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Whether you’re a beginner looking to dive into the sport or a seasoned player seeking an upgrade, choosing the right paintball gun, aka marker, is crucial to your success and enjoyment on the battlefield. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the key factors to consider when shopping for a paintball gun. And if that wasn’t enough, we’ll also reveal our top picks for the best markers suited to every skill level and budget. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Part 1: Factors to Consider When Choosing a Paintball Gun
– Firing System
– Game / Play Style
Part 2: Best Markers for Every Skill Level and Budget
– Tippmann 98 Custom: The Best Starter Paintball Marker
– Tippmann A-5: The Upgraded Version of the Tippmann 98 Custom
– Empire Mini GS: The Compact Powerhouse
– Tippmann TMC: The Ultimate Beginner Magfed Marker with a Genuine AR Feel
– Valken M17: A Fantastic Magfed Option for Professionals
– Empire Axe 2.0: Top-of-the-line Electric Paintball Gun
– Planet Eclipse CS3: Professional’s Choice
– Tippmann TiPX: Best Backup Paintball Pistol
.68 and .50 have emerged as the most popular choices among players, and the reason behind it is that these two calibers strike the perfect balance between range and impact, catering to a wide range of play styles and preferences. As a result, you’ll unlikely find markers in other calibers on the market. Let’s compare .68 vs. .50 paintballs in terms of performance.
The .68 caliber is considered the standard and is widely used across the sport, and here’s why. A .68 caliber paintball weighs around 3 grams, compared to a .50 caliber paintball weighing about 1.25 grams. Now, both paintballs can have the same energy because energy is a factor of mass and velocity squared, and as you know, a lighter projectile can fly at a higher velocity. However, more mass gives an edge at wind resistance due to a greater momentum, meaning heavier projectiles can fly further and have better accuracy. Besides, they retain more energy when they reach the target, meaning they are more likely to break and mark rather than bounce.
However, lighter projectiles hit lighter – that’s why .50-caliber paintballs are also called low-impact. Besides, with a smaller size, you get more paint in the hopper, meaning you need to reload less often.
Pros of .68 paintballs:
- Fly farther
- Less prone to wind drift
- More likely to break on impact
Cons of .68 paintballs:
- Hurt more
- Need reloading more often
Pros of .50 paintballs:
- Hurt less
- Need reloading less often
- Shoot through thick brush – for woodsball players
Cons of .50 paintballs:
Pump Paintball Guns
Pump action paintball guns are the oldest and simplest version, with their operation relying entirely on manual effort. Like a traditional shotgun, players must use the pump action to load the chamber and cock the gun for firing. This system encourages players to focus on each shot, developing field skills and accuracy. However, it may put you at a disadvantage if your opponents are using semi-automatics. While not ideal for newcomers, experienced players can find pump action guns extremely satisfying.
Mechanical Paintball Guns
Mechanical markers, the most common choice for casual play, are semi-automatic paintball guns firing one shot per trigger pull. They’re generally affordable, easy to maintain, and easy to refill as they use either CO2 or compressed air.
Electric Paintball Guns
Electronic markers were once expensive, but their prices have become more accessible in recent years. Powered by a 9-volt battery, these guns feature a lighter trigger action, allowing for higher firing rates, and are easy to switch between modes via a circuit board. Electronic markers come in three categories: sear tripper (easy to maintain), pneumatic poppet valve (fast and consistent firing), and spool valve (no recoil).
- Mechanical markers – best for beginners, versatile, affordable
- Electronic markers – best for seriously committed players, full-auto paintball guns
- Pump markers – best sniper paintball guns
Game / Play Style
Speedball is a fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping game that takes place on a smaller field with inflatable bunkers. In speedball, having a quick-shot paintball gun is critical. Electronic markers having rapid firing rates and lightweight designs are ideal for this high-speed environment.
Woodsball is played in natural environments like forests, with players using trees and bushes as cover. In this game type, you’ll need a marker that excels in accuracy at longer ranges, has a stock for added stabilization, a longer barrel for increased velocity, and the capability to mount a red dot sight for enhanced targeting. Mechanical markers, especially those designed for scenario play, are well-suited for woodsball, offering the necessary accuracy, ruggedness, and customization options to help you succeed in this challenging environment.
Milsim (Military Simulation)
Milsim games imitate real-life military scenarios, often requiring teamwork, strategy, and specialized gear. Realistic-looking markers, such as mag-fed or tactical markers, are preferred in this game type. These markers often come equipped with additional accessories like sights, scopes, and stocks for better performance and an authentic experience.
Recball (Recreational Ball)
Recball is a more casual, laid-back version of paintball, perfect for those who want to have fun without the intensity of competitive play. For Recball, a compact, maneuverable, simple mechanical marker is typically the best choice.
