How To Choose Paintball Guns

Overview

Understanding how to choose paintball guns is very important, especially for those that are new to the sport. Choosing paintball guns can be a very difficult task at times. When beginning your search, there are a few things to keep in mind. Just as when purchasing anything new, there are standard questions you need to ask about reliability, durability, available service, and more. Below you will find details about what to ask and how important each question may be.

The Tippmann 98 Custom Power Pack is always a good choice for beginners.
The Tippmann 98 Custom Power Pack is always a good choice for beginners.

Reliability

Having a reliable paintball gun (or anything for that matter) is probably the most important thing when making your purchase. Your paintball gun can look the best on the field, but if you spend your time on the sidelines fixing it, you won't get much playing time in.

Sometimes the first thing on your mind is the price. Doesn't a $75.00 price tag look a lot better than a $140.00 price tag? But how many times have you bought something based on price only to regret it? Be careful when searching for cheap paintball guns.

Whether it is your first paintball gun or your fiftieth, you should always consider choosing a paintball gun that is known for being very reliable. Spending the extra money to get a reliable paintball gun is worth it. But this does not mean you will end up spending a few hundred dollars either. Depending on your current amount of paintball equipment, you could purchase everything you need to get started with a package like the Tippmann 98 Custom Power Pack, which currently sells for $170.00 most places.

Paintball Gun Reviews

Where do I find information?

Finding infromation about the reliability of paintball guns is fairly easy with a quick internet search. Try to get at least three different sources of information for each paintball gun you are considering purchasing. You can find out more information by visiting a paintball review website, such as pbreview.com, a paintball forum, like woodsballforum.com, or even many stores allow past customers to post their reviews. You may consider getting opinions from friends who have played paintball before.

Asking a paintball store for "the best paintball gun," is not always a good idea. To begin with "the best" is ALWAYS a matter of opinion. Also, the store is obviously looking to sell you something, so they might suggest higher priced options. Follow these few suggestions when asking a paintball store for their opinion:

  • Give them your budget right up front.
  • Tell them the experience of the player you are purchasing for.
  • Be sure to mention additional equipment you have, especially if you don't have any yet.

Purchasing for an experienced player or beginner?
Purchasing for an experienced player or beginner?

How to Make a Decision

When looking to purchase a new paintball gun, these five questions will become the decision makers. Be sure to ask all five to have accurate answers for each:

1. Who are you buying for?

You need to keep in mind the person you are buying the paintball gun for. Are you buying for yourself? Are you a parent purchasing for a son/daughter? Are you a beginner? Young or inexperienced players will be better off with a paintball gun that is fairly inexpensive but highly reliable, regardless of looks. They may not be able to make the necessary repairs if their paintball gun has a problem. A cheap paintball gun could be a waste of money, especially if not properly maintained, but an expensive one is a risk - it's not wise to spend $500 on a paintball gun only to determine they really don't like the sport "that much."

Deciding on your style/position is important!
Deciding on your style/position is important!

2. What style/position do you want to play?

There are many different styles of play and as many different setups for your paintball gun. Will your style require an electronic trigger and loader to increase the rate of fire? Or will you plan on spending most of your time waiting for that "perfect shot," which would require greater accuracy? There are many paintball guns designed for specific styles/positions, but are usually more expensive since they will include the necessary upgrades for the look and function of that style. If you can't spend a lot, keep your style in mind and be sure to ask about possible upgrades (see #4 below).

Knowing your air source is a good idea!
Knowing your air source is a good idea!

3. What air source does the paintball gun require?

Any person new to paintball will immediately wonder what this question means, and why it matters. Paintball guns all operate on either CO2 or High Pressure Air (HPA). CO2 is the more common choice and most paintball guns will operate on CO2. Tippmann, Kingman Spyder, Tiberius Arms, Ariakon, Warsensor, BT Paintball, Brass Eagle, JT USA, WGP, and many others, all take CO2. However, some paintball guns require HPA to run properly and it is very important to know this. If a paintball gun, such as the Smart Parts Ion, was manufactured specifically for use with HPA, it will still fire on CO2 but could possibly damage your gun and void the manufacturer's warranty. Be sure to double check the product description and especially read the gun manual after ordering.

HPA will allow for a greater number of shots than a similar sized CO2 tank. HPA is also more consistent in its performance, because it is unnaffected by the weather like CO2, and is proving to be choice of more experienced paintball player's. However, HPA is also much more expensive, as the bottles can range in price from $70-$500 and require additional regulators, which can also become a bit pricey. A 20 oz. CO2 tank, on the other hand, can be purchased for around $30.

The Tippmann A5 is one of the most customizable paintball guns on the market.
The Tippmann A5 is one of the most customizable paintball guns on the market.

4. What possible upgrades are available?

If you know the style/position you want to play, but have a limited budget, don't worry about it. If you research the possible upgrades for the paintball gun you are interested in you can slowly build your "dream" gun. Let's look at two examples of completely different styles of play.

Heavy Gunner: Someone who is considered a Heavy Gunner will carry lots of ammo and be capable of firing at an incredible speed. This person will want to choose a paintball gun that will have an electronic trigger upgrade available (or some kind of rapid fire trigger). They will also want to choose a nicer barrel and electronic loader to avoid breaking paintballs.

