How to choose the right air source for PCP air rifle

pcp gun hunting

Last Updated on


Choosing the right air source for your PCP gun can be tricky. There is more than one way to fill your rifle and each of them has both advantages and disadvantages. If you don’t take a step back and consider all the potential options, chances are you are going to end up with frustration because everyone is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In this post, we will take a close look at the pros and cons of 3 common ways to fill your gun: hand pump, scuba tank and carbon fiber tank.

Hand pump

hand pump

A hand pump is generally the same as the bicycle pump, but instead of pumping the tire, you pump the air reservoir of the PCP gun. It’s recommended that you do not pump more than 5 minutes and let the pump cool down 15 minutes between pumping sessions to prevent overheating. A modern hand pump can get to 3000 psi (pounds per square inch) When you start to pump, the beginning is easy and you can even pump with one hand to get to 1000 psi. But from 2500 psi on, you begin to feel strong resistance so it’s best to leverage your body weight to pump at this point.

  • Small and easy to store
  • Doesn’t need any technical testing
  • Cheaper price compared to carbon fiber tanks
  • No need to refill so it doesn’t cost any money on the refilling process like air tank
  • Does not break easily, hand pump is generally durable and can last for years
  • Never run out of air power
  • Can be repaired and serviced easily
  • Hand pump is highly cost effective. You buy it once and there is little money to spend for its maintenance
  • Gives you ultimate control over the pressure level. You can pump the gun and stop at any pressure point that you want. This characteristic alone makes some air gun experts prefer a hand pump over air tanks for their PCP rifles
  • Takes some physical strength and effort to use the pump though it could be your work out for that day
  • Not fast in term of filling speed
  • Requires understanding of a hand pump to operate it successfully
  • Some pumps don’t have the moisture filter so they might put water into the gun and cause damage in the long run. This issue can be handled by using the pump in a climate controlled environment where the moisture level is low

Scuba tank


Scuba tanks are also called diving cylinders. They are usually made of steel or aluminum. Besides, they often have pressure of 3000 psi. It’s required to perform hydrostatic testing on scuba tanks every five years.

  • Take very little effort to use
  • Fast filling speed: scuba tank will fill your PCP gun in seconds
  • Filled with filtered and dried air. Therefore, it won’t put any moisture into your gun and doesn’t cause any rusting problem.
  • Needs to be tested every 5 years
  • Costs money to refill
  • Takes significant space to store
  • Hard to stop exactly where you want because the pressure rises so fast.
  • Finding a place to refill a scuba tank could be a problem
  • Hard to fill completely to over 3000 psi PCP gun

Carbon fiber tank


A carbon fiber tank has the same look as the scuba tank but it’s much smaller. It uses a carbon fiber as the tank material so it’s much lighter, too . A carbon fiber tank can get up to a pressure of 4500 psi and gets more fills than a scuba tank.

  • Fills the gun in seconds
  • Available in different sizes
  • Compact and smaller than a diving cylinder
  • High pressure level, up to 4500 psi
  • Compact ,smaller and lighter than a scuba tank
  • Convenient to carry along to travel or to the shooting range
  • More expensive than a scuba tank or hand pump
  • Finding a place to refill the tank could be a problem
  • Costs money to refill the tank when it drops out in pressure


So far, we have seen that a hand pump, scuba tank or carbon fiber tank have both merits and demerits. Therefore, you should think about your specific situation before making a buying decision. If you are an occasional shooter, don’t mind some workout, and want to have total control over the power of your PCP gun, a hand pump is the best option. If you don’t want to break a sweat and want a fast filling speed, then a scuba tank or carbon fiber tank is a great way to go. If you are a regular member of a local shooting range, a carbon fiber tank could be your best friend because of its light weight and portability. Or, you may want both a hand pump and a carbon fiber tank in the inventory: a carbon fiber tank for convenience and a hand pump for back up in case you cannot get your air tank filled at the local stations.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here