Paintball Tactical Tips

Paintball Tactical Tips

When looking at an object or area at night make a figure eight by moving your eyes in that direction. Your peripheral picks up more than your retinas at night. By moving your eyes in a figure eight you scan the target so fast that you mind can remember it all and you can somewhat decide if you saw something or not. Its better than just looking straight at the object or area.

When patrolling at night you must keep an interval distance of no more than 8-9 meters. On a moonless night no more than 5-6.This keeps the squad separated enough so that if an ambush, mine, or grenade was thrown then they would not all be killed at once. You don’t want to be so wide apart that if contact is made you turn and hit your man just because you saw movement and you thought he was somewhere else.”Cat’s eyes”work very well. They are reflective glow strips that go on the back of a soldiers kevlar or cap. You can see these strips for quite a distance depending on light source. You can pic them up at any military surplus store. Kem-Lights are also good for night operations but give off a lot of light. They now make tiny kem-lights to replace the cat’s eye’s. The kem-lights go out and the cat’s eye’s can be sewn or glued to objects so your best bet is to go with the cat’s eye’s

At night sound travels farther and louder. Most think its due to the fact that traffic is non-existent, people are asleep, and animals are asleep for the most part. If patrolling at night hand signals and good training is a must to be affective. Simple hand signs go a long way for you in terms of stealth and coordination. Some military missions are conducted with out ANY voice commands at all. In this day and age the elite are using throat mics. These are awesome! The good ones only transmit your voice and nothing else.

If patrolling and you think you are spotted or you hear a noise “STOP”. Don’t move. Most people are seen because they are moving. Your body gives of a larger and darker form at night when you are silhouetted against thin branches and shrubs. If you know you have been seen, and contact is imminent you must act first. This is where good team coordination comes in. Your team must have trained prior for just this problem. You only have 3 choices:
1.  Attack
2.  Run
3.  Surrender.
If you decide to attack then a charge is your best bet. I know it sounds stupid but a moving target is harder to hit than a stationary target. The enemy wont expect it, and you can out run a set explosive that was pointing in the target area you were just in.Not to mention that you are probably standing right where someone has been watching and waiting just for you.If you do decide to John Wayne it then watch your lanes of fire and check your targets. Your partners could have advanced ahead of you so dont throw ordinance. You could hit them by mistake. If anyone does throw ordinance it will be the team leader more than likely.
If you decide to run then your best chance of regrouping is having a set “Rally Point”. Start doing an assessment of men and equipment. When on a patrol the pointman or the team leader will assign a rally point every mile or so. This would be different for paintball players since the battlefield is smaller. But it helps to have a pre-designated point to regroup too if you are ambushed and even if you are running a raid or getting into a hasty ambush(get into that later).
Surrendering is not an option but since I gave tips on the other I will give this advice for those that surrender. In paintball surrendering is a mental letdown for anyone who has to do it. In the real world it’s a long mental and physical road for ANYONE.I was taught that if caught be respectful as long as you have to. Be the GREY man. That means don’t stand out. DON’T volunteer info or volunteer to work all the time. DO what everyone else does. Basically make it so that you DON’T stand out in front of your captors. Remember everything that’s going on around you as much as possible. It will help if you decide to escape. There’s A LOT more to this but Im not going to go into it.

For those that smoke. A person smoking a cigarette at night gives off a 5 foot radius(at least) of light when you are looking at them through night vision. In the army we would watch groups of men huddled around each other smoking and read their rank, name, badges and unit patches. To help give you a picture of just how much you can see using NV’s; you can see their eyes as if you were seeing them in the daylight. I quit smoking while in the army just because of that fact.

Light discipline is a must to be stealthy. Using a red lens in a flashlight cuts down dramatically in giving off light plus it doesn’t kill your night vision. It takes your eyes 20-30 minutes to fully adjust to seeing in the dark. When in a conflict at night it’s a good tip to keep one eye closed .If an explosion goes off and you have both eyes open then you have lost your vision. But if you had one closed and you open it you have a better chance of seeing. NOW….that doesn’t mean you will be able to see very well but it’s better than nothing. On a side note flash bangs that are used have enough candle power to blind you even with your eyes closed so don’t think you will hold the cops off just cause you closed you eyes.

Moving at night is tricky. When moving use shadows and depressions to your advantage. When patrolling at night you must stop and listen every few minutes or so. This helps you know if any sounds are different than the normal. This also helps in catching someone off guard if they have been following you. When moving do NOT go over the tops of hills ridges and walls. Your silhouette will give you away. If you must cross over a wall at night stay flat with the wall and hug the object. Do NOT cross over the tops of hills and ridges. Take that extra time to go around.

Im not going to go into night land nav just because I would need pictures and diagrams and not going to go into all that. My biggest tip for traveling in the dark is simply don’t do it if you don’t have to. Its very easy to get lost; even in your own backyard woods. DON’T use a constellation as a guide. They actually do move. I know your saying “I knew that already” but sadly I’ve heard it told by a grown man. The north star is your best tool for a guide if you don’t have a compass. If you are lost and need a way out then your best bet is to find a river or a stream and follow it till you hit civilization.

A trap in which concealed persons lie in wait to attack by surprise on a moving or temporarily halted target. It enables a small unit to set up and destroy a larger and better armed unit.
There are 2 types of ambushes:
1.  Hasty ambush
2.  Deliberate ambush

The hasty ambush is set when imminent contact will be made. This is primarily used when you know the enemy is after you or you have seen them approaching before they saw you and you have enough time to set one up. If you don’t have time you must make a decision on whether to stay or run. If you stay you must have the advantage position wise and weapon wise. Otherwise run and find a position you can defend.

