Monday, August 25, 2014

Say Hello To My Little Friend

My little 50 cal friend (both paintball and marker) that is. If you thought 50 cal was a flop a few years ago and nearly forgotten, think again. While you've been running around on airball fields ignoring the rest of the paintball community 50 cal has been making a big difference on the rental front. Oh I know, nobody cares what the newbies are doing. You know, if it keeps them playing it's fine but it's never gonna have an impact on competitive paintball. (Real ballers play 68.) If that's your take you best reconsider. Sure, 50 cal is largely confined to the rental market but like Splatmaster that is the gateway for the majority of new players entering the game. (Yes, in some places speedball and competition style fields are more accessible and some new players jump in the deep end quickly but that's more the exception than the rule.) 50 cal is proving to be very popular too with both customers and local field operators. Promoted as low impact, "less sting" it's bringing in new, younger and previously untapped portions of the market. And for the field operator it takes up less space and is easier to clean up after. And with the "normal" attrition among players 50 cal will, in a few short years, become the first paintball experience for the majority of players. That means for those who want to take the next step and buy their own gear and play regularly 50 cal won't have the negatives the 68 crowd associate with it today.
Stepping away from competitive paintball for a moment consider what 50 cal could do for the growing mag-fed crowd. With a smaller paintball greater realism in marker design is possible. Less obtrusive air systems are needed to power the markers and the assorted magazines will hold more paintballs than with 68 cal. Suddenly the trade-offs don't look so bad. (Who knows, the big money in markers may be in replicas in the not-too-distant-future.)
And if VFTD is correct about the extent of industry struggle in the current environment 50 cal just may be a big part of the solution. Shifting a growing percentage of their paint manufacturing to 50 cal from 68 would reduce costs at the manufacturing end and would ultimately limit the production of 68. Yes, the Chinese and anyone else could make all the 68 they like but it wouldn't be in anyone's interest to glut the market particularly if, over time, 50 cal begins to dominate the marketplace. (Take a moment to think about what happens to older unsupported products these days and there's no reason the same couldn't happen to 68 cal guns.) Which would eventually lead to either conversion kit sales for old 68 shooters or brand new shiny 50 cal gats. (That would be one way to recreate a marketplace demand for guns.)
And if you still think competitive paintball would be immune I have one word for you; sponsorship. To the extent it serves industry purposes they can influence the marketplace in the same ways they always have. And if that were to mean only 50 cal (paint and guns and assorted related gear) qualified for sponsorship what do you suppose the likely outcome would be?
Will the change if it comes happen over night? Of course not. It will likely take years but if you pay attention and see that 50 cal is continuing to grow and spread that may be your answer.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is the speed limit (fps) on 50 cal at present? Is it still 300 fps? Is it more?

If it's more then it could be very difficult to dodge, which to me is the core thing that makes paintball paintball.

How much more/less is a 50 cal shot effected by magnus force and the wind?

Never played 50 cal and would rather not if it could be helped - but it would be good to know these things!

Michael Brozak said...

If it makes playing more financially viable then I say bring it on. I have players standing on the sidelines for an upcoming event because they just don't have the resources. We may as a team have to skip it all together because of roster numbers dropping.

Anonymous said...

I saw a 50.cal CCM S6 this weekend, not a conversion but a purpose built 50.cal version...

Baca Loco said...

516 Anon
The 50 cal forum at PBN should still have much of the data still posted. That offered by industry and that generated by forum members.
Last I heard velocity remained under 300 in general.

Mike
Probably not.

620 Anon
That's like breaking the third seal on signs of the Apocalypse.

Reiner Schafer said...

I believe the ASTM standard for ANY size paintball is 300 fps maximum. Which is rather a silly way to do it because if someone were to ever produce something like a 1.0 caliber paintball, it would probably have the potential to be very dangerous and maybe even fatal at 300 fps.

Anonymous said...

Unless the league forces the change it will never happen. Sponsor Impact with free 50cal paintballs all you want. I'll pay for my 68cal paintballs and contain them on the break and destroy them as they're contained in their back bunkers.

