Alright, you’ve done it. You have decided to join the PCP part of the airgunning community, but like most people, you don’t have cash filling your pockets to bursting, so what is the best way to get into the PCP world without breaking the bank? What are the best PCP compressors for for shooters on a budget?
We’ll present you with four great choices, explain what is great about them, and leave you to choose for yourself.
This portable compressor comes in at $699.99, making it perhaps the most afforable air compressor that is still reliable. Capable of filling a gun up to 4500 psi, and coming with the ability for you to set at what psi it will shut of, this compressor will meet most of your PCP needs, and let you set it on and walk away.
Don’t plan on filling a scuba tank with this guy though, as that will require too much effort too quickly. As the compressor operates, it will get warmer and warmer, and if you leave it to a task that will take it too long to accomplish, like filling a scuba tank, it will get too hot and things will break.
His portability is quite the deal, as the compressor comes with two cords, one to plug into the wall, the other to connect to your car battery, allowing you to power the thing while on a hunting trip. Just make sure that the car is on, otherwise you will drain your battery and be stranded.
The time it takes to fill your gun will vary form tank size to tank size, but your average PCP shouldn’t take more than about five minutes.
If you take care of this compressor, then you can expect reliable performance for quite a while, making this unit a great entry level compressor.
I would feel remiss if a compressor like this didn’t make it onto a list for airgunners on a budget. Weighing in at $319.99 on Amazon.com, this compressor is easily the cheapest on this list. It doesn’t go first on this list though because I am not confident in recommending a compressor that comes down to this price range.
The reason for this is that usually, manufacturers will cut corners to come down to this price range, but I looked and looked in order to find a compressor that I would feel comfortable recommending in a list like this.
As the cheapest option here, it will be surprisingly reliable, with a generous customer support staff. With a charming water cooling system, assembled by connecting them to the appropriate ports and then placing the ends of the tubes into a bucket of cool water, don’t expect it to over heat.
This portable compressor also comes with an adjustable auto stop, allowing you to fill directly to your gun’s limit, and will plug straight into your wall.
Coming in at $854.95, The AirForce E-Pump boasts the same kinds of features that the Nomad II does, but with the added benefit of doing so slowly.
I know you are wondering why doing things slowly is a benefit for this guy, but the answer goes back to the heat issue. By slowing down the process, this pump is able to accumulate heat much more slowly, exchanging a quicker fill time for the ability to fill a scuba tank from empty to full, which takes about 12 hours, a long process, but one that can be done.
This slower process also makes this thing much much quieter than other compressor options, reportedly being barely even noticeable in the same room.
The AirForce E-pump will also be able to plug into a wall outlet, or connect to your car battery, allowing for great portability, though if you couple this with an air cylinder, that might not be necessary.
Now we are starting to get into the more expensive area for PCP compressors, though still on the the more affordable side. Costing $999.99, this compressor is getting some favorable reviews.
With a digital display and controls, this air compressor allows you to set the exact pressure that you are looking for, with the ability to switch between psi, bar, or MPa. It also has an auto shut off feature for when the compressor gets too hot that will also turn itself back on when it gets cool enough to work again, making it safely rated for both air cylinders and airguns.
The Air Venturi EC-3000 also has a digital temperature scale, displayed in Celsius. For the American reader who may be unfamiliar with the Celsius scale, 0 C is the freezing point of water, 37 C is a typical man’s body temperature, and 75 C is the safe cooking temperature for chicken. Coincidentally, 75 C is also the temperature set for the auto shut off feature.
This compressor is much much faster than the other options we covered so far, with the fill time for a typical PCP airgun being around four minutes from empty to full, but more like
Are There Other Fill Options?
There are other ways to fill your airgun, but as far as compressors go, these are the best options out there. If you go too cheap in your purchase, you may get a product that performs cheap, requiring excess care and maintenance, ultimately costing you more in the long run.
If a quality compressor is still out of your price range, consider a hand pump. These charming devices work with the same principles that our electric compressors do, and look pretty much the same as a bike pump. In fact, that’s pretty much what they are, bike pumps capable of putting 4500 psi inside of an airgun.
It should go without saying that manually pumping 4500 psi worth of air inside of an airgun is a workout; in fact some readers may be here because they grew tired of the manual pump, though they are often where PCP airgunners start.
If you have a scuba tank, you can get that filled at a local dive shop or a paintball center for a service fee, though many of you readers may be here because you want to free yourself of the need to go to these places to constantly fill your gun or tank.
Will my Shop Compressor Work?
Your ordinary shop compressor will not work to fill your airgun. Most compressors that men and women keep in their garages cap out at 150 psi. That is about 1/20 of the pressure that you need in order to fill most PCP’s to their needed 3000 psi.
I know, it is kind of disappointing, but these compressors are intended to do things like fill tires, which require little more than 30 psi. In fact, if you were to try to use a PCP compressor to replace your shop compressor, you might blow your tires up.
I kind of want to try it now, but that would be a bad idea for obvious reasons. These compressors are intended solely for airgunning purposes, and while your shop compressor might have many purposes, filling PCP’s simply is not one of those.
I Already Have Some Scuba Equipment, Will That Work?
Much of the equipment used to keep PCP’s from slowly dying out will work at the same pressure levels that scuba equipment will. In fact, as we said before, you can get your airgun filled at a local dive shop, and the air tanks that Pyramyd Air sells are pretty much scuba tanks.
The equipment that is used by the scuba world could work to power your PCP airgun, and keep it powered. Adapters will be needed, and care should be taken to make sure that you do not over fill your airgun, but those folks in the diving world already have an in into the PCP world.
We should declare though that while much of the equipment designed for the scuba world could work for airguns, provided that the right adapters are employed, the equipment designed and intended for the PCP world will not work for the scuba world.
Airguns don’t care about the quality of air that is put in their tanks. Really, the only thing that matters is that the air is dry. Other than that, you could fill a PCP with helium, and it will still work (theoretically, of course).
A diver does care about what kind of air he is breathing though, so while a scuba compressor needs to devote part of its compression process to filtering out gases like carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, a PCP compressor simply doesn’t, making the air produced by the compressors that we listed above unsuitable for any kind of respiration.
How Much Does the Maintenance Cost?
The cost of maintaining your air compressor is not high. For example, if you choose to go with the Nomad II, there will be very little maintenance that you need to do, and the materials that you need will not cost you all that much; about $10 for a tube of a silicone based lubricant, and about $7 for replacement filters.
The Nomad II though comes with the materials you need to maintain the machine as well as replacement parts, making the eventual purchase of replacement parts a distant eventuality.
All compressors will need maintenance, and keeping up on the maintenance will save you money in the long run. Different models will require different levels of maintenance, but you can expect to lubricate them with a silicone based oil, and regularly replacing filters.
Keep up on the maintenance and you can enjoy using the device for longer, fail to keep up on it, and you will prematurely end your several hundred dollar investment.
Check your owner’s manual, as it will have instructions for what to do to keep your compressor in pristine condition, when do to it, and what parts or materials that you need.