As a paintball player, I know markers are made for shooting paint-filled capsules for recreation, not rubber balls. But I’ve seen some players wonder if regular rubber balls could actually be fired from paintball guns instead of paintballs.
Based on my experience, there are a few important things to consider before trying to shoot rubber balls from your marker instead of the gelatin paintballs they’re designed for.
While it may seem like an interesting experiment, there are good reasons paintball guns shoot specialized ammo and not regular rubber balls.
What Are Rubber Balls?
Just to clarify, rubber balls are bouncy sphere toys made from stretchy latex, neoprene, or some other rubbery material. There are all kinds: little marbles, ping pong balls, or even bigger bounced balls. The rubber lets them squash down and spring back into shape.
You find rubber balls in all sorts of games, indoors and outdoors. They’re also cheap and easy to find at any toy store. I think that’s why some players wonder about trying them in their paintball markers—the balls are accessible and seem like they’d work.
But just because they’re affordable and available doesn’t mean rubber balls make smart ammo substitutes. There’s more to the story that paintballers should know.
Key Differences Between Paintballs and Rubber Balls
While paintballs and rubber balls may seem interchangeable, some notable differences affect their performance:
- Paintballs are precision manufactured to be 68 caliber and weigh around 3 grams on average. Their gelatin shells are designed to burst cleanly upon impacts at 300+ fps velocities.
- Rubber balls have varying sizes and weights. They are much harder to break apart than fragile paintballs. Their elasticity causes erratic trajectories compared to paintballs.
- Paintball hoppers, barrels, and internals are engineered for the exact properties of 68-cal ammo. Makeshift rubber balls may not achieve proper velocities or accuracy.
- Markers rely on paint splatter to visibly mark opponents who have been eliminated. Rubber balls bounce off bodies with minimal indication of hits. This disrupts game flow.
Using Rubber Balls in Paintball Guns
While it’s physically possible to load many rubber balls into a paintball marker, this carries multiple downsides:
- Inadequate velocity means limited range and impact energy. Accuracy suffers severely as well.
- Hoppers may jam on irregularly shaped ammo. Balls can also get stuck in the barrel.
- When researching the best paintball barrel, keep in mind that higher friction accelerates barrel wear compared to smooth paintballs.
- Impacts on bare skin cause excessive stinging pain compared to paintballs. Eye protection is critical.
- With poor marking ability, cheating increases. Counts of hits are ambiguous.
Overall, rubber balls make unsatisfactory ammo for paintball markers. Their performance is vastly inferior to purpose-made paintballs.
Choosing Rubber Balls for Paintball Guns
If you are determined to experiment with rubber balls, smaller, smooth varieties like.68 caliber bouncy balls or pepper balls will have the most success feeding through a paintball marker. Avoid larger marbles that are prone to jamming.
However, expect much lower velocity, accuracy, and ease of play versus paintballs. Any misuse or damage from improper ammunition also voids a marker’s warranty. Consider rubber ammo a last-resort novelty only.
After trying it out, I can say rubber balls really don’t work well as a substitute for good paintballs when you’re playing paintball. They just perform too unpredictably and erratically to be enjoyable.
While you can technically fire rubber balls out of a paintball marker, it’s way less reliable and safe compared to using the matched paintball ammo the guns were built for.
In my experience, trying to substitute makeshift ammo instead of proper paintballs results in a worse overall experience. Caution is key; it’s better to avoid the homemade ammo and use real paintballs meant for the marker. Doing so is smarter and keeps the sport fun.