(Paint) Ballin'

So any paint ballers here? Not the NES video game version with the light gun; the real thing. You know, outside where bears live.

I’m getting back into it, but I haven’t played seriously in like 13 years. My paint marker sucked even 13 years ago, and the suckage has only increased in the intervening years. It has outlasted air cannisters. So, anyone got gun recommendations? Looking for something less than $200, doesn’t have to be full auto, and I’m OK with a mechanical trigger.


I was very active in paintball last year on a Rookie tournament team. I don’t play tourneys any more, but I go out every month or so to tourney practice just to keep the skills from dying completely.

I also write the user manuals for the paintball circuit boards in high-end electronic markers (just as a hobby and using no Freescale/Metrowerks resources, in case anyone from corporate is reading this), so I have some degree of knowledge about the technical aspects of paintball markers as well.

A decent paintball marker is one that will shoot accurately and consistently. For about $150, you can get a PMI Piranha STS G3 that fits the description.
You can get all this stuff USED on ebay or from the www.pbnation.com buy/sell/trade forums for less.

A common problem with mechanical markers is chopped balls. Balls get chopped when you pull the trigger faster than the balls can be fed. This is because gravity is slow, and it’s possible to pull the trigger just as a ball is falling into the breech. When the bolt moves forward, it will chop the paintball in half and gum up the works with paint. You’ll have to field strip the marker to remove the bolt and stick a cotton swab through it to clean it properly. (We avoid this whole problem in electronic markers by using break-beam LED eyes. If the eyes don’t detect a ball snug in the chamber, the marker won’t fire).

There are several things you can do to reduce the probability or the consequences of chopping balls. You can increase the speed of the ball feeding mechanism. A gravity fed shake-and-bake hopper feds balls at about 6bps. You can get a motorized hopper for about $40 that will feed balls at about 12bps. Look for a 12volt Viewloader “Revvy” Revolution.

You can buy a non-stick ceramic barrel that will improve your accuracy and allow you to fire accurately after a chopped ball. The non-stick coating lets you “shoot-through” the broken paint until it’s all cleaned out of the barrel. You should buy a new barrel anyway, because all the stock barrels on sub $700 markers are utter shit. If you do get a Piranha marker, I would recommend the a J&J ceramic barrel with Piranha threads. Get a large bore-size, because the cheap paint you’ll want to shoot will not be perfectly round: .691 or .693. As far as length goes, 12" is perfect for most people, 14" is usable also, but 16" is just too damn long. Do not ever take the previous sentence out of context and use it against me.

You need to decided whether to get a CO2 or an air tank. I recommend air instead of CO2, even though the CO2 tanks are cheaper. Unless you only play under the Texas sun in summer, the CO2 will become colder after firing a few rapid bursts, and you will get less shots. Additionally, if you fire the marker while it’s tilted sideways or downwards, liquid CO2 will work its way up into the marker and destroy all your o-rings – yes, just like on the space shuttle (which will require you to strip your marker to replace the cracked o-rings - it’s not hard, just a nuisance)

An air system will run you about $100. For that price, you can get a 47cubic inch/4500psi tank with a high quality regulator. Larger capacities cost more. I use a 68/4500 Crossfire tank that I got for about $150. The piranha (and most other mechanical markers) takes a screw-in tank, so be sure to specify a screw mount when you order your tank.

I have tons of other opinions on this subject, but I have to finish writing another manual, so I’m going to go back to work now. Apologies for typos, I’m to tired to spell check this post. :-)

In the meantime, go to www.pbreview.com and check out all the product reviews.

If you’re wondering what I shoot, I have an AKALMP Viking with eyes and Chaos Pandora circuitry, a custom trigger, a Halo B force-fed loader, and a carbon fiber barrel. Before that, I shot a PMI Piranha STS for 2 years. I kept it as my back up marker until I sold it to a co-worker’s grandson a couple months ago.[/b]

Paintball teaches our children to kill! Wait, no…that’s videogames…I get them mixed up…

Now I am having flashbacks. I have not paintballed in 6 years. Damn that is one fun thing to do.

Holy crap, is Roger Wong the answer to shift6’s prayers or what?

