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If your tired of renting equipment every weekend and you’ve decided to get your own, you probably know a quality paintball gun can be an expensive investment. Of course, paintball markers can range from entry-level to pro-quality.
That’s where I am going to help you out.
In this review, I’m going to tell you about seven of the best paintball guns available. We’ll cover their key features and discuss a few pros and cons.
Then, we’ll talk about what kind of qualities you should look for in a paintball gun (sometimes called a paintball marker).
By the end of this read, you’ll know which paintball marker is right for you!
Best Paintball Guns
Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Paintball Guns For 2021
- Planet Eclipse Etha 2 Marker
- Maddog Azodin KAOS 3 Titanium Paintball Gun
- Tippmann TPX Paintball Pistol Starter Kit
- Tippmann A5 Paintball Marker
- Empire Paintball Axe Marker
- Empire Paintball Sniper Pump Marker
- Tippmann TMC Mag Fed Marker
Paintball Gun Reviews
- Weight: 3.5 Pounds
- Best For: Beginner/Intermediate
- Includes: Gun Only
- Other: Tournament-ready modern electro marker
- Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
Planet Eclipse is probably the hottest name in modern tournament markers, honestly. Their markers are cutting edge, almost always on point, and they look amazing.
Of all the markers on our list the Etha 2 looks, feels and shoots the most like a top-end tourney gun.
When you consider that this gun is only a few bucks more expensive than many markers with half of its features, it makes a solid choice.
Pro Tip: Like any electro marker, make sure to pair it with a quality loader and bore-matched paint to get the most out of it.
One mistake many new players make is buying a cheap gun and then needing (wanting) to upgrade right away. With the Etha 2, all you need is a Freak Barrel kit and you’ll be good to go for years of playing.
Worth noting is that Planet Eclipse tends to have an almost cult-like following among speedballers. If that’s important to you…
- Air through grip
- Wide grip frame
- Tournament-ready modern electro marker
- May not keep up with tournament markers in the $1,000+ range
- Needs to be paired with an electronic loader
This is my top pick for an all-around entry level speedball marker. If you want to play airball, this is your marker!
- Weight: 3.1 Pounds
- Best For: Beginner/Intermediate
- Includes: Gun, Mask, 200 Round Loader, CO2 Tank & Case
- Other: Complete package for about $200
- Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
The makers of this entry-level paintball marker are best known for making high-end paintball equipment that caters to advanced players.
You might think it’s surprising, then, that you can find this gun for relatively cheap, but that seems to be the whole idea. The MAddog Empire is described as a “tournament quality marker at an entry-level price.”
Indeed, it outperforms most guns in its price range.
In this case, not only are you getting the gun but a complete package of the gun, mask, HPA tank and hopper, everything could need to get out there today!
Like the Axe, the Empire is an electro-pneumatic shooter. It comes with the Hype Three regulator, as do all MAddog guns and it can shoot up to 18 balls per second with decent accuracy.
One drawback to this gun, however, is that it tends to use up more air than other models. Of course, during the course of any kind of normal game, a 45ci 4,500 psi tank should be just fine.
- Cool design
- Complete package for about $500
- Well regulated shots
- You’ll need to upgrade to an electronic loader to keep up with BPS
- Upgrade barrels to get tournament-level accuracy
One of the things everyone seems to appreciate about this marker is its form (it almost looks like alien technology). The Empire has an 11-inch barrel and comes in an array of colors.
If you want one of the best paintball markers that just looks cool and weighs in at only about three pounds the Empire is for you!. If you don’t need the package but just the Proto Rize Marker.
- Weight: 1 Pound
- Best For: Beginners
- Includes: Holster, 3 magazines & maintenance kit
- Other: Easy to carry, lightweight secondary gun
- Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
You’re firing at enemies as you run through the trees. They’re gaining on you. Suddenly, you hear the fateful sound of your gun running out of ammo.
Thinking you’re done for, your adversaries calmly approach.
What do you do?
Well, if you’re well prepared, you pull out your TiPX and mention something cool about not counting chickens before they’re hatched: right before you pull the trigger.
