The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Crosman SBR

If you like military-themed CO2 guns but want something a little bit different, then Mike Morton reckons the Crosman SBR could be the one for you

Crosman SBR

There’s a definite trend these days in favour of military repliguns with CO2 blowbacks. Most of the guns of this type that landed on my desk over the past couple of years have been airgun variants of powder-burning firearms, and that has continued with the Crosman SBR.

This rifle has a recommended retail price of £320, which might sound like a significant outlay, but you’ll be rewarded with a fun gun made with solid polymer and metal components, while keeping the weight under 3kg. 

Much of that weight comes from the magazine, which holds up to 25 BBs and two CO2 capsules. Importantly, it also has an extendable six-position butt stock, giving it an overall length of between 670mm and 770mm, making it suitable for both younger shooters and adults.

But what exactly is the Crosman SBR? Does it have a real world counterpart? At first glance, it looks just like a shorter variant of the US Army’s M4A1, but there’s more to it than that and we need to dig a little deeper.


Crosman SBR – key specifications

Gun supplied by: Range Right (
Manufacturer: Crosman
Model: SBR
Price: £320
Calibre: 4.5mm steel BB
Powerplant: Dual 12 gram CO2 capsules
Action: Blowback
Stock: Adjustable
Overall length: 670mm to 770mm
Weight: Under 3kg
Sights: Flip-up open sights fitted
Mounting rail: Picatinny
Safety: Manual
Package includes: Speed-loader


Crosman SBR – what’s in a name?

You could be forgiven for thinking that the SBR is a particular model from a particular manufacturer, but in fact “SBR” is a generic term that first appeared in the United States back in 1934. 

The National Firearms Act, which came into effect that year, defines a short-barrelled rifle (SBR) as being a shoulder-fired, rifled firearm with a barrel length of less than 16in or an overall length of under 26in. SBRs are regulated under the Act and are legal for private individuals to own in the US, with certain restrictions.

So does that definition make this Crosman a carbine? Sort of. A carbine is a long gun that has been fitted with a barrel that is shorter than, or has been shortened from, the original barrel length. If it falls within the 16in rule then that carbine is also an SBR, meaning all SBRs are carbines, but not all carbines are SBRs.

What does this mean in airgun terms? The SBR, which is made in Taiwan for Crosman, closely resembles the short-barrelled version of the T91, an assault rifle used by the Taiwanese army and police, which itself is based on the US M16/AR-18 (not 15) family of rifles. 

As such, the controls will already be familiar to many AR users, including the T-shaped charging handle. Pulling this back and then releasing it simultaneously cocks the SBR and flips open the dust cover. It’s a wonderfully tactile experience.

Other AR features abound on the SBR, such as the handguard, rails and foregrip. This grip is angled rather than vertical and is designed to let the shooter adopt a decent hold with their leading hand, while minimising any strain on the wrist. 

The black polymer butt stock can be extended into one of six positions to ensure you get the correct length of pull

In a combat environment, it also prevents the rifle from sliding forward too far when it’s being rested on a barricade. The foregrip on the SBR can be repositioned, or removed altogether by undoing and completely removing the hex screw.

There’s an easy way to find the optimum position of the foregrip. First ensure you’ve adjusted the butt stock for the correct length of pull, then grab hold of the foregrip. With the
hex screw removed, it will slide freely along the lower Picatinny rail until it’s in just the right position for you. You then just need to hold it in place while you reattach the screw.

More Picatinny rails adorn the sides of the handguard, making it simple to attach accessories such as a torch or laser. And with the foregrip removed, it would be similarly easy to fit a bipod. The SBR is well equipped for this as the handguard is rigid, and would probably not flex under such a load.

The muzzle is threaded, but it’s been cut with a left-handed thread, making it less than useful for fitting a moderator, unless you use an adaptor or find a moddy with a suitable thread. 

But would you want to fit one anyway? Possibly not, as the whole ethos of the SBR is to keep it nice and short. That’s reflected in the powder-burning world too, with current-generation M4 and T91 SBRs usually configured with a flash suppressor or glass-breaker, rather than any form of sound suppression.



Crosman SBR – ready for the range

The SBR’s fake 5.56mm x 45mm box magazine holds the combined internal BB magazine and CO2 unit, which is exposed by prising off the plastic cover. Be careful when reattaching the cover, as two small tabs need to be inserted into their corresponding slots in the body of the magazine before it can be snapped back into place.

Crosman has used the dual 12g capsule system that appeared on the AK-1 that I reviewed in issue 161. As with that rifle, the CO2 capsules are seated and pierced one at a time by turning in their retaining screws at the bottom of the mag with the hex key. 

This tool clicks into a recess inside the magazine when it’s not being used. It’s a really nice feature, but I did find it a bit tricky at first. The hex key needed a lot less force than I had expected to snap it into the retaining clips, but I knew I’d finally got the right technique when I heard it go click.

Up to 25 BBs can be loaded into the magazine. This is good news for me, as I like to shoot in multiples of five. Some CO2 mags can be incredibly tricky to bomb up, but the follower on the SBR’s magazine can be locked open inside a gate while you insert the BBs, rather than having to hold this tiny part down under spring tension with your thumbnail.

Crosman’s SBR comes packed with a speed loader. This is a somewhat helpful but entirely optional device. You need to fill the hopper with BBs, insert the speed-loader into the loading channel on the magazine, then hold it in place while you push down on the plunger. It certainly does the trick, but I ended up loading my BBs manually.

With the SBR safe and the rear receiver pin pushed through, but not all the way, the gun can be broken open for cleaning

While some appreciate the help offered by the speed loader, Mike found it just as easy to load the magazine by hand

The SBR is rated for use with both all-steel and copper-coated BBs, but I also tested the rifle with frangible Dust Devil ammo as well. Naturally enough, the all-steel variety proved the most accurate when the SBR was being shot rested and at a steady rate. My best five-shot groups at 10m were around 3cm centre-to-centre, with the average being double that size. 

Accuracy with the frangible ammo was not good, but Crosman, like many other manufacturers of CO2 guns, does not recommend the use of this ammo in any case. Nevertheless, these BBs did cycle well enough and could be used to good effect if you have no means of catching your spent BBs.

In keeping with other AR-style rifles, I really appreciated the admittedly right-hand biased layout of the controls, with me being able to flick the safety on and off with my thumb and operate the mag release catch using my forefinger, all the while maintaining a proper hold with my shooting hand. I also liked the fact that when the last BB has been shot, the SBR will simply stop firing. This prevents you from wasting gas, and also serves as a reminder that you’re out of ammo should you lose count of how many rounds you’ve expended. 

When it’s time to reload, you just need to refit the freshly loaded magazine, re-cock the SBR, take off the safety and carry on shooting. The twin CO2 capsules delivered 75 solid shots, after which there was a marked drop in performance. 

I always shoot conservatively and so swapped them out after every three magazines’ worth of BBs rather than trying to stretch the gas further.

I like the SBR. It’s well made and worked exactly as intended over my testing period. While many shooters in Crosman’s native United States will want to grab one of these to use as a training platform for their AR, I suspect the majority of people over here in the UK will want one for a very different reason: the simple joy of shooting.