Whether you’ve just started paintballing or your gearing up for a serious tournament, your equipment is a life-or-death decision. Our top pick for the best paintball gun of 2018 was the Tippmann Cronus Tactical Paintball Gun for its smooth semi-automatic operation, large capacity Co2 tank, and ability to build onto it over time.
Paintball guns, often called “markers” in the biz since they started out as temporary markers for trees and cattle, are sophisticated pieces of air-compressor driven equipment, so it’s crucial to pick out the best model you can for paintballing.
Whether you prefer Co2 or compressed air; simple gun body or all the bells and whistles, we’ve got the best paintball gun for you in our Top 5 Roundup.
The Tippmann Cronus Tactical Paintball Gun is great for the average user because it’s easy to clean, relatively lightweight, and the molded rubber grip is a nice bonus. Four rails allow you to attach extra accessories if you want, or this model is ready to go to the field as is.
Top 5 Paintball Guns
|Tippmann Cronus Tactical||Co2 or Compressed Air Compatible||Semi-Automatic||Check Price|
|Empire Paintball Axe Marker||Compressed Air||Electric||Check Price|
|Tippmann TiPX Paintball Pistol||Co2||Semi-Automatic||Check Price|
|MAddog Azodin Kaos 2||cO2||Semi-Automatic||Check Price|
|Empire Paintball Mini GS||Compressed Air||Semi-Automatic/3-Shot Burst Fire||Check Price|
1. The Best Overall Paintball Gun
Tippmann Cronus Tactical Paintball Gun
Sometimes simple is the best, and the Tippmann Cronus Tactical Paintball Gun is a sturdy, reliable model that’s simple enough for a kid to operate but dependable enough to serve the every-weekend-player well.
Since this is a lighter weight model, it’s better suited to woodsball than speedball. That said, the plastic construction is remarkably sturdy and drop-resistant.
The molded rubber grip is a good addition to the plastic body – without it the gun would probably be too slick. The Tippmann Cronus Tactical is famous for its sleek, military look that makes even a first-time paintballer feel like a total boss.
We really loved that this model is compatible with both a cO2 and a High Pressure Air (HPA) tank, which really adds to the versatility of this paintball gun. You’ll be able to get your paintballs up to some decent speeds, due to the built-in gas line that helps feed the paint balls from the hopper through the barrel.
The stock is collapsible and can take 6 different positions, which is a nice bonus if you want it to be a multi-user gun.
The grip is vertical, which should give you added support as you fire it. Additionally, the gun has four rails where you can attach extra features later, which is great it for looking for a model that can grow with your paintballing skills.
Overall, we thought the Tippmann Cronus Tactical was a great model for the vast majority of us.
Pros and Cons
- High-Impact Body
- cO2 and HPA Compatibility
- Internal Gas Line
- Rubber Grip
- Optional Accessory Rail
- Plastic Body
2. The Best Paintball Gun Upgrade Pick
Empire Paintball Axe Marker
If you want a serious tournament model that you can steadily upgrade, the Empire Paintball Axe Marker is a fantastic choice. This marker runs on compressed air and is known for its accuracy and dependability in high-speed competitions.
The aluminum body of the Axe is sturdy enough to handle rough paintballing tournaments, while the push-button release on this paintball gun makes maintenance super easy.
What we really liked about this particular model is it already comes with some sweet upgrades. If you’re looking for a serious marker, you are likely used to upgrading your equipment as you go already.
This particular Axe kit comes with a Freak barrel kit, which is one of the quickest ways to increase your competitiveness in a tournament. There’s also an OLED board, which brings the electronic functionality up to a sophisticated level.
These two upgrades alone add massive value to the Axe base gun, so it’s a powerful model for speedball or tournaments.
Overall, the Axe might be a bit of overkill if you’re a paintball beginner, but it can’t be matched when it comes to performance and upgrade possibilities.
