You’ve gotten your paintball gun, mask, paintballs and accessories. Now you just need the air to power it up. You want to make sure that you have a reliable, ample supply of air and aren’t sure exactly what you need. Here’s a closer look at paintball air tank options and sizes.
Paintball air is distributed in cartridges and tanks in a wide size range. Air is available in small 12-gram CO2 cartridges or large 20-ounce tanks. It’s really a matter of the type of game that you’re playing and how much air is required to keep game play flowing smoothly while allowing comfort and mobility in your equipment. Larger tanks will provide more shots with less refilling, but will also be clunkier and heavier.
While air tank size is an important consideration, first you need to decide the type of air that you’ll be using. Paintball gun air tanks can be carbon dioxide or nitrogen/compressed air. Carbon dioxide is the most common, inexpensive type of air and it’s easiest to refill. Most general sports shops will be able to refill the tank. However, carbon dioxide tanks often experience freeze-up and firing problems and aren’t as reliable as other air tanks, particularly in cold weather. Your shots may experience significant velocity and accuracy reduction. Nitrogen/compressed air is more reliable and provides more accurate, dependable shots regardless of weather. However, these air tanks are more expensive and can be more difficult to fill and maintain. Some higher-end guns may require compressed air and some games may be set up for compressed-air refills only.
You’ll notice that air tank sizing varies by air type. CO2 tanks come in basic sizes ranging from the 12-gram cartridge to large 20-ounce tanks. Other common sizes include 9 and 12 ounces. Nitrogen tanks, on the other hand, are usually denoted in a two-number size such as 48/3000. The latter refers pressure in psi or pressure per square inch. Larger pressures are indicative of more shots. The smaller number is the volume in cubic inches. Roughly, a 3000-psi tank can deliver 10 shots per cubic inch, so the tank size above would get about 480 shots before needing refill (48 x 10). A 4500-psi tank can get about 15 shots per cubic inch. In this way, you can get a clear idea of how many shots you’ll get on the field.
Once you’ve decided on the type of air, you can decide how much air you intend to use. In choosing air, be mindful of a few important considerations. Think about the type of game that you’ll be playing and if there are regulations involving air. Stock games, for instance, allow only 12-gram CO2 cartridges to be used. Also consider the design of your gun and how you plan to carry your tank. Individual paintball guns have different air tank placement and may be uncomfortable with a bulky tank. Tanks may be attached vertically, off the back of the barrel or off the bottom of the handle. When possible, attach the tank to your gun and get a feel for the comfort level to determine the size that you prefer.
Tanks can also be carried on your person and connected to the gun with a hose. If you’d like to use a large, bulky tank, this may be a good option.