Tippmann C-3

Last updated
Tippmann C-3


The Tippmann C-3
Type Electronic
Action Pump-Action
Barrel 13 inches
Rate of fire N/A
Retail price $229

The Tippmann C-3 was the first propane powered paintball marker. It operates on a unique system Tippmann calls 'Propane Enhanced Performance'. The name 'C-3' may refer to the chemical formula of propane, C3H8.

Propane is a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula C3H8. It is a gas at standard temperature and pressure, but compressible to a transportable liquid. A by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it is commonly used as a fuel. Propane is one of a group of liquefied petroleum gases (LP gases). The others include butane, propylene, butadiene, butylene, isobutylene, and mixtures thereof.

Paintball sport

Paintball is a competitive team shooting sport in which players eliminate opponents from play by hitting them with spherical dye-filled gelatin capsules ("paintballs") that break upon impact. Paintballs are usually shot using a low-energy air weapon called a paintball marker that is powered by compressed air (nitrogen) or carbon dioxide and was originally designed for remotely marking trees and cattle.

Tippmann is a manufacturer of paintball markers and paintball equipment, including military simulation (MilSim) kits. A related company, Tippmann Industrial Products manufactures manual and pneumatic heavy-duty sewing machines primarily used for leather, other leather-related equipment, and some industrial products. Originally a family owned business run from Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 2004 Dennis Tippmann Sr. sold a majority ownership stake to Summit Partners, a private equity firm. Tippmann designed the first automatic marker, the use of refillable air systems in place of 12 gram cartridges, the "Cyclone Feed" system, the "Flatline" barrel, and the Tippmann C-3, the first propane-powered marker.



While traditional Paintball markers rely upon the expansion of an inert compressed gas (namely CO2 or air) for Paintball propulsion, the C-3 utilises the energy released in propane combustion.

This is a simplified explanation of the C-3's firing system:

The C-3 operates on a closed bolt system. As the pump is pulled back by the shooter, the bolt moves back to allow one paintball to fall into the breech.

As the shooter returns the pump to the forward position, completing the pumpstroke, propane is drawn into the combustion chamber. The bolt also moves forward, sealing the breech, and bringing the paintball into the firing position.

After the pump stroke, the shooter pulls the trigger, causing a spark and igniting the propane. The resulting expansion of gases forces a piston forward, which in turn compresses air behind the ball, propelling the paintball forward.

Advantages of Propane

Performance - Since combustion releases a great deal of energy compared to expansion, the C-3 is able to get up to 50,000 shots from one 16oz tank of propane, over 60 times the amount from a comparable CO2 or compressed air tank.

Safety - The fuel is a standard 16oz propane tank is stored at about 120 psi (830 kPa), a much lower and safer pressure than the 800 psi (5,500 kPa) for CO2 or 3,000–4,500 psi (21,000–31,000 kPa) for compressed air.

Price - Disposable 16oz propane tanks are readily available at discount, grocery, and hardware stores for around $3.00 and deliver approximately 50,000 shots - a single disposable tank may well outlast the marker. In contrast, reusable CO2 tanks cost $5 – $25 and compressed air tanks $35 – $200, delivering 300 to 1200 shots per refill.

Simplicity - Due to it being just that a propane canister, one can make a "remote line" using a standard propane hose.

Consistency - Propane is more consistent than CO2, as the amount of energy released is independent of ambient temperature.

Disadvantages Of Propane

Heat - A large amount of waste heat is produced. This is the main problem with creating a self-loading combustion powered paintball marker.

Further developments

Tippman's patent describes a semi-automatic propane-powered Paintball marker. Operation is similar to that of a reversed C-3 mechanism, with the pump being replaced with a return spring and heavy piston. Pressure produced from the ignited propane pushes the piston forward, which opens a poppet valve and releases exhaust gases into the barrel. The piston continues forward under its own momentum, bounces off the spring and returns to its starting position.

It is unlikely that the self-loading version described in the patent will be produced, due to excess heat production.

See also

Paintball marker main piece of equipment in the sport of paintball

A paintball marker, also known as a paintball gun, paint gun, or marker, is the main piece of paintball equipment in the sport of paintball. Markers use an expanding gas, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) or compressed air, to propel paintballs through the barrel and quickly strike a target. The term "marker" is derived from its original use as a means for forestry personnel to mark trees and ranchers to mark wandering cattle.


Woodsball is a format of paintball gaming, in which players compete in a natural outdoors area using paintball guns to mark opponents. The term "woodsball" is sometimes used to describe non-milsim airsoft games, which take place in a forest.

Related Research Articles

An air gun is any kind of gun that launches projectiles pneumatically with compressed air or other gases that are pressurized mechanically without involving any chemical reactions, in contrast to a firearm, which pressurizes gases chemically via an exothermic oxidation (deflagration) of combustible propellants which generates propulsive energy by breaking molecular bonds. Both the long gun and handgun forms typically propel metallic projectiles, that are either diabolo-shaped pellets, or spherical shots called BBs. Certain types of air guns may also propel darts or arrows.

