Building Your Paintball Toolbox
Just about every paintball marker sold today comes with a tool kit of some sort, the better to adjust your velocity, your trigger pull, and the like. These are all basic functions for your marker, and the tools provided are just that…basic.
For more advanced work on your markers, you need more advanced tools. In this article I’ll explain what kind of tools, spares, and marker-specific items players should have in their toolbox.
Your basic tools are tools that work on every marker, and anyone should have in their tool kit. First and foremost, a good sturdy toolbox is a MUST. A good toolbox doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it does have to be of sufficient quality to properly hold, organize and protect your tools. Most discount stores have a more than adequate selection of toolboxes at great prices, so you don’t break the bank. Plastic toolboxes are just fine…no need to go out and spend $200 on a machinist’s box.
Also known as Allen Keys, hex wrenches are an absolute requirement for paintball. Just about every fastener on a paintball marker uses a hex head, rather than the traditional flat and Phillips heads. You’ll want to buy sets in both Metric and English (‘standard’) sizes, since today’s paintball equipment use both, depending on where the marker came from originally. WDP and Kingman markers are known for using Metric fasteners, and even some American-made markers will have metric fasteners on them. Hex wrenches come in several different configurations, with sets in small folding configurations, to the classic plastic holder holding individual wrenches, to the T-Handle wrench.
The folding type is great for chronographing your marker, because it’s big enough to not magically disappear to and from the chrono, but small enough to fit comfortably in your pocket without causing comment from the ladies about what precisely may be in your pants.
The plastic holders with individual wrenches in it are almost a requirement for doing adjustments to your trigger, where space is limited. They also have the advantage of being the cheapest to buy. The downside is that they’re very easily lost in the depths of your pocket, your toolbox, or even from marauding friends who need to borrow a tool. The T-Handles are great for breaking loose stubborn fasteners with the least chance of stripping out the head of your fastener. They’re also the most expensive, relatively speaking, with an individual wrench going for $3-5 apiece. Realistically you won’t have to buy more than 2 or 3 T-Handles if you choose to buy them…3/16ths and 1/8th inch are the most commonly used for attaching ASA’s to your marker, and in the autococker world, the 1/8” is used to adjust the lug in the hammer for timing. If your marker has a specific sized fastener that requires a lot of torque to take on and off your marker, buy it as well. T-Handles are tailor-made for this sort of thing, and make it child’s play to break a stubborn fastener loose in an ASA.
A good pair of pliers, preferably slip jaw types with ‘soft jaws’ are a good thing to have as well. They come in very handy for breaking a regulator loose from a vertical ASA, or if you have two, for splitting that regulator apart to repair it. Try and avoid using pliers without soft jaws on anodized parts, as you’ll find out very quickly that soft anodized aluminum will not take kindly to this sort of rough treatment.
A good wrench is absolutely required for removing and replacing air line fittings. Since macroline fittings fail as they age and start leaking, it’s a fairly regular occurrence that you’ll have to remove and replace them. I use a combination of adjustable (‘Crescent’) wrenches and open- and closed-end wrenches for removing items like gauges, air line fittings, and the like. Using an adjustable wrench on an air line fitting takes a little finesse, because if you don’t close the jaws of the wrench completely around the fitting, you stand a very good chance of rounding off the edges of the fitting and not only raising your frustration levels to new heights, but you’ll make your marker look bad in the process. Most people use either a closed- or open-ended wrench in the size for the specific part their removing. If you have a big variety of nuts on your marker, you could end up with a lot of wrenches floating around in your toolbox.
In every case, you’ll want to buy good quality wrenches, because the cheaper models can be overly loose in their tolerances, causing the possibility of slippage, causing damage to the part your working on. Sears in particular has great quality wrenches at decent pricing.
It’s a good idea to keep a screwdriver or two around, in both flat and Phillips-blade style, because some people do use fasteners with this style of head to attach parts to their markers, and in a lot of cases small flat head style screws are used to hold boards and microswitches in gripframes and the like.
Advanced tools are best described as tools that are marker-specific or are tools that are used for working on items like air systems, which I don’t recommend unless you’re a certified tech for them.
These handy little items are THE way to remove a regulator from a bottle. Basically just a metal handle with a rubber strap, they allow you to get a good hold on a round item like an air tank, and they’re flexible enough to go around the various protrusions on a regulator, so working in concert it makes it very easy to remove a regulator. However, please note that this is an operation best left to a certified tech. Strap Wrenches are great for removing LPR’s from the front of a marker, or if you’re squeamish about using pliers on your inline regulator, a pair of appropriately sized strap wrenches is just what the doctor ordered.
WDP is known for selling a tool kit specifically for working on Angels. If you have any pretensions of working on your Angel, you’ll need the tool kit, which includes an LPR piston extractor, an LPR gauge, and a ram tool, which allows you to adjust the ram in your pre-G7 series Angel. Other markers have their own specific tools, like the Autococker’s jam nut tool, which allows you to remove the jam nut that holds the valve in place. Find out what, if any, specific tools you need for your marker and keep them in your toolbox.
If you plan on firing your marker while you’re working on it, or tweaking a setting, a muffler is a great way to keep the noise down and keep the police from knocking on your door. Centerflag Products makes a system called the “Ninja” which can adapt to fit any marker out on the market today.
Of course you’ll want to keep lube for your marker in your toolbox, be it Love Juice for WDP markers, or DOW 33 and 55 for Smart Parts and Bob Long Markers, as well as synthetic airgun oil for everyday lubing of orings.
You’ll also want to keep spare parts in your toolbox, like orings, ball detents, and other items that are known to go bad at the worst time in your specific marker.
Cleaning items like cotton swabs, paper towels, and rubbing alcohol are also handy to have in your toolbox to clean up stubborn messes that can accumulate on and in your marker over the course of time.