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Articles December 17, 2004

HPA/Nitro Explained

**HPA? N2? NITRO?** The same thing
N2, Nitro, High Pressure Air (HPA), Compressed Air are all the same thing when it comes to usage in paintball. Is there a difference between the first two and the rest? Yes, but we are not in chemistry so don't worry about it.

**THE NUMBERS** How much pressure it holds
Compressed Air is that it is just that, air that is compressed under high pressure which is stored in tanks at pressures ranging from 3,000psi (pounds per square inch), 4,500psi and 5,000psi. All Compressed Air tanks have a label on them to tell you how much pressure they can hold. Also compressed air tanks come in many different sizes, some as small as 45ci (cubic inches) up to 114ci.

**TANK SIZES** Physical size
The Cubic Size of the tank refers to how large the tank itself is. But which size is best for you? It literally comes down to personal preference. You may be a small person and think a small tank would be best or you might be a larger person and think a large tank will be best but the truth is, I have seen many smaller players using 88ci tanks and larger players with smaller 45ci tanks. We all have our own personal preference as to which size tank feels most comfortable to hold. The best recommendation that I could give to any player whether they've only played once or are a seasoned player is to go down to their local field and get the feel of each size tank yourself and choose because only you, knows what is most comfortable for yourself.

**TANK PRESSURES** Pressure INSIDE the tank
So now you know all about the size of the tank and what it means. How about the pressures? Simple, the higher pressure of air you can cram into the bottle the more air you're going to be able to pull out when you're on the field which equals more shots and less trips to the fill station. At this
point I'm sure you're thinking "I'm gonna get me one of them 5,000psi tanks!", hold your horses, there are some other things that determine if you can get your tank filled to 5,000psi or not. The first problem is the material your tank is made out of, I will be getting to that later in this article. The problem I will explain in this part has to do with the fill station setup itself. Fields use bulk tanks (those large scuba like tanks) as a source of air. The tanks hold roughly 3,000psi of air when full. After being used a couple of times the pressure slowly drops lower and lower the more it is used to fill tanks. If your field only has those bulk tanks, you should not look into tanks that hold 4,500psi or 5,000psi unless they are planning on upgrading or you are going to play tournaments and most tournaments use high powered air compressors (no, the garage air compressor will not work because the majority can only fill to roughly 300psi) to fill tanks up to 4,500psi or 5,000psi. If your field has a booster (roughly the size of a car amplifier) then it's a good chance they can fill to 4,500psi and possibly to 5,000psi but call to make sure. A booster takes the 3,000psi that is going into it and compresses the air even more and sends that higher amount of pressurized air to your tank.

**TANK MATERIALS** Steel / Fiberwrapped
As I promised earlier I'm going to explain the difference in material that tanks come in. They come in either Steel or Fiber wrapped. Steel tanks are generally cheaper because of the technology they use is fairly simple, it is a steel canister with a reg on it. Steel tanks are heavier then Fiber wrapped as well. When it comes to the amount of pressure a steel tank can hold, they are limited to 3,000psi. Fiber wrapped tanks are more expensive because there is more technology used in creating them. The entire tank itself is not Fiber wrapped, the fiber is glued to a metal canister that is normally made of aluminum. These tanks can hold; 3,000psi, 4,500psi and some of the tanks can hold 5,000psi. If you decided from the previous section that a 3,000psi tank is the way to go but you're unsure of whether a steel tank or Fiber wrapped will be better... Go with your budget on this. There is no difference in tank performance between Steel and fiberwrapped. If you decided that you want a 4,500psi or 5,000psi tank then the choice is clear as to which type of tank you will need.

**SHOTS PER TANK** Different for EVERY marker
Now that I have explained that higher PSI pressures mean more shots and the larger the tank the more air that can fit. Which tank will hold more air? Will a 68/3000 hold a less amount of air as a 48/4500? The answer is YES! The 68ci is larger then the 48ci yet the pressure in the 48ci is 150% more
then in the 68ci. So how do you determine which tanks will hold more air? Take the Ci(A) of the tank and times that by the pressure it can hold(p). X times P = Amount of air inside tank. So for the example above, you would do: (68 x 3,000 = 204,000) < (48 x 4,500 = 216,000). More Air = More amount of shots. There is not an accurate formula that will tell you how many shots you will get out of your marker. To be honest, the two exact same markers will vary on the amount of shots. To find out the estimate of how many shots you will receive ask someone that seems knowledgeable in your marker specific thread.

**TANK OUTPUT** Low, High, Adjustable; How much pressure it puts OUT
So we now know all about CI, PSI, Materials, how many shots you will get and all of that other confusing stuff. Lets get into some of the different types of Compressed Air tanks! (and I bet you thought we were finished) The three kinds of tanks I am going to cover are High Pressure Presets, Low Pressure Presets and Adjustable because those are the three most common tanks out there on the fields. With these three tanks, everything you learned above applies to all of them, the difference is in the regulator attachted to the tank.
*A High Pressure Preset tank has a regulator that has a fixed pressure which it will allow to come out and go into your marker.

* A High Pressure Preset reg will put out anywhere from 800psi to 850psi.

* A Low Pressure Preset has a fixed output of anywhere from 400psi to 450psi.

* An Adjustable reg has an adjustable pressure output (depending on brand, so what I have listed does not hold true to every adjustable on the market) of 0psi to 1,000psi.

High Pressure Prest and Low Pressure Presets run at the same price but an Adjustable tank will run you higher do to the fact that it is adjustable. The adjustable will work on any tank because you can adjust the amount of pressure it gives off. The High Pressure presets will work on any marker on the market no matter what the pressure is because the secondary reg that is located on the marker (inline/vertical reg) will lower the pressure down to what is needed by the marker, the only exception to this rule is if the reg itself can not handle the amount of pressure that a High Pressure preset will be feeding it. If this is the case then a Low Pressure Preset might be what your looking at getting, but the Low Pressure Preset will only work on low pressure markers. As a general rule of thumb you want the pressure coming from the tank going into the marker (or inline/vertical reg) to be 200psi above what your marker is operating at )or if you have a reg, the amount your reg is putting into the marker) to prevent shootdown. In short terms, shootdown is when you starve the marker of air, generally when your shooting really fast. So to sum this section up, for the majority of people, it would be the best bang for the buck to get a High Pressure Preset because it can be used on nearly every setup that is out there currently.

**Hydro Testing** Safety tests
What they do when they hydro a tank is remove the reg, do a visual inspection of the tank and if that passes they go on to the next step. They first take a measurement of the tanks diameter before they begin putting it in a tank of water and filling it up to a certain percent above the tanks rating with water pressure. Obviously the tank IS going to expend. No idea how long they live it filled above that rating but when they remove the tank from the testing thing they remeasure the tanks diameter. The tank has to come back to near the original size. I'm not sure how close to it but if it doesn't return to the original size good enough then it doesn't pass. Like if your tank diameter was 30" b4 and 32" after, that wouldn't pass but if it was 30" before and like 30.2" after, i believe that would pass.

Click Here For better explination on Hydro Testing.

Thats it. Have fun and be safe!

- Reaper22

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