Pros and Cons
- Aluminum Body
- Comes with Freak Barrel and OLED board
- Push-Button Release
- Only Uses Compressed Air
3. The Best Paintball Pistol Gun
Tippmann TiPX Paintball Pistol Marker Gun
If you’re into paintball target shooting, then the Tippmann TiPX Paintball Pistol Marker Gun might be a good fit for you. This marker punctures the Co2 tank the first time you pull the trigger, so you want to use up the whole magazine of paintballs in one go.
Two magazines are included, which gives you a bit more shooting time before reloading. You’ll probably get between 20-25 shots per cartridge, but because of the slow-puncture design you can’t leave the marker sitting around or the cO2 will gradually leak out of it.
The accuracy at short-range is almost perfect, and the long-range shooting depends only upon the steadiness of your eye and arm. This could be a nice gun if you don’t like the heaviness of traditional rifle markers.
Keep in mind that this model only works with a Co2 tank, not compressed air. A semi-automatic, you’ll get one shot per pull, which is a nice feature if you want to use paintballs to simulate target practice with a regular gun.
This model is a bit trickier to disassemble than some of the others we reviewed, so that could be an issue if you have a paint ball break on the inside.
Overall, this is the best pick we found for a pistol-style marker that looks cool, has superior range and accuracy, and can be used by serious target shooters.
Pros and Cons
- Rapid Fire Semi-Automatic
- Good Aesthetic
- Great Accuracy
- Two Magazines Included
- Tricky to Take Apart
- Must Use Entire cO2 Tank in One Go
4. Best Paintball Gun Beginner Set
MAddog Azodin Kaos 2 Silver Paintball Gun Package
So you’ve been paintballing steadily for a while now, but you’re sick of renting and want to purchase everything you’ll need for future combat in one fell swoop. We chose the MAddog Azodin Kaos 2 Silver Paintball Gun Package as the best beginner set.
The Azodin Kaos has pretty much everything you need to get started, included the mask, cO2 tank (shipped empty per regulations), hopper, harness, and a jerk barrel squeegee.
Since we’re mostly concerned with the marker itself – it is the most important piece – we liked the lighter-weight body of this paintball gun. The gun is ergonomic and very easy to grip when you’re in the middle of a match.
A semi-automatic paintball gun, the Kaos 2 comes with a cO2 tank but can be altered to work with a HPA tank if you now what you’re doing. Overall, this is a beginner model that offers fewer options for customization over the long run, so that’s something to consider if you’re really into gear.
The Azodin Kaos was also our pick for beginners because it offers the best accuracy of any beginner model. People also like the variety of color options available and the sleek design.
Overall, if you’re looking for a solid beginner model to get you out in the field, the Kaos 2 really does the job well at a great price point.
Pros and Cons
- Good Price
- Good Accuracy
- Limited Customization
5. Best Compact Paintball Gun
If you value portability and firing options, then we think you’ll love the Empire Paintball Mini GS Marker. While you might need a power feeder to take advantage of the high speed capabilities of the Mini GS, the speed from a two-pound base model will truly astound you.
The smaller size isn’t necessarily an issue for people with bigger hands, since you can just adjust how you hold the gun. If you like a heftier model, though, the Mini GS might not be the ideal pick for you.
This paint ball gun shoots in standard semi-automatic fashion, but can also do short 3-shot bursts, and can get up to 6 trigger pulls per second. This makes it the fastest firing marker that we reviewed.
There are multiple firing settings that control when you can activate the burst mode, so that can be a little touchy to figure out when you’re first getting started, but if you’re into custom programming then you’ll get a kick out of that. We also liked that it was fairly easy to maintain, with no hidden unreachable areas for paint to hide.
Always use compressed air on this model, as carbon dioxide will flood and ruin the electronic innards of this paintball marker.
Overall, this is a fantastic paintball gun for intermediate and experienced paintballers who value rapid-speed firing and don’t mind the lightweight feel of a smaller gun.
Pros and Cons
- Incredibly Fast Speeds
- Easy to Maintain
- Compact and Lightweight
- Programming Tricky to Learn
Why You Should Absolutely Go Paintballing this Weekend
Though your parents or your significant other might not understand why paintball is so awesome, research has proven what diehard paintballers have known for years: paintballing is actually good for you.