Aggressive Play Style: If you’re an aggressive player who loves to charge into the fray and take the fight to your opponents, you’ll need a marker that is lightweight, fast-firing, and easy to maneuver.
Regardless of your skill level, we strongly recommend steering clear of cheap paintball guns. The reality is that many of the low-priced models on the market today simply don’t deliver when it comes to performance, value, and durability.
As the paintball industry continues to grow rapidly, several companies are attempting to cash in by flooding the market with low-quality, inexpensive paintball guns. That’s why we wholeheartedly stand by reputable brands like Tippmann, Empire, Dye, and Spyder. These companies consistently produce markers you can trust to work efficiently every time you hit the field. After all, no one wants their fantastic day of paintball ruined by a faulty gun – that’s just not enjoyable!
Tippmann 98 Custom: The Best Starter Paintball Marker
Jumping into the thrilling world of paintball? You’ll need a trusty sidekick that’s reliable, durable, and won’t break the bank. Enter the Tippmann 98 Custom – a true workhorse among paintball enthusiasts.
The Tippmann 98 Custom is a mechanical-operation marker powered by CO2 or HPA and features a well-established in-line bolt system that delivers consistent performance. One of the standout features of this marker is its Anti-Chop Technology (ACT), which helps prevent paintballs from breaking inside the gun – the rear bolt doesn’t fully engage until the front bolt passes more than 50% of the breach opening, guaranteeing a smooth and uninterrupted game.
As you progress in the sport, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to modify and tweak the Tippmann 98 Custom, thanks to its highly customizable design. For instance, you can throw a 16-inch barrel and a stock on it and turn your Recball Tippmann into a viable woodsball gun. Plus, with the universal Picatinny rail system, you’ll have compatibility with a wide range of sights and sighting accessories.
Tippmann A-5: The Upgraded Version of the Tippmann 98 Custom
If you like the legendary Tippmann 98 Custom, you’ll love its upgraded sibling – the Tippmann A-5. This fantastic marker takes everything that’s great about the 98 Custom and adds some extra bells and whistles for an even more exciting experience.
One of the standout features of this Tippmann paintball gun is how easy it is to disassemble. In less than 60 seconds and without any tools, you can take this marker apart for cleaning and maintenance. And just like its predecessor, the A-5 offers amazing customization options. However, although the A-5 looks very similar to the 98 Custom, it accepts only A-5-specific add-ons, which could limit your upgrade options.
Built to last, the A-5’s body is made with an aluminum die-cast receiver, ensuring durability and long-lasting performance throughout countless paintball battles. But what really sets this marker apart is its smooth Cyclone feed system that minimizes any chance of jams and broken paintballs and can fire up to 15 balls per second without batteries.
The Tippmann A-5 is a perfect beginner to intermediate marker for those who love tactical gameplay – offering a realistic and versatile design, it can handle various play styles and scenarios. However, the stock barrel may need an upgrade to improve accuracy and performance, say, if you’re into woodsball and more of a defense-type player.
Empire Mini GS: The Compact Powerhouse
If you want a high-end paintball marker that’s compact, easy to use, and packed with premium features, you need the Empire Mini GS – that’s for sure! This little powerhouse lives up to its name as one of the smallest and lightest paintball guns on the market, weighing in at just 1 lb, 14 oz. But don’t be fooled by its size – the Mini GS packs quite a punch and is perfect for intermediate players who want a tournament-style marker with some serious firepower.
It’s an electro-pneumatic paintball fitted with a quiet, self-lubricating electronic trigger that allows you to shoot as fast as you can pull it, making it ideal for close-quarters indoor play and fast-paced action. To add to its versatility, the marker features a Shockwave board that provides easy access to multiple firing modes – semi-auto, PSP, three-shot burst, millennium, ramping, and full-auto.
The Mini GS comes equipped with a 12-inch autococker threaded aluminum barrel, delivering outstanding accuracy and performance. Plus, the laser eyes on the inside help prevent chopping paintballs and maintain consistent performance. The marker also includes a durable clamping feedneck that ensures the hopper will stay aligned. Comfort during gameplay is essential, and the Mini GS delivers with a full rubber grip around the front of the body, offering control and stability during intense matches.
One of the standout features of this Empire paintball gun is its on/off ASA (Air Source Adapter) switch, something that the original Empire Mini lacked. It allows the player to degas their HPA tank much easier with a simple push of a button.
To summarize, this marker is the best if you’re seeking a paintball gun to dominate in a speedball game. It kicks back only an inch and is very quiet. However, players with big hands can find it uncomfortable to hold.
Tippmann TMC: The Ultimate Beginner Magfed Marker with a Genuine AR Feel
If you’re on the lookout for the perfect beginner mag-fed marker that feels like a real M4 rifle, a carbine version of the AR-15, then the Tippmann TMC full-pneumatic marker is what you need. This fantastic paintball gun not only looks like the real deal but also provides excellent performance and value for money.
