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teufelhunden 11-28-2003 08:07 PM

PBR's very own guide on buying a new barrel!
OK guys, I stuck this outside the ultimate sticky so that it's easier to find. Please use this. This morning I came on and there were 3 questions asking what barrel to get for your gun. That's why Teuf made this thread. Use it.

As most people will tell you, the first thing you should upgrade on your paintball marker is the barrel. Since you aren't sure which one to get, you came here and were intelligent enough to read the sticky.

So the first thing you have to do is identify a price range. From here on out, I'll assume we're talking about new barrels because the prices on used barrels varies pretty drastically. Generally speaking, there's three main barrel classes. There's low end, high end, and multi-bore. Low end barrels are from $0 to $55 and high end barrels are anything above $55. Multi-bore barrels (aka barrel kits) start around $100.

Secondly, you need to decide what type of barrel best suits your marker, a single bore or a kit. Normally, a barrel kit would be a waste for an open bolt marker, as paint-barrel match isn't as big of a deal as people make it out to be. It affects performance, but not terribly. However, for a closed bolt marker (Autococker, Pre-2k3 Shocker, Excalibur, Blazer, etc.), a barrel kit is a great choice. The reasoning behind this is the ball detent in an closed bolt marker serves only to prevent double feeds, not prevent rollout. Therefore, matching the paint to the barrel is critical in keeping the paint from rolling down your barrel and out without you firing the marker.

If you've decided on a single bore barrel, your next choice is bore size. Many single bore barrels are offered in mutliple bore sizes, however, a bunch are not. Typically, you'll want to get a large bore size (.691ish) unless you're going to be using the same paint all the time. If this is the case, match your paint to bore size you'll be purchasing. If you plan on using different paint, a large bore size is best, as it will fit most paint you can find, so you won't be breaking a lot of paint in the barrel, which is always a good thing.

So you've decided you want a bang for your buck item, so it's into the low end barrel range. That title can be a bit misleading; low end by no means equates to low performance. Low end barrels will perform a bit worse than their high end counterparts, but you can save a bunch of money to put towards paint or other upgrades. The major players in this category at the time of writing are, in no specific order, the Smart Parts Teardrop, Smart Parts Progressive, J&J Ceramic, Custom Products 1 Piece, Dye Xcel, and the Lapco Bigshot. On the same marker, these barrels will all shoot more or less the same- no one barrel will consistently perform better or worse than any other. Therefore, deciding which to buy comes down to price, looks, sound, "features," and brand loyalty.

--The Progressive and the Teardrop are, in essesence, the same barrel. The only difference is the Teardrop has different porting in a higher quantity, so it tends to be a bit quieter than other barrels. Of note is the large amount of porting will often lead to decreased efficiency. Both come in a variety of colors.

--The J&J Ceramic has a slick inner surface, supposed to make it easier to shoot through a break.

--The CP 1 Piece is the most customizable in this group, based on bore size, color, finish, length, etc. CP is also known to have great customer support.

--The Dye Xcel is a very large bore barrel, and like most other Dye products, performs well.

--The Lapco Bigshot has very little porting, and it's all at the end of the barrel, so it's rather loud compared to the others, but this also positively affects efficiency.

teufelhunden 11-28-2003 08:08 PM

You're one of those deep pocketed types? Well, here's where you'll find information about the aristocracy of the paintball barrels. The big ones in this group are the Dye Boomstick, Dye Ultralite Boomstick, Custom Products 2 Piece, and the Smart Parts All American. There's other barrels in this category, but they aren't terribly popular, so info on them is scarce, as is personal experience. These barrels include the Stiffi, and the Titanium Paintball Longbow. Once again, most of these barrels will perform pretty similiarly, except here there's some exceptions. The Dye Boomstick/UL Boomstick both shoot extraordinarily well, while the All American is a disappointment for the price range.

--The Boomstick/UL Boomstick are both basically the same barrel. The only difference is the back of this two piece barrel. On the Ultralite it's aluminum, on the Boomstick it's steel. Up until about the date of this writing (11/28/03), the barrels were only available in black/black (UL) or nickle/black (Boomstick). However, just recently, colored versions have hit the market. Different bored backs and different length fronts are available, should you decide it's time to change.

