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Paintball Gun CO2 Tank Basics

Updated on October 18, 2014

Learn how to properly care for your paintball marker's air tank

Learning about the properties of CO2 and how to care for your tank is not only a safety issue, but will also help you get more out of some of your most essential paintball gear. CO2 can behave as a liquid or a gas; knowing what to expect and how it behaves will help you deal with problems before they arise. Knowing more about CO2 tanks will also help you make the best decision when purchasing a new tank.

CO2 Tank Basics

Everything you need to know about your paintball gun's CO2 tank....

Pin Valve type CO2 tanks are mainly used to power paintball markers. Not only are these types of tanks fairly cheap, but they are relatively easy to get refilled and come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit your needs. This is why they are more popular than high pressure air tanks, though hpa tanks are often used by experienced players to better their game. Knowing about the CO2 tank for your paintball marker is very important. It will play a large role in your success on the paintball field as well as your safety.

CO2 tanks come is a variety of sizes and shapes. Before buying, decide how many shots you want to be able to get out of the tank you want and how big you want your tank to be. Obviously, you will get more shot from the larger tanks, however you may want to compromise by not having to lug around such a big tank. There are a lot of factors that influence how much use you will get out of each tank, but the basic estimate is as follows:

4 oz. - 150-200 shots

9 oz. - 450-500 shots

12 oz. - 500-600 shots

20 oz. - 600-650 shots

CO2 Tank Troubleshooting

Here are some solutions to common problems...

When CO2 is used to power your marker, sometimes it will leak liquid CO2 into the gun. It's important to recognize the signs of liquid CO2 in your paintball gun, as it can cause damage. It is the gas form that is used to fire your paintball marker, but since it also exists as a liquid, it's very easy for the liquid form of CO2 to get into your gun and cause problems. It's not difficult to tell whether you are experiencing this problem; you can tell by the white substance you see coming from the barrel of your gun when you shoot.

Fortunately, the correction for this problem isn't difficult. All that is required is to hold your marker pointing upward and fire about ten shots into the air, or until there is no more discharge with the paintball. This settles the liquid back into the bottom of the CO2 tank. Aside from making your marker shoot unpredictably, liquid CO2 in your gun can also damage o-rings requiring much more maintenance. Get in the habit of carrying your paintball marker pointing upward to avoid this common problem.

There are two other options that help keep the liquid CO2 out of your marker. The first option is to install an "anti-siphon" piece in your tank that only allows air to pass thru. The second option is to upgrade your paintball marker with an expansion chamber. If you have an expansion chamber, any liquid that leaks through will be held in the chamber rather than making it all the way into your gun. The job of the expansion chamber is to warm up/equalize the temperature of CO2; this will allow more consistent firing. If any liquid CO2 enters the expansion chamber, it will convert back to gas as the temperature warms back up.

Refilling Your CO2 Tanks

Before refilling a tank, it must be completely empty. You cannot top off a CO2 tank that already has some CO2 in it. Before refilling, you should also do a brief exam of the tank. If there are any dents or deep scratches in the bottle you would be better off buying a new tank than risking an accident. Also be very careful about the threads on the tank; if it begins to unscrew from the valve you should stop immediately as this is very dangerous. If a full tank comes apart from the brass fitting, it could become a missile and could result in serious injury or even death. Fortunately this is extremely rare. Store your CO2 tanks in a cool place away from any heat sources that may cause the tank to expand.

In most cases you are best off purchasing a new paintball gun air tank versus taking a risk of malfunction and injury or paying high dollar to hydrotest the tank. Maintain your CO2 tanks so you can get the most use out of them. Oil the o-ring regularly and keep a tank cover and a cap on its threads when not in use to keep them in good condition. Use the money you save by taking care of your CO2 tanks to put towards purchasing upgrades for your marker and improving your game! Visit for a huge selection of paintball gun CO2 and high pressure air tanks. You will find great prices on top quality, trusted name brand air tanks of all kinds. There is also a great selection of air tank accessories to choose from.

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