Customizing paintball gear is a tradition as old as the sport itself. Long before the days of brightly-colored markers with unique finishes, people were spray-painting their equipment with camo patterns, unique colors, and distinctive designs to stand out on the field. Nowadays, companies make their products with a variety of awesome styles straight from the factory, and specialists can apply some even more spectacular finishes and customizations to most pieces of gear. Here are some of the ways I’ve seen people take customization of their paintball gear to the extreme.
Customizing Your Paintball Gear
Your paintball gun is the center of your gear setup, so for many people, customization starts here. There are two main ways to customize your marker – you can add attachments to finalize a mil-sim appearance, or you can go crazy with colors and finishes. Mil-sim customization is generally easier since you’ll probably want to keep the factory black or tan paint job. Even if you do go for a custom camo paint, that can usually be accomplished by following internet guides for different patterns. Just find the attachments you think look best for the gun, attach them to your rails, and you’re probably done customizing a mil-sim paintball gun.
Stylized markers, on the other hand, can become very expensive to get particular looks and finishes. Most paintball guns made nowadays can be ordered in many different color combinations straight from a store or the manufacturer. These finishes are enough for me, but they’re far from the limit on what I’ve seen used on the field. One common modification is a custom grip, handguard, or pump. Changing the shape and texture of these components can alter both the look and the feel of your favorite marker. Other common parts that I see people swap out include triggers, stocks, and barrels. These parts can offer mild performance improvements and radical style changes when you order them from a custom parts-maker but can get extremely expensive. But, if you absolutely have to have specific patterns or geometry on your marker, there may be no other option than to get it machined and finished by a professional.
I also recommend going to a professional modification company if you want a custom spray on your marker. I’ve seen some people try to spray paint their markers themselves, and the result is usually a slightly-off color combination that doesn’t quite fit the profile of the gun. If you want a solid color or a consistent pattern across the whole marker, though, you might be able to do it yourself. Just make sure to paint each part individually to make sure that you can still disassemble the marker after re-painting it.
While your marker may be your primary piece of gear, your mask is even more visible and customizable. Thankfully, masks are generally much easier to repaint and repattern than markers. Custom straps are available from several companies and should fit most masks. Repainting your mask is as simple as removing the lenses and taping over the foam. Most companies also make different shades and colors of lenses for their masks, so be sure to check those out to compliment your customization.
Also, for a mil-sim setup, you may want to apply a camo paint to your mask. I’d recommend getting a less-expensive mask for mil-sim play that you can spray and re-spray without having to worry too much about damaging lenses or foam. Alternatively, you can use a low-profile mask in tandem with a helmet. Don’t spray-paint your helmets, though – fabric covers come in many shapes and patterns, and these should be your first choice when kitting out a mil-sim setup.
I think the best way to customize a hopper is to buy a high-end electronic loader that comes with a multitude of different color options. Due to their shape and materials, hoppers can be challenging to repaint or refinish on your own. Premium loaders like the Dye R2 should have enough variety in their finishes to compliment any marker well. Most also include some empty space on the front and sides, so if you want to stamp on a custom logo or design, that can be a way to make your hopper stand out.
Other Kit Items
If you’re going to play mil-sim, you’ll need to go for more than the loose shirts and old jeans that most players wear beneath their vests. Getting a military-style vest or chest rig is a must, as is a multitude of accessories and ammo containers. I’ve seen tons of different setups, each with their own unique gear items and specialties. Some of the cooler ways to accessorize include:
- Sidearms (especially in a chest holster)
- Scarves and shemaghs
- Unusual but useful camo patterns
- Modded masks
While some customization can be done with some cans of spray paint and some carefully-applied tape, most of the craziest gear you’ll see is custom-made and very expensive. Remember that although you might get one piece of equipment that looks cool, it won’t stand out unless you add on some other items with similar colors and styles to complement it. Whether you’re trying to look flashy at an arena or build the perfect mil-sim look, just try to balance each gear item out with one another before spending big on custom items.