Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: The 9th gate to Hades, Indiana
Understanding accuracy differentials in guns (for new players)
Today I'll be discussing in depth to all you new players exactly how to obtain the best possible accuracy from your gun, as well as which guns have greater accuracy, and why. I'll also be dispelling a few myths along the way.
First, half of you are probably reading this wondering which gun exactly has the best accuracy, so you can go out and buy one, stick a 20" barrel on it, and have a godlike sniper rifle. The other half of you are busy getting ready to pop open your PM boxes and send me PMs that say something to the effect of "gun accuracy is all a myth, no gun is more accurate than another...."
The truth is actually somewhere in between.
For the purpose of this post, we're going to assume that the gun is in a normal, everyday play environment, and that all variables outside our control (weather, wind, etc) are the same.
In theory, a paintball clamped in a vise in this environment, that chornographs 300 FPS and is aimed at a 60 degree angle will hit a certain spot every time the trigger is pulled. REGARDLESS of what kind of gun it came from. You could clamp a Talon and an Angel in this vice, and if the barrels, paintball, target, angle, velocity and everything were identical, it would hit in the exact same spot EVERY time. Paintballs don't care about how they are fired. They only care about the barrel they are fired from, how well they fit that barrel, their speed, and thier angle. Make all these identical, and you'll have identical shots, no matter what kind of gun is shooting the paint.
Let's first examine the what affects a paintball's accuracy step by step.
First, the barrel: For a paintball to be accurate, it needs to fit the barrel properly. This means a ball placed inside the barrel needs to not roll out, but should easy enough to blow out of the barrel without your cheeks going red. The length of a barrel is also important, to an extent. Studies show that a paintball only needs about 10" of guidance. The rest of the barrel is worthless from an accuracy standpoint. However, longer barrels are good for a few things. First, they have more room for porting, the holes at the end of the barrel. This can help muffle the barrel to an extent, and allegedly provides a slow outlet for the air, in theory helping ease the ball's transition into open air. While it will change the sound signature of a gun, there has been no conclusive evidence that supports the claim that porting makes a paintball more or less accurate. Anyone who claims differently is either buying into hype, or creating it. A good barrel should typically be between 12" and 16". Anything longer will actually hinder your performance, as the extra length causes more drag on the ball....in order to get the ball up to speed, you need to use more air since there is more drag. That, and they are awkward to maneuver with in speedball, more difficult to hide in woodsball, not to mention a pain to clean and transport.
As far as length goes, 16" barrels are popular with back players. The added length helps some to sight in thier target better, but moreover on an airball field, it allows a player to push into the side of an airball bunker with his barrel to help minimize his profile.
Players that use 14" often prefer it over the 12" simply for the fact that some feel they can sight with the end of the barrel faster, and just prefer it.
Players that use 12" barrels are typically front players, or players who just don't like 14" barrels. These barrel provide all the necessary accuracy, but are small and agile, ideal for tight snapshooting battles, close quarters combat, and generally for the people that do the dirty work on the front lines.
Lastly, a note on rifling. Most paintball barrels have no rifling. Some have straight rifling, and a few have spiral rifling. So far, rifling has not had any conclusive effect on paintballs. CMI brags their straight rifling keeps a paintball from spinning, making it more accurate. Ironically, most players don't really care for these barrels, or find them as accurate as any other. Armson stealth barrels have spiral rifling, which MAKES a paintball spin. Nonetheless, these barrels are known as being good, accurate barrels. And the rest of the world makes non-rifled barrels. The Stiffi is used by many pro teams and has no rifling. So right now, I have no reason at all to believe that any kind of rifling matters.
Phew! We got the barrels out of the way! Now onto the paint itself.
A paintball is like a snowflake. There is not another one exactly like it. Not from the same brand, not even in the same bag. Some brands use thick shells, some use thin shells, some are larger, some are smaller. But one thing remains the same. NO ONE right now makes a perfect bag of paintballs. There will always be a few balls that are slightly larger or smaller than the rest.