Unlike the other guns in this review, the Tippmann TiPX Pistol is fed by magazines containing seven balls each. Unfortunately, that’s not a lot of balls per magazine, which is why this gun isn’t often used as a primary weapon during gameplay.
Video: Feature overview of the TiPX paintball pistol.
There are, however, larger magazines available. This starter pack comes with three spring-loaded magazines.
The pistol shoots by using compressed CO2, which is attached in a 12-gram tank to the marker underneath the barrel.
Again, this isn’t meant to be a primary weapon; a 12-gram tank won’t last very long (typically 20-40 shots), so you might have to carry spares.
A piece of good news: the cartridges are easily removed for changing convenience.
- Small, lightweight
- Easy to carry secondary gun
- Accurate, despite being a pistol
- Small magazine capacity
- Short range
Overall, the Tippman TiPX Pistol is accurate, light, and convenient in a pinch. I’d definitely recommend grabbing one—if you can deal with the price tag, that is. They’re not exactly cheap but in our book they make the best paintball sidearm.
- Weight: 3.0 Pounds
- Best For: Beginner/Intermediate
- Includes: Gun, 200-round hopper
- Other: Accurate marker at a great price
- Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
These guns can be found at Wal-Mart, but don’t think that means they aren’t high quality. The Tippmann A5 is an oldie, but goody!
It is a good gun for beginners or possibly intermediate players who are feeling a little frugal at the moment.
While many of the Tippmann markers are almost infinitely customizable, we believe you should start with a good foundation.
That’s why the A5’s built-in Cyclone loader is a must-have. It feeds balls in mechanically each time you pull the trigger instead of relying on gravity to pull a ball into the chamber.
What this means for you is a reliable feeding marker that won’t skip paint or chop half-loaded balls (both issues with other markers like the 98 Custom and Cronus).
Another cool thing about this gun is that despite its low price, it is highly customizable.
If I had to pick a basic woodsball or recball marker to take to any game any day, it would be the Tippmann A5. Throw a 14″ Freak Barrel on it to match paint to bore and you’ll have an accurate and reliable marker for years of use!
- Great price
- Very durable
- Large profile
- Hopper is prone to taking hits
Tippmann markers have long been top choices for new players because they’re affordable, nearly indestructible, and highly customizable. Tippmann’s A5 marker adds reliable and consistent paint feeding to the list of great qualities and remains my top choice among all Tippmann markers.
- Weight: 3.2 Pounds
- Best For: Intermediate/Advanced
- Includes: Gun Only
- Other: Super reliable
- Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
The Empire Axe is an electro-pneumatic paintball gun with multiple firing modes: semi, PSP ramping, NXL, and millennium ramping.
A well-rounded gun, it’s highly accurate and very well regulated in terms of pressure per shot.
Thanks to several pieces of anti-chop technology, you’re less likely to chop paint in the marker. Electronic eyes help prevent chops and a soft bolt face helps with shooting fragile tourney paint.
This gun is light and easy to hold—good news during those long games where endurance becomes a factor.
For those with big hands, however, the Axe Pro has a little bit wider grip frame.
Video: Overview of the Empire Axe Paintball Gun.
Maybe the only downfall of the Axe is that the bolt can be a little more difficult to get to than the Axe Pro. It’s held in place with a single screw which is no big deal to Tippmann players, but for some guys speed is key.
Do yourself a favor: make this gun last by cleaning it after every use.
- Super reliable
- Anti-chop technology
- Moderate price tag
- Difficult bolt access
Of course, such quality doesn’t exactly come cheap. Considering that some good paintball guns can cost thousands of dollars, however, we feel the Empire Axe is the best paintball gun for the money.
Pro Tip: Use an electronic loader to keep up with the high fire rates this marker is capable of. We recommend the Dye Rotor R2.
- Weight: 3.5 Pounds
- Best For: Beginner/Intermediate
- Includes: Gun Only
- Other: Hitman mod
- Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
Nope, this is not a “sniper marker” (though long-range markers do exist with the advent of First Strike Rounds) it’s just called the Empire Sniper.
In fact, it’s actually an old-school style pump paintball marker. That means every time you want to shoot a ball, you have to cock the front loading arm.
