Paintball is a fast-paced, but fairly young sport that dates back to the 1980’s. The equipment that makes this sport possible is an air compressor, which builds up force until the paintball is pushed out of the barrel of the gun.
That being said, buying an air compressor is like buying a car in that there are a lot of different types, and each build affects performance. So, what kind of paintball air compressor should you get, and what should you know before you buy one.
Below are 5 essential things you should know about paintball air compressors.
1. Different Types of Paintball Air Compressors
Air compressors generally come in two forms, a model that uses carbon dioxide, and one that uses air. Though it may not seem like it, this seemingly minor detail makes a lot of difference.
Carbon dioxide is largely thought of as the lower quality option. It offers less range and accuracy than compressed air. There is also a risk that the gun will freeze, which will destroy its range and effectiveness.
Though higher quality and largely better performing, compressed air tanks are also far more expensive and places that can refill them are rare. One solution to this is to buy a scuba tank or air compressor to fill your guns at home, but this will cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Carbon dioxide tanks, on the other hand, cost about twenty dollars for a tank and can be found in paintball stores, scuba stores, police and fire departments, etc.
2. Safety Hazards
Keep in mind that whatever tank you buy, there are safety procedures to be followed.
One serious risk with compressed air tanks is that compressed air can be explosive. One of the worst, most dangerous thing you can do is put any flammable substance near the filling area.
Air heats up when it’s being compressed, so putting a fire hazard near a compressed air tank is, please excuse the pun, playing with fire.
The other serious issue with compressed air is that people sometimes attempt to clean things with it. The amount of force behind the air can cause injury and damage.
There are compressed air cans specifically designed to clean things. They’re about the size of a spray bottle and can probably be found at most stores.
Finally, don’t leave either type of air tank in the sun. This can cause damage to them.
Unfortunately, most air tanks do have a lifespan and may need to be replaced eventually. The best way to do this is to take your tank to be hydrotested.
Hydrotesting is done by filling a tank beyond its pressurized capacity to see if it still works. If your tank can be pushed beyond its limit, then it has officially passed.
The great thing about hydrotesting is that it tends to last a while. A hydrotested tank is verified to work for at least three years, and sometimes five.
Even then, the tank isn’t necessarily broken. Reaching the limit just means that you have to test it again.
4. There Are Laws Regulating Air Compressors
Naturally, owning a paintball gun comes with a few rules. One such rule is that air tanks must be empty before they are shipped anywhere, so you may have to fill a tank yourself after you first get it.
Also, back on the topic of compressed air, in some places, cleaning with it is actually illegal. Most of these places are in Canada, and the ban is not nationwide.
5. Psi Differences
The pressure in air compressors is measured in psi. A higher psi means that there is more pressure behind the object being fired out of the gun, and therefore the shot is faster and more powerful.
Most paintball air compressors get up to 3,000 or 4,500 psi, but the actual shot coming out of the paintball gun is anywhere from 450 to 850 because a regulator reduces the psi before it is fired.
Which Should You Choose?
There are a lot of factors to consider before investing in a paintball gun, like whether you want to carbon dioxide or compressed air.
Dealing with compressed air comes with potential risks, so know how to keep yourself safe when using a paintball gun.
Compressors should be hydrotested every few years, so make sure that you keep up that schedule. Check out any laws regarding paintball and paintball air compressors in your area and be sure to follow them. Finally, familiarize yourself with what psi means and what level your air compressor should be functioning at.
If you want to know more about air compressors and their various functions, please visit our blog. If you find yourself in the market for an air compressor, feel free to browse our Max-Air compressors.