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Paintball selection and storage

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    Paintball selection and storage

    Had time to type this out to procrastinate more important activities. Am curious to get thoughts and opinions.

    Selection metrics:
    There are many factors intrinsic to paintballs that will impact your day of play. Being a spherical projectile that’s sensitive to environmental factors makes the physics involved somewhat complex. Since there’s no money in writing this up, I’m going to skip over some the rigor of being thorough. What you need from a paintball depends on the style of play and limiting factors due to your gear.
    Class 0 metrics – directly and predominately affect the ability to use the paint at all.
    1. Cleanliness and dryness. It is assumed here that you’ll clean off any paint fill and debris from the paint, and that you’ll keep the paintballs dry. In my experience, once the shell absorbs moisture to an extent that you can feel it, it’s only good for CQB or just trashing it. You may be able to dehydrate them, but it's likely that they'll be deformed.
    Class 1 metrics – directly and predominantly affect accuracy.
    1. Sphericity. If a tumbling sphere has a center of mass that is not at its geometric center then it is going to have an erratic flight path. Try to avoid paint that has been squished (ellipsoid-shaped), has dimples, has bubbles or protrusions from the surface, and try to get a ball that has as small of a seam as possible. This is what ball sizers are best at measuring since you can easily rotate the ball while it's centered in the bore-sized hole.
      • USL for diameter variation (excluding the seam): .015” if playing single-shot, otherwise ≥.03”.
      • USL for diameter variation on the seam: Same values as above.
      • USL for flat spots or dimple size: ≥ .08” in diameter
    2. Density. See the conversation under the long-balling/pump play style for what this does and why it matters. Density is the mass of the object divided by its volume. Volume of a sphere is dependent only on its diameter, which should already be approximately known after checking sphericity. There are industry safety standards that limit paintballs size and weight, and therefore the density. The following spec. limits are from ASTM F1979-17.
      • USL of mass: 3.5 grams.
      • LSL of diameter: .650 inches.
    3. Barrel fit - There's a LOT of debate about barrel fitment. My experience has been that the paint should require force acted upon it to travel within the barrel. The more interference, the more consistent the resultant muzzle velocity will be. This is a balancing act, as too much interference can, hypothetically, reduce accuracy due to elastic recovery of the paintball and is known to increase the rate of barrel breaks. While this is easier to solve by having a barrel kit, it is also a factor of the paint you choose. So, choose paint that fits one of your barrels.
    4. Quality: ratio of balls that meet desired metrics to those that don’t. By grabbing a few balls from a bag, you’re measuring a small sample of the overall bag. I'm not going to go into the math on this, but the general rule of thumb is to randomly grab (one at a time, from different sections of the bag) a ball and assess its metrics of interest.
    5. Surface roughness. Technically, this does change the boundary layer of air on the paintball, which in turn affects the aerodynamic drag. Research the dimples on golf balls for an extreme example. I recall at least one brand or model of paintballs that had a roughened surface, presumably for this reason. However, I don’t recall it making a noticeable difference in the effective range. If we could make gelatin shells stable with golf ball sized dimples then we might see a difference. I think it’d be a negative difference in shot-to-shot consistency due to the gaps created between the ball and the barrel, though. If you’re going to start changing up the geometry for accuracy sake, just get the First Strike rounds and be done with it.
    Class 1 metrics summary of actions:
    • Visually inspect paint for flat spots and dimples.
    • Look for a small seam.
    • Using a ball sizer, measure the max and min. diameters of several paintballs selected at random from a bag or case. Preference toward the smallest variance.
    • Choose a paint that requires force to move inside the barrel. (underbore)
    • Make sure the good results are repeatable.
    Class 2 metrics – directly and predominantly affect optics.
    1. Shell brittleness – The more brittle the shell, the less likely it will be for the hit to bounce. The easiest way to measure this is by dropping the paint from a fixed distance above a flat surface, and catching it if it bounces. If you're doing side-by-side comparisons, use any flat surface you want. My recommendation is a ~6ft drop height onto a smooth, flat surface of concrete. Brittle paint will bounce 1±1 time from a 6ft drop. The typical field paint bounces after 5±2 drops. And crap paint will continue to bounce after ≥8 drops.
      • USL for brittleness: if it bounces after throwing it at a hard surface, I don’t recommend using it. This is extremely rare. I’ve only seen it twice. The first time was a batch of paint that appeared to have two shells per paintball (JT branded, circa 2004) and the other appeared to have an excessively thick shell, possibly due to absorbing moisture.
    2. Shell color - this is dependent on the color of the local area, lighting, etc. The ideal is a shell that you can see as it travels to your target, but that your target has a difficult time seeing - so that he/she has less time to dodge. Overtime, one should be able to aim by feel alone, and so a shell color that blends in with the background is strategically preferred.
    3. Bright fill - This makes it a lot easier to see a hit. This can also be used to improve your accuracy if you’re watching for where your paint hits.
    4. Thick fill - This makes it easier for a nearby ref. to see the spray coming off a hit, and makes it a lot harder for your opponent to hide the hit.
      • USL for fill –Only use water-based paint so that you do not cause property damage. Do not use oil-based paint for playing paintball.
    Class 2 metrics summary of actions
    • Do the bounce test on flat concrete to check brittleness.
    • Choose a shell color that blends in with the background your opponent sees.
    • Choose a bright, thick, water-based paint fill.
    Class 3 metrics – Considerations that do not directly affect accuracy or optics.
    1. Cost - make sure you can afford to play. This is entirely a personal matter. Some people have a shoe string budget and need to buy the cheapest paint just to play the game, while some won't care about the financial difference between any of the options available, and simply want The Best™.
    Styles of play
    Single-shot or long-balling (e.g. woodsball, ≥7man speedball):
    Metrics 1 through 9 in the order listed.
    For accuracy/long-balling, you want to reduce drag/increase distance. First-Strike will dominate at this, but I'll stick to strictly spherical projectiles for this write-up. Muzzle velocity is fixed at the field limit (e.g. 280fps). I won't go into the math, but you want to increase the density of the projectile.[1] The ASTM limit is, I think, 5g and 0.65". Usually the only thing you can really do here is chose the heavier paint. There isn't as much sensitivity in the range of diameters typically available. Either build a make shift scale to compare weights, or pack a digital pocket scale in your gear bag. I recommend taking the paint out of the packaging. There will be variation in packaging weight and the quantity of paintballs contained in the bag (it's not actually an exact 500 every time). Increase the number of paintballs weighed to improve accuracy of the measurement until you can distinguish a difference between options. Most scales offer the highest accuracy in the middle of their measurement range (assume this if it's not specified), though some are more accurate at the lower range (e.g. accuracy is specified as a percent of the reading).

