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Can a Paintball Marker Damage a Car?

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The average paintball marker can pack enough force to send .68 caliber projectiles flying anywhere from 80 feet to 100 feet. Paintball pellets are designed to be aerodynamic so that they can travel far enough before gravity takes over.

These pellets, depending on their size and shape, can damage pretty much anything that crosses their line of trajectory. But can a paintball marker damage a car?

The impact of the paintball pellet mostly depends on momentum and kinetic energy, both of which are determined by the projectile ballistics (shape, flight behavior, etc) and type of marker. If you were to shoot a paintball marker within inches of a car, it may leave a noticeable dent along with massive paintball splatter.

The good news is that this dent can be fixed in any number of ways as can be seen here. Do keep in mind that paintball pellets will destroy mirrors, glass, and tires, and this means your car’s windshield and flat mirrors may require repairs and replacement.

The real concern with paintball pellets is the dye itself. The dye, if not cleaned immediately, can burrow its way into the car’s coating and destroy the paint job inside out. Paintball stains can damage the car’s paint job and leave permanent stains on the car’s interiors, both of which can be prevented by cleaning the car proactively.

As is true with normal bullets, the impact of paintball pellets is a function of the kinetic energy and momentum. Click here to check out a range of kinetic energies for paintballs at different speeds. As a general rule, the damage done to your car’s exterior (or interior) is a factor of the paintball’s speed, distance traveled, and the paintball’s mass.

You should also consider the type of paintball marker in use.

Common Types of Paintball Markers and the Damage They Can Do To Cars

1. Pump Paintball Marker

This is the most basic paintball marker that works well at moderate distances. Very little force is applied to each shot since a weak traditional pump is used to send paintball pellets flying forward. The marker has to be pumped like a shotgun and the paintball has to be chambered each time you want to shoot. Pump paintball markers only cause damage to cars if they are fired at close range.

2. Semi-Automatic Paintball Markers

Semi-automatics are growing popular because they dramatically increase your fire rate since you no longer have to manually load a paintball pellet each time. Just press the trigger and the marker takes care of the shooting for you. Semi-automatic markers are capable of firing paintball pellets in quick succession, without the need to reload. This explains why these markers cause more damage to your car than pump-action paintball markers.

3. Three-Shot Burst Paintball Markers

These advanced markers are for players who want to wreak some real damage on the field. The three-shot burst mode, as the name suggests, allows you to fire three paintball pellets simultaneously. Your car’s body is going to get damaged, not to mention the fact that it will have 3 times the paintball splatter. Now that will require a lot of cleaning.

4. Ramping Paintball Markers

Shoot up the paintball field Mafioso style with ramping paintball markers. These ‘automatics’ rapidly fire one paintball after another in quick succession as long as you pull the trigger consistently. These markers are best used with electronic chips that control the fire rate. Players can switch between ramping, burst, and semi-auto firing modes at the push of a button. These devices are designed to maim anything that stands in their way, including cars (at close distance).

5. Fully Automatic  

They are an improvement over ramping paintball markers, in the sense that you don’t need to pull the trigger consistently. Just pull the trigger once and the marker will keep firing until you release the trigger. These markers are the closest to being a real firearm, and they can badly hurt a human being.

If you aim at a car, then yes, the car will get damaged depending on where you hit it. Structurally weak accessories such as mirrors won’t survive the onslaught.

 How Fast Do Paintball Bullets Travel?

Paintball pellets can reach a maximum speed of 280 fps or 190 mph. At such speeds, the paintball pellets will more than just sting and damage at close range. To put things in perspective, a real bullet travels at 2500 or 1700 mph. This is super fast and will pierce through most cars and stop them cold if they directly hit the engine.  

Some Ammunition Works Better than Others

The type of projectile the paintball marker is using matters a great deal. Remember anything that can be described as spherical and .68 calibers will fit into your paintball marker and can be fired.  

