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Paintball - Mech or Electro... Or Pump?
The Preceding Question
Many beginners in paintball, perhaps even veterans, may wonder, "what marker do i want?" But not many consider, "what type of marker do i want?" Or more importantly, with today's economic strife, "what do i really need?"
- Pump: must recock manually, often by pulling on a handle.
- Mech: semi-automatic operation, these markers recock themselves after each shot.
- Electro: capable of different firing modes and various settings, all controlled electronically. Default is semi-auto, but can be set to burst or full-auto, or in some cases, tournament-specific modes.
Pump It Up
The very roots of paintball. An echo of the original bolt-action marker pistol used in the first games, and a throwback to the pump-handle-action markers born of it. They have an air of poise & grace, representing all that is pure about paintball markers.
- Pros: many pumps are available to fit a variety of budgets, and help the player conserve on the most cost-repetitive item - paintballs. And, unofficially, anyone rocking a pump looks like a bad-a**.
- Cons: pumps have a large learning curve, much diminished if a player starts with one. Think of it like driving a stick-shift - hard to learn when you're used to an automatic, but easy to learn if you've never driven a day in your life. The slower firing rates & need to aim more than shoot may annoy the impatient.
Mechanical markers (or mechs) open the doors to the semi-auto world. Simple to use, often simple to maintain, and available even for the lowest budgets, all of which make them the most popular type of marker for beginners.
- Pros: as stated, simple, cheap, and very common. Virtually anyone can own & operate a mech.
- Cons: being simple & cheap has a downside - some can be low quality, leading to unreliability. A bit of research is prudent, but that is true for any marker purchase. Lower firing rates can lead to the same frustrations as pumps, for those who prefer laying down a sky-full of paintballs.
Electros embody how the wave of technology has infiltrated the sport of paintball, from only controlling the trigger functions on lower end electros, to controlling that plus finer things like air flow in true electro-pneumatic markers. Electros were first designed with tournaments in mind.
- Pros: superior rates of fire, with electronically-controlled functions and light trigger pulls, not to mention the ability to choose firing rates and modes. Speed is the main purpose of electros.
- Cons: not the cheapest markers available due to their more complex guts. Electros require electricity, so reoccurring costs now include batteries. Their speed also requires a loader that can provide such, meaning another added cost to purchase an electronic loader (which also uses batteries). Many of the better electros also require compressed air, the tanks of which are not as cheap as co2 tanks. More complex internals may not suit everyone's capability to properly maintain them.