Ultimate Buyer’s guide: How to choose best paintball guns
It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur or a pro, in order to enjoy all that paintball has to offer as a game. To fully enjoy it you might just need to get your hands on one of the best paintball guns on the market.
Besides that paintball has become more than a game people play once in a while or during a teambuilding and has morphed into a way of life for some. Nowadays the game can mimic real warfare situations to an uncanny degree and this is probably the main reason why it’s so popular, seeing how you can experience the adrenaline of being on the battle field while just having fun with your friends.
We present you some of the best paintball markers out there
Being so popular means that paintball has quickly evolved in a short period of time and that there is a lot of information out there, scattered all over the internet. This website is aiming to be a complete information source for both seasoned players and people looking to get into this game.
In order to be on a competitive level you will need the best quality equipment only and complete information on what is going on in this world. To keep up with all the latest gear and trends this will be the only source of information any paintball enthusiast will ever need.
What is paintball and how can the best paintball guns help?
Paintball as a sport doesn’t need much introduction, anyone has heard of it and seen at least a few clips online with people getting splattered with paint while running through the forest. It’s all fun and games, however paintball is a sport and like any other sport it has formal and informal rules. Nowadays paintball games are played not only as amusement, but as military training too.
Paintball can be played virtually anywhere (outdoor, as well as indoor) and can be based on various scenarios like capture the flag, elimination, and other. Also the rules may vary from game to game (in competitions) and for informal games can be agreed upon in the beginning. There is one cardinal rule however: if you’ve been hit you must leave the field.
Currently there are three mainly used game types:
- MilSim – the name comes from Military Simulation and it’s exactly what it sounds like. This type of game is meant to emulate military combat conditions, without the horrors of war of course. The military part however only refers to planning out the mission and logistics and maybe to a slightly altered set of elimination rules. For example if you get hit in the leg you can continue playing without using that leg.
- Woodsball – this is the most popular game mode and mainly refers to the location the games are played in. As you can imagine these games are played in woods, or at least that’s where it all originated. Nowadays the term refers to all the games played in nature and it makes sense to be the most popular seeing how the settings are already “built”.
- Speedball – this type game is played mostly indoors and the main trait is that it is played in artificial conditions, meaning the obstacles are inflated objects (decision taken due to hazards that may appear in natural environments). The playing rules vary, however this type of game is usually faster than the other types seeing how the field size is smaller.
Besides physical skills the main thing that affects a player’s performance in a game is the gun also called paintball marker. Guns vary in shape, size and price. Any passionate player should invest only in best paintball guns as they don’t affect only performance, but can help you enjoy all the fun of a game.
A good gun is a mandatory item for many reasons:
- no miss-fire
- no shattered paintballs because of poor construction
- higher accuracy
- lower weight – hence higher maneuverability
- higher firing rate capability
- ergonomic design – or even realistic if that’s your thing
- higher durability – so you can move naturally without paying too much attention to the gun
- highly durable components
If you’re new to the market and want to take part in any competitions, besides owning a high-quality gun you should also consult the competition rules as some require a certain type of gun o certain features.
The main piece in any set of gear for paintball is the gun. The paintball gun is also referred to as marker as they were first used to mark trees forming a path through forests. All markers have the same base components:
- body – comes in different shapes and sizes and contains the firing mechanism (trigger frame, bolt and valve)
- loader or hopper – it is used to keep paintballs
- gas or air tank
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The Gun Body
The body of the gun is made usually from aluminum and it usually has a standard design, however there are some guns that mimic real models. The most important functional design difference is that the best paintball guns usually have the trigger frame around the middle of the body.
This design is used so that the air/gas tank can be mounted more towards the center as well ensuring compactness. On the other hand this design makes for a larger profile. The trigger is another important part of the body as it affects firing rate and ease. The base models have a trigger operated by springs, however these are rather inefficient as they have longer throws (distance the trigger moves in order to fire), thus lower firing speed and rate.
The high-quality models (more expensive as well) have electronic trigger (working on various principles) which can make for a faster firing rate.
Loaders or hoppers
Dye Precision Rotor Paintball Loader
Loader or hoppers are designed to do just one thing: feed paintballs to the firing mechanism. They come in many shapes, sizes and are based on various working principles:
- gravity feed – these are the most common hoppers mainly to the high capacity (variable depending the size) and also the cheapest since they’re basically a plastic container. The firing rate based on the speed the hopper can supply balls is about 11 balls per second. Although cheap and easy to replace, these containers don’t work very well with electronic markers (the firing speed can be higher than the hopper’s) and they have a tendency to jam (can be resolved by shaking the hopper).
