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Fibre v Steel

DonBossi

Member
Mar 4, 2021
61
22
8
Go on then. Sell me the Carbon dream... :)

Advantages or reasons a newbie should invest up front in a big bottle Vs a cheap steel?

Months prior to re test?
Re test cost?
Re test ease of use?
Re test likelihood of failing???

All info appreciated.
 

k4p84

Platinum Member
Oct 14, 2009
973
195
68
www.paintballskirmish.co.uk
"Steel"
retest is the cost of the cylinder so pintless
max capacity is less than steel (not talking about lugging a dive tank around)
max pressure is 3k

"fibre"
new specs allow for continual life as long as it passes periodic inspection but even older specs allow a 15 year max life
much higher capacities available
max pressure 4.5k

regarding test fails, they fail really for expanding too much when tested, the fibre wrapping is exposed and damaged, the neck threads are out of spec. personally I have only had one fail for thread spec, I can't comment on the frequency of failures but i would say that if you use a cylinder normally and sensibly it is unlikely to fail.

a cylinder will have a date on like 04 21 so it is fine to use until the first periodic test date of April 01 2021

retesting can be arranged by yourself at most dive centers / paintball stores / direct with test centers
 

BOD

The brotherhood
Aug 1, 2003
693
202
68
YORK
Visit site
Firstly you won't get a steel bottle, steel bottles haven't been on the market for probably 20 years now, "steelies" are aluminium.

Aluminium 0.8L ( you can get bigger 1.1L aluminium bottles but they weigh a ton and i don't know where sells them) bottles can be bought for as little as £35, they have a 10 year test period and no death date as long as they pass the hydro test every 10 years, due to the low cost of a new bottle most people don't think it's worthwhile getting them test so they become paperweights or vases or flowerpots.

Fibre wrapped bottles are a lot lighter than aluminium bottles and are available in a lot more sizes.

Around 2012 or so a new certification for HPA bottles was brought out, UNISO 11119-2.

UNISO 11119-2 certified fibre wrapped bottles technically have an unlimited life span as long as they pass the hydro test every 5 years, though so far i've only seen 1 brand openly state this fact as a selling point which is first strike hero bottles. Other bottle manufacturers/brands are making bottles to the new certification but they're still putting a death date on their bottles ( presumably so they can keep on selling new bottles in the future ) , it may be that test centres might ignore the death date on UNISO 11119-2 certified bottles, who knows. I have seen one other bottle brand other than first strike that didn't have a death date on the label but i can't remember what brand it was.
 

Tom

Tom
Nov 27, 2006
3,931
1,161
198
Salisbury
www.TaskForceDelta.co.uk
Months prior to re test? Effectively the same, 5 years between tests - but aluminium’s are cheap enough to not bother testing..
Re test cost? Should be same irrespective of type, but varies depending on who you go to
Re test ease of use? No different to you regarding testing, the correct fibres can be more ergonomic when you’re playing
Re test likelihood of failing??? You’re going to have to try hard to break an aluminum, you can easily scratch the finish of a fibre which should not affect it. But the first stage of a test is visual inspection - if the tester doesn’t like the look of a deep scratch etc then it’s an instant fail. The easy solution is a bottle cover

For 99% of new players I would recommend going for an aluminium until you decide on exactly what will suit you........


‘Steelies’ in paintball these days are actually aluminum. There might be a steel one still about, but I wo

(Roughly) A standard aluminium cylinder will cost around £30-£40, a standard fibre will cost £150, and premium ultra lite fibres £200+

The normal timeframe between retests is 5 years, but aluminium’s are legally valid in the UK for 10 years between tests. However most sites will permit cylinders to be used for 5 years between tests.
When an aluminum is marked that it has a 5 year test cycle then we should stick to that

Aluminum cylinders have an unlimited lifetime, if they keep getting tested. (But with the cost of a new aluminum vs the cost of a test it’s not generally worth the cost to test them)

