How Fast Does a Paintball Gun Shoot?

Keep Paintball in the FPS Safety Range

Paintball shooter on the playing field
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When they're buzzing by on the field, it seems like paintballs are traveling as fast as bullets. But how fast are they really moving? The average paintball has a velocity of about 280 fps, or 190 mph, which is far slower than any regular gun.

How Fast Does a Paintball Marker Shoot?

The speed of a paintball is measured in feet per second (fps) because of the short range of the markers. Most guns are measured in fps. The average paintball marker can shoot 300 fps, or slightly below this. Most paintball playing fields require a maximum of 280 fps for safety purposes.

With an effective range of 80 to 100 feet for the average 280-fps marker, a paintball can reach its target in about one-third of a second.

A chronograph test is used to measure the speed of a paintball gun, and it is a very easy process. A field owner may ask you to "chrono" your personal marker prior to a game to ensure that you're not shooting out of their safety range.

What Is That in Miles Per Hour?

In general, you can say that a paintball travels about 200 miles per hour (mph). Converting fps to mph is easy.

1 fps = .68 mph
MPH = FPS x .68

If you prefer the metric system:

1 fps = 1.0973 kilometer per hour (kph)
KPH = FPS x 1.0973
280 x .68 = 190.4 mph x 1.0973 = 307.24 kph
300 x .68 = 204 mph x 1.0973 = 329.19 kph
400 x .68 = 272 mph x 1.0973 = 438.92 kph

How Fast Is Too Fast?

People typically don't relate to speed in fps, but once the conversion is made to mph or km/h, the speed of a paintball becomes very real. To put this into perspective, the velocity of a .22 long rifle is, on average, 1,260 fps, which is 856.8 mph or 1382.6 kph. While a paintball is certainly not that fast, it's still very fast.

The standard paintball velocity of 280 fps is set for safety reasons. It is both effective at ensuring the paintball bursts when it hits the target, and that it does not hurt the person who has been shot.

If you read enough about paintball velocity, you quickly learn that even the most experienced players believe anything faster than 300 fps is too fast. A high-speed marker simply adds an unnecessary danger to a very safe sport.

While some people want to see how fast they can get their markers by making modifications, it is definitely not recommended for field play. Your fellow players will call you out if you're shooting too fast.

How Paintball Guns Work

Paintball guns allow compressed gas to expand behind a paintball and propel it down the barrel and out of the gun. The amount of gas, which is typically carbon dioxide (or "air"), released is controlled by a regulator in the gun. Generally, the larger the volume of gas, the higher the velocity of the paintball. Heavier projectiles require more force, thus more gas pressure. Paintballs deform when the air pushes them, which helps create a snug fit even if each ball isn't perfect.