3 Main Types of Paintball Guns – Ultimate Guide (2024)

Are you looking for a paintball gun to buy? Or you may have heard them by the name of “marker” because they are used to throw paint.

You can never deny the importance of a good gun for a good game to follow. Some experts call it the most important equipment in a game of paintball and it is not difficult to understand why.

A gun can either make you win a game or lose it, but it works this way only if you know which one to choose and how to use it.

The massive variety of guns or markers available in the market can be really daunting. Knowing a little about these guns and their categories can be helpful if you have to choose among them.

Different guns follow different mechanisms and give results accordingly.

There are three basic types of paintball markers.

  • Pump
  • Mechanical
  • Electro-Pneumatic

Following is a detailed description of each so you can see which one suits you best.

1. Pump Paintball Marker

This is the most basic paintball marker and also the most inexpensive one. It follows the same mechanism which was used in the first paintball gun ever made back in the 1960s.

Though it is a well known fact that the gun was not meant to be used in paintball, the sport. Rather, it was made to mark trees and cattle from long distances.

Are They Reliable?

As compared to the other two varieties, pump markers are the simplest. And this is the reason they are more reliable, durable, and hardly need maintenance.

Though the firing rate is far lower than the other markers, these are considered the most reliable guns. Players keep it as a backup gun in case their main gun stops working for some reason.

Types Of Paintball Guns

How Does a Pump Paintball Gun Work?

Unlike your semi-automatic or electro-pneumatic gun, you will have to recock your pump gun every time you want to shoot.

For this reason, a pump gun cannot shoot a lot of paintballs with the speed of other guns. The speed depends on how fast you can recock the gun. That is why the best way to play with a pump marker is to play strategically.

But do keep in mind that you won’t like to go to a field with most of the players with mechanical or electronic guns. Unless you have got some plans in your head.

For example, you can become a decoy, where the opposing team comes out of its hiding places and tries to shoot you because you look like easy prey, and the rest of your team uses that moment to their advantage. It can be really fun though! Do you like the idea?

Here you do not have to pump air into the gun with the handle. The air is constantly flowing from the air tank all the time. It may lead to an empty air tank sooner than you expected.

Why a Pump Marker is Good For you?

A pump marker may not be the best choice for most players but it has virtues that cannot be denied.

  • If you are starting as a paintball player and you are low on budget, this is the most affordable option for you.
  • If your 8 year old son or a young niece wants to play paintball because he or she is all hooked up with your games, this is the best gun for them. It is lightweight so they can easily carry it around. And, there is next to no chance that they can break it in any way.
  • Are you new at paintball and want to work on your aiming abilities? This is the best gun for you. It improves your accuracy without you even knowing it. Surely when you need to recock every time you are shooting a paintball, you do become a bit extra conscious of your aim. So instead of shooting randomly and throwing paint everywhere with an electric gun, you know the value of each shot and work accordingly.
  • Perhaps the family is planning a game of “stock class paintball” at the next get together. Or you may want to get a taste of the old times of paintball. In that case, you certainly cannot take anything with you other than a pump paintball gun.
  • This type of gun can be a good companion for your Woodsball. It is not only lightweight but also low-profile. So you do not have to worry about the weight tiring after hours of carrying it around in the woods or the size hindering you from hiding inside tight areas. Pump guns work with gravity hoppers, but they also allow you to attach a tube feed above them which makes them even more lightweight and smaller in size.
  • A pump marker will cut on the firing rate, thus cutting on the paintballs you are using per second. You will not be firing randomly and that will make sure that you do not finish the entire box of 2000 paintballs in a day.
  • Pump guns are the easiest ones to maintain because they have lesser movable parts and O rings to take care of. You can actually use this type of gun for years and then give it to a younger player when you plan on upgrading yours.

2. Mechanical Paintball Marker

This is the most common type of paintball gun you will see at any other rental store or on a paintball field.

Though every type has its own importance, in the hierarchy of markers the mechanical ones sit somewhere between the pump gun and the electro-pneumatic gun. Do you want to know why? Let the experts tell you.

Different Kinds Of Paintball Guns

Reliability of a Mechanical Marker

Not as durable as the pump marker, the mechanical markers are pretty reliable too. And not only this, these markers offer a good firing rate at a reasonable price. This is the reason these markers are the most popular ones.

How Does a Mechanical Paintball Gun work?

