The game of paintball has evolved exponentially since its invention in the mid-80s. Two-ounce air tanks led to nine-, 16- and 20-ounce CO2 tanks. Today, nitrogen tanks rule the paintball field. The game of paintball relies on pressure. Pressure pushes the balls out of the gun and toward a target. Knowing this, It is no wonder players have been trying to perfect the form of pressure that fuels their markers. Nitrogen tanks have clear advantages over the outdated CO2 systems. Nitrogen is a gas in your tank, and a gas when fueling your paintball. CO2 is in liquid form in your tank, and is converted to a gas when transferred through your gun. This leads to inconsistent pressure, and problems during cold weather.
Nitrogen tanks deliver the same shot every time you pull the trigger. CO2 tanks fire different rates of speed on each shot. CO2 is a liquid when it is in your tank. Joe and Larry at “Gat Splat” explain why this is a problem: “You’re running and shooting, moving the gun up, down, back, forth, and as you’re shooting, you may not always be getting pure gas. Some of the liquid CO2 may escape into the system as well. Then some expansion can happen in the gun, behind the bolt, which then will change the pressure.” Each time you pull the trigger, you will now be getting a different pressured shot. Nitrogen is a gas when in your tank, so it cannot leak into your gun. Every time you pull the trigger, the paintball will go the speed and distance you want it to. CO2 tanks tend to under- and overshoot because the amount of pressure changes with each shot.
Cold weather affects the pressure inside CO2 tanks. The colder the weather, the less pressure there is. In extreme temperatures, such as below freezing, there is not enough pressure in your CO2 tank to make it work properly. You will be firing some liquid and not enough gas. The lack of pressure in your tank will cause a loss of speed for shots. You will have to warm up your gun and tank before you can hit the field.
A nitrogen tank can handle more gas than CO2 can handle liquid in the same-sized tank. Nitrogen tanks allow you to get more shots per tank than CO2. Because CO2 tanks hold liquid, their storage capacity is set in stone. Nitrogen tanks have a capacity that varies. You can fill a 68-cubic-inch tank with between 3000 and 4500 pounds per square inch. A 68-cubic-inch tank is equivalent to a 20-ounce CO2 tank, which can only hold 3000 pounds per square inch. With nitrogen tanks, you can fit more air (and pressure) in the same-sized tank, giving you more shots per tank.