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Paintball Trends: Carbon Dioxide is History – Switch to Compressed Air

Since 1981, paintball players have been shooting each other with marble-sized pellets of paint using a special gun called a marker. Players launch their paint pellets by pressing a trigger that releases compressed air or gas to propel the paintball out of the marker towards the target. New paintball players unfamiliar with their equipment have always had questions about whether compressed air offers an advantage over carbon dioxide (CO2). Is compressed air really better than carbon dioxide? To put it simply, YES!

Inside your paintball tank, carbon dioxide is primarily in liquid form. As the carbon dioxide expands, the liquid turns into gas. In its expanded gas state, carbon dioxide can serve as a stable pressure that will enable your gun to propel paintballs. Liquid carbon dioxide, however, can have a devastating effect on your gun’s performance. The presence of liquid carbon dioxide inside a paintball marker can freeze the gun’s inner seals and cause cracks and leaking. Carbon dioxide is unreliable because it’s sensitive to outside temperatures and the velocity with which you shoot. The faster you shoot, the colder your tank will get, decreasing the likelihood of carbon dioxide converting from liquid to gas, and thus increasing the chance of liquid CO2 entering your marker.

Compressed air, on the other hand, is a much more stable propellant source for a paintball marker. While temperature changes can alter the pressure inside a carbon dioxide tank and drastically impact the performance of a marker, external temperatures do not affect compressed air tanks. The performance of compressed air tanks and their ability to produce a consistent stable pressure is consistent in any climate. It’s also cleaner than carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide can contain dust and dirt that will clog air paths and valves in your marker. Compressed air is typically very clean. Most compressors used to fill compressed air tanks are “S.C.U.B.A.” compressors with air filters that produce grade E breathing air. If it’s safe enough to breathe, it’s safe enough for your paintball gun!

In addition to its stability, compressed air is cheaper than carbon dioxide, and the price continues to fall. Many paintball facilities are moving exclusively to compressed air rental equipment, and carbon dioxide paintball products will eventually be obsolete. Given the performance differences between carbon dioxide and compressed air markersFind Article, the industry is clearly heading in the direction of compressed air. You can no longer afford to use carbon dioxide equipment—switch to compressed air now!


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Anthony Sakakeeny founded Sak World Paintball in 1998. Sak World provides state of the art paintball products online, featuring guns, barrels, nitrogen tanks and apparel. Visit Sak World Paintball today to purchase new and used paintball equipment and gear at affordable prices.

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