Michael Brozak said...

Will someone pour some warm water in the palm of Anon 11:18, it seems he's sound asleep with visions of paintballs and candy canes in his head.

Reiner Schafer said...

Just like Baca, I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t know if 50 cal will go anywhere in tournament paintball. Time will tell. I run a recreational field and I understand why 50 cal is making headway in the recreational paintball business. Pros and Cons for a recreational (rental heavy) field I can think of off the top of my head based on my experience;
Pros:
Higher ratio of customer satisfaction (happier customers)
Less bad attitudes and confrontations
Less storage space needed
Attracts a wider demographic like younger and more fragile players (i.e. females)
Less mess (more a concern for indoor fields)
Less propellant needed (saves money)

Cons:
Up till recently, no really reliable rental 50 marker available (time will tell if the recently released Tippmann FT50 and eNMey 50 will ease that. KEE says they have also made improvements to their Opus and I’ve heard less complaints about them lately).

I think it’s just a matter of time before the Milsim crowd goes for 50 cal in a big way. There are people using 43 cal by choice. Why not 50? Especially if it starts becoming available at most fields whereas 43 never was.

It won’t be long before the 12 or 13 year old steps on the speedball field for the first time and all he has is a 50 cal marker. At this point in time, if he ends up getting at all serious, he’s going to want a 68 cal marker to keep up with everyone else, but as more and more new players have only 50 cal markers available to them, I could see young gun tournaments going to 50 cal and then who knows what happens after that. If you look at the Pros on my impromptu list, you can see that some of those would apply to tournament play as well. But the Con list would be much longer in tournament play IF 50 and 68 were allowed to go head to head.

Anonymous said...

620 Anon again...

It is at least the 3rd seal.

I was at the Old School Challenge event in St. Louis. Rod and Mel from CCM were there and had the .50 cal S6 with them. They said it's a one off, but it was a very finished product.

Anonymous said...

The only place I've read about 50cal since the last time I read about it here, is here.

Anonymous said...

I could see it taking a major hold at scenario events, think same sized setups but in 50 cal, loader holds more, pods hold more, takes less air to shoot, so marker now more efficient...I can hear boasts now "I get 4500 shots off my G6r with a full fill..."

Anonymous said...

"I get 4500 shots off my G6r with a full fill..."....but only 12 of those broke on target....

Vijil said...

In the rental world this makes about ten kinds of awesome sense.

In fact I'd quite like to see Dye or someone repurpose the Proto brand as a .50 cal rental/newbie marker/paint system, along with potentially "Proto Tactical". But then again I'm not sure what's up with Dye right now, have concerns about their financial status.

The FPS is the real issue holding it back. Range and other factors don't match .68 cal til you hit about 450~ fps, and for some reason the USA insurance system or whatever is stuck on 300. Here in NZ and most parts of the world there are no such limits - some clubs shoot .68 at 350. As such .50 could work here at, say, 375fps. No problemo. Problem is that everyone follows the USA, so unless you guys sort out the 300fps business then the rest of us are effectively stuck with what you give us.

Reiner Schafer said...

Vijil, can you see a 50 caliber paintball's flight path at 375 fps? I have a tough time following them at 300. Range can be an issue in some circumstances. Most recball is probably played within 60 feet of the opponent or closer. At that distance, there isn't a whole lot of difference. Up to 100' is fine. Over 100', then it becomes an issue. It's never an issue if the 50 cal isn't playing head to head against 68 cal. So really it's up to the individual if they want to use 50 cal head to head against 68 cal. They will willingly handicap themselves a bit.

Vijil said...

It's probably ok so long as it has a bright shell... but I've found that the current trend towards dark shelled .68 makes them so hard to see that it can't be any worse!

Kaz said...

I work at a field that uses 50 cal for about half our rental groups. I've been impressed with the results so far. I think the paint has been improved or something because I've witnessed many people getting shot off the break with 50cal.

I personally love 68 caliber paint but I do think that the future of paintball is in the young guns and the majority of them around here seem to love 50 cal. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a slow shift in the next decade to all 50cal.