how much pressure is in a co2 cartridge

How Much Pressure Is In A CO2 Cartridge? Find the Value!

If you are an airsoft enthusiast, you already know a thing or two about CO2 cartridges. However, you might still remain in the dark about the exact pressure.

As an avid enthusiast, you don’t want to miss out on that, right?

So, how much pressure is in a CO2  cartridge?

Under optimal conditions (70°F) a 12-gm CO2 cartridge exerts a pressure of at least 852.8 psi. Airguns function best between 852.8 and 900 psi of pressure. When a cartridge is shot, its contents may be largely liquid or gas, and this affects the pressure, which in turn affects the velocity.

That is for the short brief. Stick with me for a few minutes to learn everything elaborately.

Let’s begin.

What Exactly Is a CO2 Cartridge?

Compressed carbon dioxide (CO2) is used to provide the propellant in airguns. This is typically in the form of a cylinder, tank, or cartridge used to fire the pellet. 

In the 1870s, a Frenchman named Paul Giffard started using it in his gallery weapons.  He sold it to the public, and it has been in use for this purpose. 

Because of how unusual this was back then, consumers had to send their cylinders to specialized filling stations. They had to do it in order to have the CO2 levels restored.

Nowadays, COcartridges are used in bikes, airguns, and for particular purposes.

CO2 Cartridge Pressure

Now you know what a CO2 cartridge is and its origins, we can dig deep into the topic. We can now dig into the cartridge pressure and how many shots we can get.

CO2 cartridge psi and its function are sources of much confusion. Keep in mind that the force of the shot is a result of the interaction between temperature and pressure.

CO2 Cartridge Pressure

Once the temperature is over 69.9 degrees Fahrenheit and the pressure hits 60.4 psi. At this temperature and pressure, carbon dioxide changes into a gas. 

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a multi-faceted substance that may transform directly from a solid to a gas without going through a liquid phase. 

Airsoft gun CO2  cartridges are found in 12-gram, 16-gram, and 88-gram configurations. Cartridge pressure varies from model to model. Good brands like Umarex use these cartridges regularly.

Before we move forward, let’s have a look at this quick table on cartridge pressure.

Cartridge Capacity Pressure Rating ( PSI)
12 Gram852
16 Gram 858 
88 Gram900

Now, let’s get into the details.

Pressure in a 12 gm CO2 Cartridge: 

As a rule of thumb, CO2 is heated to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas achieves a pressure of roughly 852.8 psi within the cylinder or vessel. 

More CO2 in the cylinder means more of it will turn into a liquid. This means that at normal temperature, the cartridge is a compressed gas rather than a liquid.

12 gm CO2 Cartridge

When shot, the airgun expels some of the gas and boils off some of the liquid, which then fills the void left behind until the pressure is normalized for the temperature.

Most of the small to midsize airguns use 12-gm CO2  cartridges. Airsoft SMGs and assault rifles may use two 12-gm cartridges for more pressure and velocity.

Pressure in a 16 gm CO2 Cartridge:

Though there is a 16 gm cartridge model, it is rarely used in the airsoft community. 

At standard temperature, the 16-gm cartridge has a pressure of 858 psi. This is ideal for big handguns like the revolver and desert eagles.

Pressure in a 88 gm CO2 Cartridge:

88-gram Cartridge is used in assault rifles, sniper rifles, and heavies only. The size of this cartridge is way bigger than ordinary ones.

As big as the cartridge, the pressure rating is huge too. A typical 88-gram CO2 cartridge has a pressure rating of 900 psi. This is enough to propel an airsoft rifle pellet up to 300 feet easily like the FX Royale 500.

The FPS rating of such cartridges will be high too. A typical cartridge of this size can offer up to 500 fps which is way more than average.

How Many BB Shots Per Cartridge?

This is a common query amongst those who enjoy shooting airguns. In spite of the seeming ease of the question, there is no easy answer.

A precise answer to the question of how many shots per cartridge is impossible to provide. This is due to the wide variety of factors involved. It depends on the temperature, the valve settings, the velocity of fire, and the blowback. A 12-gram CO2 cartridge can deliver anywhere from 30 to 200 shots.

BB Shots Per Cartridge

Because CO2 cools as it is consumed, the canister size has a role in how well it functions. The larger the tank, specifically an 88-gram tank, the longer you can go between reloading sessions. 

You can get 20–30 quality shots out of a 12-gram tank before having to warm it up again.

It’s more efficient to use a twin 12-gram airgun rather than a single tank airgun when firing at high rates of speed. So, that’s quadruple the number of fast shots before taking a break

CO2  & Velocity

CO2 and speed are connected, as was previously noted. When the CO2 in the cartridge runs out, the pressure will begin to decrease. 

This could cause a slight loss in velocity. Shooting at a warmer temperature may also enhance velocity. Shooting at a cooler temperature will cause velocity to drop below the 852-900 psi range. 

If the temperature is less than 60°F, the projectile or the gun itself could get stuck. 

Although psi plays a role in velocity, there are other factors that may be interfering with your ability to hit your target speed than the cartridge itself.

Tips for Maintaining CO2 Cartridges

You should adhere to these instructions to get the most use out of your CO2 cartridges.  This will be useful for air rifles or handguns and extend their lifespan. However, keep in mind that cartridge caring is just a part of the whole airsoft gun maintenance.

  • Always put lubricating oil before loading your cartridge into the gun. This will help you maintain your gun seals properly. 

If you don’t have one, check out Crosman 241 Pellgunoil Air Gun Lubricating Oil. Or you can also get the Hoppes 9 Elite Gun Cleaning kit. The set has all the things you’ll need!

  • Try not to leave CO2 in your gun. Leaving CO2 for more than 48 hours can be harmful. It may damage the seal and create issues.
  • Cartridges for carbon dioxide air guns should not be left in a hot car or anywhere else. The cartridges could overheat. As a result of a cartridge explosion, substantial bodily harm can be caused.
  • Most manufacturers advise taking out the CO2 cartridge when you’re done firing. But don’t do so with a fully charged CO2 cartridge. You risk getting your hands frozen by the frigid gas inside.

Here’s an enthusiast suffering from not taking out the CO2 cartridge-

So, don’t make that mistake!

Hopefully, these tips will come in handy for maintenance. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is There Any Way to Increase the Pressure of My CO2 Cartridges Beyond The Rating?

Yes, there are ways to do that. But it is not recommended. Shrinking a secondary hole in a cylinder that you wouldn’t normally use is dangerous. But then the gas created might exert enough force on another valve or possibly pop one. This might end up causing explosions.

How Much Pressure Is In a 20 Gram CO2 Cartridge?

Most main tanks have a jump in pressure of 20 grams per square inch. It makes sense to think that the same would be true here. Here is about how much 10:11 (20/33) = 2 atmospheres and 16:9 (the “magic” fraction of 5 when divided by 3, i.e. 1 + 4, is equal to 9 or 9/12ths air.

How Do I Know If My CO2 Cartridge Is Empty?

If the carbonating cylinder isn’t snug, twist it to the right to tighten it. The carbonating cartridge may be empty if it fails to produce bubbles. It is also applicable if it makes no sputtering noise when pressed. You will need to change your cartridge then. 


Hopefully you have got your answer to “how much pressure is in a CO2 cartridge?”. CO2  cartridges are an easy and efficient way of powering up airsoft guns.

As long as you have a basic understanding, you can continue enjoying the cartridge-powered guns. 

See you soon.

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