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Customizing a Paintball Sniper Rifle – Too Big, Too Long, Too Low

How to Use Various Paintball Sniper Rifle Sights
Sight Pictures for Various Alignments

It happened again on Sunday. I went out for a lovely camouflaged romp through the paintball fields and there they were. Wannabees. You know? “Want to Be’s”. Wannabe paintball snipers. They mean well. They really do. But they’re walking around with camo that doesn’t blend in and markers that would be more suited to a cheap action flick. I’m totally cool with the whole milsim marker business. It’s awesome. BUT, most of those markers are not ideally suited to paintball sniper. Here are three mistakes I see people making when they try to create a paintball rifle, sniper style.

Hopper Too Big

Hoppers are the bane of my existence. If I didn’t have to play with it, I wouldn’t. (I know, magazine fed markers are out there and believe me, my eyeballs are on them.) That being said, as a tactical paintball sniper, you should not need a hopper larger than 50 rounds. 100 rounds at the max. When engaging a target, think along the lines of using 2-3 balls per target, realistically. I routinely squeeze off two rounds when I get the drop on someone just because of the uncertainty of a paintballs notoriously inconsistent flight. And you must get in the mindset of avoiding long, drawn out, paint-wasting engagements. Leave that to your wingman or the other members of your team. You’re a sniper. Act like it. By the way, I recently added a 50 round cyclone hopper for my A5 and I love it.

Barrel Too Long

Longer is not better! In fact, the first 8″ of the barrel is used to get the paintball up to speed. After that, barrel length is only to keep the paintball straight a bit longer. In my experience, a 12″ to 14″ barrel is the absolute max you should be using. Beyond that, you’ll be losing velocity, propellant and maneuverability. In fact, in future articles, I’m going to be discussing how to play as a sniper with pistols or 6″ barrels.

Scope Too Low

This applies to players with a “one-shot, one-kill” mentality only. As a note, I don’t play with a scope. And there are a lot of guys who will give you the gears about whether a scope even works or not. Piss on ’em. Of course it works. Try it at the practice range. But, where I see guys making the mistake, is mounting their scope directly on the receiver of their marker, right on the dovetail or picatinny rail. With a stock coming right off the back of the marker, you’ll notice quickly that if you try to look through that scope with your mask on, you can’t get your cheek low enough to see through the scope. Three solutions. One, get rid of the stock.. You’ll lose stability and cool factor but you’ll be able to use your sights. Two, raise the scope on a mounted rail. Two inches should be plenty. Three, use an offset rail that mounts your scope to the inside of your receiver and hopper, closer to your eye. Personally, I’d be more likely to lose the scope altogether. It looks sick, but practically speaking, I think it gets in the way of the paintball sniper effectiveness.

Smaller hopper, shorter barrel and, if you have to use it, raise the scope. You’ll lighten up and improve mobility, both critical assets for tactical paintball snipers.

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  1. shane Mc Cormick
    Posted September 16, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Hi Buddy

    I must agree! Me being a sniper in the armed forces and using the tactics I have learnt on the paint ball field its helps a lot! I find that a red dot on a of side rail is better than using a scope! The range on the scopes far out exceed the distance of the marker as you would now.

    Anyway enough of tactical chat! Just a thanks to you and all your efforts, its good reading information from a person that shares the same view points, when you ever come to south Africa give me a call.


  2. Clint
    Posted October 19, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    I disagree about losing the scope altogether. I use a T9.1 with First Strike rounds. Using a scope with these rounds gives you an edge. Speaking of which, why dont you use them? Or do you and I just havent read that far yet? lol

  3. Posted October 19, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Hey Clint,

    Thanks for dropping by! I’m working on Tiberius. Maybe an interview huh? And maybe an unbiased opinion from somewhere else?

    I have a tube of First Strikes ready to be tested. Gotta admit that a) breach or muzzle loading them and b) acceptance on the fields has been my stumbling block. But I’ll at least test ’em out real soon.

    Thanks again.


  4. Adge
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Good post, and of course I have a different view on the barrel but I harped on it enough in previous posts. I totally agree with the scope issue. If you are using a regular marker that fires the standard .68 paintball, a scope is useless. I find that a scope is only good for a first strike marker. As for the hopper, I use an x7 hopper on my a-5 and it works just fine. It is always good to have that little extra ammo.

    Good post I look forward to reading the next one.

  5. Posted January 18, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Furious barrels are 4″ backs which work great for us.