    Typical Speedball (3-5man) or small woodsball
    Focus on metrics 1, 3, 4, 6, and 9. The rest are welcome, but not at significant expense.

    CQB (e.g. indoors with no/few hallways):
    With semi, cheapest paint that'll make it out the barrel - pretty much. With a pump, get a semi. CQB is all about split-second plays and area denial. What were you thinking?

    Long-term storage:
    We're talking about two-piece, hard gelatin capsules. While it's tempting to store it the same way you'd store such medications, the use case is very different.
    • Hermetically sealed containers with at least some transparent sections to put desiccant. I use desiccant that changes color if it becomes saturated, so having a transparent part of the container with that desiccant behind it provides the ability to verify RH without opening the container and exposing it to more humidity.
    • Rotate it often. Don't just flip the container and walk away. Give it a gentle shake. Rest it in as many unique positions as you can imagine. Typically that means a box; 6 sides that can each be 'bottom' for a while.
    • I imagine that light refrigeration is best; 40±5deg F. I just keep it in my basement; 50-72 deg F. The colder it's stored, the longer I think you can go between rotations because the shell will be slightly stiffer. The purpose of rotations is to prevent plastic deformation of the gelatin capsule. The paintballs on 'bottom' will be most susceptible, so it's best to limit how much weight any particular 'bottom' ball is supporting. This, too, will allow you go longer between rotations.
    • ~2-4 hours before you intend to use the paint, open the container up and expose it to comfortable indoor environmental conditions for your area. This will cause the gelatin to absorb some humidity until it reaches equilibrium in your home, and the PEG fill will come up to temperature as well - slightly expanding as it does so. This same process happens when you go outside. I recommend filling all of your pods while you're still inside as the humidity outdoors when playing will cause the paint to similarly swell. If it's hot out then the added moisture makes it easier for the gelatin to soften and become tacky - leading to breaks.
    When to rotate? Try it and see what works for your storage method and brand/model of paint. If you have dimples and deformations - rotate more often. If you don't see any such defects, you're on my team for the next game.


    Definitions
    1. Upper Specification Limits (USL): upper thresholds that mean you shouldn't use a bag of paint; i.e. I'd rather not play at all than try to play with this paint.
      • Every single-shot player should carry a semi-auto for days when the available paint is hardly usable.
    References
    1. Drag of a Sphere, NASA: https://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/k-12/ai...ragsphere.html
    Last edited by Siress; 09-14-2020, 02:28 PM.
    Click here to edit your signature. - Paintball Selection and Storage - MCB Feedback - B/S/T Listings: None

    #2
    Cant see black shell paint flying though the air. Defy was selling black shell-orange fill level 1 for awhile on ansgear.

    thank you siress for the write up. Great info. Will start linking this to people with paint questions.

    Comment


      #3
      Nice write up, I've started putting my bags of paint in the trunk of my car the night before to let them reach equilibrium with the outside air temperature hoping to minimize the effects of differences in relative humidity. Of course if I'm playing at a field it doesn't matter every place around me is FPO.

      Comment

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