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The 3000 psi hand pump

by B.B. Pelletier

As more shooters turn to PCPs, there is an increased demand for the high-pressure hand pump. Once you overcome the shock of discovering that it’s really possible to pump 3,000 psi by hand, the pump becomes quite fascinating for many shooters. To help you make your decision, let’s look at some pump facts that aren’t so obvious.

Is it REALLY possible to pump 3,000 psi?
It is, but like most things, there is more to it. After the pump reaches 1,500 psi, it starts resisting a little. At 2,000 psi, the resistance increases and at 2,500 psi I can no longer comfortably work the pump with one hand. At 2,700 psi, the resistance becomes so great that I start to use the entire weight of my body to push the handle down, rather than just the strength of my arms. By leaning all my weight on the pump handle and bending at the knees, my whole body pumps for me. Now, I’m fairly large and I’m fit, so those numbers will be different for others. Here’s some advice that was given to me when I bought my first pump about ten years ago. You must weigh at least 130 pounds to pump the hand pump up to 3,000 psi. It will become easier as your weight increases, because you have more weight to push down the handle.

That handle works in both directions!
Although the hand pump looks like a bicycle pump, the similarity ends there. The high-pressure hand pump is actually three pumping units tucked into a single package. It compresses air on the upstroke, too. On the downstroke, it does its final compression, which is where the resistance becomes the heaviest. Take your time going in both directions because the air holes inside aren’t very large. You’ll hear the pump start to wheeze, which is to remind you to go slow. Allow at least a full second at either end of the pump stroke for all the air to flow. And, for gosh sakes, pump the handle ALL THE WAY down on every stroke! The last inch of travel is where all the work gets done.

Not all pumps are the same!
If you’re new to airguns or just to precharged pneumatics, it might surprise you to learn there have been at least seven major pumps in the past 10 years – and many variations of most of them. Do not think for a moment that they’re all alike, or that when you buy one you get everything you need to fill your airgun.

Pumps for 10-meter airguns
I’ve written enough on 10-meter target airguns that you should be familiar with them. From yesterday’s post about airgun competition, you now know 10-meter competition is the largest single group of competitive airgunners in the world, comprising over a million shooters worldwide. So, when you buy a pump from a 10-meter dealer, it doesn’t look like one you’ll buy from Pyramyd AIR. In its base, there is a large hole threaded in the DIN pattern. DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung – the German institute for standards. Some scuba tanks have DIN valves, which are valves with large threaded holes, for equipment to screw into. There is a 200 bar DIN hole for 3,000 psi equipment and a 300 bar DIN for 4,500 psi equipment (psi figures rounded up for simplicity). The diameter and threads of both holes are the same, but the 300 bar DIN hole is deeper.

All 10-meter precharged airguns are set up for DIN filling equipment, and that includes the pumps. When you buy that second-hand pump from somebody, it may come with a DIN hole in the base rather than the 1/8″ BSPP hole you were expecting! (The hole through the fitting is one-eighth inch in diameter and the threads are British Standard Pipe Parallel threads.)

Pump on the left has a DIN hole in its base. Pump on the right has two 1/8″ BSPP holes (one is for the gauge that is missing). As you can see, it matters which one you have!

Say hello to the K-valve on a scuba tank. This is a common type of scuba valve – though certainly not the only one!

This adapter screws into a 1/8″ BSPP hole to give pump owners a K-valve. There was also one that fit a DIN hole. Not currently available.

If the adapter for your airgun is for a scuba tank K-valve, that’s what it has to fit. But hand pumps don’t have K-valves on them! A few years ago, an airgun dealer made up a few hundred adapters that screwed into most pumps (the ones that have a 1/8″ BSPP threaded hole in the base), giving pump users a K-valve of their own! He also made up some to fit pumps with DIN holes in their bases. This is a great item, though not currently offered by anyone, as far as I know.