Air compressor device

An air compressor is a device that converts power into potential energy stored in pressurized air. By one of several methods, an air compressor forces more and more air into a storage tank, increasing the pressure. When tank pressure reaches its engineered upper limit, the air compressor shuts off. The compressed air, then, is held in the tank until called into use. The energy contained in the compressed air can be used for a variety of applications, utilizing the kinetic energy of the air as it is released and the tank depressurizes. When tank pressure reaches its lower limit, the air compressor turns on again and re-pressurizes the tank. An air compressor must be differentiated from a pump because it works for any gas/air, while pumps work on a liquid.

Compressor Mechanical device that increases the pressure of a gas by reducing its volume

A compressor is a mechanical device that increases the pressure of a gas by reducing its volume. An air compressor is a specific type of gas compressor.

Ericsson cycle

The Ericsson cycle is named after inventor John Ericsson who designed and built many unique heat engines based on various thermodynamic cycles. He is credited with inventing two unique heat engine cycles and developing practical engines based on these cycles. His first cycle is now known as the closed Brayton cycle, while his second cycle is what is now called the Ericsson cycle. Ericsson is one of the few who built open-cycle engines, but he also built closed-cycle ones.


The Autococker is a closed-bolt semiautomatic paintball marker manufactured by Worr Game Products (WGP). It was one of the first paintball markers to be designed specifically for the sport, and has long been known throughout the paintball community for its popularity and customizability as well as its complexity. It is commonly believed that the closed-bolt design of the marker makes it inherently more accurate than its open-bolt counterparts, though this is disputed.

Tippmann A-5

The A-5 is a semi-automatic pneumatic marker made by Tippmann for playing paintball. Inspired by the look and feel of the Heckler & Koch MP5K submachine gun, it was first produced in 2002 in the USA. It utilizes a loading concept called the "Cyclone Feed System".

Paintball is an equipment intensive sport and in order to safely conduct a game, every player requires a marker with propellant to fire the paint, a mask to protect the eyes and face, paintballs, and a loader to hold them. To ensure safety off the playing field, a barrel sock or plug for the marker is also compulsory.

Propane torch

A propane torch is a tool normally used for the application of flame or heat which uses propane, a hydrocarbon gas, for its fuel. Propane is one of a group of by-products of the natural gas and petroleum industries known as liquefied petroleum gas or LPG. Propane and other fuel torches are most commonly used in the manufacturing, construction and metal-working industries.

The Bushmaster 2000 is an electro-pneumatic paintball marker produced by Indian Creek Designs, (ICD), a manufacturer based in Idaho.


A turboexpander, also referred to as a turbo-expander or an expansion turbine, is a centrifugal or axial-flow turbine, through which a high-pressure gas is expanded to produce work that is often used to drive a compressor or generator.

A method of operation for paintball markers using a striker, bolt, powertube, and valve assembly in a straight line.

The CCI Phantom is a Nelson-based pump action paintball marker developed and produced by Mike Casady. Production began in 1987 after about six months of prototype work. The name for the marker was derived from the much more stealth-oriented and drawn-out style of play that was typical when the game was first developing. The Phantom was designed to be powered by a single 12 gram CO2 powerlet, but larger tanks may also be used by removing the powerlet adapter or using a dummy powerlet. When first introduced the marker featured a fixed barrel assembly referred to as a "unibody" combined with a modified Crosman air pistol frame and brass bead sight. However, since roughly 1989 the body and barrel of the marker have been two distinct parts and no longer feature the bead style sight. The marker is also capable of supporting bulk gravity fed hoppers by using a different breech type. The Phantom is one of only a handful of readily available markers acceptable for use in the various forms of stock class paintball. However, because the Phantom is capable of auto-triggering and features barrel porting it is considered to be a modified stock class marker.

Paintball pistol

Paintball pistols are a type of paintball marker used in paintball, which loosely resemble pistols. There are two main types of pistols: pump and semi-automatic.

Airgun Designs, Inc. (AGD) is a manufacturer of paintball markers and equipment formerly based in Wheeling, IL. The company is now based in Cary, IL. They are best known for manufacturing the Automag paintball marker. Tom Kaye founded AGD in 1987. As one of the oldest paintball companies in existence, AGD has been responsible for several innovations now common on the paintball scene.

Potato cannon pipe-based cannon

A potato cannon is a pipe-based cannon which uses air pressure (pneumatic), or combustion of a flammable gas, to launch projectiles at high speeds. They are built to fire chunks of potato, as a hobby, or to fire other sorts of projectiles, for practical use. Projectiles or failing guns can be dangerous and result in life-threatening injuries, including cranial fractures, enucleation, and blindness if a person is hit.

Tippmann TPX

The TPX/TiPX is a magazine fed paintball pistol made by Tippmann. New to the paintball pistol market, Tippmann released the TPX in 2009. This paintball marker uses an air system that allows for 12 gram CO2 cartridges to be placed underneath the barrel. This was meant to eliminate bulk in the grip of the marker caused by placing the CO2 cartridge in the magazines. In 2011,Tippmann changed the name of the pistol to the TiPX to market all the improved parts at that time, as well as differentiate it from the TPX baseball line by Louisville Slugger.

Blowtorch fuel-burning tool for applying flame and heat for various applications

A blowtorch, or blowlamp (UK), is a fuel-burning tool used for applying flame and heat to various applications, usually metalworking.