The Beast-Turning a Paintball Gun Into an Airsoft Sniper Rifle

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About: I am a recent graduate of the Sustainable Manufacturing program at California State University Chico. I currently consult with local businesses and provide freelance design work. I've been making things for ...
Do you play Airsoft? Do you play paintball?

Have you ever wanted one of those insanely powerful Airsoft sniper rifles, but could not afford the 300$+ price tag? Are you tired of paintball, and want to get into Airsoft, but don't want to shell out the big money for a new gun?

Problems: solved. 

I have created a simple Airsoft conversion kit for any side- or elbow loading, semiautomatic Paintball gun. I used a Tippmann 98 custom. This paintball gun is probably one of the most simple and reliable guns out there, and I recommend having one anyway. Even if you spend the $140 (US) to buy one new, then do the conversion on it, you will still come out ahead of the price of an Airsoft sniper with comparable performance. 

I recently found out that there is a company that makes something similar to this, the Barrage Barrel.
I have not used one of these Barrage Barrels (yet), but by reading the reviews, I have compiled a list of pros and cons of my gun system Vs. the Barrage barrel 

The Beast
Pros:
  • Fully realized system, making the paintball gun much more like a real gun in shape and use.
  • More streamlined system, allowing full prone positioning because the gas canister is not under the arm.
  • Barrel length and bore are open to full customization.
  • System allows for easy internal modification.
  • Can be effectively suppressed.
  • With tweaking, a high degree of tactically applicable accuracy can be obtained.

Cons:
  • The current loading system gives the gun a rate of fire equivalent to that of a single-shot bolt-action sniper.
  • Barrel has no built-in hop-up system.
  • Attachment of forward canister rack requires the forward grip to be cut up, and a hole drilled in the gun itself, although with no side effects.
  • Accuracy is heavily affected by atmospheric conditions, due to the gas system.
The Barrage Barrel
Pros:
  • Super tough and simple, no moving parts.
  • Extremely easy conversion- you just screw it on.
  • Extremely reliable.
  • Allows for full-semiautomatic fire.
  • holds around 60 BBs
  • Extremely accurate FPS control system.
Cons:
  • Reports of terrible accuracy at medium to long range.
  • High replacement cost- you can't just replace a single part.
  • Unknown barrel bore measurements.
  • Only 10 inch barrel available.
  • Not able to be effectively silenced. 
  • Shiny coating makes it really stand out in a game.

There is my simple breakdown of the pros/cons. I will let you be the judge. All that aside, however, I am here to show you how to build this conversion. This conversion outlines the steps to convert a Tippmann 98 Custom. 

-Note- This was the first Beast I made. This details loosely how I made this gun. In several months I will have built a new version, with much more detailed instructions for you! Consider this the Beta version.

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Step 1: Tools

To make this conversion, you will need:
  • Power drill
  • Various drill bits
  • Allen Wrenches
  • screwdrivers
  • wrenches 
  • pliers
  • a vise or something to hold stuff steady
  • hacksaw  or reciprocating saw
  • tubing cutter (or use the saw instead)
  • tape measure or ruler

Step 2: Materials

For this conversion you need:
  • A paintball gun that this modification can be adapted to (or a Tippmann 98)
  • A compatible stock for your gun (or you could wing it and make one like I did)
  • Heavy epoxy (I used one-ton epoxy)
  • several feet of 1/2 inch metal tubing (metal variety does not matter, although gold tubing is hard to source :P )
  • various screws
  • scrap wood
  • about a foot and a half of plastic drain pipe (diameter depends on what size of gas canister you are using. For a 12-oz. canister, use 3 inch pipe. )
  • acrylic or  tough metal strips (I used welding stock, you should use aluminum)
  • electric tape
  •  9mm brass hose barb fitting with 1/2 inch female attachment
  • drain valve with 6mm or greater interior diameter, that fits the 1/2 inch fitting.
  • small pipe clamp
  • the will to live
  • 6mm Airsoft barrel, or stock tubing. The longer, the better! 

