Paintball has evolved from an underground sport to a major extreme sport with players from many walks of life participating in its fast-paced action. Unfortunately, the sport can be quite expensive when starting out as a novice. Luckily, you can make an inexpensive paintball marker from parts found at your local hardware store.
1. Understand the principles involved. The paintball gun simply converts stored energy to kinetic energy. Some sort of compressed gas (often compressed air) is stored in a reservoir (or pressure vessel) and released suddenly down a constrictive pathway, propelling the paintball from the pathway to the target. It is a simple concept that can be easily understood and used to make a paintball pistol.
2. Design your project around household items. PVC plumbing pipes and fittings can be ideal for creating the barrel, pressure vessel and trigger mechanism for the paintball marker. Three-quarter inch PVC piping should accommodate the standard .68 caliber paintballs found at most stores. Look for valves with large handles for quick release of stored energy for your trigger mechanism. The PVC piping used for the air reservoir needs to be pressure tested to ensure that it can stand up to the forces exerted by compressed air. To fill the pressure vessel with air, a standard tire inflation valve can be installed.
3. Assess and refine your skills. If you are accustomed to working with PVC pipe, fittings, solvents and glues, then this project shouldn’t offer too much of a challenge. However, if you have no experience with these products, consider talking to someone who is more knowledgeable (such as the clerk in the plumbing department at your local hardware store). Also, it is advisable to buy extra parts as back-up in case you make a mistake.
4. Put it together. Once you have designed your project, feel comfortable with your skills, and have purchased the necessary parts, it is time to assemble the paintball pistol. It is a good idea to do any prep work (such as cutting your pipe to the correct length and test-fitting your parts without glue) before you begin making the paintball gun. Once you begin, you need to glue your components together and allow adequate curing time.
5. Test the paintball gun for safety. Commercial paintball guns undergo a battery of tests to ensure their safety for use on people in paintball games. Most homemade paintball markers lack the sophistication (such as air pressure regulators) to safely be used for such purposes. Try your paintball pistol out in a controlled environment, enjoy it safely and decide if you would like to upgrade to a commercial model.