Should I get a high pressure or low pressure N2 or HPA tank for my paintball gun?
That’s a good question. Let’s get a few things straight first. The terms “nitrogen tank” and “high pressure air” (HPA) tank mean the same thing. Fields and stores use compressed air to fill the tanks because air is more easily accessible. In the past, nitrogen was more readily available to fields than more expensive compressors. Today if you walk into a store and ask for a nitro tank or a nitro fill they will know what you mean.
Second, “high pressure” or “low pressure” refers to the actual output pressure of the regulator on your tank. The regulator controls the pressure that your tank will use in your gun. High pressure tanks usually output 800 to 850 PSI. Low Pressure tanks usually output 450 PSI. Preset tanks have a fixed output pressure from the factory which cannot be adjusted. Both HP and LP tanks have preset outputs. Adjustable tanks like the Nitroduck X-stream or the Empire Adjustable don’t have a fixed output pressure and can be adjusted by the player to any output pressure they need. This article will focus on preset tanks because you can use adjustable tanks for any gun.
Now is HP or LP right for your gun? There are a few things to keep in mind when considering this. First, what pressure does your gun need to cycle and shoot a paintball? (This is called the operating pressure.) Tippmanns, Spyders and other entry level guns need 800 PSI or higher to operate, so you would need an HP tank with these guns to generate enough pressure to allow the gun to operate. So if you have a gun that needs 800 PSI to work and you hook up a 400 PSI LP tank to it, you are not putting in enough pressure to allow the gun to work. This is why you would need a high pressure tank.
Mid- to higher-end guns typically operate with less than 300 PSI input pressure and come with a high pressure regulator. High pressure regulators go inline (in between) the tank and the gun. These regulators can accept an input pressure of up too 850 PSI and regulate it down to a user-adjustable setting to meet the markers’ LP needs. LP guns can use LP tanks. Using an LP Tank with an LP gun will result in better shot consistency over the chrono because you are not putting as much stress on the inline high pressure regulator. Having an LP tank with an LP gun will also prevent or minimize hot shots if your inline regulator fails. It will minimize the high pressure air spike going into the gun which will typically cause your velocity to spike up as well.
So in short, if you have an HP gun or an LP gun with an HP regulator, you can use an HP tank. LP guns can also use an LP tank. Some guns, like the Angel Speed 05, come with a built-in, inline LP regulator so they can only use LP tanks. As technology advances we are seeing more and more entry level guns becoming LP, so it’s always best to check with the manufacturer of your marker for their tank recommendations. And never buy a new tank before you buy a new gun.