What Is A Backspin Paintball Barrel?
The #1 question people ask when they are looking for an
upgrade is “What paintball barrel shoots the farthest?” or “How do I make my
paintball gun shoot farther?” The simplest answer, and one that people like to
refute with total disregard to physics, is that all paintball markers shoot the
same range and the same trajectory with a given paintball weight at a given
velocity. Lots of little variations may make it seem like a particular marker
or barrel is shooting further or flatter, but only a barrel that imparts backspin
on the paintball will make it shoot further or flatter.
The reason for this is called the Magnus Effect. To cut a
long physics lesson short, by imparting backspin on the paintball you are
decreasing the air pressure over the top of the paintball, giving it the
characteristics of an airplane wing. The result is a paintball shot with a
flatter trajectory and increased effective range, often up to 75 yards
depending on conditions!
There are currently two barrel systems on the market that
apply a backspin to the paintball: the Tippmann Flatline Barrel System and the
Empire Battle Tested Apex Barrel System.
The Tippmann Flatline Barrel was originally released for the
Tippmann 98 Custom in 2000 and quickly became a player favorite. How does the Tippmann
Flatline Barrel work? The Flatline utilizes a curved barrel with a large inner
diameter bore and a rough surface. When fired, the paintball moves forward from
the breech, makes contact with the inside curve of the barrel, and rolls along
the upper surface. It exits the muzzle with a backspin imparted upon it from
the rolling action.
The original Flatline Barrel for the Tippmann 98 involved an
adapter, the barrel, and a long plastic shroud that was tricky to install. The
latest 98 Custom Platinum Flatline Barrel fits all older as well as newer 98s and simply
screws into place, similar to the A5 Flatline, X7 Flatline, and X7 Phenom Flatline models. When shooting the Flatline
barrel the ball dramatically drops first and then lifts back onto its original
The original BT Apex Barrel was released in 2005. The Apex
Barrel used a standard straight barrel with a large plastic shroud on the end
for a 14 inch total length. Inside this shroud was a curved rubber ramp and a
slide adjuster to alter the position of the ramp. The entire shroud can be
rotated 360 degrees. In 2011, the BT Apex 2 Barrel was released, featuring an
improved ramp design, narrower and longer shroud, and available in 14 or 18
How does the Apex Barrel work? With the slide adjuster all
the way back, the ramp is raised and the Apex functions as a normal paintball
barrel. As you slide the adjuster forward, the rubber ramp lowers in front of
the bore, making contact with the paintball. The more it is lowered, the more backspin
speed is increased on the paintball. Thus, you can adjust the range and
trajectory of the ball to find the combination of range vs. accuracy. The
shroud can also be rotated to change the axis of spin on the paintball, making
your shots curve left, right or drop down suddenly. It takes much practice to
master these techniques.
Which is better, Flatline or Apex Barrel? Both have their
advantages and disadvantages. The Flatline is not adjustable to find a “sweet
spot” like the Apex, but it also does not get knocked out of alignment or
require any manipulation on the field. The Apex Barrel is lighter weight but
distracting when trying to reset it on the field. Regardless of which you
choose, it is highly recommended to use fresh, premium quality paintballs.
Irregular and out of round paint will cause a paintball with backspin to fly
erratically, reducing your accuracy and consistency.