I was looking at my A-5 the other day and thinking: I have really upgraded Natasha (my shiv A-5) as much as I possible can. I have all the knick-knacks, bells, and even the whistles. Yet, when I posted my gun’s picture on the forums yesterday, I was shocked at the amount of comments I received telling me to upgrade the cosmetics. To the people who suggested I get a duracoat, I agree. Trust me, I would love nothing more than to drop 200$ on getting my gun and mask a custom digital woodland paintjob. But, the honest truth is I do not have 200$ to spend on a paintjob for a 200$ marker. However, a majority of the others were telling me to get an M-16 shroud, or an MP5 kit. My personal favorite was one telling me to buy an AK47 kit. Can these “upgrades” add anything but aesthetic appeal to my marker?
Very, very few mil-sim upgrades, with the exceptions of stocks, add anything but weight. The average scenario game lasts an hour which is a decently long time to be holding 10lbs worth of marker and the extra strength used to hold it could be used to run, crawl, or just move quicker. Yet every week at my local field, a new range of mil-sim upgrades appear. My personal favorite is when I saw an older man with an A-5 with a huge shroud on it dressed to kill with NVS, Red dot, 6xscope, and a flashlight at 10 in the morning… This leaves me thinking when did we start picking looks over performance? Why would we want to add weight onto our guns?
I asked a few members this questions and they stated because it looks cool and it was worth the extra pound or two to have a marker look like a real weapon. Maybe I just do not get it since I like to play light. I have spent hundreds of dollars trying to make my equipment LIGHTER and not heavier. So to watch people turn around and throw chunks of steel onto their markers perplexes me. Think about this real quick, why are we trying to make our paintball guns look like real weapons?
If anything, this is one thing speedball is doing right that woods ball is not. Communities are afraid of anything that even sounds like a gun, let alone looks like one. When they drive by a field and see people walking around with tons of assault weapons, what will they think? Better yet, what might the parents of new players who simply come to watch, think of all this? Let’s be honest, the police do get called to paintball games because of smoke, loud noises, and kids playing with guns.
There are a group of people that will tell you having a marker with mil-sim attachments can intimidate other players. They think that walking onto the paintball field with an M-16 looking marker will scare people. There might be a little merit to this. If I see that someone has invested a lot of money in their gear, I think they must be pretty serious. Generally speaking, serious players are better players. However, sometimes, they are just playing ‘dress up.’
I prefer to avoid the risk of looking like a poseur. First of all, many players already complement my marker and ask questions about it all the time. When I tell them about my ‘hidden’ upgrades, they seem to be even more impressed and ask to play with me. (Which might I add, can sometimes be more annoying then a good thing.) Secondly, has anyone ever heard of anyone being afraid of shooting at a player on the field because of how their marker looked? In my experience, in the woods you’re lucky if you see anything but another person’s barrel or their back. I play with my little cousin and once in the woods, he is not asking “Where is that person with the scary gun?” So much for intimidation.
In conclusion, while I can accept that some people may buy mil-sim upgrades while telling themselves they are buying them for ‘style’ and intimidation, for me the most worthwhile investment is in things that will truly up my game. In my view, spending hundreds of scarce dollars on mil-sim at best only adds some unhelpful weight and at worst keeps me from investing something that will truly make me a better player.