- stick feeds – this consists of a stick like hopper mounted parallel to the ball and the main purpose is to keep a slick design. These loaders have a capacity of 10 to 20 balls and in order to load each ball in the firing mechanism the marker has to be tipped. They are rather inefficient as you can tell.
- agitating – it looks just like a gravity feed loader, only it contains a spinning mechanism (propeller or gas system) to make sure the balls don’t get jammed. This is an improvement as balls don’t get jammed anymore, however the feeding speed is about the same.
- force feed – this is a high performance feeding system reaching feeding speeds of 50 balls per second. The basic model looks just like a top mounted gravity feed hopper however it has an impeller that maintains a constant flow of paintballs. This is required in official competitions and is a must have if you’re looking for the best paintball gun.
In order to push the paintballs out through the barrel a propellant system is used. The regulated (deemed safe) velocity of paintballs coming out is about 300 ft/s (90m/s), however higher velocities can be obtained though not safe for games as they can inflict physical damage on players. There are three main propellant systems by operating mode:
- gas tanks
- liquid CO2 – the cheapest option however it has firing consistency issues, might cause misfire in colder weather and might damage guns through leakage. The standard number of shots that can be fired is between 1000 and 2000.
- high-pressure air – commonly known as HPA tanks, these are more expensive, however don’t exhibit weather related issues and ensure a constant firing capability. The same as CO2 tanks, HPA tanks have a capacity of 1000 to 2000.
- propane tanks – these tanks work on a different principle, as the propane is ignited in a combustion center to create pressure. These tanks have a capacity of 30,000 to 50,000 shots and can be refueled easily as propane is available in lots of stores. On the flipside if can cause burns if handle improperly after a long period of continuous shooting.
- plunger – some markers have an electromechanic spring- plunger to push the balls out, however this is not a very popular design.
J&J Ceramic Paintball Barrel
Barrels come in sizes however the most important thing when buying a barrel is that the thread on it matches the thread on the marker. The two most important features of the barrel are length and bore:
- length – it can vary depending on the model and personal preferences, however the most common lengths are from 300 mm (12 in) to 410 mm (16 in). The thing to look out for is the venting ports (holes drilled in the barrel to vent gas). The closer to the thread these holes are the more silent the shot will be, however past that point the ball will travel based on accumulated momentum. If the ball has to travel too much the muzzle velocity will be lower.
- bore – it is the interior diameter and the most important thing is that you use an adequate bore barrel depending on the size of the paintballs. This is the single most important thing about the barrel, as having too big of a bore the balls will lose velocity and accuracy and using a smaller bore (than the diameter of the balls) means they won’t come out and will shatter inside the gun. Underboring – using a slightly smaller bore barrel than the paintball – is a common practice used to improve accuracy as the space is just a little too tight for the ball but not too tight to travel.
Other Paintball Weaponry
The most common type of paintball marker is the rifle model, however there are markers in the shape of pistols as well. Pistols are mostly used as sidearms due to the small capacity (10 balls magazines and 20-30 shots capacity gas tanks), but there are players who want to show superiority and use them as a primary weapon. The advantages of a pistol are the high maneuverability, ease of reloading, smaller jamming rate. The bad part is that mot official fields and competitions do not allow two guns.
Other weaponry besides firearms type has been introduced in the world of paintball and however much fun they might be to use, most of the items are not allowed in regulated contests.
The list includes:
- paint grenades – can be explosive and non-explosive
- grenade launchers (for launching paint grenades)
- paint mines – none use explosives, just a pin or electronic type of trigger
- smoke grenades
- slingshots (used to shoot paintballs)
- airow gun – compound bow type of contraption used to launch paintballs
- paintball bazooka
Safety and additional gear
Having the best paintball gun on the market is not everything when it comes to playing. Paintball is not necessarily a dangerous game, however protection gear is required. Seeing how the paintballs blast out of the nozzle at speeds of approximately 300 ft/s (90m/s) they can inflict serious damage to the skin and other soft tissue (like eyes). The minimum protection gear required is thicker clothing (like overalls) and safety goggles. However this is not quite enough and any player, amateur or pro should invest in things like:
- mask – specially designed to cover the entire face and ear region as well as having a throat guard
- specialized clothing – this type of clothing is enforced with padding or even soft armor (usually for indoor competitions), depending on the average range of fire.
- athletic protector – a rigid cup like the ones used in football or other contact sports.
