Accuracy in any shooting sport is extremely important, especially in paintball. The slightest error in equipment accuracy can cost you the game. You don’t want to be in the predicament using an inaccurate paintball gun when it’s down to the wire.
Does a longer barrel increase accuracy in paintball? Yes, a longer barrel will increase your accuracy with a paintball gun. However, there are certain issues that come up with longer barreled paintball guns, primarily in which you lose distance due to the gun being gas-powered.
Paintball guns are like regular guns. They use the same scientific principles for physics and aerodynamics as any other firearm. Let’s look at how the longer barrel can affect the aerodynamics of the paintball gun. To understand paintball barrels, we need to examine gun barrels in general.
Barrel Length and Accuracy
Many people throughout recent history and around the world have experimented with the length of a gun barrel and the effect on its accuracy. It is common knowledge that a longer barrel is generally more accurate than a shorter counterpart.
There are 3 different main categories of guns out there:
- The Pistol
- The Muzzleloader
- The Rifle
Each of these categories is based on the type of barrel the gun is made with.
Examine the accuracy of a pistol to a muzzleloader to a rifle. The pistol is not nearly as accurate and can not shoot as far as the muzzleloader or rifle. The projectile for a pistol typically is much smaller than those projectiles used for long guns because of the velocity and accuracy differences.
The accuracy of a rifle barrel is usually the best out of any type of gun. The barrels are longer, and they are “rifled” so that the bullet can divert some energy to help it tilt and turn. A spinning bullet will fly truer than any other projectile.
The muzzleloader is more accurate than the pistol at times and shoots further because of the velocity it leaves the barrel with. Unlike the rifle, muzzles are not rifled. So, the ball will simply shoot out of it with no spin, making it susceptible to being diverted by small obstacles.
Like the muzzleloader, the paintball gun does not have any rifling to give the paintball shot spin when it exits the barrel. It simply shoots out with nothing but the air velocity behind it to keep it straight.
The longer the length of the barrel, the longer the paintball shot will fly true toward its target. Of course, it is assumed that the shooter is well-practiced in shooting and that they are not moving around while taking aim, or have issues shooting and moving at the same time.
Having a longer barrel will increase the accuracy but having it too long will decrease its velocity which will shorten the distance that the paintball shot can fly. According to most sites that discuss this topic, 14 – 16 inches is the ideal length. Anything over 16 inches will decrease the velocity and accuracy dramatically.
Other Factors That Affect Accuracy
Increasing the barrel length is not the only answer to increasing accuracy. You also want to make sure that the paintball and the bore size of the barrel match. You don’t want the bore size to be much bigger than the paintball, as explained below.
Bore Size and Air
The way a paintball gun works is that it is either powered by CO2 or it is High-Pressure Air (HPA) charged so that it can pump air. Basically, paintball guns are powered by air or gas. The paintball marker is not accurate if the barrel bore is too big for the size shot you are using.
According to AC Paintball’s article, “What Affects the Accuracy of a Marker?”, the bore size of a stock barrel (barrel that comes on the gun from the manufacturer) is about .690 in caliber. If you decrease the size, then you want to do it in gradual stages.
The article recommends that you do it by purchasing a barrel kit with many options for different sizes of barrels. You should also pay attention to the size of the paintball and make sure it is the right size for the barrel. You can read more about it here.
The modification kits come equipped for different bore sizes and with a converter to convert the sizes from the stock size to the desired size. According to a video from eHow sports, the converter can hold different sizes of bored barrels.
In the video, they show how to test to see if you have the right bore size for the paintball shot. You don’t want too big of a bore size because the air will escape past the ball, which will cause the ball to lose velocity. The way to test the bore size is what they called the blow test.
The blow test will test how tight the bore is around the ball. Here’s how to do it:
- You take the smaller bore and place the ball on one end.
- If the ball rolls out, then the bore is too big.
- If the ball sits on the opening of the bore, then the bore has too much friction and is too small.
- If the ball sits in the bore, and you can blow it out the other end, then it is good.
You want just enough friction for there to be no virtual space between the bore and the paintball.
Clean Your Gun
Another problem that can affect accuracy is the cleanliness of the barrel. The dirtier a barrel is, the more friction it will have. This can cause the paintball to not have enough velocity when it exits the barrel to stay true to the target. Cleaning your barrel is necessary in order to have maximum performance.
The Quality and Size of the Paintball Ball
Buying a higher quality paintball ball will help you with your accuracy because of the way that they are made. The material inside the paint that goes in the shell has weight to it. A high-quality paintball shot will have a balanced weight to it.
Choosing a higher quality paintball ball will increase your accuracy. The cheap balls don’t have a good ratio of material to water in the shell. As a result, the material will shift and clump together on one side of the shell, making it imbalanced and inaccurate.
Higher quality balls have the right ratio of water to material mixed in the shell. This makes the ball balanced in weight. When the ball is balanced, it won’t swing around with a pendulum-like effect. It will fly true with increased velocity.
Another aspect to consider is the size of the caliber of the paintball barrel. If your barrel is too small, then you won’t have the velocity you need to be accurate. If it is too big, then the friction will increase, making it adversely affect velocity and accuracy. It will also make the shot more fragile.
The paintball ball is more fragile than most projectiles. Think about it. A paintball ball is a paint pumped and sealed into a thin layered gel-like structure. It is designed that way so it can burst on impact. Too much friction can cause the ball to explode in the barrel or when it exits the gun.
A synopsis of this article basically says:
- Keep the length of the barrel between 14 and 16 inches.
- Clean your barrel and gun often.
- Modify your bore to a smaller size to increase velocity.
- Choose a higher quality ball.
There are many factors that should be considered when you decide to increase the barrel size of your paintball gun. Yes, lengthening the barrel will increase your accuracy, but there is a limit as to what will bring you maximum velocity and accuracy all while keeping it balanced.