How To Fill a Paintball Tank

How To Fill a Paintball Tank

Air tanks are the unsung heroes of the paintball world and make the whole sport possible. Most of us don’t actually think about the tank until (inevitably) we run out of air on the field; an event announced by a pitiful farting sound escaping from your paintball marker. Most of the time, players remember to fill their tanks back up when the needle starts creeping towards the red. However, we’ve all experienced that one time where we forgot and had to call ourselves out to go refill in the middle of a game. As a result, many players have looked into getting their own home setups for tank refills. These options are often quite expensive and really only make sense for the most experienced and frequent players. However, it CAN be done.

Different Types of Paintball Tanks

Paintball markers are usually powered by CO2 and HPA (High-pressure air) and these two propulsion methods are not interchangeable. They have different operating temperatures and pressures. Using the wrong gas with the wrong gun can ruin both the tank and the gun. 

Paintball tanks usually cost anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on the type of air they use and what materials they’re made from. Carbon fiber tanks are a favorite among serious paintballers because of their light weight. However, many players choose aluminum for the lower price point.


CO2 tanks are the most common kinds of tanks for paintball neophytes since they’re cheaper to buy and easier to maintain. Compressed CO2 tanks hold the CO2 in liquid form and convert into a gas when released from the tank. This rapid expansion of gas and compact storage form in liquid gives players a large amount of gas to use per refill. While CO2 works well in moderate and high temperatures, once the air gets too cold, CO2 doesn’t work as well as HPA.


HPA on the other hand is a bit more costly to use because it is compressed atmosphere. The machines required to compress the atmosphere are more expensive and therefore everything surrounding HPA tanks is a bit pricier. However, HPA generally performs better than CO2 does. It can be stored under higher pressures and also generate more power. HPA also causes less wear and tear on the pieces and is therefore better to use with high-end paintball markers.

Check Your Paintball Tank’s PSI

It’s important to know what PSI your tank is rated for to avoid underfilling or overfilling the tank. HPA tanks are usually rated for 3000 PSI to 4500PSI. CO2 tanks, on the other hand, operate at a lower PSI—around 1800. Some players have tried refilling their tanks with consumer air compressors or even gas station air compressors. Apart from the fact that the attachments don’t fit, these compressors only work at around 300 PSI which means they’re far too weak to meaningfully fill a paintball tank. Don’t try to use these machines or modify your tank’s connector to be able to use these kinds of compressors; it won’t work and may even damage your equipment!

Filling Your Paintball Tank With an Air High-PSI Compressor

This next set of instructions is for players and businesses running HPA with a special high-pressure air compressor. Once you’ve determined your tank’s PSI, complete the following steps:

Step 1: Attach Your Tank to the Fill Hose

On your tank, there will be a visible rubber O-ring that prevents air from escaping. Ensure that the O-ring is properly attached, otherwise air will escape. Next pull the attachment collar back to expose the fill needle on the hose. Insert the needle into the tank’s nipple and jiggle it to make sure it’s firmly attached. That’s right. We said it; jiggle that nipple!

Step 2: Fill The Tank Slowly

Once the tank is connected, slowly release the air into the tank to prevent catastrophic failure. There should be a button or lever on the regulator. Slowly move this button or lever and fill intermittently towards the maximum pressure.

Step 3: Watch the Gauges

As you’re filling your paintball air tank, keep an eye on the gauge that shows tank PSI. The regulator on the compressor will also have a gauge which you should watch. These two gauges should be moving with a similar velocity which will indicate a successful tank refill.

Step 4: Avoid Hot Filling Your Paintball Tank

Hot fills occur when you fill the tank too quickly and the air heats up too quickly. As we all learned in school, hot air has greater volume so that when it cools down, the PSI in your tank will have dropped even though you didn’t fire anything; the air volume essentially shrinks. The only way to avoid hot-filling is by taking your time and being patient with the filling process—don’t let too much air in at once.

Step 5: Release Pressure From the Air Compressor

This is a crucial step to avoid damaging the tank. When you are done filling the tank, the air compressor will still be pressurized with air. Use the release valve on the air compressor to let the air out. It will make a loud sound but this is normal. Make sure you complete this step before disconnecting your tank from the compressor.

Step 6: Remove the Air Hose

Once you’ve released the pressure on the air compressor, release the hose connecting the compressor to the air tank. Just pull the collar back up and the residual air pressure should automatically blow the hose away from the nipple. No need to shake it this time (unless you want to!).

Filling Your Paintball Tank with a Fill Station

When filling a tank with a fill station like a SCUBA tank, follow the following instructions while still keeping in mind the best practices from filling with a compressor:

  1. Connect the fill station to the SCUBA tank.
  2. Attach your paintball tank to the SCUBA fill station.
  3. Make sure the release valve on the fill station is in the closed position.
  4. Gradually open the primary valve to allow air to enter the paintball tank until the gauge indicates that it's full.

When filling with CO2, follow the following steps while still keeping in mind the best practices from filling with a compressor:

  1. Before filling your CO2 tank, stabilize the temperature by refrigerating it.
  2. Ensure that the fill station is securely connected to the bulk CO2 tank.
  3. Attach the paintball tank to the fill station.
  4. Turn the primary valve on the CO2 fill station tank.
  5. Gradually open the valve on the fill station to allow air to enter the paintball tank until it's full.


Having your own rig for refilling paintball tanks makes sense if you’re an avid paintballer or if you own a paintball field. This is a great way to add value to other players or make sure that your tanks never run out of air. To help players get ready and stay ready for the next game, Lone Wolf Paintball put together the best outfitting in air systems and air tanks. Take a look at our online store to see our favorite air systems and happy paintballing!