A pretty straightforward blog post today, but one that every real paintball enthusiast should take heed of. Remember that scene in Full Metal Jacket where they’re learning the importance of being at one with their rifles?
“This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.”
Well, the same goes for paintball markers. If you’re lucky enough to own your own marker then the least you should do to get the most out of it is know exactly how every square centimeter of it functions. And better still, know exactly how to make every part of it function perfectly. So today we’re going to look at how to strip and assemble a marker. I’ve written before about how to clean a paintball marker, but this post will focus more on how to break one down, what to look out for and the importance of regular maintenance. For eases’ sake, we’re going to use a Tippmann ‘98 Custom marker, as it is a great, simple to use marker and a regular feature in all Bedlam paintball equipment huts.
First you need a sturdy flat surface that you’re not afraid to get a little oil on. Place the marker down with the bolt handle facing you and remove the hopper and CO2 canister. It is very important that both of these are removed before anything else is done, as you don’t want any stray paintballs that are stuck in the workings being fired out. So removed the canister first, then the hopper. Then, just to be sure, squeeze the trigger a few times to make sure your marker is now safe to work on.
Between the “Tippmann” and the “98” you will see a large bolt head. This is the velocity adjustment screw and you need to make sure it is turned all the way in first of all (clockwise). Next remove the two adaptor bolts, which can be found at the back of your marker – where the CO2 is connected.
Now it’s simple a case of removing all six bolts that hold the two halves of your marker together. Tippmann is a particularly good marker to work on, as they only require one size of allen key to do almost anything. Genius! Once all the bolts are out, carefully – carefully! – pull the top nearest half of the marker off, being sure not to knock the bottom half and potentially loosen any parts inside.
The first thing you’ll probably notice is how simple a marker is inside, right? That’s good design that is; as there is no real need to get over complicated if all of the individual components are sound. The bulk of the interior is taken up by the main firing bolt – which propels the wee balls. Take a soft, clean rag and wipe any excess dirt or oil off of this bolt. It needs some oil on it, but too much and your marker will just clog up.
Using a standard gun oil, or a paintball oil if you can find one locally, apply a few drops to each O-ring (one on the front bolt and then another right at the back, where the canister is connected). Never use WD-40, as tempting as it might be – as it can actually corrode your O-rings. Now just check to see if any other dirt has got into the workings and, if not, you’re good to put the two halves back together (keeping flat until fully assembled) and screwing each bolt back in. Unless your marker’s taken a serious knock, there will rarely be anything wrong with it. The only parts that occasionally need replacing are usually the two O-rings, which are dirt cheap anyway.
If you play paintball regularly, then it’s recommended that you do this every month or two. If you only play paintball occasionally though, then do this before each time you play, and remember to test your marker again before you hit a game!
Show your marker some love and, with a bit of luck, it’ll save your ass out there in the field.