There’s no doubt that paintball can get messy – it’s all part of the fun!
Not only that, but the physical demands of the sport can take their toll on guns, gear, and equipment, and getting into a good cleaning regimen is highly recommended.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on RiflePal. For more information, read full disclosure here.
- Paintball Gun Cleaning in a Few Words
- Why You Should Clean Your Paintball Gun
- How to Clean a Paintball Gun
- Paintball Gun Cleaning – A Visual Guide
In this article, we take a look at paintball gun maintenance – how to keep your marker in tip-top condition, so it won’t let you down in the field.
No matter your skill level or experience, there’s some great advice coming up – so let’s fire in.
Paintball Gun Cleaning in a Few Words
We all lead busy lives, and here at Riflepal, we can appreciate it when some of our readers don’t have time to go through the whole article.
With that in mind, here’s a bite-sized guide to each stage of cleaning a paintball gun.
- Prepare a work area.
- Arrange tools and cleaning products.
- Disconnect Co2/air canisters.
- Clean the gun exterior.
- Disassemble the gun.
- Clean the gun interior.
- Squeegee the barrel.
- Store correctly.
Keep reading as we explore each point in detail, with many more helpful hints and tips throughout the process.
Why You Should Clean Your Paintball Gun
Paintball guns are not as complex as airsoft weapons, and for the most part – they don’t need as much maintenance.
However, paintball is the messier sport, and guns and gear still need cleaning from time to time.
And you should develop a good cleaning regimen to improve the longevity of your paintball marker, and ensure it operates in peak condition when you’re in the field.
There’s nothing worse than a dirty, poorly maintained gun clogging and failing when you need it most in the heat of battle.
Accuracy, rate-of-fire, FPS (Feet Per Second), and range will all suffer if your gun isn’t regularly cleaned.
Aside from this, if you’re dedicated enough to own a paintball marker in the first place, you should automatically want to take good care of it – not least because they can be an expensive investment.
Particularly if you’re talking about the best paintball guns on the market, many of which can run into hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars.
But if you’re on a tighter budget, check out this review of the best cheap paintball guns – which offers a great way to help get you started without breaking the bank.
Either way, like almost everything we purchase, if a paintball marker is not cleaned and maintained regularly, it’s going to deteriorate, performance will dip, and you won’t get as much enjoyment out of its use.
Never let your gun get like a rental marker – we can all remember how bad they are when you’re just starting out!
Tools and Work Area
Before you get started, we highly recommend you establish a clean, uncluttered, and organized work area.
This is so you don’t lose any parts or hardware, and you can enjoy a straightforward, stress-free cleaning experience.
Gather and arrange any tools you need beforehand – such as hex keys or screwdrivers.
Likewise, with any lubricants or oils, you might be using. Set them aside, so they’re easy to access when required.
Prepare your non-abrasive cleaning cloths, and squeegees, and keep some paper towels to hand which can be great for keeping any dirt, paint, oil, and grime from your hands.
If you want to go a step further, wear some disposable gloves, which will help keep your hands clean, as well as prevent unwanted oils from your skin from greasing up the gun and its parts.
Q-tips are also highly useful for getting into any hard-to-reach areas, and an old, soft-bristled toothbrush can be helpful, too – particularly for any caked-on material.
Finally, I highly recommend keeping your marker’s instruction manual to hand – which should contain its own tips for maintaining a paintball gun – specific to that model.
This is particularly true if you’re new to cleaning, and/or still getting used to the gun. You can use the guide to develop good cleaning practice before it becomes second nature over time.
Once you’re ready to begin, it’s very important that the first step is to remove the propellant. Safety comes first, so disconnect the Co2 or air canister/tank and set it aside.
Again, be sure to follow the instructions for your particular gun model for the safe removal and storage of gas canisters.
If you’re using an electronic paintball marker, be sure to remove the batteries at this point, and set them aside. Replace or recharge them as necessary.
How to Clean a Paintball Gun
When the gas canister is safely out of the way, you can begin cleaning your paintball marker, and the exterior is a very good place to start.
No harsh chemicals are needed here, just a soft, lint-free cloth and some warm water to wipe it down and make sure any material, gunk, and grime has been removed.
A key tip for maintaining a paintball gun is to never soak anything. Paintballs and water don’t mix – and your gun needs to be properly dried before use. Use damp cleaning cloths – rather than saturated.
Use a paper towel to clean out the ASA (Air Source Adaptor) – run it over the threads until there’s no dirt remaining. You can also wipe down the threads of any gas canisters that still have life left in them.
Now let’s move on to the internals.
Taking Your Marker Apart
Once the exterior has been cleaned and is devoid of debris, filth, and material, it’s time for the tricky part – opening up your gun and cleaning the inside.
While this might be a daunting prospect at first, if you take your time and do things step-by-step, you’ll find it’s not as complex as you fear.
Top tip – before loosening and removing any hardware, make a mental note of where it’s located, so you know exactly where it goes when the time comes to reassemble. Taking a quick photo is a good idea, so you don’t forget.
Aside from that, we recommend using a dedicated tray or catch-all to hold any metal hardware that your marker utilizes to keep it together. A magnetic dish is very useful for this purpose.
