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Flying with Paintball Tanks

It has been difficult for some time now to take paintball tanks on airplanes.  The TSA wants all paintball tanks to have their valves removed to remove any possibility of have a stored gas on board the plane, and they want to be able to visually see that the tank cannot hold air (not just see a pressure gauge showing no pressure). This also makes it easy for them to verify the tank cannot hold air when they screen your checked luggage without having to open your suitcase. The problem for us is that it is difficult to get the valves off without damage and a torque wrench is required to put them back on. You would also need to check with your retailer to see of removing the valve would void the warranty.

Since I usually have to fly to reach any of the fast gun games, I’ve been trying to find ways to fly with the tanks and not have to remove the valves. So far, the best method I have found is to remove the burst disk from the valveand put both in in a small, clear plastic bag along with a note saying that the burst disk has been removed and that it is impossible for the tank to hold pressure. The burst disk is the small, removable brass bolt in the side of the valve, and it is usually marked with a pressure setting such as 1.8K or 3k (for 1800 psi or 3000 psi). The disks are easily removed or replaced with a small wrench.  This is not entirely in line with TSA regulations, but the burst disks are meant to be user serviceable while the valve tops are not. While it is true that TSA will not be able to determine whether the tanks are safe via x-ray, our bags filled with warship combat gear get hand examined anyway (they don’t quite know what to make of a model ship and lots of off equipment in a golf club case!). I also make sure that the bag with the tank is visible immediately as the case is opened.

This is not a guaranteed way to keep the tank, but I’ve flown many times since using this method and my problems (from this, anyway) have gone away.


Stephen Morgret

Strike Models