Fibre wrapped cylinders typically have a maximum 15 year life - which means they need to be tested for continued use from the 5 and 10 year point.
(you don’t need to hit the right dates, but like an MOT you need to be in date to use the cylinder

A newer international standard allows certain types of fibre wrap to have an unlimited lifetime, however these mostly seem to still have an expiry date shown

Test costs vary. If you can do a face to face drop off and pickup then it’s around £25-£30
More if it needs to be posted to or from the test centre.
There can sometimes be tests for as little as £15 or £20

On a test price of £25, a £150 fibre cylinder would cost £200 over 15 years
(Averaged to £13.33 per year)
An aluminum at £30 used for only 5 years averages at £6 per year
An aluminum is the cheapest to start you off and has the cheapest lifecycle costs
(You could potentially get some scrap value out of it at the end of its life too)

A fibre wrap gives you the advantage of 50% more air when you have 4500psi fills available. But most sites supply 3000psi fills only. So you don’t get the advantage of the extra pressure.
Special events such as scenarios, big games and tournaments may bring in HPAC etc to provide higher fills to 4500psi
Players then need to make sure they use the right fill station for their cylinder.
A 3000 bottle should only be filled at a 3000 fill station - you can technically fill at a 4500 fill station if you are careful but you will get shouted at
A 4500 can be filled at either (but won’t get to its capacity unless at a 4500 fill station?
Back in the day when there were not many fill stations and there was a long queue in the morning I would get my first fill at the 3000 fill station instead of waiting for 4500, then top up later

Fibre cylinders are lighter than aluminum
But only when like for like.
A ‘standard’ 3000psi is 48ci and a ‘standard ‘ fibre is 68ci
Their weight is similar, you get 20ci more space in a 68ci
A small 48ci fibre is lighter than the standard 48ci aluminum

Unless you are counting milligrams or are a weakling then you won’t notice any practical difference in weight across a day

Modern guns should be efficient, and unless you are a super ninja shooting ropes, never being eliminated and never eathen you will be fine on the fill for a 3000psi between games or between respawns

The real advantage of fibre is the range of size and shapes. You can fine tune the right bottle to your arm and elbow length for personal ergonomics

Aluminium’s typically have a flat base (there is one aluminum that I have seen that has a curved base, but I don’t think it is sold anymore)
Fibres have a curved base which helps them sit in your shoulder as a rolling stock

The cylinders themselves are just a bottle that holds air. They perform no differently

The regulator may have the ability to be adjusted in its output pressure or be quicker at refresh rates if you are making sustained high rates of fire
Unless you have a special gun then the regulator won’t make much noticable difference - it gets air to the gun.
Old regulators might have a higher output and could blow the internals of some modern guns.
Certain older model guns required a specific low pressure regulator


The only maintenance would be if there is a need to replace o rings or burst disks.
But for most players it’s hands off and won’t notice any problems as long as you keep a fill nipple cover on to avoid dirt and debris etc, and don’t over fill
 

DonBossi

Member
Mar 4, 2021
61
22
8
"Steel"
retest is the cost of the cylinder so pintless
max capacity is less than steel (not talking about lugging a dive tank around)
max pressure is 3k

"fibre"
new specs allow for continual life as long as it passes periodic inspection but even older specs allow a 15 year max life
much higher capacities available
max pressure 4.5k

regarding test fails, they fail really for expanding too much when tested, the fibre wrapping is exposed and damaged, the neck threads are out of spec. personally I have only had one fail for thread spec, I can't comment on the frequency of failures but i would say that if you use a cylinder normally and sensibly it is unlikely to fail.

a cylinder will have a date on like 04 21 so it is fine to use until the first periodic test date of April 01 2021

retesting can be arranged by yourself at most dive centers / paintball stores / direct with test centers
Thanks for the info. I guess when your bottle failed it became useless? Did I read correctly somewhere if it does fail, the test centre destroy it?
 

DonBossi

Member
Mar 4, 2021
61
22
8
Firstly you won't get a steel bottle, steel bottles haven't been on the market for probably 20 years now, "steelies" are aluminium.