The deliberate ambush is a planned action against a target. This is primarily used on well travel routes or areas in which you have intel or have watched the target for days (months even)and have a good idea of the area. To have a successful ambush you must have good concealment. Pre-planned firing lanes are a must. This is where anti personnel ordinance is at its best. A well placed claymore can eliminate an entire platoon.
Your men must wait until the person assigned to start the ambush fires his weapon or sets off any ordinance. Hit your target and then go to your next pre-assigned target. Once the ambush has gone off (successfully I hope) you will send your security teams to close off lanes of travel, another security team will check weapons, documents, and search for POW’s. In some paintball scenario’s eliminating a certain person requires that person to hand over an object or info. Its always good to have a security element that isn’t part of the ambush line. These guys watch the ambush’s teams backs. They can also come forward to help with firepower if the ambush has gone wrong. IF the ambush has gone wrong once again go to your pre-determined rally point.
There are 2 main types of ambush formations….the Line formation and the L formation. The line formation is good for assaults after the ambush has been started. The L formation is good for having interlocking fire in which the enemy is hit by 2 different directions. Fire discipline is a must for the L formation.

Paintball Tactical Tips

The best formation in setting a good ambush is what’s best for your team and the terrain and situation. Concealment, firepower and fire discipline are the keys to eliminating your enemy before they even know what happened.

The most important rule in an ambush is this; The moment the ambush is set it is a natural thing for an untrained soldier to completely unload every round all at once into the kill zone. This is a big mistake that can cost you and your team. Let the heavy gunner do his thing, let the m-203 do its thing and just hit your target and stay in your lanes of fire.
Reconnaissance; A preliminary survey to gain information. Recon is what makes or breaks a military. Without info you’re blind. In today’s world we now have drones, planes and leg units watching targets all over the world gathering information and reporting it back to command.
When gathering intel on a unit the best way to get every bit of important info is to do what I was taught.
Its called a SALUTE report:
Size – How many do you see.
Activity – What are they doing?
Location – Where on the map are they?
Unit – Who are they? What team?
Time – When did you see this?
Equipment – What types of weapons are they carrying?
If you use that simple plan when gathering info to give to your commander then you will have every bit of info they need to make decisions. On a side note one thing they left out was which direction did they come from and where do you think they are heading? That is key when deciding to send troops and also pull the recon team out of the area.

When on a patrol and you come up and encampment or the target area they following steps are what usually happen.

  • 1.  The team sets up a defensive position.
  • 2.  Team leader radios in position and status of team and mission.
  • 3.  The team leader, radioman, and usually assistant team leader go forward to have a look around.
  • 4.  Either team leader commences forward to target or pulls team forward to advance cautiously.
  • 5.  Once recon location is verified; team sets up defense position(only if team has been moved prior to the first defensive position).Otherwise they are already in position.
  • 6.  The recon unit takes a SALUTE report and removes tracks and traces of them being there.
  • 7.  Team gets ready to move and clears area of being there. I.E. replacing blades of grass and knee and foot implants.
  • 8.  Team moves off at cautious pace.
  • 9.  Now hopefully your back home having a cold one.

When setting up the defensive position for this mission it is best to do a circle formation. This gives a 360 view. Also teams make a safety word for coming back after the recon. You don’t want to shoot your own man after doing his job now do you? It’s really called a challenge and password command. It can be set so the security team[‘s word is house and the recons team’s word is apple. If the recon team gives the wrong word then they get it. That is drilled into your head if you go into the military.

Elite units have been know to laager up and watch a section of area for months at a time. If you must set up a bivouac(temporary encampment under little or no shelter) then here are some tips to keep you from being seen.

  • 1.  If you use foliage for concealment then get it from some other area instead of your immediate area. Go 20-30 meters away, even farther if you know you will be staying there for a bit.
  • 2.  Your latrine must be 20-30 meters away from your spot. You don’t want to smell that for a month do ya? Also its unhealthy.
  • 3.  If you have to dig in get rid of the dirt. Take it somewhere else.
  • 4.  Do not use reflective optics to watch your target. It glares and then you will be seen. If you had to you could cut holes into a shirt and cover the lenses with that.
  • 5.  Don’t make noise.
  • 6.  Do not go outside during the daylight. Get your foliage at night. Get your water at night.
  • 7.  Change your foliage that you are using for concealment regularly. That’s the easiest way to spot an OP (Observation Point). A huge chunk of dead foliage around live foliage is like a big neon sign saying here I am.
  • 8.  Keep the communication equipment working and in shape at all times. You don’t want to get into something and not be able to call for help.
  • 9.  Recon teams work in shifts -1 man to 2 man shifts where one man or group sleeps while the other/s watch the target.
  • 10.  If seen a pre-determined rally point will have been set.
  • 11.  When in a OP your equipment is always packed when not being used. You don’t want to spend extra time packing up needed equipment when you could be putting some distance between you and your newly acquired friends.

This is a type of tactic used to move onto a target while being covered by others while you are in the movement phase. Some call it leap frogging.

While moving from your concealed position here are a few tips.

  • 1.  You should be moving no longer than 4-5 seconds. That’s enough time so that someone cant draw a good bead on you. In the Army they teach you a phrase to say while running to your next concealment position.”I’m up they see me I’m down”. That’s the amount of time you should be in motion.
  • 2.  While you are in motion your man or team should be covering the target and flanks. That means either watching an area or even laying down fire on a target so you can advance.
  • 3.  The next man to go will wait till he or she has reached their position and has taken aim before moving ahead. That is a must!
  • 4.  The team will move forward one man at a time.

NOW you can use this technique for moving men and even squads onto a target.

Once again it is important to know your fields of fire so that all angles and areas are covered.
Most units will use a staggered man form of fire. That is where one man looks left while the other looks right some look forward and others check their rear. That is just an example.

