Compressed Air Tanks: A Beginner's Guide

Compressed Air Tanks: A Beginner's Guide

Compressed air tanks come in many shapes, sizes, and capacities which can influence the way you play paintball. Before you purchase a paintball gun, you’ll want to research and decide which type of air system you’ll use to power the gun. In addition to learning the two main air systems that paintball guns use, you’ll also want to consider cost, both short-term and in the long run, as well as durability and maintenance. 

An Overview of Paintball Air Systems

Paintball air systems are either fueled by CO2 or compressed air. However, more recently most of the paintball markers on the market are shifting to be HPA (high-pressure air) driven.  

Compressed Air VS CO2

For new players, using CO2 can be one of the easiest ways to get out on the field and start playing. Beginner paintball markers such as the Tippmann A-5 traditionally have used CO2 as the propellant. Additionally, paintball pistols almost all use CO2 as the propellant and come in 12 gram CO2 cartridges. You simply load the CO2 cartridge in, and once it’s pierced, your paintball pistol is ready to go! There are many sizes of CO2 cartridges available, from small 12-gram cartridges used in many paintball pistols to the standard 24-ounce refillable tank.

Whereas CO2 paintball guns are cheaper to run, a paintball compressed air tank is often the preferred way to go for seasoned paintball players. The paintball compressed air tank stores compressed air to meter out via the regulator so that each shot can be consistent and less affected by temperature differences.

Tank Size

Paintball compressed air tanks are typically either rated for 3,000 PSI or 4,500 PSI. These ratings describe the pressure capacity, meaning you can have a certain amount of air pressure for that rating. It does not describe how much air flows out of the regulator once the valve is activated. 

Choosing a paintball gun that runs 3,000 PSI of compressed air should get you quite a few shots in terms of overall efficiency. However, the higher pressure of 4,500 PSI is really where efficiency spikes. At the same time, you should consider the compressed air tank size since weight and maneuverability are important considerations for playing paintball. You will get more mileage out of a larger tank, but it can also be more difficult to move around during an intense game of speedball.

Regulators & Adaptors

Many paintball compressed air adapters are hidden within the grip for a better overall appearance. This can also help protect them during gameplay as well as in storage. The adapter itself allows for air to flow between the regulator and the air tank during filling, especially when those fill points are different. Regulators, on the other hand, act as a gauge to indicate how much pressure (PSI) sits within the paintball compressed air tank. As you use your paintball gun, the pressure will drop and so will the regulator needle. 


Most paintball compressed air tanks are made from durable aluminum that is wrapped in carbon fiber, which helps the metal to stay firm and gives it an aesthetic flare.

Paintball Air Tank Maintenance

Because paintball compressed air tanks hold compressed air, proper maintenance is an issue of safety. Failure to safely maintain your compressed air bottle can cause destructive failure at any given moment.  Most paintball compressed air tanks are filled with an air source adapter (ASA) fitting. External threads can be found on one end, while internal threads on the other are accompanied by an airproof rubber o-ring. These fittings allow the tank to be safely and quickly filled and emptied for maintenance purposes. 


Refilling a tank can be done way before it reaches “0” on the regulator's face. In fact, topping off your paintball compressed air tank is often easier to do than draining it to empty and then refilling it.

To refill your paintball compressed air tank, simply connect the air source (such as a fill station) securely to your gun’s fill nipple. Activate the fill lever to allow flow between the fill source and your compressed air tank. Once the pressure has equalized, the actuator level should be shut off. The paintball compressed air tank can be disconnected, most often with a loud hiss.   

For a full tutorial of how to fill your paintball tank, take a look at our helpful YouTube video below:


Emptying your compressed air tank can, in some cases, be more dangerous than filling it. You won’t be able to unscrew the regulator from the bottle of compressed air (and you shouldn’t try). 

Instead, you can simply actuate the trigger until all the compressed air has left the tank. If you no longer have it connected to a paintball gun, you can take the compressed air tank and carefully depress the fill nozzle. This will allow a small amount of air to escape, but it requires constant pressure to release. Don’t press too hard, or you could release way more air than you meant to. It could also potentially cause harm depending on how quickly you release the air. 

For answers to the top 5 questions about paintball tanks, take a look at our YouTube video below:


Best 3 Paintball Air Tanks for Beginners

Our top three paintball compressed air tanks for beginners include the HK Army Aluminum Tank, the Ninja Lite Air Tank, and finally, the Empire Mega Lite Air Tank. 

To see a review of our favorite paintball tanks, take a look at our YouTube video review below:


1. HK Army Aluminum 48/3000


For a small investment, you can use compressed air in your paintball gun, which is why we’ve chosen the HK Army Aluminum 48/3000 Air Tank. This air tank can be filled to 3,000 PSI, making it an entry-level option for those of you still new to paintball and/or compressed air. 

This tank features a black air tank rated to an output of 800 PSI. This is plenty of power for most of your beginner paintball guns, especially when you consider you’re likely to get at least 10 shots per cubic inch from this tank. The tank also comes with a fill level gauge and fill nipple. 

2. Ninja Lite Air Tanks

The Ninja brand is well known in the compressed air world, especially when it comes to customization. You can purchase any number of Ninja Lite air tanks in various colors, from a deep red in carbon fiber to a metallic blue aluminum finish. 

Ninja paintball compressed air tanks are made in the USA and feature a carbon fiber finish that looks as good as it performs. 

3. Empire Mega Lite Air Tank

You can also purchase the Empire Mega Lite Air Tank in many colors. This bottle reaches up to 4,500 PSI and has a 5-year retest cycle, meaning you’ll only have to get it hydrotested every 5 years. The aircraft-grade aluminum regulator puts out 800 PSI and is sure to be dependable for you for years to come. 


Making the decision between CO2 and compressed air can be difficult, but there really is no wrong choice. The most important thing, as always, is making sure that you pick a safe, high-quality, piece of equipment. For more offerings in CO2 and compressed air tanks, visit Lone Wolf Paintbll’s online store. We have the best options in paintball tanks as well as all of the accessories you’ll need to have fun. Happy paintballing!