PAINTBALL 101


You’ve played paintball for a while, and you hear these terms being thrown around. It's a new language and it's overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask what some of this stuff means! Let's try to shed some light on some paintball lingo, and answer some common questions.


Here is a quick index:

1. All about the propellant.

2. How Many Types Of Paintball Markers Are There?

3. What's all this talk of NXL / Millennium Ramping?

4. What does it mean to bore match, over bore and under bore your barrel?

5. How does scoring work in paintball? How do you win?!


1. All about the propellant.

There are two types of tanks commonly used in paintball, C02 and High-Pressure Air ( HPA.) C02 tanks are made of steel and categorized by the volume they hold (12oz, 20oz, etc.) HPA tanks can be made from either steel or Carbon Fiber and are categorized by both size and volume. For example, 48/3000 or 68/4500. This first number is Cubic Inches (CI) and the bigger the number, the bigger the tank. The second number is the Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) and the bigger the number, the more air pressure it can hold. Stamped on each tank are a seemingly random assortment of numbers and letters. The "TC" and the "DOT-" is the certification number for Canada the USA. HPA tanks have a "born on" date that resembles "## CL ##" and will need to be hydro tested every 3 or 5 years. If your tank is carbon fiber it should be discarded after 15 years. For example, a carbon fiber tank born on -02 CL 16- will need to be tested before February 2021 and cannot be used after February 2031. If a tank is out of its hydro date, take it to your local field or store to get it recertified. The regulator on an air tank is the part that screws onto your marker or hooks up to a Remote Line. The regulator will control the air pressure going into your marker, and can be High Pressure (HP) or Low Pressure (LP) or even adjustable. It's important to know what output pressure your tank regulator is, as some markers need an HP or LP. Always read your owner's manual. The regulator on your tank has safety features like burst disks in case it's over-pressurized, and a gauge to tell you how much air is in your tank.

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2. How Many Types Of Paintball Markers Are There?

About a bajillion. This gets tricky fast because there are many different types and sub-types. Let's start with something simple. There are Mechanical and Electronic paintball markers.

- Mechanical markers can be semi auto, pump or even mag-fed. The term "pump gun" refers to any marker that has to be cocked between each shot.

- Mag-Fed Markers can be Mechanical like the T15 or electronic like the FS PDW Semi Rifle and most are capable of using First Strike Rounds loaded through the magazine.

- Electronic markers are best defined by needing a battery to operate. Two other popular categories for markers are "Spool" and "Poppet." Spool Valve markers like the Proton will have the bolt completely enclosed and offer a smooth, quiet shot. Poppet Markers like the ETEK5 have an open bolt and are more air-efficient and easier to maintain. The differences between spool and poppet on High-end markers like the M2 and the Ego LVR are negligible, both being smooth, quiet and efficient.


There are hundreds of types of paintball markers and sometimes these lines get blurry. They've made everything from electronic pumps to hybrid spool-poppets. If you can think of it, it probably exists.

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3. What's all this talk of NXL / Millennium Ramping?

The micro switch triggers on speedball markers are designed to shoot incredibly fast using two fingers. Ramping is a firing mode integrated into most speedball markers that will actually slow down the Balls Per Second (BPS). For example on NXL / Millennium Ramping no matter how fast you pull the trigger, your marker is capped and will shoot consistently at 10.5 BPS. Additionally as long as you pull the trigger a minimum number of times per second, the marker will "Ramp up" to the capped setting as well. Coming to a standard across the many different tournament formats has caused quite a bit of controversy. For better or worse, it looks like ramping is here to stay. It's important to keep your owner's manual in case you need to limit a rate of fire with a ramping mode for a local field or tournament.

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4. What does it mean to bore match, overbore and under bore your barrel?

You may hear players talk about the "bore size" of a paintball. Your average paintball is a 68 caliber sphere of encapsulated goop, but they're not always perfectly "0.680." There's a small variance in bore size from paintball to paintball, brand to brand, even cold and humidity can have an effect. You can use this to your advantage with a barrel kit. Using barrel backs or inserts you can maximize efficiency and grouping by matching the paintball down to a hundredth of an inch. When it's cold and paint may be extra brittle you can use a bigger bore and get fewer breaks in your barrel. This tends to be more of an art than a science, as opinions and preferences vary.

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5. How does scoring work in paintball? How do you win?!

Well, in tournament speedball, you will need to hang a flag or hit a buzzer to score a point. This is usually done after eliminating all players on the other team. A "Race Format" is where the first team to score a set number of points wins (usually 2, 5, or 7.) X-Ball is where you score as many points as you can in a timed period, usually having a mercy rule in place. A "Round Robin" is where you could play every team in the series and the team with the most overall wins is the victor. Scenario and Woodsball will have you complete objectives to score points. This includes keeping a base under your team's control, completing missions or collecting a prop or tokens all while players can be reinserted after being eliminated.


Never be afraid to ask questions. You can talk to certified techs, or reach out to your local field or paintball store. Always double check information you get by reading the owners manual.


Until next time, be safe and have fun!


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