The operation of a mechanical marker is pretty simple. You pull the trigger and there comes one paintball out of the gun without added pump or batteries. This is why these guns are called “semi-automatic”. These guns work with a simple pull of a trigger. 

A sear catch or a sear spring is what holds the striker in these guns. The moment you pull the trigger the sear spring releases the striker that hits a valve of the gas inlet. When gas hits your paintball, it is sent out of the barrel with all the force needed.

Everything gets back to the previous position by the firing pressure, also called blow-back, ready for the next trigger pull. These markers allow you to fire 5 to 6 times per second.

These markers work perfectly with a gravity feeder but you can also use an electronic hopper if you want to. Some of these markers also allow you to switch between a hopper and a mag. As there are some games that specifically allow only mag-fed guns.

So if you plan on playing any such game, a switchable paintball gun will be a great option to have. 

Advantages of a Mechanical Paintball Guns

  • These guns provide you with a good firing rate without costing you an arm or a leg. Most of these guns you can purchase for around 100 Dollars and you can also have them in your rental package
  • These guns do require maintenance, like all machines, but these are easy to maintain as compared to electronic markers. All you need to do is to clean your gun after each time you use it, do some oiling occasionally, and take care of those little, fragile O rings.
Advantages Of A Mechanical Paintball Marker
  • This is the most popular type of paintball marker. As the pump guns are too slow and the electronic ones are quite expensive. These guns can be the best partner for a good player on a low budget.
  • CO2 is the most common gas available for refills on all paintball fields. Though HPA is gaining popularity, it is still not as common as CO2. Most electric guns only use HPA, so in case you do not have access to HPA you will have to go by a mechanical marker. And if you do, it is better to be on the safer side. 
  • Because of their popularity, you can choose from a huge variety of these markers available in the market. 
  • You do not have to worry about running out of batteries in the middle of a game. And you also do not have to spend money on batteries. 
  • If you are new to paintball, you can get familiar with these guns pretty quickly because they are easy to handle and operate. 
  • These guns are not designed as complex as electronic guns, so in case they are not working well, you can open them up with a screwdriver and troubleshoot them with a little help from a few YouTube videos, and of course, our article, and fix them all by yourself.
  • If you need to replace any of the parts, everything is readily available at the local retailer.

Recommended Read: Best Paintball Guns of All Time

3. Electronic Paintball Marker

It is the most advanced and most expensive type of paintball marker that came in the market as late as the 1990s. Generally speaking, these markers are also the most difficult to maintain and take care of. Then why would you buy one? 

Well… if you are looking for speed firing, nothing can give a better firing rate than an electro-pneumatic paintball marker. And if you are dreaming of playing in a tournament, you cannot do without it. Almost all tournaments play speedball and you cannot win a game of speedball without speed. 

Advantages Of A Electronic Paintball Marker

How Does an Electronic Paintball Gun Work?

These paintball guns are designed to function through battery powered circuit boards. These circuit boards activate a solenoid that causes the gun to fire. These guns need 9V batteries to operate.

These guns are also known as “automatic guns” or “programmed guns” and here we will tell you why!

These are automatic not because you do not have to pull the trigger when you fire, you surely will pull the trigger in order to fire but you do not have to cock the gun.

And the number of paintballs that come out of the barrel with one trigger pull depends on how you have “programmed” it. You can set it to 1 paintball at one trigger pull or more depending on how fast you want it to be. 

Most electronic markers are HPA compatible but some do work with CO2 as well. 

These guns are costly because of their advanced technology and to top that, they consume a lot of paintballs and work on HPA tanks, which are constantly to buy too. So it is going to be an expensive choice to buy it, as well as keep up with it.

That being said, here are the reasons why it can be your preferred choice to buy an electro-pneumatic gun. And we bet these reasons are enough to make you drool over them.

Why Would You Like to Buy an Electronic Paintball Marker?

