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Our Guide to Buying a PCP Airgun Tank

Welcome, airgun enthusiasts, to your ultimate guide for navigating the wild world of PCP airgun tanks! Whether you're a seasoned shooter or a newbie, this guide will make sure you know exactly what to look for when buying a tank, the must-have accessories, and all the maintenance tips to keep you safe and shooting straight. Plus, we’ll dive into the risks of second-hand tanks and explore some alternatives like stirrup pumps and compressors. Let's get started!


What to Look For when buying a PCP Airgun Tank

Pressure Rating: 300 BAR is the Way to Go

Rule #1: Only buy 300 BAR tanks. With more guns moving to 300 BAR fills, the old 232 BAR tanks are becoming as useful as a chocolate teapot. They hold less air and face testing issues due to the M18 neck problem (more on that next).

MDE Airgun PCP Air Tank with MDE Jubilee Valve Fitted

Neck Thread Size: M25 Over M18

Rule #2: Always go for an M25 neck thread, not an M18. The M25 thread is thicker and stronger, making it the standard for professional air tanks. Check the tank’s stamping for the M25 mark or measure the neck diameter (M25 will be around 40mm or more).

Air Tank with the Stamped Thread size Showing M25

Testing Dates and Safety

Rule #3: All dive tanks have a 5-year test cycle based on the date stamped (MM/YY or YYYY/MM). If your tank is past this date, it needs testing before it can be filled. Filling an out-of-test tank? You might as well be playing Russian roulette with your fingers.


It's also a good idea to take a look at the tank and valve, if it looks generally worn pass on it. A few scratches in the paint aren't detrimental to the function, but if there is a crack it is not likely to pass a test.

An out of test air tank showing the date of manufactuer on the side to be 2015/10

Reputable Valve Brands and avoiding re-manufactured valves

Rule #4: Stick with reputable valve brands like MDE or APEKS. Make sure the valve hasn't been damaged or modified. When checking a tank in person, try removing the DIN nut; if it takes Hercules-level strength, the valve might be cracked. Beware of re-manufactured M25 valves crammed into cheaper M18 bottles—It may be a good name valve, but if there is a ledge between the bottle and the valve, stay away

Air tank dangerious re-manufacturing of valves, image on the right shows the correct M25 Valve fitted to the M25 tank, the right image shows a dangerious M25 valve re-manufactured to fit on a M18 tank

Steel vs. Carbon?

Right now this is a great debate, and the answer usually comes down to how flush with cash you are. Carbon tanks are typically 30-50% more expensive than an equivalent steel. However, they are also 30-40% lighter than their steel counterpart. This does mean that you can get a higher-capacity tank without giving yourself a hernia every time you need to move it. There is however one caveat to Carbon Tanks. their lifespan. You see steel tanks have to be tested every 5 years and provided they are serviced and pass their Quinquennial (5-year) test then they have a theoretical lifespan for however long the tank doesn't rust internaly. However, Carbon tanks must be disposed of after 15 years meaning whilst you have saved on weight, you will have spent more should your shooting career last longer than 15 years

Steel Air Tanks Vs Carbon Air Tanks for PCP airgun filling

Essential Accessories for Your Tank

Foster Quick Detach Fittings

Upgrade to Foster Quick Detach fittings wherever possible. These fittings are more durable and will prevent you from damaging your hose. If your gun uses a quick detach probe, make sure you get a female connector on the fill whip.

Foster Quick Detatch example fittred to a Carbon Fibre Air Tank

Fill Whips

We’ve started including 1000mm microbore hoses over the typical 500mm ones. Why? Because balancing your gun while filling is a recipe for having to buy a new gun after you smash it on the floor. A longer hose allows you to lay your gun down safely during filling. No more gun acrobatics!


Tank Handles

Pro Tip: Get a tank handle. We’ve seen you macho types carrying tanks by the gauge, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Imagine ripping that gauge off or overfilling your gun because the bent gauge doesn’t read correctly. Buy a tank handle—it will save you in having to buy and fit gauges as you bend them

MDE Tank fitted with Carry Handle for safe transport

Tank Size and Shot Capacity

The size of your tank determines your shot capacity. A rough estimate for shot capacity is:

  • Unregulated guns: 150-250 shots per liter

  • Regulated guns: 200-400 shots per liter

These are rough estimates, so don’t sue us if you get a few less!


Weight Considerations

Small tanks, like 3-liter ones, are great for portability but offer fewer shots. Large tanks, like 12-liter ones, provide more air but can throw your back out if you carry them too far. Choose wisely—no one wants to end up in a chiropractor's office because of an air tank.


The Risks of Buying Second-Hand Tanks

Buying second-hand tanks can save you some cash but comes with risks. Make sure the tank is within its test date and has no visible damage. Check the valve and neck thread size to avoid any unsafe modifications. If in doubt, remember: cheap can be expensive!


Alternatives to PCP Tanks

Stirrup Pumps

The cheapest way to fill your PCP gun. They’re like the budget airlines of the airgun world. However, many budget stirrup pumps might not last long without needing repairs. If you can, splurge on a professional one like the Hill Mk5—it’s more reliable.

Hill Mk5 Air Pump for PCP airguns

PCP Compressors

Now, let’s talk compressors. No, your Stanley workshop compressor won’t work here—it simply doesn’t have the pressure. Budget compressors might blow up faster than a cheap firework. Invest in a quality one like the Hill EVO-310 or look at high-end options from Bauer or Coltri if you’re serious. Just remember, quality costs—but so does replacing blown-up gear.

Hill EVO-310 HPA Compressor

Conclusion

When buying a PCP airgun tank, prioritize 300 BAR pressure ratings and M25 neck threads for safety and compatibility. Invest in quality valves and necessary accessories like quick detach fittings, fill whips, and tank handles. Consider the weight and size of the tank based on your shooting needs. While second-hand tanks can save money, they come with risks that require careful inspection. Alternatives like stirrup pumps and compressors offer different benefits and drawbacks. Choose wisely to enhance your PCP airgun experience.


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