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Paintball - Mech or Electro... Or Pump?

Updated on February 9, 2012

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.

Close-up of a WGP Autococker w/ pump kit, example of a sheridan-based pump.
Close-up of a WGP Autococker w/ pump kit, example of a sheridan-based pump.

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.

Fairly common low end mechanical marker - Spyder Xtra (original version).
Fairly common low end mechanical marker - Spyder Xtra (original version).

Mechanically Marvelous

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.

Dye DM7, a high end electro.
Dye DM7, a high end electro.

Electronic Arms

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.


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    • Silver Gooch profile image

      Silver Gooch 5 years ago from Florida

      I feel that you can go more into depth with this Hub. Being able to decide which type of marker you want to purchase directly reflects what type of paintball you're going to be playing. Players who are going to play a ball-limited tournament or game style may prefer a pump marker over an electronic because of firing rates. Also, players who play woodsball and are playing on the front lines may want a pump marker to be able to be more agile and silent when taking out targets when they are off on their own. Overall, this was a good hub, very informative on what each type of marker is, and what the pros and cons are for each marker.

      Keep up the great Hubs!