Pump markers aren’t necessarily better than other markers but they are unique and have a different play style that many enjoy.
Plus, the only way to get into pump-only paintball games is to… you guessed it – use a pump gun!
The Empire Sniper comes ready to play stock class (old school) or open class pump. It’s also equipped with a hitman mod which makes cocking the handle easier.
On top of all that, you also get a set of barrel backs with different sizes. Using these to match the paint to barrel size means a huge increase in accuracy and consistency. This style of paint to barrel matching was popularized by the now famous Freak Barrel.
- Hitman mod
- Stock class or open class
- Barrel sizers
- Low rate of fire
Overall this is one of the biggest innovations in the pump paintball scene in years. You’re just in time to take advantage of this awesome marker!
- Weight: 6.5 Pounds
- Best For: Intermediate
- Includes: Marker, 2 magazines
- Other: Allows mag fed play and highly customizable look
- Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
Like pump markers, mag fed markers aren’t inherently better than others. This mag fed marker has a low price tag and a tactical look (and feel).
Mag fed games are slower paced and often run in a military simulation style which appeals to many. In order to join these games, you’ll need your own magfed marker. Enter the TMC.
While it only comes with two mags (you’ll want more), the mags are affordable and prolific. Plus, if you get tired of using mags, you can switch to a hopper with the changeable feed style of this marker.
Unfortunately, Tippmann is known for poor accuracy stock barrels so I recommend changing to a Freak Barrel kit ASAP for this marker.
- Allows mag fed play
- Tactical milsim feel
- Highly customizable look
- Low rate of fire
- Limited paint
- Not First Strike compatible
This marker is a good entry-level choice for players who want to know if mag fed play is right for them!
Paintball Gun Comparison Table
|Paintball Gun||Weight||Includes||Best For||Rating|
|Planet Eclipse Etha 2||3.5 lbs||Gun Only||Beginner/Intermediate||4.8 / 5.0|
|Maddog Azodin KAOS 3 Titanium Paintball Gun||3.1 lbs||Gun, Mask, 200 Round Loader, CO2 Tank & Case||Beginner/Intermediate||5.0 / 5.0|
|Tippmann TPX Paintball Pistol Starter Pack||1 lb||Holster, 3 magazines & maintenance kit||Beginner||4.2 / 5.0|
|Tippmann A5 Paintball Marker||3.0 lbs||Gun, 200-round hopper||Beginner/Intermediate||4.1 / 5.0|
|Empire Axe Paintball Marker||3.2 lbs||Gun Only||Intermediate/Advanced||4.5 / 5.0|
|Empire Sniper Pump Marker||3.5 lbs||Gun Only||Beginner/Intermediate||4.2 / 5.0|
|Tippmann TMC Mag Fed||6.5 lbs||Gun, 2 magazines||Intermediate||4.3 / 5.0|
How to Choose the Best Paintball Gun For You
- Types of Paintball Guns
- Considerations for a Paintball Marker
- Paintball Propellant
- Is the Trigger Mechanical or Electro-Pneumatic?
- Paintball Basic Strategy
- Helpful Tips for Improving Your Gameplay
- Best Paintball Gun Brands
Types of Paintball Guns
When paintball first started the only type of gun was a pump or manual known as “stock class pump”. They require you to work the bolt for each shot and as a result, have a low rate of fire. Today most pumps are known as “open class”.
Contrary to popular belief, pump markers are not inherently “better” than any other markers. Their accuracy, like any marker, is almost entirely determined by the quality of the paint you’re shooting and how closely you’ve matched the balls to your barrel sizer.
They are not that popular anymore because of the low rate of fire but still can be found among paintballers who appreciate the slow, skillful playstyle.
Pump markers are popular among skilled players looking to “change it up”. If you’re bored of shooting ropes with your electro, try some pump gameplay!
Mechanical markers are very popular in woodsball play where their durability and reliability shines. These guns have no electronic components and rely entirely on simple mechanical parts to get the job done.
