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What Are The Different Type Of Paintball Guns?
Paintball guns come in many forms and also go by many names. Whether you’re just about to buy your first paintball gun or you’re looking for an upgrade, we want to bring you up to speed on what’s available.
Paintball Gun or Marker Gun?
If you’re searching the internet for a paintball gun, try also searching for "paint gun", "paintball marker" or just "marker gun". There is a variety of names because the guns used in paintball games today all evolved from agricultural marker guns that farmers and ranchers used to mark livestock and boundaries over 40 years ago.
The first paintball game was played with these basic guns in 1981. Those involved in that first "game" enjoyed it so much that a new sport was born. The guns used in paintball have retained the "marker" name ever since, even though they have improved significantly since then.
Parts of the Marker Gun
The marker gun itself is the part that you use to aim and fire the paintballs and is the part that most resembles a real firearm, but it needs some complementary parts to work. A hopper (also known as a loader) is needed to hold the paintballs and feed them into the marker for firing, or a magazine in some models. Basic hoppers use gravity to feed, but more advanced models use sensors and motors to force paintballs through at a faster rate. The force needed to fire the paintballs comes from a compressed air or CO2 tank attached to the marker and operated by a mechanical or electronic trigger.
Mechanical or Electronic Trigger?
When the trigger on the marker is pulled, a bolt places the paintball in the barrel and then a valve releases the gas into the barrel, propelling the paintball out. The main difference between mechanical and electronic triggers is seen in how the bolt moves the paintball and how the gas is released.
Considered old-school, mechanical markers are enjoying a resurgence in popularity among serious players, leading to some very popular mechanical models becoming available like the Tippmann A-5 Standard Paintball Marker Gun. The most common mechanical triggers release a bolt that is then moved forward by a spring, and a rear bolt hits a pin, letting the gas in. The expanding gas moves the first bolt back to its original position, earning them the nickname "blowback".
You’re most likely to find mechanical models loaned out on commercial game fields over electronic triggers because the slower rate gives beginners a better chance of survival, but many serious players love them because they generally require players to use more skill to make a shot and make their paintballs last a bit longer. Of course, not everyone loves their slower rate of fire; some will opt for an electronic trigger instead.
Electronic triggers use battery-powered circuitry wired to the trigger, which activates solenoids to release the compressed gas, causing the gun to fire. With features such as programmable fire rate, sensors to prevent jams by "seeing" if a paintball is out of position, and their higher fire rate, they are popular models. However, these features often come with a higher price tag. They need batteries and usually use High Pressured Air (HPA) tanks rather than CO2. A good hopper to twin with this kind of gun is the GI Sportz LVL Version 1.5 High Performance Loader System with a speedfeed lock ring to make the most of that higher fire rate.
There's not just the mechanism to consider. Marker guns come in a variety of styles that fall broadly into two types: more realistic markers for Woodsball games and stripped-back, lightweight models for Speedball games.
The Woodsball markers will look a lot more like a traditional firearm both in their body style and the accessories available, such as mock silencers, stocks and even magazine loaders rather than hoppers for some models. They match the narrative of many Woodsball games, such as capture the flag or MilSim (Military Simulation) games, many of which are set around popular FPS video games or classic sci-fi films.
The Speedball markers are lightweight and slim to suit the speed of the game. More likely to come in a range of colors, the DYE Rize CZR is a good example of this style. Speedball markers almost exclusively use electronic mechanisms.
With these factors to consider, don’t be afraid to ask the experts at your chosen store for advice when making your choice.