Surely, you want to get out and have fun with your paintball gun, but you can’t until you figure out how to best equip it. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding how to use different pressure sources in a paintball gun. Moreover, determining whether you can fill a CO2 paintball tank with compressed air can be difficult. But don’t worry, as I have done the research to help you. Theoretically, you could do this, but it is recommended that you refrain from cross-filling tanks. A major safety concern with cross-filling tanks is tank explosion, resulting in bodily injury. Doing this could also negatively affect paintball gun performance. Unfortunately, there is a lot of conflictinginformation out there concerning this topic. Read on to find out why it’s notrecommended to fill a CO2 paintball tank with compressed air, how toappropriately use compressed air in your gun, and more.

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How to Fill Your CO2 Tank with CO2Concerns With Filling A CO2 Tank With Compressed AirShooting IssuesTank ExplosionThe Best Way to Use Compressed Air For Your Paintball GunBackground on CO2 and Compressed AirCO2 CO2 AdvantagesFamiliarityCostConvenience Design of CO2 Tanks CO2 DisadvantageTank Chilling/ Gun ChillingCompressed AirCompressed Air AdvantagesConsistent PressureIncreased AccuracyTop RangeLong-Range CostCompressed Air DisadvantagesTanks Are Not CompactShort-term CostWhich Is Better? CO2 or Compressed Air? How Much Shooting Can You Do With Compressed Air vs. CO2Shooting on CO2Shooting on Compressed AirHappy Paintballing!

How to Fill Your CO2 Tank with CO2

For paintball enthusiasts who want to createtheir own home refill station at home, this section is for you. Here’s what you’ll need: Dual Valve Fill StationYour CO2 TankScaleStandard Crescent wrench20 or 50-pound Siphon CO2 Tank (where you will be getting your CO2 from)You can get all of these from Amazon (table below). You probably already have a scale lying around somewhere. The big refill CO2 tank can also be smaller (and cheaper) than I recommend, just keep in mind you will need to refill the gas into it more often then.
ImageTitlePrimeCheck on Amazon
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TopMaddog Paintball CO2 Fill Station, CO2 Dual Valve Bottle Refill Station for 12oz, 16oz, 20oz, CO2 TanksPrimeEligibleCheck on Amazon
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TopTEKTON 23005 12-Inch Adjustable WrenchPrimeEligibleCheck on Amazon
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TopNew 20 lb Aluminum CO2 Cylinder with Handle and New CGA320 ValvePrimeCheck on Amazon

Tip: Make sure that your tank is already coldbefore refilling it. You can refrigerate it or use the fill system to coolthe tank down. Secure your 50-pound siphon CO2 tank onto a workbench. Place the plastic ring (the one that came with your fill station) between the tank nozzle and your fill station. Verify that your hydro test date on your tank has not expired. Empty your tank by attaching it to the 50-pound siphon tank. You’ll loosen the release valve on the dual fill station and open your tank’s valve. Place your tank on the scale and zero it out. This is so you know just how much gas you’ll be putting into the tank. Chill your tank by dispensing one or two ounces of CO2 into your tank and then let it out by opening the purge valve on the fill station. This is prepping your tank so that you can get a max fill. Now you can fill your tank by opening the valve on the bulk tank. Tip: Don’t fill your tank to the max.Instead, fill it one or two ounces short of the max. Here is a video on Youtube that explains how to fill your CO2 tank step by step.
YouTube: How to fill your CO2 tank

Concerns With Filling A CO2 Tank With Compressed Air

It is never a good idea to put gas in a tank that was not designed to hold that gas, and I’ll tell you why. There are several issues that have the potential to arise when filling a CO2 tank with compressed air. These issues should not be ignored, as they affect both you and those around you. 

Shooting Issues

The main reason that people want to usecompressed air in their guns is that doing so would improve their gun’sfunctionality. However, using compressed air in the CO2 tank of a paintball gunis not guaranteed to have the same effect as using compressed air in anappropriate tank. You could fill your CO2 tank with compressed airand find out that your gun’s fire rate has slowed or even stalled completely. Thiscould completely derail your paintballing fun. To avoid shooting issues,it’s important not to put compressed air in your CO2 tank.