Sniper: A sniper will usually find a nice spot and wait for the prey to approach. Timing and accuracy are critical here, so upgrades will need to be chosen wisely. A nice, long barrel (from 16"-20") will be a good idea. Having a nice scope will help with aiming, and a solid buttstock will keep your paintball gun stable. Since fewer shots will be taken, a smaller gravity fed loader might be the way to go.

Continually building on these concepts with nicer upgrades will eventually turn that $140 gun into a slick piece of equipment. Be sure to thoroughly research the possible upgrades for your paintball gun before purchasing. If you buy a $60 paintball gun that has no options to upgrade later on, you will find that $60 simply sitting in your gear bag as a "backup."

The Tippmann A5 is a perfect example of great reliability and has an endless array of possible upgrades.

Check availability of parts for maintenance.
Check availability of parts for maintenance.

5. Are repair parts readily available?

Finally, you will need know if parts are available to make necessary repairs on your paintball gun. No matter what, sooner or later, basic repairs and maintenance will need to be done. It is always a good idea to have a basic parts kit with you whenever you go play.

There are far too many examples of "the great Ebay find!" Sometimes you may find a sweet looking paintball gun for a great price, but stop and think about it for a moment. Why is this on Ebay? Or why is this such a good deal? If it's really as sweet as it sounds, why is someone getting rid of it? Has this item been discontinued? If so, where will I get parts for it?

Don't take this the wrong way, there are great deals out there for people who really understand how to fix paintball guns. But if you are just starting out, or don't have the proper tools, it will end up being a nice looking paintball gun... and that's it - nice looking. So be sure that parts are readily available by doing the proper research.

After I've Purchased

The last and best piece of advice you will need to know is simple - read the manual! No matter what your selection or how reliable your paintball gun may be, if you neglect regular maintenance and upkeep, your paintball gun will malfunction. All paintball guns have o-rings to seal the air pressure, as well as moving parts that need to be properly lubed.

All paintball guns should come with a manual that will teach you how to do the regular maintenance and It is important that you read it!

Comments 10 comments

Railrider profile image

Railrider 8 years ago from Day, Fl.

very good, very informative. i'm not a paintball person, but this tell me enough to go out and buy one if i wanted.


Bigman Jones 8 years ago

Excellent information. Thanks!


hubmarlyn profile image

hubmarlyn 8 years ago from La Grange, IL

Excellent job, Jasse. Very well organized and written, which made it interesting for me to read about a topic I'd probably never thought about. Just wondering, once the user is done playing paintball, what's involved in safely storing one of these guns--and the ammo, etc--in the home? How does the presence of kids in the home affect the features or style of gun you might choose? I know there's no bullets involved, but the CO2 or HPA canisters might be a concern. Again, definite thumbs up on this.


JassePaintball profile image

JassePaintball 8 years ago Author

Hi hubmarlyn,

Thanks for the compliments. As with anything, safety is always a concern. A few things to remember are these:

1. Always be sure your paintball gun is fully de-gassed by firing as you pull your air tank off (this will help with making it easier to remove the tank as well).

2.If you are not going to be playing for a while, you might as well empty your air tank. A 20 oz CO2 tank will only cost a few bucks ($4-$6) to fill.

3.Paintballs should be used up within a reasonable amount of time - you don't want to try storing paintballs for a year and then play. Usually a few months (1-2) is the most you want to go.

4.Common sense is definitely a big thing. Just double check things and be sure your kids don't have easy access to everything.

A paintball gun cannot fire if there is no air tank connected to it. If you empty your tank and keep things out of reach you should be fine. The biggest worry might be if you have an expensive scope and your kids get a hold of that, you could be out some $$$.


hubmarlyn profile image

hubmarlyn 8 years ago from La Grange, IL

Thanks, Jasse, those are some very useful safety tips. Great to know the gun can't fire without the air tank connected. Re #3, I'm guessing the concern with "old" paintballs is that they might tend to harden as they age, making them more hazardous to anyone they might hit. Is that true?


JassePaintball profile image

JassePaintball 8 years ago Author

Actually older paintballs tend to become brittle. They will "dimple" from sitting on top of one another in the bag and have weird shapes. When you try to use them they will break in your paintball gun and you will be cleaning it all day long rather than playing. So I guess that wasn't really safety related, but rather "storing" the ammo in your home.

Here is a fairly good, short article about it:

http://paintball.about.com/od/paintball1/f/whyoldp...


marshall jaroch 7 years ago

i loved your article ,but im not sure where i can find a good selection of painball markers. im looking to help my sister to find a cheep but reliable gun to help her get into the sport.


JassePaintball profile image

JassePaintball 7 years ago Author

Hi Marshall,

Here is a link to the Tippmann 98 Custom ACT available on our website:

http://www.jassepaintball.com/tippmann-98-custom-a...


Olly 5 years ago

Hey do you have any suggestions on speedball guns from 200-350 dollars? I was thinking about the proto rail 2011 i play mid or snake.


Kevin 2 years ago

Awesome article - super informative!

http://try-paintball.com

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