Check out the following alternative paintball rounds that will cause some serious damage to both cars and humans alike.

i) Soft Rubber Rounds

Soft rubber balls are not particularly dangerous when it comes to penetrating objects, but they can pack quite a punch, especially when they’re fired at reasonably high speeds and close range.

ii) Glass Breaker Rounds

Glass fiber projectiles are dangerous and will damage your car. The good news is that most paintball markers can’t fire them since they lack the force needed to move them from the marker’s barrel. And even if glass breaker rounds do get fired from a paintball marker, they will lose their velocity and fall to the ground. Glass rounds will shatter upon impact, creating hundreds of tiny little shards which will be hard to clean (not to mention dangerous). 

ii) BB Bullets

BB bullets can cause significant damage to a car if they travel at speeds faster than 350 fps and can kill humans. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 4 people die every year due to pellet rifles that carry BB bullets. Most paintball markers can shoot BB bullets.

iv) Marbles

Marbles are significantly heavier and probably won’t fit into your paintball marker. Once again, most paintball markers won’t be able to create enough force to propel marbles out of the barrel and there’s a high chance these projectiles will lose their kinetic energy well before they reach the car. That said, if you shoot the marbles at a car from paintball markers at a close enough range, the damage done will require a trip to your nearest car mechanic for repairs.

Other Factors That Influence Paintball Damage to Cars

Four key factors determine a paintball pellet’s speed on its way to the car.

  1. Paintball weight
  2. The barrel length
  3. Wind speed
  4. Air Density & Ambient Temperature (influenced by temperature, humidity, and air pressure)

Paintball Weight

If two different caliber paintballs are fired at the same velocity in the same way, the heavier projectile will travel less further than the lighter one. This is because more air resistance builds up around its surface area, causing the bullet to slow down significantly.

Once the air resistance cancels out the force of the paintball, it will begin to tumble down through the air, slow down, and eventually fall. This also means at higher distances, a heavier paintball pellet will cause less damage to a car. 

The Barrel Length

In general, a larger barrel allows for faster paintball speeds. Most paintball players choose lighter markers for more maneuverability in tactical situations. Shorter barrels also make paintballs more accurate albeit with the trade-off being velocity.

This means if a paintball marker with a large barrel length were to directly hit a car, it could easily damage sensitive regions such as the tires, mirrors, and the windshield.

Wind Speed

Every experienced paintball shooter is aware of the effect of winds on a paintball pellet’s trajectory. The three types of winds you have to be wary of include headwinds, crosswinds, and tailwinds.

Headwinds are winds that blow from the target towards the bullet, thus increasing the drag on the bullet, which would decrease its speed toward the car.

Crosswinds blow from left to right or from right to left across the line of the trajectory between the paintball and the target (the car). Crosswinds will cause a horizontal deflection to the bullet which can significantly derail them from their target.

Finally, tailwinds are winds that blow in the direction of the pellet towards the car. In this case, the drag on the paintball will be lower, and subsequently, the paintball will travel faster.

Generally, unless the wind speed is particularly high on the day you aim your paintball at your car, a headwind or tailwind will cause a negligible deflection to the paintball. Your only concern should be crosswinds because these can significantly alter the paintball path even if the paintball pellet was fired at medium ranges and high velocities paintball.

Air Density & Ambient Temperature

Temperature affects a paintball projectile’s speed by altering the air density. In this sense, the ambient air temperature has an inverse relationship with the air density, i.e. as the temperature increases, air density decreases.

As a general rule: more denser air = slower paintball = lesser damage to the car

At higher altitudes, such as in mountainous regions, the air pressure decreases. The laws of physics dictate that increased elevation will result in less pressure which means more impact from paintball pellets.

The only problem is that as you go higher in altitude, the ambient temperature also drops, which means that the two variables, i.e. air pressure and air temperature, essentially cancel each other out. 

How to Clean Paintball Paint from the Car

Once your car gets hit by paintballs, your real concern is to clean up the paintball splatter from both the exterior and interior. The paintball dye itself is organic and water-soluble, but the longer you wait to clear it out, the harder it becomes to clean it.

Before you start cleaning your car, choose a location away from direct sunlight since UV only worsens the impact of the paintball dye. Provided your car hasn’t undergone prior damage and if you’ve been proactive enough in cleaning the paintball dye, you will need basic tools to remove the paintball splatter. For the most part, you can use sponges and mitts to remove the paintball dye.