Step 3: Disassembling the Gun

Take the CO2 tank off and make sure the gun is degassed and empty. 

Unscrew the barrel.

Unscrew the bolt on the front hand grip. pull out the screw and the front grip should come off by pulling on it. 

Unscrew the bolts that hold the tank fitting and tube to the bottom of the hand grip. 

At this point the gun should look like it does in the picture.

Step 4: Drilling the Front Grip Housing

Now you need to take the gun and clamp it in a vise, as shown. 

Then, take a drill bit the same diameter of the gas feed hose and drill a hole directly through the body of the front handgrip casing as shown. 

Take the actual handgrip and drill it too, making sure the holes line up. 

Step 5: Reroute Gas Feed Line

For the next step you need to open up the body of the gun. This seems hard, but it is simple and straight forward as long as you take it slow and keep track of all the pieces. You really won't need to take out any of the pieces for this step. In the newer model Tippmann 98's, you will only have to take off the front half of the receiver to do this step. 

Anyway, open the gun up. 

Route the hose through the hole in the front hand grip piece as shown. It should open up into two pieces to allow the hose to be put in it.  Refer to the second picture.

Place the grip with the hose in it back in place. Refer to the fourth picture. 

At this point, if you have a stock and it requires the gun to be open to install it, go ahead and install it. 

Once the front grip is in place and the stock is on if you have one, stick the gun all back together, Make sure to note what screws go where. When it is all reassembled, it should look like the fifth picture. 


Step 6: Making the Barrel

This is the most difficult and intrinsic part of the conversion. 

So lets get started!

Get the paintball barrel. Tippmanns usually come with a stock 9 inch barrel. These barrels are extremely cheap, and can be easily replaced.
That is a good thing, because we are going to drill a big hole in this one.

Screw the barrel into the gun all the way. Make a mark on the barrel, about 1 inch in front of where it fits into the receiver, on the right hand side, at about 45-55 degrees above the horizontal. See pictures for clarification.

Get the Airsoft barrel and the 1/2 inch metal tubing. Wrap the outside of the Airsoft barrel in several places with electrical tape,  so it fits snugly in the 1/2 inch pipe. Put the wrapped barrel in the metal pipe so that the ends are flush on one end, and there is about 3 or 4 inches or Airsoft barrel sticking out the other end. Squirt epoxy down in the space between the metal pipe and the Airsoft barrel to secure it. Make sure no epoxy gets in the end of the barrel. Set it aside so the epoxy can fully cure.

Once the epoxy has set, cut a hole in the side of the Airsoft barrel about an inch from the end, large enough that a BB will fit though it easily. 

stick the barrel assembly into the paintball barrel so that the hole in the paint all barrel lines up with the hole in the Airsoft barrel. Put some sheet metal screws through the vent holes at the end of the paintball barrel to hold the inner barrel assembly in place. Don't screw them in too far, just enough to hold it in. 

Cut the 9mm hose barb down to about 2/5 inch in length, and stick it though the hole in the side of the paintball barrel so that it lines up with the hole in the Airsoft barrel. Grind the hose barb until it fits snugly against the outside of the Airsoft barrel, and against the outside of the paintball barrel. Epoxy the hose barb in place once everything lines up well. 

Once the epoxy has set, screw the drain valve into the hose barb fitting, and the barrel is complete! :D 

Step 7: Canister Rack

This is fairly easy to figure out. 

I got a long piece of stock steel and drilled holes in it. On one side I put a 1 inch dowel as a hand guard, and on the other I put a length of 3 inch DVW pipe, screwing through the pipe and metal into the dowel, to hold it all together. 

On either end of the steel strip I screwed on two small blocks of wood. One I stuck into a hole I cut in the front grip, and bolted in place.  The other block I attached two more metal strips and another block to it, then attached that to the barrel with a hose clamp.