Aluminium 0.8L ( you can get bigger 1.1L aluminium bottles but they weigh a ton and i don't know where sells them) bottles can be bought for as little as £35, they have a 10 year test period and no death date as long as they pass the hydro test every 10 years, due to the low cost of a new bottle most people don't think it's worthwhile getting them test so they become paperweights or vases or flowerpots.

Fibre wrapped bottles are a lot lighter than aluminium bottles and are available in a lot more sizes.

Around 2012 or so a new certification for HPA bottles was brought out, UNISO 11119-2.

UNISO 11119-2 certified fibre wrapped bottles technically have an unlimited life span as long as they pass the hydro test every 5 years, though so far i've only seen 1 brand openly state this fact as a selling point which is first strike hero bottles. Other bottle manufacturers/brands are making bottles to the new certification but they're still putting a death date on their bottles ( presumably so they can keep on selling new bottles in the future ) , it may be that test centres might ignore the death date on UNISO 11119-2 certified bottles, who knows. I have seen one other bottle brand other than first strike that didn't have a death date on the label but i can't remember what brand it was.
Thanks Bod. All useful stuff. Be interesting to know a testers opinion on the question of them ignoring a Uniso stamped bottle end date or not. I'd imagine to cover their own backs they'd probably consider if the manufacturer says it is only good for so long, then that's final.
As you say, lifetime bottles aren't exactly in the manufacturers best interests.
 

BOD

The brotherhood
Aug 1, 2003
693
202
68
YORK
Visit site
Thanks for the info. I guess when your bottle failed it became useless? Did I read correctly somewhere if it does fail, the test centre destroy it?
They will most likely drill a hole in it making it unusable and return it to you, it is after all still your property and the reg is still usable,.
 

DonBossi

Member
Mar 4, 2021
61
22
8
Months prior to re test? Effectively the same, 5 years between tests - but aluminium’s are cheap enough to not bother testing..
Re test cost? Should be same irrespective of type, but varies depending on who you go to
Re test ease of use? No different to you regarding testing, the correct fibres can be more ergonomic when you’re playing
Re test likelihood of failing??? You’re going to have to try hard to break an aluminum, you can easily scratch the finish of a fibre which should not affect it. But the first stage of a test is visual inspection - if the tester doesn’t like the look of a deep scratch etc then it’s an instant fail. The easy solution is a bottle cover

For 99% of new players I would recommend going for an aluminium until you decide on exactly what will suit you........


‘Steelies’ in paintball these days are actually aluminum. There might be a steel one still about, but I wo

(Roughly) A standard aluminium cylinder will cost around £30-£40, a standard fibre will cost £150, and premium ultra lite fibres £200+

The normal timeframe between retests is 5 years, but aluminium’s are legally valid in the UK for 10 years between tests. However most sites will permit cylinders to be used for 5 years between tests.
When an aluminum is marked that it has a 5 year test cycle then we should stick to that

Aluminum cylinders have an unlimited lifetime, if they keep getting tested. (But with the cost of a new aluminum vs the cost of a test it’s not generally worth the cost to test them)

Fibre wrapped cylinders typically have a maximum 15 year life - which means they need to be tested for continued use from the 5 and 10 year point.
(you don’t need to hit the right dates, but like an MOT you need to be in date to use the cylinder

A newer international standard allows certain types of fibre wrap to have an unlimited lifetime, however these mostly seem to still have an expiry date shown

Test costs vary. If you can do a face to face drop off and pickup then it’s around £25-£30
More if it needs to be posted to or from the test centre.
There can sometimes be tests for as little as £15 or £20

On a test price of £25, a £150 fibre cylinder would cost £200 over 15 years
(Averaged to £13.33 per year)
An aluminum at £30 used for only 5 years averages at £6 per year
An aluminum is the cheapest to start you off and has the cheapest lifecycle costs
(You could potentially get some scrap value out of it at the end of its life too)

