If you are a PCP shooter and don’t have a SCUBA shop or other HPA air supplier readily at hand, refilling can be a bit of a challenge. Sure, there are quality hand pumps available for very reasonable prices, and they work great to top off the air reservoirs on airguns. Wouldn’t you rather be shooting than spending time pumping or driving back and forth to the SCUBA shop?
There are multiple portable compressors now available on the market for the PCP enthusiast and and prices are coming down commensurate with the smaller sizes. Measuring 13.75 by 12.25 by 6.75 inches and weighing approximately 28 pounds, it is air and water cooled. This design provides a longer working life by efficiently dissipating the heat generated by the work the compressors is doing. A four-stage pump design, it runs on 12 volts DC. A voltage inverter is supplied so the unit can also be used with either 110/220 AC house voltage. A six-foot long cable is built in for connecting the unit to a car battery while in the field. A user-adjustable pin system inside the pressure gauge is used to automatically stop the unit once the desired pressure is reached.
Operation is easy and straight-forward: the provided high pressure microbore hose is unwound from the reel and the test plug removed from the female Foster quick-connector and stored for later retrieval. Supply power to the unit, close the bleed valve on the Trail Charger and flip the main power switch. The water pump and fan will start. Next make sure the gauge arm is set to the proper pressure to automatically shut off the unit. Some PCP airguns may require the user to cock the gun in order to fill and if filling a tank, be sure to open the tank valve slowly and completely. To start compression, simply press the illuminated green button.
The Trail Charger is remarkably quiet in operation. For larger fills it would be wise to stay near the machine checking that the water pump is working and monitoring the recommended duty cycle of 30 minutes on, 20 minutes off. There is an illuminated red stop button if you need to stop the compressor. The gauge on the Trail Charger goes up to 6000psi, however the instructions indicate the designed maximum pressure is 350 bar.
These units are typically designed to provide HPA for airgun reservoirs or air tanks only. The Trail Charger literature alludes its design provides for high purity air with extremely low oil and water content with no carbon dioxide or other harmful gases; making this air usable for human consumption. Additional testing might be wise prior to using it for that purpose.
Even though there is an onboard moisture filter, when air is being compressed to these high levels, any water molecules are being compressed at the same time. You don’t want this moisture to enter your airgun or air storage tanks as it will have a corrosive effect over time. If investing in a portable air compressor, consider additional moisture filtration.
Available from my friends at airgunsofarizona.com, the Trail Charger retails at $800. Along with several wrenches for assembly/disassembly, it comes with extra grease in a syringe, extra O-rings, burst discs and parts to perform a reseal. A one-year limited warranty covers the buyer. Additionally, AofA can help with after-market moisture filtration questions or needs.