Mechanical markers are generally easier to maintain and less likely to encounter problems during a day of play. Unlike elctros, they won’t run out of batteries and you’ll never have to worry about the eyes clogging up.
Mechanical markers are, however, more likely to chop paint which makes a mess and throws off the accuracy of your marker. These markers also won’t be able to keep up with the high rates of fire or soft bolts of high-end electro markers.
Technology has progressed with paintball guns and now they have become electric. These paintball guns are more expensive as compared to mechanical but do offer some major advantages.
Instead of a mechanical hammer opening a valve, we have a solenoid that is opened electrically. These markers are sometimes controlled by a replaceable 9-volt battery and sometimes they have a built-in rechargeable battery.
Electros have a few major advantages. Their profiles are much smaller and lighter than mechanical markers thanks to the simple spool valve system (even the poppet valves are quite slim). These markers also have built-in systems that prevent the marker from firing unless the paint is properly loaded which reduces misfires and chopped paint.
On top of all that, modern electro markers are easily capable of reaching 30+ balls per second! Of course, the legal BPS limit at most fields is usually 10.5 or often less.
To keep up with this high rate of fire you’ll be best served to pair an electro marker with an electro hopper like the Spire or Rotor to make the whole system work smoothly.
One of the biggest myths in paintball is “how to get more accuracy” and that all surrounds the infamous paintball barrel. Over the years manufacturers have made curved barrels, long barrels, carbon fiber barrels, two-piece barrels, rifled barrels, and many other whacky paint-slinging creations.
When I first started playing the Tippmann Flatline Barrel and the Freak Barrel were in their infancy. While the Flatline barrel pretty quickly went by the wayside, the Freak Barrel ignited a revolution.
See, the most important part of getting accuracy and consistency with paintballs is to make sure the balls exactly match the size of your barrel.
If your paint is smaller than your barrel diameter, you’ll have wildly inconsistent shots and terrible air efficiency.
If your paint is larger than your barrel diameter, you’ll have balls break due to the extreme friction which makes a huge mess and destroys your accuracy.
If your paint is an exact match to your barrel diameter, you’ll have terrific consistency and accuracy!
Unfortunately, on any given day with any given paintball the exact size of that ball can vary by a few thousandths of an inch. This may not seem like much, but it’s crucial!
In order to match these varying sizes of paint to your barrel, you’ll need a modular barrel system like the Freak Barrel. Many manufacturers today make their own modular barrel systems and most of them are of an equivalent quality so don’t get hung up on the brand.
Pro Tip: Exact match paint sizing is critical for pump markers because if the barrel is too big your balls will just roll out of the barrel. Unlike mechanical and electro markers, many pump markers have no ball detent.
If your marker doesn’t have a modular barrel system already, make the upgrade now!
Pro Tip: I personally find that .675, .677, .679, and .681 most often fit the paint that I shoot here in Michigan on any given summer day.
Considerations for a Paintball Marker
How often you play – This is probably your overall most important question for a marker. If you’re just playing with your buddies in the park or backyard, pretty much any marker will do.
However, if you plan on being a competitive player, then you need to invest in some better equipment. Higher end guns cost up into the hundreds of dollars but if you plan on taking it seriously, it will be worth it.
For competitive level speedball play, you will need an electro and a good loader.
Warranty – If you’re buying a cheap gun that is effectively “disposable” if it breaks, the warranty is probably not that important to you. Most guns come with a one year warranty.
If however, you are spending hundreds of dollars for a marker, make sure the manufacturer stands behind the gun with a good warranty.
Most manufacturers will also offer reasonably priced service and repair fees for their markers. Contact your manufacturer or local field store with questions.
Weight – It goes without saying weight can be a major issue, especially if you are playing all day. Heavier markers weigh around 5 pounds or so, while modern lightweight markers can weigh less than 2 pounds.
Needless to say, if you are a serious player go with a lighter marker!
Style and Comfort – While you may care how you look out on the battlefield, how the marker fits in your hands should be the priority. A marker you feel comfortable with and you can shoot accurately is certainly an important consideration.
CO2 – Years ago CO2 was the gas of choice. Today most fields won’t even fill CO2 tanks and many high-end guns won’t even function with CO2. Do not use CO2 in a modern electro marker!
