Paintball guns, also known as paintball markers come in a variety of styles, colors, sizes and price ranges and finding the best paintball gun with all the bells and whistles can be very confusing and overwhelming.
So how do I find the perfect paintball gun? Fear not, we created this helpful guide to sort through all the information and help you get the best gun that matches your level of play without breaking the bank. We’ll cover the basics of paintball guns, top brands, different styles of play and accessories you can buy.
As a rule of thumb, a more expensive gun will have more features, offer better accuracy and help you shoot farther and faster, but this doesn’t mean you can’t get a great paintball gun at an affordable. We also put the following comparison table together to give you a quick look at the best selling paintball guns.
Paintball Gun Comparison Table
How to Find a Paintball Gun to match your Skill Level
Finding a great paintball gun depends more on your skill level and your budget than anything else. Sure,it would be nice to have the latest model with all of the bells and whistles, but if you are just starting out, going after the top of the line paintball gun with a ton of extra features is probably not a good idea.
If you only play for recreation, you don’t need to ante up the big money for a special marker. Your goal is to simply get the best paintball gun you can afford, knowing you can always upgrade later as your skill improves and you become better at the game.
Paintball Gun Basics
Before you buy a paintball gun you need to learn some of the basics that will get you up and running as fast as possible and help you make a better buying decision. Lets get into into it, shall we?
Most Paintball Guns fall into the following 2 categories:
Mechanical - Mechanical paintball guns are activated mechanically and do not require a battery or electronic board to fire. Each time you pull the trigger, the marker releases one paintball at a time via a pump or bolt system. You then have to cock the mechanism to load the next paintball into the barrel and repeat this process for every shot.
The advantages of using a mechanical gun is that you don’t have to rely on a battery in order to shoot. As long as you have your CO2 or compressed air screwed on to the paintball gun, you are ready to go. Mechanical guns can be helpful if you are out camping or doing an overnight trip where you don’t have to worry about your battery going dead and not being able to play.
Electronic - Electronic guns on the other hand, rely on battery power to fire the paintballs and are capable of firing at high rates of speed. Some electronic guns can fire up to 10-15 rounds or paintballs per trigger pull. While it’s nice to have the option of fire superiority when you need it, you’ll also be burning through a ton more paintballs and need to keep this in mind when it comes down to budgeting. Although, electronic paintball guns are now more affordable than they were years ago when they were considered an expensive luxury.
All Paintball guns (mechanical and electronic) are designed to shoot paintballs using compressed air or CO2 as the propellant.
What is the difference between compressed air and CO2?
Compressed air is natural breathing air that is kept under pressure. It is also known as HPA - High Pressure Air and is widely used for all sorts of equipment and power tools like HVAC control systems, scuba diving gear, railway braking systems and even dust cleaner canisters for electronics. Compressed air is expensive and can be more expensive than electricity, natural gas and water.
Most mechanical guns will take either compressed Air or CO2 while electronic guns mainly support HPA or compressed air.. It’s easy to find places, like sporting good stores where compressed air can be filled for a cost of about $5 to $10.
Most of the compressed air bottles are made out of fiberglass and weigh half the weight of some CO2 containers.
Most of the electronic guns require compressed air which can only be filled at a paintball shop or paintball facility.
CO2 is Carbon Dioxide and has been around since the beginning of paintball. This was the first type of propellant that was used to fire up some of the first paintball guns that were made. When CO2 turns from a liquid into a gas, it expands and creates pressure that helps to fire the paintball. Unfortunately, CO2 is unstable and fluctuates based on temperature and other variables.
The Type of paintball style you play will also determine the paintball gun you buy
Different Types of Paintball Play
There are some variations of paintball play like airball, hyperball but we’ll stick to the following main 3:
Woodsball - A type of paintball play that’s played in the woods (hence the name) and not in a paintball park or designated area. There are boundaries of course, but the fields tend to be large and cover usually comes in the form of trees, rocks, plywood, etc, or anything that is natural.
Woodsball Guns, also known as rec-ball guns are usually black or dark colored paintball guns. These guns are some of the more realistic assault rifle type of guns out there.
Speedball - As the name implies, Speedball is a fast and furious game. These games are very competitive and played in a more flat surface like a soccer field in order to prevent injury. Players of opposite sides move quickly behind bunker style
Speedball guns - These are some of the high-end, electronic paintball guns with electronic control panels. Usually, you’ll see people playing speedball with fancy, bright colored paintball guns and these guns must be as fast as possible. You want to deliver as much paint as possible, per trigger squeeze when playing speedball.
Scenario - Also known as tactical paintball, Scenario Paintball can be really fun and adds a specific theme or story to the game. It’s not just about shooting your opponent, but more about completing a mission. For example, this could be anything from rescuing a hostage to retrieving a specific prop, building, flag or object from the field.
A scenario could consist of anything, like re-enacting D-Day or other military battles to the zombie apocalypse where a third team enters the battlefield as zombies. A great example is Oklahoma’s Adventure Park in Wyandotte, Oklahoma, which hosts the worlds largest scenario game recreating events of World War II called
Scenario Guns - Depends highly on the type of scenario game you are playing (Military, futuristic, video game or other.) This is where players go all out and bring out some of their fancy guns. Most guns in this category are machine gun, sniper type guns with scopes, red-dot sites, silencers and tripods.
