My subject this time: marker customization in general! And I'm not talking about really cool space gun and/or camo paintjobs that make your gun look cool, or milsim products that... make your gun look cool. Because I personally don't care for or believe in those things. I'm talking about what works best for actually making markers work their best. Because what matters is shooting people, not how your gun looks when you do it.
So I'm going to go over all the various options and my logic/physics/experience (in that order from most to least important) based opinion of them. And tell you what's out and what's in! IMHO that is.
Working our way from front to back the first category is:
First and foremost: Long barrels are OUT! Sorry guys.
I don't expect the following is the case on this forum in particular, but a lot of people I've met personally on paintball fields subscribe to the misconception that longer barrels equate to longer ranges. I imagine this is due to that fact that it's more or less common knowledge that generally speaking longer barrels DO equate to longer ranges. Which is the case with actuall firearms. But this is due to a very specific reason that ISN'T the case in paintball. While most people know longer barrels = longer ranges people who mistakenly apply the concept to paintball appearently don't know WHY. In firearms there is no limit to muzzle velocities, and since the point of firing a firearm is to waste some poor bastard, the faster the velocity the better. Also one might notice that when a firearm fires a lot of energy in the form of an explosion escapes the muzzle after the projectile fires. By lenthening the barrel some of that escaping energy can be harnessed to propel the projectile, rather than being allowed to escape. The longer the barrel is, the longer the explosion is pushing the projectile, the longer the explosion pushes the projectile the higher the projectile's muzzle velocity, the faster the projectile is going once it leaves the barrel the further it can go in the same ammount of time it takes the projectile to fall to the ground either way, and the longer the projectile's range. Since acceleration due to gravity is constant all bullets fall at the same rate once they leave the barrel no matter how fast they're going, but the faster they're going the further they'll go before they hit the ground.
But as we all know this doesn't work in paintball. In paintball our muzzle velocity is always limited to 280fps. Therefore no matter how long your barrel gets, you're never going to be shooting paintballs any faster than anyone with a shorter barrel, so you're never going to get longer ranges by lengthening your barrel. As with bullets all paintballs fall at the same rate once they leave the barrel, but we're not allowed to make them go faster, so lengthening the barrel won't make them go further.
In firearms it is as always a trade off. Is it more important to have enhanced manuverability, or enhanced range? Short barrel or long barrel? Depends on what you need to do with your gun, but either way you go you'll sacrifice one type of performance but gain another. In paintball you don't get any range bonus for a long barrel, but you do make the gun longer take on the disadvantage of a less manuverable marker. Basically you give up manuverability but get nothing in return. So long barrel is a no go, it's all drawback and no benefit.
That said there is one work around to the paintball range limitation which I'm sure we're all familiar with:
The Flatline/Apex Barrel
As I mentioned before our velocity is limited so we can't increase our range that way. But the workaround of these systems is not to change the velocity of the paintball but to change the aerodynamics of the paintball. Now when air moves along a surface, it is known that the faster the air moves along the surface the less pressure it exerts on the surface (forgot the name of the principal but I know for a fact that a lot of you know it already, keep in mind I'm writing this more to entertain myself than educate you haha!). This is how the wing and a pitcher's curve ball work, the wing diverts air over a longer path over the top of the wing forcing air to move faster over the top than under the bottom, resulting in a pressure difference between the top and bottom of the wing, with more air pressure exerted on the bottom pushing up. The difference in pressure is what holds the plane up against the force of gravity. In the pitchers curve ball the ball is spun hard in one direction on a verticle axis. The increased friction between the surface of the ball and air as it passes over the surface due to this spin diverts more air over one side of the ball (a longer path) forcing the air to move faster over that side reducing air pressure on that side. The normal higher air pressure on the other side of the ball actually pushes the ball in opposite direction resulting in a horizontal curve. The Flatline and Apex barrel systems use this same principal but spin the paintball on a horizontal axis, forcing air to move faster over the top of the ball than under the bottom, creating a lift force just like the wing. This lift force counteracts the force of gravity and holds the ball up in the air, eventually the ball slows due to air resistance (the entire time actually), as it slows the pressure diferential that holds the ball up reduces, and eventually the ball falls down like a normally fire ball would. But for those few seconds that it's generating enough lift to hold it up it delays the fall, and this allows the ball to travel further even though it's fired at the same speed as any other paintball. This is the ONLY way to increase a normal paintball's range, so only markers with barrel systems designed to put that backspin on the ball actually shoot further than any other marker. Basically no matter how long your long barrel gets (so long as you're chrono'd properly) you're not going to be shooting any further than anyone else, and some people who have Flatlines/Apex's or other similar systems are going to be shooting further than you, AND at the same time still be more manuverable. Basically we as paintballers get something actual firearms manufacturers would kill for. The ability to increase range WITHOUT sacrificing manuverability!