  • The first reason to buy an electronic marker is what we have already mentioned: if you need speed, you need an electronic marker. These markers can fire as many as 30 paintballs per second. And if you are playing on an international level, it is a must have for you. Though some tournaments do make it compulsory for the players to use mechanical guns only, these tournaments are not as popular nowadays.
  • Although these markers are not the easiest to maintain, they surely are the easiest to use. They are lightweight and low profile as compared to mechanical markers so you do not get tired of carrying them around.
  • The trigger pull on these markers is just like pressing a button on your PC. It is extremely easy and super precise. 
Using Electronic Paintball Marker
  • As these markers are programmable, you can change the settings according to your choices. You can set them to fire one paintball at one trigger pull, or you can set them to fire continuously as long as you put pressure on the trigger. 
  • The consistency and steadiness that accompanies the firing of an electronic gun are matchless. You can’t achieve that with either mechanical or pump markers as there you are doing the job manually. But here, you are being helped by the programmed machine.
  • Some of these guns come with extremely fancy options like the gun can actually “talk” to you and tell you about the status of batteries, gas tank, and so on. 
  • Here is the “snob -fact”, as we like to call it, about an automatic paintball marker. When you go to the paintball field, holding this gun in your hands, the gun only is going to make you stand apart from the rest of the players. It is going to give an impression of a person who “actually knows the game”. And, honestly speaking, who does not like to give that feel to the rest of the competitors?

You can also watch this video for further comparison between electronic and mechanical paintball guns. Because visuals help!

Comparison Table of The 3 Paintball Guns/Markers

Gun TypePump MarkerMechanical MarkerElectronic Marker
Fire RateDepends on how fast you can recock the gun after every fire. 5 to 6 balls per second, but if you are fast enough you can fire 8 to 12 pallets per secondAs many as 20 to 30 pallets per second, depending on your gun and the fire settings
CostThe most inexpensiveThe most affordableThe most expensive
DurabilitySuper durableQuite durableQuite Fragile
MaintenanceSeldom needs maintenance other than cleaning and oilingAll the maintenance needed can be done at homeOften needs maintenance and professional care
Compatible Gas TanksCO2CO2 and seldomly compatible with HPAMostly compatible with HPA but some do operate with Co2 as well
WeightThe most lightweightSome models can be quite heavyPretty lightweight
ProfileLow-ProfileCan be hugeLow-profile
Batteries RequiredNoNoYes
Best ForBeginners and Young Players/ Strategic and Old School gamesBeginners and Rentals/ Strategic GamesProfessionals
Not ForSpeedballSpeedballWoodsball/ Old School Games

Final Words

After all the discussion above, you can probably see it for yourself that no gun is better than the other. Which one is best for you is a totally subjective question. You cannot decide by the cost of these guns and their designs, it is your usage that is going to settle the question for you.

As you cannot buy an electro-pneumatic gun for your 8 year old son or daughter, only because you have got money, and hope for the best. Those kids are not going to keep up the gun and learn nothing despite all the money you spent. 

Choose wisely and buy wisely. Each of the designs has its uses. We wish you a happy paintball journey!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which type of paintball gun is the best for Speedball?

Undoubtedly, if you wanna play an amazing game of speedball, it is an electronic gun for you.

Which type of paintball gun should I buy for playing Woodsball?

Woodsball can be played with a mechanical marker. But if you are planning on a more strategic game that needs more strategy and less firing rate, a pump marker will work just as fine for you.

You can checkout the best woodsball paintball guns here.

Are electronic paintball guns worth the money?

Yes, electronic markers are worth the money only if you want to use them accordingly. But, if you are planning on playing a game of Woodsball with an electronic marker in your hand, the chances are you are going to drop it or break it by bumping into something hard and it will surely go to the trash before you could utilize the money you spent on it. 

Are pump paintball markers any good?

Yes, despite all the progress which has been made in the making of guns, pump markers do have their place in the game and that is the reason they are still in the market. 

Which paintball marker should I buy for my 10 year old kid?

It is better to start with a pump marker as that allows room for learning how to aim and shoot wisely. Though if you are able to spend a few extra bucks, a mechanical marker can work just as good, or maybe even better.

Which paintball marker/ gun is best for beginners?

A mechanical marker is the best choice for beginners. But if you are low on budget, you can also buy a pump marker. Rental equipment also provides a good chance to learn the game.

About The Author

David Wilson Owner at paintballguider.com
David Wilson paintball training classes certificate from PTI
David Wilson Certificate of Participation in Paintball Best Club

David Wilson - Your Trusted Paintball Expert

David Wilson is your dedicated paintball guru with over a decade of experience in the thrilling world of paintball. As a seasoned player, tournament enthusiast, and certified Paintball Safe Game Instructor, he's committed to sharing expert insights, unbiased reviews, and valuable strategies to elevate your paintball game.

With a passion for safety and a mission to empower paintballers of all levels, David brings authority and experience to every article, ensuring you make informed choices and enjoy a secure and thrilling paintball experience. Join him on the journey to enhance your skills and embrace the camaraderie of the paintball community. Read More About David!

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