A high functioning paintball marker is a paintball player’s strongest asset. When looking to purchase one, it is important for a player to be aware of the differences and specifics to each marker in order to find the perfect fit. Many people refer to "paintball guns". The official term for this mechanism, the appearance of which can very closely resemble a firearm, is a paintball marker, not a paintball gun. This name comes from the device’s initial purpose which is to mark targets. Using this term also creates distance between its recreational usage in the paintball sport, and the negative ideas that can be associated with the word “gun.”
As the sport of paintball has grown, so has the variety of markers made available to players. Markers range from relatively inexpensive models made for beginners to high-end models designed for advanced and professional players. This guide will clarify the differences between these types of markers, as well as cover all the information in between. It is also advised to stay up to date on the most current reviews of paintball markers. If interested in a review, take a look at our Learning Center or our YouTube page for a series of reviews on the newest markers. For any questions on what marker would be the best fit for you, feel free to stop by our store or call us at 661-724-6822 and one of our professionals would be happy to assist you. Now for some things to consider when purchasing a new paintball marker.
Markers With or Without Batteries
Paintball markers are divided into two major categories: mechanical and electronic. Mechanical paintball markers do not use batteries. They function based on a mechanical sear to release a spring loaded bolt into the action.Mechanical markers are generally more affordable than electronic markers which make them ideal for beginners, who are looking to just try out the sport, and learn a bit about paintball. They are easy to put together and disassemble due to their modular design, and most parts are easily replaceable if defective. Maintenance tends to be a major sticking point with most beginner players. As such, ease of maintenance makes mechanical markers popular with beginners.
A common question we get from customers is regarding speed. Mechanical markers do not fire with the same speed or consistency of an electronic marker because the amount of compressed gas used to propel the paintball can vary between each shot. In general, they are also louder than electronic markers. Mechanical markers require a higher operating pressure to fire, and thus, consume more air than electronic markers. This can require a player to make more frequent trips to the air station. Electronic markers operate on battery-powered circuit boards that activate solenoids, which are coils of wire that carry an electrical current. When activated, they are what cause electronic markers to fire. Electropneumatic markers, more commonly known as electronic markers, are much more consistent, and fire at a much quicker rate than mechanical markers. They also tend to be smaller and lighter. Being that the firing mode is electronic, the trigger pull is generally easier, which results in instantaneous shots and more shots per second. Most electronic markers have several firing modes which allow players to choose from a variety of options including semi-automatic, fully automatic, burst, and ramping. Electronic markers generally operate at a lower operating pressure and, therefore, air tanks last much longer, requiring players to make less frequent trips to the air fill station. These markers are relatively more expensive and tend to require a bit more maintenance than their counterparts. Most electronic markers should be maintained after a few outings with maintenance generally being to lubricate o-rings with grease. The majority of these markers use compressed air as opposed to carbon dioxide (CO2) which allows for a smoother, more consistent shot. Also, these markers are battery operated which means that players will need to carry extra batteries to mitigate any power issues at the field.
For those just starting out in paintball, entry-level paintball markers and marker packages also known as player packs are an excellent place to start. Marker packages will include all the basic necessities, including the marker, air tank, goggles, and a hopper for storing and loading the paintballs. Since paintballs are perishable items, they are not included in marker packages and need to purchased separately. Companies like Empire, BT, Azodin and Tippmann, provide simple and reliable entry-level markers that will serve a beginning player very well. A number of inexpensive markers are upgradeable with higher-quality parts such as new barrels and boards so the marker can grow with the player's skill level.
Mid-level markers are mostly electronic, and enhance the capabilities of a player by providing more control in ways that entry-level markers do not. Their electronic functionality uses significantly less air than their mechanical counterparts and compressed air is the recommended air source for these markers. Manufacturers of these markers include Planet Eclipse, Dye Precision, Empire, Proto, Dangerous Power, and GOG. These markers can still be relatively affordable, ranging from $150 to $300, and the elevated price really correlates to the elevated quality of the marker. It is definitely worth it for players who want to step up their game. These markers are for players who want to be seriously competitive and play paintball more than just a few times a year.
All high-end markers are considered fast shooters and come equipped with built-in regulators that ensure consistent firing. They are all electronic, made up of the highest quality parts, and are recommended for use with compressed air. Barrels are changeable and customizable allowing players the ability to match the barrel's diameter to the size of paintball being used. All high-end guns will have similar performance characteristics but reliability can vary from gun to gun. Brands like Dye, Planet Eclipse, MacDev, SP, Empire and DLX carry some of the premiere high-end markers available in paintball. These sort of markers start at around $400 and can go anywhere upwards of that depending on the brand, design, and specific details of each device.
