My last post offered an introduction to paintball for those interested in the mainstream paintball community. Several members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia pointed out that paintball practice is not the same as firearms training. True. So let’s pick-up with that. Here are some ways in which paintballs differs from bullets . . .
Velocity. Paintballs have a muzzle velocity of 300 feet per second. Far less than than even the slowest rounds.
Shape. Most paintballs are spherical; modern firearm projectiles are not. The exception is First Strike rounds.
Density. Paintballs weigh in at ~50 grains. While that’s a reasonable weight for a .223 projectile, paintballs are ostensibly .68 caliber.
Range. The inefficient shape, low muzzle velocity and low density means that paintballs don’t go very far. Depending on where you’re playing, you can expect your effective range to be 100ft or less.
Penetration. A mid-size shrub of reasonable density gives adequate protection from paintballs. A piece of plywood makes you a god among men.
Stopping power. In an armed conflict, just because you’ve been shot doesn’t mean you’re done. That’s why we practice off-hand shooting. Meanwhile, you’re out if a paintball breaks and leaves a mark on you or anything you’re carrying. It’s a foil for the feasibility of your ficus fortifications.
What this all adds up to is that most of the tactics you would use on the paintball field would get you killed if you were in a life-or-death situation. But then, paintball is marketed as entertainment not commando training. The closest thing we have in paintball to an actual firearm is the Tiberius Arms T9.1 [above].
The Tiberius Arms T9.1 fires First Strike rounds, which have a more aerodynamic shape. This makes them dramatically more accurate and also doubles the range. When using First strike rounds you’re limited to magazines that hold between 8 and 14 rounds. Those mags can also provide the propellent gas via a 12g CO2 cartridge, so you don’t need a huge tank sticking off the back of the gun.
All of the shots below would be strictly down to luck with a regular paintball. At 90 yards you’d have to be firing at nearly 45 degrees to even reach your target.
If you don’t feel like paying for First Strike rounds (or they’re not allowed at your field) but you want the additional range, you can buy an Apex barrel. The Apex adds a tremendous amount of backspin to regular spherical paintballs. The spin produces lift, which causes the paintball to travel much further than normal. The important bit of the Apex barrel is actually contained completely within the tip which looks like a fat suppressor. You can rotate the tip to change the axis of the spin and cause the ball to hook or drop.
In case you’re really interested, TechPB put out a 45-minute video comparing First Strike paintballs to regular paintballs in a regular barrel, an Apex barrel and a Flatline barrel.
The most comprehensive and active forum for paintball is PbNation. Alternatives are TechPB and PBReview. PbNation has a nice field finder that plots most fields on a map, making it easy to find something near you.
If you’re looking to find someone to play with (and paintball is much more fun with buddies), PbNation also has a section of the forum dedicated to individual regions. Finally, if you’re in the Northern Virginia area and you’re interested in playing, feel free to drop me a message: ronhockmanatgmaildotcom.