Paintball guns started as a tool for forestry, and cattle sales. Real paint in gelatin capsules were used to mark trees for harvest and animals for auction.
Paintball guns today are a tool of competition, as any piece of sports equipment these incredibly engineered pieces of technology have evolved over the years. Starting as pump action, CO2 capsule powered paintball guns with a small capacity.
They have grown into force fed rapid fire monsters capable of unleashing ropes of paintballs a few millimeters apart with laser accuracy.
So the questions are:
What paintball gun is right for you?
What level of technology do you need?
How much do you need to spend to reach that performance level?
Do you want to be able to add tons of upgrades or do you want every ounce of performance up front?
Lets address that first question; What Paintball Gun is right for your? There is quite a bit more to discuss here then just your budget. As with all sports equipment we need to understand the types of paintball guns, and their applications. To understand this concept better, think of the different types of cleats used for sports, soccer cleats, sprint cleats and football cleats are all designed differently because they have a different application.
Woodsball Paintball Guns : These guns are primarily designed for use in the woods style fields. Players choosing this style of play value accuracy, durability, and realism over most other features. The draw back to these types of guns are generally heavier weight, and the top preforming options can be rather expensive. Advantages include great camouflage schemes, super accurate barrels and specially adapted paintballs all focusing on the woodsball style.
Speedball Paintball Guns: These guns are primarily designed for the speedball or concept style fields. Players choosing this style of play are looking for light weight, firing speed, accuracy and reliability. These guns are usually brightly colored, are available with many options and are some of the more versatile options. This category has the widest range of options, and price ranges mostly dependent on features and manufacturing process.
Cross Over Paintball Guns: Many paintball guns are capable of pulling double duty, a player can own one gun and use it effectively in all formats. It is important to remember that while guns maybe specialized, you are never prohibited from using a woodsball gun on a speedball course or vice versa. The important thing to remember about paintball guns is that you should buy the one YOU want. No one else will have to pay for or play with your gun, so make sure you are investing in the gun of your choice.
So onto the next question; What level of technology do you need?
Paintball has advanced to the point where a player can choose from a huge selection of guns ranging from purposely complex and advanced to decidedly simple and rudimentary. These guns break down into some basic categories.
Pump or Stock Class: These guns are based around the manual actuation of the firing cycle. Pump guns require that the player manually cycle the action of the paintball gun to reload the chamber after each shot. Stock class pump guns take this further by limiting both the capacity of the paint system and the Co2 cartridge, with most stock class games requiring the use of paintball tubes and Co2 cartridges rather than hoppers and tanks. The pump and stock class guns focus primarily on accuracy and smoothness of operation, as ROF is limited in this application, players choosing pump guns value every shot and demand that each one goes exactly where intended.
Mechanical/Semi-Automatic: These paintball guns represent the majority of paintball guns on the market. Their simple internal operation make them very reliable while keeping their over all cost down. Most value based markers will fit into this category, with offerings fitting both the speedball and woodsball style. This style of paintball gun is also the root of paintball as all of the "classic" paintball guns where at one point this type.
Electronic: Also known as electropneumatic, these guns blend modern technology into the paintball equation. With two main types these guns are capable of the highest rates of fire. The two main types are mechanical systems actuated by electronic systems and fully electronic systems that directly actuate the firing mechanism. These types of guns used to be the most expensive, however, recently manufactures have found ways to keep costs down and offer extremely competitive guns for 1/3 of what they once would have cost.
The decision comes down to what do you plan to do with the gun, much like buying a car, you should think about your paintball gun's use and make your purchase based upon your personal taste in style.
Finally the topic of upgradability must be addressed. Most paintball players love making their gear their own, from something as small as a sticker to a full blown one off creation. Every gun can be customized, from the top dollar options down to the most basic. Much like you can put aftermarket wheels on a Ford Fiesta or a Ferrari. The performance you start with is very different, but the path to customization can be just as satisfying.