--The Stiffi has continued to increase in popularity. The main reason because of it's weight (a mere 51g) It's a carbon fiber barrel and it shoots very well, comparable to the Dye barrels of the same price range. It's availible in grey and a couple other colors too. Battle swabs and other fluffy squeegees cannot be used with the stiffi. A great choice if you have the money.

--The CP 2 Piece shares the same strengths as its little brother, the CP 1 Piece. An excellent barrel, backs and fronts for it are cheap, so should you choose to, you can change your configuration without breaking the bank.

--The JT 2 Piece is just a more expensive and different looking CP 2 Piece. Both will perform the same.

--The All American is the disappointment here. It's more or less a SP Progressive that they cut in half and threaded. Nothing was changed for greater accuracy or anything. You can buy different length fronts and different colored backs, but all the backs are the same size. This way, if you want to change your bore size, you need to buy an ungodly expensive Freak back. Everything comes in different colors.

teufelhunden 11-28-2003 08:08 PM

Then there's the big bad boys in town, the barrel kits. There's a lot of different kits, but it seems a few are popular. These are the Smart Parts Freak, the Evil Pipe, WGP Kaner, Custom Products Kit, Powerlyte Scepter, and the J&J Edge kit. All of these kits work by changing backs, except the Freak and Scepter, where you change an insert to change bore sizes. From my experience, only 2 or 3 bores are ever used with a kit, so it's not necessarily a negative to have that few options, as long as they're normal sizes (usually .687, .689, .691). Barrels kits tend to be very customizable when it comes to bores, lengths, colors, etc. Once again, these barrels are all excellent performers.

--The Freak was the first major barrel kit, although SP ripped the idea off of Lapco. It comes with eight inserts, so if you're shooting super small paint or super large paint you can always match it well, although most of the inserts at the extreme ends never leave the case. The Freak back is available in aluminum (black), or for a $20 premium, stainless steel (shiny silver!). The fronts come in all the usual lengths, and in two porting patterns, "All American" or "Freak." The AA porting is like that of the Progressive, not a lot and straight holes, and the Freak porting is like that of the Progressive, with a LOT of porting in a weird pattern. Freak porting is notoriously difficult to clean. The standard Freak inserts have some quality control issues (not being the right size), and can be very fragile. To try and change this, SP released an expensive set of stainless steel inserts, which, so far, have cured those problems. You can get a Freak with different numbers of inserts, usually 1, 3, or all 8, and all kits come with one front.

--The Evil Pipe looked to have a lot going for it when it first hit the market-- it was cheaper than the Freak, wasn't suffering from the same problems as the Freak, and shot clean really quickly. None of this has changed. It works by changing backs, not inserts, five of which come with the kit. It's available in a whole bunch of lengths, one of which comes with the kit. The Pipe is available in either a fade or solid black. Of note is that there have been reports of problems with the Pipe fronts being thin and weak, and bending when they crash into a bunker or something.

--The WGP Kaner kit is an Autococker threaded only kit, and it's gaining in popularity for a number of reasons. First, and probably foremost, is its cost- it runs around $130-140, with sale prices down around $100. Secondly, which is also tied into the first, it comes with all you could possibly need, including 4 backs and 3 fronts. Third, the Kaner kit comes from one of the most respected named in paintball, Worr Games. I've yet to hear any complaints about this kit, but if I do I'll keep you posted.

--The Custom Products kit isn't anything different than the excellent CP 2 Piece. It just comes with a bunch of backs and/or fronts, depending which level of the kit you choose. There's three, the Base Kit (three backs, one front), the Full Bore kit (five backs, one front), and the Complete kit (five backs, four fronts). The Base Kit should satisfy all your needs, but if you love spending money, there's no problems with the other two.

Note: The Matchstik kit is the same as the CP kit, because CP makes it. The only difference is looks, and you can get it with three backs and two fronts for $99.

--The Powerlyte Scepter is becoming a favorite kit, due to it's cost to what-you-get ratio and quality. It comes with either three inserts, of which you get to choose the bore sizes (out of 684, .686, .688, .690, and .692) or all five inserts and a front. The choice of fronts is limited to 12" or 14", and you've two choices in backs, aluminum (black) or stainless steel (chrome). The inserts are self aligning in the back, plus they're supposed to have better quality control than the Freak, as well as being more durable. Unlike the Freak, the Scepter kit has what is known as "seamless locking," meaning that if you were to look down the barrel, you wouldn't see a seam between the front and the back. This helps improve performance.

