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An airsoft CO2 shotgun uses compressed air to fire BBs down range at your opponents. As an airsoft shotgun, the CO2-powered variant shoots several BBs down the barrel with each trigger pull. Many CO2 airsoft shotguns are replicas of real-steel shotguns that perform well in CQB scenarios. 

Players often choose an airsoft shotgun (including CO2 versions) because it offers a specific playing style and airsofting role. 

What Is a CO2 Shotgun?

An airsoft CO2 shotgun requires CO2 cartridges (in contrast to the other type of airsoft gas, i.e., green gas) to actuate the internals and fire multiple BBs down range with one pull of the trigger. The CO2 capsules that fire these airsoft guns are often hidden within the stock or grip. When pierced, these compressed air capsules provide the power necessary to shoot the BB gun. 

The shotgun platform allows these CO2 airsoft guns to expel multiple BBs with a single pull of the trigger, similar to a traditional real-steel shotgun. When fired, airsoft shotguns emit a spray pattern of ammo (BBs) that can effectively tag multiple opponents within a short radius. 

Due to an airsoft shotgun's limited reach and power, they’re best suited to CQB scenarios where the shotgun-style platform lends itself to successfully clearing a room.

Many airsoft shotguns are semi-automatic and full-automatic, depending on which versions you purchase and their individual designs. There are some shell-ejecting shotguns available, such as the APS line of shotguns, which function like the real thing and will eject shells. Your choice of CO2-powered airsoft shotgun often depends on your budget, gameplay style, and how realistic you want your chosen replica to be. 

We can also compare airsoft CO2 shotguns to spring-powered and electric shotguns. Spring-powered shotguns feature the signature pump action of a traditional shotgun. The shells of a springer airsoft shotgun often hold several rounds that exit the barrel in single-round bursts, such as three or six BBs at a time. 

In contrast, electric airsoft shotguns require a motor, piston, and gearbox to actuate the internals. These automatic electric guns (AEGs) can produce a high rate of fire in semi-auto or full-auto modes. AEG shotguns tend to have a higher capacity held within a detachable magazine.

How Does a CO2 Shotgun Work? 

CO2 airsoft shotguns work similarly to other CO2-powered airsoft pistols and air rifles. Installing the CO2 cartridges loads the airsoft gun up with the pressure necessary to function. The CO2 capsules may be pierced during installation or require a trigger pull to initiate the flow of compressed air to the expansion chamber and out of the muzzle. 

Each time you pull the trigger, a measured amount of compressed air escapes the CO2 capsule and propels BBs down range. CO2 airsoft shotguns (and CO2 airsoft guns in general) tend to be snappier when you first load them up with compressed air. As the pressure in the CO2 capsule dissipates, the velocity (in FPS) drops until no pressure is left. 

Recharging the gun requires simply installing another CO2 capsule — or two if the platform calls for it. For this reason, it may be a good idea to have a few extra CO2 capsules on your person (such as in your vest, pouches, or chest rig) in case you need to quickly reload your airsoft gun. 

However, quickly reloading may not be possible if you’re participating in games in a CQB-type environment. That’s why a backup sidearm, such as an airsoft or CO2 pistol, can help fend off your opponents until you can make it to safety or the game ends. 

The ammo of an airsoft CO2 shotgun consists of a shotgun shell (such as the APS Co2 SMART Shotgun Shells for CAM870 Shell Ejecting Airsoft Shotguns (4pcs / Pack) - Red or the APS Smart CAM CO2 Cartridge Pack (25pcs per box), shotgun cup or wad, and, of course, BBs. The shotgun shell bases hold the compressed air. 

Filling them requires a charging adapter, such as the APS SMART CAM870 Airsoft Shotgun Shell Charging Adapter

How To Choose a CO2 Shotgun

Airsoft CO2 shotguns aren’t as common as air pistols (like Maruzen, KJ Works, and Tokyo Marui), grenade launchers, or sniper rifles. They’re somewhat of a niche airsoft platform, similar to HPA airsoft guns. However, there are a few different types of airsoft CO2 shotguns you can choose from, including single, double-barrel, and tri-shot platforms.

Most airsoft players choose an airsoft shotgun based on how they want to engage their opponents. CO2-powered shotguns are often a choice made based on personal preference or budget, although CO2 airsoft platforms do tend to deal with temperature changes better than their green gas-powered GBB counterparts. 

For example, the APS Shell-Ejecting CAM 870 Shotgun MKIII Classic Airsoft Marker represents your basic CO2 shotgun, which consists of real wood furniture, full-metal construction, and a bead-style front sight post. The shells of this realistic airsoft CO2 shotgun replica eject, giving users an authentic experience that can heighten gameplay. It’s also relatively affordable, given the market. 

How To Upgrade a CO2 Shotgun

Unlike other types of airsoft guns, including airsoft rifles, CO2 shotguns don’t have as much aftermarket support. It’s common for players to purchase an airsoft CO2 shotgun and run with it as-is, potentially with some furniture upgrades or accessories like a holster. Depending on the model, you may be able to upgrade the bucking, nozzle, or inner barrel. 

Below are a few ideas to get you started:

Realistically, traditional upgrades such as handguards or hop-ups aren’t necessary for an airsoft CO2 shotgun. Investing in extra shotshells can help keep your supply up, especially if you purchase a shell-ejecting model and lose a few in the heat of the game. Players may also wish to put some type of optic on their CO2 shotgun. 

Popular CO2 Shotgun Models

RedWolf stocks several APS airsoft CO2-powered shotguns, including the following models: 

For all things airsoft, check out RedWolf’s wide selection of air guns, accessories, upgrades, and ammo to add to your wish list.