  6. Posted March 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Great article Doug. Again u address the basics and explain in a easy to understand manner. I agree 100% with u in regards to the marker. A paintball Sniper is not limited to performing long range shots. With some fields, games, scenarios its just not possible. A true paintball Sniper will adapt to the field, the game, the scenario. I prefer to play with my First Strike capable 9.1 w/ 0-4 shotgun scope (wicked eye relief and 1-2x magnification is more then enuff) but sometimes is unable. This is when i go double pistols and i am just as effective. The only thing that changes is my gear and play style. Instead of long range shots and wide flanks i now play ambush, defender or go real deep for recon and intel sharing. The marker is only an extension of the paintball Sniper it does not define him/her.

  7. Fixer
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Like the article but I’ll have to disagree on a couple things. 1. Though scopes are not practical for paintball, using a 4×32 is good for actual targeting(red dots are better though) and if you can find one cheap or have the money for a good one some come with range finders in the redicles which well help greatly for measuring your distances. 2. I have a 22″ super sniper on my A-5 and love it, 12″-16″ are accurate (depending on the barrel) but lose distance and accuracy after 30 yards or so. I can keep a 8″ pattern at 45-50 yards easily enough with this barrel because im not throwing ropes, going for the one shot,one kill. And remeber that the paint quality you us does just as much if not more than your barrel. Anyway good article Thanks!

  8. Posted March 24, 2011 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    I agree on all counts. I have tried several set ups and in my humble opinion, simpler is better.

  9. justin
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    Just a suggestion, instead of using a scope, a red dot can be just as useful. I have a cheap Crossman air rifle sight ($15). It has a pinpoint dot, a wide lens, and is already raised a bit (also came with interchangable mounts for 3/8 or picatinny). A red dot can allow you to pull of some awesome shots (picking guys off through gaps in a wooden pallet) as well as allow for spot on close range exchanges.

    I also found that a cheap monocular or set of binoculars is usefull for finding targets at range, and can easily be stored in a pocket if you want some zoom.

  10. Posted September 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I prefer a dual red/green dot scope with NO magnification over a scope. These give you the ability to raise or lower the size ofm the dot, depending on ambiant light. When zeroed in at maximum effective range, you’ll hit your target and if that target is closer, just adjust by selecting a point of aim which takes that into account. Scopes LIMIT your field of view, regardless of their power. If you miss, you have to pause to see where the round went and that’s when you’re apt to get hit, so why make it harder than it needs to be?

  11. Greg
    Posted September 21, 2011 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    I have an 80 round hopper, 12″ barrel, red dot sight that is raised; All of these things are wonderful. When it comes to the barrel length the only thing I have found that works is finding the right paint. With mid-grade paint (Formula 13) I can shoot a 6″ pattern at 60 yards. Oh, I also use an Apex, which works surprisingly well with my red dot sight because the trajectory seems to go along with my line of sight and stays within the reticle for much longer than a parabolic trajectory. Even with the Apex putting on some unpredictable forces, when I shoot Marbs my grouping gets tighter, to about 3″ at 60 yards. It’s amazing. I urge everyone to find the best paint to barrel match; mine just happens to be linear with the better quality paint being better for my barrel.

    I also want to mention that I have a pretty bulky marker setup because I use an Alpha Black, but I compensate for that by staying low to the ground. The tips about staying below normal scanning height help in this regard.

  12. Snuffaluffagus
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    I agree with what you are saying when it comes to a normal paintball marker, like a Tippmann A5. Though the line of Tiberius First Strike compatible markers are unparalleled with any other marker on the market. One, they are magazine fed which eliminates the bulky hopper issue. Two, they have internal 12 gram Co2 cartridges which eliminates an external air source. Three, they fire the First Strike round which has twice the range and is 25% more accurate than a top end paintball. With these rounds a 3x scope would be very effective. On the down side. They are expensive and some fields that do not allow the use of First Strike rounds. So in that case I have a Tippman A5 with a ICP B5 kit, Apex 2 barrel, and a Q loader system. I also carry a RAP4 P99 paintball pistol for the up close and personal shots.

  13. Mike Woodbury
    Posted November 24, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I use an old A5 w polished internals, swapped spring kit for bolt n trigger pull, lapco snap shot, SPEC ops dogleg airthru stock, 4*? Shotgun scope on risers , police grade bypod on spec ops shroud, potato style fore grip. I practice shooting a 1″ PhD pipe from about 150′. Ops gear 30 round tac cap for hopper. Marker shroude in old bdu sleeve w sneeky leaf attatched.

  14. Ray Inglet
    Posted May 11, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Is a pump action marker good for sniping?

  15. Posted November 17, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Yeah the First Strike paintballs are awesome with the Dye Assault Matrix, finally get rid of the annoying hopper and you have better accuracy than normal. Would definitely recommend anyone who’s a sniper to try it out if you have the money.

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