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Tactical Paintball Gear: The 4 Pieces of Gear You Suck Without

Tactical Paintball Gear Sniper RifleFirst of all, in my 18 years of experience playing paintball and training in stealth, camouflage and movement it’s become crystal clear to me that it’s not about the gear. You can be loaded to the nuts with a tactical vest, the hottest barrel, the slickest marker and the latest in digital camouflage tactical paintball gear doo-dads but I’ll take a guy with patience, cunning and a banged up ol’ Trracer pump any day.

No B.S. No frills. Just plain and simple, tried, tested and true paintball sniper gear. The marker choice WILL surprise you. The camouflage pattern may not.

If you just want the list, here it is:

It’s about having the mindset of a tactical paintball sniper. That being said, to be effective there are a few pieces of gear that elevate your game when combined with that mindset.

The Marker.

Reliability takes precedence over looks and price any day. My best little sniper paintball rifle is my Tippmann SLII-68. I put a quickie camouflage paint job on it and outfitted it with a 50 round hopper. It’s light, fast and very durable. I know how it shoots and can put a shot on the center mass of my target at 15 yards 9 times out of 10. But with this marker, I have to be committed to the mindset of shoot once and lay low. Discipline, patience and a good hide.

The Barrel.

A stock 8″ barrel is not a good choice. But neither is a ceramic or carbon 20″ ported barrel. The happy medium is around 12″ to 14″. After that, your gas efficiency drops and the amount of friction over the length of the barrel actually begins to reduce the accuracy and distance of your paintballs. Yeah, it looks cool but it really ends there. Again, what’s your mindset?

The Camouflage.

You know, one of the things I love most in life is camouflage. I love studying it. I love wearing it. I love testing it out. I’ve been within inches all kinds of animals, two and four leggeds alike and it always comes down to two things. My camouflage and, you guessed it, my mindset. I love the latest patterns. I think the digital woodland and ACU patterns rock. I like the multicam pattern even more. I also love a tan and brown plaid lumberjack shirt and tan or grey pants. Excellent camouflage. But, if I get out there and move like one of my resident bull moose during the rut, I don’t care what I’m wearing. I’m going to be spotted and shot. Camouflage isn’t there to make you invisible. Donning a pair of BDU’s isn’t like Harry Potters cloak. It’s there to make you look not human and trick the eye. So, yes, wear camouflage. But don’t ignore the basics of stealthy movement.

The Mask.

This one is huge. In nature, there are two things that stand out on a human try to hide in the woods. The first is their outline. Deal with that. The second are the eyes. And there’s one piece of gear in paintball that we must deploy that makes the eyes and head stand out even more and that’s our mask. The black, goggled form is an instant identifier. We can’t get rid of it so we have to hide it. I have a V-Force Profiler that I absolutely love. I popped the lenses out and gave it a tan spray job. I criss-crossed it with a little bit of greys and browns to break it up further. This reduced it’s visible footprint by about 80%. A little bit of ghillie in the form of jute twine hanging over the lens, enough to break it up but not enough to obscure vision, finishes the job.

Again, mindset trumps materials. Less is more especially when you are dedicated to the basics skills. I’d challenge you, in you next role as the tactical paintball sniper, to lighten your load. Try the minimalist approach. You’ll love the freedom of movement and the focus it takes to elevate your skills. The right gear will complement your skills but too much becomes a crutch.

If you’ve read this far, it means you get jazzed about the skills of the tactical paintball player, particularly skills like camouflage, stealth movement and one-shot eliminations. That’s what I love too.



  1. adge
    Posted October 3, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    I agree with most and I used to believe the theory behind the long barrel (meaning longer is not better etc…) But i have used a 20″ barrel the last 3-4 years. This barrel has proven the theory wrong. Yes it uses more gas, but if you are at a field that supplies it…who cares. It is more accurate. However, not every 18+ inch barrel is good. I trialed a 16 inch j&j, an 18 Stiffi barrel ( highly not recommended) and a 20″ rifled barreled from an X7 sniper rifle from RAP 4 (Also not recommended), and none of these even came close to the performance level of the barrel I have now. So now theory of the long barrel is no longer a theory but a myth. So my advice to those who are looking for the long barrel is do not give up after the first one. you will find the right barrel but there is such a thing as too long. For instance I can not manouvre well past 20 inches. In fact the theory only applies to speedball not in woodsball. Sorry fellas but the only thing i know about my barrel is that it is a blackdust barrel 20″ I have no idea who made it, that is just how it was named when I purchased it. it was the envy of the field I used to play in especially for those who knew me.

  2. Random Dude
    Posted December 22, 2010 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    I have an 18 inch Apex 2 on an Empire Trracer with a 10 round feed tube, and I love it. The 18 inch gets kind of annoying sometimes, but I like it the same. I also have the old school Trracer Tagmaster with a 10 inch barrel. I like them both, and they work great.

