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mallen7818 Monday, April 21st, 2003
Period of
Product Use:
Less than a month717 of 736 people found this review helpful.

6 months
Products Used:
14 Inch Smart Parts Barrel - Increased accuracy over the stock barrel, but not in the same category as the Flatline.
Marker Setup: Tippmann 98 Custom with Response Trigger and Folding Stock
Tippman Flatline Barrel System
Tippmann Expansion Chamber
Drop Forward
Anti-Siphon System
Best - RPS Marbs, RPS Premium or RPS Big Ball
Good - Diablo Dusk
Fair - I-Balz, Zap Sport
Poor - Brass Eagle
Strengths: Accuracy, Distance, Zone Control and Intimidation
Weaknesses: Installation, Price and Paint Requirements
Review: The Flatline System for the M98 Custom is a personal choice for most players. The advantages will far outweigh the disadvantages for most recreational players.

I would recommend this system for any player that has prior military experience or training as a MUST have upgrade. The difference between a regular barrel (excluding the stock barrel because it's useless) and the Flatline is the difference between shooting a 9MM and an M-16 when playing paintball. The Flatline gives you a MUCH better chance to "reach out and touch someone" than you get with a non-Flatline system on your M-98.

For younger players, I would recommend that you borrow a M-98 with the Flatline before you go and purchase it. It improves the balance of the marker by giving you a forward position to place your hand, but it may be too "long" for younger players or players with short arms.

Fact - Better Distance/Accuracy

The Flatline offers users the opportunity to reach targets at a greater distance than is possible with conventional technology. While I have yet to experience the "awesome" range increase that some users claim, I am easily able to shoot an offhand 12 inch group at 135 feet (yes we measured) placing 24 out of 25 balls (RPS Marbs) within a 12 inch grouping at that distance.

Fiction - Eats Paintballs

The Flatline doesn't "chop" any more balls than any other barrel if you use the correct paint. I enjoy testing things and on our most recent country outing, I fired 6000 paintballs to test various paint in the barrel (having read so many reviews about what a vegi-matic this system was.)

1000 RPS Marbs
500 Single Shot (Zero Breaks)
500 3-5 Round Burst (1 Break)

1000 RPS Premium
500 Single Shot (Zero Breaks)
500 3-5 Round Burst (Zero Breaks)

1000 RPS Big Ball
500 Single Shot (1 Break)
500 3-5 Round Burst (2 Breaks)

1000 Diablo Dusk
500 Single Shot (3 Breaks)
500 3-5 Round Burst (Zero Breaks)

As you can see in the decent to premium paint range the Flatline broke 7 out of 4000 paintballs. I didn't sort the bags or look for mishapen rounds, I just dumped them in and fired away.

1000 View Loader I-Balz
500 Single Shot (1 Break)
500 3-5 Round Burst (5 Breaks)

500 Zap Sport
250 Single Shot (Zero Breaks)
250 3-5 Round Burst (7 Breaks)

The lesser quality paint was much more prone to breakage when firing rapidly . A friend of mine had box of Brass Eagle Ammo that he wanted to get rid of, so I bought it from him for a few dollars. When trying to use BE ammo, the breakage was unbelievably bad.

When you break a ball in the barrel, it does affect the accuracy of the marker. I was unable to to consistantly hit anything past 70 feet after breaking a ball in the barrel, but cleaning the barrel with the supplied tool takes less than 20 seconds.

Fiction - The Balls "Float"

I have a friend that can dispell this myth in a hurry. I've read that the balls appear to be moving slower because of the lack of arc. I can't attest to that, must have lost my physics degree somewhere, but I can tell you that my friend said the balls coming from my gun towards him looked "slow and lazy" so he decided to catch one. He was off the field icing his hand shortly after that, he also said the next round that I shot (the one that hit his mask) hurt quite a bit. Some people say the balls from the Flatline travel so slowly that they can be dodged. At 280 FPS the ball leaves the barrel approaching 190 MPH, a human being standing 60 feet away has 0.20 seconds from the time the ball is fired until impact. How far can you move in 0.20 seconds? Your mind can't even register that the trigger was pulled in that amount of time, so I'm dubious about claims that people "dodge" paintballs.

If you're shooting a longer distance, the ball actually gets there first. At 80 feet my friend with a M-98 has to aim slightly high to make sure the ball reaches the target. We stood an equal distance from a target as someone counted down and pulled the trigger at the same time. His ball had to arch through the air (thus traveling farther) while mine went straight downrange. My ball hit the plywood noticiably before his.

Fact - At Extreme Range Balls from a Flatline May Not Break

This seems like a no brainer to me, but a big deal to some people. Yes, if you're shooting at something 175 feet away (even something hard) the ball from the Flatline may not break (I'd say one out of two do though.) But since you CAN'T hit something that far away without the Flatline a 50% chance of breaking on the target seems like a huge improvement over a 0% chance.