If I was a stripper, I’d jump right into bed with him.

Thanks for the post, R-dub.

If you were a stripper would’t you just strip?

If you were a stripper would you post pics here ? :wink:

Heh. It’s an inside joke because, every chance I get, I relate the story of how a stripper once picked me up at a jazz club. Haven’t you heard it?

It was six years to the day, during what was supposed to be a St. Patrick’s day bar-hopping spree, that I got separated from my buddies, and went back to my old haunt, the Elephant Room on Congress Avenue. That’s where a beautiful red-head with long curls sat down at my table and let me know that she was a stripper, and that she thought I was handsome and sexy and could satisfy her carnal desires.

So, I was king of the world that night, but it went downhill from there. You see, I’m one of those people that complete strangers will just open up to for no apparent reason. Back at my place (fast forwarding over the juicy bits), I learned that she’d just gotten out of federal prison for cocaine-related charges, that she was still married (be wary of any woman who tells you she is “in the process of getting a divorce”), that her super jealous, control-freak Latino husband was a member of the San Antonio drug syndicate who had also just gotten out of prison, that they had distributed cocaine from the basement of their million dollar home, and that prior to their arrests, their house had been the target of a drive-by with automatic weapons.

Oh, and she also had a 6-year old son, and gee, would she mind if she moved in with me while she divorced her super-jealous, control-freak, cartel member husband with access to automatic weapons and made a new life for herself?

I was very stupid back then and wanted to rescue her, but I eventually snapped out if it. Her husband *69’d my phone one day, looking for his wife. She’d told him she was helping her dad paint the doors of my apartment complex, which is probably the only reason I’m alive today. :-)

… :shock:

… inside joke my ass. That’s an episode of Law and Order.

Big 5 has a package for $170 with a JT Excellerator 3.5E http://www.pbreview.com/products/reviews/2624/, including a mask, 4 pods and an electronic loader. Would you recommend that for a beginner?

I’m not familiar with this marker, but I’ll make a general statement about cheap markers. Cheap markers shoot okay, but they break down a lot because they are made with defective parts and poor quality control. That’s why they’re so cheap.

Repair service and shipping costs add up, so the only way a cheap marker will ever be an economical choice is if you fix it yourself. The only way I’d recommend a cheap marker to a beginner is if he/she wasn’t adverse to learning how to repair it.

Hmmm, that’s something to think about. Thanks, Roger.

And the paintball post was pretty good, too.

I went the cheap route, and upgraded slowly, so here are my thoughts:

For markers, try what’s out there now before buying. The popularity has gone up, so more low-price markers are available that aren’t Brass Eagle crap. Previously I would have said to go with a Tippmann, as they are reliable, rugged, and extremely customizable. However, there might be a functional electronic in the low 200$ range these days.

First upgrade: motorized hopper. Nothing will improve your play experience more than that.

Second upgrade: Barrel, depending on whether the stock barrel you get is particularly bad

Third upgrade: If you want to play in cold weather, go with HPA, high pressure air, instead of CO2. It’s more of a pain to fill, but CO2 will ruin the game in cold weather.

Personally, a mechanical trigger doesn’t bother me at all, at anything but semi-pro level, you can send a stream of balls fast enough to satisfy anyone. Far more important is reliability.

If you’re a tinkerer, get a Tippmann and go to town. From the initial 140$ investment in the gun, I did:

9v revolution hopper. You go from 1 in 30 balls chopping to 1 a day.

Polished stock barrel, improved accuracy 1000%. (drill press, dowel rod wrapped with towel, and DuPont rubbing compound does a brilliant job)

Added foregrip air intake, vigilante regulator, remote line. This ensures that no liquid CO2 will ever make it to the gun. Some people hate remotes, I swear by them. Strap a 24oz tank to my back, and I’m good for the next 1500 rounds.

Added aftermarket barrel, frankly it’s not that much more accurate than the polished stock barrel. Ceramics are nice, but pricey. Another plug for the Tippmann: flatline barrel. Very specific play style required to get your money’s worth out of it, but effective from all reports.

Silly shit, like aimpoint red dot sight, paint job, etc.

