Stock paintball barrels aren't always the best. In fact, an upgraded barrel is one of the cheapest, easiest ways to improve the performance of virtually every paintball marker out of the box. But with all of the different barrel threads it can be tough to figure out which is right for you. A barrel's threads have to match the marker, or it won't screw in properly to get a good seal.
There are five main barrels that cover the majority of markers new and old. Autococker barrel threads rose to popularity because for several years WGP Autocockers were the most popular high-end gun. For this reason, even today, Autococker threads are found on most high-end guns. Smart Parts started using a proprietary thread with the introduction of their Impulse, but after the ION proved popular, began marketing it under that name instead. Kingman's Spyder guns use proprietary thread of thier own which several other companies have also adopted, including some JT markers.
The last two major barrel threads both come from Tippmann guns. A5 threads are used on Tippmann's pistols, and higher end guns, as well as most BT and the balance of JT's guns. 98 threads work for Tippmann's entry-level and middle tier guns, including all of their US Army guns.
See below for a full list of barrel threads by gun.
Consider your style of play when choosing a paintball barrel length. Players who like to play fast and aggressive can benefit from a shorter barrel of 8 to 12 inches. These are lighter and more maneuverable, making diving and crawling easier. A short barrel is more gas efficient but louder. A 14 to 16 inch barrel is the most common size. This length offers great accuracy and efficiency, and has the advantage on an inflated air speedball field of letting you press the barrel into the side of the bunker to make shooting from behind cover easier. Barrels in 18, 20 and 22 inch lengths are common sights in woodsball. The long length lets you slip the barrel through brush so you can take sneaky shots from behind concealment. 20 inch sniper barrels are real quiet but not very maneuverable or gas efficient. If you are unsure of what you need, stick with a 14 inch barrel.
Though standard paintballs are sold as ".68 caliber", their size and shape changes due to temperature, humidity, age and quality. A paintball can get bigger or smaller even throughout the day. If your barrel bore is too big then you will have horrible accuracy and air efficiency; too small and you'll be breaking paintballs often. Having the right bore size will provide you with optimum accuracy, efficiency and the least barrel breaks. A bore size of .685 to .689 is a good average, with larger sizes great for when you need to shoot poor quality or fragile paint.
A paintball barrel kit gives you a choice of bore sizes at your fingertips. Barrel kits have multiple backs like CP Barrel Kits or different sized inserts like the GOG Freak Kit. To choose a bore size, take some of the paint you are shooting and stick it in one end. If it rolls through, the bore is too big. If you can't blow it through the barrel easily like a blowgun, the bore is too small. The one where paint doesn't roll out but can be easily blown out will give you the optimum result for your paintballs that day.
Contrary to popular belief, all straight paintball barrels shoot a paintball at relatively the same range. To really increase your effective range you need to put backspin on the paintball. This will create a Magnus Effect that gives the ball lift to fly a flatter trajectory and thus longer effective range. We carry the two most popular barrels that can give you the longest range paintball gun possible. The first is the popular Tippmann Flatline Barrel, which has a curved barrel to consistently backspin the paintball for insane range. The BT Apex 2 Barrel has an adjustable ramp in the muzzle end of the barrel so you can not only adjust the amount of spin but also the direction. With the Apex Barrel you can do all kinds of crazy hook shots and different angles to nail your opponents from other directions!
Largely due to market dominance, five barrel threads have become standard for most markers on the market. The following table lists these barrel types.
* Most of the markers from this manufacturer use this thread.
1 MR shrouds may interfere with new barrels.
Many marker manufacturers use proprietary threads. These are listed in the table below.
2 Angel G7 and A1 use the same thread, but G7 is longer, so a G7 barrel will work on A1 guns, but won't screw in all the way. This can cause barrel breaks.