--The J&J Edge is another back-changer, as opposed to insert-changer. At a low price, it comes with four backs and a front, and it even comes in a pretty little foam lined carry case. The backs only come in black, but the fronts come in a bunch of colors. There haven't been any reports of problems with this kit.

teufelhunden 11-28-2003 08:09 PM

Well, that's your rundown of the different types of barrels, now for some terms:

Porting: The holes towards the end of your barrel. These vent excess gas, causing the marker to be quieter. Too much porting can be difficult to clean, as well as leading to decreased air efficiency, as porting will slow down a paintball a bit.
Rifling: A concept in which the inside of a barrel is not smooth, but has specially designed ridges, which, in concept, would spin the paintball, giving it better accuracy. Due to the composition of paintballs, rifling is NOT practical for use in paintball barrels.
Velocity: This is how fast a paintball travels, propelled by a gas. This only has to do with barrels because the paintball accelerates in the barrel. A paintball typcially needs about eight inches of unported barrel length to reach its velocity of 280-300 fps efficiently.
Efficiency: You'll hear this a lot when it comes to barrels, it means how many shots a marker can get out of one tank fillup.
Bore size: This is how big the inside of the barrel is, as well as the size of the paintball. A typical size is .689.
Paint to barrel match: This is how well the paint fits the barrel. As I mentioned before, this isn't a really major issue unless you have a closed bolt marker.

And some general barrel info, as this comes up a lot:

Barrel length is totally preference. A 16" barrel will not be more accurate than a 10" barrel, or vice versa. Longer barrels (assuming that the amount of porting is affected by length, which it almost always is) will be less efficient than their shorter counterparts. Depending on how you play, this is my recommendation as to what barrel length you should use: Speedball, on a regular field made out of tires and spindles and stuff: 12". Hyperball or Airball: 14"-16", so you can push in a bunker or get into the hyperball bunker's grooves. Woodsball: 14"-16", so you can put your barrel through some brush to get a good, protected shot.

Bore sizes are up to you. If you always use the same paint, I'd get a bore size a little bit bigger than the paint is supposed to be, so that way if a case is swelled you don't have a major problem on your hands. .689-.691 seems to be the best bet for something open bolt.

A few notes on "gimmick" barrels:

The Tippmann Flatline for either the 98 or A-5 is designed to put a backspin on the ball, therefore giving it greater lift, resulting in greater distance. This works nicely in theory, however the extra distance isn't effective distance; the paintballs are moving to slowly to consistently break on target. They're moving so slowly that they're very easy to dodge, and people have been known to catch paint shot out of a Flatline towards the end of its range.

Any barrel over 16" really serves no purpose, and seems to exist only to appeal to the "paintball sniper." Obviously, since no marker will shoot further than any other (except for Flatline'd Tippmanns, Z-Body 'Mags, and markers with the Undertow bolt), there is no true sniper in paintball. There are players who may use stealthy tactics, but nobody can take one shot from a football field away and hit. The longer barrels really are just more cumbersome and degrade the performance of the paintball marker.

Some helpful links:
PBR's official paintball size chart. Explains the bore sizes of different paintballs
Otter's guide on paintball barrel bore sizes. Really helpful!
Lots and lots of versus threads. Check here before making a thread like Barrel A vs Barrel B
Different barrel kits compared. Not an excellent thread, but it's not bad.

If you find any errors or omissions, or would like to see something added or changed, PM me with what you think! Thanks guys.

Super-helper people: CoolT and chibissj

chibissj 11-29-2003 04:27 AM

To add to the powerlyte scepter just an additional thing.

The powerlyte scepter is made to have seemless locking. This means that unlike the freak, when the two peices are put together, there is no seem in the middle like the freak has. So if one looks down the barrel all they see is shin, no crease. This leads to overall better performance. The backs are also color coded instead of just having them stamped on like the freak or evil.

*edit* oh yeh about the colors ahha i was looking at a picture when I wrote this too that's the saddest thing....
I think also the Powerlyte only comes with 5 total different backs?

Flatline: The reason it's inaccurate is because the barrel has to be held exactly level to take advantage of the actual flatline effect. A little crooked and people will blame the barrel, it's not true. The balls follow the spin. It can be seen when shooting straight up with the flatline. Unlike a normal barrel which under no wind conditions shooting straight up the ball will come down on you. With the flatline, shoot straight up, the ball will actually curve straight behind you instead.

teufelhunden 11-29-2003 05:44 AM

Standard Freak backs are color coded too.

