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Can You Use Compressed Air in a Co2 Paintball Gun? Answered!

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Whether you are new to the world of paintball or you’ve been in it for a long time, a very common question asked is, can you fill co2 tank with compressed air? The answer isn’t simple, so I will provide you with all the necessary information related to this question so you can pass on your wisdom to fellow paintballers!

Table of Contents

Paintball Guns Using Compressed Air

Compressed air, or high-pressure air, is typically used with more advanced paintball guns that are HPA compatible. HPA tanks are available in two typical types, a carbon fiber tank, and an aluminum tank. The key difference is that a carbon fiber tank will allow you to store compressed air at around 4,500 PSI, while aluminum tanks hold air at around 3,000 PSI. Carbon fiber tanks are therefore more appealing, but you will have to spend considerably more on one than if you were buying an aluminum tank.

For information on How To Fill HPA Tank With Air Compressor please visit our guide!

Benefits of Using Compressed Air for Paintball Guns Over Co2

Why some people want to fill their Co2 paintball tanks with compressed air is because of the advantages compressed air offers. It is far more consistent with pressures than standard Co2. Compressed air is largely unaffected by temperature and external weather conditions. And so, the tank will always perform at its optimum.

Co2’s biggest issue is the expansion from liquid to gas. For this process to happen correctly, the liquid needs to be warm, around 75°F (23°C). So, if you’re playing in colder weather, the expansion may not happen correctly and the PSI in the tank will drop, directly affecting the shooting performance. You may have noticed the snow-like substance exiting the barrels of paintball guns. Well, this is liquid nitrogen, created when Co2 cools extensively.

Co2 tanks suffer from high rates of fire. As the gun is fired quicker, the colder the tank will get due to the liquid changing to gas; this also results in a PSI drop.

Compressed air tanks will also tend to provide better levels of accuracy. Co2 tanks are susceptible to providing inconsistent performance when it comes to the precision of your paintball firing. Paintball guns that use compressed air tanks also tend to provide an extended range than Co2 tanks, which is certainly desirable on the battlefield.

If you wish to shoot over considerable distances with your paintball gun, a compressed air tank is the way to go. Its superior range performance is largely due to the stability of the conditions within the tank.

Drawbacks of Using Compressed Air for Paintball Guns Over Co2

A drawback of using compressed air for paintball guns over Co2 is that it can be difficult to find a suitable refill station. Not every paintball venue will have compressed air refills while each venue will have Co2 refills. Those that do offer one, however, are likely to charge a premium for refilling with compressed air, while Co2 refills are far more affordable.

Co2 refills are available at sporting goods, welding, and fire extinguisher supply shops as well as at paintball venues or stores. You do not get this convenience with compressed air, unfortunately.

Despite the range and accuracy benefits discussed with compressed air, sometimes they have greater sized tanks than Co2 tanks and so the bulk of the large tank can limit performance. Co2 tanks are more compact and tend to yield a lot of shots compared to compressed air tanks.

Co2 tanks do have a lower start-up cost which makes them more admirable. Compressed air tanks are considerably more expensive which discourages most people from purchasing them without knowing any of the benefits or drawbacks.

Hence, why so many people tend to opt for a Co2 tank initially before learning more and wondering whether they can refill it with compressed air… which leads us to the big question!

Can You Use Compressed Air in Co2 Paintball Guns?

In theory, yes it is possible to fill a standard Co2 tank with compressed air, but there are some safety considerations to bear in mind. If Co2 tanks are handled incorrectly after being filled with compressed air they can affect the performance of your paintball gun and may lead to dangerous situations.

These issues should not be ignored, because they can affect you and those around you. First of all, the main reason people wish to use compressed air in their Co2 tanks is to improve any shooting issues and the functionality of the gun. Doing this, however, does not guarantee the same results as using compressed air in an appropriate tank.

It’s highly possible that after filling your Co2 tank with compressed air your gun’s fire rate actually decreases rather than increases, and it may even stall completely. That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, right? You’ve now actually done the complete opposite to what you intended and are left not having a lot of fun out in the paintball venue. To avoid any shooting issues, it’s advised to not put compressed air in your Co2 tank.

A more alarming consequence of cross-filling your Co2 paintball tank with compressed air is the possibility of a tank explosion. Due to the pressure of compressed air, your tank could explode. If it did, you and others around you would be in serious harm.

For this reason, paintball tanks are engineered differently for the specific gases they are supposed to carry. Hence, why you have compressed air (HPA) tanks and Co2 tanks. That in itself is a good enough reason to not fill your Co2 tank with compressed air.

If you do, however, wish to use compressed air in your Co2 tank, please visit our How to Refill Co2 Tank with Air Compressor guide for more information.

Co2 vs Compressed Air: Which is Better?

To decide which is the better between the two you must consider all the advantages and disadvantages provided further up this page. Compressed air is typically known to be the better option for higher accuracy and longer shooting ranges. Co2 is better in terms of its affordability, compactness, and lightness which make it easier to carry while paintballing.

If we were to focus on pure gun performance, it’s evident that compressed air is the clear winner. And in most cases, performance is the most important factor for those who take paintballing seriously. If you’re paintballing for fun and are on a budget, then Co2 is the winner.

Even with its performance flaws, it’ll do the job. If everyone is using Co2 then it’ll be fine. The only problem is if you’re facing an opponent who uses compressed air, as they will typically have the upper hand on you, and you may find yourself becoming very frustrated.

Here are a couple of YouTube demonstrations that dig into the comparison in more detail!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can you use a compressed air tank on a CO2 paintball gun?

Not necessarily, it’s important to be aware that not every gun works with both Co2 or compressed air. Before you purchase a gun, make sure that it can work with both Co2 and compressed air. It’s best to check your user’s manual of the paintball gun or contact the manufacturer directly. A general rule of thumb is that electronic paintball guns only work with compressed air while manual guns work with both Co2 and compressed air.

Can you use an air compressor to fill a CO2 tank?

Yes, it is possible to fill a Co2 tank with compressed air. Before doing so you should check the integrity of your tank, understand its PSI rating, use the right fill adapter, empty the tank completely before filling and ensure you use a high-pressure air compressor. For more information on the process, please visit our How to Refill Co2 Tank with Air Compressor article!

Is CO2 and compressed air the same?

No, Co2 is Carbon dioxide while compressed air is air from the atmosphere that has been compressed to increase its pressure. Atmospheric air contains 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, then 1% of argon, and other gases. A key difference between them is the pressure they’re stored at. Compressed air is much higher than atmospheric air, while carbon dioxide is typically stored at lower pressures.

If you have any questions about using compressed air in a Co2 paintball gun, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Aidan Weeks

A passionate Mechanical Engineer with endless enthusiasm for fluid power - building off the back of over 18 years of high quality contribution and discussion stimulated by Bill Wade here at About Air Compressors. With both practical and theoretical experience in pneumatics and hydraulics, I'm putting my knowledge to work - and working my grey-matter through my research, assistance and publishing work here at About Air Compressors. Feel free to reach out any time! P.S. A HUGE shout out to Doug who really offers such great value to all visitors to About Air Compressors - once again, feeling like I'm standing on the shoulders of GIANTS by getting to work alongside such a great community

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