Two quick ways to DESTROY a hand pump!
No. 1: For immediate destruction, disassemble your pump! The magic leaks out the moment the first fitting is loosened.

No. 2: This takes several pumping sessions, but is easy to do in less than one month. Don’t allow your pump to cool down for 15 minutes after every five minutes of pumping! You will burn the high-temperature packing (the deepest seal in the pump!) and probably crack the brass fitting that holds it. The outward symptoms are a pump handle that refuses to stay down.

I own three hand pumps and am testing a fourth one on long-term loan. All the pumps I own are at least three years old and the oldest is 10, and none has ever needed maintenance. I use scuba tanks most of the time, but when my tank is low I reach for a hand pump!

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

62 thoughts on “The 3000 psi hand pump”

  1. BB,

    I just purchased a Hill pump. The new model with the moisture pack. I bought this model because of it’s “supposed” 232 bar performance. I thought this would be useful if I ever aquired a BSA or a Daystate since some of their PCPS are filled past 3000 psi. I have two aluminum 80 cuft scuba tanks and just like you I find a pump useful. BB, I was wondering what you think about the Hill MK2. Another thing, you mention long term testing a fourth pump…. Is it a new make/model? Are you allowed to spill the beans about it? Great blog and thanks,


  2. Jason,

    I have a Hill pump and it does reach 232 bar. It is more robust than the FX, but I wouldn’t push it any harder.

    The moisture filter is on the air intake side, which is not very useful. It’s trying to dry the air as it is sucked into the pump. The internal moisture trap works fine, just like the FX.

    The new pump I’m testing is Chinese, from Xisico. It looks like a copy of the FX. There are more pumps soon to come out of China, but a funny thing about that. They will all retail for about the same price because it turns out that to work, these pumps demand the top quality seals that are only made in the technologically advanced countries. So they all cost money to be produced.


  3. B.B.-

    I’m confused, you say “Don’t allow your pump to cool down…” I’ve always heard the exact opposite, that pump seals will be destroyed if the pump generates too much heat with excessive pumping.


  4. BB,

    with your FX pump, how many strokes do You need to fill one of your guns? For example from 200 to 300 psi. It is difficult for me to estimate the efforts included in PCPs.


  5. Alex,

    The number of pump strokes is entirely dependent on the volume of the reservoir. For example, it takes 14 – 15 pump strokes to put 100 psi into an AirForce reservoir. It takes 12 strokes to put 100 psi into a Career 707 reservoir. It may only take 6 – 8 to put 100 psi into a smaller rifle’s reservoir.


  6. Hi BB

    Thanks for the info on the FX.It put my mind at ease about quality.I bought my first airgun two months ago and shot it so much it had to go to the repair shop.Im 66 years old now,and I can see this will be a great hobby.You do a great service providing this info,I applaud you for it. cyco

  7. BB,

    I bought one of those Chineese copies of the FX pump. Mine was labeled with the Bam name. I only paid $120. When it arrived I tried to pump up one of my Airforce tanks. I got less than half way and the pumps seals failed. I was only pumping for 5 minutes at a time and let it cool properly. The pump came with out instructions of any kind and a megapascals gauge. I sent the pump back for my cash. In all fairness, this is only one expirience with one imparticular pump and maybe not represenative of the manufacturors usual quality.


  8. B.B.
    I almost forgot to ask.What do I need to buy to hook up my FX to a scuba tank? I do not want to guess and buy things I will not need.

    Thanks again cyco Dick

  9. BB,

    I think you misunderstood both cyco dick and I. Both he and I were refering to the charging adaptor that goes between the k valve on the scuba tank and the probe to fill the rifle. The charging adaptor with the guage. He would have a hell of a time trying to hook the rifles filler probe straight to the scuba tank. Haha


  10. BB, I very recently got an FX pump and the 1.5″ pressure guage is on the upper hole of the block at the pump base. I noticed in the pic. in your blog the gauge is reversed.

