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Query About UK Paintball Marker Laws

Alex1

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Jun 30, 2020
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Hi,

First, let me say I'm new to anything paintball-related, so please excuse my ignorance, which I expect will become apparent!!

I'm thinking of getting a paintball marker for some fun target practice at home. I often shoot air guns in my house, but I'm looking for something with less ricochet-potential, for shooting cans etc in my garden.

The problem that I'm having is that, because this marker won't be used for shooting at other people, I'm not concerned with paintball velocity in that regard, so I'd like to know how roughly how high I can set the velocity whilst still remaining within the law in the UK. I realise that velocity isn't everything by any means, but I'd like to have it set fairly high to help maintain a flatter trajectory so I can shoot at longer ranges with reasonable accuracy.

The real issue is that I can't seem to find any definitive answer as to what the law is regarding paintball marker power in the UK. The problems I'm having are:
- Some places say that markers are legally classified as "air weapons", but not "firearms" whilst others say that they are classed as "firearms". Even the Home Office's own guidance seems to contradict itself on this point.
- Some places say that they're classed as "air pistols", and limited to 6ft/lb muzzle energy, while others say they're classed as rifles and thus limited to 12ft/lb.
- Further places, such as posts by a person on this forum who was said to be a firearms officer, say that they're classed as "gallery guns" and that they are limited, by case law from the late 1980s, to 300fps (not 6 or 12ft/lb). However, after much research, I'm unable to find any reference to "gallery guns" in the legislation (except in the context of .22RF rifles), nor am I able to find any reference to the aforementioned court case, involving Bernie Fair, which apparently set this limit. Nevertheless, this 300fps limit is often quoted.

Consequently, I was wondering whether anyone here knows definitively what the law is regarding velocity/muzzle energy of paintball markers in the UK. It all seems very contradictory and confusing, and I'm not sure even the Home Office know for sure what the law is.

Sorry for the long post!

Thanks!

Alex.
 

Tom

Tom
Nov 27, 2006
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Air weapons are a classification in firearms legislation
So paintball guns/markers are firearms and air weapons

Exceed 12 ft pounds and it would not be considered a ‘low power air weapon’ and would be treated as a section 1 firearm

It can be argued that paintball guns aren’t ‘rifles’ and are therefore pistols, which would require 6 foot pounds to be a low power air weapon

The Bernie Fair case was long ago, and also related to CO2 as before High Pressure Air came to paintball it didn’t qualify under airguns (this was ignored in England but caused cases against Scottish sites)
It established 300 and something as a guide
(12 foot pounds on an ‘average’ paintball would be the energy at 300 and something fps)


Sadly I think the poster you are referring to will be Gommie, who passed away early this year

The key element against firearms legislation is in relation to lethality. As paintball guns are designed to shoot paintballs these are considered ‘frangible’
With all law subject to interpretation it would take a case to go to court and decide what is the final answer

The Home Office interpret that paintball guns are low powered air weapons, and could shoot to the 300 and something FPS. Best practice maximises at 300fps on the tournament field and usually 280fps on general events.


Assuming you have safety covered, are suitably away from footpaths & the public highway and don’t upset anyone then you can happily shoot at 300fps

If you want a flatter trajectory then First Strikes have been tested and approved as frangible. They are similar to a pellet shape and will fly straighter - but suddenly drop. (Though they cost more per shot)

The optimum doesn’t come from maximum velocity. The mixture of balls and barrels will have an optimum velocity.
Start at 300fps, fine tune a barrel match with sizers to fit your current ball batch such as the freak system. Then gradually dial down velocity and fire test shots. You may find the best results are a few FPS below

There is some information on the Hammerhead website, and they used to have a guide to fine tuning barrels and velocity




 

Alex1

New Member
Jun 30, 2020
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Hi Tom,

Thanks for your detailed reply. That clears up a lot of things for me.

You are correct about the poster I was referring to. I'm very sorry to hear that he passed away.

That's interesting about the First Strike ammo that you mention. I will have to try that. It doesn't really matter about the extra cost as I'm not going to be firing anwhere near as many shots as might be fired during typical paintball gun usage anyway.

Thanks for the info about tuning barrels and velocity. I'll look into that. I realise that it's probably unlikely to ever be as accurate as an air rifle, but the more accuracy I can achieve, the better!

I'm still not totally clear on the firearm/not a firearm thing, as although you say that markers are considered a firearm due to being considered an air weapon, the guidance on firearms licensing law does say that paintball markers "should not be considered to be firearms". However, it's probably irrelevant, as it looks like I'll be best off shooting at a velocity around 280-300fps anyway.

Alex.
 

BOD

The brotherhood
Aug 1, 2003
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I take it you have a really big garden, at normal velocity you should be able to get reasonably accurate shots at 80-100ft with a good gun and barrel and paint.
 

