I just love the smell of Green Gas in the morning…
Take it from a 10 year veteran of airsoft, gas blowback guns are just fun. There’s nothing quite like having the airsoft gun actually kick a little in your hand as you squeeze the trigger (Electric guns usually just make a zip sound). Naturally, a lot of new players end up buying one or two gas guns early in their hobby career.
One of the most common questions back when I worked in the industry was: should I buy a green gas airsoft pistol, or a Co2 one? Which propellant is better for an airsoft pistol?
Green Gas Overview
Green gas is a propellant for green gas guns that is effectively a mixture of propane and silicone oil. It is premixed because the silicon oil will actually help lubricate the airsoft pistol as you discharge the gun. This is the most popular gas used in the airsoft world, and the best airsoft pistol uses green gas.
Most green gas is sold in pressurized 8 oz cans with a nozzle used to transfer gas to your green gas magazine. The number of green gas magazines a single green gas can will fully fill depends heavily on temperature, the size of the magazine gas reservoir, and how efficient the user is at ensuring a good seal during the deployment of the gas.
Most green gas canisters are filled to around 115 PSI at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (with a variance of 5 PSI in either direction)
With that said you can typically expect a single green gas can to recharge between 30 – 60 pistol magazines. Depending on the efficiency of your green gas guns you can expect it to be good for 800 – 1500 BB’s. In our experience we average around 1000 BB’s per can.
One thing to note is that green gas cans can overheat if left in the sun for a long time (we’ve seen green gas can rupture, it isn’t pretty).
Green Gas Pros & Cons
- Built in lubrication keeps green gas pistols lubed and ready
- Easy to bring to the field
- Fairly cost effective – each can is about 7 – 12 dollars
- Built in safety valves to reduce the risk of overheating
- Can top off your gas supply in your magazines on easily
- Heavily affected by temperature
- Usually only available at airsoft specialty stores
Co2 for airsoft guns is effectively compressed carbon dioxide placed in 12 gram canisters (also known as cartridges or powerlets). Originally when we started airsofting back in the 90’s, Co2 airsoft guns were of generally poor quality, unlike their green gas counterparts, and mostly associated with the more traditional airgun industry. They usually are designed to meet ASTM F590 consumer safety regulations – so they’re safe to handle.
However, in more recent years, airsoft manufacturers have been utilizing these 12g Co2 cartridges for 6mm airsoft. Typically a single cartridge will be installed in each pistol magazine. Unlike green gas, this does mean that if you run multiple magazines you’ll need to have several Co2 cartridges ready.
The main standout feature with Co2 in these handguns is that the pressure is typically higher at around 700 – 800 PSI. This can generally result in higher muzzple velocities, especially in non-blowback gas guns.
In fact, some of the more popular 1911’s (especially the ones made by Elite Force / KWC) utilize Co2 for their gas blowback pistols. Each canister is usually good for 40 to 50 BB’s depending on the efficiency of your airsoft guns.
This high pressure sometimes means that it fires airsoft bbs at a higher muzzle velocity, but it also means that the slide movement & kick of the airsoft handgun will be much greater than that of a green gas gun.
Of course, this also means that it puts WAY more wear and tear on the pistol.
Co2 Pros & Cons
- Higher pressure gas meaning strong kick from the pistol and a more enjoyable shoot
- Co2 powerlets are compact and easy to store
- More consistent FPS ratings in colder temperatures (but is still affected by temperatures, just not as much)
- Higher FPS generally for non-blowback airsoft guns
- Easier to find as most sporting goods stores will stock them
- Cannot refill midway through a magazine
- Typically adds more wear and tear on your airsoft gun
The economy of Green Gas vs Co2 – Which one costs more?
If we break down the math between Co2 and Green Gas in terms of cost per shot – it’d look like below:
The average cost of a green gas can is $9.00 USD. You can expect an average of around 1000 shots for that can meaning that Green Gas would cost you 0.9 cents per shot.
The same $9.00 USD would be able to get you 15 Co2 12g cartridges. You can expect an average of around 45 shots per cartridge meaning it’d give you 675 shots for $9.00. Co2 will cost you 1.3 cents per shot.
We’re still talking about cents to a shot though, so it’s really not that bad. But, the math is clear, green gas will save money in the long term.
So in the end, This means that green gas is roughly 44% more economical than Co2.
Which is better for airsoft? Green Gas or Co2?
Ultimately, both are great for airsoft. Most airsoft fields will accept either gas type so long as you meet the FPS requirements during chrono.
One thing to note is that, for the most part, an airsoft pistol magazine will be set up for either green gas, or Co2, but not both. Some airsoft pistols are capable of utilizing both green gas and Co2, but you’d have to buy specialty magazines to accommodate it.
As you can see – they’re VERY comparable in terms of cost, but the green gas will end up costing less in the long term if you plan on running gas primarily gas powered guns.
Green Gas is for you if
- You plan to buy and use the best airsoft handguns available on the market.
- You want to be able to use the same propellant as the majority of airsoft players using gas powered guns
- You want to be economical with your spending
- You want to be able to top off your propellant midway through a magazine
- You want to purchase an GBBR (gas blowback rifle) – these almost always use airsoft green gas
Co2 is for you if
- You want to have a pistol that has a more fierce kickback
- You want to share propellant as a more traditional airgun
- You want to have more consistent muzzle velocity
- You’re looking to purchase a cheaper airsoft pistol (most of them use Co2)
- You’re looking to purchase an airsoft revolver (most of these use Co2 as well)
In the end, both Green Gas and Co2 are great propellants to use for your airsoft gun, and using them is mostly based on personal preference.
Personally, we choose green gas. Sometimes we use propane directly (it is an even more economical solution than airsoft green gas) in our airsoft guns, but that’s an article for another time.
Is green gas more expensive than Co2?
Actually, it isn’t. See our breakdown above, but the TL:DR of it is that airsoft green gas roughly costs $0.009 per shot and compressed carbon dioxide roughly costs $0.013 per shot. Keep in mind that it will still vary a bit based off the efficiency of your airsoft pistols.
Which is better, gas guns or electric guns?
We break it down fairly simply – if you’re looking for pure performance, you’ll want to go with electric guns. However, if you want realism, you go with gas guns.
If you want the best of both worlds and have a lot of dough to spend, then you go with an HPA (high pressure air) system. We might cover those in a separate video.
What is Red Gas?
Red gas is actually just airsoft green gas stored at a higher pressure, and therefore more powerful overall. Our tests indicate that it can increase the FPS of your gas guns by 20% to 30%. In general, it puts a lot more wear and tear on the gun as well, especially the rubber seals. Expect your gas gun to get damaged after prolonged use.
It’s mostly not available any more, and you can’t find it in even airsoft specialty shops. You can basically pretend that it doesn’t exist.