What is the Flatline?
Flatline is a barrel produced by Tippmann for its series of markers. There was also a limited run of WGP Autocockers with Flatline barrels. Flatlines are most notable for putting backspin on the ball to actually increase the range. No one denies that this works very well… Flatline increases the range of a gun by at least 100 feet.
Where do I get it?
Many major paintball sites have them. Tippmann also sells them direct. The MSRP is $149.95. Realistically, you can pick one up for closer to $100. The resale value is somewhere in the high 70s to low 90s.
How do I install it?
You can send your gun into Tippmann and have them install it for a small fee. See Tippmann’s website (www.tippmann.com
) for more information. This isn’t usually advisable because, at some point, you’ll need to clean the barrel, which means disassembling it (and therefore reassembling it.) You might as well learn to install it from the start.
The installation can be tricky and requires paint and air. After you get it configured the first time, it does get much easier. The kit comes with pretty clear instructions, so a little trial and error and patience will get it done.
I’ve lost my manual for my 98/A5 Flatline! HELP!
Never fear, Cuervo (and Tippmann) is here. Clicky clicky.
98 Flatline Manual
A-5 Flatline Manual
**NOTE: This is a PDF file and requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.**
What are the keys to getting the Flatline working?
Good installation is vital. Ensure it is correctly aligned, so the spin is all backspin, not sidespin (which will have a HEAVY negative impact accuracy.) Also, most Flatline users say a good paint-barrel match is key. Test paint before committing to use it… if it isn’t a good fit, meaning it does not roll out freely, but is easily propelled out the barrel with minimal air, then it will work fine with the Flatline.
Most importantly: DOES IT WORK?
Yes and no. No one will ever deny the Flatline gives you at least an extra 100 feet of range. However, many users report poor accuracy at medium and longer ranges. The counter-argument is that the Flatline that is inaccurate was poorly installed. Basically, the jury is out. If you’ve got time to thoroughly test your Flatline when you buy it, you may figure out the way to achieve this accuracy. However, this is very picky and DOES require time and effort to ensure.
People also question the value of the Flatline’s added range. Sure, it’s a neat trick, but is it practical? The most notable part of this is that paint slows down a lot after 200+ feet in atmosphere. That makes the likelihood of paint breaking at that range pretty low. Paint will definitely break on hard parts (goggle lenses, gun, hopper, etc), but is a lot less likely to break on softer parts (gloves, arms, legs, head, etc.)
In my opinion, the greatest problem with the Flatline is that its orientation is very important to both its range and accuracy. For example, if the gun is titled slightly left or slightly right, it won’t shoot as far and will curve either left or right. If your gun isn’t steady, you WILL experience inaccuracy, which is why this is often toted as a the “sniper’s” barrel. Some people have caught on to the way the spin of the Flatline works and will employ its spin to curve behind obstacles by tilting the gun 90* to either side.
Does it work at high velocities? How about high rates of fire?
The Flatline works best at mid-range velocities (265-285 feet per second.) This has to do with the spin the barrel applies being related to the velocity of the ball; if the ball leaves the barrel too quickly (say, at 300 feet per second), it's not going to pick up enough backspin. Likewise, if it leaves too slowly (say, 215 feet per second), the ball isn't going to have enough velocity to continue moving forward.
The Flatline doesn't necessarily work less effectively at high rates of fire. However, at high rates of fire, a good paint-barrel match becomes more important. A good paint-barrel match will solve any problems with broken paint at high rates of fire. A poor match will lead to all sorts of problems, everything from poor range or accuracy to barrel breaks.
Thanks to Coenen for some specifics and reminding me to add this section.
Does it work on both Speedball and Woodsball? I only play one or the other.
Not really. Most Tippmann owners would agree that Flatlines lose effectiveness in Speedball because its range is not particularly valuable and its accuracy is not improved over other barrels. Because of the rapid-fire snap shooting nature of Speedball, it is difficult to ensure the gun is perfectly upright and not slanted enough to decrease accuracy. In my experience, this makes the Flatline a hindrance in Speedball.
In Woodsball, people speak highly of the Flatline. This is because of the comparatively slow nature of Woodsball and the ability to line up shots and utilization of longer ranges. In Woodsball, you have the time to attempt to exploit the Flatline’s strengths while minimizing its weaknesses.
Is the Flatline right for me?
In my opinion, the Flatline is a viable choice for anyone who fits the following criteria:
a. Plays chiefly Woodsball.
b. Is willing to put the time and effort into correctly testing and installing.
c. Has access to a paint that has a good fit consistently. That is, someone who does not use multiple brands of paint regularly.
If I missed anything major, hit me with a PM or post here. Despite the fact that I absolutely hate the Flatline, I’ve tried to be as fair as possible and (*vomit*) I think I’ve even leaned slightly in favor of the Flatline.