BOD

The brotherhood
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you also need to consider that paintballs are designed to be shot at what the industry deems to be the standard velocity, which is set by tournaments and the like around the world , so once you start going above that you may find they just break in the barrel and all you'll be shooting is splatter.
 

Alex1

New Member
Jun 30, 2020
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you also need to consider that paintballs are designed to be shot at what the industry deems to be the standard velocity, which is set by tournaments and the like around the world , so once you start going above that you may find they just break in the barrel and all you'll be shooting is splatter.
Ah right, yes, I did wonder if that may happen!! I'll stick to the standard.

Also, regarding the garden, it's not especially large, but there is a long stretch that I can use which is not far short of 80ft. It sounds like the markers can be more accurate than I remember (I haven't used one in a while).
 

Tom

Tom
Nov 27, 2006
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Ah right, yes, I did wonder if that may happen!! I'll stick to the standard.

Also, regarding the garden, it's not especially large, but there is a long stretch that I can use which is not far short of 80ft. It sounds like the markers can be more accurate than I remember (I haven't used one in a while).
In 80’ you should expect the ability for accurate shots.

Most people’s experience of paintball is at the rental level, with guns selected for maintainability and reliability to actually shoot with lots of abuse, and paint at a grade that could be in stock for some time - sites only know how many people they have booked, they don’t know how many won’t bother to turnup, how many extras arrive or the mix of light & heavy wallets. The site isn’t worried if paintballs don’t break on every impact - players are in game for longer and shoot more
The greatest disaster on a rental site is to run out of paint. They will stock up in bulk and may not have the best storage conditions.

Look after your gun, use decent paint that is suitable for your price, longevity, fragility etc. If you keep paint for some time then leave as many bags as possible sealed, use a sealable container for open bags, rotate boxes in storage, keep it at an ambient temperature.

They still won’t fly in a perfectly straight line, but good paint will fly straight within your garden and consistency plus experience will put the paint where you think it’s pointing
 

Tom

Tom
Nov 27, 2006
3,878
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Salisbury
www.TaskForceDelta.co.uk
If you try first strike then that’s produced in a different way (as it is half a ball with fins) and has a different paint mix then most other paintballs
So you would be unlikely to notice minor changes between batches

With normal paintballs you won’t need the super duper ultra fragile premium tournament paint. They should come with more precision and consistency in batch’s, but at a price. (Some brands have an extra resealable bag so you can look after unused leftover from open bags)

You probably want to avoid the bottom of the range rental grade. It’s made cheaply and intended to survive. Hard shells won’t bother you for target shooting, but poor grade shells with ridge lines could off balance it in flight

Look mid range.
(You may also find the same paint out of the factory in different ‘grade’ levels - either the batch failed quality control of a higher grade, or the production line needs to produce x amount of each grade to meet the orders)

If possible collect paint from a retailer - save on postage costs (depending on how far you need to travel) but also minimise the risk of damage in transit.
You collect the boxes and you’ll look after your money, get it delivered and they are just more boxes in the back of a couriers van with fragile on the label
(If retailers are far from you then check out events where traders will be attending)
Don’t be too concerned about some breakage - look at the bags before opening
A bit greasy or sweaty is due to the grade of paint, storage conditions and age
A couple of broken balls in transit will make a bit of a mess in the bag. Roll the balls around on a towel to clean off
(If you were an elite team at a tournament you’d be rejecting any breaks)
If you’ve collected from a shop then you majorly reduce the risk of transit damage


Price - buying in bulk looks attractive. But you’re really only going to save at the pallet level. Saving a little bit of £ could be counter productive when the majority is sat taking up space at home and degrading
 

Tony Harrison

What is your beef with the Mac?
Mar 13, 2007
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You could just buy an airsoft RIF.

Lower price than paintball markers, higher velocity, no mess to clean up, less noise, airsoft pellets don't get damaged in transit or break in bags, etc....

Just an alternative, as many paintball players play airsoft.
 
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Alex1

New Member
Jun 30, 2020
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Thanks Tom for your really informative responses! All that info is super-helpful!!

You are correct that my only experiences come from rental kit, and I remember that they were reasonably accurate, but used to swerve away at longer distances. I'll probably buy a few different brands of paint and some first strikes and try them out. I'm obviously not looking for pinpoint accuracy, as that's not really what paintball guns are made for, but it will be fun seeing how consistent I can make it!

Tony: Yes, I see your point. However, I do already have a couple of airsoft guns, and they're pretty accurate, but they haven't really got the power to knock cans over etc, and they tend to ricochet around (e.g. over my fence), which isn't really ideal, hence my idea of the paintball gun!