I’ve been playing paintball for a decade now, and when I started (outlaw in my backyard with friends) we didn’t know much of the “common knowledge” about paintball. So we tried things and figured out how to play in the conditions we experienced, as my players and I were available to play in the fall, winter and spring. Living in the Midwest, we get COLD winters. I use the Farmer’s Almanac which has been great at predicting the weather for our games. But, we would often play in severe cold. Temperatures as low as 5°F, Brrrr! But, our favorite times to play are during a massive snow storm!
I have learned a ton of tips and tricks for playing in the cold, and I will share them with you so that you too can experience the joy of hitting the field when it is snowing, or well below freezing!
First off, (people will roll their eyes at this one… but trust me it works!). You CAN play paintball in below freezing temperatures with Co2 when using Tippmann Paintball markers! I’ve had people bring other brands to my field, and I always have a few Tippmann spares as their markers typically leak as soon as they try to air them up… But, my Tippmanns always work in the cold! I have some Tippmann A-5s (my personal favorite), a bunch of 98 customs, an Alpha Black, as well as a Carver One, and of course my Tipx!
There are obviously drawbacks to using Co2 in below freezing temps and they are as follows.
- The marker will freeze up faster as the Co2 gets colder the faster you fire it. So shoot sparingly, no rapid firing if you can help it… The cold Co2 will also cause more velocity fluctuations as your gun cools down. Keeping your tank vertical will help it expand gas instead of sending liquid Co2 into your marker, so a remote line with your tank on your back is a good idea in the cold!
- You get about half the number of shots with a 20 ounce Co2 tank when playing below freezing. So if you normally get 1,000+ shots with your Co2 tank in warm weather, expect to get around 500 in below freezing Temps. Once the tank warms up, you can then use that leftover gas inside!
- Co2 in the cold is harder on your o-rings. So make sure they are in good condition! If you haven’t watched my video on how to tune your Tippmann A-5 (the 98s are very similar) take some time and do that!
- Puffs of smoke vapor (from the Co2) come out the barrel, making it hard to see the paintball, or your target! It looks cool, but it takes some getting used to!
When playing in the cold, here are tips to make your day fun. Obviously if you can get compressed air in your area, do that, as it is more consistent in the cold, but if you only have access to Co2, then get at least two tanks filled for your day of play (I typically bring 3- 20 ounces with me, as I tend to shoot a LOT of paint! And so I can let a friend borrow a tank if they run out!)
- Keep all your gear inside and warm prior to the game and air up your marker prior to going outside in the cold. This way the O-rings will seal properly prior to getting cold and it will save you trouble at the field! I keep EVERYTHING inside the night before and even air up my remote line to keep it from having O-ring issues from being too cold.
- Put all your spare Co2 tanks inside a cooler with a heated source to keep it all warm. (I use those pads you drape over your neck that you heat in the microwave, they keep my cooler warm for hours). Keep the lid closed as much as you can.
- Put your extra paint inside this cooler as well, the warmer the paint is, the less brittle it will become. And when playing in the snow, the moisture from the snow will cause your paint to swell, so keeping it warm inside a cooler will make it shoot MUCH better! Use towels to keep the paint from touching the heat source, as it could melt the paint if it is too hot.
- Change out your Co2 tanks whenever it starts freezing up. This will give you more consistent shots and put the cold tank in your cooler to warm back up.
- Change your paint in your hopper if it is below 25°F after each game, that way when the new games start you have warmer paint in your hopper and pods. It will behave much better than paint that is very cold, especially if you are using a backspin system (Tippmann Flatline or Apex). The fill inside paintballs will start to gel and it will fly funky when spinning if it gets very cold.
- TURN DOWN THE VELOCITY of your marker! This is critical for having fun in the cold, if you try to run 300 fps (or even 280 fps) when it is 10°F. You will get more breaks than normal. At 32 degrees Fahrenheit I run it at 260 fps. I turn my Tippmann A-5 down to about 250 fps when it is below 25 degrees. And run it about 10 fps less for every 10 degrees colder. Don’t underbore (Underbore is using a barrel that is smaller than your paint, bad news in very cold temps!)
- Chrono often, as it warms up during the day your fps will change dramatically when using co2, and even compressed air. If you start getting breaks, it is likely because it has warmed up and you are shooting hot.
- Use “winter blend” paintballs. As always, paint is by far the most important thing you buy when playing paintball and learning to buy “good” paint is critical for your ability to hit what you are aiming at. You want paint that has NO dimples, or visible seams and should be perfectly round! Most manufacturers make their paint in winter blends once fall comes around, so buying fresh paint for winter play is a good idea. Summer blends can work, but will be more brittle in the cold, and more likely to cause barrel breaks.
- Dress in layers, with good warm boots, to keep your feet warm and multiple pairs of gloves, so if you get your first pair wet, you can change them. Keeping your hands and feet warm is critical to your ability to have fun in the cold. I’ve literally played in the snow in a t-shirt before, as I run around a lot, but if my feet or hands were cold, I couldn’t do that! I wear Thinsulate lined Rocky boots that lace up way past my ankles to protect them from twisting, with a good pair of wool socks and your toes will thank you! You should also wear a neck pad to protect your neck from hits!
- Thermal mask with fan! When playing in the snow it is HUMID, so having a thermal mask (dual pane) will make a HUGE difference in your ability to see your opponent! As a fogged mask will keep you from seeing anything! I use a fan inside my JT Flex 8 Camo full helmet, and if my mask starts to fog, I can just turn that on! If your mask is fogging a lot it means you need to replace your lens, which should be done every year, or as soon as it starts fogging up consistently! And after the game, don’t ever prop your mask on the top of your head, as ALL the heat from your head will fill the mask and cause it to fog up!
- White clothing in the snow is FUN! As it really works to “hide” you from your opponents! So get out your sweatshirts, and sweatpants and hit the field. If you are a guy, remember to wear a cup to protect your “boys”… Seriously, we are playing a shooting game, where paintballs are flying at 250 fps and faster, and nothing will ruin your day faster than getting hit there, and not having it protected! I’ve been hit there so many times I can’t even count, but I ALWAYS wear a cup to protect myself!
Here is a great game that will show you the fun you can have in the wintertime! I’m using my Tippmann A-5 and Tipx in this one!
Paintball in the winter time is my favorite time to play. The cold weather, hanging out with your friends, shooting each other! And sneaking around with all the leaves off the trees… It is just so much fun! Snowball is even more exciting. It is totally silent, and you can sneak up behind guys so much easier! Not to mention most people are sitting on a couch, while you are out getting exercise and staying fit, while making memories that will last a lifetime!!!
So with some proper preparation, and your Tippmann marker, get out there this winter and have a BLAST with your friends and family!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Author: Glenn Mehltretter AKA Trails of Doom; Nickname: FreeEnterprise
Location: West Chester, Ohio
Glenn has run his own private paintball field for 9 years and held over 40 events, he has introduced hundreds of new players into the sport, invented the MonsterSpin barrel system, and ZoomCam filming system for paintball, created over 200 paintball videos, and runs Trails of Doom and Trails of Doom HD on youtube, with over 16,000 subscribers, and over 2,000,000 views. His Sniper Assassin Paintball video is the longest paintball viral video on youtube and shows how to play as a sniper/assassin in a large scenario game. He uses a Tippmann A-5, and Tipx as his sidearm and has been playing for 10 years.
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