Is a Paintball Sniper Rifle a Real Thing?
Your team is closing in on your opponents. You have them pinned down. You’re close but not close enough to be in danger. Victory is in your grasp. You turn your guns on them and fire, but somehow they manage to get away, breathless but unscathed. How could this happen?
In the heat of the action on the paintball field, every player knows the frustration of missed shots and wasted ammunition just at the moment when you need to clinch the game. Just when you need precision and accuracy, your markers can’t quite deliver it. This is why every player at some point will wish they had a sniper rifle. But do they even exist?
Well, yes and no. So what are they, and what exactly do they do?
The idea of the sniper rifle
The average unmodified paintball marker, even a relatively expensive one, will deliver its best accuracy at distances of between 100 and 150 feet. If your target is further away, even though you can set your sights on them clearly, a lot of your fire is likely to miss, which means you waste ammo and lose the element of surprise. But the alternative is to get so close that you risk exposing yourself to returned fire at close range.
The ideal solution would be a sniper rifle, which is designed for long-range accuracy so you don’t need to get up close and personal in order to make your shots count. Instead, you can pick a safe vantage point and launch what might be the conclusive assault of the game. In some circumstances, you may be so well-hidden that your opponents simply don’t know what’s hit them or where it’s coming from. Sniper rifles come with both hopper feeds and mag-feeds, so in most respects, they are just like standard markers.
There is some controversy surrounding sniper rifles, with some commentators claiming that a lot of the marketing material can be misleading and that sniper rifles don’t really exist. They contend that although features like longer barrels may give you more distance, they can compromise your accuracy, but practical experience with specific markers can tell a different story. In effect, there may not be a precise line between standard and sniper-class because greater accuracy tends to accompany the increasing sophistication and price of paintball guns.
They also assert that paintballs are really only effective up to about 100 feet and that they lose much of their speed after that distance, making them more likely to bounce than break when they reach their target. The answer to that particular objection would be to seek out paintballs that are designed for distance.
If you’re interested in trying to achieve a sniper-rifle effect, you have two options. You can buy one that is advertised as such or you can modify your existing gun. Certain brands, like Empire, First Strike and Carmatech, have cornered the market to some degree, but it’s quite feasible to convert your existing marker with a sniper kit and accessories like the Tippmann A-5 Sniper Barrel.
What marker should you choose?
So, what kind of marker would we recommend to perform the sniper function? Take the Tippmann A-5, for example. With a range in excess of 150 feet and tremendous accuracy, this is the kind of marker you’ll often find held up as an example of sniper-level equipment. Add the optional sniper barrel, and you’re well-equipped for long-distance shooting.
When it comes to the question of whether sniper rifles really exist, the truth is probably still a little unclear. Until the technology of paintball markers makes a few more strides forward in terms of range and accuracy, everything you do try will be pushing at the limits of what’s possible. Yes, a sniper barrel will be useful in getting your paintballs further, but most elements of performance will be down to what the gun can already do without the modifications. Whatever customization you carry out, you’re not going to be able to increase the velocity of the paintballs, so if you’re trying any long-range shooting, you need to bear this in mind.
Ultimately, there isn’t a magical instant solution to the problem. Perhaps one day there will be, but for now, what it really comes down to is getting yourself the very best-performing marker you can afford, making any appropriate modifications to optimize its capabilities, and getting out on the field. In the long run, it's your skill, judgment and nerve that will count for the most.