A fibre wrap gives you the advantage of 50% more air when you have 4500psi fills available. But most sites supply 3000psi fills only. So you don’t get the advantage of the extra pressure.
Special events such as scenarios, big games and tournaments may bring in HPAC etc to provide higher fills to 4500psi
Players then need to make sure they use the right fill station for their cylinder.
A 3000 bottle should only be filled at a 3000 fill station - you can technically fill at a 4500 fill station if you are careful but you will get shouted at
A 4500 can be filled at either (but won’t get to its capacity unless at a 4500 fill station?
Back in the day when there were not many fill stations and there was a long queue in the morning I would get my first fill at the 3000 fill station instead of waiting for 4500, then top up later

Fibre cylinders are lighter than aluminum
But only when like for like.
A ‘standard’ 3000psi is 48ci and a ‘standard ‘ fibre is 68ci
Their weight is similar, you get 20ci more space in a 68ci
A small 48ci fibre is lighter than the standard 48ci aluminum

Unless you are counting milligrams or are a weakling then you won’t notice any practical difference in weight across a day

Modern guns should be efficient, and unless you are a super ninja shooting ropes, never being eliminated and never eathen you will be fine on the fill for a 3000psi between games or between respawns

The real advantage of fibre is the range of size and shapes. You can fine tune the right bottle to your arm and elbow length for personal ergonomics

Aluminium’s typically have a flat base (there is one aluminum that I have seen that has a curved base, but I don’t think it is sold anymore)
Fibres have a curved base which helps them sit in your shoulder as a rolling stock

The cylinders themselves are just a bottle that holds air. They perform no differently

The regulator may have the ability to be adjusted in its output pressure or be quicker at refresh rates if you are making sustained high rates of fire
Unless you have a special gun then the regulator won’t make much noticable difference - it gets air to the gun.
Old regulators might have a higher output and could blow the internals of some modern guns.
Certain older model guns required a specific low pressure regulator


The only maintenance would be if there is a need to replace o rings or burst disks.
But for most players it’s hands off and won’t notice any problems as long as you keep a fill nipple cover on to avoid dirt and debris etc, and don’t over fill
Very informative once again Tom, thanks very much!

You mentioned burst discs - I saw one aluminium bottle use "High and low pressure burst discs for the highest level of safety". Others state dual burst disc safety.

This got me thinking, don't all bottles have a high and low, for rapid over compression or what I assume would be a rapid decompression from being pierced?

Is expect the more expensive fibre have 2 bursts, but would the cheaper bottles also have and they've just used that line as part of the sales pitch? Or do some cheaper bottles actually come with only one high or low burst disc?

None of this really impacts my playing experience but I do like to learn ;-)
 

k4p84

Platinum Member
Oct 14, 2009
973
195
68
www.paintballskirmish.co.uk
Very informative once again Tom, thanks very much!

You mentioned burst discs - I saw one aluminium bottle use "High and low pressure burst discs for the highest level of safety". Others state dual burst disc safety.

This got me thinking, don't all bottles have a high and low, for rapid over compression or what I assume would be a rapid decompression from being pierced?

Is expect the more expensive fibre have 2 bursts, but would the cheaper bottles also have and they've just used that line as part of the sales pitch? Or do some cheaper bottles actually come with only one high or low burst disc?

None of this really impacts my playing experience but I do like to learn ;-)
The low and high describes there relative position, ie pre or post regulation.
If the physical tank is over pressurised / gets left in the sun and pressure increases etc the high side burst disk will rupture and vent the tank.
If the reg is supercharging, ie it needs a service and is outputting way over its design the low side will rupture.
Most regs also have cross drilled threads so if you somehow start to unthread a reg from a tank it will vent the tank before the reg could be possibly sent flying.

As I'm old I may be wrong but in the early years of air being used, it was all co2 before, not all regs had all the safety features but all regs marketed now will.

The energy involved in tanks is something to be given the utmost respect.

Treat the tank well, as above a tank cover is a great option.
If the reg is misbehaving have it serviced by a professional.
If the tank exhibits any damage have it checked professionally.
Never put any for of oil in the reg.
Never try to override any of the safety mechanisms.