Look at the pictures for a much better representation of my terrible description.

The CO2 canister snaps into the piece of DVW pipe, where it can easily screw into the fitting on the gas hose. 

This is just one method of securing the tank. 

Step 8: Future Plans

Like I said before, this was my earliest version. As soon as I get my hands on a new Tippmann 98, hopefully in a few months, I will be making a much cleaner version of this gun. 

I have a friend with a Spyder MR1 that I will probably do this conversion to, so I will post a How-to on that. 

My other friend is converting the Beast shown in the how-to into a much better version, hopefully very soon, so I will also post about that.  There will probably be more versions other than those in the future, so stay tuned.

This how-to is basically an intro to the subject, as the steps shown here are kinda sketchy, although not to complicated. 

Future guns will include:
  • More streamlined canister holders, or tanks placed in the stock. 
  • More easily scoped. 
  • Tightbore barrel.
  • Sliding sealed bolts, of several configurations.
  • Just looking better in general.
  • Lighter materials.
  • Much more straightforward Instructables.





Anyone who makes and shares one of these guns gets a patch! I would love to see your interpretation of this idea. Also, if someone can come up with a removable clip system of some sort that is pretty simple, you would be my hero. 






Step 9: Discussion of This Gun

This is intended as a support weapon, since it is really too big and powerful to run around with. I would put its range, in this terrible configuration, at about 180 feet on a good day. This gun is intended to be used with 0.30 or 0.35 weight BBs, which give it much more accuracy. 

This gun has been used in games, and is very effective. First of all, it sounds intimidating as all hell. It makes a low THUMP noise, that echoes around canyons and makes you want to dig yourself into the ground. When the BB goes by you, you can hear a kind of WHIFFLE noise, which is just as intimidating.

The impact of this gun is pretty much the same as any large over powered AEG, leaving welts on bare skin at a good range. However, this gun is pretty much long-range only. In-game, one of my friends shot another in the arm at about 10 feet away on bare skin. The wound bled pretty well, but the ammo did not penetrate. He described it as a "ten second bee sting" type injury. This gun cannot break paintball masks at point blank range, so don't worry about breaking them. 

One issue with this gun is that the freaking BB sometimes just rolls out. This will be fixed in later models. 

We put a scope on it, but iron sights work just as well. I also made a silencer, which works pretty well, but needs to be rebuilt to actually silence instead of make it sound more hollow. 

OPERATE THIS GUN WITH THE REGULATOR TURNED DOWN ALMOST ALL THE WAY. Simple enough to follow. More gas=more power=more danger. 

We left the forward breech on our gun open, so every time you shoot it, it blasts gas out. This seems to have no effect on the shooting.  I don't think sealing the breech would be worth the effort, as it would probably make the gun to powerful to use, if a bit quieter. 

The rate of fire is low, but with the range, power, and general badass factor, this thing doesn't need to be semi. With a bit of practice,  a shooter can get a shot off every ten seconds or so.

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    14 Discussions

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    ilpugLucky7x7

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Look at my newer version too. I will be happy to help answer any questions you have.

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    ilpugAron313

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    There is none. You load them one per shot into the breech valve, much like a bolt action sniper rifle.

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    Aron313ilpug

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thats probaby what im going to do i dont have a tippman tho so im gonna probably have a different set up. Im still gonna try.

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    ilpugairsoftbeast40

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I would probably stay with that gun too, this one is more of a support weapon, not a DMR.

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    airsoftbeast40ilpug

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    How do you use a single fire gun as a support weapon? Im thinking of a support weapon as like a light machine gun.

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    ilpugairsoftbeast40

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    There are multiple kinds of support weapons, ranging from long-range anti-material, to mortars, to LMGs. This serves the purpose of a long-range anti-material rifle, due to the extreme range and power, along with the sheer OHCRAP-ness that results from this thing being fired at you.