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Let’s be honest: after an exhilarating day of play in the field, whether you feel like celebrating victory or drowning your sorrows, the last thing you feel like doing is cleaning your paintball gun. If you’re puffed up with success, it’s the least of your priorities. If you’re nursing your wounds after a defeat, it’s just a tedious reminder of what’s just happened. But you really need to take the longer view and remember that maintaining your gun in good order is essential for its long-term performance and your continued enjoyment.
The sooner you clean your gun after the end of a game, the easier it will be to restore it to prime condition and the more likely you are to spot any damage that may need restorative action. If you don’t attend to this promptly, your future play may be affected and this will have a knock-on effect on your teammates. Here’s what you need to do.
This is the first step because it’s all about safety. If you don’t detach the air tank and put it safely to one side, you run the risk of serious injury to yourself and others. It’s even a potential fire risk.
You can’t clean it properly while it’s in one piece because you won’t be able to get into all its nooks and crannies. Make sure you take it apart methodically, in strict order, and keep a note of that order so you can easily reverse it to put the marker back together again.
First, wipe or scrape away any obvious deposits of dirt or soil, then use a barrel swab like this one from Valken to clean off the smaller particles. If that doesn’t get it completely clean, you can flush out any other contamination by using a squeegee designed for the purpose, like one of these Exalt Paintball Barrel Maids.
Check the owner’s manual to see if there are any recommended types of cleaning cloth and any that you are advised against using. Once you’ve cleaned over the body, there may be some choke-points left that need close attention. For these, a Q-tip or a toothbrush is ideal to pick and scrub away any debris that might cause the gun to jam.
Move on to these vital working parts and polish the bolt and hammer with a soft cloth or paper towel before checking the O-rings for wear and tear. If there is any serious damage, it’s best to replace them using a set that’s compatible with your marker, like this Tippmann Kit.
A Q-tip is useful here as well for clearing away any soil or dirt, but don’t be tempted to disassemble the trigger mechanism as you may struggle to put it back together - and that means your marker is well and truly out of action.
While you’re busy cleaning everything, don’t forget to check your batteries. It’s something you should keep a close eye on at all times, because there’s nothing worse than having your gun pack up on you in the middle of a game. Post-play cleaning is a perfect time to check.
At every stage of the cleaning process, you should be alert to any signs of damage. Some of them may be purely cosmetic, but if there is damage to any of the operating parts, like the O-rings, and all the inner parts, screws and strings, it’s much safer to replace them than put your trust in luck and risk your gun breaking down in the field.
Once you’re satisfied that everything is clean and in working order, it’s time to apply the life-preserving oil. Pay particular attention to the O-rings, which need to be completely covered. You should check the manual to see if a specific oil is recommended and keep a supply always on hand.
Now comes the final stage of putting it all back together. If you took it apart carefully, putting each piece aside methodically and making a note of the order of disassembly, you simply have to work in reverse. But don’t be in a rush just because you think the hard part is over. Take your time and double-check at each stage.
One last tip: If, for any reason, your marker is left idle for longer than usual, you may want to go through the cleaning and inspection process anyway before you take to the field again.
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