Tank Explosion

Perhaps the most alarming consequence ofcross-filling your paintball tank is tank explosion. Yes, your entire tankcould explode due to the pressure of the compressed air. When the explosionhappens, both you and others around you could be injured. For good reason, paintball tanks are engineered differently for the specific gases they will be filled with. This is why you have CO2 tanks, and then you have compressed air tanks.

The Best Way to Use Compressed Air For Your Paintball Gun

As I touched on earlier, it is generally advisednot to use compressed air in your CO2 tank, due to the many dangers involved.The best way to use compressed air for your paintball gun is to switch to acompressed air tank and get that filled with compressed air. Since compressed air tanks are the only tanksdesigned for compressed air, there are so many variables between the compressedair tank and the CO2. It is virtually impossible to fill a CO2 tank withcompressed air without subjecting yourself (and those surrounding you as youpaintball) to serious danger. Before putting yourself and others in danger, itis imperative to familiarize yourself with some pertinent information onpressure sources for paintballing. Next, we will examine CO2 and compressed air asthey related to paintballing. This will help you to determine with certaintywhich pressure source you want to use for your paintball gun. 

Background on CO2 and Compressed Air

There is only one way that CO2 and compressedare similar. Both CO2 and compressed air make a paintball market cycle andlaunch a paintball out of the barrel of your paintball gun. There are way moredifferences between these two gases. Let’s look at them separately. 

CO2

CO2, which stands for carbon dioxide, has beenthe standard in pressure sources for low to mid-range paintball guns for sometime. The pressure (created when liquid CO2 turns from liquid to gas) is thecatalyst that fires the paintball. There are two types of CO2 tanks: refillable CO2 tanks and disposable CO2 tanks. As you can imagine, the refillable CO2 tanks can be used multiple times, and the disposable CO2 tanks are to be used once and thrown away. Refillable tanks are made of aluminum and have a valve for refilling.The very first paintball guns, like the Nelspot007 and NSG splatmasters used CO2. Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks ofusing CO2 for your paintball gun. 

CO2 Advantages

Familiarity It’s tried and true, being that it was the first-everpressure source for paintball guns. Most players are generally familiar withCO2, how to refill it, how to use it, and they know that this pressure sourceis dependable. Using a well-known pressure source means fewer questions andmore shooting. Cost CO2 tanks are cheap, enabling players to buy several disposable tanks (or refill their refillable tank multiple times) for heavy shooting play that lasts all day. In the U.S., a CO2 tank refill costs right around $5. This is likely the top reason that CO2 has been popular for so many years. Convenience  Paintball pro shops often will refill your CO2 tank for you. And if you need a CO2 refill but you don’t have a paintball pro shop in your area, sporting goods, welding, and fire extinguisher supply shops can fill your CO2 tank (at their discretion, of course). This is a convenience that you don’t get with compressed air. Design of CO2 Tanks  When it comes to the design of CO2 tanks, a benefit is that CO2 tanks have a compact size. And for their compact size, the CO2 tanks yield a lot of shots compared to the alternative (compressed air)

CO2 Disadvantage

Tank Chilling/ Gun Chilling The main disadvantage of using CO2 is the commonphenomenon of tank and gun chilling. Why is this a problem? Well, when a player is shooting a paintball gunfilled with CO2, several things happen in the heat of the game. As liquid CO2 expands, enabling a player torelease a paintball, the CO2 cools. As the player continues to shoot outpaintballs, the CO2 cools even further, eventually affecting the gun’s firingrange. Also, the cooling frenzy that’s created when CO2 gets too cool alsoaffects the gun’s accuracy. If you’ve ever gone paintballing before, you mayhave noticed something similar to snow coming out of the barrels of thepaintball guns. This isn’t snow. It’s liquid nitrogen, created when CO2 coolsextensively. 

Compressed Air

Compressed air is also known as HPA (or high-pressureair). It’s used in many mid to high range paintball guns. There are two maintypes of compressed air tanks, and these are aluminum (which holds 3000 PSI)and carbon fiber (which holds about 4500 PSI). Compressed air has manybenefits, as well as a few drawbacks. 