Do not move on an empty clip(loader).you may have to engage a target that you know sees you and will fire before you can reach safe cover. The best thing to learn is counting your shots. It saves time.
Do not run in front of the covering man line of fire unless you have to. If you do run low and as fast as u can so you do not block his sight.
Tape all loose gear to your equipment(non reflective tape).It keeps the noise down and you don’t want to loose your NVG’s or all your paint running out in the open.
Stay low and zig zag a bit while in motion. Don’t make it easy for them. Its extremely hard to hit a moving target. Especially with your adrenalin pumping, smoke, noise and what ever else is going on at the time.
If you have smoke use it if the wind is right. They cant hit what they cant see. A highly trained soldier will not fire until he has an absolute shot. the smoke will conceal movement and also set a fire at the same time if you want to start burning a gap between the 2 contacting forces.
Keep you head while under fire. Pay attention to your route. Its funny to see someone running full blast to a position only to lay themselves out due to a branch or board that was overhead. But when its you it’s a different story. So keep your head up and stay alert.

You can check our article about Tanker Tips here.


The troubled gun
The Line SI Promaster was one of the early open bolt blow-back semi-auto paintball guns, having made it’s appearance on the market shortly after the Tippmann 68-Special and PMI-III (later VM-68). The initial production gun suffered from several design flaws which quickly created a bad reputation and eventually lead to the gun’s demise. That was a real shame, because when they worked, the Promaster would shoot better than any other stock gun I have ever owned. For accuracy and consistency, no off-the-shelf blow-back being produced today even comes close. My Promasters always produced extremely consistent velocities, and Line SI always made very good barrels.

In 1991 I bought one of the early Promasters because it was the first gas operated semi-auto paint gun the company that manufactured my Bushmaster pump. (Line SI had also manufactured a double-action trigger-cocking semi-auto called the Advantage. I owned one of those for a while. It had a long, hard trigger pull.) The Promaster would use Bushmaster barrels, of which I had several. The original cost was around $400.00, and at least 4 different friends of mine also bought the gun. With Line SI’s reputation, We couldn’t wait to get our hands on the Promaster.

Most people who now see the Promaster assume incorrectly that it is just another in a long line of Spyder clones. The Promaster, while having almost identical operation and similar dimensions internally, preceded the Spyder by several years. From what I can remember, the Promaster also preceded the F-1 Illustrator, which most people give credit for the development of the Spyder . Although the Spyder design and operation is the same as an F1 Illustrator,  the Spyder should probably be considered a Promaster copy. The internal valve, valve pin, main spring, bolt, and hammer on the Spyder are very close to that of the Promaster. As a mater of fact, a lot of those parts will actually function inside of a Promaster with no modification.  This is not the case for the F-1.  The initial production Spyders even had the same color scheme as the late model Promasters. The first time I saw a Spyder, from a distance I thought it was a Promaster.

Promasters had several nice features. The barrel was removed with a simple thumb screw, exactly like the Bushmaster. The snub can be removed from the body with a thumb screw, giving easy access to the bolt, and feed chamber for cleaning. The grip frame is hinged for easy access to the trigger/sear area, although getting into this area of the gun for anything other than trigger modifications is never necessary.  The trigger shoe is held on by a single screw and is the same piece that appears on later Indian Creek Designs guns.

Teething Problems
Being one of the early blow-back semi-autos, it’s easy to see how the problems in the Promaster design were unforeseen. One of these was the connection between the rear most part of the two-tube design. While the slot for the link pin between the bolt and hammer is milled completely out on modern two-tube blow-back guns, on the Promaster it was not. There was a slot machined for the link pin, but it did not extend all of the way to the back of the gun. This caused the link pin to eventually break, as it slammed back time after time against the connecting aluminum material. The solution was to remove this material, which Line SI eventually began doing on their production guns. I did mine with a hacksaw.  This modification also made pulling the bolt/hammer combo out of the gun much easier, where before the link pin first had to be removed through a hole in the top of the gun (like the F1 Illustrator).

Another immediate problem with the gun involved the double feeding of paintballs. This was caused by the poor design of the ball detent, which was a spring-loaded metal ball in the bottom of the snub. Getting two balls per trigger pull was a fairly common occurrence, especially when using smaller balls. Naturally this led to a high occurrence of ball breakage. Later model snubs addressed the problem by placing a spring loaded lever on the side of the snub. The thumb screws seen in the pictures are used to hold the Bushmaster barrels in place. These often vibrate loose unless you really tightened them down hard – which of course means you have a hard time getting them loose. Many people replaced the thumb screws with set screws for more reliability.

The early Promasters, although flawed in design, were well built. However, within several years of production, something went awry with some guns. My friends and I heard rumors (Even from Ross Alexander with Line SI) that there were other companies producing knock-offs, or somebody was producing shoddy licensed copies, and so on. This further added to the bad reputation of the gun. After owning three different Promasters, many parts have made their way into my collection that were somewhat odd. For instance, I have six different snubs, and no two are exactly alike. Some have a dip in the breech where the ball drops while others are smoothbore.. some have rounded edges on the ball detent holder, while some are squared off .. and they each seem to have slightly different internal dimensions. I have also seen this type of inconsistency with hammers, bolts, and other parts. One of the things I had to do to get the gun operating smoothly was hone out the inside of the snub. Some of my unhoned snubs will not even allow the bolt inside, while some will kink the bolt in a bind when the snub screw is tightened.

Blow-back from Blow-back
Like many guns of it’s type, the Promaster also suffered from excessive gas in the ball feed tube, or “blow-back”, as it’s commonly called. The problem can lead to a ball chop by interfering with the ability of balls to drop into the breech in cycle with the gun under rapid firing. This especially happens when the loader jams or run out of balls and there are few balls in the feed tube and the elbow.

Some guns address this problem by mounting a “power feed”, which first appeared on the blow-forward AGD Automags, and are now standard equipment on most blow-back semi-autos. Other guns tried to address the issue by adding O-rings to the bolt. On my Promaster, I have made a multi-prong attack on the problem over the years. The first thing I did was to drill holes in the feed tube and elbow in order to relieve some of the blow-back pressure. This seemed to help a little but did not completely solve the problem. Then I made an attempt to use a small knife and carve a slot in the plastic part of the bolt for an O-ring. My first attempt failed horribly, resulting in a broken bolt. The second attempt was made on a bolt which was made from a different kind of plastic, and survives to this day, many years and cases of paintballs later. However, this had only a minimal effect of eliminating blowback.

