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How Fast Do Paintballs Go?

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It makes sense to fully research a hobby before getting into it. You should know the costs, the amount of time it will take up, and what the dangers are. Knowing the dangers will either entice you or deter you from picking up paintball as a hobby. One of the biggest dangers comes from the paintballs, and how fast do paintballs go?

Paintballs leave the barrel of a paintball gun at speeds of around 250-300 FPS. In the grand scheme of things, this is only a tenth of the speed of a real bullet, and won’t kill you, but it can still hurt you if you aren’t careful. 

How Do Paintballs Travel That Fast?

To understand how paintballs can travel at these speeds, let’s take a look at how paintball guns work. Compressed gas expands behind the paintball and launches it forward down the barrel. The more compressed gas that is released, the more pressure that is built up, and the faster the paintball travels. 

Experienced players will tell you that 250-280 fps is the ideal speed, and anything above that is overkill. At this speed, the paintball is very likely to hit a target that is 80-100 feet away and break on impact. Keep in mind that at this speed, the paintballs still have the potential to do a lot of damage to the body of your opponent. 

paintball

As you increase the speed, you are increasing the potential to cause harm, and nobody should have to be worried about unwarranted damages. 

Due to the risk, masks are a mandatory piece of equipment that protects your eyes, mouth, and even ears from paintballs. A good mask will have a dual-pane, anti-fog, UV-coated lens. A mask that fogs easily won’t do you any good when you’re out on the field trying to see your opponents.

Check out our complete beginner’s guide to paintball to find out more about how the paintball gun works, or just about the game in general!

How Fast Is That, Really?

Feet per second isn’t exactly an easy unit of measurement to understand, so let’s turn it into something we’ll recognize. 

Most people will have a good understanding of miles per hour, so we’ll convert to that unit of measurement. 

1 FPS is equal to 0.681818 MPH. At the lowest suggested speed of 250FPS, that means those paintballs are travelling at 170 MPH. And that is the lowest suggested range. 

Those paintballs that are travelling at 300FPS? Those are leaving the paintball guns at 204 MPH.

To find out the MPH of your specific paintball gun, take your FPS and multiply it by 0.681818 - or 0.68 if you don’t need an exact number. 

Not many of us have travelled that fast, or have seen something travel that fast, so take a look at where it ranks

ItemHow Fast They Travel
Golf Ball80 mph
Baseball90 mph
Hockey Puck 105 mph
Paintball190 mph
Commercial Plane575 mph
Sound767 mph
A Bullet from a Real Gun1700 mph

On the scale of how fast things can travel, paintballs fall quite a bit higher than other sports, but not quite as fast as what is commonly associated with “fastest on earth”. 

Why Is There An FPS Limit?

The fastest item on that list is a bullet from a real gun. The speed is needed to do quite a bit of harm, and in most cases, result in death. 

While the FPS limit isn’t anywhere near that of a bullet, a paintball can still do quite a bit of harm. If there wasn’t a limit on FPS, a fun paintball game could very quickly become a wild west duel. 

Before you’re able to play a game with your own paintball gun, many fields may require you to take a chronograph test. This test is used to measure the speed of your gun to make sure you aren’t playing above the limit. 

If you aren’t required to take the chronograph test, but you are playing with experienced players, you might be playing with human chronograph tests. These players have been around paintballs for a while, and if they are hit with a paintball that feels faster than usual, you can be eliminated, or banned from the field. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how fast paintballs go and why there is a limit on the number of feet per second a paintball can travel, you will have a much better understanding of how dangerous the game actually is.

Even though these paintballs come flying towards you and your opponents at speeds higher than a fast-moving car, this game is much, much safer as long as you protect your skin. 

Hopefully knowing the speed of the projectiles hurtling towards you gives you peace of mind and doesn’t deter you from playing the game that is loved by so many. 

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