Your paint is the single biggest contributor to your accuracy. Good paint will be generally all the same size, that is, they will all fit your barrel the same way for the most part. Good paint is fresh, is round with no noticable seam, and consistent in size. Reach into a bag of cheap paint and do some measuring. Some balls may be .689 caliber, some may be .693, some may be .687 or even .685! Let's say your barrels has an interior bore size that accomdates .689, which is medium size. The .685 balls will roll right out when placed in a barrel that isn't attached to a gun. When the ball is fired, it has the ability to leave the barrel in a slightly different path each time, since it's not touching the whole barrel...instead it kind of bounces around in the barrel before exiting. Sure, it'll fly generally straight, but the proper bore size, .689 balls, they'll fly right on target, ball after ball for the most part. The .693 balls, however, may have a worse effect. They may not want to go through the barrel at all, causing the paintball to break open inside the barrel halfway down. The result will destroy any hope you have at accuracy at all until you clean out the barrel with a squeegee.
As a result, if you buy good paint, you can rest assured that if one ball fits well, the rest will fit about the same and hence, they will all fit your barrel properly, assuming your barrel has the right bore size, and consequently, will all fly pretty much right on target every time.
The second thing to know about paint is that it needs to be kept fresh. Paint that is fresh and just delivered to the store is at optimum performance level. If you put it in an extreme temperature for very long, like in the sun on a hot day, or in the backseat of your car, the heat will soften the shells, making the paintballs form dimples or become misshapen. Likewise, cold weather will make your paint very brittle and more likely to break when fired, not to mention when they warm back up, they will change size and roundness. Moisture will screw your paintballs up more than anything else, keep them away from humid environments and rain at all costs if you intend to use them again later.
Example: About two months ago I went playing and had some paint leftover. As an experiment, I sealed some up in a pod, and the rest I left in my bag. I put them in my apartment, where the temperature fluctuates somewhat. Last week, I pulled them out. I took a ball from the mostly airtight sealed pod and one from the exposed bag and dropped them both off my second story apartment onto the pavement below. The stuff from the pod broke as expected on pavement. The other ball though, acted as a superball, and bounced quite a bit! Needless to say, if I had shot someone with that, it probably wouldn't have broken, but it woulda hurt quite a bit! Turns out I had to fling the stuff rather hard against the ground to get it to break. The moral is: buy good paint unless you're just practicing. Yes, it's more expensive, but that's because there's a lot more quality control on this stuff. Buy it fresh, keep it fresh, and your accuracy will improve.
Next we have basic good ol' physics. I'm only going to touch on velocity here. Because paintball vary in size, and because our guns shuttle high pressure air around inside them, they oftentimes leave the barrel at slightly different speeds. A ball traveling at 280 FPS for instance, won't go as far as a ball traveling at 295 FPS shot at the same angle. Hence, the ball at 285 FPS will strike below the target that the 295 FPS projectile hits. Several things can cause this velocity fluctuation. A different sized paintball for instace. It may fit the bore better or worse than the last shot. Co2 is another good example. Becuase Co2's pressure is always changing depending on temperature, and because liquid Co2 can be sucked into the gun, co2 is, by nature, an inaccurate gas. While our guns usually manage to control Co2 well enough that the difference is tolerable, chrono reading on a Tippmann 98 using Co2 on a good day might read:
285, 283, 284, 289, 285
This is a difference of +/-5 FPS, which is pretty good for Co2. Usually, Co2 performs more on the level of +/- 10 FPS, with as great as +/- 30 FPS in poor weather conditions and when spikes are present.
This line is in remembrance of the 2001 terrorist attack on the United States of America, this day of September 11, 2001.
If you're tired of people putting lines in their sigs and trying to get you to put it in yours, don't put this in your sig.
"Accuracy by volume is still accuracy nonetheless."