I was in the gun shop recently getting a paintball gun for myself, and I noticed the conspicuous orange markings on the barrels of toy guns were absent on paintball guns. So I wondered if my paintball gun would need an orange tip to mark it as a toy gun.
Paintball guns don’t need orange tips to mark them as toy guns. US laws require toy guns and imitation weapons to be tagged with an orange tip to differentiate them from real weapons. However, paintball guns look different enough from real guns, and they are exempt from this law.
The rest of the article will tell you which weapons need an orange tip, the reasons behind the orange tip requirement, and more information about paintball gun types and safety.
Why Do Toy Guns Have Orange Tips?
The United States Federal law requires an orange mark on the tips of barrels of all toy guns transported and imported into the United States, but this law doesn’t apply to paintball guns.
The big question is why. The main reason is to differentiate toy guns from real weapons easily. Some toy guns bear such close similarities with real weapons that you might not be able to tell them apart. In some cases, law enforcement officers have a tough time identifying real guns from imitation weapons. And it’s not just the looks; they sometimes imitate the weight of real weapons.
People have been robbed or threatened by criminals wielding toy guns.
In some cases, people have called the police on individuals playing around with toy guns. Such cases have resulted in shootings, injuries, and deaths.
On the other hand, someone casually strolling along the street with a realistic-looking toy weapon might be mistaken for an armed criminal and might cause panic among passers-by.
Some argue that an orange tip in situations like those described earlier would make it easier to tell real weapons from fakes. It is safe to say that the legislation aims to protect people who love to have fun with toy guns and the general public.
What Are Paintball Guns?
Paintball guns are air guns used in the game of paintball. They use compressed air to propel paintballs through the barrel and are also known as paintball markers. Paintballs consist of dyes encased in stabilized gelatin capsules.
According to US law, paintball markers are exempt from being marked with orange tips. Other weapons exempt from this rule are:
- Traditional B–B
- Pellet-firing air guns
- Non-firing antique replicas
You don’t necessarily need an orange tip to tell a paintball marker from a real gun pretty quickly. The air tank is a dead giveaway.
The four main components of a typical paintball marker are:
- Air tank
While they are fun to use, paintball markers are not entirely harmless. Paintball shots can leave behind painful welts on the skin even when under the protection of clothing. In the rare event that a shot is fired directly at the eye, severe damage and possibly blindness might occur.
Types of Paintball Guns
There are two primary classes of Paintball guns, depending on their modes of operation: mechanical paintball guns and electro pneumatically operated paintball guns.
Mechanical Paintball Guns
Mechanical paintball guns operate by mechanical means and don’t depend on an electrical solenoid. There are five types of mechanical paintball markers.
- Pump or Bolt Action: Like the pump-action shotgun, you would have to manually reset the firing mechanism between shots. Pump action markers are the oldest in the sport and function with either the Sheridan valve or Nelson valve. It might also work with the Sterling hybrid valve, which employs both the Sheridan and Nelson valves.
- Double Action: The trigger serves the dual purpose of firing and resetting the firing mechanism as in a double-action revolver.
- Throwback Semi-Auto: Gases released by the valve resets the firing mechanism, as you would see in real semi-automatic weapons. The internals can be either inline or stacked tube. The difference lies in the bolt’s position, which can either be aligned along the same axis as the valve and hammer or in a separate pipe from the valve and hammer.
- Blow Forward Semi-Auto: Gases in the valve control the firing mechanism, and a spring resets it.
- Pneumatically Operated Semi-Auto: This marker contains a low-pressure pneumatic piston regulated by a valve. This piston is linked to the trigger and resets the firing mechanism.
Electro Pneumatically Operated Paintball Guns
Unlike their mechanical counterparts, the electro-pneumatically operated paintball guns don’t contain any mechanical parts. Instead, the trigger activates an electronic micro switch, and this information passes the control circuitry to the computer-controlled solenoid valve. They typically require a 9-Volt battery to function. Due to the absence of mechanical parts, the electronic markers are much lighter and have a shorter firing cycle than their mechanical counterparts.
You can check the list of the best automatic paintball guns here.
Safety Rules for Paintball Markers Use
Paintball is a pretty safe sport, but it’s not without its risks and injuries. You might want to adhere to these paintball safety rules to stay safe while having fun:
- Always wear your paintball masks.
- Place a barrel sleeve on the end of the paintball barrel when not playing.
- Blind firing is not permitted.
- Don’t climb on top of bunkers.
- Notify players when exiting the game or when quitting.
- Don’t exceed a velocity of 280-300 feet per second (85-91 meters per second) on your weapon.
- Don’t bring alcohol or drugs to the paintball field.
- Obey the referee’s instructions.
- Be a good sportsman.
If you don’t know how to dress for paintball, you might also want to check out this YouTube video by Lone Wolf Paintball on what to wear to paintball:
Types of Guns That Need Orange Tips
Title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations on foreign commerce and trade in Part 272 prohibits the manufacture, sale, and transport of toy guns and lookalike firearms without a distinctive marking. The marking approved is the insertion of a blaze orange plug into the barrel.
The kind of guns that are required to have orange tips include:
- Toy guns
- Replica non-guns
- Water guns
- Airsoft guns firing nonmetallic projectiles.
An orange tip can seem like it restricts the gaming experience, so you might be wondering if you can remove or paint over it if your toy gun comes with one. Well, the United States Federal law doesn’t say anything about end-users eliminating or altering the orange tips of their weapons.
You should still proceed with caution because in states like California, altering the appearance of your toy gun might be met with six months of jail time or a maximum fine of $1000. I would advise that you check out your state’s legislation before altering the orange tip on your toy gun.
There have been cases where people were robbed or threatened with a realistic-looking toy weapon. Often the perpetrators are addressed as though they committed the offense with a real gun.
US law requires that toy guns and lookalikes have a distinctive orange marking to make it much easier to tell a real gun from a fake one.
However, the law doesn’t include paintball guns, traditional B–B, or pellet-firing air guns, so they don’t need orange tips. Usually, you can quickly tell a paintball gun from a real gun.
The essential parts of a paintball gun include the loader, air tank, barrel, and body. It uses compressed air to force paintballs out of the barrel. While it may be safe to use, you must follow the safety rules at all times to prevent accidents.