Jaster 12-01-2003 11:10 AM

When you have the final version of this let me know.
Outstanding job!!!

teufelhunden 12-01-2003 11:11 AM

As of now, it is :)

It'll always be a work in progress... new releases, changes, etc.

Calebd2 12-02-2003 08:14 AM

Link fixed and thread cleaned up. :)

AR55 MtM 01-26-2004 04:39 PM

Phat kits
what are your comments on those they have kits or barrels
i read the reviews but they dont semm to be deep
they say its like a boom stick but i find it hard to imagine

reneirwolf878 01-31-2004 02:17 PM

AA and Freak porting are in the same pattern, a spiral.

AA porting doesn't have grooves coming out of each hole as the Freak.

The AA tends to leave squeegees intact while the Freak eats them like no one's business.

chibissj 02-11-2004 07:19 AM

Sorry I didn't come here earlier.

On the phat stick barrels. They are suppose to be pretty good. Shoot close to the performance of the ultralite and boomy. If I get some money I might buy one out to try them out. If I do I'll write a report.

Jebedia 02-11-2004 11:32 AM

How good is the Kaner?

teufelhunden 02-11-2004 11:58 AM


hybrid-sniper 02-11-2004 03:35 PM


Originally posted by reneirwolf878
AA and Freak porting are in the same pattern, a spiral.

AA porting doesn't have grooves coming out of each hole as the Freak.

The AA tends to leave squeegees intact while the Freak eats them like no one's business.

true to that
my teardrop, which has the same porting has been absolutely destroying my straight shot, good thing i have only used my straight shot when cleaning my barrel after games/days, no chops yet *knocks wood*:)

-SM- 02-23-2004 11:54 AM


They're moving so slowly that they're very easy to dodge, and people have been known to catch paint shot out of a Flatline towards the end of its range.
I would seriously like to see air tight proof of this before I beleive it. :rolleyes:

reneirwolf878 02-23-2004 11:57 AM

I've done it. When balls are slowly sailing towards you it's not hard to do.

bigxonbox 02-23-2004 12:22 PM

Ripleys believe it or not on tv showed some guy catching paintballs. I don't remember the gun or the paintbal shot at him, though thats not the point. He was successful in catching paint. You just need soft hands and need excellent hand eye coordination. This is probably one thing I would never be able to do though;)

-SM- 02-23-2004 02:15 PM

But how far away from the marker were u? like upwards of 200 feet, I would expect. And all paintballs move pretty slow towards the end of their trajectory, thusly making them quite easy to dodge. From my own experiences it is not that hard. Also, lets say that u've got a tippy a5 with a nice 12 in barrel. You angle it up at say a 45 degree angle and it shoots 150 ft. Now put a flatline on, and it shoots atleast 50 feet further. Know why? the backspin on the paintball leaving the flatline creates two air pockets around the ball. A cushion of high pressure air forms under and slightly behind the paintball, this is what gives it the trajectory, also creating the flatline trajectory that looks like the paintball is floating. I believe this is referred to as the Magnus Effect, the same principle airplane wings were designed from. The cushion of air created by the magnus effect counteracts the forces of gravity for a certain amount of time, until the cushion dissipates...and the regular forces of gravity and wind resistance begin to take over the flight of the paintball.
Only these effects do not begin to take place until the paintball has flown 75 feet, unlike a regular barrel, in which a paintball is acted upon by gravity immediately after leaving the barrel. Therefore the paintball flys further. And wouldn't you say, that because the paintball is not affected by gravity until it hits about 75 feet or so, that it is traveling faster than a paintball from a regular barrel at the same exact distance. Yes, you would, because that is right. If the flatline paintball is traveling faster at 75 feet, it will be traveling faster even after the other paintball has hit the ground, this would improve the effective range would it not? Just because you can catch a paintball shot from a flatline in upwards of 200 feet doesn't mean it's effective range is exactly that of a regular paintball. the reason it appears to "float" is that the paintball flies in a more predictable patern, a straight line, and is easier to follow than a regular paintball.

reneirwolf878 02-23-2004 02:20 PM

Let's take this talk to an other thread, it's getting OT.

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