Paintball Basics: Where to Fill Compressed Air Tanks?

Learn How to Get Your HPA Paintball Tanks Filled

Paintball player with paintball mask and paintball gun stained with paint
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Paintball guns operate with compressed gas—air or CO2—from tanks filled to 3000-4500 psi. Refilling them requires heavy-duty compressors and equipment. While using compressed air may offer better performance than CO2, fewer stores have the capability for properly refilling air tanks.

It poses a common problem for paintball players. Where can you get your high-pressure air (HPA) tanks filled? There are a number of stores that you can turn to for cheap fills, or you can always do it yourself, provided you are prepared to spend some money.

  • Tip: By law, filled gas tanks for paintball guns cannot be shipped (with the exception of one-time use and 12- gram CO2 cartridges). When buying your equipment online, do not expect a tank to come ready for the paintball field. If you're considering compressed air, look into your local tank filling options before making a purchase.

Paintball Shops and Competition Fields

The first place to look for tank filling is at your local paintball store and competition field. Most shops and fields have the equipment to safely fill compressed air tanks,  and some will fill them for free. However, you're more likely to pay $1-3 for every 1000 psi.

If there is not a paintball field or store in your area, check around with local paintball enthusiasts. Some owners of completely unrelated businesses have invested in the HPA tank compressors to suit their own needs. They will often fill tanks on the side to bring in a little extra cash (and help pay off the equipment).

If any retailers like this are located in your area, your fellow paintballers may know of them. Online paintball forums may also be able to steer you in the right direction. 

Scuba Stores

Since compressed air tanks for paintball operate at a similar pressure as scuba tanks, many scuba stores also fill paintball tanks.

Again, it should cost just a few dollars to fill a tank, and it is one of the easiest options available.

Fill Tanks At Home

If you own a scuba tank, you're halfway to filing your paintball tanks at home. A scuba tank filled at your local scuba shop can easily fill compressed air tanks from paintball guns if you also purchase a scuba fill station.

  • A 3000 psi scuba tank will fill a compressed air tank for an airball gun about 15-20 times. 
  • A scuba tank will cost a few hundred dollars and you will need to pay to get it filled. Consider this when weighing your options. If you live an inconvenient distance from stores that fill paintball tanks, buying and filling a scuba tank may be a good option.

Are you thinking of buying the air compressor itself? Unless you're running a paintball competition field or opening a store, think again. The HPA compressors can easily cost over $2000 for a basic set-up. Of course, you can fill other people's tanks as well as scuba tanks, but for most paintball players, this option is out of reach.

Don't even try to use your tire pump or a standard air compressor—it won't work. Most of these compressors max out at 180 psi, and your paintball tanks require a minimum of 3000 psi to fill.

Tips for Filling HPA Tanks

No matter where you get your tank filled, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • HPA tanks have a "hydro date" indicating the last time they were inspected. All tanks should be reinspected every five years.
  • Never put grease or oil on the tank's fill nipple. When filling, heat will build up and warm these flammable oils, creating the potential for fire.
  • Keep your tanks out of direct sunlight and try to avoid leaving them in a hot car. It goes for all paintball tanks: pressure can build up and blow a burst disc CO2 tanks. While HPA tanks aren't likely to overpressurize, it's not good for the regulator seals for the tanks to overheat.
  • Protect your tanks with a tank cover or something similar, like a fabric bag. 
  • When filling tanks, it is best to do a "slow fill." If the tank is filled too fast, you will lose psi as the air cools. This means that your 3000 psi tank may only end up with 2500 psi in the end. Most paintball and scuba store operators know this, but it's important to remember if you're filling your own.