What is the best paintball barrel is mostly own preference. But here follows a small summary of what types of barrels there are avaliable.
Most stock barrels are fine if playing once a year but needs to be upgraded if playing paintball at least once a month. Tournament markers tend to have quality barrels as stock. But here follows some thoughts of how consider paintball barrels.
As noob I have made a first thoughts of barrels. This article describes more structured what paintball barrels values one need to consider if upgrading.
Sidearms can use barrels between 6-12 inches. The effective barrel length however varies between 14-16 inches. For speedball 14 inches is comfortable and 16 inches works more for woodsball. You are able to push the air bunkers in with the 16 inch barrel and get clear shot as you are well behind cover. You are able to do the same with 14 inch as well, you are just slightly more exposed. A longer barrel can be clipped when sticking out behind cover. Some woodsball players uses even 18 and 21 inches but added length in paintball does not bring any shot enhancing qualities as it may do in airsoft. You are merely able to put your barrel all the way thru a bush to shoot with. As you are protected by the bush and you won’t brake own balls on it.
Two piece or one piece?
One piece is all compact barrel and can vary in length according to above. Two piece barrels give more customisation opportunities depending on what kind of shot signature you want. It is cheaper to purchase just tip rather than entire barrel every time you want to flip shot signature. Bore sizing is another feature to consider for the barrel backs.
As all paint is considered to be 0.68 there are significant differences if using a third digit. There are backs some manufacturers bored up to .697 but most rentals markers has bore sizes between 0.695 to .690. A bigger bore gives more airflow between the ball and the barrel walls, using air less efficiently.
Tournament players tend to use .689 as standard bore size. It is fairly air efficient and chops paint rarely enough not needing to swab the barrel at each game.
There is a lot of debate werther underbore or overbore. Overboring leaves air between the barrel and the ball, thus getting less shots per tank fill. Underboring minimises the airflow if not chopping off airflow completely. Underboring waists less air when all the air is used to push the ball forwards, you get more shots per tank fill. Some claim underboring induces that much stress to a ball so it will brake in the barrel. I tend to agree with the ones who says the chopping occurs from feeding the balls in the breach incorrectly and not by the barrel friction.
Underborers uses commonly bore sizes between .687 to .684. There are also few players who uses .680 and less but there is almost no paint smaller than this. >this was 5 year ago, nowadays I myself use .680 as standard bore. / 2020<
You should not try fit .695 paint thru a barrel sized 0.670. Even if the ball might stay intact the shot engine might get prematurely damaged.
Pump players who don’t use detents to stop balls from rolling out from the barrel uses commonly .685 down to .680. By bore matching pump players get the balls to stay put when cocking the breach wit a ball.
Barrel tip design.
The less portings you have on the barrel the louder noise it will give the shots as greater amount of portings will decrease the noise but also waist air thru them, (you need to fill the tank more often).
I’ve found out ”Pro shaft 5” tip to be optimal as large all american portings less favourable. In GOGs apex ready all American ported tip if paint brakes in the barrel, the large ports will give the paint room to flow back and fourth in the holes between shots. Smaller ports squirts the paint of the barrel. The barrel profile can also divert paint residue away from the ports or back into them. On Pro shaft 5 the ports are located on the highest point and any paint pushing out will pour down the profile and not back in to the ports as it may in Pro shaft 4 tips. Especially important when rubbing the barrel against paint on bunkers.
There are a lot of design differences but you should decide between efficiency and noise and if the aesthetics suits your preferences.
2020 SP aka GOG has introduced a new barrel tip witch eliminates barrel maid/swab. It squeezes out debree and gives the ball room to pus thru intact.
There are also a lot of different barrel back standards how to mount a barrel to the marker. Autococker (AC) is the most commonly used between different markers. However Tippmann 98 treading may be the most common thread thanks to the rental volumes. But Tippmann A5 is shared between many different variants of their own markers. Ion treads are also used in ever so popular DLX Luxe Ice and other GOG markers (former Smart Parts). Spyder is yet another treading standard. There might be even more than this but if choosing the barrel tread be ensured you are happy with the marker you are using so you don’t need to waste resources in eventual renewal of entire barrel setups or in compensating adapters.
Apex & Flatline
Apex uses a rubber lip at the tip to give the ball some spinn. The gyro spin gives the balls more resistance to the elements and thus flying further. Depending on the lip position you are able to spin balls up down, left or right. You can get some different effects whit the shots. Upwards it will fly longer but not necessarily hitting the target at the end or bouncing of. Left and right it can gain some curving effect, you are able to hit a bigger surface behind a bunker than an opponent withouigt apex can get on you. Downwards you can stay hidden showing only your barrel behind a ridge, remember never to blind fire. However what is blind firing and what is blocking of a route (laning)? You are also able to use the suction to curve down on hidden opponents. There are many different threading options to choose from for the Apex barrels.