Don’t use common household towels because their rough textures may create minor scratches to the car. Use the soft side of a sponge to wash the car. A large microfiber towel is highly recommended for this job.

1. Start with the Tires and Wheels

If your aim was particularly bad and you ended up shooting the tires, you’ll need to clear out the paintball dye from the tires and wheels. Just make sure to use a water-based solution that doesn’t use strong chemicals that could weaken the coating on your car’s wheels. Use a cleaning brush designed specifically for the wheels to get rid of the paintball from the wheels without affecting the surface.

2. Cleaning the Car’s Body

You will need a clean bucket, a clean microfiber towel, and some clean water. The three tools should help you clear most paintball stains without adversely affecting the car’s original paint job. If possible, use a car wash solution that can lubricate the car’s surface so that you can easily remove the paintball dyes as they slide right off.

Do not use common household detergents since they will weaken the protective coatings applied to the car.

3. Clean the Windshield

Due to its large surface, your car’s windshield will most likely get the most damage from paintball splatters. The good news is that it is easy to clean them. Just don’t use the car’s wiper because it’s not designed to remove paintball dyes. Your best bet is to go with auto glass cleaners and a soft microfiber towel. If you are cleaning the rest of the car as well, then leave the windshield for last. 

Dry the Car Properly

Once you have thoroughly cleared out all of the paintball stains, it’s time to dry the car (not air dry it). This is because water contains a lot of minerals that will remain on your car’s surface long after the water has evaporated. This creates what is known as ‘water spots’. The best thing you can do to dry your car is to blow it with a high powered blower, this should dry the entire car in less than five minutes.

Make sure to reach all areas of the car such as the paint, wheels, interior, exterior, and emblems.

Drying What Remains of the Water

1. Buy plenty of microfiber towels since you’ll be needing lots of them for this purpose. The towels will absorb the leftover water droplets that remain on your vehicle.

2. Once you’re confident that the entire car has been thoroughly dried, use a spray wax or spray sealant to restore your car’s original shine.

Removing Paintball Dye from the Car’s Interior

Paintball splatter does not discriminate and will make its way to all the nooks and crannies in your car. The cleaning method depends much on the materials of the interior itself. For instance, don’t use rough towels or solutions with strong ingredients since they can easily scratch the car’s upholstery.

Once again, your best bet is to use microfiber towels for the more sensitive regions of the car such as the dashboard, buttons, steering wheel, and controls. You can use a rag for the carpet and floor mat since they’re more rugged and less likely to get damaged.

1.  Cleaning Paintball Dye from Car Windows

If the paintball stains dried on your car’s windows, use a sharp object, such as a razor blade to scrape away at the paint. Be very patient with this process since you don’t want to leave scratch marks on the glass. Use a window cleaner and microfiber cloth to clean the surface of the windows. Be very careful if your car’s windows are tinted because it is easy to damage these windows using strong cleaning solvents.

2. Cleaning the Upholstery

Here’s a general rule when it comes to cleaning paintball splatter from your car’s upholstery:

  • use a leather cleaning product on leather seats
  • use any general cleaning solution to get rid of paintball dye on cloth seats
  • use general cleaning solutions (and even glass cleaners) to clean vinyl seats. These are the easiest to clean

Once the paintball splatter has dried, leave the car seats to dry in air. This should take no more than an hour or so. Check out this video on YouTube to see a demonstration on cleaning the car’s seats (remember to use the most appropriate cleaning solution).  

3. Cleaning the Dashboard

Cleaning the dashboard is easier said than done because there are so many switches, vents, knobs, and controls. If paintball stains made their way to the dashboard, it can be tricky to remove them. Once again, you have to determine what your dashboard is made of: vinyl, clothe, or leather. Use an appropriate cleaning solution before you start to clean the dashboard.

A good idea that works every time is to wrap a soft cloth around a flat head screwdriver. Use your makeshift cleaning tool to clear out paint from all the console’s nooks and crannies.

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