How to Load a CO2 Gun Cartridge

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CO2 airguns are a popular option for those who enjoy shooting but are limited by space or by the noise produced by a traditional firearm. Used for backyard target shooting, competitive shooting and even small game hunting, CO2 airguns are available in a range of models in both rifle and pistol configurations. Properly loading a CO2 cartridge is an essential part of preparing to shoot an airgun.

Remove any ammunition clips and open the breech as a safety check to make sure the gun is unloaded.

Access the CO2 chamber. The method of access varies based on the manufacturer and gun design. Methods include removing the grip from a handgun, loosening and removing a bottom-mounted sealed screw, or releasing a magazine designed to hold a 12-gram CO2 cartridge.

Loosen the small CO2 retaining screw that holds the cartridge in the chamber, if necessary. Turn the screw to the left, or counter-clockwise, so it can be loosened and removed.

Install a CO2 cartridge in the air chamber of the gun. Typically, the CO2 cartridge will be loaded so the small, tapered end is up.

Tighten the retaining screw, if necessary, and assemble the magazine or handle of the airgun, based on the model.


  • Puncture the cap on the CO2 cartridge by pushing on the retaining screw of some airgun models. This feature allows the cartridge to be loaded in the airgun ahead of time and then and activated when the shooter is ready, instead of the cartridge being punctured when installed.
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