Make sure the gear you choose is right for your position, experience, and ability level.
How To Buy Paintball Gear
The sport of paintball has come a long way since its infancy in the mid-70s. Today, you have a number of options to consider in buying the gear that suits your skill level and usage. A good starting point in selecting the gun -or “marker” as the sport prefers to call it – along with a variety of safety equipment, paintballs and accessories.
How to buy a Marker/Gun
Determine your skill level
The marker you need is really dependent on your skill.
- Beginner or casual player
- Look for a less-expensive small marker
- You can upgrade your marker as your skill level and requirements increase
- Serious recreational player
- Look for markers with more features, including automatic firing
- You can always upgrade your marker as your skill level and requirements increase
- Tournament player
- Your marker should be purchased to fit the position you are most likely to play:front, cover, or utility
Determine your usage
Serious recreational or tournament players need to look for a marker that suits their position.
- Front players
- Speed, weight and size are critical since your main goal is to draw fire vs. shooting
- If you don’t want to mount your air supply on your marker, you can purchase aremote air hose to decrease weight and to increase your mobility
- When you do shoot, accuracy is a must, so find a marker that allows you to mount the air supply bottle so it can be used as a stock
- Cover players
- You’ll be shooting lots of rounds so choose a large air supply bottle remote system
- You will want system that allows you to load and unload the bottle quickly
- Utility players
- You need both mobility and capacity
- Buy a large air supply bottle and mount it on the gun
Determine the right pressure systems:
Pressure, or propulsion, systems give your marker the air it needs to propel a paintball. All tanks are shipped unfilled because of shipping restrictions. Two styles are offered:
- Carbon dioxide
- The most common pressure system
- The tank size determines the rounds that you will be able to shoot
- The main drawback is that carbon dioxide can be either a liquid, gas or both, depending on temperatures, especially when they dip below 50F. This causes fluctuations in velocities and therefore in shooting accuracy.
- For most recreational players, this system is more safe and reliable. Plus, most fields offer stations to readily fill your carbon dioxide tanks.
- High-pressure air (HPA)and nitrogen systems
- These always operate as a gas so your marker doesn’t fall prey to changing velocities
- This then further ensures accuracy. If you are serious about the sport, consider this option.
- Some fields, though, may not be able to fill your system so check before buying
Choosing the right accessories
Once you decide on a marker and air system, you need to consider a number of accessories.
- A hopper is a plastic inverted bottle or stick that holds your paintballs and gravity usually feeds them into your marker
- You can also buy a motorized hopper, which should be considered if you need to shoot rapidly
- Hoppers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, holding from 40 to 300 paintballs
- Mobility and weight become a factor in selecting the hopper that meets your needs and playing ability
- Air Supply
- If you don’t want to mount your air supply on your marker, you can purchase a remote air hose to decrease weight and to increase your mobility. This is recommended especially for upfront players.
- This long tube allows you to then carry your tank on a backpack or belt
- Belt pack
- A belt pack holds your supplies, primarily extra paint and loaders
- The amount of ammo it can hold varies
- A squeegee keeps your gun barrel clean
- You can purchase either a stick squeegee or a pull-through
- Both work well, but make sure the system you buy works on your gun’s barrel
- A squeegee holder is also recommended so that you will always have it on you
- A sight or a scope will slightly improve accuracy
- These work in helping you determine where your paint will go under varying conditions
- Many markers are sold with a stock barrel that can be changed
- If you want to buy an extra barrel, consider several factors
- Low-pressure systems can use longer barrels
- Length improves accuracy, but the barrel should be matched to the paint you are shooting-small, medium, or large. Most use .68
- Materials provide a weight difference. If you need mobility, a lighter barrel may be just the thing for you.
- Provides protection in the critically sensitive areas, including your kidneys, heart and back
- Elbow, knee, and shin pads preserve those areas that get roughed up when you’re sliding, crawling, falling, or getting hit in sensitive areas
- Gloves are another good investment
- Paintball goggles aren’t an option; these are a must
- Don’t try to save a few bucks by wearing ski goggles or sunglasses
- Paintball goggles are designed to withstand the impact of a paintball, and give you front, top, and side protection
- These goggles are also designed to increase your peripheral vision, giving you a wider field of vision
- Most also come with face shields and eye armor to further protect you. These cover the forehead, ears and jaw. Full masks are also available.
How to buy paint
The outside of a paintball is a gelatin, with the paint inside. The gelatin has to be tough enough to fire through your marker but soft enough to break when hitting your target. While paintballs used to be oil-based, today’s water-soluble replacements make clean up a whole lot easier.
- Paintballs come in several sizes: .50, .62, .63, .68 and .72 caliber
- When selecting paintballs, make sure it meets the specifications for your barrel diameter
- Paintballs are biodegradable and non-toxic
- Non-toxic dyes are used to provide color
- The color you select should be determined by playing conditions
- You may want a bright color in densely wooded areas so you can see where your paintballs are hitting
- Age and humidity are the two biggest enemies of paintballs
- Keep a fresh supply and store them in a cool, dry place
- Never use dirty paint balls. They can harm the barrel or prematurely explode and clog the gun.