Paintball markers have existed for nearly 60 years. While this may be surprising to some paintballers, the paintball marker actually predates the game by almost 20 years. Loggers and cattle ranchers initially used the paintball gun to mark trees for felling and to mark the head of cattle. One might imagine that somewhere along the way, a logger or ranger lost a bet and ended up on the business end of a paintball marker more than once. However, the real birth of the sport of paintball came from friends discussing whether a smart city slicker could hold his own with a woodsman. One day, one of the friends discovered the paintball marker in an agricultural magazine, and the sport of paintball was born! Since then, paintball guns have evolved from single-action markers to pneumatically-powered paintball-throwing powerhouses.
How to Choose a Paintball Gun
The type of paintball gun that you use should be informed by your skill level and the type of paintball you’ll mainly be playing. There are two main types of paintball scenarios: woodsball and speedball.
Speedball favors paintball makers that have a high rate of fire. These paintball guns have a streamlined appearance, however their aesthetic has little to do with performance. These guns are low-profile, so the risk of getting hit is lower, but the real benefit comes in the mechanical and electrical functionality. The piston system and double trigger allow for extremely high rates of fire. The hoppers are also generally electronic rather than gravity-fed so that paintballs can be loaded into the chamber even faster.
Woodsball, on the other hand, is much more spread out and has a slower pace of play. In this sort of scenario, many players opt for using mil-sim markers for a more realistic experience. Visually, these markers look much more like real firearms and tend to have slightly longer barrels that facilitate long-distance shots. It’s worth noting that speedball guns can be used in woodsball scenarios; however, it is more difficult to use a woodsball gun in speedball scenarios.
Paintball Guns for Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced Players
Based on the type of gameplay, players should evaluate whether they need a speedball gun or a woodsball gun. A solid beginner paintball gun can be purchased for around $200-$400. Intermediate paintball guns can cost anywhere from $500-$800, and professional paintball guns can cost up to several thousand dollars.
Tippmann, HK Army, and Spyder all make great beginner and intermediate paintball guns for both speedball and woodsball. HK also makes very high-end paintball markers, so be sure to check the price and the marker specs before checking out.
Empire and Planet Eclipse both produce excellent paintball markers for intermediate players. Usually intermediate players take the sport more seriously and may play several times a month so having a higher quality marker makes sense. The extra bells and whistles that intermediate paintball guns offer make them worthwhile to purchase for intermediate players.
Finally, well-known paintball marker manufacturers like DLX Luxe, Virtue, Dye, and Infamous produce professional-level equipment. These paintball markers are often finely machined and milled with ultra-light and ultra-strong materials like carbon fiber. These paintball markers are most often used by players who are part of a paintball team or paintball association. These paintballers may play a couple of times per week and compete in tournaments with cash prizes which is why the highest quality equipment is required.
Manual, Semi-Automatic, and Automatic Paintball Guns
Most paintball guns are semi automatic, meaning that one paintball fires for every pull of the trigger. However, there are a handful of paintball guns that are manual and others that are automatic. Semi Automatic paintball guns are appropriate for most speedball and woodsball games. However, some games do allow automatic paintball guns with limited BPS (balls per second) settings.
Automatic paintball guns are generally more expensive and fire a stream of paintballs while the trigger is depressed. As a result, many games will not allow automatic paintball guns, but some will. Fortunately, most of these guns offer settings that allow players to select the fire rate.
Manual paintball guns must be pumped every time they are shot. Semi-automatic and automatic paintball guns both cycle automatically using the compressed gasses that shoot the paintball through the paintball gun. Manual paintball guns are normally used by younger players or in scenario-specific instances where all players have pump (manual) paintball guns. Allowing semi automatic paintball guns to compete against pump paintball guns would be unfair in the extreme. Therefore, all players must be in agreement when using pump paintball markers.
Mechanical VS Electronic Paintball Markers
Paintball guns come in two basic types: mechanical and electronic. Mechanical paintball guns are cheaper and only have analog components. Disassembly, cleaning, and maintenance are relatively easy because the internal parts are simple. However, mechanical paintball guns are less accurate than electronic guns and need more air pressure to function than electronic guns do.
Electronic paintball guns are higher-end markers. They are more accurate than mechanical markers are, can shoot farther, and the air lasts longer since they can function on a lower PSI than mechanical markers. However, these markers are much more expensive than mechanical markers, and their inner mechanisms are finer. Any maintenance or upgrade generally must be done by a professional who knows how these guns work.