Fiction - Maintenance is a Problem

If you have the wit to work on/clean a real firearm, the M-98 with a Flatline presents about as much challenge to maintain as pumping gas. I'm no mechanical genius, but I can break down the whole system in under two minutes.

Fact - Installation Takes Care and Concentration

To install the system correctly, you need to take your time and follow the directions. The only problem I had was the spring clip that provides tension to the front sight (and the bar that allows you to swing the feed arm down) kept popping out of place. Poor design on Tippmann's part, really ZERO to do with the Flatline because it's part of the stock M-98 marker.

Fiction - The Barrel Uses more CO2.

I won't even dignify that complaint with a response.

Fiction - The System Makes the Gun Too "Big/Heavy"

This is likely true for players of short stature, I'm 5'9" and it's not a problem for me. As for it keeping you from "taking corners" here's some advice. Most paintballers I've seen move around the corner and follow with the marker. The head/shoulder of the player comes around the corner and then the marker is aligned for the shot. In the Army we used to call that "dumb." Point your marker down (not up) and move it around the corner first, as you bring your leg around snap the gun up into firing position as your shoulder clears the obstacle and bring your head around and crouch. If it's clear proceed, if not, from the crouch you can make the decision to engage (your marker is up and ready to fire) or retreat behind cover. Crouching lowers your profile. If you watched any of the Iraqi war coverage, you saw how the soldiers moved around corners. Weapon first, snap it up, bend slightly, look, fire/retreat/advance. I know for a fact that an M-16 or even a cut down M-4 is longer than a Tippmann with a Flatline.

As to it being to heavy, maybe if your 10 or really weak it is, for me nope and I doubt it is for most players either.
Conclusion: This system allows "Zone Control" on an unheard of level in the arena of paintball. Since adding this to my M-98C, I have the ability to control everything within 75 feet of my position. I mean CONTROL. Nobody gets within that arc unless I let them or I don't see them. I can shoot through a fork in a tree at 75 feet, first time every time, if you're within 75 feet and in the open, you might as well save yourself the bruise and call yourself out because you're going to get painted, period. If you're farther away than that, I can still pin you down and paint you if I throw enough balls your direction. The system takes experience to use properly. It takes patience to find the right velocity setting to propel the balls at 280 to 300 FPS. The system requires a higher grade of paint and is thus more expensive to operate. I am no longer allowed to play on defense when we play capture the flag because I could sit back nice and safe and pop anyone that gets close to the flag, so I'm relegated to offense only.

I would not say this system is for everyone, but it's made me a more capable player and it intimidates the other team more than you can imagine to know that they still have 20 to 50 feet to cover before they can get an accurate shot at me even though my balls are breaking around them.

Recommend for Adults with Military Training, Hunting Experience or individuals that are more comfortable with a marker that fires/feels closer to a real weapon than a shiny ray gun.

Not Recommended for Children, Individuals under 5'6" or people that like to spray and pray.

I'm giving this product a 9 because it does have its flaws, but the good truly outweighs the bad. Matched with a R/T it's almost an unfair advantage.
9 out of 10

Review Comments
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pulseisbetter13 Monday, March 26th, 2007 | 3:54 pm PST
All reviews should be this good!

sweet_stuff Saturday, July 21st, 2007 | 4:49 pm PST
Great review.

shenkyei rambo Thursday, August 16th, 2007 | 9:52 pm PST
Originally posted by indybeast36
I am now a valued member of the team and i am sought after as a teammate. I owe most of my success to the flatline.

this kinda sounds like a tv commercial

bluesguitarg Sunday, February 3rd, 2008 | 3:18 pm PST
I agree with everyone here who has mentioned something about users of other markers making slanderous or biased comments towards tippmann products. The point of these reviews are to help TIPPMANN users decide whether or not this barrel is for them. I completely agree with whoever stated that the spelling/grammar/writing style is indicative of ones age, maturity level, and just general common sense. I recommend writing everything in microsoft word before you post it here so that you: a) don't sound like an idiot; b) make your review readable and helpful to those who require its information. Also, the battle is on the field people, not here in these forums. If you can't win in the field with a tippmann or an angel, I suggest you spend less time posting slanderous reviews in forums, and more time practicing and studying the art of war.

I do not have this barrel yet! As per this review I plan to buy one. From the RELEVANT posts, I have deduced that this barrel is sensitive to paint, installation, and the angle of the marker (i.e. how straight up and down the marker is; referred to in one instance as CANT, a term I am unfamiliar with. I am greatly mechanically inclined and I understand the importance of shooting premium rounds in whatever weapon you are firing. So the first two are not that important; though if you have no mechanical skills, it sounds like you better have someone who does help you with this. As for the CANT issue, it seems as though it would be easily correctable with the addition of a bi-pod. If you are really attempting to fill the sniper role this will probably be a must for you anyways. If not the markers front handle should stabilize you in most instances.

