Paintball Tech: Barrels - What makes them accurate?

Posted by Ken Farris on Tue, Aug 05, 2014 @ 12:32 PM

Paintball BarrelsGetting the best accuracy from your marker can be difficult to do. You may be aware that a barrel is the best upgrade to improve your paintball markers accuracy. Several factors contribute to improved accuracy, these include:

Paintball Quality

The quality of your paintball is one of the biggest factors in your accuracy. It does not matter how nice of a barrel you use, if you are still shooting super cheap paintballs, you can expect poor accuracy. Higher quality paint is made with a more consistent fill, that won’t settle to one side. Better paint also has virtually no seam, whereas cheap paint will have large seams that can catch in the wind and shoot squirrely.

Barrel length

Barrel length can also play a small role in the consistency of your shot. Barrels between 12” - 16” are optimal. Contrary to popular belief “sniper” barrels that are 20” or longer do not necessarily equal accuracy, and may negatively impact your accuracy. Since the paintball has extra distance to fly in the barrel, it is creating extra drag inside the barrel.  While very long barrels may make the marker less accurate, the long barrel may be easier to aim accurately.  This is the tradeoff; barrel length is almost entirely user preference.  Players who enjoy running, sliding, and diving may find a shorter barrel more appropriate, so they can maintain a small profile. Inversely players who like to lay down suppressive fire tend to enjoy longer barrels, as they are a bit easier to point in the right direction.

Barrel bore size

Matching the bore size of your barrel to the paint you are using is how you can ensure your paintballs will be consistently accurate from one shot to the next. You can tell if your paintballs are a good bore match by dropping a paintball vertically down your barrel, if the paintball falls straight through, the bore is too big for the paintball. If the paintball gets stuck, but can be blown through the barrel with a light burst of air from your mouth, the paintball size is just right. Additionally if the paintball gets stuck in the barrel, and cannot be easily blown out of the barrel, then bore is too small. The reason this match is so important is fairly simple when you think about it, a paintball that is too small for a barrel will lead to the bouncing around in the barrel during firing, this will lead to your paintballs firing in many different directions. If the paintball is the perfect size, it will maintain contact with the barrel during the entire shooting process and will leave the barrel with almost the same trajectory as the previous paintball. Lastly if the paintball is too big for the barrel, when it is fired it will put too much pressure on the ball as it tries to fly down the barrel, and will probably lead to the ball breaking in your barrel. Paint will always vary a little bit in size, so having a barrel kit with many different bore sizes is the absolute best option. However having a quality barrel with a bore size of .687-.691 will shoot most paintballs well.

Barrels interior finish

Last but not least, you should consider the smoothness on the inside of the barrel. To reduce drag it is best to have a smooth, polished interior. Barrels that do not have a smooth polished interior can create drag and spin that will reduce accuracy or worse yet cause the paintball to break in the barrel.  (Note: Flatline barrels are rough inside so that the ball WILL roll.  We will write about Flatline barrels in the near future)

With all this in mind, to get the best accuracy out of your paintball marker you must look at multiple aspects. Your barrel should be the appropriate length for you, and have a nice polished interior. Make sure you are using a good quality paintball, one without noticeable seams. And finally check your paint to barrel match to ensure you are getting peak performance. If the match is not ideal you may not experience optimal performance, however a nice barrel that is just slightly too big or too small will still result in better performance than your stock barrel.


Clayton Stauffer
Paintball Technician & Content Creator

Topics: Tippmann, Accessories, paintball tips, Barrels

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