll switch directly to the important topic, Diabolos!
Even before there were CO2 capsules, there were air-pressure pistols and air-pressure rifles. Diabolos were created for these. Air rifles were and are loaded for example by a bend, which in turn drives a hydraulic system, compressing the air for the shot. Due to their special shape, diabolos have a very straight flight path, rotate synchronously with the groove of the barrel and collect sufficient air for a stable and wide flight path through the cavity (weight saving).
Now let’s take a look at the different Diabolo types and the question, does it make a difference whether I use flat, round or pointed Diabolos?
Diabolos for CO2 pistols and rifles
Diabolos come in many different forms. The absolute standard is a flat head diabolo. Flat head diabolo, that sounds boring to many! It is the most effective standard for CO2 and air pistols.
Diabolo 4,5mm smooth (approx. 0,48g) as CO2 standard
The advantage of a flat head Diabolos lies in its very stable trajectory. Many would suspect that the flat tip would make it less penetrating. Whereby we cannot speak with the topic CO2 pistols and a Joule Kraft of 7,5, necessarily of penetrating power! In fact, the head doesn’t make much of a difference. The material of the diabolos is relatively soft and when hitting the target, tips deform to flat planes anyway. Therefore, it doesn’t make much difference whether you land a pointed diabolo or a flat diabolo. Marketing also plays its part! From the Barracuda to the Terminator.
My recommendation, start with flat diabolos and stick with it! After all, shooting isn’t about shooting a Hollywood movie or being particularly dangerous, but about hitting your target accurately and precisely.
Diabolos are available in two versions. The actual pointed head Diabolo is thereby the elongated head, ending with a point. The entire tip is very thin and almost looks like a needle head. A little flatter is the Pointed Diabolo.
A small tip for all those who buy a CO2 gun for the first time, so-called pointed head diabolos have the disadvantage that some are a little bit longer than most magazines. Even if it is only 0.1 mm, it can cause the magazine or drum of some weapons to jam. Also for this reason I always recommend to use normal standard flat head diabolos.
Pointed (flat tip or pointed head)
Pointed is a slightly flatter pointed head diabolo, with a striking point in the middle, but not as pointed as a needle, but rather dotted and flatter.
Hollow point (short round point)
Hollow point Diabolos are like all other 4.5 mm in diameter. The appearance of the hollow point Diabolos is reminiscent of an aircraft turbine. Also here there are two different variants, as well as with the pointed head and Pointed Diabolo. And also here the marketing attacks again, e.g. a longer hollow point calls itself Terminator.
Terminator (like jet engine, long thin tip)
The “Terminator” model is a hollow point diabolo in which the inner surface intended for the first contact is longer drawn, as well as the pointed head. When the Diabolos hits the ground, the tip flattens out, so you don’t have a real impact effect.
Baracuda Hunter Extreme (quarter cut)
Besides the “Terminator” there are of course many other Diabolos that try to sell special properties by name. In the end is a diabolo but a diablo is a diabolo, is a diabolo. Nevertheless, there is an interesting construction, e.g. the “Baracuda Hunter Extreme”, it is constructed like a hollow point diabolo, but without the tip and carries four notches, which distributes the projectile surface for the first contact to four separate points on the outer area of the diabolo head. Looks good, sounds good, but has no noticeable effect on flight characteristics or punch.
CO2 pistols: Recommendations for your first gun
If you are interested in buying a CO2 pistol yourself, here are two good reviews for you. On the one hand to the Glock 17, which is very suitable in particular for households, in which there are also children, very much by the safety functions, by their relatively Vorsicherung, as well as the sig sour P226 by their innovative CO2 capsule insert system as fast as it was no CO2 pistol before it is ready to start.
- Glock 17 Experience report
- Sig Sauer P226 Field report