One solution that worked very well to address the problem was to add a VL2000 agitator loader to the gun. This assured no more jamming in the loader, which meant the feed tube and elbow were always full of paint until the loader ran out. This addition alone allowed the Promaster to achieve a relatively high rate of fire without chopping balls.

Another solution to the problem is a simple one I should have realized sooner: keep liquid Co2 out of the gun! Liquid Co2 expands so much when the gun is fired that it produces a lot of excess gas (and noise). Eliminating the liquid, by whatever method, greatly reduces the “blow-back” effect. Along these same lines, lowering the operating pressure is another way to combat the problem – more on that later. As a side note, some people modified Promaster snubs with powerfeeds to address the problem.

Dead Fire
Another common problem which plagued the early guns was a recurring refusal to re-cock. It did not take very much change in the weather to throw the gun completely off. Part of this problem stemmed from the fact that the Promaster was so tunable. It has a valve that could be rotated to position any of four different size holes to the top, where gas transferred to the bolt – it has a tension adjustment for the main spring, and an adapter which adjusted the valve spring – and it had valve pins with different amounts of flat sides for controlling re-cock pressure.

Problems occurred when the velocity was off because of a change in gas pressure (temperature). It could be a very frustrating experience, and I saw several of my friends sell their guns following a tournament in which they could never get the guns to properly function. I liked the way the gun shot and was determined to make it work. The Promaster was designed much like older pump guns in that it had a tiny gas feed hole going into a relatively small valve chamber. That meant the gun required high pressure to operate. The gun used a limited volume of gas to both propel the ball and re-cock the bolt/hammer. In warm weather this was not a problem. An abundance of pressure easily overcame the volume deficiency. However, in cooler temperatures, anytime you adjusted one of those functions, you noticeably affected the other. For instance: you could change to a larger valve hole for higher velocity, but then the gun would not re-cock, and when you put in a different valve pin to make it re-cock, your velocity would drop again.

Some people tried to overcome the problem by shooting liquid Co2 in cooler weather, but this lead to ball feed “blow-back” problems (as mentioned earlier). My solution was to basically make more efficient use of the available pressure. I did this by lengthening the slots on the valve pin with a dremel tool, working on the theory that not enough of the available gas was getting to the hammer for re-cock. This is probably the single biggest improvement I have ever made to the gun. It instantly eliminated my cocking failure problem, despite the weather. However, achieving a usable velocity continued to be a problem in cooler weather.

Under Pressure
For about a year, I ran one of my Promasters on my 4500 psi HPA system. The gun required nearly 1000 psi to function properly and recharge quick enough under rapid firing. It worked very well but was not extremely efficient. From a 3000 psi fill on the 68 c.i. tank I would be lucky to get 400 to 500 shots, which is much lower than the 700 to 800 I’d get from a 20 oz Co2 tank (unfortunately the field I played at could not fill beyond 3000 psi at the time).

Since a need for higher operating pressure was the main problem this gun faced, I experimented with several methods of lowering the operating pressure.  The trick to that, like on all paintball guns, is of course to improve the airflow.  Some access to improvement was available through the multi-hole valve and changing springs, but none of this proved very effective. In fact if it was that simple I would have figured it out years ago. The problem remained that no matter how good the air flow, there simply wasn’t enough air to flow without starving the system. The valve chamber needed to be larger.

One of the earlier experiments I tried for enlarging the valve chamber area involved the use of the body from a WGP Sledgehammer low pressure regulator – the type that used to come stock on Auto-cockers. Amazingly it threaded right into the front of the Promaster, and other than removing the regulator parts, only required plugging the relief holes with set screws. The seal is not as reliable as I would like and requires a combination of an O-ring and lots of pipe tape. However, it at least works good enough to demonstrate that enlarging the valve chamber is a step in the right direction. When I first tried it, I found I could get fairly usable (mid 270s) velocity using as little as 600 psi. For a Promaster, that was nearly miraculous.

Eventually, I discovered that valve chamber extensions made for Spyders would fit the Promaster (imagine that!), although some models require some large amounts of pipe tape to seal properly.  A large Shocktech volume chamber combined with the Taso high-flow valve/valve pin also made for a Spyder (which simply drops right in) offered a great improvement in the ability to move a larger volume of gas through the system.

Getting Personal
I have made a number of modifications to my Promasters over the years that were not aimed at eliminating problems, but merely at improving performance or usability. Some of the modifications were made after seeing other Promasters, so these are not necessarily original ideas, although I did them myself.

The trigger on the Promaster was probably the best on a semi-automatic of it’s time. It was far better than the F-1 Illustrator ( I have owned 2 of those). However, it could be improved with two small set screws. One screw goes into the body just above the forward part of the trigger, while the other goes into the grip frame below the forward part of the trigger. These screws can be adjusted for take-up and over-travel and give a very short, crisp action. Warning: adjusting the over-travel screw too far can cause a full-auto response. While this may sound attractive, the gun cycles way too fast to feed paint in anything except liquid form.

The rear velocity adjuster for the Promaster is inside of the ASA. This means the Co2 bottle has to be removed before adjustments can be made. I have tried several methods of re-routing the gas feed so I didn’t have to remove the bottle just to get to the adjustment. My first idea was to re-route the gas into the front of the body by drilling and tapping a hole for a 1/8 inch NPT hose fitting. This was convenient for using a bottom-line type adapter. At times I also put a 45 degree elbow in the hole with an ASA on the end and used it as a vertical bottle gun. This modification lasted for about 5 years, until May 1999 when the threads gave and hose blew straight out. I guess years of swapping fittings finally took it’s toll. I recently drilled the hole a little deeper and again tapped it – I hope is holds for a while.

