One of the questions frequently asked is how fast paintball guns fire, or the “FPS.” We went and spend tens of hours collecting informations regarding this common question. I bet you wil lbe quite surprised by some of the things we found out. Keep reading.
The FPS of paintball guns can go up to 300 fps. However, they are often restricted to 280 fps or below for safety reasons, and small indoor fields can go as low as 250 fps. The fastest paintball guns can fire up to 330 fps, but you probably don’t want to get hit by that!
We will be going over the ins and outs of FPS in paintball guns, what the absolute limits are, why there are restrictions, and the benefits of a higher FPS. If you would like to explore this topic further, we encourage you to keep on reading.
What Is FPS in Paintball?
What does FPS stand for in paintball? Frames per second? If we were talking about video games, yes, but instead, we are talking about actual paintball guns. FPS in paintball stands for “feet per second.” Basically, how fast the paintball travels.
The more powerful the paintball gun, the faster the projectile can travel.
If you have an easier time measuring MPH or KPH speed, here is info courtesy of the great people at Live About.
Here is the math equation for each unit of measurement:
- 1 fps = .68 miles per hour (mph)
MPH = FPS x .68
- 1 fps = 1.0973 kilometer per hour (kph)
KPH = FPS x 1.0973
And here is a graph showcasing paintball feet per second translated in MPH and Kph:
|280||x .68 = 190.4 mph||x 1.0973 = 307.24 kph|
|300||x .68 = 204 mph||x 1.0973 = 329.19 kph|
|400||x .68 = 272 mph||x 1.0973 = 438.92 kph|
As you can see, paintballs travel at a rapid rate, relatively speaking. Remember, paintball guns are generally not meant to be used as an actual weapon unless you buy one for self-defense purposes (but that’s an entirely different discussion, that you should heavily research before trying this).
Do High-Velocity Paintballs Hurt?
A common question people have regarding paintball is if it is painful or not. The answer is that it depends on what you consider painful. When you are shot with a .68 caliber ball traveling at 280 fps, you will certainly feel it, but as you get used to the feeling, it becomes a non-issue.
Getting hit by a paintball while wearing gear feels like flicking your finger onto your skin.
It’s not uncommon for players to leave the field with some bruises after a long session as some parts of their body can’t be fully protected, but that’s just part of the sport. On rare occasions, you might get a welt, but if you treat them properly they will quickly disappear.
.50 rounds don’t hit as hard and are projected at a lower velocity. Experimenting with a lower caliber might be a good idea if you aren’t ready to dive straight into the deep end.
How Do Paintball Guns Work?
You might be wondering how paintball guns work in the first place. The answer is that they are similar to airsoft guns in a lot of ways!
The paintball projectiles are fired via compressed gas that expands behind the paintball. The level of gas, which is carbon dioxide, is controlled via the regulator in the gun itself. The more volume of gas, the higher the velocity the paintball can be fired.
It’s also worth mentioning that not all paintballs are the same; some are heavier than others, and the heavier the projectile, the more powerful the paintball gun needs to be for optimal importance.
What’s the Purpose of a Faster Paintball Gun? Does Speed Equal Accuracy?
Moving onto the second point, now we will get into the accuracy of paintball guns and how speed can translate into accuracy.
In general, paintballs have a limited effective range of anywhere between 80-100 feet when shot from a gun capable of 280 fps.
The challenge of paintballs is that they must be sturdy enough to fly out of the barrel without breaking apart, but they also need to be fragile enough to break when they hit their target.
If you try to hit something that is out of the effective range of the gun, the paintball will not break once it hits its target, which is a problem since if the projectile doesn’t break and mark its target, it doesn’t count as a hit – in competition, anyway.
Powerful paintball guns are able to shoot further; the faster the projectile can fly, the further it will go. A paintball gun with an FPS of 280 will be used for standard combat fields. In smaller, closed quarter combats such as inside a warehouse, the FPS will be restricted to around 250 fps for safety reasons. You simply don’t need as powerful of a marker to achieve the desired results at a close range.
