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How to Clean a Paintball Gun

Paintball is becoming a popular sport around the world and continues to grow every year. The extreme sport is listed as one of the fastest growing hobbies with more than ten million players a year.

As the hobby grows more and more popular, you'll likely be excited to get out there and start paint balling. But to do that, you'll want to learn how to clean a paintball gun, to ensure the best possible results when you’re on the field. Read on for an easy, informative guide on how to clean a paintball gun.

What You Need

Cleaning a paintball gun is much easier than you may think. One of the first things that you will want to pick up is a paintball gun cleaning kit. This is easy enough to obtain from most sporting stores and will usually include a squeegee and swab.

You'll also want to keep some paintball gun oil nearby so that you can use it when the time comes. Some brands refer to this as "paintball grease" instead, so don't worry if you can't find the exact term. Either of these will do just fine.

A general toolkit is a good thing to have with you. You will be doing some disassembly with a thorough cleaning. A few common tools like a variety of small screwdrivers is likely all you will need.

You may want to bring your phone or a camera to take before and after pictures. This can help with reassembly, which can be confusing the first few times you clean your paintball gun. Bring a small bristled brush such as a toothbrush for scrubbing.

Finally, make sure your area is set up and organized. There will be many small parts and you don't want to accidentally lose a gear or screw. Put out containers to keep the pieces organized and trackable, as well as something to cover the surface such as a towel if need be.

Safety First

When setting up your area, one of the first things that you will want to do is de-gas your gun. The vast majority of paintball markers will operate using CO2 tanks or a similar gas - some have been known to work on propane, for example. No matter what gas you are using, ensure that your gun is de-gassed before beginning. Also, be sure to have a barrel cover over the end of your barrel. 

This will remove the chance of an accidental firing while cleaning or disassembling. It also can prevent any sort of swift discharge of the gas that can be hazardous both to you and your gear. 

Some paintball markers will also have batteries. If your model uses batteries for anything, ensure that they are removed before you begin. Batteries are easily punctured and can leak somewhat easily, and will only be a hazard if they remain in your gun while cleaning.

How to Clean a Paintball Gun

When you have your area set up and your gun de-gassed with all batteries removed, you are ready to begin cleaning. This will be done in many small steps. Make sure you stay organized as you go to keep everything as simple as possible.

One thing that is important to note is that all guns are different. Consult your manufacturer's model to see the specifics of how to clean your paintball marker. The following is a list of general tips and areas of focus, but the exact details will depend on your exact paintball marker.

How to Clean a Paintball Gun Barrel

One of the first - and easiest - steps is to clean your paintball gun barrel. For this, you may want to keep a second squeegee nearby in case there's too much for one to clean. This will prevent you from having to stop and go rinse your squeegee in the middle of the process.

If your barrel is removable (most are simply unscrewed and removed) then cleaning will be much easier. Simply unscrew the barrel and run your squeegee or paintball barrel swab through the interior, pulling it through. You'll want to take several passes and use some sort of cleaner - even water works well for this.

One of the most important steps is to make sure that you let the barrel dry thoroughly when you're done. It's a good idea to dry it yourself rather than blow-drying it or letting it air dry. Leaving the water in the tube can lead to rust and corrosion, forcing you to purchase a replacement barrel or marker.

It's important to note that gunk will build up in the barrel of your paintball marker. You're firing balls of paint down a small tube at a high rate, so don't think you can get away without this crucial maintenance. Removing the debris and gunk will increase accuracy as well as lengthen the life of your barrel.

Cleaning the Body of a Paintball Marker

For this particular step, you'll be happy you have the tools needed to clean small areas. Your paintball gun has dozens of small nooks and crannies that you wouldn't be able to reach otherwise. Still, many areas will likely need a squeegee or paintball swab to clean.

One important detail is to make sure whatever tool you're using isn't being forced into the nooks and crannies that you'll be scouring of grime. Even something as soft as a squeegee can cause damage to the smaller, more delicate parts or run the risk of deforming your gun. Make sure your tools are the ones you need for your job.

This is a good time to use that toothbrush you laid out earlier, or your barrel swab. If you use cotton swabs (or any sort of towel), make sure you aren't leaving small fibers behind. Using warm water can also help to get rid of the grime, but make sure that you thoroughly dry the parts after!