Now, here is where the instruction manual comes in handy, as it will tell you exactly how to dismantle your particular model, without risk of damage.
Never force anything apart – if it doesn’t come easy – perhaps you need to adjust your strategy.
If you don’t have your manual to hand, a top-tip is to search online for a video dedicated to cleaning that marker. There is almost certainly going to be content related to your gun – particularly for the more popular models.
Alternatively, check this article on the best paintball brands out there, and go directly to the company that manufactures your gun for cleaning advice, as well as for sourcing a replacement manual.
The Barrel, Breech, and Hopper
The business end of your paintball gun warrants special attention, and thankfully, it’s pretty easy to clean.
Take your barrel squeegee (all paintballers should have a good one as standard), and run it through until it’s clear of material and debris.
Sometimes barrels can break and malfunction, and/or you might like to upgrade. If that’s the case, we suggest checking out this article on the best paintball gun barrels on the market.
IMPORTANT – Don’t use any harsh cleaning utensils in the barrel – or on any other part of the marker, for that matter. Abrasive brushes and cloths will damage the gun and impede its performance – particularly in the barrel, hopper, and breech.
Remember, paintballs are water-soluble, and they can be removed easily with a bit of elbow grease and warm water. No harsh chemicals or instruments are required, so leave that stiff-bristled pipe cleaner alone.
The breech should also be completely clear of paint debris, as well as the hopper and feed. Pay special attention to these areas – as much as you would with the barrel.
Any residue left in these locations is going to attach itself to the side of fresh paintballs, and then the whole magazine is ruined, the new paint wasted, and your gun pretty much out of the game.
Your paintball marker will require adequate lubrication in order for it to function properly – but too much can be just as damaging as too little.
This is particularly true when it comes to cleaning and maintaining the 0-rings, which are designed to form a seal so no Co2 or compressed air can escape the canister or gun. Light lubrication is key.
Likewise, using the wrong lubricant might have negative effects on the internal workings of your marker. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to using compatible lubricants and oils.
We can’t stress this enough – don’t just use whatever you have to hand, as you’ll run the risk of damaging your gun. WD40 might be the workhorse lube of the workshop – but it may be too harsh here.
The video below will help you understand how much grease/lubrication your paintball gun actually needs – and where it needs it. Spoiler – it’s not a lot.
Paintball Gun Cleaning – A Visual Guide
Pictures speak a thousand words, and if you’d prefer to see a general cleaning guide for keeping your marker in peak condition, check out the video below.
This includes a description of cleaning the bolt and hammer, as well as cleaning, maintaining, and replacing O-rings, and other internal workings too numerous to write about here.
Alternatively, if you’re in any doubt, and you’re not confident about cleaning and maintaining your own marker, we recommend taking your gun to the professionals.
Your local paintball retailer should have on-site staff who are skilled in paintball marker maintenance, and can fix and finely tune your gun, so you’re ready for action.
Once everything has been reassembled, and the interior and exterior are pretty much squeaky-clean, it’s important to store your gun correctly.
And like almost everything else that requires storing, it should be away from bright, direct sunlight, and in a cool, dry place.
This is especially true for any gas canisters you might have. Keep both the propellant and your marker in a location that is away from extreme temperatures.
Make sure the hopper is empty – never store a paintball marker with paint inside. The ammo deteriorates over time, and it will easily gunk up your gun.
Be sure to store paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions – and always out of the reach of children and pets. In a separate location from your marker is also a good idea.
Finally, if your gun didn’t come with a case, you should consider purchasing one, as it will make storage a lot easier, and help to significantly improve the life of your marker.
How often do you clean a paintball gun?
We recommend cleaning the exterior of your paintball marker after every game – at the very least. Once the propellant has been disconnected, wiping down the gun shouldn’t be a difficult task.
As for a deeper clean – including disassembly and interior maintenance, the jury is out. Some players do it before and after every single game, for others that’s overkill.
It really depends on how much you play, and/or if you’ve noticed a dip in your gun’s performance. Once a week is a good practice to get into.
With practice, you’ll find a balance. In our experience, the more you’ve paid for the marker, the more you will want to treat it right – just like the love of your life.
What ammo should I use in my paintball gun?
A great question, as it can have a serious impact on how well your gun performs, as well as how easy it is to clean and maintain.
All paintballs are not the same – and using inferior paint can damage your gun, and lessen your enjoyment of the sport.
Take a look at this in-depth guide to paintball paint, and learn the right type of ammo for your weapon.
Does paintball paint wash out?
Another good question! Keep ‘em coming! Yes, paintball paint does wash out, and for washing your clothes, masks, and other gear, take a look at this article on how to clean paintball equipment.
And speaking of masks, if you need a new one, or you’re not using the right gear, head on over to this review of the best paintball masks and get yourself properly (and safely) kitted out.
While paintball gun maintenance might not be the most fun aspect of the sport – it is a vital one, nonetheless. Get into a good routine, and it will be second nature in no time.
Let us know if you have any gun-cleaning thoughts in the comments, if we’ve missed anything out, or if you have a secret top-tip you swear by.
Stay safe out there, stay clean, and happy paintballing!