Paintball Air Systems: Which System Is Best For You?
If you are a paintball enthusiast, you're well aware of the obvious: there are many paintball air systems out there. The question is, which one is best for you? We'd like to give you a little bit of information about various types of paintball air systems that are available today -- we hope you find this information helpful as you shop around.
Paintball Air Systems -- CO2 or Compressed Air?
Regardless of which marker (gun) you use, you basically have two choices when it comes to powering your paintball equipment -- carbon dioxide (CO2) or compressed air. If you are an entry-level paintballer using a less expensive marker, your equipment is probably powered by carbon dioxide. As you gain more experience in this sport you will discover there are some distinct disadvantages to using a marker powered by CO2 gas. One problem is inconsistent velocity -- and another problem with a CO2-powered paintball marker is that the very cold temperatures of liquid CO2 can damage your equipment over time. My recommendation would be this: in choosing a new marker, avoid models where the paintball air system utilizes CO2 gas, and opt for equipment that is powered by compressed air instead.
High Pressure Air the Best Choice for Paintball Air Systems
A better alternative to a CO2-powered paintball marker is one powered by High Pressure Air (HPA), sometimes called compressed air or "nitrogen." HPA-based paintball air systems eliminate the problems associated with a CO2 system. With an HPA system you will experience much better firing results, due to a greater consistency in the speed at which the paint balls are fired from the marker.
Paintball air systems using an HPA tank will typically be more expensive to purchase, but the increased expense will be more than offset by the fact that these types of paintball air systems are much more enjoyable to use and also give much more consistent results than other types of firing systems.
Paintball air systems which utilize an HPA tank are very common today, and in my experience the best type to purchase are those that use carbon fiber bottles as they are so much lighter than their steel and aluminum cousins.
Gas Regulation: Another Advantage of HPA Paintball Air Systems
Because paintball markers must use gas under pressure, the firing system must use some type of regulator in order to ensure that the marker operates in a completely safe manner. A real big problem with CO2-based systems is that if liquid CO2 enters the marker and expands, that can create additional pressure, which will cause the paintball to be expelled from the firing mechanism at a speed which can be quite dangerous. Because this is not an issue with an HPA-system, regulators on such paintball air systems can concentrate instead on providing you with a faster rate of fire, at a more consistent velocity.
Hi-end paintball air systems, commonly used in tournament play, may have up to four regulators -- these various regulators being used to lower the air pressure to a safe level, as well as to provide for other marker functions, such as automatic movement of the bolt mechanism. These regulators are necessary in paintball air systems because HPA paintball air systems store the compressed air at 3000 PSI and above in the holding tank. Having a number of different gas regulators in better quality paintball air systems allows the shooter to have some control over firing velocities.