Compressed air is more consistant than CO2 as an air source for paintballs.
CO2 and compressed air tanks are two popular forms of air tanks that are used to power paintball markers. While both of these sources are suitable for most paintball markers, compressed air tanks are considerably better. Compressed air tanks are more efficient and are much more consistent. A paintball marker utilizing compressed air can shoot faster and more reliably. These benefits are due to the contents of the air tank and the design of the air tank as well.
Type of Gas
CO2 tanks and compressed air tanks are designed to hold two different types of gasses. A CO2 tank holds carbon dioxide while a compressed air tank holds normal air that has been compressed to a very high pressure. Compressed air is a preferable air source for a paintball marker because it is much more consistent than CO2. The pressure inside of a CO2 tank can change with the temperature.
Size and Units of Measurement
While the size of CO2 and compressed air tanks can differ, CO2 tanks are generally smaller than compressed air tanks. The 20-ounce CO2 tank is the largest CO2 tank but it is quite a bit smaller than the largest compressed air tank, which is 90 cubic inches. CO2 tanks are measured by weight while compressed air tanks are measured by cubic inches.
Both CO2 and compressed air tanks have a holding tank that can withstand a high pressure and a pin valve. The pin valve is the part that screws into the paintball marker. Compressed air tanks also contain a regulator with a pressure gauge. This is so that the user can determine how much air is left in the tank and so that a consistent amount of air is being let into the paintball marker with each shot.
Compressed air tanks are much more expensive than CO2 tanks. Compressed air tanks require a regulator and pressure gauge while CO2 tanks do not. Also, compressed air tanks are designed to hold a much higher pressure than CO2 tanks. Compressed air tanks are available in either 3000 or 4500 pounds per square inch, while CO2 tanks usually range around 1000 pounds per square inch.