Blog Article Written By UKPSF Player member: James Dodge Ryan
Posted: 30th June 2015
Team: Going Postal
A common question asked by new players ask is “Which is the most accurate out of X and Y paintball marker?” or “How do I make my paintball marker more accurate?”. This post aims to be a reference and guide to answer those types of questions and help those who are new to the sport to gain a better understanding on how to be more accurate with their marker. It is not intended to be the definitive “end all” of accuracy but hopefully will give some understanding on the subject.
1 ) Quality of paint:
Unlike a normal firearm, a paintball marker shoots a frangible, gelatin encased liquid round. Not the most ballisticlly aerodynamic ammunition and therefore the quality of paintball used will make a dramatic effect on accuracy. Cheap paint may not be consistently round, may have grooves or nicks in the surface and inconsistent in its size and shape. Therefore each paintball will not have the same ballistic aerodynamic profile and therefore will travel differently through the air. A good quality paintball will be consistently shaped and sized and be less likely to have surface imperfections and therefore will fly more consistently through the air.
2 ) Storage of paint:
Paint stored in the cold will cause the fill to shrink slightly. This will cause the surface of the paintball to dimple and these dimples will cause inconsistent air flow over the ball in flight. This is why you see games advertised with heated paintball stores so you know the paint you are buying has been stored well. Conversely paint can swell up if stored in too much heat. A stable temperature is required to get the best out of a good quality paint.
3 ) Quality of Barrel:
It goes without saying that a good quality barrel will have a better finish on the inside. Poor quality internal finishes will cause a paintball to “grab” on the barrel as it travels and impart a hook or a slice on the shot as it travels past meaning the ball will then travel according to that spin upon exiting the barrel.
4 ) Barrel Sizing:
Paintball diameters vary between manufacturer and even between batches of the same paintball from a manufacturer. There are barrel systems out there that allow for sizing by either a fin screwed onto the end of the barrel (e.g Hammerhead) or an insert that slots into a section of the barrel (Freak Barrel). As a guide, the barrel fin/insert you use should prevent a ball from passing through it without a light buff of air. If the paintball falls through the barrel then air can move around the ball as it travels and can result in a less stable air channel meaning the ball might exit the barrel with an inconsistent trajectory. If the paintball does not pass through the barrel at all then you run the risk of the paintball breaking in the barrel (a “barrel break”) leaving a film of paint on the inside of your barrel. This film will catch the next round that goes past it causing that paintball to “grab” on the paint and spin in the same (but usually more dramatic) way as a poor finish on the inside of a barrel. If your barrel is correctly sized then you also get the additional benefit of being more gas efficient and therefore will get a few more shots from your air system. If a barrel sizing kit is beyond your budget then consider several cheaper but good quality barrels that can be picked on on forums such as here to help.
5 ) Velocity (Chrono) consistency:
If your marker is able to shoot with a consistent velocity then you are more likely to be shooting each ball to the same location as the last. Therefore if when you chrono your marker you are able to get a consistent velocity (say 275-285fps) then each shot will be more accurate than a marker that spikes a great deal over the chrono (say 260-290fps). It should be easy to visualise that this lack of velocity consistency will lead to different trajectories of each paintball as it exits the marker. It therefore makes a big difference if your marker is firing regulated air or not. If a marker has a regulator then the air pressure coming from your bottle is regulated as it is fed through the marker and therefore leads to a more stable, consistent air pressure and therefore velocity than a marker that fires with air fed unregulated directly into your firing mechanism. Most mechanical markers fire unregulated air and therefore are more prone to these spikes in velocity than regulated electro-pneumatic markers however this is not to say that mechanical markers are hopelessly inaccurate, they are just generally less consistent than their electro cousins.
6 ) Cleanliness is next to godliness:
A clean marker, hopper, paint and barrel are essential to accuracy. Inspect your paint and ensure there are no breaks in the bag. Try and store the paint in a clean container. Cheap storage systems include the much loved plastic cereal container with a round feed at the top. Decant your paint from the bag into this (Clean!!) container and it will be less likely to get water, dirt or cheeseburger on it and therefore shoot better. Any muck or dirt in the bottom of a hopper can feed inside the breach and then the barrel and that can then cause inconsistent accuracy. Keep your barrel clean, after a days play, rinse it through with warm water to clean any residue inside it and dry it with a fluffy. A clean gun will always shoot better than a dirty one.
7 ) Marker maintenance:
Learn to maintain your marker. Know how to clean out a break in the breach, lube the correct areas and reassemble it. Consult your markers manual for guidelines or speak to someone with more experience with that marker or visit the tech stands at the big games.
8 ) Practise:
All the above is only relevant if you practise with your marker. Learn to shoot it, how to hold it the most comfortable way for you so you are able to shoot in a consistent manner and your accuracy can go up more than you might imagine. The more paint you shoot through it, the more consistent you will get in aiming for what you are hitting at. Learn how to shoot as you move so you can put down accurate paint as you move up the field. Practise, practise, practise!
Hopefully the above will serve as a guide and as you can see there is more to an accurate paintball marker than just the marker itself. You will notice the one word I have used throughout is “consistent”, this really is the key to paintball marker accuracy, the more consistent your game is and by this I mean everything from the way you shoot, the way you treat your marker through to the paint you use has an effect on your accuracy.