There’s a lot of misinformation and questionable marketing tactics that often lead new paintball players down the wrong path to purchasing expensive gear they don’t need.
Many new paintball players will have the desire to be a paintball sniper, and some of the gear marketed to beginners are completely mislabeled or give the false impression that they shoot further.
Before you start buying gear, read through this article so you can avoid costly purchases that wont live up to your expectations.
If you want to learn more on how to be an effective paintball sniper, check out my 26 Essential Sniper Tips to boost your game:
Just because it is a “Sniper” Doesn’t Mean It Shoots Further
The fact of the matter is, any paintball fired at 300 feet per second (the max legal velocity at any paintball field) will travel the same exact distance as any other paintball no matter the paintball gun it was fired from. On the other hand, you can use special barrels like the Flatline or Apex barrels to give you a little more distance, but you sacrifice accuracy doing so.
A regular paintball has a maximum range of 150 feet in ideal conditions and at legal field velocity. However, paintballs only have an effective range of about 100 feet because after the paintball has flown this far, they loose the majority of their initial velocity. This can lead to them just bouncing off their target instead of breaking.
Quite a few beginner paintball guns are labeled “sniper” and have a cool tactical appearance. This is misleading. Even some other websites that have their own “best sniper” lists aren’t providing you, the player, with correct information on how far or how accurate these paintball guns can shoot.
If you want a list of true sniper paintball guns, check out my link below. All of these paintball guns are designed to shoot paintball sniper rounds, called First Strike Rounds, giving you a true sniper experience.
Barrel Length Does Not Improve Range or Accuracy
One of the most common misconceptions is that a longer paintball barrel will help you shoot further and more accurately.
A longer paintball barrel has no effect on how far a paintball will shoot or how accurate your shots will be. How far a paintball will travel is primarily dictated by its initial velocity. Accuracy is largely dependent on the quality of the paintballs themselves.
I have tested this theory out with both a 6 inch barrel and a 21 inch barrel of the same brand and model using the same paintballs and paintball gun. I found absolutely no change in accuracy or distance between the two very differently sized barrels.
A longer barrel will need more air released to push the ball all the way down the tube, reducing the paintball guns efficiency. This is due to the extra volume of air inside the barrel that needs to be pressurized to accelerate the paintball before it slows down.
It has been long determined that the ideal paintball barrel length is between 12 and 16 inches, with 14 inches being the ideal length. This way you have a perfect balance of sound reduction, mobility, and barrel length to help with aiming.
Rifled Barrels Do Not Increase a Paintball’s Range or Accuracy
Every now and then, a company will come out with an “innovative paintball barrel” with “new rifling technology”. They will boast that their rifled barrel improves regular, round, run of the mill paintballs’ range and accuracy. In reality though, it often does the opposite.
Paintballs are round and made of soft gelatin. This makes them prone to deformation which makes it hard to create rotation within rifled barrels. Using a rifled barrel on a regular paintball increases the chances of barrel breaks and hooked shots and should be avoided. Use smoothbore barrels for best results.
The exception is, if you are shooting First Strike Rounds, then you DO want to use a rifled barrel. First Strike Rounds are considered within the paintball community to be paintball sniper rounds. They are designed to shoot twice as far and with far greater accuracy than standard paintballs. If you want to learn more about FSR, check out my article below:
Accuracy is More Important Than Range
A regular paintball can only travel so far, and sometimes attempting to boost a paintball’s range will diminish it’s accuracy overall.
This is coming from a paintball player with over 20 years of experience, who’s played plenty of sniper roles in large scale scenario events. Accuracy at long distance is the key to success. If your accuracy is so bad that you have to move closer to hit your target, that’s not really snipping, now is it?
Flatline and APEX barrels add a backspin to your paintballs allowing them to fly in a straight line for longer but with reduced accuracy compared to a regular barrel. Therefor, I have stopped using these barrels because they require too much fine tuning that can easily be thrown off just by the nonuniform nature of paintballs themselves.
Use a good quality, straight barrel for regular paintballs. Don’t buy into any gimmicks that simply don’t work as well. Now, if you want to use a true sniper paintball round, keep reading!
First Strike Rounds = Sniper Rounds
Regular paintballs are limited in how far they can shoot, making it harder for a player to provide effective sniper fire from a distance. But, if you use First Strike Rounds you can out shoot anyone using regular paintballs in both distance and accuracy.
First Strike Rounds are widely considered to be the sniper round of paintball. Because of their shape and built in fins, FSRs can shoot twice as far and many times more accurately than regular paintballs can.
