3 Reasons Paintballs Break in Your Gun: Why Is My Paintball Gun Chopping Balls?

When a paintball breaks in a gun, it is one of the most frustrating things that could possibly happen while you’re playing. Most of the time, it’s completely out of the blue and means that you have to leave a game to figure out what went wrong. There are ways to avoid this, but you need a little more information to figure out how to fix it.

Paintball breaks can occur for many reasons, with most of them having to do with understanding the mechanics of the gun and how to properly take care of it. Cleaning your paintball gun thoroughly is the first thing that you should do if your balls are breaking, as this is most often the problem.

If that just isn’t cutting it, however, you’re going to need to inspect a little more. To do this correctly, you might want a little more information on the mechanics of your paintball gun and how it could be possibly malfunctioning in this way.

Reasons for Breaks

If a ball breaks in your gun, you might think that there’s only one possible reason – a broken paintball gun. While that certainly could be the case, there are actually a few different reasons this could be occurring.

These reasons are tied to three specific types of break, each type having their own reasons. Some of the reasons overlap with other types, so watch out for signs of one reason in an area that you hadn’t thought of previously.

Types of Breaks

  • Breech Break
  • Ball Chop
  • Barrel Break

You can have a ball chop, which usually has to do with a problem within the gun itself. Another is a breech break, which is commonly due to user error. The last, and most likely, one is the barrel break. There are a lot of reasons that a barrel break can take place, which means that there are a lot of different ways to fix the issue.

To understand why the balls are breaking, you’re going to have to understand these mechanics a bit more. Let’s look a little bit deeper into how each of these problems really happens and ways to fix, should you encounter them.

Breech Break

A breech break is a break that, you guessed it, happens in the breech. This is the simplest of the breaks to deal with because it really only has two primary causes. These causes are relatively easy to fix, as well.

Before we talk about the breech break, however, you need to understand what the breech is. If you’re an expert, you can skip this part. But you new-comers may need a little more information to understand the problem a bit better.

  • The breech is the part of the gun right before the barrel. This is where the ball is pushed out of the gun when it’s fired.  

Air Pressure

The first reason that you may be experiencing a breech break is that you have air pressure that is too high. If your air pressure is too high it can completely burst a paintball on impact alone, which is not a very fun thing to clean up.

The way to fix this kind of depends on what type of marker you are using. If your marker is pneumatic, you’re probably going to need to turn the pressure. You can also increase the dwell, but it’s not entirely necessary. In a blowback marker, you’re going to want to turn down the velocity instead.


The simplest and most common reason for a breech break is debris in the breech. Usually, this comes in the form of dried paint that wasn’t cleaned out, but it can also be sand or dirt that got into the breech through the barrel during a game.

The only way to fix this problem is to clean your gun regularly. And to do a complete cleaning every time. This means taking it apart and getting every inch of it cleaned, inside and out. This should be something that you’re already doing, but if you’re just cleaning the barrel, here’s your wake-up call. Clean the breech too!

Some tips for a thorough gun cleaning include:

  • You will need to take it apart first
  • To clean the barrel, you may want to use a rag or squeegee
  • Use a rag or squeegee on the body, too
  • Follow up both on parts with a swipe of a clean towel
  • Wipe with your finger to see if there is any remaining debris
  • You can also clean the bolt with a paper towel
  • Make sure to dry it thoroughly afterward

Ball Chop

The name of this problem kind of explains itself. During a ball chop, the ball is chopped. Before we can get down to the mechanics of it, we need to define a few more parts of the gun. We’ve already defined the breech as the area where the ball is propelled out of the gun, but what propels it?

  • The bolt is what propels the ball from the gun. It is a piece of material that hits the ball with so much energy that it is shot.
  • The loader is where you insert the balls into the gun. Loaders can be fast or slow, depending on the build.

Now that you have some more context,  understanding the chop will be easy. In a ball chop, the ball is chopped by the bolt. This happens because the ball is not properly sitting in the breech before the bolt goes off. There are actually a few reasons that this can come about.

Paintball chops and barrel breaks


The most likely scenario in the case of ball chops is that the loading speed and marking speed are not compatible. If you have upgraded your gun to shoot at higher speeds but neglected to do the same for your loader, this is going to be the problem.

Slow loading with a fast gun is going to result in balls that are only half-loaded by the time that the bolt pushes them, chopping them in half. Make sure that all parts of your gun are being upgraded to avoid this.

If this is happening in a new gun, bring it to a specialist or learn how to do repairs yourself and figure out if you need to get a slower or faster loader.

Dirty Anti-Chop Eyes

Anti-chop eyes are sensors that tell the gun if a ball has been loaded into the breech or not. This is why the firing happens a few milliseconds after pulling the trigger, instead of immediately. If the anti-chop eyes are dirty, however, they cannot sense the ball’s position correctly.

This very often results in a ball chop. Make sure to clean your anti-chop eyes when you’re cleaning the rest of the breech to avoid this.

You can usually tell that this is the case, just by doing an inspection of the anti-chop eyes and the surrounding area. Is there a buildup of paint in this area? This is an indication that the eyes may be too dirty to function correctly.

If the eyes are clean, there may be a more serious problem. Your gun’s anti-chop eyes might just be malfunctioning, which isn’t something that you can do much about on your own. If this seems to be the case, you’re going to want to bring the gun to a specialist or learn how to fix the anti-chop eyes yourself from home.