CO2 is very hard on marker internals and because it changes phases as it propels the ball, each shot can vary quite wildly in distance and accuracy.
CO2 is still used in some markers, particularly as 12-gram cartridges. Some First Strike and mag-fed markers rely on 12g CO2. On top of that, Stock Class pump play requires a 12g CO2 as the only source of air! For those reasons, some very small markets of the paintball world do still rely on CO2.
Nitrogen – Nitro was used for a little while as CO2 phased out. Nitrogen is a great inert gas that is very gentle on marker internals and has almost zero contaminants (like water) that can cause problems inside the markers.
Unfortunately, nitrogen is also relatively expensive compared to the modern alternative known as High-Pressure Air.
HPA – High-Pressure Air replaced nitrogen as air compressors and water strainers like desiccants improved. Fields quickly realized that using industrial air compressors and water filters can create a cheap and endless supply of paintball marker power!
HPA today is the most common form of marker gas and you’ll see it at 99% of fields and games.
HPA tanks themselves come in 3,000 psi and 4,500 psi variants. These tanks are then further categorized by their internal volume. These numbers, for example, are then read as follows:
3,000 psi + 45 cubic inch = 30/45
4,500 psi + 90 cubic inch = 45/90
45 cubic inch, 50 ci, 68ci, 77ci, and 90ci are your choices. For most players, a 45/45 or 45/50 will be just fine.
Paintball Mods and Upgrades
For whatever reason, people love to mod their guns. This is as true with an AR-15 as it is with a Tippmann A5. No matter what your gun looks like or how good it may (or may not be) out of the box, it’s extremely rare to find a player who hasn’t done some upgrading or modifying.
My first marker, like many of my day, was a Tippmann 98C. This marker quickly got an expansion chamber, drop forward (remember those?), CP ASA, Response Trigger, agitating hopper, and Freak barrel. And, oh yeah, I also painted the thing rattle-can camo!
Today I still have that marker but I sincerely wish I had instead saved that money and invested it in a better marker. What started as a $150 marker quickly cost well over $500 in “upgrades” many of which produced questionable results.
To those considering starting with a “cheap” marker and upgrading I offer this advice: Don’t do it!
Quality yet affordable markers like the Etha 2 with a used electronic loader (check your local field) can cost as little as $350 or $400 and will be lightyears beyond the capability and reliability of a cheap mechanical marker with upgrades.
That’s not to say there aren’t quality mechanical markers out there, too. There totally are! Just don’t start with the bottom of the barrel and expect to get top-end results.
Types of Paintball Play
Paintball can be played on many styles of fields with many variations of games. Let’s go over some of the common types of modern paintball play.
Played, you guessed it, in the woods – woodsball is usually an anything-goes type of game. These games involve sneaking, flanking, hiding and lots of shooting. You could encounter any kind of terrain or engagement on these games so be prepared for anything.
Speedball, sometimes called airball, is played on a defined flat open field. This field is then populated with air-inflated bunkers set out in specific patterns called a “layout”. There are tons of speedball formats but in general, speedball is the game of choice for tournament level play. You’ll want an electronic marker, good loader, and tons of paint to keep up with this fast-paced game style.
A “big game” is simply a game with tons of people. These games can range from 40 players to 2,000 players. Big games take on varying formats but they are almost always a woodsball variant of some type.
A scenario game is almost always also a big game. Scenario games focus on a storyline with specific objectives, missions, and team strategies. These games are usually run by two opposing commanding teams and can range from highly tactical to all-out chaos.
Marker efficiency is a relatively moot point for the new or inexperienced player. However, it is possible to tune your marker so that it uses less air per shot.
In doing so you will cause less impact on the ball which can be good for brittle tournament paint. You’ll also get more shots per fill of your tank so if you’re shooting a ton of paint (800+ balls per match) this may matter to you.
Some paintball guns are fickle creatures. You definitely want to be sure you’re buying a durable gun if you’re going to be playing on rough terrain with it—especially as a beginner.
