If you’ve ever been involved in any sport requiring special equipment, you know the drill. You must make sure that your equipment is in top condition before the game or the competition begins. It’s a golden rule. Although paintball is considered entertainment by many folks, the rule applies. You must prepare your paintball gun and fill paintball tank.
Of course, if you play paintball once a year with friends, you don’t need to know how to fill paintball air tanks. But in case you are passionate about the sport and even invested in your own paintball gun, it makes sense to get to know the ropes. Starting from refilling the paintball tanks.
In our article, we’ll walk you through the process, and you’ll be able to do it yourself, but before going on that journey, we have a few critical issues to touch upon.
Before you start the refill
Understand the variety of paintball guns
Maybe you’re a tough paintball player with decades of experience, and you’d laugh at us. But we’d assume that if you are reading this article, you are probably a new owner of a paintball gun and an enthusiastic freshman in the world of paintball.
And it’s always a challenge to navigate an area that is new to you.
Paintball guns are categorized based on their tanks.
The first category is the guns with paintbal tanks adapted for compressed carbon dioxide (CO2). The second category — guns with tanks adapted for HPA (high pressure compressed air), and the last category includes guns with pure nitrogen tanks.
The paintball tanks that are traditionally used by inexperienced players are Co2 tanks. The reason for that is mostly that they are less expensive to buy and to maintain. Such a paintball tank, however, has a serious inconvenience.
The outside temperature can tamper with its operation. For example, when it’s freezing, the pressure inside the paintball tank will decrease significantly. Whereas in hot conditions, it will increase.
Due to that, its shooting capacity in terms of speed will also be lower than that of the HPA tanks.
More experienced players will prefer HPA tanks because they are not influenced by the weather and are more potent. The oxygen pressure obtained in an HPA tank is higher.
CO2 inside a paintball tank is actually liquified, only transforming from its liquid form into a gas when released with a shot. Due to its higher density, oxygen in an HPA tank doesn’t change its form.
The fact that in order to shoot, the gun with a CO2 tank should transform a liquid form into a gas also slows it down.
HPA paintball tanks while being costly, are also less environmentally friendly.
Pure nitrogen tanks are not very common among paintball players, so we are not going to talk about them today.
Understand your tank PSI
PSI stands for pounds per square inch and indicates the amount of pressure that a certain reservoir can take.
On average, paintball tanks have PSI in the range from 3000 to 5000 where a CO2 tank’s PSI will be closer to the lower limit, whereas PSI of an HPA tank will be nearing the upper limit.
This indicator is critical because the matching PSIs are required in the paintball tank and the air compressor. Whether it’s a CO2 tank or an HPA tank, without matching PSI, you won’t be able to fill compressed air tanks successfully.
Both paintball tanks require a high pressure air compressor.
An easy way out
If you don’t feel like learning how to fill paintball tanks, it’s absolutely fine. Not everyone is into DIY. Some folks only enjoy the game and leave the rest to the professionals.
The easiest way for an HPA tank or a CO2 tank to be refilled is to do that at a special shop selling paintball equipment and guns, a general sports equipment store, or a scuba diving store. Even oxygen supply stores and fire extinguisher shops will provide such a service for about $4-$6, sometimes a little more depending on the tank size.
If you are committed to the game and plan on spending a lot of time playing, we’d recommend investing in your own special air compressor intended for paintball tanks.
Step-by-step manual to fill paintball tank
Now we are ready to walk you through the whole filling process.
Every paintball field will have a special air compressor to fill paintball guns. In most places, they won’t charge you additionally for that service.
And if you are going to play a lot, you’d better learn how to do it yourself.
#1. Release the remaining air
We recommend this step because this way you’ll be able to know the exact amount of air in the HPA or CO2 tank. You can do it with the help of a bleed valve located on the hose fitting. By loosening the valve, you’ll let the remaining air out, thus leaving the air tank completely empty and ready for the new portion of compressed air.
#2. Find the fill nipple
The fill nipple will be the connection point between the paintball tank and the air compressor. You’ll need to uncover the needle, which is hidden under a small o-ring (it secures that there are no leaks). After linking together the paintball tank and the air compressor, check its durability.
You are ready to go.
#3. Start replenishing the air. Don’t rush
Be gentle and gradually release the compressed air into the paintball tank. Keep in mind that an air compressor may be equipped with a lever or a button, and you shouldn’t push hard either of them.
There is a gauge indicating the PSI, so your objective is to reach your intended PSI level. Then you’ll be done.
Being cautious and gentle is important to prevent a rookie mistake, a so-called ‘hot fill’.
The hot fill happens when a person doesn’t fill the paintball tank slowly when they rush and try to replenish the compressed air in a hurry. As a result, the compressed air will heat up and expand, falsely indicating a complete refill.
And you’ll have much less compressed air than expected.
The hot fill can also cause some mechanical harm to the paintball tank.
We shouldn’t forget that we are dealing with extremely high levels of air pressure. So be cautious and avoid the hot fill. It will never happen if you slowly release air.
