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The Secrets Of Technology
THE SECRETS OF TECHNOLOGY
The object of this is to dispel some of the myths involved in the new technology of today. Many things actually DO work, but no one knows why, or there is some popular misconception as to why it does work, or what it actually does.
Research was extensive and many experts were consulted. I was fortunate enough to have the Canadian National Research Centre so close by. Amongst the experts who were consulted were gunsmiths, aerodynamicists, ballistics experts, and prominent airsmiths like Aeron Carter (Carter Machine), Glenn Palmer (Palmer's Pursuit Shop) and Dan DeBone (former service manager for Palmer's Pursuit Shop).
I have been playing since 1984 and I have seen a lot of stuff come and go. Also, I was a sniper in the infantry and I know about ballistics, having spent many hours of class time learning what things do when the are propelled through the air.
While the following may be controversial, it is intended to try and set a few records straight.
IMPORTANT NOTE:
One must note that some folks will see a difference in using some of the things mentioned herein and others will say they saw no difference. In all of these cases I am speaking in general terms. Paintmarkers behave much like firearms, they seem to "favour" a certain brand of projectile and what works for one marker may not work for another. Even two of the SAME TYPE of paintmarker will perform differently with the same accessory. This is because that no two paintmarkers are EXACTLY the same. It only takes a slight variation to make a difference.
My best advice is if you purchase something, deal with a company which has a return policy and keep the receipt in case it doesn't work on your marker.
THE PAINTBALL -- A GOOD PROJECTILE?
This is the current limit on performance. We cannot get better velocity consistency or accuracy with current ball and manufacturing technology. We are using a method designed to dispense accurate dosages to try and get accurate size and shape. No wonder quality paintball manufacturing is an art more than a science.
On my sniper's course we were told, "the marker is really only as good as the projectile it fires". Meaning that if you have less than adequate ammunition, your accuracy will directly reflect that. (There's one of those facts of firearms ballistics that applies to paintball.)
Now ask yourself, how much does it cost to make a paintball (take into account that they're around 5 cents wholesale) and then figure out how reliable your projectile will be.
Just in case you figure a paintball is a reliable projectile, guess again. It is a SEMI-spherical projectile that is liquid filled. Even if the paintball is perfect, by the time it gets fired out the barrel, it isn't any more. This is because the paintball is soft and the expanding gasses, which are pushing it out the barrel, distort it terribly. Smart Parts was right in saying the paintball is more like a water balloon than a bullet.
So the answer is:
NO THE PAINTBALL IS NOT A
BALLISTICALLY SOUND PROJECTILE!
TO SPIN, OR NOT TO SPIN, THAT IS THE QUESTION
There are great DISADVANTAGES to spinning a paintball. Do the Glenn Palmer Spin Test. Get some two colour shelled paintballs, preferably with high contrasting colour (black/white, red/yellow, etc.). Watch them as they fly towards the target. You will notice that some will "strobe" or flash the two colours of the shell, this is how you can tell which ones are spinning and which are not. (The ones that are "strobing" are the ones which are spinning.) You will then notice that the ones that DO NOT spin fly straighter than those which are spinning.
The paintball has a seam. The seam works like a seam on a baseball, it "catches" the air and causes drag on that side, causing it to curve. You want this to happen with a baseball. You can also control the direction of the curve of a baseball, because you can reliably orient the seams to achieve the desired result. As yet, no one has successfully been able to control the curve of a paintball. This is mainly because there is no way to orient the paintball's seam, other than individually hand loading them one at a time.
As for putting an under-spin on the paintball, to cause lift. I have seen it work with the Cooper-T bolt for the Sniper, with limited success. Range was increased by approximately 25 feet, and the paintball's trajectory was flatter than normal. Imparting a backspin on the ball does flatten trajectory but shortens overall carry and creates an accuracy problem because we do not control how the seam is aligned with the spin. This can create a slight up left, up right, or up centre rise to the travel of the ball. Paintballs can even be made to fly like a frisbee, jump up, gentle rising loft that dies at the top, followed by a sharp break downward.
MUZZLE BRAKES
One has to remember that a paintball is not round and that it may not make a complete seal in the barrel. (It will, for a split second as the burst of gas compresses it.) As it travels down the barrel, it regains it's shape -- which is good. The bad thing is that now there are gaps between the ball and the inner surface of the barrel. As the paintball exits the barrel at the end, or muzzle, these gaps allow air to escape past the paintball. This is called "blow by" and it causes the ball to spin, reducing accuracy.
What the muzzle brake does is hold the ball and allow the gasses to vent behind it, before they can blow-by and effect the flight of the ball. It only takes a split second to do this.
Some will say it makes no difference. This is mainly because THEY haven't seen a difference. Well if your paint is of a larger diameter, as some brands are, they seal the bore better and do not produce as much blow-by. I have seen differences in the paintmarkers I own. The theory is sound, but it depends on your paint size, inner diameter of your barrel, velocity and the paintmarker itself.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The more INefficient the marker, the more effective the brake is. That could be why some see a difference and some do not.
Also, the muzzle brakes on the market that bolt on to the end of your muzzle may not work because the inner diameter of the muzzle brake is not the same as the barrel it is attached to. The muzzle break is usually of a larger inner diameter and will not hold the ball. The best muzzle brake is one that is cut directly into the barrel itself.
Durty Dan Sez:
Incidentally, the muzzle brake is a firearms accessory. They are designed to vent gasses, behaving like a little rocket, to push the muzzle in the opposite direction of where it goes when the firearm recoils. The brake is supposed to stop "muzzle flip", like a brake is a car is supposed to stop the car from moving. We call it a muzzle brake because it goes on a paintmarker in the same place it goes on a firearm and it looks like a firearm muzzle brake. NOTE HOW IT IS SPELLED: muzzle B-R-A-K-E, not muzzle B-R-E-A- K. If you have a muzzle BREAK, you'd better get it fixed.
