Green Gas and Pistol

CO2 vs. Green Gas: Which Is Better for Airsoft?

It can seem like there are endless choices to make when starting airsoft–electric, spring, or gas-powered? Which weight of BB to use? What class to play? What gear to buy?

Before you get too swept up in it all, let’s talk a little more about gas-powered guns. Specifically, the differences between CO2 and Green Gas.

Ready to learn more?

Why Choose a Gas Gun?

There are a handful of reasons you may choose a gas-powered gun over an AEG or a spring-powered gun. 

For one, gas-powered guns make seriously realistic-looking and functioning guns, which can be a big draw for those who are looking to do milsim or re-enacting. Gas-powered guns can be semi-automatic or fully automatic, like their electric counterparts, which gives them an advantage over single-shot springers.

Blowback gas guns function much like a real firearm, which means the slide or bolt moves back with each shot. Unfortunately, that action costs these guns in accuracy and power, since the moving slide takes power away from the shot and the motion of the slide will affect the accuracy of the shot.

However, non-blowback gas guns can actually beat out electric guns in terms of accuracy and power. It all comes down to that blow-back action.

It’s also worth noting that gas guns do require more frequent and more in-depth maintenance, so be sure you’re willing to commit to learning it or shelling out for a tech more often.

(Want to do your own tech work? Check out what tools are airsoft toolbox must-haves.)

What’s the Difference Between Green Gas and CO2?

So, if you’re thinking you’d like to give gas guns a try, you’re going to run into yet another decision–green gas or CO2?

You can also find adaptors that let you mix your own green gas and use a regular old propane tank to refill your weapon, which can cut the cost even further. 

Green Gas
Green Gas

Green gas is the original airsoft propellant, and is made of a mixture of propane and a minuscule amount of silicone oil. It is quite long-lasting, and will usually give you somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 shots per bottle. It’s also pretty affordable, coming in around $15 a bottle.

Refilling a Green Gas Magazine
Refilling a Green Gas Magazine

All you have to do is screw on the adaptor, add a few drops of silicon oil into the valve, and then fill your tanks. Boom! Cheap refills.

Propane Adaptor
Propane Adaptor

CO2, also known as Red Gas or, y’know, Carbon Dioxide, is also a pretty common choice. It comes in small cartridges that cost about $1 a cartridge, and each cartridge will give you somewhere between 50 and 60 shots.

This does make it the more expensive of the two options, but keep reading–maybe you’ll think it’s worth it once you learn more!

You can find the 12g CO2 cartridges at just about any airsoft, paintball, or sporting goods store. Don’t mix them up with the cartridges you can find in the kitchen aisle–while they’re also unthreaded cartridges, those CO2 cartridges are a lot smaller and won’t fit (or give you as many shots).

CO2 cartridges
CO2 cartridges

Unlike green gas, CO2 doesn’t include any silicone oil, which means your gun doesn’t benefit from the lubricating effects. This means you’ll have to know your way around your gun, and get used to oiling it in between outings.

CO2 Pistol
A CO2 Pistol that holds the cartridge in the magazine.

If you try to use CO2 in a gun designed for green gas, you’ll also run into some issues. CO2 exerts a lot more pressure than green gas, and the seals won’t last long against it. Make sure you have the right propellant for your gun.

Performance Differences

There are definitely differences in how CO2 and green gas perform, which is why some airsofters may choose one over the other. 

CO2 cartridges are under a lot more pressure, which means that you’ll get higher muzzle velocities, even with the cheapest, non-blowback pistols. 

CO2 vs Green Gas
CO2 vs Green Gas

These guns also have more consistent FPS ratings, even when the gun cools with rapid strings of fire (green gas does this too–just like how the canister gets cold when you use compressed air to clean your keyboard).

Where green gas really shines, however, is the price. Per shot, green gas is the less expensive option, and you do get the benefit of lubrication with each shot, making maintenance easier. If you go with the propane-and-adaptor method, you can shave the price down a bit more.

Buying propellant in bulk is also a way to save money, no matter which kind you use.

Green gas is also better suited to longer matches and games, since it offers many, many, many more shots per charge than a CO2 cartridge, so you won’t need to wrestle with reloading a new cartridge into place every five dozen shots or so.

That does have a pretty big appeal, we gotta say.

We also like that you can top off your green gas magazines without blowing a whole cartridge, unlike CO2

Which Do I Choose: Green Gas or CO2?

Want the TL;DR version? Here it is.

Choose CO2 for more raw power and performance. Price isn’t as much of an issue, but you want to decimate the other team, and don’t mind reloading often to do it. Maintenance isn’t something you mind, which is good–because your gun needs it more often.

Choose green gas for more efficiency and savings. Sure, you’re not going to have the same FPS rates as CO2 players, but you’ll outlast them with your sweet, sweet high-capacity magazine. Not to mention, you’ll still have a few extra bucks in your pocket at the end of the day and you won’t need to maintain your gun as often.


Gas guns are a blast! There’s nothing like getting back to the roots of airsoft, and we love our blowback guns for their realistic functioning.

Personally, we love our green gas guns, since they’re easy to use, easy to maintain, and easy to refill. If you’re willing to work a little harder and spend a little more on propellant, then CO2 will give you the extra boost you need to dominate on the field.

Do you use a gas gun? Which type of gas do you prefer? Let us know about it in the comments, and don’t forget to like Orange Tip Tactical on Facebook!

Milo Harrison

Milo's a desert rat by birth and grew up in the shadow of Nellis AFB. He first discovered paintball in high school, but quickly switched to the world of airsoft when he found out how much less it stung. He still loves a pickup game in the backyard, but these days, you'll usually find him at airsoft LARP events.

View all posts by Milo Harrison →

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