Field paint worked fine for me--it was cheap and old (had been sitting for a few months in my friends garage)
Increased distance and accuracy
Nothing that I noticed
First off, I am a casual player, I have been playing every year for the past 4 years now, at least 5 times a year, but this was the first year I took the plunge and bought my own gun. I play with a group of friends, mostly outdoors, sometimes indoors and many of them have their own guns with upgrades as well.
I have used my A5 three times, twice in a stock set up and this weekend with the Apex Barrel. My first and second experiences were positive, but I did notice that distance and accuracy were problems, with shots falling way short and veering off of where I needed them to be. A friend of mine has an A5 with a flat line barrel, and he recommended it to me. As I was doing research online and with guys at some of my local shops, the Apex Barrel came up. It was a little cheaper (I paid $65.00) then the flat line, and I thought that it probably couldn't be worse then my stock set up. I also thought (but highly doubted) that if the trick shots worked, they would be fun to use.
I will probably update as I have more experience with this, but I hope this initial post will help some people in similar positions to mine.
I was chrono'd @ 272 on the field, the weather was pretty hot and humid. We were using field paint from a couple of months ago, and some new paint as well. I don't remember the brand, but I don't believe it is very expensive ( I will update after I find out what brand later)
I did not have any problems with chopped or blown up paint. I used it on settings 4-5 most of the day, and my shots went farther, and were more accurate. I would say that I gained a good 30 effective feet on those settings. I was able to shoot clearly across the field and hit targets. I used the higher settings on a few occasions as well, and they worked well.
For those of you out there like me who didn't quite know what to expect at the higher setting, the ball from settings 5-8 fires at a downward angle. The distance did seem to be greater at these levels, but I did not use it that much to say for sure. The middle settings did what I needed it to do, which was gain some distance and make it consistently more accurate.
Now for the trick shots. I had no expectation that they would work at all. My friends all thought it was hype too. I didn't actually try any of them until we took a break in the middle of the day, and my friend and I went to the range to test it out. First a primer on this feature. The regular settings on the tip (I should say this now, for those of you who don't know the main features of this barrel are really in the tip, which can be put on other barrel's apparently but I used the barrel that it came with in the package) are 1-8, and just click through. There is a site on the gun, which I kept upright. Now, if you twist the barrel around so that the sight points downward or to the side, and keep the tip set on the highest levels, you can actually shoot curve shots. I was completely surprised by how close this worked to being advertised. On the range, there are a lot of targets, mannequins, garbage pail lids that hang down at various distances and other stuff. We were aiming at the closest mannequin, which was about 40 feet away. With setting 8 clicked off, and the tip turned, and the gun otherwise pointed right at the head, shots would curve around the mannequin. If you turn the tip to the right, the shot will curve right, if the sight is pointed towards the ground, the shot will rise and fall(the dive bomb I believe it is called) and if you point it left, the shot curves left. Anyone expecting to curve completely around an obstacle and hit someone right behind it is dreaming, but you could definitely place some fire closer then they expect, and at the right angle you could definitely make shots that you would not normally be able to make.
Now, during a game if you can adjust it accurately enough to be useful, good for you. My initial impression was that games move pretty fast and it's time consuming to adjust your shots all the time like that, but I suppose in certain situations it could be really useful.
I'll try to add more as I use it more often, but to summarize, I found this;
--the barrel did add distance and made my shots more consistent, with less veering off then in stock set up.
--I had no paint breakage problems(with sub optimal paint I might add)
--the barrel screws right in, so it is easy to clean
Overall, I have no complaints. I can only compare it to my stock setup, but it was a huge improvement over that. If you are looking for a simple upgrade for your a5 to add distance, I would recommend this. Shop around too, some places quoted prices in $80-90 range, but I found mine for $65