One of the worst mistakes that someone can make in paintball is over-loading the gun. This is when you load your gun and then, before using all of the balls, load in more. The problem here is that the balls then become compacted, resulting in more than one ball being pushed into the breech at a time.

Once the bolt comes forward, it will push the first ball out but will chop the second ball on top, which can be quite the mess. It’s a simple mistake to make, but it’s definitely a pain to deal with afterward. Keep yourself in check with your loading to make sure this doesn’t happen.


Very rarely, there can be a puff of blowback air in the breech of the gun. This blowback can send a ball that has been dropped into the breech back up a bit, leaving it out of position when the bolt hits.

The best way to avoid this is to, again, make sure that your gun includes a loader with enough speed.

Loading Malfunction

A less workable problem might be that loading in your gun is malfunctioning. The biggest problem that can occur here is a malfunctioning detent.

  • Detents are what keep the rest of the round from entering the breech until they are fired.

If there is a malfunctioning detent, two balls may fall down into the breech, leaving one only half-way in. Once the bolt is triggered, this ball will be split in two, and the first ball might not make it out of the gun anyway.

Unless you’re trained in repairing these guns, the only way to fix this problem is to either bring it to get repaired or invest in a new gun.

Barrel Break

Barrel breaks are the most well-known of the possible breaks, and this is because there are so, so many reasons for them to happen. Your paintballs can be breaking in the barrel for plenty of reasons, so we’re going to go over them all.


If your balls are consistently being broken, but not every single time, this might be a defect in the barrel. Barrel defects are usually due to an outside impact that caused a bit of metal to be forced out of place in the barrel. If you can see a dent on the outside of your barrel, this may be the problem.

To know for sure, pull a cotton ball through the barrel. If it is snagged at all, there is probably a defect. While you might be able to fix the defect, most likely you will need to replace the barrel itself. This is the only way that you can be sure that it never happens again.

Paintball Size

Not only is the size of your barrel important, but the size of your paintballs is as well. It’s really important to use paintballs that are the right size fit for your barrel. Balls that are too big for the barrel or marker are going to burst in the gun on impact.

If you think that size might be the issue, try going a caliber or two down in size for your paintballs.

If you would rather not change your ball choice, you can also switch out your barrel for a larger size. This is a more difficult switch-out to complete, but it will make sure that you avoid this problem more easily.

The issue with this switch-out, however, is that the widened barrel can lessen the accuracy and speed of the shot. Though this isn’t to the degree that it would affect your game much – unless you are a more professional player.


You may not have considered that temperature is a factor to think about when it comes to paintball breaks, but it definitely is. The temperature of the ball plays a massive role in if the gun works properly.

The problem here isn’t really in the mechanics of the gun itself but in the paintballs. It is usually because you are playing in temperature extremes, whether it be hot or cold. The outside temperature can have a really serious effect on the paintballs. Paintballs are already very sensitive to breakage, so you need to be aware of what could increase that sensitivity, like temperature.


In extremely cold temperatures, paint becomes brittle and can break very easily. The shell begins to harden, making it less flexible and more prone to shattering. It can lead to paint breaking at any point inside of the gun, but it usually breaks on impact. You can avoid this by using lower quality paint.

While this may seem like a strange suggestion, low-quality paints are commonly much thicker than higher quality paints. Due to that increased thickness, this paint is less likely to become brittle in the cold. There is still a chance that a ball or two will break, however.

The only way to truly prevent this from happening is to just avoid playing in cold weather altogether. If that sounds absolutely impossible, though, you can look for cold-specific paintballs, which really do exist. They are going to be a little bit more expensive than the regulars, however.


Bringing a paintball into a warm setting probably isn’t as bad as bringing it into a cold one, but it can still be an issue. Paintballs that are left in warm, humid conditions can start to swell. As we know, balls that are too big for the barrel are going to break. So, how do we avoid this?

If you are planning on playing in a climate that is much hotter or much humid than the one that you regularly play in, you might want to invest in balls that are just a couple calipers down in size from those that you normally use. This way, if/when the swell, they will be the perfect size for your barrel.

If you live in a climate that is specifically very hot or very cold almost the entire year-round, you also have an option. The temperature-specific paintballs available for purchase will work. Look for the ones that suit your lifestyle best.


One of the simplest and most important things to be aware of is the compatibility between your balls and your gun. Obviously, if you have a small barrel and loader, you’re going to want to get smaller balls, but there are other factors to consider as well.

Something to be aware of is the speed and pressure of the gun that you’re using. If the gun is shooting at significantly high pressure, you’re actually going to need to get cheaper balls. The higher the paint quality, the more brittle the outside.

So, when using a gun that is a little rough with the paintballs, a tougher exterior is only going to help. This may be a disappointing revelation, but it is going to help you in the long run if all you care about is speed and velocity.

The Point

One broken ball isn’t the end of the world. This is especially the case if it’s due to something that is a simple fix, like a need for a good cleaning. However, if the problem continues consistently, it may be something more serious.

Whatever you have to do to get back into the swing of things, make sure you actually know what the problem is. Hopefully, with the understanding you have now of these different problems, you should be able to figure it out. Happy playing!