When you get hit by a paintball in scenario paintball, you don’t have to sit out for the rest of the game. All you have to do is get your shot wiped off and get re-inserted by the referee.
Different Types of Paintball Brands
There are many paintball manufacturers out there and some of the more famous brands are as follows:
Tippmann - one of the largest and most reputable paintball companies in the world and has been manufacturing guns since 1988. They offer great high end models and some really inexpensive, entry level markers that are not cheap in quality but are great for beginners. Guns like the Tippman 98 and the higher end Tippman X7 Phenom continue to perform well.
Azodin- While only a few years old, Azodin brings plenty of knowledge to the table and features some of the great paintball guns for beginners to intermediate users at reasonable prices. Some of their guns like the Azodin Kaos, Zenith and Blitz have exploded into the paintball market. Combine that with great customer service and you are looking at a company that will be around for a long time.
Dye Paintball - Known for a long time as a leader for high end paintball guns and gear. Paintball guns like the Dye M2 and the Dye DAM CQB bring some serious firepower to the avid or tournament player. They have recently ventured into the mid range market so expect some exceptional guns there too.
DLX Technologies - Home of the DLX Luxe Paintball Gun. This is the Rolls Royce of paintball markers and one of the most sough-after guns for high end performance and all-out tournament play. Designed to be super customizable to meet the strictest demands of any advanced player.
GOG - A relatively new company by the same people that built Smart Parts and the ION Paintball Gun. Some of their quality guns like the GOG eNMEy and the GOG eXTCY have taken the paintball industry by storm.
The Best Paintball Guns for Beginners
If you are an entry level player, either standing in for a regular player or just being introduced to the sport for the first time, you can get a decent non-electrical marker for under $100. Units in this price range are reliable and accurate as far as mechanical guns go.
They are simple to use, easy to figure out,lightweight and easy to clean and maintain. They work just fine for the player who wants to get some exercise, relieve stress, spend time with friends or take on a friendly competition. These range of guns aren’t appropriate for a higher level of play, however.
While it has a few features compared to the more expensive models, it works fine as a starter gun. You can upgrade to another level once you get accustomed to it. For $150-200 you can get a lot more features on a lower end gun that’s still fit for a beginner. It’s all a matter of how much money you can spend at the moment.
Paintball Guns for Intermediate Users
The best markers for intermediate users generally start out at $300 and up. They have a better performance level and faster firing. This level of gun is more appropriate for a more frequent player or outdoors paintball player. As you go into full combat, you’ll need this type of gun to remain competitive.
The Best Paintball Markers for Advanced Users
Top performing guns are generally $400 and up. They usually have a composite frame and spring-releasing bolts. This type of gun is meant for the avid player or tournament player. These aren’t meant for your backyard scrimmage.
These are meant for the highly competitive players who need to be quick on their feet with good decision-making skills. There is no time for a marker than can’t keep up. These are best for speedball tournaments because they are lighter than their woodsball counterparts.
Best Paintball Gear and Accessories
There are a number of options as far as upgrading your current paintball gear or adding on special features. The following list contains a few that you might want to consider:
A new barrel. This is by far the best upgrade you can buy for your paintball gun, especially if they get clogged with paint ball fragments. Keeping the barrel clean is essential for the long term life of the gun.
A mask. A face mask is an essential part of the paintball gear you’ll need, along with protective goggles. If you choose to protect nothing else, protect your eyes.
A vest. These are great for holding gear and balls as you travel around in the tactical sport.
Hoppers. These help feed the paintballs.
Spring kit. Tension is what determines how fast the ball will go. Springs are the firs thing that need to be replaced over time, but they are easy to do.
Ammunition. Paintballs are a reoccurring expense for avid players. It’s not much different than paying for a bucket of ball at the golf course or weekly dues to join a bowling league. It just goes with the territory.
CO2. Compressed air tanks are another expense to consider in this extreme sport.
Pods. These are used to store the actual paintballs. They come in a variety of colors and can hold anywhere from 10 to 100 rounds.
Gloves. Just another element of protective gear that you’ll be glad to have. Getting shot in the hand makes it easy to drop your gun. Having that layer or protection can give you a barrier between the paintball and your hand so you can steady the marker.
A package deal.
This may be the best way to go for a beginner. A typical package deal includes a marker, and commonly used accessories like protective gear, hoppers, an air tank and apparel.
Maintenance - Even the Most Expensive, High End Paintball Gun Can Have Problems
While lower end markers are likely to break down faster, even high end models can have problems due to overuse or improper cleaning and maintenance. You may experience a leaky tank, a gun that doesn’t re-cock, double firing or paintballs stuck in the barrel. The best way to fix problems with your marker is to disassemble it, thoroughly clean it, replace the o rings and the springs and then reassemble it according to the manufacturer’s directions.
I hope this guide has been helpful in getting you up to speed with the latest and best paintball guns in the market.
When you factor in all the additional gear you’ll have to buy, like air tanks, hoppers, paintballs, goggles and a paintball mask, it can really start to add up.
We hope you find a great paintball gun at a great price that is well matched for your level of play.
Keep in mind there are tons of guns out there, so even if you end up getting a lower end model, you can always upgrade to a better one with more advanced features as your play gets better. So go out there and have tons of fun and get some experience.
Product Images Sourced from Amazon.com