What You Need To Know About Paintball Barrels
Paintball barrels are an intriguing proposition. Despite being the most important part of the gun, they’re often poorly understood and rarely cared for properly. The barrel can make or break your match play. There’s a certain amount of nuance involved since a longer barrel will provide more accuracy, but venture too long and you’ll sacrifice consistency.
This guide will help you make an informed choice.
How long should the barrel be?
The optimum length of a paintball barrel is an enduring subject for debate. In real terms, it comes down to personal preference, but there are some factors to bear in mind. A longer barrel does mean greater accuracy. That’s because the paintball has more time to straighten as it travels along the barrel, allowing for a more reliable trajectory. With this in mind, it can be tempting simply to opt for the longest barrel possible, but it’s not that simple.
Long barrels have their downsides. A barrel that’s too lengthy will affect accuracy, range and consistency. As such, a barrel of around 12 inches like the Lapco Big Shot is usually considered best practice. Some players will go as high as 14 inches, which increases accuracy slightly more. Stray any higher than that, though, and paintballs will start to slow down before they exit the barrel. That, of course, affects range and will make it much harder to pull off long shots.
All paintball guns have unique threading dependent on their manufacturer. It’s crucial to select a barrel that matches the thread of the gun. For example, if you’re searching for a new barrel to pair with an Azodin Blitz 4, you would need to find a barrel with a matching thread. If the threads aren’t compatible, the barrel won’t fit.
If you absolutely can’t find a matching thread, there are ways around this. Thread adapters are nowadays widely available. These will help you mix and match markers and barrels that would otherwise have been incompatible. It’s still preferable to choose a barrel with a matching thread, however.
After length, the diameter of your barrel is the most important determiner of how accurate and consistent your shots will be. Paintballs are usually .68 inches. In reality, sizes vary between brands and paintballs will also shrink or enlarge depending on weather conditions. Always ensure that the paintballs you’re using are the right diameter for the barrel and vice versa. Higher-quality paintballs are more likely to be fully spherical, making them a better fit for barrels.
Diameter is a tough balance to strike. Paintballs need to be shot from the barrel with force as this guarantees improved range and reliable trajectory, but they shouldn’t be so loose that they roll or move about within the barrel. As a (very general) rule, a paintball that’s too small will roll within the barrel, but one that requires more than a single puff of air to move down is too big.
Just like any other component of a paintball marker, the barrel needs routine care and maintenance. Failure to do this can lead to paint and other debris building up inside, affecting consistency and even making shots erratic. Cleaning the inside of the barrel can seem difficult, but there are plenty of tools like the Exalt Maid designed purely for barrel maintenance.
Use a swab or squeegee to clear away any dried paint or dirt from the inside of the barrel. Be sure to dry the interior when you’ve finished. Leaving the inside of a barrel damp can cause paintballs to slow down or even stick, leading to more residual debris and long-term problems. Caring for your barrel properly will ensure years of continued use and success in the field!
Last but certainly not least, volume might not be your first thought when you purchase a barrel. Many players enjoy the sounds of paintball just as much as the sights, and being surrounded by noise makes for a more immersive experience. Porting effectively determines how loud your marker will be when fired, so it’s worth paying attention to.
Look for a series of holes near the tip of the barrel. These help air to escape gradually rather than building up and then erupting with that characteristic loud pop. The more porting on the barrel, the quieter it will be, but there are some downsides. Lots of escaped air makes your marker slightly more inefficient as you run through compressed gas quicker.