The next idea for re-routing the gas input was the addition of a vertical bottle adapter.  I got this vertical ASA one from Indian Creek Designs. It requires the drilling of three holes, and the tapping of two of them. The center hole for the gas inlet must go completely into the valve chamber. Note: Although Indian Creek Designs is known for an entirely new line of guns, they did at one time carry Promaster parts.  Once another route for gas was established to the valve chamber, the rear threads on the ASA were no longer needed – so I cut them off and polished the end. The modification requires that the rear ASA air passage be blocked, which is a simple task of tapping the air passage and inserting a set screw. This gave the gun a somewhat shorter profile. On a side note, the first production Promasters had the purple finish seen on the body of this early model.

The Ultimate Promaster?
Unlike many of the guns in my possession over the years, the Promasters were not simply “loaners” or experimentation pieces. They have served as my main guns and have both been through thousands and thousands of rounds of paint, both in rec, tournament, and scenario play. Even when I owned an AGD Minimag, the Promaster was still my first back-up and often used. In warm weather, I preferred the Promaster over the Minimag because of it’s ability to be incredibly accurate without being paint picky. Not until I acquired a PPS Blazer did I actually semi-retire the Promasters… or so I thought..

At a recent 24 hour scenario game, I aquired yet another Promaster (my fourth) and began working on what may be the ultimate version of the gun. The unique thing about this example was the snub. It was one of a hand full modified to have a powerfeed. At the same time the snub was also threaded to receive WGP Autococker barrels. For the low price of $50 (which included a stock barrel), I couldn’t resist.

The gun suffered the same familiar problem when I got it, and in fact would not even re-cock the day I bought it, despite a temperature in the mid 70’s where I was playing in Florida.  A quick run over the valve pin with my battery-powered Dremel tool and changing to a softer valve spring solved the problem. I was able to use the gun that day and thoroughly enjoyed it, although overall velocity was somewhat low. When I returned home I installed the TASO valve and valve pin, and a Shock-tech valve chamber extension which put the velocity up past 350 fps, despite colder weather (it had just snowed that weekend at home in Tennessee while I was away in Florida). A spring change and a regulated Co2 source brought the velocity down to legal limits and the gun hsa since functioned flawlessly.

With the addition of a .45 grip frame, sight, foregrip and Dye Barrel, the gun was ready to rock. Personally, I just like the way it feels, which seems to be much more solid than today’s lightwieght cookie-cutter blow-backs. I also like the back-bottle set-up, which adds to the overall comfort, and gave me something useful to do with my one Co2 tank that has a built-in regulator/valve. This configuration worked well, but was a little to bright and flashy for my taste..

The latest incarnation of Promaster #4  has all of the Spyder parts, 16 oz. anti-siphon Co2 tank with CMI regulator/pin valve and an ever increasing amount of politically incorrect cosmetic work, including an actual M16/AR15 forgrip.  It also uses the powerfeed snub and an older WGP Sniper barrel which had a 1-inch OD. I turned the front end down on a lathe for the cosmetic effect. These pictures of the gun show the “carry handle” and “flat-top” versions of the the gun. I have used this gun frequently throughout 2001 and it not only continues to work great, but has never needed anything more than a slight adjustment to the CMI regulator to account for the varying limits at different fields. It’s also a very easily pointable (?) and comfortable feeling gun in this configuration, as well as being just plain fun because of the looks it receives.

Meanwhile Promaster #1, which was modified with the vertical ASA and can be seen elsewhere in this article, has been converted and re-painted for use as my gun for night time scenario play. It includes the additon of a nightvision scope, a Palmer Stabalizer regulator, a rear cocking bolt from a Scorpion (a Spyder clone) and a few other accessories. Unlike the #4, this one has the stock Promaster valve and valve pin, since attaining what would normally be considered a “usable” velocity isn’t important for night play, where limits are lower. It also has the WGP regulator body for a valve chamber extension as described earlier.

The morale of the story here? If you have a Promaster which doesn’t function, thank Kingman for building such a nice copy. Because of the success of the Spyder, many aftermarket parts are available which can turn a finicky Line SI Promaster into something that actually works – and works well.  Not only that, you can have a lot of fun as people at your local field try to guess what kind of gun it is, and try to argue that it’s just another Spyder copy.

How Modern Tippman Valves Work

How Modern Tippman Valves Work

The valve assemblies found in paintball guns manufactured by Tippmann Pneumatics Inc. aren’t particularly designed for easy disassembly, and realistically there is no reason they should be. Leaks or other problems with Tippmann valves are rare, and in those rare cases Tippmann is very good about repairing or replacing the assembly as a whole. The company does not recommend owners disassemble the valves. Most owners of Tippmann guns will never see the inside of the valve system. This page is for those who are curious about how modern Tippmann valves work.

In the early days of paintball, Tippmann Pneumatics entered the scene with one of the first autoloading paintball guns, the SMG-60. Where pump guns of the day utilized a valve system to release gas to propel the ball, the SMG-60 had a valve which released gas to not only propel the ball, but to also blow the action of the gun back into a cocked position. Early Tippmann guns used a floating valve, which actually opened on two ends to let gas escape and perform the required duties. This system was used on the companies first “box fed” or “gravity fed” semi-automatics such as the .68 Special and Pro am. The rear bolt (a.k.a. hammer or striker) would strike the back of the valve, moving the entire valve assembly forward. As the assembly would impact the rear of the valve tube, plungers on both sides would be pushed opened to allow gas to escape.


With later guns, such as the .68 Carbine, Pro Carbine, Model 98, and A-5, a stationary valve is utilized, releasing gas from only one opening. After it leaves the valve, the gas is routed in two directions to both propel the ball and blow the action back into it’s cocked position. The valves are made of aluminum, with brass and steel internal parts. In the .68 Carbine and Pro Carbine, the valves are mounted directly in the gun bodies, behind aluminum valve tubes which direct gas through the front bolt to impact the ball. On both the Model 98 and A-5, the valves are mounted inside of a black plastic valve tube, making for a conveniently sealed unit which can be easily replaced as a whole.

