Well, it appears that Ed has also entered the blog contest at OK Company as well. Earlier than myself, in fact.
My nightly routine has always been to surf PBNation to giggle at the latest 'who has the bigger barrel' arguments. Further, I wanted to congratulate the Forest Demons on a job well done placing First place in the top 2 divisions.
Then I saw a poll/topic that very much caught my eye. '.50 Cal - Do you really want this?'
This has been a huge dilemma for me, mostly because I like to tinker with toys. So breaking into a whole new caliber of paintball I raised my nose to. It wasn't until recently when I sat down with my good friend Michael, who competition shoots for a living; that we started to discuss the avenues of .50 caliber paintball.
Michael has always disliked paintball. He is ex military trained, police trained, etc. etc. He hates the size of the markers, hates the hoppers, his hate list could go on and on. About 8 weeks ago, he did go out and buy a paintball pistol though, which shocked me. I then laughed when he told me it was the Kingmann pistol. I simply said good luck trying to use that at any place you pay to play (he hasn't been able to use it either). His argument was it fit in his hand like his normal side arm, hence he bought it.
After discussing the topic for about 2 solid hours with him, my outlook on the .50 caliber paintball changed drastically. no longer did I want to shun the idea, instead, I now embrace it.
Here is my reasoning.
The sport of Paintball realistically has plateaued and needs a fresh idea. I'm not saying a change, but new avenues. That being stated, introducing (or reintroducing, whatever) the .50 cal isnt a bad thing. It offers more options to people, and to companies. I've always stated to friends and teammates, that when the caliber of paintballs get smaller, we will see closer adaptations to more milsim markers. Now sure, you have the BT Delta thats a very good replica MP5, minus the huge hopper that is attached to it. If people want more realistic replica of real fire arms, then the caliber has to come down in size.
Now, people are really worried about these companies saying 'ok, we are going .50 cal' and dropping everything to do with .68 calibers and screwing over all their current customer/players. I don't think any company is planning to do this...unless they really want out of the business, since they would be bankrupting themselves in 72 hours. You do not bite the hand that feeds you. So if anything, you will see companies experiment, and push a new caliber product (e.g. Kingmann with their pistol, and Smart Parts working with GI Milsim), but will never just say good bye to .68 caliber (as long as their is old school autocockers and Automags out there, .68 caliber will be around).
Also, please keep in consideration that real fire arms come in all calibers. That being stated, think of how many more people this might attract to the sport. A different caliber paintball means new markers, new designs, new concepts, and new beginnings. All that said means new players, new groups, and new games. If anything this could revitalize the sport, more than hurt it.
Now keeping the positive in perspective, there are also negatives that have to be weighed in as well. Here are some points that I really do see as an issue.
Tom Kaye of AGD points out, switching to this caliber size might pose a safety issue. The smaller caliber will have a much better chance of slipping through some of the field rental type of masks that have larger vent holes.
The standard case of paint is 2K rounds. Now going to a smaller paint, is it factual that the consumers will be getting more paint for that same price of the 2k of .68 caliber?
If conversion kits are offered, will they also include barrels to go with them? Or will it be yet more money that we need to spend?
This is going to be 1 of 2 of the biggest question I believe for all the current players. Will the new .50 cal markers be something new and completely different, or will it be simply the markers we know and love offered in 2 different calibers? I ask because if the .50 caliber and .68 2010 ego (just using as an example) are both priced at 1250, why would I buy the .50 cal when my hoppers, barrels, and everything else I own is geared for .68 caliber?
2 of 2, will the design and concepts for the .68 caliber markers be neglected and/or just regurgitated (with what is already out there) while companies focus on .50 caliber?
Lastly, what of the pay to play fields? Do we know if their current insurance policies will cover the .50 caliber (being if its a safety issue with the smaller caliber having a better chance to get through vent holes on rental masks, this is something that needs to be addressed)?
Again, these are just my thoughts, and I'm expressing as everyone else is here. My hope is that people see the .50 caliber as an expansion to the sport, which I believe its trying to do. Not replacing what has already been done, and what is currently the norm.