Safe Range in Paintball
Next, we will discuss the safe range for paintball guns. Another challenge with a paintball is that you can’t shoot someone too close of a distance; otherwise, you risk injuring them if you shoot them in an area without protection.
So, what is the closest range you can safely shoot someone in paintball?
If your opponent is within 10 ft and you have a clear shot, it is paintball etiquette to give them the opportunity to surrender.
If they don’t, you can hit them in a hard spot, such as the shoe or a padded area.
Close-range competition will restrict the velocity that a paintball can be shot at to around 250 fps to allow for combat without worrying about injuries as long as everyone is wearing their gear.
How Accurate Are Paintball Guns?
A paintball gun’s accuracy will depend on the model, but high-end markers will be quite accurate and reliable. Budget markers will generally be less reliable; when looking to purchase a paintball gun, read up on reviews to know if the particular model you are looking at will be competitive.
I have the buyer’s guide to the most accurate paintball guns. You can check it out here.
But what makes a paintball gun accurate? The length of the barrel plays a significant role. Most stock paintball guns have a barrel length of 8.5 inches, but you can upgrade to a longer barrel to enhance accuracy.
Maintaining your marker is also crucial to ensuring accuracy. It’s recommended to perform maintenance after each session depending on how heavy your session has been. To make sure your marker is performing at its best, clean the barrel and lube the bolt. If you’d like a detailed guide on how to maintain a paintball gun, we’ve included a video below.
Another attribute that affects the accuracy of a paintball gun is the paintballs themselves. The better the quality, the more accurate it will be. There should be as little friction as possible when the paintball leaves the barrel, and the higher quality paintballs will be smoother and more durable.
Additionally, higher caliber paintballs such as the ever so popular .68 will allow for higher velocity shooting. And to answer the original question above, the velocity of a paintball can allow the projectile to travel further before dropping, so yes, in theory, more FPS can equal more accuracy in that sense. But what you are going to be worrying more about is barrel length, a quality marker, and the quality of the paintballs themselves.
What To Look for in a Paintball Gun
If you are looking for a paintball marker that will be competitive in target shooting and combat, there are a few things to know before dropping your hard-earned money on a unit.
First off, budget models are largely out of the question IF you want to be serious; sure, some of them are good for their price, but “for their price” is key here. These models are designed for casual play and/or people dipping their toes into the hobby. If you aren’t sure if paintballing is for you, then dropping $60 on a cheap model isn’t a bad idea, and it will work fine enough, but otherwise, you will want to look at the mid-range options at least.
A budget of $200 is a decent starting point for someone who wants to aspire to be an expert paintballer. For some, this is still considered “cheap,” but this would fall under the mid-range category, albeit in this price range, the markers will generally be marketed as beginner paintball guns.
We recommend looking into the Tippmann TMC if you are new to paintball, especially if you are into a magfed style container akin to airsoft. It is around $250, and it takes .68 caliber paintballs. This marker will be reliable and competitive without breaking the bank.
We should also point out that some markers may require you to buy additional equipment to function to their full potential, such as a compressed air tank or a new regulator. Get to know pretty much everything about the gun you are buying before pulling the trigger to avoid and post-purchase surprises.
As we mentioned before, .68 caliber is considered the standard, they may hurt more than a small ball, but it’s not too bad as long as you are gearing up. We also want to reiterate that a .68 will get the most out of a paintball gun’s FPS capabilities, which means further range and potentially more accuracy. However, the downside with a larger caliber is that you can’t fit as many paintballs in the chamber, but this isn’t as big of a deal as it seems.
If you are looking to play indoors and at close quarters and/or looking for casual play and not looking to feel the sting of paintball, you may want to consider a marker that shoots .50 caliber.
.50s are less expensive than the larger .68 balls, and combined with the fact you can fit more of them into a chamber, they are ideal for a rapid-fire and suppressing playstyle. It can be useful to have someone with a .50 on your team even if everyone is using a .68 for this reason. Think of a .50 paintball marker as an SMG.