The animation shows a Model 98 valve. When the trigger is pulled, the sear releases the rear bolt. The rear bolt is carried forward by the drive spring and strikes the valve plunger. The plunger moves allowing gas to escape the valve. While part of the gas rushes rearward to blow the rear bolt backwards, part of the gas rushes over 4 channels milled into the outside of the valve, and forward through the valve tube to impact the ball. The valve spring then pushes the plunger back into a closed position.

There are some differences in modern Tippmann valves. While the newer Model 98 and A-5 valves have four milled channels on the outside over which gas passes toward the front of the gun, the older .68 Carbine and Pro Carbine valves have two flat sides. Although the internal diameter is the same, due to length and internal parts size differences the Model 98 and A-5 valves have a slightly larger volume capacity than the older .68 Carbine style valves.

The A-5 marks at least the fourth production model in which this same basic valve system has been used. The simplicity in the design of the modern Tippmann valve systems, along with the use of quality materials, translates into an almost unmatched level of reliability in the paintball industry – which obviously translates into success for the company.

Tanker Tips

Tanker Tips


The military calls it mechanized.  You call it riding around in some kick $@% vehicle last weekend when you played paintball.

I love the fact that paintball has evolved into what it is today. My father introduced me to paintball in 1989. The Sheridan pump pistol was all they rented. And those with the Bushmasters ruled. But what I wanted even then was to go to a game where a hundred or more would do scenarios. So here we are today and we even have people who bring mock military machinery to use in these hundred to even thousands of people scenario games.

How to deploy from a vehicle while under fire or even just deploying into Indian country.

  • 1. Watch your body parts while entering and exiting the vehicle. It’s very easy to have a body part slammed, pinched, and banged around while entering and exiting under hostile circumstances.
  • 2. Prior positioning (and training is the key for this so train) get together and say “ok when we get out you will go here and you will go here etc. .”
  • 3. You must cover every angle and keep low. The gunner for the vehicle will be going to town on the enemy if you are in a hot zone. Have 360 degrees covered. That means out of all the men you have, adding everyone’s position and field of fire they will equal up to having every angle covered.
  • 4. Get 10-20 meters away from the vehicle the minute you exit. The vehicles draw fire and you are in the path of those rounds. Plus, if the vehicle detonates it can take you and your men out.
  • 5. Once you have drawn your weapon; exited the vehicle and taken your assigned position, you will now go prone (laying down position). This gives the enemy less of a target.
  • 6. Your team leader will decide to either Charlie Mike (Continue Mission), OR scramble back onto the vehicles and get out of dodge going cyclic on the weapons.
  • 7. Deploy smoke to block their view if you must move from the area on foot. A good I.A.Drill is best for moving from the hostile area on foot.
  • 8. Engage targets and move when told by team leader. You can deploy ordinance if you are within range. Your team will not get up until killed or told to move.

In today’s battles victory is not won by man or machine alone. The tank cannot survive without soldiers protecting it. In today’s military tank platoons are accompanied by mechanized ground pounders. If a tank is ambushed by many targets then the mech comes in to help out. I DON’T SEE THIS IN PAINTBALL! I can’t tell you how many times I’m off the road watching the enemy tank go down all by itself into no mans land. Where is the support? A tank commander should talk to his general and have no less than 3 men assigned to just follow the tank around. It is too too easy in paintball to take out tanks. So here are some tips for ground pounders who run with the tank.

  • 1. Stay 10 feet away from the tank! It’s the Rules! (at most fields) You wouldn’t stand right beside a tank in the real world anyway. They rotate on a dime and you will loose a leg or even worse all of you.
  • 2.  If the tank engages a target make sure you have your flanks secured. Expect a flank attack on the opposite the tank is engaging.
  • 3. Engage what the tank is targeting as well if you have the right ammo for the job. It will save ammo for one of you. And that other could save you later on.
  • 4. Let the tank take point but don’t be so far back you can’t see his front view as well.
  • 5. If the tank is hit the least you can do is avenge his death. It will also clear the way for the next tank if there is one.
  • 6. Use what they have against them. If you have enough anti tank guys; assign them to the mechanized group. Let them fire right back at those who are hiding in bunkers and bases attacking the tank. DO NOT SHOOT AT INDIVIDUALS WITH A LAUNCHER! Do I need to repeat it?
  • 7. In most cases if a tank is hit it just has to drive back to its insertion point. Wait for it till it comes back if you are assigned to it. You can set up an ambush and kill many just waiting for it to come back. Plus, gather info and help out a unit till it gets back. If that unit pushes on, after helping it stay and wait for the tank.
  • 8. Once reunited follow step 1-6.

I have never ridden in a tank(on it, yes) so I don’t know a lot but I will tell you what I know from having a tanker father who also went Airborne and Mp. So these are not SOP for military but what I would do if I was riding around in a coffin.

  • 1. Make foot soldiers follow me .Not just ride around in it.
  • 2. Make a cannon to fire nerf footballs. I can’t tell you how many alleged tanks I have seen which do not have a cannon, but instead have port holes and double paint ball guns. You can make a launcher if you take the time and want to spend about 100.00 bucks. I mean you took the time to make a vehicle into a paintball toy, why not go all the way.
  • 3. Do not use plexiglass for your windows. You will not be able to see after your first go around on the battlefield. Use netting! ITS ONLY PAINT,.IT WILL WASH OFF OF YOU!
  • 4. Assign someone to retrieve your rockets. Even if they are eliminated trying to get it, I can’t imagine someone telling them they couldn’t get it AS long as they didn’t run back up to the tank to let them use it again.
  • 5. Destroy everything!
  • 6. Wait for another tank to help assist on hitting a well defended target. Even if the enemy anti-tank team gets one tank, the other has a chance of spotting and hitting the target.
  • 7. Be safe driving out there.