Flatline on the other hand uses longer friction surface to induce this gyro spin. The barrels are internally bent in an slight S shape and covered in aesthetic shrouds. Suits primarily Tippmann markers. You might want to skip the shroud and use it with adapters on other brand marker but the aesthetics could be quite awkward. The Flatline uses only one kind of spin on contrast to the Apex which can spin 360. This is preference do you spin your marker or only the barrel to get the same shots.
Some say rifled barrels to give plain paintballs some spin. I recommend not to use them since a ball brake in such barrel must be washed out with water since a quick swabbing can not reach paint in the rifles. Then why do use these?
First strike paint has finns, a rifled barrel matching these fins will get you a controlled shot. Apex and Flatline works on standard paint to shoot them a bit further. But first strike is paint in it self, more expensive thou. The Rifled barrels may assist this kind of paint to fly on distant target. Expensive quality paint is used by long range ”snipers” as they use so little of it.
There might be some cautiously rifled barrels working with both kind of paint, round as well as shaped paint.
Some barrels can be upgraded with different looking muzzle breaks. Hammer head is the most known one. Also Inception Designs stella tips are able customizable with different style muzzles. These are more common as tacticool elements in woodsball. The muzzle breaks in themselves have no direct function and serves only as an aesthetic decor.
There are some kit systems I am familiar with. The back length is important. Some have researched the back to contribute with efficiency at the first 8 inches in the barrel. The tip only contributes 10% but these are designed either to conserve air and be loud or quiet and waist air thru the portings.
- I fit kit consists of short airsoft like hopup bore sizers. The kit consists of barrel back and your regular barrel operates as the tip. Good when upgrading stock one piece 12 inch barrel to 14 inch two piece barrel with inserts.
- Freaks of the past has used 5 inch inserts in the back to bore paint. Produced by multiple different manufacturer in many different variations. You can flip the back and keep the tip if switching between different treaded markers. The tips of these kits have different options to produce different sound signatures or carry on weight.
- (2018) GOG Fleak XL now a days uses 8 inch inserts
- Inception design has its Stella barrel kit which is the best on the market but only accessible by one manufacturer. Stella kit includes also Muzzlers in their kits.
- Full long carbon fiber freaked barrels manufactured to fit 5 inch inserts and customizable with many different treads. This is good when minimizing carry on weight and keeping the barrel up all day long. Heavy woodsball markers benefits les from these upgrades than light tournament markers. Shocker is one of the lightest markers and with a light barrel the barrel rize in noticeable as heavier barrels or markers balances barrel rize better why you would need a smooth shooting Luxe Ice if using this kind of light barrels.
- Standard back with different bore sizes. These are very expensive compared with 5 inch Freak inserts. Many manufacturers include a second or a third back in their marker package reducing the need of external kit. Dye boomsticks and Pro shafts are described as the best on the market.
- Relatively new (2019), at least after this article was first published, Aculock barrel system. People say you will get more straight alignment between barrel and insert. Aacculock is also supposed to have minimal gap between barrels. If nothing else, by the purchase you will support the team Dynasty Dragons and their Field One brand.
New for 2021 are the HK army LAZR kit. It is supposingly making the sound signature quiet. Many claim HK army for patent intrusion but everyone kannibalized Smart Parts in its time so that is to be expected now a days. HK has their VX (15) kit as well but it doesn’t bring any significant news value to the market.
These barrel systems weight different much and one need to consider how the marker will react when shot. A light barrel on a light gun like shocker will give more ”kick”, harder to keep the barrel leveled if laining. Heavier barrel on a light marker stabilizes to some extendt the ”kick”. A heavier marker as Luxe doesn’t suffer as much kick from a light barrel. When paring barrel to a light alt. heavy marker one should consider if carbon fiber weight reduction will serve you efficiently or should one add stainless inserts to a metal barrel instead.
What do you prefer? At this stage I prefer to try out a different tips and backs. Since an insert is so much cheaper than an entire back the Freak kit will be my first choice. Stella is interesting but its availability is very limited why Freak system still wins this battle. I will wait and see how many manufacturers start to copy the 8inch inserts for their kits before purchasing such. For now I will cope with some loose 5 inch freak barrels I’ve got for present so far.
If I ever find optimal paint, tip and back I might end up getting the original high quality back&tip with fixed paint size to play with. As long as I am exploring I will continue to do so with the freak systems.
Note! After some research I can verify a tip mainly alters the sound signature. One can be equally accurate with a tight bore barrel back as if it had the tip mounted or not. The shot signature is the main difference gained with different tips.
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