#4. Keep an eye on 2 meters
While replenishing the air in the paintball tank,
The air compressor meter and the paintball tank meter will need your attention during the filling process. While filling the tank slowly and cautiously, insure their coordination.
If they are in sync, then everything is going on smoothly.
#5. Alleviate the pressure
It’s easy to forget the last but not least step.
After our paintball tank is full of high pressure compressed air, we need to take one more step.
Loosening the release valve and letting the rest of the air leave the air compressor is absolutely essential if we want a well-functioning air compressor.
Compressed air left there can be harmful, especially for a fill nipple.
#6. Disengage the hose
When you’re done, disconnect the hose from the fill nipple and put it away.
Scuba tank option
Let us show you one more solution for filling a paintball tank.
This option will be really viable if you live close to the ocean, and there are diving clubs in your area. If so, you’ll have plenty of chances to refill your paintball tank with the help of a scuba tank.
A scuba tank needs to be linked to your air tank via the fill station.
Then, you just open the primary valve, and the air tank starts to fill until the indicator shows you that the air tank is full.
And it’s done.
Better safe than sorry
Being cautious and following safety rules is very important when you deal with such equipment as air compressors. They are not complex so bear with us.
- Use the compressor in the area with no children around. Even better, do it in a secluded area in order not to expose other people to potential accidents
- The compressor must be secured in a stable position without any chance of falling down, as such a fall can be detrimental to the compressor and dangerous for the people in the area
- Always make sure that there are no leaks in the paintball tank. If there are leaks in the tank and you haven’t noticed them, the tank can easily explode and injure someone
- We suggest wearing eye and ear protection gear. Then, in case of an unfortunate event, you won’t be injured
- When positioning the air compressor and the tank in a certain place, make sure that there are no combustible materials in the vicinity. You are dealing with explosive equipment here
- If you don’t feel confident about refilling the tank yourself, and there are no people who can guide you the first time, don’t do it. Maybe try it first with an experienced person.
An important number
In this section, we are going to tell you about hydrostatic testing.
This procedure is mandatory in the US and secures the top condition of the paintball tank which is proven by a special number on the side of both HPA tanks and CO2 tanks.
The testing date will be also engraved there.
Hydrostatic testing explained
The testing is important because the inappropriate condition of air tanks can be dangerous for their owners. So they are tested in terms of their solidness, durability, and overall quality.
During the test, the safety valve is taken out, and all the air or CO2 is removed from the tank, which is then filled with water instead.
This is how the tank pressure endurance is checked.
The tank is exposed to pressure 1.5 higher than its operating norm. If the tank is in poor shape, it will not pass the test and start leaking.
Why it’s important
As we’ve mentioned above, hydrostatic testing is a must (you don’t want to break the law).
If your tank is new and has passed the test which is proven by a special number, you don’t need to worry.
With a battered aged tank, if you can’t see the number on the side, we recommend doing the test, to be on the safe side.
If you are an owner of a paintball gun, you’ll need to fill your HPA or CO2 tank with air. For that, you’ll require an air compressor.
For an easier solution, go to paintball shops or other places where they have an air compressor and provide that service.
Just pay a modest amount, and they’ll fill paintball tanks easily. But don’t go to the local gas station because air compressors there are not suitable for your needs.
They have different PSI. A paintball tank PSI can vary from 3000 to 5000 whereas the PSI of the gas station air compressor will not exceed 300.
You can also do it yourself at your paintball field, where they always have an air compressor. For both HPA tanks and CO2 tanks. In our article, we guided you through this simple process.
Hopefully, you’ll find our guide useful and will enjoy an exciting paintball experience without worrying when running out of air that you didn’t know how to deal with.
Frequently asked questions
Can you fill a paintball tank with a regular air compressor?
If by regular air compressor you mean a standard home air compressor, then no. The reason is different PSI.
PSI (pound per square inch) is a special number that shows the operating pressure of the tank. For paintball tanks, it varies from 3000 to 5000 (lower for CO2 tanks and higher for HPA tanks).
Whereas a regular home compressor’s PSI is around 200-300. For a successful tank refill, their PSI should be comparable.
Can you fill paintball tanks at home?
Yes, you can do that if you have a special equipment for that. It’s an air compressor designed specifically for paintball tanks. This compressor has an appropriate PSI. If you don’t have such a compressor, a regular compressor that we use in the house won’t be suitable.
The reason is different PSI. The paintball air tank needs a compressor with PSI of at least 3000, and the home compressor’s capacity is significantly lower — 200-300.
Where can I fill my paintball CO2 tank?
Finding a place to fill a paintball tank is not hard. Go to a paintball gun shop or a paintball gun store. They usually provide this kind of service. You can normally fill your tank at the paintball field too.
Besides, there are lots of other places: oxygen supply stores, fire extinguisher stores, and shops selling scuba diving equipment. All these places will have a high pressure air compressor, and this is exactly what you’re looking for.
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