Getting Your Fill at Paintball Centers
By Tom McHale
I visited the nice folks at Paintball Charleston to get some tanks filled and discuss their filling options.

Got a fancy new Pre-Charged Pneumatic airgun? Thinking about moving into the PCP arena? If so, then you’re going to need lots of compressed air. Without getting into the more unusual solutions, there are five different ways to refill an air cylinder.

  1. Use a high-pressure hand pump. It works and offers the extra bennie of getting you ripped in the process.
  2. Get your own air compressor. While prices are coming down, these ain’t cheap. Yet.
  3. If you’re well-connected to a local firefighter, and if his or her boss allows it, you might be able to get tanks filled at a local fire station. 
  4. Many local dive shops fill SCUBA tanks anyway, so there’s a good chance they can fill your airgun cylinders too for a nominal fee. However, most dive tanks only hold 3,000 psi give or take, so if you need 4,500 psi, you’re out of luck.
  5. Finally, you can go to a paintball center. Those folks might just burn through more air than us, so they’re usually well equipped to provide quick and easy fills. They also like big-time pressure, so 4,500 psi fills aren’t likely to make them nervous and twitchy. 

In previous issues of the airgun wire, we’ve talked about some of the other methods of getting your cylinders topped off. Today, we’re going to explore how easy it is to get your air at a paintball center. 

The folks at Paintball Charleston have geared up to fill lots of tanks at a time. A couple of these multi-point stations are always available.

As a case study, and because I was desperate for big air to charge a Benjamin Pioneer Airbow, Airforce Airguns Condor SS .25 caliber, and Benjamin Bulldog .357 I’m currently testing, I visited my local professionals at Paintball Charleston. This facility is serious, often having 200 to 300 paintballers out there marking up the joint on weekends. As a result, they’re well-equipped to dispense air – lots of it.

So, what do you need to know about getting air cylinders filled at paintball centers? Most paintball marker tanks use the same type of Foster connection that’s common to the airgun world. The only gotcha is that we’re slightly opposite on the whole male / female thing. Unlike airgun cylinders, most paintball tanks have a male Foster connection. That means most paintball center fill hoses end in a female Foster fitting. Fortunately, that’s not a big deal. In fact, the folks at Paintball Charleston were well-equipped to handle the situation. They had a box of adapters pre-configured to connect for their female Foster fill hoses to a variety of things including SCUBA K-valves and 300-DIN connections. 

Most paintball tanks have a male Foster fitting so you'll likely need an adapter to get your airgun cylinders filled.

Since airgun cylinders usually have different fill connection points than paintball tanks, you can take one of two approaches: find a paintball facility that has adapters that match what you have or buy the appropriate adapter to connect your cylinders to the center's female Foster fill hose fitting. At my recent gas up at Paintball Charleston, we ended up using a bit of both approaches. 

It took just a minute or two to top off these two cylinders from 3,000 to 4,500 psi.

I brought two cylinders with me, an Omega Air Cylinders 75 cubic-foot, 4500 psi big boy and a more portable Benjamin 14.72 cubic-foot 4,500 psi tank. Both of these have primary 300-DIN threaded connections. However, I’ve outfitted them with semi-permanent fill hoses ending with a female Foster fitting. Many rifles use that connection directly. For the ones that don’t, I simply attach whatever fill probe is required to a male Foster fitting so that I can snap it on and off the fill hose female Foster fitting as needed. 

This handy little adapter connected the paintball fill stations to the Foster fitting on my cylinder hose.

If you're following all this fitting type discussion, you'll observe that my setup had a female Foster fitting as did the fill station hoses at Paintball Charleston. No worries. Given the growing number of air gunners looking for filling service, the folks there built a simple male to male Foster adapter which allowed their fill hose to attach to the fill hoses on my two tanks. Problem solved. If you want to have your own, you can buy one like this

This 300-DIN adapter from Crosman basically makes your cylinder look like a paintball tank so you can get a direct connection.

If you use air cylinders with 300-DIN fill valves, you also might look at an adapter solution like the Crosman 300-DIN fill adapter. In the end, it does exactly the same thing as my setup and the adapter used by the paintball center; it just eliminates the hose.

Be sure to call local paintball businesses in your area. They might just solve your air cylinder filling challenges.

To sum up the paintball center refill option, the process was quick and straightforward. The Paintball Charleston folks are experts in this stuff and had everything I needed. Topping off both of my cylinders took just a couple of minutes and cost me a grand total of seven bucks. One thing to keep in mind is the paintball event schedule. If you can stop by your local paintball store during the week when big events aren’t in progress, you can be in and out in a jiffy as you won’t have to wait in line with dozens of other folks to get air.

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