At our field, and in the paintball industry in general, CO2 is being phased out or already has been. This is because of several reasons:
1) CO2 is more expensive in the long run
While CO2 tanks themselves are cheaper initially, that is not the only cost you have to worry about. CO2 (the chemical) is infinitely more expensive than Compressed Air (which only requires a onetime cost, and something to store it in). CO2 needs to be made into a liquid state, then transported to the field / store, the old used tanks picked up, and fittings all transferred over. An average CO2 fill costs more per fill, and a single tank provides about 400 shots (assuming it’s a 20 oz CO2 tank, the largest possible). A Compressed Air tank fill is usually free, and provides the same amount of shots.
2) CO2 fills are more time consuming
To properly fill a CO2 tank, first you need to make sure you have specialized fitting & other equipment. Despite that, you need a trained employee who can fill a CO2 tank safely. This consists of draining any old CO2 still in the tank, then slowly filling a tank to the proper weight, and re-draining the lines to prevent any freezing. This process can take a few minutes from start to finish. Doesn’t sound like much, but then imagine having to do 500 fills…several times a day!
3) It performs better
As we mentioned earlier, CO2 tanks actually hold liquid CO2. In order to propel the paintball down field, that liquid needs to expand into a Gas state. Sometimes, that process doesn’t occur easily – especially in colder weather. This results in inconsistent results, ranging from velocity issues to firing issues and in many cases even destroying internal parts. Electronic markers virtually cannot use CO2. You can only realistically expect 350-450 shots from a 20 ounce CO2 tank, whereas with a comparable Compressed Air tank you can expect 400 shots. In order to eliminate this problems, you need specialized valves and equipment inside your tank (Anti-Siphon tubes & more), as well as specialized parts in your marker regulator. By the time you have converted CO2 tanks into useable CO2 tanks, you have far exceeded the cost of a basic Compressed Air tank.
4) Can I convert a CO2 tank into a Compressed Air tank / Can I fill Compressed Air into my CO2 tank?
No you cannot sadly. CO2 operates at a much higher pressure than Compressed Air, so the valves are incompatible to begin with. Further, the tank itself wouldn’t hold Compressed Air properly, especially if CO2 has ever been used in the tank before. Further, CO2 tanks and Compressed Air tanks are filled differently. Lastly, Compressed Air tank regulators have many more safety features built in, including 2 burst discs (which prevent over-pressurizing and breaking the valve), as well as exhaust ports in case a regulator gets stripped and removed from the tank while pressure is still in the tank (which is VERY dangerous and causes a bottle rocket effect, which can seriously injure or even result in death).
What it comes down to
CO2 tanks expire in the same time as Compressed Air tanks – which is 5 years. But, they cannot be re-hydrotested*. Better Compressed Air tanks, like a Carbon Fiber one, can and usually do pass hydrotest date, so you can expect about 10 years of life out of one. CO2 fills cost per fill, and take longer, where Compressed Air tanks can be filled easily and for free. Winter also wrecks havoc with CO2, but not with Compressed Air. So, make the switch – do yourself a favor and pick up a new tank, and enjoy the safety, convenience, and savings offered by Compressed Air.
Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (the government branch known as the EPA) has stated that carbon dioxide is a toxin/pollutant (despite its beneficial nature for plant life). As such, Carbon Dioxide is being restricted and subsequently regulated more and more. This is just another reason to switch over to cheaper, better, and safer Compressed Air