The majority of the paintball guns are compatible with both CO2 and HPA which becomes tricky for an absolute beginner to decide which propellant to choose. Well, both serve the same purpose of launching paintballs. However, there are few differences between CO2 and compressed air tanks, and that’s the reason they are the players’ choices for propellant.
Veteran players prefer playing using HPA tank as they fire with better accuracy and consistency. Whereas, CO2 tank is used by beginner players because it is cheap and easy to refill. To learn more about the HPA vs CO2 difference, stick to the end. I will help you to decide which propellant to use in your next game.
HPA Tank vs CO2 Tank
|Factors||Compressed Air Tank||CO2 Tank|
|Constituents||Oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide||Only CO2|
|State in tank||Gas||Liquid|
|Size||Bulky in size||Small & Compact|
|Performance||Consistent and accurate||Becomes inconsistent in cold weather|
|Durability of Marker||Smooth on markers||Damages the internal parts of electro-pneumatic marker|
|Refill||Can be refilled at the pro shop only and on the paintball field||Can be refilled at the pro shop, welding shop, or fire brigade station|
|Issues||No issue of white clouds||Produces dry ice|
|Regulator Gauges||They do have to regulate the pressure of HPA tank according to the marker’s working pressure||No. they don’t have it.|
|Best for||Electro pneumatic markers||Pump style and lower-end mechanical markers|
Let’s recall the lower grade Chemistry lecture, carbon dioxide is the scientific name of CO2. It is a gas that is available in our atmosphere in a gaseous state. But it changes its state to liquid when it is compressed to be stored in a paintball tank. So the CO2 in the tank is in a liquid state. When liquid CO2 converts into gas, it expands, which creates some pressure, and it’s because of this pressure that the paintball gun fires. The pressure that it generates is 850 psi, but due to certain factors, this pressure may fluctuate, which affects the performance of your marker.
The first paintball gun that is Nelspot 007 was operated using a CO2 tank. In the initial days of paintball, people prefer to use CO2 tank because it is denser than other air. That’s why it uses 850psi rated tank.
Working of CO2
The co2 tank that you have inserted in your gun has liquid co2 which is compressed by exerting the pressure of 850psi that converts it into gas, as the co2 expands, and it escapes out of the chamber. So when the player pulls the trigger of the marker, he actually activates the valve which in turn activates the CO2 tank. This will expel the gas to shoot the paintball from the gun. In short, every time you pull the trigger you are changing CO2 from liquid to gas.
CO2 needs certain conditions in order to convert from a liquid state into gas. The first and foremost thing is the temperature of CO2 in the tank. It should be 75F. Any lower than this will result in a decrease in pressure. But let me share with you an interesting fact about CO2. When it expands, it cools down. So, for every 1F drop in pressure, the temperature of the tank decreased by 11 PSI.
Types of CO2 Tanks
CO2 is available in two types of tanks for paintballers, which are:
- Non-refillable: also known as disposable cartridges, that are available in 12-gram cartridges. Usually, disposable cartridges are used in paintball pistols and pump markers.
- Refillable: These CO2 tanks are made of aluminum. They are available in various sizes, ranging from 9 oz to 24 oz. But the 20-ounce size is the most common size of CO2 tanks. These tanks can be easily refilled as per their weight.
CO2 is Best for
CO2 is compatible with many paintball markers, but it is preferable to use mechanical markers that do not have a complicated internal mechanism. CO2 is not preferable for use with an electro-pneumatic marker as it destroys the solenoid. Actually, the rapid expansion and frequent increase or decrease in PSI simply destroy your electro-pneumatic marker. CO2 is best for beginner players who use lower-end markers.
Advantages of CO2
Here are the few pros of CO2 that you won’t find in HPA tank:
Drawbacks of CO2
With some benefits, a few drawbacks make people to use HPA over CO2. Here they are;
HPA (High Pressure Air)
Due to the limitations of Cos cartridges, players started looking for other options for propellant. Then somewhere in 1990 HPA was introduced as a gas for propelling paintball into the barrel.
High-pressure air or HPA is the compressed air that is around us. Initially, nitrogen was compressed and forced inside the container to be used as a propellant but now it is comprised of all the gases that are there in our atmosphere like nitrogen, oxygen, and CO2. The gases are compressed to force into the container by applying high pressure. That’s whys it is termed high pressure.
HPA is pressurized into the tank with a pressure rating of 4000-4500psi. Usually, with the help of the adjustable tank regulators, this pressure is regulated to the marker’s working pressure, which would be 850 psi or less than that.
The best thing about HPA tank is, that no matter how much you compress or apply pressure on it, it remains in a gaseous state. Therefore, it ultimately resolves all drawbacks related to the liquid state of CO2 or phase change.
Working of HPA
The function of HPA is pretty similar to CO2; just skip the step of phase conversion. The rest is the same as in CO2. When you pull the trigger, gas releases with the marker’s specific pressure and expels the paintball out of the barrel.
Types of HPA Tanks
You will find two types of HPA tanks;
- Aluminum Tanks: They are small in size as they are made of aluminum. But mind you, they are pretty heavier than fiber wrapped tanks. Aluminum HPA tanks are available up to 3000 psi not more than that. They are affordable.
- Fiber-wrapped Tank: These tanks are wrapped with a fiberglass coating. The pressure that the gas can withstand in the fiber wrapped tanks are 3000 psi or 4500psi. They are pretty expensive, but they are light in weight.
As far as the HPA tank sizes are concerned, aluminum tanks and fiber wrapped tanks are available in many sizes with only two pressure ratings, which are 3000psi and 4500psi.
HPA is Best For
Compressed air (HPA) is not affected by temperature changes, like co2. Therefore it is an ideal choice of propellant in cold weather. Also, it is best to be used with an electro-pneumatic marker because of its fast shooting rate. It is best for speedball players who use electro-pneumatic markers.
Advantages of HPA Tank
Following are the advantages of compressed air tanks that make it superior to CO2.
Drawbacks of Compressed Air Tanks
With the biggest advantage of consistent firing at the same pressure, the drawbacks of compressed air become negligible. Here they are;
CO2 vs Compressed Air (Which one is BEST)
Till here, differences between co2 and compressed air are pretty much clear.
If you have just entered the world of paintball and are unsure about your stay in paintball the using playing with CO2 is a great idea. Naive players don’t even get the difference between CO2 and HPA. Once you get pro, you can switch to other types of propellant. But buying an expensive and long-lasting HPA tank for playing on holidays is just a foolish decision.
HPA is best. and is the best investment if you are an intense paintballer. Not only for you, but it’s good for your gun also. It is gentle on your gun and its interior. And the biggest of all is, that the firing rate and cold weather don’t impact the accuracy and consistency of the paintball gun.
For paintball, compressed air and CO2 are used as propellants. But nowadays, people prefer to play with HPA tanks because of the accuracy they offer. That’s why CO2 has become outdated, and now the majority of the paintball fields allow only HPA gas tanks. So if you are a newbie, shift yourself to HPA Tank as soon as possible. It has lots of benefits.