|Posted by the professional Pro on March 28, 2011 at 7:46 PM|
I am often asked "What is a good barrel for my gun? I want to make it more accurate" My response has been the same for years- "No barrel will be more or less accurate than the last." Some will immediately cry heresy at my assertion, but just hear me out. 'Accuracy' is defined as somethings ability to accomplish it's task- specifically, to hit the mark in this case. All markers are completely capable to shoot bullseyes with any barrel however inconsistent they may be. What everyone is looking for is 'Precision'- the ability to put round on top of round again and again and again. To attain the illusive, nearly mythical, maybe fabled precision desired by all .68 shooters, one must understand one basic concept- regulation. All markers are basically pressure regulators, some better, some not-so-much. Some complex, some simple. Never the less, they all regulate air pressure for the purpose of launching a .68 round at someone else. Therefore it stands to reason that the best regulators will produce the most consistent shooting. So, we start with a regulator. An expansion chamber is better than nothing if you cannot afford a good regulator, but a regulator should be the ultimate goal especially if you are using CO2. I personally prefer a Palmer's for most applications due to their ruggedness. The least amount of hose or tuning between the regulator and the marker's valve the better off you will be, so mount the regulator as close as you can to the valve. Moving along the line, literally, to the valve. If there is an aftermarket upgrade for your valve and/or powertube you should highly consider it. If not, you should make sure the valve's guts are polished smooth. Also, make sure all of the o-rings and springs are changed every season to keep them fresh and consistent. Next, the bolt is HIGHLY important. A good bolt will reduce breaks by the way it cradles the round, will likely be lighter than stock, and will have a 'Venturi'. (see the great Wikipedia, Venturi Effect If there is no 'Venturi', you are usually wsting money. Now, the main topic, the barrel. There are basically three things to consider when choosin g a barrel. The bore and bore sizing, the pipe, and the porting and muzzle. The best barrels will be able to accept a boresizing kit of some sort. Boresizing is incredibly important, it matches paint size to barrel size to make each shot more consistent. I have a TECHT i-Fit kit and it's awesome. The 'pipe' refers to the barrel itself. Is it smoothbore or rifled? Straight rifling is useless by experience, it offers no real advantage, or disadvantage for that matter, to a smoothbore. Spiral rifling is useless if it is a copy of a firearms rifling, it must be matched to paintballs, not lead. Therefore many spiral rifled barrels are a joke. Hammerhead(available on the Red Dot Paintball Online Store, click 'Paintball Guns' tab in the top right corner) is one of the very few companies that use the correct degree of twist for paintballs in their spiral rifled barrels. I have recently become a Hammerhead user, in my short experience I see about two and a half to three inches difference in the size of my groups at forty yards. It's not the 'magical', fix-all' barrel, however it does seem to be mildly, but noticeably better than a smoothbore. Then, what is it made of, brass or aluminum or carbon fiber? Aluminum tends to be stronger and more ding resistant and definitely cheaper. However, brass has a natural lubricity which translates to less drag. Brass is really popular among old school players, brass barrels may be a new concept to you, but they have been around since the early days of paintball. You will also see a lot of 'pump' players using brass barrels. If you are interested in a brass barrel you should look at Palmer's. Hammerhead recently introduced some brass to their line as well. Carbon fiber makes a super light, super quiet , stealthy barrel. The multiple wrapped layers have an odd way of absorbing the sound. There is a rumor that carbon fiber cannot be squeegeed, that is the most ridiculous load of crap, I squeegee mine with no problems. on the flip side, leaving paint in a carbon fiber barrel for long time has been known to cause the layers to come apart, so this is probably not the barrel for irresponsible or forgetful types. Lastly, the porting. Porting is the holes bored in the barrel walls. Porting makes it easier for the ball to accelerate because it is easier for the air in front of the ball to escape. Because some of the air behind the ball escapes before reaching the muzzle, it makes a barrel quieter because it reduces the 'pop' when the ball exits the barrel. Porting at the beginning of a barrel is not to be desired. The first eight to ten inches of the barrel is used for acceleration, so for air to escape that soon would be inefficient. The remaining length of the barrel does two things- slows the ball back down due to drag and helps to lock-in the trajectory. So, those twenty-two inch barrels consume a LOT of air in order to launch the round at three hundred feet per second due to the excessive drag on the ball. Porting also gives the air in front of the ball somewhere to go instead of pushing it all the way out of the barrel. The other thing you should know about porting is that if it is reversed(angled away from the muzzle rather than perpendicular) then it further reduces forward muzzle blast and it is better at reducing air turbulence as the ball exits the barrel and therefore is more consistent and therefore more precise, however it forces the ball to push more air to the muzzle, so it is slightly less efficient. Look at the muzzles of real sniper rifles, competition target rifles and modern assault rifles like the M4 and compare. One last thing, try to avoid using adapters. If an adapter is used it really defeats the purpose of a bore sizer. The bolt should push the round directly into the the bore sizer for the best performance. In summery, look for barrels with the ability to use a boresizing kit, no porting in the first eight inches of the barrel, and reversed porting when possible. Good hunting, Pro out.