Most experienced airsoft players will generally rely on their AEG (Automatic Electric Gun) as their primary weapon of choice.
But I’ll bet my bottom dollar that they all have a backup sidearm in the form of an airsoft pistol.
Gas powered versions are the most satisfying and realistic choice, and they can be powered by either Co2, or something called ‘green gas.’
The question is – which is better?
In this article, we explore the Co2 vs green gas debate, and see if we can find a definitive answer, so you know what to choose for your secondary weapon.
Let’s fire right in.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on RiflePal. For more information, read full disclosure here.
Green Gas or Co2? Too Long, Didn’t Read
Without getting into the nitty-gritty of this match up – particularly if you haven’t got time to read the full article – let’s just start with the answer right here.
Which is better – green gas or Co2?
Well, unfortunately, there isn’t a clear-cut winner – and both types of propulsion hold a solid place in the airsoft pistol community.
- Co2 is more powerful, and will give a more realistic recoil action and higher velocity. But it’s more expensive, and can be trickier to use/store.
- Green gas is easier to handle, more economical, and lubricates your gun during use. But it just doesn’t come close to the satisfaction that firing a Co2 pistol achieves.
In the end, the decision will come down to your personal preference and budget. Let’s take a closer look at each, and see if you can figure out which one is right for you.
Also, you should check out this article on the best airsoft brands in the business, and any one of them will be able to assist you further in making the right choice.
Why Choose a Gas-Powered Pistol?
Airsoft pistols generally come in three types when it comes to propelling pellets down range.
Spring-loaded, electric, and gas-powered.
Without getting into too much detail about the merits of each here – why would you choose a gas pistol over the others?
Perhaps the most important factor is realism.
Gas-powered pistols are unbeatable for a satisfying look and feel, as well as an impressive blowback recoil (which varies depending on the type of gas used – more on that, below).
If you’re playing MilSim games (Military Simulation), or you just want a weighty gun that’s as close to a real firearm as possible, then accept no substitute.
But if you’re interested, you can read more about gas versus electric airsoft guns at that link.
And go here for the best airsoft pistols on the market to make your choice when it comes to your sidearm loadout.
As for the difference in price between a green gas pistol and a Co2 version, there’s not much in it, although new, modern green gas models can run more expensive as the technology improves.
Co2 guns are powered by a standard 12 gram carbon-dioxide cartridge. Each cartridge costs around $1-2, and will provide somewhere between 50-60 shots on average.
The cartridges are inserted into the magazine, and then punctured, in order to commence operation. They’re pressurized to around 12,000 psi, and are often the preferred choice for target shooting, as a result.
After use, you need to remove the canister from your gun’s magazine – and you need to empty it out first. Never put an airsoft gun into storage with a live Co2 canister inside, as you will almost certainly ruin the internal hardware.
And don’t dry fire your gun, or attempt to purge the canister by hand. You need to load it with ammunition, and fire airsoft pellets until the canister is empty.
Furthermore, if you’re using a Co2 gun, then be sure to only use specially designed cartridges, and no other type of Co2 canister in your weapon.
Advantages of Co2
Hard-core airsofters love realism, and they want to get as close to the feeling of battle as possible, without actually putting themselves in harm’s way.
To that end, Co2 cartridges offer the most accurate, more powerful experience, with higher feet per second velocity rates (fps), and realistic recoil action. However, there is a caveat to this advantage, as will be explained in the next section – so keep reading.
The blowback produced from a Co2 canister simply can’t be replicated by anything else, and for that reason – and perhaps that reason alone – airsofters will continue to choose Co2 over green gas.
While each cartridge might only get you around 50 shots, you won’t ever see a dip in performance with Co2. Your 50th shot will be the same as your first, when it comes to distance, power, and height.
Which means if you’re rocking a pistol with a full auto setting, then Co2 is the only way to fly.
The compact size of a Co2 cartridge also allows you to carry and reload gas when you’re in the field, ensuring Co2 is a more portable option.
That’s not possible with green gas canisters, and even if it is, those cans will take up a lot of storage space on your loadout.
Another plus point in the Co2 column is that it tends to do better in cold weather. This is particularly true when comparing electric guns to gas, as a battery’s performance will drop when the Mercury does.
Check out this article, which features some top tips and advice for playing airsoft in the winter, for more information on enjoying the sport year-round.
Disadvantages of Co2
The main disadvantage of Co2 is the price. If you’re burning through shots and ammo, the cost of those little cartridges is going to add up fast.