If you want to learn more about how First Strike Rounds work, click the link below for information: https://www.paintzapper.com/fsr/
Good Snipers Don’t Sit Back and Hide
When someone initially thinks of a paintball sniper, they imagine someone dressed head to toe in camo, sitting in the bushes, and waiting for that one target to walk by. This can’t be any further from the truth. A good paintball sniper knows that they need to keep moving to be effective.
An effective paintball sniper must constantly be on the move providing intel to their team, sabotaging the other team, and providing key eliminations throughout the game. If the sniper is equip with First Strike Rounds, they can also suppress and push back the front lines from a distance to give their team the upper hand.
Lighter is Better
You may have all the cool gear, an awesome ghillie suit, and multiple paintball guns at your disposal, but if you’re constantly moving on the field any unnecessary weight will slow you down. This is why I choose to pack as light as I can, especially for large scale scenario events with thousands of players on the feild.
Don’t get sucked into all the hype of the coolest looks, the newest attachments, and the fanciest chest rigs. In order to maintain your stamina while playing as a paintball sniper and to quickly evade the other team, set your gear up with the lightest and simplest possible configuration. This will help you be more agile and not overheat while behind enemy lines.
My personal rig only consists of a battle belt, enough mag pouches to hold 6 mags, and a dump pouch. Even my paintball gun is simplified in its layout with it’s only attachments being cameras and a scope as shown in the picture below.
You Don’t Need a High Magnification Scope
One of the first things that I learned over a decade ago was that you don’t need more than 2x magnification for your paintball scope. Very few fields will have an open enough layout for you to arc your shots at maximum distances, and even then you will have to compensate the angle you are shooting to the point that you wont see your target with more than 2x power.
When shooting round paintballs, all I need is a standard red dot sight or reflex sight. Any Sort of added magnification is overkill and will hinder more than help. If you are using First Strike Rounds, I have found 2x magnification is perfect for fast target acquisition for both medium to long range shots.
Another important thing to consider when picking up optics with magnification is how far the eye relief is. If you have to get too close to the scope to see the full picture, you run the risk of scratching your lens or not even being able to see with your mask on.
Snipers Work Best in Teams
Another stigma I see about paintball snipers is that they play like solitary lone wolves. In reality the complete opposite is true. Snipers working together as a team can cover more ground and set up effective ambushes.
Small 2 to 3 man paintball sniper teams are extremely effective for sabotaging, ambushing, and even providing sniper support for large assaults. This size group is large enough to cover each other’s backs while small enough to slip by unnoticed.
Whenever I am at a scenario event, I usually tag along with another paintball sniper to sneak around the field with. If I can’t find another player, I will often find a large group to shadow and support their flanks. Somethies even running right up to the front lines with them.
You Don’t Need Camo to Blend In
You don’t need to have to most high tech, or custom made camo to effectively blend in to your environment. Don’t get me wrong, they do help, but I have been able to blend into the woods with just a black shirt and black pants to great effect.
Don’t worry about spending excessive amounts of money on things like ghillie suits, hunting camo, or the best real-tree camo. These are only useful if you plan on sitting still for a long period of time, and a real sniper is constantly moving and causing chaos wherever they go.
Use basic, dark earthy colors or regular camo that you can find for cheap. There is no need to get excessive unless you just want to look really cool.
Expensive Gear Isn’t Always Better
The saying “you get what you pay for” is very true in the paintball world, but that doesn’t mean you need the best that money can buy. Some of the best gear that I’ve owned was moderately priced and performed many times better than equipment two or three times its cost.
My primary criteria for gear is reliability and durability. These two traits do not always translate to more expensive high end gear. The vast majority of my gear falls within the mid range category and most high end gear require too much effort to maintain and low end gear tends to break too easily.
You can check out my favorite gear to use in on my Recommended Gear Page by clicking here.
Your Most Important Piece of Gear is Your Mask
Finally, I want everyone to be aware of one irrefutable paintball fact; your mask is your most important piece of equipment. You can have all the best pro level gear in perfect working condition, but if you don’t have a decent mask, you’re not going to have a good game.
Your paintball mask needs to accomplish 3 things: proper fit, comfort, and to not fog up easily. The mask needs to fit your head comfortably without slipping off for safety. And of course, needs to maintain visibility. If you can’t see because your lens has fogged up, you won’t be able to play the highly visual role of a sniper.
The best way to get around this is to use a good quality paintball mask with a thermal lens and high breathability. I personally use the Empire E-Flex, but the JT Pro-Flex, Dye I5, and Virtue Vio are all amazing choices for a great price.