One of if not the most important component of a gel blaster is the barrel.
The barrel not only points the projectile in the right direction it is what the entire blaster is built around. Length, bore size and material are the 3 main differences between models and brands but there is a whole lot more to a barrel that can make the difference between an average blaster and a great blaster.
The dynamics of a gel blaster barrels are unlike any other device including Airsoft. Perhaps the closest thing would be the barrel of an "orange cannon / spud gun" but still not really close.What sets Gel Blasters apart is predominantly the soft and flexible nature of the ammunition. As frustrating as this ammunition can be there are some charachteristics we can use to our advantage but to do so a higher level of precision is required.
Standard barrels supplied with blasters typically have a bore size of 7.5mm diameter, this is to accomodate for a wide variety of different sized gels and reduce the amount of breakage with the larger ones. Using the flexible nature of the gel to our advantage and create a better seal between the projectile and the bore wall improves efficiency and increases effectiveness.
A Standard barrel has a bore diameter of 7.5mm. These are fitted from the factory because they accept a wider variety of gel types and sizes. If using a quality gel less than 7.5mm in diameter there is a significant loss of charge pressures which means decreased performance.
Better quality gels are typically harder and smaller than 7.5 mm, they will withstand being squeezed through a barrel with a smaller than standard bore, using this to our advantage we eliminate the loss of charge pressure resulting in higher muzzle velocities (FPS).
Bruisemaster barrels have been designed to accept a wide range of gels and by using a non linear bore profile to funnel the gels, increase the use of all available charge pressure then graduate the transition to atmosphere the barrels greatly improve muzzle velocities and improve flight stability
Our tests have proved that gels that are harder and larger than average in diameter (up to 7.8 mm) can still be shot through our barrels without breaking providing your blaster is capable of supplying adequate charge pressure.
Plastic. Cheap to produce, the surface rapidly deteriorates and is quite flexible. The flexibility can effect accuracy.
Soft Metal such as aluminium alloys are also cheap to produce, their performance and service life depends on the surface finish. A hard anodized surface can be acceptable for the task and provide long service life although hard anodizing is more expensive to produce. Cheaper forms of decorative anodizing or no anodizing are more common but do not wear well or provide as good a surface finish. Some chemicals used in the cheaper anodizing are quite toxic and exposure is restricted in various countries around the world. Aluminium has a higher mechanical strength than plastic so flexibility is reduced.
Hard Metals such as steel alloys (stainless) or copper alloys (brass) allow for superior natural surface finishes and are heavier. The added weight reduces susceptibility to vibration and increases stability. Fine grain structure of the material allows for finer surface finishing and greater durability as well as a greater resistance to the build up of contaminants. The mechanical strength of steel alloys in these dimensions is less than aluminium alloys. the mechanical strength of brass variants are much higher than aluminium and steel alloys.
Alloys are a mixture of metals for the purpose of creating a more specific material, they have a base metal then certain percentages of other chemical elements are added to change or enhance the charachteristics of the end product. Stainless Steel comprises of Iron, Chromium & Nickel and is produced in many different forms with varying percentages. We used to manufacture barrels from 316 Stainless Steel for its ability to be highly polished in the bore and its low service requirements, due to the ever fluctuation quality of the stainless available locally and the development of the Gold Series barrels as superior items we no longer make stainless barrels. Our Gold Series barrels are made of a copper alloy and is close to brass but has additional elements added to alter the grain structure for the purpose of improving strength and hardness. This material has to be specially sourced from overseas suppliers and is the most superior material currently available for Gel Blaster Barrels.
The Gold Series barrels are absolute best barrels available for gel blasters, we no longer offer the stainless barrels. Stainless steel barrels were what we manufactured originally, as time went on and we further refined our products the Gold Series were specifically developed and the most superior barrel available was created with improved bore design, finish, rigidity and stability.
The type of gels and their consistency in size and weight is crucial to performance, So too is the gels physical reaction to internal and external ballistics. overall the most crucial aspect is consistency. More can be read bout this in the "Gel Ballistics" pages.
Suppliers are offering new improved gels on a regular basis, new colors, harder and glow in the dark but we are yet to see "MORE CONSISTENT', the most crucial aspect of the ammunition.
The method you use for growing gels can also effect their size and consistency. Using tap water or bottled water, pure water or distilled water, rain water, hot water, dam water, cold water, bath water or holy water, each will effect growth in some way.
Putting additives into the water during growth has an effect, additives after grown and drained will have a slightly different effect. It is not recommended that lubricants are added to the gels at any stage as these will have a detrimental effect on friction plate type hop ups, although the feed and fire charachteristics might improve by doing this it is typically at the expense of accuracy.
Any individual gel can only absorb a finite amount of water and this varies from gel to gel so soaking gels for long periods of time guarantees they will all vary in diameter. by using a "Controlled Growth Method" it is possible to reduce the size variation in gels and improve consistency. By controlling the amount of water given to the gels or the time they are allowed to soak for you are able to limit the overall average size the gel grows to.
Another method used to improve the consistency of your gels size is to grade them after they have been grown. Sorting the grown gels into groups of similar size is possible and tedious work. Many people have made machines at home to grade their gels with varying levels of success. searching online is a good way to learn more about this.