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Home > What is a Paintball Compressed Air / Nitrogen Tank?

What is a Paintball Compressed Air / Nitrogen Tank?

Background Info:  Nitrogen to Compressed Air Tanks:

Nitrogen paintball tanks were first introduced into paintball in the mid 1990's as a CO2 replacement. Nitrogen is very stable unlike CO2. Nitrogen is not affected by outside temperatures and it does not freeze during high rates of fire.  As you currently know the more you shoot a paintball gun powered by a CO2 tank, the tank gets colder. As the tank gets colder, its harder for the liquid CO2 inside the tank to "boil" off into a gas form which your paintball gun needs to operate.  If the CO2 tank gets very cold, the pressure inside the CO2 will drop (under 800PSI) and your paintball gun will not have enough pressure to shoot or cycle.  For paintball purposes this makes CO2 a very volatile gas.  When CO2 is compressed its in a liquid state, if its cold it stays liquid which can cause problems.   If you get liquid CO2 inside your paintball gun, it will basically cause your gun to freak out due to different pressures liquid CO2 creates while inside your gun.  For example, liquid CO2 can enter at say 600psi (or colder), and as it moves threw the gun, ... Read More

(Description Cont.) ... it warms, expands and increases pressure to 800PSI or higher.  It can cause HUGE velocity spikes, it blow seals inside the gun, and sometimes it can cause the gun to go "full auto" even though your gun is only semi-auto.   Liquid CO2 can (and will in modern high R.O.F. guns) freeze and crack internal seals and orings. So obviously, for people pushing the limits with their Automags (top of the line gun in 1995),  they needed a propellant  that can keep up with the high rates of fire, and not break their guns.   Enter Nitrogen...

 Nitrogen (N2) was the perfect answer because it had none of the negative effects of CO2.  It could be used in the middle of winter because nitrogen stays in a stable gas form (unless its -320įF outside) and does not expand causing velocity spikes like using CO2 in the summer time.  It could also be acquired by paintball fields from the same industrial gas supplier they who provides them with CO2.  So it gained popularity.  The way nitrogen works is since N2 is a gas (not a liquid), its crammed into a tank at a high pressure (3,000 to 5,000psi depending on your tanks pressure rating).   Each tank has a regulator (restrictor valve) which regulates the gas down to 800PSI output (what a paintball gun can use, the same pressure as CO2).  So now paintball has a CO2 replacement with no extra parts needed to convert to N2.

 As nitrogen  gained popularity,  it allowed paintball gun manufacturers to make fast, and faster shooting paintball guns.   This obviously accelerated a local paintball fields demand for Nitrogen.  Now this is when we make the switch in terms, from nitrogen to paintball compressed air tank systems.

Compressed air and nitrogen are basically the same gas, and act the same under pressure so you can use the same tank and fill it with N2 or Compressed air.  This information was commonly available in the SCUBA industry where SCUBA shops have been filling their own SCUBA tanks with compressed air for years.  So paintball fields took a que from SCUBA stores.   With demand for Nitrogen (air) being so high, a small paintball field in a rapidly growing sport, could afford to go out and purchase a expensive High Pressure Air Compressor, so they could offer cheap air  fills on site to paintball players with these (nitrogen tanks).  The benefits to using compressed air instead of N2 were 1) Stores/Fields could produce compressed air on site, and not run the risk of running out.  2) Stores/fields could offer more inexpensive compressed air fills to their customers, while at the same time improving their profit margins. So using compressed air was a win, win for everyone. 

Nitrogen in paintball is dead! Now days, all fields and stores offer compressed air fills only.  What's not dead is the terminology.  People still call air tanks, nitrogen tanks which can cause confusion.   Since nitrogen in paintball is no longer use, you should call the paintball tanks which carry compressed air, compressed air paintball tanks.  


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