The Tippmann TMC is exceptionally lightweight, translating into less fatigue and easy maneuvering on the battlefield. For enhanced stability and control, the TMC comes equipped with a five-position collapsible stock that adjusts to your preferred length – just like the real M4.
Unlike the previously mentioned Tippmann markers, the stock TMC comes with a 12-inch barrel that allows for propelling those .68 paintballs at a higher speed, making hitting targets and dominating the field much easier for beginners.
What’s also great about the marker is that you don’t have to stick to the magazine feeding system – the marker has an optional feed neck attachment that allows you to revert to hoppers for your paintballs. By the way, the magazine accepts 20 paintballs.
Lastly, the TMC’s ergonomic trigger ensures smooth and comfortable shooting, allowing you to maintain precise control during intense firefights, while a nice rubber grip conforms perfectly to even a big hand
Valken M17: A Fantastic Magfed Option for Professionals
One more mag-fed paintball carbine on our list, one of the most notable aspects of which is its ability to fire standard .68 caliber paintballs or First Strike rubber projectiles that travel at a higher speed. Plus, with semi or fully-automatic mechanical firing modes, the Valken M17 allows you to adapt your shooting style to various situations on the field. Whether you prefer controlled, single shots or rapid-fire action, the M17 has got you covered.
Empire Axe 2.0: Top-of-the-line Electric Paintball Gun
The EMPIRE Axe 2.0 is a professional-level pressure-controlled poppet engine marker. With a durable all-aluminum body, it’s designed to withstand the rigors of intense gameplay. Plus, with its 12-inch barrel and low-pressure operation, this marker is gentle and quiet, which allows you to maintain stealth as you stalk your opponents on the field. The two-piece barrel ensures your shots are on target every time. Besides, it’s easier to clean.
Unlike the Empire Mini GS, this marker accepts an OLED Redline board, meaning you’ll have all the information you need right at your fingertips.
But what about firing modes? With its Shockwave board, switching between semi, ramp, burst, and full-auto modes is a breeze. This versatility allows you to adapt your shooting style to any situation on the field, just like with the Mini GS.
Planet Eclipse CS3: Professional’s Choice
One of the best premium markers available in 2023, the Planet Eclipse CS3 is a choice for many professional paintball players that boasts an advanced super-consistent OP Core drive train, packed with cutting-edge features designed to outperform the competition. Operating at a low air pressure of under 100 PSI, this marker enhances efficiency and prolongs the lifespan of internal components while maintaining consistency and reliability. The adjustable trigger can be set to one of five preset positions, offering optimal control over your shots.
What sets the CS3 paintball marker apart is its user-friendly design. The toolless grip ensures a secure seal during gameplay, safeguarding the modular marker electronics from paint or moisture ingress. The extended forward grip pitch is tailored to the natural motion of your hand for added comfort.
Tippmann TiPX: Best Backup Paintball Pistol
Imagine being the last player standing on your team, with opponents closing in and your primary marker suddenly running out of paintballs. Having a backup weapon, such as the Tippmann TiPX semi-auto paintball pistol, would allow you to continue fighting – you never know, maybe you could turn the tide of the match in your favor.
The Tippmann TiPX is a .68 caliber paintball marker that boasts a sturdy construction and dependable performance. The magazine accepts 7 paintballs and is fitted with a quick-release system. The pistol is compact and not too heavy and feels quite realistic. Plus, powered by a 12g CO2 cartridge cleverly concealed under the barrel, the pistol has a sleek design. Here, you can also see an accessory rail that allows you to attach a laser or a sight.
And one of the greatest things about this versatile paintball pistol is an external velocity adjuster, allowing you to fine-tune your shots according to your preferences and field regulations.
Though some users mention that the TiPX has an issue with chopping paintballs, it seems to be less of a problem when using higher-quality paint. Generally, the construction is highly reliable.
While the price for the TiPX is reasonable, it’s worth keeping in mind that additional expenses may arise from purchasing extra magazines and accessories. However, considering the overall quality and performance of this paintball pistol, many players find it to be a worthwhile investment.
How much is a paintball gun?
The cost of a paintball gun varies widely, ranging from around $100 for entry-level models to over $1,500 for high-end, professional-grade markers.
How much should I spend on a paintball gun?
The amount you should spend on a paintball gun depends on your skill level, frequency of play, and personal preferences. Beginners can start with a budget of $100-$300, while more experienced players may choose to invest in higher-quality gear, spending anywhere from $300 to $1,000 or more.
What’s the best electric paintball gun?
The best electric paintball gun is subjective and often depends on individual preferences and requirements. However, popular options include the Planet Eclipse CS3, Dye M3+, and the Empire Axe 2.0.