- elbow and knee pads (mostly for outdoor games) – foam pads are also embedded in specialized clothing
Do you want to read more about paintball masks?
Paintballs should also be viewed as gear, not just ammunition, seeing how higher quality balls can increase performance. Nowadays all paintballs are biodegradable and environment friendly and are deemed food grade quality (harmless to the human body).
They come in different sizes and colors, quality being measured by how close to a perfect sphere they are (the closer the better), the thickness of shell (the slimmer the better) and color quality (the more harder to rub off and easier to see the better).
Investing in high quality paintballs is very important, as lower grade ones might not shatter on impact (not a kill), may explode or brake in the barrel (needs cleaning) or the paint may be rubbed off to easily (opponent can cheat).
Other gear anyone should have on the field with him is ball pods, which are meant for carrying spare paintballs around. Another good investment is a special squeegee used to clean the inside of the barrel if a ball bursts. Although some may not consider this a big issue, it will reduce accuracy, speed and might cause other balls to shatter.
Top five best paintball guns of 2016
Advances in technology have taken paintball guns to an unbelievable level. Nowadays paintball guns come in every shape, size and especially every price tag. So here are 2015’s best markers:
Dye DAM Assault Matrix
For this product, Dye who mostly builds for speedball fields have taken onto themselves to build the ultimate woodsball marker. This gun looks and feels just like a real rifle, although it is a little on the heavy side if carried to long (4.76lbs/2.15kg without the clip). The best thing about the DAM Assault Matrix rifle is that as a feeding technique it can use both a magazine feed and a traditional top mounted loader (whatever type) and it can switch seamlessly between the two.
This marker is advertised as zero ball break system and although this is almost impossible for any marker, the DAM Assault Matrix has the lowest breaking rate if using high quality paintballs.
Planet Eclipse Geo 3.5
One of the contenders to the absolute number 1 marker on the market, the Planet Eclipse Geo3.5 has traditional paintball marker body and can be highly customized, using any type of barrel and top mounted loader. This marker is completely hand build (out of aluminum) and extensively tested to offer the best performance.
It has been designed specifically for speedball games, however it can be used in whatever type of games. It also comes with embedded presets for several types of tournaments. The Planet Eclipse Geo3.5 weighs a mere 2.02lb/918g (without gas tank and hopper) making it one of the lightest on the market.
Empire BT TM-15
The BT TM-15 is designed to resemble a military rifle and is intended for use in MilSim type of games. The body of the marker is very well build and durable so it can be used without any worries in tougher situations and game types (woodsball and milsim).
One of the issues of the BT TM-15 is that for unknown reasons it drains the battery rather quickly, however this is very easy to replaces so basically a non-issue.
Empire Paintball Axe
Marker has a standard marker body which can be loaded with any manufacturer loader and gas tank. The issue with buying a gas tank is that it should be tested before as ASA (air source adapter) is not adjustable and a longer tank may make the gun unevenly balanced. On the other side it’s a rather light and accurate. Besides the additional loader and tank which don’t come in the package by default, you might want to change the stock barrel to a longer one.
Do you want to read full review?
Empire Mini Paintball Marker
This is actually the mini version of the Empire Paintball Axe with the same features and pros and cons. However one undeniable pro of this model is the 1.99lbs/902g weight. The size can be considered a con by people with large hands. The weight and size offer this gun a great maneuverability and it is also sturdier being smaller.
Paintball is a great competitive sport and can also be used as a venting strategy. Regardless if you’re a veteran or just starting out it is very important that you have the right knowledge on equipment. First of all you need to know that the most important item in paintball is the gun or marker so it is very important to invest only in the best markers available.
Guns can come in various shapes and sizes depending on what type of gameplay they are designed for; they also come preset for those types of games. For example if you’re mostly playing indoor speedball you should probably invest in a lighter marker, seeing how heavy and bulky models would only hinder your performance.
Besides the marker loaders and gas tanks are a very important part of the overall gun system and even though you will spends some extra money, quality will translate to performance. While gravity loaders are cheap a force feed loader will increase the number of shots taken per second and decrease jamming probability. The same goes for CO2 tanks, even if cheaper they offer less performance and safety than HPA tanks, which in turn are inferior in performance to propane tanks.
Another thing you need to keep in mind when heading out for the field is the right safety equipment. Invest in a mask and padded clothing, there is no need to get injured while having fun. Other than that paintball can be loads of fun to play and any player should keep a competitive edge using only high grade equipment and the best paintball guns.
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