Of course, the downside with .50 caliber paintballs is that they don’t get as much velocity, and sometimes they do not even break apart on impact (which doesn’t count as a hit, as we established earlier). They are ideal in a close-quarters field rather than standard distances.
Ease of Maintenance and Cost of Repair
Maintaining your paintball gun is essential in retaining its full capabilities. Cleaning the barrel after each session and keeping the retainer
Sometimes paintball guns will eventually break, and you have to evaluate the cost of repair. Some guns might be difficult to repair yourself, while others will be modular enough to where anyone can service their gun.
The manufacturer’s specifications will tell you if it is intended to be repaired by a professional or the user.
Electronic vs. Mechanical
Another thing you have to take into consideration is if you want an electronic or mechanical marker.
Electronic markers are either electro-pneumatic or electro-mechanical. The former will activate a solenoid valve to shoot. This will allow air to pass through, which in turn is how the paintball gets fired. The latter are mechanical guns with an electronic trigger frame, allowing for excellent full-auto or 3 round burst capabilities.
Mechanical markers are louder and slower. However, they are a more reliable option as there is less to go wrong. Additionally, they don’t need power to function. They are also less expensive.
If you want a quiet marker that doesn’t give you away as much and want to be able to fire in bursts or full-auto, looking into an electronic marker will be what you want to do. On the other hand, if you hate the idea of worrying about if your gun is powered and want to minimize the chances of something going wrong, go with a mechanical marker.
Type of Paintball You Want To Play
Much like a video game, paintball has different match types. Speedball is fast and frantic, and so you’ll want to carry a smaller marker so you can stay mobile and hug up against bunkers easily.
For Woodsball, you don’t want something flashy and easy to spot. And unlike speedball, you’ll want something that is carried like a rifle, but you don’t need a huge market; just as long as you can hold the gun comfortably and it works, you’ll be fine.
If you don’t know which type of paintball you’ll be playing or want to play both, buy a smaller marker with adjustable stocks. It will function fine in both match types, and you don’t want to worry about dropping a lot of money on multiple markers.
Remember To Budget for Gear
If you have a set budget, don’t forget the gear. You don’t want to blow all your money on a marker only to find out, “oh yeah…I need protection, so my eyes don’t get shot,” and proceed to buy the cheapest mask possible and have a less than ideal situation when it becomes apparent that cheaping out on gear seriously compromises your comfort, visibility, and protection.
In total, you’ll need at least seven pieces of gear to stay safe while having fun:
- Full-face mask
- Baseball cap or another type of hat for head protection
- Jeans or cargo pants
- A heavy long sleeve shirt
- Sturdy shoes or boots
- Fingerless gloves
If you are playing with .50s, you’ll want to wear a chest protector or protective vest and padding for the shoulders, legs, and knees if you are doing extreme paintball. You’ll likely already have the shirt, shoes, and pants covered and so you’ll only need to worry about the paintball specific stuff.
Remember the “buy once cry once” rule. If you don’t want to be deeply regretting not having enough protection as 280 fps .68 caliber balls pelt you, look into quality gear that is comfortable and protective.
Or you can not worry about all of this and go to a field that rents out equipment! Arguably, it can be cheaper to just rent your gear depending on how much you want to spend.
Here is a full breakdown of costs when renting your paintball gear and guns, compared to buying it.
A good paintball field will have decent equipment for you to use at a fair price, and hey, if you’d just like to try out paintball to see if you like it before sinking money into it, this is a great option.
Paintball guns shoot projectiles at a fast rate, anywhere between 250 – 300 fps. Some shoot slower or faster than this metric, but these are ranges where the sport is usually played at. Standard combat will typically use 280 fps paintball guns with .68 caliber balls, while close-range combat favors .50 caliber paintballs and a velocity of 250 fps. If you would like to learn more about paintball guns, we have included a video below.