When getting into the sport of paintball you quickly start to realize there is a lot more to the sport than just going out and shooting your friends. After purchasing your paintball gun the question of air source is the next purchase that needs to occur, either Co2 or HPA. It's a bit confusing, does co2 work on all guns? will my gun work with compressed air? I see HPA, Compressed Air,3000 psi, 4500 psi and Nitro tanks. Whats the difference? We'll try to explain all of theses terms and you should be clear by the end of this post.To better understand which paintball tank would better suit your needs lets look into the characteristics of both options.
Co2 tanks have been the go to air source for years in the sport of paintball due to its ability to store a high amount of Co2 in a smaller sized, lower pressure tank. To better understand the reasons Co2 is used, it’s important to realize Carbon dioxide can be found as both a gas and a liquid, and when filled into Co2 tanks it is filled as a liquid. Co2 as a liquid is very cold and the environmental temperature can cause the pressures within the tank to change drastically. Since it is extremely cold as a liquid you will notice after quickly firing 10-20 shots your marker and barrel will start to get cold. As shots are fired from your paintball gun, some of the liquid in the tank evaporates into a gas within the tank allowing your marker to use the gas to propel the paintball. Unfortunately since Co2 tanks are most often directly attached to the marker, liquid can be leaked into the gun if pointed downward at any point throughout the game causing excessive wear on the internals of your gun. Due to these temperature changes, your paintball gun will be less accurate and consistent. However, with the use of a remote coil you will be able to keep the liquid co2 out of your gun and get rid of alot of the consistency issues related to co2. Plus your paintball gun will be a lot lighter without the heav tank hanging on your gun. 20oz tanks are relatively cheap retailing for about $20 making it a cheap air source for lower end markers.
High Pressure Air (HPA) Tanks
In more recent years HPA tanks have been a much more common source of air in the sport of paintball due to its ability to provide consistent shots all day along with being much easier on marker internals reducing maintenance time on your paintball gun . HPA tanks come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors and offer a wide range of regulators with very customizable features. Most high end paintball guns require the use of high pressure air only, as co2 will damage the delicate internals of these guns. 4500 PSI high pressure tanks are made of carbon fiber to keep the tank as light as possible. The strength of carbon fiber is what allows these tanks to hold 4500psi. The one downside to HPA tanks is they are generally more expensive 9Typically $140 to $200) since they require higher end materials so they can handle the high pressures. Aluminum HPA tanks are a bit heavier than there carbon fiber counterparts, will hold 3000 psi instead of 4500, but they are significantly cheaper ranger from $40 to $70. Although HPA may be more expensive initially you will save money and frustration in the long run because reduced maintenance and gun issues on the field. HPA tanks have a gauge so you always know how much air you have left in your tank. No more guessing like Co2.
As far as results are concerned there is no competition between the use of Co2 and HPA, the high pressure air provides a more consistent shot with a shorter recharge time without any extra wear on your gun’s internals. Co2 tanks will work just fine with your lower end markers and have been used very regularly on paintball fields for years. One advantage to Co2 is the price, its very cheap to get a tank and fills are relatively inexpensive also if you do have a lower end gun an expensive HPA tank with top end features is not exactly necessary. Ultimately it really comes down to the marker you have and the requirements of it, pretty much all guns would benefit from the use of HPA but lower end guns don’t require it. When it comes down to it the HPA tank is the only choice for those players who want to have every advantage they can and this is one that can make a huge difference.