Are There Different Size Paintballs?
To the untrained eye, a paintball is just a paintball, but the deeper you delve into the sport, the more nuance you’ll find. Paintballs come in a variety of sizes, and the size you choose can have a big impact on how you play. Everything from how much the paintball hurts to flight and accuracy depends on size, so getting that right is a fundamental part of any match.
Size and caliber
When discussing paintballs, size equals caliber. While there are quite a few different calibers available, it’s always important to check your barrel to make sure that it’s compatible with your chosen balls. Barrel and caliber must match or the gun won’t fire. Nevertheless, it is possible (and usually quite simple) to switch calibers with the help of a conversion kit. These are widely available and enable you to adjust the size of your barrel. Each caliber has a different use and different properties (for example, lower-caliber balls aren’t suitable for tournaments, but higher-caliber options will hurt more!). With all of this in mind, let’s see which caliber is right for you.
.68 caliber paintballs
Easily the most common size of paintball, the .68 caliber is so widely popular that it’s close to becoming a paintball “standard.” It’s the ball of choice for professional tournaments, and it's mostly used during recreational paintball events, too. There are many benefits associated with using .68 caliber balls, not least their ubiquity, which means that they’ll fit most standard guns like the Azodin Kaos.
Many find that this caliber offers the best player experience. Since these balls are usually high-quality, they tend to be of uniform size and fly through the air in a straight line. They’re also designed to explode immediately upon impact and scatter their paint with that satisfying splat that makes tagging an opponent feel so good! They’re used for both outdoor and indoor play and across a variety of formats including speedball, scenario paintball and woodsball.
There are some downsides, of course. .68 caliber balls are heavy, and if you’re carrying a lot of them, that can make a difference in more intense formats like woodsball, which demands a lot of dexterity. They also hurt more when you’re struck owing to their larger size and unique “splat”-style design. You’ll certainly know about it if you’re hit by a .68 caliber ball.
Nevertheless, these are your go-to paintballs, and their growing popularity marks a gradual shift towards more formalization within the sport of paintball. Other calibers are available, but .68 looks like it will only grow in prominence.
.50 caliber paintballs
To put it simply, .50 caliber balls are much lower-impact. They’re smaller, so they hurt far less than their .68 caliber counterparts, which makes them popular among children and beginners. This caliber is also great for indoor games and purely recreational paintball matches. The stakes are substantially lower with .50s, and they aren’t as heavy, either. They also require less air to fire, which is an often-overlooked benefit.
Their reduced size makes storage somewhat easier, and you’ll be able to carry more per pod. Spacious pods like the Dye Attack will hold more than enough .50 caliber balls to see you through plenty of rounds.
One unique advantage of the .50 caliber is that it’s particularly useful in a woodsball match. Larger-caliber balls struggle to pass through vegetation, but the small, streamlined size of the .50 caliber means that it can penetrate undergrowth easily. That adds a new tactical dimension to any woodsball match and makes camouflage like the Maddog Woodland camo even more important!
Unfortunately, this caliber does come with quite a few disadvantages, the most notable of which is how these balls travel through the air. Since they're much smaller, they fire at a lower velocity, which reduces their range quite considerably compared to .68s. Moreover, these balls won’t break when they hit the target. While that does make them more popular in indoor situations, it means that they’re rarely (if ever) used in tournaments.
.68 and .50 are undoubtedly the most popular sizes, but they aren’t the only calibers available. Paintballs can be as small as .43 or as large as .71. Each has its own uses, advantages and disadvantages, but generally speaking, the higher the caliber, the greater the distance and velocity. The lower the caliber, the less painful the hit! Whatever you choose, remember to check your gun barrel to ensure compatibility.