Like any expensive piece of mechanical equipment, your paintball marker requires regular cleaning and maintenance to continue functioning at peak efficiency. Dirt, gas residues, paint, and other materials can get inside your gun and clog up the internals, reducing accuracy and power while causing more malfunctions than a clean gun would. Repairs and servicing are equally as vital as cleaning – even the cleanest gun cannot perform adequately when one of its parts has broken or worn through. Follow these tips to ensure that your markers stay optimally prepared for your next excursion.
Clean After Every Use
Every time you come home, you should set aside any equipment you used to receive a thorough cleaning. Cleaning should not take long for most markers and typically involves only a few basic items to achieve a satisfactory standard. Make sure you disconnect all gas systems before disassembling the gun and follow any available manufacturer instructions on proper disassembly to avoid damaging anything.
Once you have the gun opened up, take a look at each part to determine whether or not it looks clean. Anything with visible dirt or paint on it should receive the first and heaviest cleaning efforts, but you should never skip something even if it seems to be free of grime. I used to think I could get away with a quick cleaning of only the dirtiest components, until one day when I got out to the field, and my bolt was locking up due to caked-on residues. I managed to get the gun cleaned out but lost hours of play to that oversight. Now, I clean every single part each time I come home, spending only a minute or two on those parts that took me hours to clean with such a buildup of residues.
Most parts in your paintball marker can be cleaned with a wet rag or paper towel. Dirt and paint should wash off easily when in contact with moisture, but some spots may require a bit of extra pressure or scrubbing to clean off. You should never use an abrasive sponge or surface on the delicate internals of your gun, even for the toughest spots. Get into every place of every part – if necessary, you can buy special cleaning tools such as a bore snake to clean out the barrel. Make sure to hand-dry every part thoroughly before reassembling. You may even want to leave the parts separate overnight to allow them to dry out all the way and avoid any rusting.
Although this page is dedicated specifically to Shocker paintball guns, the videos contained within are excellent demonstrations of how to disassemble and clean individual parts of a marker.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Repairs
At some point, something in your paintball gun will break. Damages happen to even the most expensive competition-grade markers that are designed to be as reliable as possible. When this happens, you should never be afraid to get a professional to look at the gun and recommend how you should do repairs. I always visit a pro shop when something goes wrong in my kit, and let me tell you why.
Pro shop owners and repair specialists know the internals of paintball guns better than anyone else. If the problem is small or requires only a stopgap fix, they probably have the tools and experience necessary to provide that level of minor care. For more severe issues, they may be able to identify the specific parts you need, order them, and perform required repairs with professional speed and accuracy. I’ve also had minor problems kicked back to me with simple DIY recommended fixes – saving my money and the shop owner’s time on a potential repair job.
Some damages, such as an indentation in your barrel, may be impossible to repair (or so cost-prohibitive that a replacement may be a better option). In such a situation, you may want to consider the opportunity to perform an upgrade. Higher-quality barrels, bolts, and other parts can contribute to better reliability and accuracy without spending big on an entirely new gun.
Maintaining Hoppers and Gas Tanks
Hoppers and gas tanks both require little to no maintenance, but should at least get cleaned along with the rest of your stuff. Hoppers especially tend to get coated with paint inside and out, and gas tanks can start to build up residues that can decrease their effectiveness at providing pressure and distance for your shots.
Should either of these items be damaged, you may want to look at replacements rather than repairs. Gas tanks are expensive and difficult to repair compared to the price to buy a new one, and hoppers are (when cheap) easily replaced. Nicer hoppers may sometimes be worth repairing, but most of the issues that tend to appear cannot be fixed cheaply. Also, keep in mind that dents on these devices (unlike on the barrel) do not mean that they cannot function. My CO2 tank has a few bangs and scuffs on its exterior but still works just fine.
Cleaning Off Clothes
Paint splatters suck but, thankfully, virtually all commercially-available paint should come out in the wash. Caring for your clothing should not take too much effort, but you also don’t want to drop a bunch of paint-soaked clothing items into a normal wash cycle. In general, clothes worn and stained during a paintball fight should be washed in their own load to prevent paint from soaking into other garments. Make sure to wash them thoroughly with more than enough detergent to wash out all the paint residues from your belongings. Also, you may need to break out some soap and scrubbing tools to remove stains on non-washable items.
Taking care of your gear helps to ensure that you get the longest lifespan and the best value out of everything. Neglecting your stuff may seem convenient in the short run, but is it really worth saving a few hours of cleaning when it means replacing hundreds of dollars’ worth of equipment? Stay on top of your cleaning schedule and malfunctions should be few and far between when out on the field.