And they can be tricky to use/store – particularly if you’re not familiar with handling them. Once a cartridge has been activated, it can only be used in that weapon, and must be removed and disposed of after the game.
As mentioned above, while Co2 offers more power and a higher velocity, they may well be over the maximum of most airsoft field limits.
Check with your local field to see what the deal is. And you can use this awesome airsoft resource to find one, if you currently don’t have a place to play.
As the more powerful system, Co2 puts more stress and strain on the inner workings of your gun, and so it will require more regular maintenance as a result.
Higher pressure equals more damage, and you need to stay on top of the wear and tear of a Co2 gun more so than a green gas version.
Green Gas Explained
While we’ve all likely heard of Co2 (I’m looking at you, climate change), many folks will be unfamiliar with green gas – particularly if you’re not yet part of the airsoft community.
So, what exactly is it?
Green gas is basically just propane with silicone oil added, and the odor removed. We all know the nostril-offending smell of regular gas, which thankfully isn’t present in green gas.
What form does green gas come in?
Unlike Co2, which is available in small cartridges, green gas comes in a pre-filled, pressurized canister, not too dissimilar from a deodorant spray.
You can also create your own green gas using standard propane tanks, but you need to purchase a special nozzle/adaptor in order to do so. Check out the video below for a how-to guide.
Advantages of Green Gas
There are multiple benefits to using green gas in your airsoft pistol.
The first is that it’s more cost-effective than Co2. At $10-$20 per can, it’s cheaper than buying Co2 cartridges. It will also last longer, with one can capable of providing 1500-2000 shots.
If you’re airsofting on a budget (or at least attempting to) then this is a good choice for you.
As mentioned, you can also purchase adaptors that allow you to mix your own green gas, using ordinary propane canisters – which can make it even more budget-friendly.
With the addition of silicone oil in the green gas, your weapon is being lubricated every time you pull the trigger. Green gas is a lot easier on your pistols than Co2, which can improve their longevity and effectiveness as a result.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t still maintain a regular maintenance schedule (at least once a season) – but it’s extra peace-of-mind when you’re putting your sidearm through its paces in the field.
Green gas is also available in a variety of pressures, which is ideal for tinkering with the velocity of your guns. And I say ‘guns’ plural, as one canister of green gas can be used to power multiple pistols, whereas you can only use one cartridge of Co2 with one gun.
For storage, a small amount of green gas can and should be left in the weapon for long periods of time, which is another obvious bonus.
And generally speaking, green gas is simply much more reliable and easier to use. It won’t let you down in the heat of battle, and is the ideal choice for the beginner airsofter.
Disadvantages of Green Gas
There are, whoever, a few notable downsides to using green gas – and among dedicated, experienced airsoft players, they can count for double in the negative box.
The first, is that you just don’t get the kickback power that you do with Co2. It’s not even close. If you’re looking for an airsoft pistol experience that’s as accurate as possible to a real firearm – green gas isn’t going to be it.
And, as you might expect, as well as the less powerful recoil you also have a less powerful shot. Co2 delivers a much higher fps velocity than green gas – which can be a dealbreaker for many dedicated players.
Pressurized to around 3000 psi, expect around 300 fps for green gas guns, whereas a Co2 cartridge is going to give you 400 fps, and possibly more.
Additionally, you’re going to see a drop in performance from green gas the more you shoot, as well as having a “cooling off” effect when firing in quick succession.
As such, green gas isn’t a good option if you’re playing in colder temperatures, as you will see a significant dip in performance.
Finally, green gas canisters are nowhere near as portable as Co2 cartridges, and it’s unlikely you’ll take them out onto the field if you need to top up in the thick of it.
As you can probably tell, in the battle between green gas and Co2 for airsoft guns, we couldn’t call a clear winner.
Both are good at what they do, and both have a solid place in the sport.
Personally, if money were no object, I’d always go with Co2 – purely for the realistic blowback recoil. Popping off a Co2 pistol into an enemy’s chest is as close to real combat as I ever would like to get.
That said, for budget-friendly airsoft play that’s easy to use, store, and refill, you can beat green gas. And if you’re totally new to the sport, then it’s highly recommended that your first pistol be a GG model.
But who knows, maybe they’ll invent something that beats both of them in the future? Stay tuned to find out.
There you have it, folks, the Co2 vs green gas match has finished in a draw.
There are die-hard Co2 fans, and there are die-hard green gas fans. Let me know which camp you fall into in the comments below – or if I’ve missed anything vital in this comparison.
Regardless which option you choose, you should always be wearing some certified airsoft goggles – so check out that link for more.
Stay safe out there, and happy airsofting!