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How Do I Keep Paintballs From Breaking In My Gun?

Paintballs breaking in your marker is the most frustrating thing that can happen while playing. You pull the trigger and nothing but an explosion of goop comes out the end. Every shot afterwards is either the same spray of paint or wing off in every which direction. Sometimes it is just occasional bad luck, but at other times it can be a constant chronic problem. There is no one simple solution; there are many factors that can lead to paint breakage when shooting your marker. This article will go in-depth on the causes and provide a checklist of factors to determine a solution to why paintballs keep breaking in my gun.

Difference Between Barrel Break, Breech Break and Ball Chop

The first step is to determine where the breakage is occurring. Take off your hopper and tank, and completely degas the marker. Once sure your marker is depressurized fully, take the barrel off and look down it from the breech end where the barrel threads are. Is the paint breaking from the breech end, or does the paint goop start further down the barrel? If the mess starts somewhere down the barrel then it is a barrel break. If the paint is all the way through the barrel then look down the feed neck at the bolt. Is the bolt covered in paint as well? If the paint mess starts at the head of the bolt then it is a breech break. If the entire bolt is covered in paint, then you have a ball chop (aka bolt chop).

Causes and Fixes to Paintball Barrel Breaks and Breech Breaks

- Bad or Brittle Paintballs

The quality of your paintballs are the #1 cause of paintball barrel breaks. An overly fragile ball won’t survive the push down the barrel. Using tournament grade paintballs in an entry level marker can also cause this, as lower cost guns usually have a rougher action than high end models. Try a different paintball if they are available. If it’s a humid day then you can try opening up your bags of paint to absorb some moisture and add some elasticity to the shell.

- Cold Paintballs/ Cold Playing Conditions

The shell of a paintball gets brittle as the temperature drops. You may start to notice a lot of breakage as the temperature drops below 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. See our article on Playing Paintball In Winter for ways to combat this.

- Too Tight Paintball Bore

If the inner diameter of your paintball barrel is too snug then it can break paint in the barrel and breech, especially with fragile paint. Try a different barrel, barrel back or insert with a larger inner diameter. Your accuracy may suffer a bit, but that is better than no ball making it out the barrel at all.

- Pressure Too High

The initial blast of air hitting the paintball may be too great, causing it to shatter. This is a common cause of breech breaks. In blowback markers you can try turning down your velocity. In full pneumatic markers you can try turning down the pressure while increasing your dwell setting. This will lower the pressure making initial contact against the ball but increase the amount of time the air is transferring through the bolt, giving the ball a softer but longer push down the barrel. You won’t get as many shots per fill but you waste less paint and game time cleaning.

- Obstruction or Defect in the Barrel

Remove your barrel, clean it, and look through from both directions. Inspect the edges of the muzzle and breech ends. Did the edges get a ding that could be snagging the ball? Push a cotton ball or similar loose fluffy material down the barrel. If it snags anywhere such as around some porting then there could be a burr or metal splinter catching the shell. If you have a two piece barrel then the barrel front should be a larger diameter than the back. There should be a visible “step” when looking from the muzzle end. If you see any edge of the front when peering from the breech end, then the front is too small or defective, with the paintball hitting that edge like a tire hitting a curb.

- Check Your Hopper or Loader

Take a look inside your marker’s hopper or loader. Is there broken paint or sand and debris in there? You may have broken paint at one point from jarring impact to the hopper or a pod, or the paint may be too fragile for your particular electronic loader. Paintballs entering the breech with paint or dirt are prime candidates for breakage.

Causes and Fixes of Ball Chops

Ball chop happens because a paintball is not completely within the breech when the bolt comes forward. The bolt pinches or slices through the half-chambered paintball.

- Paintballs Not Feeding Fast Enough

This is the primary culprit. Players often spend lots of time and money tuning and upgrading their marker to fire crazy fast but don’t do the same for their loader. If you notice skip in firing your marker fast, you simply need to slow down or get a faster loader.

- Blowback Pressure Up the Feed Neck

Markers that use a blowback action and some stack tube electropneumatic designs can get air pressure blowing past the bolt and going up the feed neck. Again, if your loader is not feeding fast enough then it isn’t keeping a stack of paintballs over the breech to prevent them from ‘popcorning’ back up.

- Dirty or Malfunctioning Anti Chop Eyes

Anti-chop eyes in an electronic marker ‘look’ for a paintball to be in the breech before letting the marker fire. However, if they get loose, misaligned or dirty with paint and grease they can read incorrectly and cause a chop. Cleaning the eyes is always one of the first things to check

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