    I’m considering reversing my pump to that configuration. I think I’d like a very high quality 2″ gauge that I KNOW is correct.
    My new Revolution is showing 220bar when the pump is showing 198bar.

    FX pump and FX gun and a big ol 22bar (323psi)discrepancy. Larger bottom mount guages won’t won’t screw past the barrel when on the top angled hole, they hit the pump tube.

    I tend not to trust the tiny gauge on the gun but don’t want to risk just cranking past the lower reading.

    Is the block just open ports to both holes. or should I not switch positions?

  11. I have a basic question – why hand pumps? I have an air mattress that uses a simple electric pump to fill it – surely manufacturers could safely design one for air guns. It could be powered off my car lighter like the Coleman model I have, or some other AC/DC adapter, and pump to at least 2000 psi, 23 the full pressure needed. It seems archaic to be pumping by hand today.

  12. Ian,

    Great idea! In fact electric pumps do exist. The cheapest is currently $1,200, which answeres your basic question.

    Your air matress holds less than 100 psi. An airgun pump needs to go to at least 3,000 psi. The difference between those two levels is the difference between a tent and a skyscraper, technologically speaking.

    There are a couple of projects currently working on designing a high-pressure electric pump to fill airguns. The problem is the cost of materials. The special heat-tolerant seals and metals, plus machining costs conspire to drive the price above $800, which is still no good. The target seems to be a retail price below $500. and a killer price would be anything below $300.

    You say “.. surely manufacturers could safely design one for airguns.” Well, yes and no. Anyone can make just one, but to be viable, this pump must be producible. NASA-desigtned stuff doesn’t count.

    I think we are very close to having an affordable electric pump.

    Hasn’t happened yet, though.


  13. Which adaptor would fit the male quick connect on a paintball tank?

    Also, is the Xisico BAM pump good enough for the job of filling a paitball tank (1100 cc, 200 bar), or would you reccomend a Hill or FX?


  14. I don’t know about paintball connectors. Best contact a paintball supply house. Also, it depends on whether you’re talking air or CO2.

    DO NOT try to put 200 bar into a CO2 paintball tank! They are rated for 900 psi with an overpressure allowance of 1,800 psi to allow for heat. They are not made for high pressure air.


  15. Thanks for the reply.

    I have a high end carbon fiber 300 bar tank air tank, I just want to know your thoughts on using a hand pump to refill to 200 bar. The volume is 68 CU or about three times the volume of a 400 cc PCP tank.

    I don’t live near a place to refill and I want to see if using a hand pump is feasible. I am willing to take a few passes and cool downs to fill the tank, but I have no practical experience with the pumps.

    Can I get by with a Xisico or should I get a FX or Hill or just forget using a hand pump?


  16. Great, looks like about three 5 minute sessions, I can live with that.

    I guess you proved that as long as you don’t violate the 5 min/15 min cool down, you can fill to any volume.

    I am still laughing about filling a 6 cubic foot tank though 🙂

    Thanks for you help, I think I will be getting a pump as soon as I can figure out how to adapt to the tank to the british threads.

    If you want, I will post a review of my tank filling experiences on pbnation.com and point them to your site, you will be surprized by the level of reponse you will get. There are typically about 2000-3000 people on that site at all times, and they buy a lot of product for their high end guns.

    Jamie Moore (p8nt4brainz@gmail.com)

  17. B.B. I’am a little confused. I just ordered a FWB 700 UNIVERSAL match grade rifle and I’m interested on buying a hand pump for filling it.

    My question is, do I need any other accessory to make it fit, or what comes with the pump is what I need.

    Thanks in advance for your support.


  18. Andy,

    Contact the dealer who sold your the rifle and confirm that it comes with a DIN adapter. If it does (and I believe it does) then you need a pump with a DIN hole in its base. The adapter screws into the hole and the rifle tank screws onto the adapter. If you re-read this posting, you’ll see the difference between a DIN hole and a 1/8 BSPP hole.