The numerous barrels and barrel accessories out there can be overwhelming. Specopps and opsgear have so much realistic additions I can't make up my mind. Ultimately, I'm going with the flatline because you get a foregrip, new barrel, and sight riser all in one package that costs around $100. I have no desire for my 98 to be anything but a sniper rifle, and to look and perform the part. If I'm going CQB (close quarters battle), I'm using my A5 with response trigger. To get the three additions that come with the FL package, you can spend a lot of money on the other sites.

In Conclusion:
Thanks for a great, and seemingly well tested review. I trust the advice of our trained military professionals far more than some kid who's mommy bought him an angel. As for the assertion that you have to be a certain size to handle this baby, it holds some truth, but is mainly directed at the angle cry babies whose main complaint about it is its weight. Have you ever fired a real sniper rifle? Carried one? Shot one free-handed? Didn't think so. One main thing I'll highlight that a few others have touched on is WOODSBALL/SCENARIO VS. SPEEDBALL. Keep your comments to your own preference please, and stop confusing those just seeking facts over whining and biased opinions.

That is all...........

wrigh516 Sunday, February 10th, 2008 | 3:25 pm PST
I am not here to bash the flatline barrel.
I just purchased one myself and only want to clear up one thing....

The barrel does not use more CO2, but in order to get the same ball velocity, you will use more CO2 in the process.

The speed of the paintball is measured in fps (feet per second), and the pressure (initial potential energy) created from the CO2 propells the ball to its final speed (final kinetic energy).

The addition of spin on the paintball has a kinetic energy, which will affect the final speed of the paintball after leaving the barrel.


It all has to do with the conservation of energy of the system through the barrel.

Initial Potential Energy = Final Kinetic Energy + Final Rotational Kinetic Energy
Assuming the paintball is initially static and has zero final potential energy.

E(kinetic energy) = 0.5mv^2
E(rotational energy) = 0.5Iw^2

m = total mass of paintball
v = final velocity
I = total moment of inertia of paintball (shell, liquid)
w = angular velocity ***(spinning ball)***

I(shell) = 0.66MR^2 where M = mass of shell and R = radius of shell
I(liquid) = 0.40mr^2 where m = mass of liquid and r = radius of liquid
W = angular velocity of shell
w = angular velocity of liquid

Energy(E initial) - 0.33MR^2W^2(E shell) - 0.2mr^2w^2(E liquid) = 0.5mv^2(E final)

Final Velocity = sqrt((E - 0.3MR^2W^2 - 0.2mr^2w^2)/0.5m)

As the angular velocity of the paintball increases, the final velocity decreases.
The only way to counter this is to induce more initial energy by turning up the CO2.
The barrel uses more CO2 to achieve the same ball velocity.

(I did not take into account the additional friction, which would have the same affect)
Last edited on Sunday, February 10th, 2008 at 5:14 pm PST

Where'sMeShoota Wednesday, March 26th, 2008 | 2:28 am PST
This reviewer stated that he wouldn't even respond to questions regarding air efficiency of the Flatline. Maybe someone else would like to respond to this;

When you're talking about paint/barrel matching (which has a direct effect on velocity, and therefore air efficiency), the Flatline is unique. Unlike smooth bore barrels, paintballs appropriate for use in the Flatline must be considerably smaller than its bore size (i.e. they should easily drop right through a disconnected Flatline being held vertically). This spare room allows the ball to essentially roll along the "ceiling" of the barrel without touching the bottom when fired, thereby giving it backspin. This same spare room also allows gas to easily blow past the ball while still inside the barrel. Could this affect air efficiency? Maybe.

Of course, like everyone else on this site, I have absolutely no resources to back up my theory. However, anyone with the necessary equipment can conduct a simple pseudo-scientific experiment.

To test this yourself, you will need both the Flatline barrel and a smooth bore barrel that fits to the same marker. A 16" smooth bore barrel with no step is ideal for ruling out the possibility that a difference in barrel length may skew the results, but really, just about any barrel will do. You will also need 2 different kinds of paint; one that matches the smooth bore (use the double crescent moon rule) and one that performs well in the Flatline. First, chronograph your gun as close to 280 fps as possible using the Flatline. Chrono and record at least 10 shots, throw out the highest and lowest measurement and then calculate the mean. Then, without adjusting your velocity, connect the smoothbore and switch to the appropriate paint. Chrono again. If one barrel is shooting at an average velocity of over 14 fps higher than the other, then you've found a significant difference in air efficiency between these two barrels. (a 5% velocity difference is considered statistically significant... 5% of 280 fps = 14 fps).
Last edited on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008 at 3:02 am PST

rockerninja329 Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 | 12:52 pm PST
This might be a dumb question,but Is there any possible way to mount an x7 carry handle onto the flatline barrel setup?

tanner88909 Thursday, September 16th, 2010 | 4:22 pm PST
i heard the paintball curves up(at the end of its range) where the normal barrel curves it down at the end of its range
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