So Flatline and Apex Barrels are IN
Something important to mention at this point is
The First Strike Round
Although it's technically not a round because it's not self contained with its own propellent. As I mentioned before the only way to increase a paintballs range is the backspin which is not possible with the non-spherical shape of the FS. This paint projectile (more accurate than "round" or "ball") doesn't actually have a longer maximum range than a normal paintball, in fact due to it's flat rear end which probably causese more of a "suction" effect at the rear aerodynamically, it might have a shorter maximum range than a normal paintball fired normally. Anyway the trick of this projectile isn't that it increases range, it's not going to fire any further than a painball, what it does do however with it's bullet-like "self stabilizing spin" is increase accuracy over longer ranges. It doesn't shoot further it's shoots "straighter" on the horizontal. It won't curve unexpectedly left or right making it much easier to hit targets at longer ranges that normal paintballs can achieve just without the accuracy. In effect it has the same MAXIMUM RANGE but a much longer EFFECTIVE RANGE. But that in and of its self is a pretty nifty trick.
That said having a longer effective range in paintball is highly effective/awesome therefore:
First Strike Projectiles are... IN!
Hoppers and Feed Mechanisms
Alot of the "speedball" guns these days incorporate electonic hoppers to force feed paintballs. Now I have no experience actually using these so my assesment is strictly logic based. That's the best way to assess something afterall, but logic isn't fool proof. Sometimes logic is flawed, especially the more complicated and theoretical it gets. Reality has a tendency to be utterly impossible to predict using logic alone. So unlike my physics and experience backed assesment of barrels this is going to be a far cry from the end all be all TRUTH about electo-pneumatic systems. But I will keep my logical premesis simple to enhance their reliability, and also base my assessment on my observations of other people's experiences. So here we go.
There are a few fundemental (and by my logic undeniable), flaws in the basic concept of the electronic force feed. First off it takes batteries. It just will not work without them, which means A: You have to buy batteries. Is it that expensive to? Certainly not. But you know what's less expensive and still works perfectly fine? A regular gravity feed hopper. And B: This makes them inherently less reliable. Batteries die. Granted the occassion on which they die may be rare, and you may be wise enough to always bring spares. But even someone who always brings spares eventually forgets to. Even with spares batteries can die in game, and as if loading projectiles and propellent seperately were a big enough pain, now you've got to change batteries in game too. I'm sure that won't be a hasstle and/or result in your getting tagged out because you were trying to change your batteries in game. But you know what never "dies" and still works perfectly fine? Gravity.
Secondly, these are electronic systems. Electronics are also inherently more suceptable to damage and failure due to dust, dirt, water and/or shock than any mechanical component. Don't believe me? Throw a mechanical marker and your laptop in a river, see which one comes out working better. That's not a fair comparison, and I'm sure that the electronic components in these electro-hoppers are somewhat well protected by some kind of rugged housing. But no housing is perfect and it's always going to be a possibility that dirt, dust or water will get in there and break something; and it will never be a possibility with a simple gravity feed hopper, which will work just fine.
And my observations: I've never been to a game with a lot of electro's in play where someone wasn't have a hard time with theirs, whether it's battereies or a short or a catashtrophic failure, SOMETHING, SOMEWHERE always seems to go wrong. On the other side I've seen mechanical markers fail in game and ruin someone's whole day... but only a handful of times in six years. All that said, again, I have no personal experience running electro-hoppers so I don't really know first hand. But IMHO
Electo hoppers are... OUT.
Standby for updates...
This post has been edited by Shipwreck!: 07 August 2011 - 11:41 PM