Spool-Valve vs. Poppet-Valve Markers
Paintball markers operate on a bolt-and-valve firing function. The firing valve is the switch which prepares the marker to fire. The bolt directs airflow and controls the amount of paintballs that enter into the firing chamber. The two main types of valves are spool and poppet, and both are available within selections of both mechanical and electronic markers. The primary difference between the two is that with spool-valves, the bolt and the valve are part of the same unit. In poppet-valves markers, the bolt and the valve have separate components.
Spool-valves involve one moving part that simultaneously functions as the firing valve and the bolt to close the feedneck of the marker. Consequently, markers that use a spool-valve are much quieter and smoother in their operation. The Planet Eclipse Geo line, Proto Reflex Rail, Dye Matrix, and DLX LUXE are just some of the markers that use a spool-valve and as a result fire incredibly quite shots and allow for smooth loading. Advantages:
- Smooth shot
- Quiet Shot
- Generally very soft shot which allows for shooting brittle paint
The o-rings mounted on the spool move back and forth causing friction which often times leads to having change and maintain the o-rings.
Generally not as air efficient as a poppet valve.
Poppet valves are comprised of a rubber shell attached to a shaft that is kept in place by a spring. When the trigger is pulled, a rammer strikes the valve, which causes it to open and allows the compressed air to fire the paintball. In comparison to spool-valve markers, models like the Planet Eclipse Ego, which make use of a poppet valve, are louder and usually have more kick and vibration. However, they are more air efficient and require less maintenance. Advantages:
- Low maintenance
- Better Air efficiency when compared to a spool valve
- Not as many o-rings means there is less to change in the event of a leak
Generally louder than a spool valve marker
Due to the functionality of a poppet valve marker, they are not as smooth as spool valve markers
Choosing A Marker That Serves Your Purpose
Tactical - Assault
Assault markers sacrifice stealth in favor of quick rate of fire. Rate of fire is the most essential element of assault markers. Models like the Tippmann X7 Phenom Assault Rifle have three different firing modes allowing players the opportunity to choose their preferred mode. The biggest differentiator in assault markers is surrounding their rate of fire. Assault paintball markers have the capacity to shoot up to 20 balls per second. Additionally, assault markers tend to have a realistic look and feel to them. Often times, these markers are based on and resemble real guns (i.e. M-16 and AK-47’s). Players interested in a realistic look and feel to their marker and who tend to focus their play on scenario type matches should consider the assault markers.
Those who fire snipers favor pinpointing targets and one-shot kills, so rate of fire is not as important as accuracy and control of the marker. When it comes to snipers, accuracy and control are the highest priorities, and there are several combinations of markers and barrels and that can help players make the best use of that. Pump action sniper paintball markers have a closed-bolt system that creates an even distribution of airflow behind the paintball. Though pump paintball guns fire slower than assault rifles, they are much more economical and focus on making every shot a powerful shot. A paintball player with a higher skill level would most likely prefer the lightweight design and economical functionality of a classic pump action marker over an assault rifle. The empire sniper would be a great example of a pump action paintball marker.
Tournament style markers are built for speed. These markers tend to be electronic markers that are light weight and easily maneuverable. Tournament style markers are easily transferable between fields meeting the needs of scenario players (those playing in the woods or other rural landscapes) and tournament players (those playing on smaller fields such as airball or hyperball fields).
Tournament style markers tend to offer various firing modes and can range in price. Players interested in playing in various types of matches and only want to invest in one marker should strongly consider the tournament style marker.
CO2 vs. Compressed Air
Paintball markers make use of two types of air tanks: CO2 and compressed air, also referred to as nitro, HPA, and N2. CO2 tanks may be less expensive, however compressed air provides a significantly noticeable increase in performance and functionality of the paintball marker while also holding more shots. Almost all higher end markers use compressed air, but compressed air is not exclusive to the high-end markers. The fact that high-end markers require compressed air puts its superiority into perspective. In addition, CO2 can cause the internal elements of the marker to freeze, and it can also limit playing capabilities by making players more dependent on weather and temperature.
With all the varieties of paintball markers and the different choices available, buying a paintball marker can seem like a daunting and overwhelming task, but we hope that the information in this guide has helped make the process a little bit easier. When it comes to shopping for one on eBay, the site’s combination of easy-to-navigate categories and powerful search options, and a little bit of personal research into individual brands and models, finding the right marker is no problem. We at Paintball Revolution pride ourselves on making customer service our top priority. So if you’re looking to buy a paintball marker and have any questions that were not answered in this guide, we are more than happy to provide any assistance we can to our in-store walk-ins or shoppers on our website and eBay store. For customers needing assistance in selecting the best marker for them, please don’t hesitate to reach out by phone at 661-724-6822.