Paintball - The Right Tools
Give your gear a little love
Stuff breaks. Stuff stops working. Stuff acts up, gives you problems, makes you mad. Is it the stuff's fault? Of course not, they're inanimate! Instead of screaming profanities & throwing things in the trash or out the window, grab your toolbox.
Paintball equipment can be complex. Most notably, the markers and loaders. They are machines, and all machines need to be maintained. This hub won't explain how exactly, but it will list what you'll need to care for your precious stuff.
On a side note, tools most certainly need a home, and in paintball, it would be best if that home were mobile. I've posted a photo of my former field toolbox, although i've recently downgraded to a modest small tote container thing you'll see in the pictures below.
Every machine has a manual. A book of specific knowledge designed to help you understand your machine, in order to operate & maintain it. If it's new, it will include a manual; if it's used, ask for the manual, or find it online.
Then READ THE MANUAL! And keep it handy until you either memorize it or no longer own the machine.
Allen? Who's Allen?
I don't know, but his/her tools are awesome. The brand name, Allen, is most famous for their hex keys/wrenches. So much so, that we all call hex keys, Allens, much like we all call tissues, Kleenex, or cotton swabs, Q-tips.
Allens are the most-used tool in paintball. Well over half of all screws & bolts used to hold markers together, use hex keys (the rest use phillips screwdrivers). So a full set of allens is a must for all paintballers. Many, if not all, markers even come with the necessary allens, but it's always best to have a nice set of your own.
Allens are most often available in two units of measure - inches (what many call "standard") or millimeters (the good ol' metric system). Most markers use standard allens, but a few, like Spyder markers, use metric. Allen key sets are often found with both standard & metric, which is not at all bad. But not all sets are created equal.
I recommend longer, ball-end hex key sets. They're length helps you reach nearly every nook & cranny, and the ball end is great for spots that require working at angles. They cost a little more, but they will spare you so much strife in the future, you have no idea.
Keep it smooth
Markers won't work if they're all dried out. All markers are pneumatic machines, and pneumatics involve internal gas/air pressures & the seals to maintain them. The majority of these seals come in the form of o-rings - rubbery, donut-shaped things of magic. All o-rings need to stay soft in order to do their job, and many are on moving parts, so they also need to slide freely. To accomplish this, o-rings need to be clean and lubed, and routinely need cleaning & relubing.
There are 2 different types of lube: oil and grease. It's important to know which your marker needs, because it's usually only one or the other. Consult your manual on which you need.
- Oil is the liquid lube, works very well but doesn't last as long when applied to moving parts (ironic, as paintball oil that sits in its container can last forever). There are a few types of oil, but paintball-specific oil is a synthetic, non-corrosive oil, safe for o-rings. Motor oil, baby oil, WD40, etc, clean as they lube, but the cleaners eat o-rings, so don't use those. Only non-paintball-specific oil i'd recommend is Triflow 3-in-1.
- Grease is buttery, kind of a blend of oil and putty - creates a better seal & lasts longer, but is mostly only needed for specific markers. Most common is Dow 33, a grease made by Dow Corning. Lasts a long time, really smooth, meets all the requirements of a paintball marker grease. Many companies re-brand Dow 33 (Dye Battle Lube, Smart Parts Shocker Lube, etc) Some companies sell modified Dow 33, by blending it with certain oils (exact formulas are a secret - Hater Sauce is one that comes to mind). Only non-paintball-specific grease i'd recommend is Buzzy's Slick Honey, which is sold as a bicycle grease.
Keep it clean
Paintball stuff gets dirty. Paint splatter gets on stuff, dirt gets on stuff, grime builds up inside stuff, etc. You wanna have cleaning supplies handy.
- Rags: pretty basic. Wipe down any mess with rags, towels, etc. Softer the better. One particular cloth you definitely need is a microfiber one - works great for streak-free finishes on mask lenses. A large towel is nice to spread across your car seat in case you didn't bring a change of clothes.
- Spray bottle: plain tap water to mist on the sloppiest of messes.
- Squeegees: battle swabs (bend in half), straight shots (don't bend at all), & pull-thrus (flexible cords w/ cleaning discs). These babies are mostly for cleaning out barrels, but they work great for cleaning out marker bodies and hopper internals as well.
- Old toothbrush: gross? Maybe. But they can get into spaces that rags cannot.
- Cotton swabs: same things you use to clean out your ears, or maybe some of the actual listed uses found on the packaging (who cleans their baby's face with Q-Tips? Why is that picture on the box?). Gets into places the rags & toothbrush can't.
- Dental pick: or similar sharp object with a small hook on one end. Actually recommended to remove old o-rings, but very nice when scraping clean any dirty threads (barrel threads, feedneck threads, hose fitting threads, etc). Best ones are NOT made of metal, so you don't scar the finish to anything, or a really gentle hand if you DO have metal ones.
And the rest
Some other tools worth having.
- Combo screwdriver: has various flat-head & phillips tips, eliminates the need for a handful of screwdrivers, unless you need to reach deep screws.
- Wire cutter: not actually used for wires, bu they work GREAT if you use macroline hose instead of steel-braided hose (both are methods of getting gas from the tank to the marker).
- Wrenches: primarily used on hose fittings, which is why i've got the fixed-end one there, since most fittings use the same size. But sometimes they don't, or something else needs torquing, so packing an adjustable one is a good idea.
- Needle-nose pliers: never know when you gotta pull a tiny thing out of a tiny spot.
- Teflon tape: also called plumber's tape. Useful for quickly sealing leaks around hose fitting threads. Not always the prettiest solution, but it works.
- Electrical tape: many uses, surprisingly electrical applications is not often one of them. Sometimes a hopper is wobbly, so you wrap tape around its neck. If it's raining, wrap tape around the barrel's porting so water doesn't ruin your accuracy; also, if it's raining, wrap whatever part of your marker houses the electronics, so water doesn't short anything out.
- Duct tape: you should always have this handy, no matter what you're doing.
- Batteries: some markers are electronic, so they need batteries. Usually a 9v. Some loaders also need batteries, either 9v's or AA's. Never be without them, and always use name brands (cheap batteries perform cheaply, don't skimp).