Written by eth0real
There are a lot of misconceptions of barrels and accuracy in the sport of paintball. A lot of people think that longer is better and rifled barrels are insanely accurate. First lets discuss the myth of "longer is better".
Studies have been done to determine where the point is in the barrel where the paintball has reached it's maximum velocity. The results are 8"-10". That means having an 18" barrel isn't really helping your velocity at all. In fact it is probably decreasing it due to friction. This also means that if you have any porting before the 8 inch mark, air is escaping before the paintball has accelerated to the max. So what does this all mean, you might ask? If you want the most effecient barrel then get one that is at least 8 inches long and doesnt have any porting before the 8" mark. Effecient basically means your velocity will be greater for how much air your using. So that means that it will shoot farther and have greater fps. Here is an easy test to find out which barrel is the most effecient for you and the paint your using. Shoot some paintballs with 1 barrel over a chronograph and record there fps, or you can eyeball how far it shoots. Then slap on barrel #2 and without adjusting the velocity shoot some more paintballs. If it has a higher fps or it shoots farther, then barrel no. 2 is more effecient. Test this with as many barrels as you like. This also doesn't neccesarily mean that the #2 barrel will always be more efficient. The paint-to-barrel match also effects this test. So with different sized paintballs you might get different results.
Also, longer doesn't nessararly make a barrel more accurate.
Ok, on to rifled barrels.
Rifled barrels are barrels that have grooves or channels in the inside of the barrel to cause the paintball to spin. Rifling is commen in firearms, hence "rifles". Rifling in firearms does help acurracy because the ammunition in firearms are a heavy metal. Rifling causes the projectile to spin and therefore it balances out any imbalances in the projectile and also makes a gyro effect. Paintballs are just way to light to see in increase in accuracy with rifled barrels. Another reason is because paintballs have liquid inside of them. Why does this matter? Have you ever had a glass of water with ice cubes in it and spun the glass. You'll notice that the ice in the glass doesn't rotate much compared to the glass. This means that only the shell in paintballs are spinning making the weight of the rotating mass even less. Rifled Paintball barrels do not work well. People usually find that they get worse accuracy with them then non-rifled barrels. I would stay away from them if i were you.
Ok, now that we have enlightened you on some common misconceptions, lets talk about what you want to hear. Accuracy!
What's the key to accuracy? 3 words. Paint-to-barrel match. ok that was 4 but, you get the point ;-). This means that you use paintballs the same diameter as the diameter of your barrel. You can use my Paint and Barrel charts to see what the diameters are of common paintballs and barrels. You can also use them to find out what paint works good and has the same diameter as the barrel that you have. Another way to find out if you have a good paint-to-barrel match is to do the "blow test".
Here is how you do the "blow Test". Remove your barrel from your marker and put the barrel in your hand. Get one of the paintballs you are using and put it into the barrel and tilt it forward. If it rolls down the barrel partially or all the way out of the barrel, its too large of a bore, and that means the paint is to small. If you put it in and you blow till your face turns blue and the paintball still doesn't come out, then that means the paintballs are too big. If you blow it out easy, the paint is a little to small. If you can blow it out but it takes a few breaths, the paint is still a little too big. A good match occurs when you can blow briskly and the ball comes out with some force on the first try. You should get some good distance if you have a good match and it should hurt if you get hit with it. Go ahead, go test it on your friends or siblings.
Paint-to-Barrel match and how important it is, is why Barrel Kits are so popular now. Barrels kits have multiple backs or inserts that have different bore sizes so you can match it with the paintball you have(blow test) and you'll have a good paint-to-barrel match. Some popular ones are, Smart Parts Freak System, Powerlyte Scepter System, and the Evil Pipe Barrels System. Not a bad investment at all.
Now will discuss what makes barrels and paintballs good.
What makes a good barrel GOOD:
A good barrel usually depends on your style of play. If you are a front player and you constantly find yourself in small places, then a shorter barrel will probably be better for you. If you are a back-player and like to use the longer barrels to nudge into Sup-Air bunkers, then get a longer barrel. Also if you notice that you aim better with a longer barrel, then again, get a longer barrel. If you want a quieter barrel then get one with a lot of porting. To keep your barrel effecient though, like we discussed earlier, make sure there is no porting before 8 inches. What makes a barrel accurate is paint-to-barrel match and how smooth and straight the bore of the barrel is.
What makes a good paintball GOOD:
Consitency in paintballs make paintballs good. You want each paintball to be almost identicle. If the paintballs' diameter varies a lot your fps and accuracy will vary a lot. Also paintballs that have bubbles or aren't completey filled with paint are bad. The paintball will be imbalanced and each paintball's weight will vary. You want paintballs that are as close to a perfect sphere as possible. If some paint commonly has mishaped or warped paintballs then stay away from them. They = bad.
Your Style and Application wise:
Painballs and fills that look cool to you are usually pretty cool. Makes sense right? Also if you are concerned about people wiping then you might want to get a paint that has a darker fill or special "anti-wiper" fills that are hard to wipe and also show up easiley so the refs will catch it. Also if you notice that a lot of your balls are not breaking on your oppenents(or teamates, if you that's your style), then you might want to invest in paintballs that have a thinner shell and or are specially made to break easier. Or vice-versa. If you are constantly getting ball breaks in your barrel then get thicker stronger shelled paintball.
Note: Also do not pick up paintballs off the field and put them in your hopper. You do not know how long they have been there and they probably will have dents, swelled, warped, and maybe some debri imbedded in them also. here are some reasons of why you should not do this
- Increased chances of ball breakage in your hopper, therefore sabatoging the rest of the paintballs in your hopper
- Increased chances of having a ball breakage in the barrel.
- Might bring in some debri in with the paintball and get in the hopper, and possible scratch your paintball bore.
- Just don't do it. People will think your a n00b.
Also if a paintball does break in your hopper for some reason. Then take those paintballs out, clean your hopper, and put fresh paintballs in. You will do this if you care about accuracy at all.
Another factor that contributes to how accurate or consistent your gun is how consistent your air setup is. You want your marker to constantly shoot at the same FPS each time. A good way to make your marker more consistent is to get a good or better inline regulator. There are a ton of them out their and it might be hard to make a desicion. Read some reviews on regulators and see how they are working with from other people. Some good regulators are; Palmer Stabilizer, AKA Sidewinders, and Smarts Parts Max-Flo, Bob-long Torpedo, Air-America regs, and many more. Another way to make your marker more consistent over the chrono is to get a high pressure air tank ("hpa" or "nitro"). Compressed Air Tanks operate by having air compressed at extremely high pressures and then sending it to a regulator to bring down the PSI for your marker to use. HPA tanks work better then co2 because co2 is temperature sensitve because co2 is a liquid while HPA tanks already have it's air in gaseous state. Co2 in the tank is in a liquid form. It needs energy "heat" to turn into it's gaseous state. If it is cold outside you'll probably have some problems with liquid co2 getting in your marker and your fps will fluctuate. Also while shooting long streams of paintballs, your tank will get cold and your fps will vary and drop. If you use co2 a lot and will be sticking with it for a while, i would suggest for you to get an anti-siphon tube installed into your tank. This tube will help prevent liquid co2 from entering your gun and you will get better consistency. Bring in your marker and tank to your local paintball airsmith and have them install one for you. It's a cheap upgade, around 10-15 bucks. Or you can buy or make your own tube and install it yourself(if you know how).
Well thanks for reading my article, I hope you learned something out of it. If you have any questions or comments hit me up at Eth0real@gmail.com.