For tips on Paintball Tactics you can check out our article here.

Game Variations for small groups


Sniper rules offers a chance for players to improve both teamwork and individual skills, while enjoying a unique playing experience. It’s basically an all vs. one game, but can that too can be modified. The idea is for a sniper to bury himself in the woods, and the rest of the group to hunt.

The sniper is allowed time to set-up and hide before the hunters are let loose on the field. The win conditions are set before the game starts and depend on what kind of challenge both the sniper and hunters want to take. For example, the conditions might be that the sniper wins if he eliminates only one of the hunters. This offers more of a challenge to the hunters who must operate in a fashion designed to protect everyone. The conditions could also be that the sniper has to eliminate a specified amount of the hunters to secure a win. This obviously puts more of the challenge on the sniper.

A variation is to limit the ammo capacity and rate of fire of the sniper (such as using a pump gun). In return, the sniper gets to shoot at a higher velocity than everyone else. For example, while the sniper is allowed to chrono at 300 f.p.s.,  other players must chrono to a maximum of 260 f.p.s.  This gives the sniper some advantage in range.


In Tag, the group of players are divided into two equal teams, and switch teams when they get eliminated. The game is over when everyone is finally on the same team. When a player gets eliminated, he becomes neutral and must first tag up with the player who shot him before he becomes a part of that player’s team. It is the eliminated player’s responsibility to go to the player who shot him. The neutrality rule keeps the eliminated player from immediately getting shot again by his former team mates, and the tag rule keeps the eliminated player from immediately switching sides and simply shooting people around him.

Tag can end very quickly or can go on indefinitely depending on how events transpire. A 3 on 3 situation can quickly deteriorate to 5 on 1, then within minutes go right back to 3 on 3 with a completely different combination of players from the original teams. The situation can continually change with no apparent end in sight, which means it may require a lot of paint and air, unless a time deadline is set. In Tag there is no clear cut winner – the game isn’t about winning. It’s about playing time. No one sits out on the sidelines while others continue to play, and players get a chance to try out a variety of team combinations.


This game is a fairly common theme in paintball, but there are several variations that can be applied to keep it interesting. The way we play this game is to put a smaller amount of players on the top of a hill with better cover such as a fort, while the larger group tries to advance up the hill and take the position. The defenders up hill also have the advantage of altitude which means less lobbing for longer shots. Since they are stationary, they can also keep more supplies in the fort. The goals for each team can be set in one of several ways, such as elimination of the opposition, or reaching a certain point on the field of play. Restrictions can also be set on where the teams are allowed to go, such as prohibiting the defending team from traveling outside the immediate area of their fort.

Our field is set up where despite having smaller numbers, the defenders definitely have the advantage and sometimes enjoy a situation in which they are shooting fish in a barrel. The attackers have a challenge to face and absolutely have to use team work to achieve their objective. It’s not easy, but that’s part of what makes attacking a favorite among some of us.



“Two-tube” refers to the stacked body style, where the internal parts ride in parallel tubes. Sheridan, the company which at one time produced a series of pump paintball guns for Pursuit Marketing Inc. (PMI) produced the game’s first successful two-tube blow-back semi-automatic, the PMI-III (later renamed VM-68 when sold directly by Sheridan).  The operational system of the PMI-III was basically a modification of the system Sheridan used in it’s pump guns (which actually dates back to the company’s earlier pellet guns). After being manually cocked, the hammer in the pump system would be released and carried forward by a spring and strike a valve, which would release gas directed through the bolt to impact the paintball. In the PMI-III, the valve would also simultaneously release gas directed toward the hammer to blow it back into a cocked position, hence the name blow-back. Since the PMI-III hit the market in the early 1990’s, many other two-tube blow-back systems have come along (and some have since gone). The concept has been refined, and nearly perfected over the last decade. It’s overall simplicity, efficiency, reliability and low cost make it among the most popular systems in the industry.

The Parts
Actual specifics of the internal parts vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but these are the basics of most modern stacked tube blow-back semi-automatics.

1.   Bolt
2.   Hammer
3.   Valve
4.   Valve pin
5.   Cup Seal
6.   Valve Spring
7.   Main Spring
8.   Bumper
9.   Rear Cap
10.  Valve Screw
11.  Trigger Spring
12.  Trigger
13.  Trigger Latch
14.  Sear Spring
15.  Sear
16.  Frame Screw
17.  Gas Hose
18.  Grip Frame
19.  Barrel
20. Front Cap

How the Valve Works

The valve system is the heart of the blow-back semi-automatic. It hold gas in the valve chamber, and when opened by a strike of the hammer, releases gas in two directions simultaneously – upward into the bolt to propel the ball, and rearward to blow the linked bolt and hammer back into a cocked position.  In most two-tube blow-backs, the gas directed toward re-cocking travels across a flat cut-out on the valve pin, however, some models such as the Diamond GT, have an extra hole in the front of the valve which allows dispersal of the re-cock gas.

How the system Works

Cocked Gun
Blow-backs fire from an open-bolt position, where the bolt is in an “open” position, with a ball in the breech, before the trigger is pulled. When the gun is initially charged up, the linked bolt and hammer must be manually pulled to the rear of the gun, which compresses the main spring, cocking the gun. The bolt hammer combo, which is under pressure from the main spring, is held in place by the sear.

Forward Stroke
When the trigger is pulled, it lifts the front of the sear. As the sear pivots, the rear lowers, releasing the bolt/hammer combo, which is carried forward by the decompressing main spring. The bolt pushes the waiting ball into the bore of the barrel. The sear spring pulls the sear back and down (note the sear not only pivots, but also moves back and forth).

Valve Action
As the hammer comes forward striking the valve pin, the pin moves the connected cup seal away from the valve, allowing gas (blue) to flow into the valve. The gas moves through the valve in two directions (blue arrows), both up and through the bolt to impact the ball, and back to impact the hammer, blowing the linked bolt/hammer combo back toward the rear of the gun (see closer detail on the valve above.)

