About Compressed Air Paintball Tanks
Compressed-air paintball tanks are an essential piece of equipment. The paintball gun requires an air tank to propel the paintball. The amount of air the tank can hold determines how many shots can be fired before the tank needs to be refilled. Some paintball guns will only work with the high-grade nitro tanks, which contain compressed nitrogen.
There are two kinds of tanks for paintball guns. The carbon dioxide tank is available at most sporting good stores. They are relatively inexpensive. Beginner and midgrade paintball guns use the CO2 tank. It does not require a complicated regulator and it is easy to use and refill. In good weather this type of tank is fairly consistent in performance.
Compressed-air tanks for paintball guns are much more consistent than the CO2 tanks, especially in bad weather when the CO2 tanks can vary in the speed in which it fires. The compressed-air tanks are sometimes called HPA, for “high pressure air,” or nitro because it is filled with nitrogen. Some midgrade and all high-end paintball guns require the use of compressed-air tanks. It can cost twice as much as the CO2 and requires special equipment to fill and test the tank. Every three to five years tanks will need to be checked and recertified. Special regulators attached to the compressed-air tank ensure the reliable performance that make the compressed air the choice of serious paintball enthusiasts.
Paintball fields and shops usually carry the equipment to properly fill a compressed-air tank, and sometimes they even do it for free. On the paintball field the refill stations are called whips. Scuba shops will often fill a paintball compressed-air tank as it is similar enough to scuba tanks to use the same refill equipment. Be aware that filling tanks too quickly can cause excess heat that will damage the pressure vessel. You also must use the whip designated for the pressure setting of your tank.
Compressed-air tanks for paintball guns are extremely fragile. They should be protected with a padded barrel cover at all times. Metal tanks are more forgiving to small scratches and dents than the carbon fiber tanks, which can become unsafe with all but the most superficial of scratches. Damage to the threads can cause the bonnet to not sit properly and cause pressure loss and air leaks. Never use a tank with the fibers showing or unraveling. Immediately take them out of service and have them inspected by a DOT-approved inspection facility.
Federal law requires that carbon fiber compressed-air tanks manufactured or tested after July 1, 2001 get checked every three to five years (depending on model) by someone with a valid U.S. DOT retest identification number (RIN). The maximum life for a carbon fiber-wrapped tank is 15 years. To pass the test, tanks must be able to hold a good seal at almost twice the recommended service pressure and must hold for a minimum of 60 seconds.
Tanks are available at different pressure ratings in pounds per square inch: 3,000, 4,500, or 5,000. The more pressure in the tank, the more shots you can take before refilling.
Steel tanks are the least expensive and the heaviest to carry. They are durable and resistant to damage. Steel cylinders have an unlimited lifespan.
Aluminum is slightly more expensive than steel and also has an unlimited lifespan. They damage more easily than steel but are lighter to carry.
Fiber wrapped is the most costly type of compressed-air paintball tank. It has a maximum lifespan of 15 years. it is extremely lightweight, which makes them easier to carry, but very easy to damage. It is the favorite tank for the players who want the ability to draw their guns quickly.
Regulators are adjustable from 1 to 850 psi. They come in a variety of sizes and materials, making them easier to customize. The features that can be selected on an HPA paintball tank include the thread protectors, N2 nipples and covers, drop forwards and O-rings.