In the same vein, it’s your responsibility to make sure you keep your gun clean and oiled. Clean your marker externally after every game and disassemble or clean the internals if you chop paint or get into something nasty like mud.
Paintball Basic Strategy
In some ways, paintball is like any other sport; it’s a game of both mental skill and athletic ability. In the heat of battle, you have to be able to maneuver, reload, aim and fire while tracking your opponents and, in some cases, avoiding detection.
Paintball is also heavy on strategy; sort of like chess, that is, if rooks could shoot 10.5 balls per second.
In games of organized paintball, the most basic strategies revolve around maintaining control of the perimeter and corners of the field, referred to colloquially as “the wires.”
By “gaining, anchoring, and controlling” the wire, players can gain strategic defensive positioning and ensure they aren’t taken unawares by opponents.
Tips To Improve Your Gameplay
- Mind your surroundings. Staying aware of changes to the environment will let you know where to run for cover when you’re under attack. Similarly, make sure you keep moving throughout the game.
- Never pop out of cover in the same place twice in a row. Move higher, lower, or shoot from a different side to avoid being predictable.
- Staying still allows your opponents to gain position on you and prevents you from learning about the terrain. When moving, remember to do so with stealth; there’s no reason to telegraph to the whole field that you’re on the move! In the same vein, flanking—the act of getting behind your opponents without their knowledge—is a great strategy.
- Another good tip is to keep your opponents occupied whenever you can. Shooting at your opponents (even without the explicit intention of hitting them) is a good way to keep their heads down and keep them from gaining advantageous positions or sneaking up on you. Doing this can also help your teammates break forward unexpectedly while you keep the other team occupied. They can then return the favor, allowing you to advance your position as well. This technique is known as “leapfrogging.”
- One final general piece of advice is to remain with your team as much as possible. Going off on your own might sound heroic, but in reality, it can cost you big time. Groups can watch each other’s backs and are therefore harder to sneak up on and eliminate. Don’t underestimate the utility of friendly cover in the field.
Insofar as there are strategies and athletics at play, paintball is similar to other sports. However, unlike some sports, paintball is played with technologically advanced equipment.
That aspect brings a whole new dimension to the game. While the physical and mental skills necessary to play top-level paintball will take time and practice to develop, having the right equipment can make a big difference.
FAQs About Paintball Guns
Q: What’s the most accurate paintball gun?
A: There are lots of markers that can compete for the title of the most accurate paintball gun but in our opinion the Empire Paintball Sniper Pump Marker is at the top of our list.
Q: How much does a good paintball gun cost?
A: As you can imagine the term “good” is subjective so if you are on a tight budget but want to get the most bang for the buck, the Tippman A5 is a a good choice for under $200.
Q: What PSI do paintball guns use?
A: Most paintball guns use HPA or high-pressure air tanks that store air or nitrogen compressed at pressures ranging from 3,000 to 4,500 PSI. This high pressure is then used to fire the paintball with a regulator.
Q: How long do paintball guns last?
A: Paintball guns have very few moving parts and there is little to wear out. As long as you clean and maintain it, they will last as long as you want them to.
Q: Does getting hit by a paintball hurt?
A: If you get hit by a paintball at close range on bare skin the answer is yes, it will sting. For this reason most paintballers wear protective clothing to reduce the sting. You definitely should always wear a mask to protect your face and eyes.
Best Brands For Paintball Guns
Choosing the “best” paintball brands is almost impossible because it depends on how you define best. Is it reliability, accuracy, the rate of fire etc. After trying out many guns I think these brands are certainly among the best:
Tippmann – One of the best-known brands in paintball. They have a huge lineup of paintball markers for a reasonable price. These markers are often directed at woodsball players or entry-level players.
Dye – They make some of the best quality paintball markers available. They have a full lineup of paintball guns, masks, clothing and accessories. These markers range from entry-level to professional tournament elctros.
Empire – Similar to Dye, they make some quality paintball markers for all range of skill levels. They also offer all the accessories you could need.
Planet Eclipse – PE is a new but popular maker of mostly electronic markers and high-end markers.
I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best paintball gun to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a paintball gun I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
Have fun and good luck!