    You might also want to read Tom Gaylord’s article on the hand pump on this site:


    Tom shows a 10-meter air tank attached to a hand pump, the same as your rifle tank will attach.


  19. B.B. I have a Logun Eazi glide hand pump I bought from Pyramidair. It has the 1/8″ outlet. I use it to fill a Talon. I would also like to use it to fill a 10 meter air pistol tank. Is there an adapter that will adapt the pump’s 1/8″ outlet to the DIN used by the 10 meter air pistols (FWB, Steyr etc.)?

  20. I have an Air Force PCP hand pump. I have looked for any kind of information on the required maintenance on said pump. What kind of lubricant, where to apply, etc., or do you just use it till it won’t pump and buy another one?

  21. My AirForce hand pump (actually an FX pump) is now five years old and I have done nothing to it but use it constantly. The best thing you can do is let the pump cool down after five minutes of pumping. The worst thing is to try to do “maintenance” on it. And leave the black grease on the silver pump shaft! It’s there for a purpose.

    Read Tom Gaylord’s article on hand pumps.



  22. John,

    If you buy the AirForce pump, it comes with the correct adaptor instaled. A new shipment is due in a couple of weeks.

    Pyramyd AIR also sells something they call a Logun FX3000 AirForce pump that comes with the correct adaptor.


  23. How can i find out the hose sizes needed to connect a pump to my compressed air tanks. Im a paintball player and wondering if these pumps will work to fill my tanks which are 45cu/3000psi and 45cu/4500psi….If there is a pump and hoses that work please give me advice on which i should buy…


  24. These pumps will only go to 3000 psi. The new Air Venturi pump goes up to 3600.

    The fittings are purposely made different so they cannot be connected. Call Pyramyd AIR to ask what adaptors they can supply to give you what you want.


  25. Some scuba tanks hold up to 6000 psi. What is the reason air rifles do not use this much pressure? A technology limitation? Being twice the psi most air rifles use, one would think the power would approach that of a normal rifle. Also if the technology exists to build a 3600 psi air pump why not downsize or modify the design to fit onto an air rifle itself. Everything in one neat package. Weight could be an issue but with the modern materials we have nowadays carbon fiber, aircraft grade aluminum, etc, I wouldn’t think this to be a NASA brainstorm but I could be wrong. Comments appreciated.


  26. Ray,

    And you’d sell maybe 20. Problems abound whenever you go to a pressure level that isn’t widely supported. Besides, with big bores already over 1,000 foot-pounds, how much more power do we need?

    Air pressure alone doesn’t result in power. It takes the right combination of valve design, barrel length and caliber to get high power.

    There is already a .22 caliber air rifle that develops 120 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. That’s the equal of a .22 long rifle standard speed round.

    As for putting the pump into the air rifle, that also been done. Since the 1700s we have had multi-pump pneumatics. But when they get powerful, like you are suggesting, their pumps become hard to operate and again you sell maybe 20 rifles. Just ask Daystate.


  27. Amazing, no one has mentioned the small compact air craft compressors. The cat's meow is the 4 stage upright Kidde, produces 3000 psi@2 cfm. Built like bricks, they have a life span of almost 8000 hrs. They will last you a lifetime, and whoever you hand them down to. They have a moisture separator, which works great. You can fill your rifle in just a few minutes. They are 28 VDC, work great off two car batteries, or two cars with the batteries in series, and the cars running so you don't walk. You simply can't beat these little jewels. They show up occasionally on Ebay. Don't laugh if they want $1000 or more for these, they cost the US gov about $15,000 per unit. You get what you pay for. I've never messed with a hand pump, to be honest, so I can't really say how they perform. I like filling my rifle in a couple minutes, with a compressor the size of a one gallon milk jug, and weighs only about 40 lbs. By estimating fill time for a tank, simply divide the cu ft by 2, this gives the fill time. Can't make it any simpler than that 🙂

  28. Kevin,

    What? Are you trying to pick a fight with me?