Compressed Air Advantages

Consistent Pressure The main advantage of using compressed air inpaintball guns is that compressed air provides consistent pressurewithin the paintball compressed air tank. This is because compressed air is notaffected by weather or temperature, like CO2. This means that the gun willperform at its absolute best on compressed air. Increased Accuracy Due to the consistent pressure that compressedair provides, players, enjoy increased accuracy. This makes for much morecompetitive shooting. When using compressed air, players can rest assured thattheir play is not being negatively affected by their pressure source, whereaswith CO2, the accuracy could be negatively affected. Top Range Compressed air is known to give paintball guns long-range shooting capabilities. This is an extremely valuable asset to any paintball player. Unlike CO2, where the range can be affected by the cooling/freezing of the CO2 liquid, paintball guns equipped with compressed air can fire paintballs at the top range. Long-Range Cost It costs anywhere from 1-3 dollars or more per1,000 PSI to refill your compressed air tank at a paintball pro shop. For some,that may be a little steep, especially if you paintball often. However, you getmore overall shots out of compressed air than you get with CO2. 

Compressed Air Disadvantages

While compressed air is the best pressure sourcefor your paintball gun, it can be difficult to find someone who will refillyour compressed air tank. Unless you have a paintball pro shop in yourvicinity, you’ll have a hard time finding a place with the equipment andpersonnel available to get your tank refilled. Tanks Are Not Compact Compressed air tanks are not very compact.This is not an issue with CO2 tanks, which are often quite compact. The mainissue that comes with compressed air tank design is the overall bulkiness ofthe gun with the compressed air tank attached. This is something that someplayers get used to, but many find this to be an issue. Short-term Cost Compressed air tanks are considerably moreexpensive than CO2 tanks. This discourages some from purchasing them at alland limits others who would like to refill and play more often. 

Which Is Better? CO2 or Compressed Air?

When trying to find the answer to the question:“Which is better? CO2 or Compressed air?”, one must consider all of theadvantages, disadvantages, and their personal preferences. Compressed air is known to be an option that allows for higher accuracy and longer range shooting. CO2 is most used for its affordability and lightness (it’s easier to carry around while paintballing). So, if we are focusing on gun performance, compressedair (in a compressed air tank, of course) would be the best option forplayers who are concerned with having max accuracy and long-range shots. Theseare very important to have when playing competitively. Conversely, for those who have money limitationsand are just paintballing for fun. CO2, even with its flaws which causeslower to stalled firing, will likely be enough to do the job. Also, if youare using CO2 and your opponents are also using CO2, then everyone will be on alevel playing field. On the other hand, if you are regularly unevenly matched,meaning that you play with people who are using compressed air, you may findyourself frustrated with how your gun operates in comparison. 

How Much Shooting Can You Do With Compressed Air vs. CO2

Another popular question that many ask when theyare new to paintballing concerns the volume of shooting that can be done withboth CO2 and compressed air. 

Shooting on CO2

The average CO2 tank, 20 ounces, is sold for about $22.00 and can shoot over 1,000 paintballs. This is the appeal that CO2 has on players. Once they find out that they can shoot over 1000 paintballs, they are ecstatic. Oftentimes, people grab a few of these tanks and enjoy the all-day play.

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Shooting on Compressed Air

On the topic of compressed air, the averagecompressed air tank costs anywhere from $40 to $250. It would take a veryexpensive 68 CI 4500 PSI compressed air tank to be able to shoot 1000paintballs. This tank costs anywhere from $150 to $200. Other tanks would notbe able to meet the output of 20-ounce CO2 tanks. When it comes to the number of shots that youcan shoot on compressed air and CO2, players have to decide whether they wantlots and lots of okay shots (with CO2) or whether they want fewer shots thatare high-quality (with compressed air).Note that not every gun works with either CO2or compressed air. So, before you purchase a gun, make sure that it canwork with both CO2 and compressed air. The general rule is that electronicpaintball guns generally only work with compressed air, and manual guns usuallywork with both CO2 and compressed air. 

Happy Paintballing!

Sometimes there are no cutting corners to get the best of both worlds, and this is the case with paintballing. So keep yourself and others safe by buying the tank that you prefer and then filling it with the gas that it was created to hold.While it may be an investment, it may be worthit to purchase a compressed air tank and fill it with compressed air. So, make your choice. Wouldyou prefer CO2 or compressed air for your paintball tank? You’ve got pertinentinformation on both pressure sources that will help you make your choice.