How to Make a Paintball Gun: Assembling Your Choice Weapon

So, you’re trying to figure out how to make a paintball gun?

It’s quite simple if you know how it works and know where to look for parts. Since paintball guns work by forcing paintballs out a barrel with a burst of air pressure, it’s a quite simple mechanism.

Great paintball gun components exist in abundance, and they’re generally easy to put together because manufacturers make them that way. Also, working some DIY magic can go a long way.

So, how exactly do you make a paintball gun?

How to Make a Paintball Gun


Since people can have different ideas of what “how to make a paintball gun” means, let’s begin with clearing this up. To some, it simply means building your ideal marker out of personally selected components.

Others may involuntarily begin to hum the McGyver theme song as they scramble for duct tape and gas canisters. Fortunately, we can give you the information on how to make a paintball gun in both these ways.

That leaves us with one unanswered question before we begin: How does a paintball gun work?

The Mechanics of Paintball Guns


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Paintball guns, also known as markers, consist of a handful of components. For example, there’s the barrel where the balls come out and the loader that feeds them into the barrel.

You may be wondering: What propels the paintballs out through the barrel?

In commercial paintball markers, canisters of compressed air or carbon dioxide cause a buildup of pressure when you pull the trigger. Once the pressure reaches a certain level, a valve opens and releases the force out the barrel, taking the paintball with it.

Markers achieve this in a few different ways. The original designs, known these days as stock-class markers, operate like simple pump or bolt-action guns.

Just like in the world of firearms, modern semi-automatic paintball guns vary in how they achieve the semi-auto result. Blowbacks and double-action designs are only two of the various designs.

Additionally, there are electronic (or electro-pneumatic) markers that use electric signals to trigger a simpler and faster firing mechanism without any big moving parts. These offer various firing modes, higher rates of fire, and other special features.

However, they cost significantly more, and they don’t work with CO2 tanks. Also, they don’t have the same near-universal compatibility found in most mechanical marker components. And there are greater risks of malfunction.

Still, electronic ones tend to be more gas-efficient, and they’re quieter. Since both have their strength and weaknesses, hybrid guns are also a viable option.

Due to these various differences, the general price range is vast. High-end markers cost a lot. Learning how to make a paintball gun means you can replace and modify components to achieve better results affordably.

How to Make a Paintball Gun from Common Items


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While proper paintball markers are rather elaborate machines, a simple paintball gun is a surprisingly simple build you can make at home. However, there’s always a risk when playing with high-pressure mechanisms, so proceed at your own risk.

So, we’ve established that a paintball gun works by propelling the balls with a pressure tank. With this understanding, we can look at how to make a paintball gun using cheap and common materials.

The shooty end

What all guns and gun-like objects have in common is a barrel where the projectile emerges. For a DIY paintball gun, you can either buy or reuse a proper paintball barrel, or you can improvise with cheap options.

PVC piping is a good candidate, as are other pipes. However, the internal diameter is a crucial factor. Paintballs are 0.68 caliber, which means they’re 0.68 inches or 1.72 centimeters across.

A good barrel will be ever-so-slightly wider so that the ball can shoot out but won’t roll on its own. If it’s too wide, the pressure will disperse around the ball. As a result, the shot will be weaker and less accurate.

Since cheap paintballs can be somewhat uneven in size and shape, too wide is better than too narrow. Otherwise, paintballs may jam the barrel or burst inside it.

To test a barrel’s width, drop a paintball into it. If it rolls out, there’s too much space. You should be able to blow it out of the pipe easily, though. Otherwise, it’s too tight.

You can also get some thicker pipe to use as a handle. Also, you can fashion such piping into stocks and various accessories.

What’s a pressure chamber?

The main part of a homemade paintball gun is its pressure chamber. You can make one out of a plastic water bottle, or any similar item made out of plastic or metal. What matters is that it’s airtight. Otherwise, pressure won’t increase.

Accumulating this pressure and controlling its release is the main challenge of how to make a paintball gun from scratch. Let’s look at two simple methods.

The first one’s safe and easy and doesn’t require any external fuel. Think bottle rocket.

For this, you’ll need a pump like the ones used for bike tires or soccer balls. You can either add a proper nozzle to your McGyver paintball gun or attach the pump itself.

Now, you’ll also need a PVC valve between the barrel and pressure chamber. Otherwise, the pressure would dissipate before reaching the required levels. Keep in mind that pumping too much air into the chamber can make it explode.

Since pumping up the gun takes time and releasing the valve isn’t as elegant as pulling a trigger, let’s look at a more powerful build. If you’re familiar with potato cannons, you’ll recognize this concept.

Although this design does involve internal combustion of gas, it’s safe if you do it right. The basic idea is that you spray aerosol into the tank, seal it, and then give it a spark.

Since the pressure burst is almost instantaneous, you won’t need a proper valve. Instead, you can make the start of the barrel narrower so that the ball itself seals it.

What you will need is a BBQ lighter. Ones with bendy barrels are the most practical.

Putting it all together

An important question related to how to make a paintball gun is what tools you’ll need. Thankfully, you won’t need much.