    I would NEVER NEVER NEVER advise anyone to EVER disassemble any hand pump–ESPECIALLY the FX.

    Maybe you have a broken pump. So do I. I even know where I can get the actual factory O-rings along with a factory diagram of the FX hand pump and I still will not attempt the job.

    When I worked at AirForce I used to try to fix FX hand pumps that had been returned. I had to repair about three pumps to get one pump that worked–partially.

    My advice is to get a new pump. Ever wonder why there are no repair stations for hand pumps? Anywhere?


  29. Hi There I have An AF Condor and fill clamp. It seems while filling off a friends dive tank he commented his pressure was at about 2700psi down a little. We filled what we could but the gauge on the AF clamp was reading almost 3000psi.
    It looks to be the old small type guage and is not the same as the pictures on the Pyramyd site for the AF fill Clamp. Is there anywhere I can find a replacement gauge..

  30. techmod,

    And what makes your friend's gauge correct?

    All small gauges are off by some amount. The trick is to learn it and commit it to memory.

    AirForce might sell you a gauge, but it will be a crap shoot, just like any other gauge.


  31. Dear B.B,
    I am a recreational paintball player and a college student. I am always trying to find ways to play, while keeping the costs down. I just learned about these high pressure air pumps and was wondering if they would work for paintball tanks also,like this one.
    I think the only difference in these tanks is their size or capacity. I also didn't know what kind of fitting I would need to attach the pump to the tank. This would be awesome, if it worked. Thanks Scott.

  32. Scott,

    The tank you show looks similar to the one Benjamin sells for airguns:


    So the answer is yes, a pump can fill the tank, but it will take far too long to do. Maybe half a day of pumping.


  33. Hello BB,
    I have an Axsor pump which displays the symptoms you describe for an over heated pump, the handle won't stay down… (I never used the pump very hard and it is only about 6 months old, all of this stated after the recent heat wave). I can temporarily fix the problem by unscrewing the 2 little screws at the base and taking the green part of (raising it) and then tightening the pump shaft.
    My guess is that this shaft was secured in place with some kind of heat sensitive bond.
    My questions that arise are: 1. is it fixable?
    2. I'm considering getting a Hill Pump if/when my Axsor gives the ghost. I read it is repairable with a separate repair kit, would it really be if had suffered the same alleged abuse as the Axsor?

    Many Thanks,

    Jacob V.

  34. Jacob,

    The heat I talked about comes from the heat of compression, not from the ambient temperature. Maybe on Mercury it's hot enough to ruin a pump, but nowhere on Earth does it get that hot.

    The problem is, there are no pump repair centers anywhere in the world, that I know of. Only the AirForce and Benjamin pumps have a warranty repair center and only the companies can use it. It's not open to the public.

    I'd say use the pump as long as you can and save for the Hill.


  35. How about covert a "High Pressure Water Wash Cleaner" which works at 3350 psi and cost about U$150.
    I guess cutting the water supply and adding some filters and adaptors would work.

    Not a job for me as I have two left hands…

  36. Hello BB.

    Please send me an email at jeffbroodwar@yahoo.com. I have some few questions.

    one of which:

    I have a Hills pump without drypac. I'm worried for my CZ200/AA S200 getting rust inside due to the moisture. I can't buy scuba tank since refilling station is a problem here in the Philippines. Did you have issues on cylinder rust or gun rust in years of using Hills??

    Thank you in advance for your feedback.

    Kind regards,

  37. Hello,
    I got one of the chinese pumps, but I have not yet used it, because there is some strange thing:
    When I push all the way down, the air does not flow. Even after holding for a bit does not make it flow. A very small UP movement is needed to makes it flow. I was wondering if anyone else had ever seen something like that?
    Is it safe to pump? Could be ok when I reach the bigger pressures?

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