Good website: www.countypaintball.com. Great service and prices.


How fast can you get automatic fire going (I presume that 12 bps= 12 balls per second)? Isn’t it kinda cheating? Why don’t you just get a firehose gushing out dye if it’s legit to pump out a stream of projectiles? The only times that I tried paintballing were with gravity fed pump action numbers and I have absolutely no clue about what current state of the art is. It just seems unsporting, like taking a .50 cal on a duck hunting trip.

That was what turned me off of paintball. It seems like a great idea. In practice (at least out here in So. Cal., the few times I went), not so much. There seem to be a lot of hardcore players who have a very significant technological advantage. It also seems like quite a few of them cheat. On the one hand, of course it’s cool that people can upgrade their gear. But in any competitive sport or game, it’s important to have a relatively level playing field. I guess the paintball places could try to enforce that (e.g., newbie games that only allow you to take rented equipment in), but it would probably be difficult to enforce and not to their financial advantage. It’d be cool to have enough friends into it so that we could rent a field and have our own private matches. That’s probably the only way I would get back into it. Too bad, because it has a lot of potential.

Any veterans have comments / ideas / experiences to share? Any good way around that problem? Is it just unique to this area?

I was an old school paintball player, playing 1984 - 1989. I really enjoyed it when it was lots of sneaking around in the bushes with crappy guns (remember the aluminum paint tubes that screwed directly into a Nelspot marker?). More reliable pistols were nice, but movement and team deployment were still the dominant factors.

I gradually became disenchanted as firepower started to become the most important factor in play. I was part of that problem, owning the 53rd constant-air gun made in southern California (maybe in the nation?). Those guns started to change our team tactics, since they could provide sufficient covering fire for flanking elements to move with little risk. When whole teams were fielding constant air guns the game changed more, and firepower & suppression of firepower became the keys to winning. It got expensive too, burning through half a case of paint or more per weekend. Blazing away to keep heads down wasn’t nearly the thrill of sneaking up behind someone with a single-shot marker, so I gave up.

Have stock rules made any resurgence? I think that’s the only way you can avoid the blizzard of paint. Stock play usually requires 12-gram CO2 cartridges, pump action only, and a paint magazine parallel to the barrel. When I quit, the stock games were not drawing enough players to have decent size teams. There would be 75 people playing on the unlimited field, and five or six on the stock field.

i don’t have my to add, except that i agree with ry. it really sucks to take a rental gun up against guys with semi-pro guns that are willing blow three tubes of paint per round. you can’t even get within firing range before you are out.

that’s why i only play in private games with friends now.

The reason why I bought my Piranha in the first place was because I couldn’t shoot straight with the rental guns, and I wanted to close the advantage gap. If you’re playing a pick-up game and there is a good ref on the field, he or she can usually split teams up evenly to make sure no one team has an overall equipment advantage. In a pickup game, that’s the best you can really do.

With the newest electronic markers, the limiting factor of the rate of fire is the paint feeding system.There are some spring-based loading systems that can feed paint at about 30 balls per second (but it drops off as the spring unwinds). The more common HALO loaders will feed about 20bps on average.

The catch is that no^H^H very, very few paintball fields will let you use your marker in full-automatic mode. It’s a safety (and hence, insurance) issue. If you want to play on the field, you have to play in semi-auto mode. A newbie can pull the trigger about 6-7 times per second. With practice, a tournament player can pull the trigger about 15 times a second.

Tournament play is a capture the flag game that is all about maneuvering, cover, suppression, lanes of fire, and communication. It’s fast paced, with entire games usually not lasting more than 4-5 minutes each.

The new paintball XBALL leagues have modified the rules to allow automatic fire up to 15 balls per second. Those are the paintball games that you see on ESPN. It’s a different style of play.

There’s scenario ball, which is mission-based. It usually plays out over the course of a weekend, and each team has to accomplish various missions. This is the kind of paintball that William Shatner plays for charity every year.

If you want to play stock or pump on a regular basis, you need to find like-minded friends and join a league. A bunch of us converted some old auto-cockers into pump markers and went out for a pump tourney that was being held nearby. It was the cheapest day of paintball we ever had. :-) We took third place.