A drill with bits of different diameters is useful but not essential. A knife is a must, but the exact kind isn’t important as long as it’s sharp and reliable. To hold things together, hot glue and strong tape are ideal.

Let’s begin with the pressure tank. First, you need to make a hole in the cap for the barrel or valve. Next, insert the barrel system and fasten it with your glue or tape.

You’ll also need a hole for your pressure source. For the hand-pumped design, you can place the hole wherever the pump will allow for comfortable use.

For the lighter-based solution, you’ll want the hole in a spot where the lighter’s body and button can serve as a comfortable trigger. This video will help you with how to make a paintball gun.

Now, this is a rudimentary design that’s not suitable for actual paintball games. Of course, you can add more features like a hopper and paintball detents to improve the rate of fire and general functionality.

Remember to wear suitable protective gear. And never point your paintball gun at anyone who isn’t wearing it.

How to Make a Paintball Gun with Proper Components


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If you want to learn how to make a paintball gun with that does all the things you need for intense games, it’s best to go with proper gear. First of all, it’s much safer, and you’ll get better results.

If you want full functionality, you need all the features. And they must be up to par, although you can sometimes incorporate some affordable alternative solutions with the right know-how

What parts do I need?

The main problem with the primitive paintball gun we described earlier is that it’s slow to load, and the paintballs can roll out of the barrel. Let’s look at all the features that make paintball markers work how you expect.

The main component is the body. This is the central, gun-like structure that holds the trigger. Since everything else connects to the body, it determines which parts are compatible. So, choose carefully.

Then, there’s the barrel, which can greatly affect your accuracy. Also, you’ll need detents. These simple structures prevent the balls from rolling out the pipe when you’re not firing.

Next up is the hopper or loader. This is the equivalent of a gun’s magazine, and it feeds paintballs into the barrel.

You’ll need gas or air tanks too. If you’re serious about paintball, a remote kit is worth looking into. These let you carry gas tanks on your body, making the marker lighter and more mobile.

For good accuracy, you’ll also want a regulator. This component helps to ensure that each shot has the same force. Make sure its pressure rating matches that of your marker.

Sights are very helpful when you take aim. However, scopes are a redundant gimmick. No legal paintball marker shoots straight or far enough to benefit from a scope.

How to choose a paintball marker body

Since this is the core of your marker, this decisions is the most crucial step of how to make a paintball gun. While there are too many varieties to delve into, they all fall under a few basic categories.

First of all, there are mechanical and electronic designs. Electronic ones generally have higher rates of fire.

Also, you have a choice between semi-automatic fire or bolt/pump action. There’s a variety of mechanisms, so you’ll want to do your research before deciding.

While stock options are the most convenient, you can also assemble your ideal marker with slight modifications. Trigger frames, bolts, and valves are examples of pieces you may want to customize.

How to choose a barrel

The length of your barrel has an effect on your range and accuracy. So does its material. Plus, your own preferences regarding weight and general feel play a significant role.

Since paintballs do vary slightly, you’ll want to carefully match your barrel and paintballs of choice. It’s wise to ask around among enthusiasts first. Also, getting the right threading will affect your range and consistency.

The easiest way to get this right is to get a barrel kit. These make your marker more versatile and help future-proof it. You can simply match your barrel to the current need.

Air or CO2?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the traditional fuel of mechanical paintball guns. It’s convenient because a small tank of liquid CO2 will expand into lots of gas and provide plenty of pressure.

However, this reaction has a cooling effect, which slows down the evaporation. That translates to pressure loss with rapid fire. This is fine with mechanical markers on warm days, but it may pose problems in other conditions.

Therefore, people started using compressed air. You may also know it as HPA or Nitro. Air doesn’t have pressure loss problems, so it’s more consistent. Moreover, some modern markers only accept air.

On the other hand, air tanks are bulkier and more expensive than CO2 tanks. However, they may be cheaper in the long run since you can often get unlimited refills.

Loading capacity

When choosing a hopper, it may be tempting to get the largest one available. Keep in mind that this will make your marker heavier and may affect your aim. Find a good balance of weight and ball count.

Hopper types can affect performance significantly. For stock-class markers, you need a stick-fed loader. Other types allow for various modern designs.

Gravity-fed hoppers are a simple and cheap solution. They usually work well with mechanical markers, but less so with electronic ones. Sometimes, paintballs jam in the tube. Also, they limit your rate of fire.

If you’re serious about paintball, you’ll want a force-feed or agitating hopper. These designs have mechanisms that provide a faster, more consistent feed.

You can get very high rates of fire with these. However, they require electricity or sometimes a gas feed. Since they all vary, you’ll want to read up on specific models.

Assembly

Although there are several parts, assembling a paintball gun is quick and easy. As long as you get compatible parts, that is.

The barrel screws into the front of the body with the hopper just above it. Next, your gas tank or tube plugs into a socket that’s usually on the bottom of the stock.

Closing Thoughts


Now you know how to make a paintball gun both with high-end components and from scrap materials. Your dream paintball marker build is within reach.

Please be safe and use this knowledge responsibly. And enjoy your new paintball gun.

Have you ever made a paintball gun? Let us know in the comment section below!

Featured Image Source: Pixabay

Emil Jadersten