Paintball Air System Parts: Things you should know about air
systems before you buy
Accuracy is determined by two things: Air regulator, and good paint to barrel
match. If the air rises or falls in pressure, the ball will go further or less
far, and hit higher of lower. When
you rapid fire, the air pressure will tend to drop if you don't have a
regulator, causing the ball to hit lower. CO2 is a problem because of its dual
liquid/gas nature; how much of each goes into your gun at any moment will vary
the pressure and ball velocity. A good air regulator will maintain accuracy.
The bolt is an internal part that takes a paintball entering the input feed
port, and places it into the chamber end of the barrel to ready it for firing.
There are two types of bolts: Blow back ("open bolt"), in which the bolt is in
the backward/open position when it is cocked and ready to fire; and blow forward
("closed bolt"), in which the bolt is in the forward/closed position when
Closed bolt guns are more efficient and more expensive than the more common open
Bolts are made from metal, or delrin, a strong and light plastic. Delrin is
preferred because it does not scratch the insides of the gun, and it is light.
Unlike metal, delrin should generally not be lubricated with oil because it will
absorb the oil and expand.
Also known as a "cradle", a drop forward is used to drop and move the air
tank forward. This allows you to balance the weight of the air tank, and
position its fit against your chest. Different versions are available that can drop
or move forward different distances.
This device takes the higher pressure from your tank, and drops the pressure
to a constant regulated amount that does not vary, even though the tank pressure
is changing. For this to work, the tank pressure must be greater than the
pressure you want out of the regulator; it can only drop pressure. The regulator
can be in the shape of a fore grip and used as a fore grip. High pressure air
tanks also have a built in regulator on the tank, which may be adjustable or
Under high rates of fire, if the regulator does not do its job properly then
"shoot-down" can occur. The FPS drops because the regulator can't maintain the
gas pressure. The regulator is said to be unable to recharge quickly.
This can be in the shape of a fore grip and used as a fore grip, or it can
attach to your tank. The fore grip version is more effective because it uses the
heat from your hands to expand the gas. Its purpose is to catch liquid CO2 and
give it a chance to expand into a gas. It is designated by the number of
internal chambers, from 1 to 20; more is not better. 6 seems to be the most
effective. An expansion chamber is not as effective as a regulator.
Because CO2 becomes a liquid when compressed, it needs to
expand to a gas to be used by the paintball gun. This expansion causes the tank to cool as the
liquid CO2 turns into gas. Eventually, under sustained fire, and especially in cold
weather, the tank can become so cold that the liquid CO2 will not evaporate into
gas, and liquid CO2 will enter the gun causing the gun to freeze. This can cause damage to
internal seals and will also put the gun out of commission for a good 15 minutes
while it warms back up.
When nitrogen is compressed, it remains a gas. When it
expands, it also cools the tank, but at an unnoticeable rate because it does not
have to transition from liquid to gas. Therefore it is viewed as a
superior source of propulsion. However, because HPA (High Pressure Air) is stored at
up to 4,500 lb/inČ while liquid CO2 is stored at 1,200 lb/inČ,
tanks for HPA are more expensive. Nitrogen tanks can ether be filled with pure
N2 or compressed air, which is 79% N2.
Nitrogen and air systems are more expensive, and are preferred
to CO2. These air sources are primarily used by
people who play often and have tournament-grade markers.
ASA (Air Source Adapter)
An ASA is an adapter that connects the marker to the tank. Most ASAs have a
protruding portion that presses against the pin-valve of the tank to allow the
gas to enter the marker. It can be a vertical adaptor, which attaches vertically
to the inlet at the foregrip of the gun. It can be a bottom line adaptor (which
can be a drop-forward to move the tank down and forward) that attaches to the
bottom of the grip. It can be a back- bottle adaptor for those markers that have
the gas coming in from the back of the gun.
An anti-siphon tube is a pipe inserted into your CO2 tank with a curve on
the end. It's purpose is to prevent liquid CO2 from entering the pipe. The pipe
is so placed that only gas can enter the tube, not liquid. The tube needs to be
properly placed so that the curve at the end points up. If it points down, it
will make your freezing problem worse. For this to work, the tank needs to
Quality vs. Price
The higher end guns that actually shoot 20 balls per second (BPS) and above,
never chop balls, have excellent accuracy and gas efficiency, cost anywhere from
$800 to $1500.
No low-end blow-back marker can cycle itself faster than about
13 BPS without shaking itself to pieces. The electronic circuitry to cycle at 20
BPS is the easy part, but you have a heavy metal hammer hitting back and forth
against your valve and springs, and if you are running at 700-800 PSI, a lot of
force is being produced and no marker can survive that kind of punishment. Even
the expensive Angels and Intimidators are made to operate at pressures below 150
PSI, and they have no internal springs.
Some of the gas that propels the ball forward is escaping into
the feed port and up the hopper, pushing the incoming balls back out. If it delays
the next paintball from falling into the breach, this will cause dry firing or
chopping. High end markers that never chop balls have a sensor ("eye") that will not
allow the gun to fire until the paintball is in its place.
Honing, or the finishing/polishing process of the barrel,
determines the amount of friction. More friction means the ball moves
slower, and that may lead to more paintball breaks in the barrel.
For more information on air lines and fittings, see
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