Hopper and Magazine Maintenance

Barrels are barrels and will usually be cleaned similarly across all guns. The same can't be said for the paintball hopper, or loader. If you aren't familiar with the term, the hopper is the large, usually oblong oval shaped reservoir that feeds paintballs into the marker.

Your hopper, thankfully, usually won't get too dirty unless you've had some sort of malfunction that caused a ball to rupture inside. As this piece is commonly just fed paintballs and then pushes them downwards, there isn't much room for there to be as much mess as the more intricate pieces show.

Still, you'll want to do a decent bit of maintenance all the same. Make sure the reservoir itself is cleaned well, especially of any dust or dirt that it might feed into your gun. Once you move to the mechanical portion, things will get a bit more complicated.

Hopper set-ups are varied, but many use spring-loaded hoppers for their paintball markers. If you do this, disassemble the hopper with a screwdriver and carefully pull apart the magazine. Predictably, this piece is spring loaded, so be extremely careful to prevent the springs from shooting out.

Clean the grooves you'll see with a microfiber cloth and make sure you aren't leaving any fabrics behind. This is a good time to make sure the string of your spooler isn't becoming worn down or malfunctioning. Once this is done, carefully piece the magazine back together and reassemble.

Bolt, Hammer, and Grip

The bolt and hammer will need to be removed and cleaned with a wet cloth. Again, ensure you're using a microfiber cloth and not leaving any fibers behind to become problems later. Air dry these pieces to prevent corrosion.

You should also take this time to inspect the O-rings on the bolt and hammer. These are the small circular rubber rings that are around many of the smaller pieces, usually black or tan on most markers. If these appear worn, replace them before reassembling your paintball marker to prevent the gun from failing.

This is also a great time to go ahead and get working on your grip frame. Along with your barrel, the grip frame is a piece that will undoubtedly need excess cleaning. Its position means that it will likely receive a great amount of paint spatter due to being so close to the barrel.

Luckily, it's a rigid piece that's relatively easy to clean. Your toothbrush and a cup of warm water will be able to scour away the vast majority of it. Still, be thorough and ensure you're letting the piece dry properly.

One vital tip is to not disassemble the grip frame. This area houses a great deal of tiny parts that are extremely difficult to put back together. Let a professional handle the cleaning if you need to open this part, as the high volume of extremely small parts can quickly overwhelm even veteran paintballers, let alone a paintball beginner.

Clean, Sterilize, Lubricate

If you've followed step by step with this guide, you're nearly done cleaning your paintball marker. Sterilization is an important step to take to keep unwanted substances from growing on your gun. This is especially the case if your marker spends a good deal of time in storage.

But no matter what, you'll want to ensure that you lubricate many of the smaller pieces of your weapon. It's vital that you make sure you don't go overboard with the lubricant during this step. Not only is this messy and wasteful, but much of the oil and grease can end up in parts of the gun they shouldn't be in.

There's a high chance that the manufacturer that made your marker has a type of lubricant they prefer. It's strongly suggested that you use the lubricant they recommend as it can increase the lifespan of your marker and keep things in top form. 

But if you do decide to go with an alternate lubricant, ensure that it's one that actually works. Many DIYers in the paint balling hobby have used cooking oils, lotions, and moisturizers not meant to lubricate machinery. This will not only void your warranty, but damage your gun.

Gas Back Up

At the start of this process, you de-gassed your gun. Now is an excellent time to go ahead and gas it back up. Make sure not to overfill your tank both for safety and waste.

Ensure that you're using proper filling technique and paying attention to the gauge on your marker's tank. CO2 can be especially tricky, as you need to make sure that the gas isn't entering as liquid form. Point the barrel upwards and away from anyone or anything and take your time.

All Back Together

Once you have your paintball gun cleaned, it's time to go ahead and start putting it back together. If you aren't completely familiar with the marker you're using, it's a good idea to follow the schematic or guide that came with it.

It's important to note that if you've lost any parts, your gun is not safe for use. This counts the smallest springs and the biggest bolts. Missing parts can cause extensive damage or hazardous situations, so make sure you have every last bit - if not, leave your marker on the shelf until you can fix the issue.

Clean and Ready

If you've followed this guide you should know how to clean a paintball gun. With a paintball gun cleaning kit, some patience, and a bit of practice, you won't struggle to get your gear in top shape. If you're hesitant, consider finding a professional to clean your gun for you.

If you have more questions about paintball markers, feel free to contact us. Our website and products also have a great amount of information to keep you playing in the field.