  3. Freight
    Posted March 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I use a fourteen inch Proto, I love the thing. Any longer than that I can’t move without catching on every branch and piece of vegetation in the woods, and shorter and I don’t have the accuracy I need to put the ball through forked trees and underbrush. My mask… It’s a standard black mask, clear visor, grey vent-covers (or whatever they’re called). I took a camo balaclava, cut the back, and cut holes for the vents. Took the covers off, put the holes in the right spot, then screwed the covers back on to hold it in place. Charcoal on those covers dulled them enough to look like shadows. I’ll see if I can get a picture up on the FB page of my setup.

  4. Posted March 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Love to see pics, Freight!

  5. Ian
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I have a Spyder MR1 with a 20 inch sniper barrel, 45 degree swiveling bipod, 1×47 red dot scope. I also use a T-68 firestorm as a sidearm and I am armed to the brim with woodland camo and advanced gear but even with that, like you said, I would be nothing without experience and patience. This is a very good post for noobs who don’t understand the basic principle of paintball. Also to add on to what you said about a barrel being to long. If you want a long barrel but want to keep efficiency you have to get one with grooves on the inside that put a spin on the paintball and reduces friction, they are expensive but worth it! I use one and it works great.

  6. josh
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    i shoot a mr2 w/o eye and a board mod that doesnt shut off after 10 minutes of no trigger pulls,shaved the feed down to almost nothing, used a plan 3/4 pvc 90 and modified a longbow mag just long to stop at the end of the stock,cut the top rail of the stock off to make a pretty sight line with mask on, had to work on the barrel ordered 18 in vortex from rap4 used the stock barrel to make a silencer( cut down the “pop” about 75%).ported the exchanger port on a 6.5 angel which gave the ball a bit more spin. 13cu/3000 ninja tank. and regulated to the extreme i shoot between 299 and 304 every shot went to local pawn shop and got a hand grip with built in laser. just to line up sights.it shoots fairly good distance i can center mass a target at 30 yds. the profiler is an awsom mask still cant believe i wasted the $135 on an angel eye mask piece of crap. camo valken tech woodland zulu is my absolute favorite. being i am an agressive snipe i had to get side arms walther p99 with many upgrades, and for getting pinned down or surpressive fire a mp5 adjustable sliding stock a-5 with a b.u.l.p silenced hopper (thanks BORG) after all this within the last 4 yrs trying to recovered from knee surgery and all the guys on my team have moved or stop playing. but will be at socal this year

  7. josh
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    sorry bout the long comment earlier. just a lil tech note…..instead of oil and lubes which help build up grime before ever game remove bolt and coat the inside generously with fine powder graphite

  8. futureSEAL
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    ol faithful, PMI Trracer. “nuff said.

  9. Jake
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I have the ol tippmann 98 custome fitted with a 20′ barrel and collapsible car stock nothin special but it definatly gets the job done. I love it. My mask however is another story.. its one of those full head ones that cover your whole headd like a helmet. (Which i thought great more places to attach ghilli………..WRONG!!!!) all that did was get in the way…..so what i did was I took a piece of synthetic camo netting and attached it to the front by the chin and it makes it a whole lot better it make your neck line duller and also serves as some what of a ball cach if you happen to get a lucky shot to the adoms apple. I am open for any other ideas on how to camo my gun

  10. Michael
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I think it was mentioned before but I needs to be restated. Whatever gear you use know how it performs. Use it regularly and you will be far more effective than those constantly changing out parts (barrels, stocks, etc.). Practice hitting targets from a variety of positions and REALISTIC distances you are to be using in the field. I’ve been using my 98C for 6 years with a 16″ J&J barrel. Works great for me.

  11. Joe
    Posted February 6, 2012 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Jake: here’s what i did for mask and gun camo. i bought 3d camo tape for my mask, and a one way camo lens cover, which i highly recommend to be one of the best things ever.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Woodland-Pattern-Vision-Film-use-goggles-mask-/160729552203?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item256c3a554b#ht_2623wt_932 <-camo lens cover

    look into that, just sayin.

  12. patrick
    Posted March 19, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    15yards? that useles for a sniper marker, supposed to hit farther targets than that when you are sniper, might as well just go with the tippman X5 then, wich i use, it hits more accuratly with longer range. the low prifile ball carrier is on the side, and the stock “iron sight” aim on it actually does work, not that i use it. to spesify how precise this marker is; i used it on a speed ball course, even tho i play mainly woods and all my gear is for woods, and i sat down behind a cover, saw the silly 14″ barrel sticking out from behind a other cover on the other side of the field, i shot quick 5 shot burst with everything stock (except my 14″ barrel ) and hit 3 of 5 of the balls on the barrel itself, and by the rules we play, if your marker is hit, you’re out. so buying a fancy sniper for just 15yard use? i would say that is useles. and don’t hand up on the fact i played speed ball, that was just an example of precision you can reach with an ordinary tippman X5

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