Bob McGuire (PTI & APL) Paintball industry Blog, for Paintball Fields and Manufacturers. Problems and Opportunities, ASTM updates, LOW IMPACT PAINTBALL.


Before I get flamed for terminology, I hate calling bottles by their proper name: “paintball marker high pressure propellant gas storage vessels”.  Bottles for low impact markers can be substantially smaller and lighter in weight than conventional CO2 or HP bottles. When these little bottles are combined with lighter weight .50 caliber markers (not re-purposed 68 caliber markers) you have something small and easy for kids to handle… and it also saves significantly on air consumption. Air consumption is important not only for cost considerations, but also for convenience. Some commercial fields want a business  model that allows a single fill to last for a full low impact play session. It is also nice to be able to cart a bunch of markers to the south forty field, without having to disrupt games to fill bottles.

When I talk about Low Impact Paintball, I am describing a form of low velocity .50 caliber paintball that will not work for everyone, but it may work for a surprising number of field operators who try the full business model… with play restrictions, for private groups. The new ASTM Low Impact Paintball standard requires a maximum shooting velocity of 175 FPS with .50 caliber paintballs, although I have lately seen improper references to allowable velocities up to 275 FPS. This decreased velocity accounts in part for the improved air consumption, but mods to the marker and regulator are important. Air consumption is roughly proportional to paintball energy, so you can get an idea of how velocity might affect the number of shots in a bottle by referencing an energy chart on the website: www.TNTpaintball.com. You might learn some things about .50 cal on that website, as Reiner is an experienced expert.

IMO, until recently, the best affordable option for low impact rentals was the Opus-A with 13ci HP bottles. What a great weight and balance for smaller children. Right out of the box, a standard Opus with a normal preset 13ci bottle, should get 250+ shots per bottle (at whatever screaming velocity you receive the marker). For a time 500 shots was the holy grail, but we have far surpassed that goal with non-standard Opus markers and tweaked regulators… and when you put the right 13ci bottle on a new generation .50 cal spool gun… WOW!   The newer mechanical spoolies will also have better valves that perform well in cold weather. You can see them at the Extravaganza.

You can do 500+ low impact shots easily with an unmodified spool design .50 cal, but what about the Opus? We can do it with some tweaks but you should probably allow for extra re-cocking gas flow in order to keep them running all day. Stacked-bolt markers (ball slammers) gum up a lot easier than spoolies, so you may want to provide extra re-cocking force for the Opus.

Bottles are a critical investment. Shop around and talk to low impact field operators before you select a brand, and be sure to get rebuild kits to drop the preset output pressure. We use adjustable regulators for our field testing, but they are probably too expensive for normal rental use (they cost far more than the markers). A lot of fields are fiddling with low impact equipment tweaks so we will try to post some references to websites and blogs that report credible field-duty experience.

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