Along with BBs, CO2 cartridges are the basic equipment prerequisite for any CO2 gas airsoft gun - that is, if you want to be able to shoot. Of course, not every ASG uses them, because you can also choose Green Gas models, powered by a different gas and in a completely different way. However, if you have decided to buy a carbon dioxide powered ASG, CO2 cartridges will constantly accompany you on the battlefield and during recreational shooting in your garden. They are a proven power source for various types of airsoft guns and, thanks to the properties of the gas they contain, they also affect the parameters and behavior of a given ASG. The CO2 cartridge is therefore a very important element in a gas airsoft gun, which determines its ability to fire.
What do CO2 cartridges look like?
They are small containers - with a standard capacity of 12 grams - inserted directly in the airsoft gun. Every CO2 cartridge is filled with compressed carbon dioxide, in liquid form and under very high pressure - approximately 12,000 PSI. They’re a disposable product that cannot be refilled. When the carbon dioxide cartridge is empty, it has to be replaced with a new one. CO2 cartridges are supplied by various airsoft manufacturers. You can buy them individually or in sets consisting of several dozen pieces, which is a more economical solution.
CO2 cartridge capacity
The capacity of a CO2 cartridge determines the number of shots that can be fired - however, this is not a constant, manufacturer-predetermined value. It is influenced by external factors, such as the ambient temperature, as well as the construction of the airsoft gun itself, so any quotes are only indicative. It is assumed that a single CO2 cartridge should suffice for about 50-70 shots which, when the gas is depleted, usually decrease in terms of power and range. You can prevent this by properly positioning the barrel, or you can simply shoot the remaining gas and replace the cartridge with a new one.
How does a CO2 cartridge - powered airsoft gun work?
CO2 powered airsoft guns use a simple mechanism consisting of a needle valve and a hammer mechanism. Carbon dioxide is released by the strike of the firing pin. It expands and powers the BB, that is then expelled at force from the barrel. Due to the fact that the CO2 in the cartridge is highly compressed, the BB is launched with just as much power. This affects the use of your airsoft gun in two ways.
On the one hand, it causes a high load on individual elements of the structure - therefore CO2 airsoft guns must be made of reinforced, specially adapted parts. Otherwise, the replica could be damaged. On the other hand, more power also means a higher initial velocity at which the ASG BB is fired. CO2 gas airsoft guns are some of the most powerful ASG weapons on the market, and their range is truly impressive.
The most popular CO2 cartridge airsoft guns
The gas motor can be found most often in replicas of small arms, such as a revolver or an ASG CO2 pistol. Those include both historical, iconic models such as the Colt 1911 CO2 ASG, as well as replicas of more modern firearms, e.g. the Glock ASG CO2 or Walther P99 CO2 pistols. They are often chosen as a backup airsoft gun, due to their impressive power. One example is the Beretta CO2 90TWO, with the muzzle velocity of 450 FPS - a value similar to assault rifles or submachine guns.
Gas airsoft rifles are also available on the market - although they are a minority. You can find an airsoft submachine gun, assault rifle or sniper rifle that will run on carbon dioxide. Especially the gas airsoft sniper rifle can be an interesting proposition for you. The high muzzle velocity acquired by a BB powered by expanding CO2 is a great advantage in this case. You can get a range of up to 40-50 meters, which will surely satisfy even the most demanding sharpshooter. The performance of a given replica is of course also dependent on other factors, so it is worth checking what a given model offers before buying it. However, if you are looking for high power and the greatest possible range, we recommend you to check out CO2 airsoft sniper rifles.
How to insert a CO2 cartridge into an airsoft gun?
CO2 cartridges are disposable and replaceable - always carry spare cartridges on you. Fortunately, they do not take up much space and are light-weight, so they will not constitute an additional burden. You can easily insert the capsule into your airsoft gun, although it takes some time - it's worth doing it before starting a game - you will probably not have enough time during an engagement. The CO2 cartridge is usually installed in the magazine or under the scales of the pistol grip, necessitating prior removal of these elements. Next, you can place the cartridge in the chamber - with its narrower part pointing upwards. All you need to do is tighten the screw at the base of the cartridge to pierce the seal and put the magazine housing back on. Your airsoft gun is now ready to fire.
12g CO2 cartridge-powered airsoft guns vs costs of exploitation
When deciding to buy a gas airsoft gun, you have to take into account the additional costs of its operation, which do not occur in the case of other categories of ASGs. This is one of the causes of why many people do not decide on a gas airsoft gun. In addition to airsoft BBs, you also need to take into account the cost of gas, and these can be quite high if you use your ASG often. It is definitely worth buying bulk packs of CO2 cartridges - the unit price in this case is usually lower than when buying individual cartridges. One cartridge is enough for about 50 shots, which can be quickly and easily fired off in the heat of battle. The math is quite simple here - during a whole day of games you will use up from a few to even a dozen or so CO2 cartridges. If you play frequently and for long periods of time, the added costs can be quite significant.
The use of carbon dioxide cartridges may also increase the cost of exploitation of your airsoft gun. The CO2 cartridge is disposable and cannot be replaced in the heat of battle. If you are not sure if you will have enough gas for the next part of the game, the only solution is to replace the cartridge with a new one - so some of the gas may go to waste.
Application and functionality of CO2-powered airsoft guns
Each type of gas has its own properties and can change its behavior depending on environmental conditions. This is also the case with carbon dioxide, which expands poorly at temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius. This affects the power given to the BB while taking a shot. The initial speed also decreases, and thus the range of the ASG. If you intend to use your weapon also in the colder months, then choosing a CO2 powered model is not a very good idea.
Airsoft gas guns using CO2 usually imitate the behavior of real firearms very well. They are equipped with a powerful Blow Back system that imitates the recoil of the bolt during the shot. This is a common feature in gas airsoft pistols, one example being the Desert Eagle ASG CO2. This feature will not be an advantage for every player, but many airsofters appreciate it very much.
Where and how can you use CO2 cartridge airsoft guns?
Most CO2 airsoft guns are handguns, used for recreational shooting at a shooting range or in the garden, rather than on the battlefield. They are rarely chosen as the main ASG - also during CQB games, despite the fact that compact equipment works best in closed and tight spaces. The reason for this is the power given to a BB by a CO2 cartridge. The initial speed of this type of ASG is very often higher than 350 FPS - exceeding the maximum value of power of the equipment that can be used for CQB games. Therefore, CO2 airsoft guns will only work on an open battlefield. Pistols and revolvers can be used as a backup airsoft gun. Thanks to CO2 power supply, its range will be equal to that of airsoft rifles.
You can also find various types of rifles or submachine guns on the market, which also require a CO2 cartridge. They are extremely powerful, which makes them great for shooting at long ranges. If you can afford the increased operating costs, then these models are definitely worth considering.