Two main factors influence paintball accuracy: the paintballs and the barrels. However, other factors like the paintball gun and your skill level can also have an impact.
The key to accuracy in paintball is using high-quality paintballs. Even if you have the best paintball gun, the best barrel, and are the world’s best paintball player, if you use bad paintballs, your shots won’t be accurate.
Good paintballs are round, all the same size, and they break on target and mark well.
Having round paintballs is the most important part. If the paintballs are not round, they won’t fly straight. When a paintball is perfectly round, air flows evenly over it, allowing it to go where you want it to. If a paintball isn’t round, it will catch the air, spin, and miss the target.
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Using paintballs that are all the same size is the secret to making them shoot at a consistent speed. When all the paintballs are uniform in size, they fit nicely in the barrel, and this snug fit ensures that each paintball goes at nearly the same speed. When each shot has a similar speed, it means that every paintball will travel the same distance every time. This way, you won’t have to guess how far each shot will go.
It’s not just about hitting your target; it’s also about making sure your paintball breaks upon impact. It’s great when you hit someone, but if the paintball bounces off, they’re still in the game. So, you’ll need something that can break upon contact. This might sound a bit tricky, but I’ll explain it more in the section about paintball guns.
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When a paintball hits its target, it should really stand out. Cheaper paintballs, while they might seem like a good deal, often have problems. The paint inside them is thin and the colors aren’t very bright. Ideally, you want paint with a super bright and thick fill so it’s easy to see and stays put.
Here’s a great example of the difference between a high-quality and a low-quality paint fill. You can clearly see how one is much easier to spot and doesn’t drip like the other. It’s more visible and stays right where it should.
With paintball, you do get what you pay for. For $40 you will get a paintball that may not be round, vary in size, might be hard, and will have a dull fill. Buying name-brand paintballs from companies like Valken, HK Army, and GI Sportz is also a good way to play it safe, there are many paintball companies out there but sticking with the bigger names is a good way to make sure you get better quality. Freshness can also affect paintballs, they are made of gelatin and 100% biodegradable so they will break down over time. It’s best to store paintballs inside at room temperature, and flip the box over once a week this will stop the different liquids from settling.
Paintballs I recommend and use
Making sure you have a good barrel also plays a role with accuracy. I’m not one of the people who thinks barrel brand makes a huge difference, I feel that if you have a well made barrel it’s going to shoot just as well as any other well made barrel. While paintballs are super complicated, barrels are just tubes on aluminum.
The biggest factor to think about with barrels is the bore size. The bore size in the internal diameter of the barrel.
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- Packed with options right from the start, the complete Freak XL barrel system includes the Freak XL back, eight color coded Freak XL inserts (.679, .682, .684, .687, .689, .691, .693, and .695) and an All-American XL or Freak XL front in a durable Freak XL zip-side case.
- The Freak System allows you to get more shots from every fill-up, no matter what marker you shoot.
- Accuracy is the most important feature of a paintball barrel, and the bore matching of The Freak System is the most accurate barrel available.
- The Freak offers a comprehensive selection of bores, each honed to a incredibly smooth finish.
In general, all paintballs are made to be the same size .689 caliber. Since paintballs are made of gelatin they are affected by the weather. If there is some extra humidity in the air either when the paintball is being made or when you open the bag the paintball can take on some of the moisture and swell making it a bit larger than the desired .689, the opposite can happen if the air is dry the ball can shrink. We are talking very small amounts here,.689 to .685 which is only 0.00127mm, a human hair is 0.08 and 0.1mm. Even that small amount can affect accuracy.
The solution to varying paintball sizes is the barrel kit. Barrel kits like the HK Army LAZR have a three-piece design that has different bore size sleeves to accommodate different paintball sizes.
When using a barrel kit, I like to use a size that is the same as the paintballs. I want the paintballs to barely get stuck, so I have to very lightly blow it out. If the ball gets stuck and I have to use a swab to push it out it’s too small and if the paintball falls out the barrel is too big. This is how I use a barrel kit, and it’s the most common way. You can also under or overbore, but I feel these can lead to paintball breaking in the barrel and I don’t like either method.
- Inserts (.679, .682, .684, .687, .689, .691, .693, and .695)
- The longer control bore keeps the air behind the ball for a longer period of time – and as a result can transfer more of its energy to the paintball before being dispersed.
- The Freak System allows you to get more shots from every fill-up, no matter what marker you shoot. By bore-matching your paintballs, you waste less air propelling them down your barrel.
- The wide array of available Freak Inserts lets you match whatever paintball your shooting, getting the most out of your paintball marker.
- When a barrel is properly bored, the ball fits snugly fits inside the bore. Since the paintball fits the bore of the barrel, the ball is propelled straight out of the barrel with maximum accuracy and minimal friction.
Above was about normal paintball barrels, a traditional barrel, the kind that come on all paintball guns, but there are two barrels that will greatly affect how far the paintball gun shoots, the Tippmann Flatline and the Apex Barrel (now discontinued).
Both of these barrels work in the same way adding backspin to the paintball. The backspin makes a low and high-pressure area on the paintball, and the ball gets pulled along kind of like a sail. There’s no question they shoot further, but they also aren’t accurate and break paintballs. By adding backspin you are adding the thing that quality paintballs and good barrels try to eliminate. Adding spin in the backward direction does not affect accuracy, only distance the problem is with the Flatline and Apex that doesn’t happen. For example, if you get 90% backspin and 10% spin on the side, the pressure zone if going to change the ball is going to pull to that side. Sometimes it is 100% backspin, sometimes 80% so it’s hard to tell where the ball is going to go.
Both the barrels work but making the paintball hit a ramp which adds the spin. The problem is paintballs are made to break, so they can break when they hit that ramp. It’s not ideal.
I like to say that guns don’t affect accuracy, that’s kind of true. The big picture they don’t, all paintball guns shoot the same velocity and use the same paintball. If you have a 180R and a Tippmann Stormer, both have the same barrel, same paintballs and the velocity is the same of each shot both guns will have the same accuracy.
The last part is key, the one thing that the 180R can do that the Stormer can’t have very consistent velocity. Taking one shot it’s impossible to tell a difference in accuracy, but when you start shooting the guns back to back the 180R consistent velocity is noticeable and the paintballs gun the same distance every time. Wherewith the Stormer the velocity varies more and the distance change is more obvious. Typical for a velocity fluctuation on the 180R would be +/- 5 FPS, whereas the Tippmann Stormer would be around +/- 15 FPS.
Make no mistake paintball is a very skilled game, it seems like anyone should be a good shot. You just point it and shoot right? Yeah, but there is for sure a skill difference in players.
I know some players that I will never be better than, no matter how hard I work. Some people have a natural shooting ability that I was not born with. Some professionals have been playing pro for over 20 years and have honed their skills.
Practice makes perfect.
Barrel Questions & Help
- How to make your paintball gun more accurate
- What is paintball barrel bore size?
- What is the best barrel length?
- What’s the deal with paintball barrel porting?
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