What kind of paintball barrels are there?
When you are out in the middle of a paintball field, you will find that not all paintball barrels are created equal. Before you buy a paintball barrel then you should find out the difference that the different types can make to you.
Barrels are made from quite a few different materials. These include brass, stainless steel, aluminium, two-piece and ceramic.
Brass barrels used to be the rule a while ago, however it is now quite rare. Brass barrels have very little friction, which is a great advantage. However, since you can hone other barrel materials this matters less as the barrels become as good as brass. Brass barrels are softer (so they get dented and scratched easier) and heavier and can be easily tarnished so need a lot of polishing.
Stainless Steel barrels are very durable and don't scratch so they keep very well honed with less friction. They are also heavier and thus more expensive.
Aluminium is a common material for paintball barrels to be made of. They are easy to anodize so you can end up with a quite dazzling variety of designs and colours. However, if you are a sniper, you shouldn't worry about this sort of thing as you won't want to be seen!
The correct two-piece barrel can make a big difference as you can have a stainless steel back, creating less friction when the paintball initially accelerates, and then the aluminium front will keep the weight of the barrel down. This does make it quite expensive though.
Ceramic barrels have very low friction and are relatively cheap. They are also "self-cleaning", so should you break a paintball in the barrel a few more rounds fired will clear the paint debris. Despite their rather fragile appearance they are also quite durable.
Should you be a player who leads from the front then you would prefer the more lightweight aluminium. However, there is less friction with steel and weight doesn't matter if you are a sniper.
The first 8-10 inches of the barrel adds the acceleration to the paintball when it fires. The next few inches might aid the accuracy of the paintball, but after that there's just more friction and more gas required. The only reason companies make super long paintball barrels now is that players are willing to buy them, whether or not they have disadvantages.
In hot weather, you can have a shorter barrel as the gas expands faster, but in cold weather you need longer barrels to give gas more time to expand. You also need a longer barrel if you have a low pressure system as paintballs will accelerate slower. Yes, you can peak through brush and they're quieter, but they're tough to manoeuvre and hog gas.