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.50 Caliber Paintball - Will It Catch On?
Recently, there has been a growing trend in the production of .50 caliber paintball markers and paintballs. There is already .68 caliber and a smaller .43 caliber; you might ask… isn’t this confusing enough? Do we really need yet another size to deal with? Most of the industry runs on .68 caliber; paintball rental guns at commercial parks are all .68, most paintball markers being sold are .68; there are also numerous accessories for .68 caliber guns. The fact is different sizes of paintballs are not compatible with each other (meaning you can’t shoot a .43 caliber paintball through a .68 caliber gun nor vice-versa). Considering this, what’s the rationale behind producing new equipment that’s a different size (and not compatible with) than the mainstream?
Overall, the number of people playing paintball (and buying paintball equipment) has been declining over the last 10 years. This means there are less new players (just starting the sport) and less (already established) players continuing the sport. A poll was taken to determine the reason(s) for the diminishing numbers and found the decline in paintball was mainly the result of two problems. One problem is the cost; the cost of paintball guns, gear and regular expense of paintballs can add up fast; especially if you play at a commercial field with entry and/or rental fees. The other problem that keeps many new players from trying paintball is the fear of being hit. Getting hit with a paintball stings! A .68 caliber paintball shot less than 50 ft. will even leave a bruise if it hits directly on the skin.
In an effort to rebound the popularity of paintball, several leading manufacturers (namely Kingman Spyder) have developed a .50 caliber paintball. Granted the new smaller size will not work in .68 caliber guns (the current industry standard) and will require new (.50 caliber) paintball guns. This in itself is a big deterrent for keeping this trend from catching on; however… .50 caliber paintballs solve two of biggest problems hindering the growth of paintball as a sport – they cost much less and don’t hurt when they splat!
When it comes to cost, efficiency and sheer fun, .50 caliber paintball markers and gear beat .68 caliber in all aspects across the board. Because .50 caliber paintballs are much smaller and lighter than their counterparts, they are more efficient and cost effective to ship, store and carry. A 2000 count box of .50 paintballs are barely half the size of a box of standard .68; so you can store much more in the same amount of space. They are also significantly lighter, so they cost much less to ship. The price tag on a box of .50 caliber paintballs is also much less than .68.
As far as performance goes, .50 caliber paintballs generally outperform .68. Being considerably smaller, .50 paintballs tend to have less defects than .68 so are a bit more reliable. They are also lighter so they travel somewhat farther than .68 as well. .50 caliber paintballs are also four times more air efficient; offering many more shots per CO2/hpa tank. With Spyder .50 caliber markers, you can get 3500 shots from a 20oz. CO2 tank (with .50 balls) compared to barely 12-1500 from .68 depending on how high the velocity is turned up on your marker.
Since .50 caliber paintballs are smaller and lighter, players can carry much more! A standard 140 round pod will hold 350 rounds of .50 cal paintballs. .50 caliber paintballs are more efficient to shoot and players can carry more; this equals out to being able to play much longer without having to take refill breaks constantly. More accuracy in your shooting and being able to play more are benefits that hardcore .68 caliber players can’t ignore.
Perhaps one of the obstacles in the way of .50 caliber paintball catching on immediately is the fact that you will need all new gear. Because .50 cal paintballs are smaller, the barrels and internals of the paintball marker will also be smaller. This means .50 caliber paintball guns are smaller and lighter than any .68 caliber marker; they can also shoot nearly double the amount of ammo! Fortunately, the new breed of .50 caliber paintball markers are all very affordable.
Spyder is the leader and introducer of the .50 caliber paintball movement. They have stayed with their classic theme of stylish, fast dependable paintball guns – at super affordable prices. The Spyder .50 caliber markers are great for first time or experienced players. G.I. Milsim is another company that has decided to support the movement with their release of high quality competition .50 caliber paintball markers. This company offers a nice price range gradient of guns; a higher end, higher tech pro level gun, a mid-range priced top performing marker and a lower end beginner’s paintball gun.
Don’t worry, there are also .50 caliber guns made for woodsball players as well. Spyder has an excellent, lightweight, extremely realistic .50 caliber tactical marker called the Storm. It resembles an M4 carbine however it’s covered with rails for ease of customizability. The G.I. Milsim company also has a tactical version of .50 caliber marker; a bit on the lower end of the scale, however both guns are very affordable. The Milsim G150 resembles a sub-machine gun (a bit smaller than a Tippmann X7 but similar body type).
One thing that may keep established paintballers from jumping on the .50 caliber band wagon is a hesitancy to have to buy a totally different paintball marker to accommodate for the smaller ball. Conversion kits to the rescue! There is already a conversion kit available for the Planet Eclipse Ego and Etek markers and more will be coming soon. The kits are fairly easy to install and will convert your .68 caliber paintball gun into one that shoots .50 cal paintballs. As more interest grows for the .50 caliber paintball, there will be more conversion kits produced for more guns.
Perhaps the best thing about .50 caliber paintball is the fact that the smaller ball has taken out virtually ALL the sting! Smaller paintballs take less force to shoot them, creating less impact when hit. .50 caliber paintballs have 60% less impact than .68 caliber and this greatly reduces the pain of getting hit. .50 caliber paintball guns only generate about 5 joules of force; .68 cal markers cause up to 13 joules (when measured at 300 fps velocity). .50 caliber paintballs will generally not leave a bruise (unless shot point blank or under 10 ft.), however protective eye wear must still be used.
Despite a somewhat slow start, .50 caliber paintball have the potential of completely replacing all current paintball gear. This movement will gain more steam once commercial paintball fields see how much money can be saved. Paintballs, guns and gear will cost less to buy and ship and they will be able to store twice as much. This translates into a much better return on investment when it comes to getting more out of less. As commercial parks switch over to .50 caliber, they will have to eventually restrict any other size markers coming into their place; will only allow the .50 cal size markers so they can sell more of the .50 cal size paintballs.For a complete selection of the best .50 caliber paintballs, markers and gear, check out ChoicePaintballGuns.com. We have an entire section devoted to nothing but the latest .50 caliber paintball equipment releases. Jump on board early and be prepared for the coming change in paintball. .50 caliber paintball is predicted to save the public’s view of paintball and renew it’s popularity.
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