In my experience, a barrel cannot make low-quality paint any better. The opposite is true though; a good barrel can make good paint much more effective.
Expensive (See Conclusion)
I was at a local proshop getting my marker chronoed and I quickly ran out of my standard recreation brand of paint, PMI Premium. In the two days after getting my A5, I put around 800 Premium through it without a single break or chop. This involved tweaking the velocity from its extremes in an attempt to get the perfect speed. I decided to split a case of 1000 Freedom with 2 of my friends (one firing a stock A5, the other a stock SIM-4) so I could finish up testing my new marker.
I put around 400 of these balls through my marker, and I noticed an immediate change in performance. That is of course, right before my first of MANY chops. the balls seemed to be shooting slower than the Premium, and the accuracy dropped drastically. Many balls curved wildy, and I am not talking about a little inaccuracy. On both A5's and the SIM-4, we were experiencing a curve radius of approximately 20 metres, that started around 10 metres from your barrel (enough to throw your aim off at a 20 metre target a couple of metres).
The next problem was the decrease in effective velocity. I was shooting around 280 fps with the Premium, but it instantly dropped to around 210 fps with the Freedom, and never reached above 250 fps even in the event I opened the velocity screw all the way.
The most glaring problem with the Freedom paint is their physical weakness. Of the 400 I shot, approximately 1 in 3 came out of the barrel in some form other than good paintballs should, i.e. gelatin ENCASED in a ball. Even after cleaning the barrel and the hopper, they still shot themselves to pieces. This was true with both of the other two markers that were present during the test.
I verified the functioning of both the marker internals and the barrel by shooting more Premium after the Freedom with NO cleaning or modification. They shot beautifully, and at their usually velocity.
***EDIT (07/24/2006): I used these balls again at a local field where you were required to use their paint regardless of whether or not you had your own gear. I put 300 more through my A-5 with NO breaks. The accuracy was not the greatest, but it sufficed at the 10-15 metre engagement ranges during the games. Consistency was not the greatest either, but it still shot better than my first case. I would still never buy these, as I can get Worr Games Domination for $7 CDN more, but they are not too bad if you get stuck.
I would not recommend this product for anyone. It is marketed as a cheap paintball, but at a cost of $29.99 CDN + tax for only 1000, it works out to be only cents cheaper than better, mid-grade paint that comes in cases of 2000. The container it comes in is not worth buying the paint (buy a Rubbermaid or other brand of container for $3), and the stickers are a laughable attempt at marketing.
The apparent savings are not worth the hassle, even if you are just a rec baller who plays very rarely. Don't let this paint ruin your fun and games. That being said, I am a firm believer in trying to save money on a marker to invest in better paint.
I would not recommend this product for practice either; I would go with something a little better, such as Basic Training.
I give it a 3 because it still makes it out of the barrel 100% of the time, and about 30% of the time in one piece.
***EDIT (07/24/2006): I raised the rating to a 5 out of 10. They are an okay ball if you get stuck, but not worth the money overall.
5 out of 10
Last edited on Monday, July 24th, 2006 at 5:33 pm PST