VENTING
Venting is basically a muzzle brake that takes up half the barrel. Also, venting reduces pressure that is stacking up in front of the ball, although it is negligible, every little bit helps.
Most importantly, it DOES NOT the spin ball as long as air pressure is bled off evenly or in very small amounts at a time. Case in point the Smart Parts barrel does not spin the ball but J&J AC Whisper (with all the holes on bottom ) causes the ball to have a top spin and downward hook at longer ranges. Testing them with two colour balls has shown that you will see that the amount of initial spin is small but can develop and create a hook at extreme ranges with the Whisper barrel.
Whole idea is to vent excess muzzle blast away from ball. Releasing the blast over a longer time duration also decreases the sound volume of the blast.
The reason why the entire barrel isn't vented is due to the fact that you need some of the gas contained, or you will lose velocity. Incidentally, the gas has done it's job in the first 5 inches, or so, of the barrel. The rest of the barrel is there to help guide the paintball. The gas has pretty much finished expanding by the time the paintball has left the barrel. This is also why shorter barrels make more noise than longer barrels, as the gas may have not completely finished expanding and when it hits the air, the rapid rush creates a louder noise.
RIFLING -- DIFFERENT FROM VENTING?
No, it does the same job as the muzzle break and the vented barrel. This is so long as the grooves are cut longitudinally down the barrel. Firearms rifling is design to spin the projectile and stabilize it in flight, because the projectiles are DESIGNED to spin and therefore it works in a real gun. Also bullets are made of SOLID materials. Paintmarker rifling is another way to prevent blow-by.
PERFORMANCE TUNING
Most performance tuning is in the valve area of your paintmarker. The more efficient the valving (the better it uses and meters the gas) the smaller the muzzle blast giving less spin to the ball and improving accuracy. The expansion rate of CO2 is dependant upon how fast you let it expand. If you flood the system, you actually hinder expansion and create more muzzle blast without increasing velocity. The ideal would be to do the most work, with the least gas, leaving as little left over as possible.
Tuning also consists of polishing and honing moving parts to help reduce operating friction.
IS SIMPLE HONING OF THE BARREL EFFECTIVE?
This is probably the single most effective "quick-fix" for improving accuracy. The smoother your bore is, the better the paintball will perform. You are basically trying to reduce the friction between the barrel and the moving ball. Anything that reduces this friction will result in better performance.
A clean smooth barrel is a necessity for accuracy with a not so round, naturally sticky, smooth-bore fired, projectile.
However, many people get hung up on specs that are measured in what many math teachers would call "insignificant digits". A plus or minus of .002" around .690" is virtually impossible to tell with ANY brand of paint. It takes a good $600 Mititoyo bore gauge to see the difference. When the balls can vary by .02" from around the seam to perpendicular to it -- maybe we are getting a little foolish trying to specify to within .0005" on barrel inner diameter.
THE BEST BARREL MATERIAL
You can't go wrong with brass. Most airsmiths agree that it is the best metal for polishing. Amongst all the non-plated/treated metals, brass is the best for smoothness. The problem being that brass is relatively soft and thinner brass barrels can get bent or dented easier than steel or aluminum. Brass is also less expensive.
There are smoother substances. There are slicker surfaces. Brass just doesn't seem to build up gelatin residue like all the "wonder products".
The small linear scratches that seem to develop over years of use have not had any adverse effect on accuracy so I have never seen a half way decently cared for brass barrel "wear out".
VENTURI BOLTS
The idea is that the venturi bolt, with its many holes, diffuses the gas and makes the impact of the expanding gas more of a push than a slam. A big honking hole in your bolt does the same thing. However, venturi bolts are showing some success as an after market accessory as players have been discovering that they reduce ball breaking in the marker. By and large, the best indicator for balls breaking when the gas strikes them is paint and shell on the bolt face. If you're not having this problem, don't waste your money on a venturi bolt.
LIGHTENED HAMMERS
A lightened hammer improves gas efficiency. Here's what happens to the hammer and valve when you fire your paintmarker. A lightened hammer reduces, what is called, "rebound".
Here's what "rebound" is:
When the hammer is released it strikes the valve, under power of the hammer spring, and opens the valve, releasing gas to fire the paintball;
The valve closes, under spring pressure, pushing the hammer away slightly; and
The hammer opens the valve slightly, releasing more gas.
This is rebound. The problem is, that second burst of gas happens after the ball has left the barrel, so it does nothing but disperse into space. That burst is wasted.
A lighter hammer (with the same hammer spring and valve spring) still rebounds, but it's lighter weight translates into less kinetic energy and it will not repone the valve.
I have lightened hammers on any marker I own that runs on 12 grams.
CONCLUSION
As you may, or may not, have noticed, all the components of a paintmarker mutually contribute to its performance, good or bad. A new barrel may not work, if your paintmarker's valve is not efficiently tuned.
You may have a contrary view point to what you have just read, and that's fine. But before you drop me a note saying that I'm wrong, let me say this. I'm NOT wrong. The reason being is that I didn't write this, the experts I consulted wrote this. So if you feel you have a good argument to prove me wrong, your credentials better be as impressive as those who provided me with this information.
Also keep in mind that I spend well over SIX MONTHS in research, interviews and compiling raw data.
After all of this, one question comes to mind:
Why do players want "tack driving" accuracy when they shoot 9 paintballs a second? You notice most of this stuff is marketed for semis? What's the point? The mentality these days is: If you can't make the shot -- shoot lots.

Play hard! Play fast! Play safe!



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~durtydan"Durty Dan's Paintball Information Services


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