Rearward Stroke
As the bolt/hammer combo travels back, it compresses the main spring, and travels across the sear. Meanwhile the next ball in the feed tube drops into the breech. Traveling rearward, the bolt/hammer combo impacts the rubber bumper in the back of the gun, which saves the end cap from damage. The bolt/hammer combo then returns slightly forward and is caught by the sear, pushing the sear forward. Meanwhile when the user releases the trigger, it is returned to it’s “at rest” position by the trigger spring. The gun is then ready to fire again.

Full Animation

A few notes about the above animation: For purposes of clarity, the animation runs substantially slower than an actual blow-back. Unrestricted by the sear, a two-tube blow-back can easily cycle in excess of 20 times in a single second.  The animation also features a trigger with a retractable, spring-loaded trigger latch, which allows the trigger to pass the sear smoothly as it returns to it’s rested position. The retractable trigger latch appears on guns like Spyders and Piranhas, but is not a feature on all blow-backs.

The most common way to adjust velocity of the paintballs fired by blow-back semi-autos is to control the tension of the main spring. This can be achieved in several ways. On modern blow-backs, a spring tension adjuster (a.k.a. velocity adjuster) is often located in the rear cap of the gun. It consist of a screw which moves the spring guide (located inside the rear of the main spring) back and forth, thus putting more or less tension on the main spring. With more tension, the hammer strikes the valve pin harder, releasing more gas and increasing paintball velocity. With less tension, the opposite occurs. If the adjustment range of the screw is not enough to achieve the desired velocity, changing the main spring may be necessary. Most modern blow-backs have aftermarket spring kits available, which include color-coded springs of varying tension. If no alternate springs are available, with the proper size shims, a ball bearing, or other objects, the tension on the main spring can be increased. On the other hand, tension can be decreased by cutting the main spring, but that should be considered a final option, since it is not reversible.

Valve spring adjustments can also effect velocity, however the valve spring is not as easily accessed as the main spring, since the gun must be de-gassed first. More tension on the valve spring means the valve closes quicker, and less gas is released, resulting in a lower velocity. Less tension on the valve spring will result in the valve staying open longer, more gas released, and a higher velocity. The options for adjustment include swapping springs, using shims, or cutting the spring. Because the area is under gas pressure, few blow-back guns have ever featured tension adjustment screws for the valve spring (although it was an option on the Line SI Promaster)

Far less common and not so easily accessed ways of controlling the velocity on blow-back semi-autos involve physically changing the valve system and other parts of the gun. For instance, the shape of the valve pin can help determine how much of the gas is used for propelling the ball, and how much is used for re-cocking the action, while the hole in the top of the valve can determine the volume of gas allowed to flow into the bolt to propel the ball. Early blow-back semi-autos actually had parts made to allow adjustments in these areas, but the concept contributed to the complexity of the gun and was abandoned in later blow-backs. In modern blow-backs, such adjustments are only for those who like to tinker.

One thing to keep in mind when tuning a blow-back is that the amount of gas being released by the valve also affects the ability of the gun to re-cock. If the volume and/or pressure of the gas being released is too low, the gun will not have enough gas to re-cock. This often results in the “dead” effect where the gun simply does not try to re-cock after firing a shot, or the “full auto” effect where the gun tries to re-cock, but cannot blow the bolt/hammer back far enough to catch the sear, causing the hammer/bolt to come forward again, strike the valve open, and repeat the process. These effects are especially pronounced when trying to use the gun to with inadequate pressure (cold weather Co2 operation, or a tank running out of gas). In most cases, getting the correct spring combination, or adequate tank pressure will address the problem.

Common Problems
From a standpoint of parts failure, the cup seal takes the honor of “most likely suspect” in two-tube blow-back semi-automatics. Cups seals are made of plastic or some other semi-soft material, and hold gas inside the valve chamber by sealing the valve. Cup seals can be damaged by debris in the gas system, or sometimes just wear out. They are generally inexpensive and replacing one is a fairly simple matter, however, often a cup seal can be repaired through cleaning. Leaking gas heard down the barrel is indicative of a faulty cup seal.

Another source of problems with blow-back semi-automatics is O-ring failure. Depending on the design of the gun, a blow-back can have in excess of a half of a dozen o-rings. Although the failure of any of the O-rings could possibly stop the gun dead in it’s tracks, there are only a few which are critical to the operation of the system. O-rings such as the ones located on the bolt are meant to help seal the gas in as it passes from the valve through the bolt, but the gun will operate without them. However, if those o-rings break, they could leave enough debris to jam up the action. The O-ring on the front of the hammer is a little more important. It helps the hammer catch the gas from the valve directed for re-cocking. With enough gas pressure, some blow-backs will function without the hammer O-ring, but having the O-ring in place makes the process more efficient. The more critical O-rings are the two that seal the valve chamber. The O-ring on the valve itself which seals the chamber usually suffers damage only during the removal or installation of the valve. If it is damaged, the result can be gas leaking down the barrel, much like a faulty cup seal. The O-ring on the front cap must be in working order or the valve chamber will not be sealed, and gas will leak from around the cap.

Although any hard part on a two-tube blow-back can wear out after heavy use, it usually takes tens of thousands of rounds before that happens. Among the most common hard parts to wear out is the sear. If the rear edge of the sear is broken, chipped, or worn down, it may not catch the hammer as it returns to it’s re-cocked position. This is usually evident upon inspection of the sear.

The Basics
The list of possible modifications to improve performance could go on for days. However, for most players, those modifications should be considered “wants” as opposed to “needs”.  Right off the shelf, modern two-tube blow-backs offer decent performance at a decent price, and are easy to use in an effective manner. When well maintained, they are probably more reliable than any other system available in paintball, and easy to repair if they fail. Taken as a whole, blow-back semi-automatics probably offer the best value among all paintball guns.