Not only is paintball a serious way to work up a sweat and burn some calories, it’s a major team building exercise that hones your skills of working with your friends, coworkers, or even strangers to devise a strategy and accomplish a goal.
Trying to avoid being pelted by tiny paint pellets brings people together quickly, so if you’ve been looking for a way to meet new people, the paintball field might be an ideal place to do just that.
Paintball is a great way to get out and active in the outdoors. It’s a great melding between nature and tech, as there are infinite ways to tinker with and improve your equipment over time and develop your own paintball gear preferences.
Finally, paintball hones your mental abilities, because of all the problem solving you have to do to win, and it channels your adrenaline and competitive spirit in positive ways. So you can tell your mom that it’s not just a bunch of guys shooting each other with paint- it’s brain building.
How Does a Paintball Gun Work?
Paintball guns, also called paintball markers, are sophisticated pieces of equipment, and each one has the following components:
- Propellant Container
The barrel, trigger and grip of a paintball gun are pretty familiar to anyone who’s seen a gun before, even if your knowledge of firearms is restricted to old John Wayne movies.
These components make up the main body of your paintball gun. The ball will travel down the barrel, you pull the trigger to release the ball, and the grip is the part of the gun that rests in your hand.
Your first choice is all about your propellant container, which means you’re making a choice between a Co2 powered gun and a compressed air powered gun. These come in refillable tanks that can be used to propel the paint ball through the gun for extra power.
Though there is a huge debate circling Co2 versus compressed High Pressure Air (HPA)-powered guns, a good thing to remember is that the Co2 (carbon dioxide) bottles tend to be cheaper, whereas the compressed air models tend to be more consistent.
It’s important to decide up front which kind you prefer, because most paintball markers only operate on one kind. So it’s a good idea to go to the paintball field and play around with different models to decide whether its more important to have an endless supply of Co2 pressure or the reliability of the compressed air tank.
Some clubs and tournaments also have rules about which type of propellant they accept, so make sure you check the regulations of any group you’re thinking about joining before you invest in your gear.
The Hopper is a little more complicated, but it’s a crucially important piece of your paintball gun, and there’s some variety out there. We’ll break it down for you.
This is the part of the paintball gun that stores the balls until they’re fired by the gun. Keep an eye out for models that don’t get clogged easily, which tends to be a problem of high-capacity hoppers.
As with almost everything on a paintball marker, it’s a matter of compromise and preference. If you like the convenience of a large-capacity hopper that extends the time between refills, you might be willing to put up with the occasional clog.
What Should I Look for in a Paintball Gun?
As with any piece of sport equipment, maintenance is crucial. By taking care of your paint ball gun and cleaning it regularly, you can ensure proper function and forestall the dreaded hopper clogs.
There are three types of paintball guns:
The manual has the least amount of firepower, because it’s hand-pumped and is considered an old-school style of paintball gun. The electrical model has the most and is capable of rapid-fire shots, which the mechanical is right in the middle and this is the category that most of your semi-automatics belong to.
A lot of what you’re looking for will be determined by the type of paintballing that you like to do. While you can usually adapt your marker to shoot at whatever you’re pointing it at, different styles have different emphases.
For instance, there’s
- Paintball target shooting (pistol-style paintball markers are great for this)
- Speedball (playing on an orderly field)
- Woodsball (playing in a natural environment)
- Scenario Paintball (storytelling; army operations, Vikings, aliens, you name it)
A small handheld pistol might be perfect for precision target practice, but it might not have the range you need when playing woodsball. If you dream of joining epic scenario paintball events with hundreds of players, then you may even want to go in for a marker with a military aesthetic that matches the storyline.
While most paintballers participate in a mix of the styles, keep in mind that almost all paintball guns are designed with tradeoffs in mind, and you should consider your personal preferences.
Do you hate having to refill your hopper every ten seconds? Or are clogs really your pet peeve? Do you need something with a rapid-fire burst function, or are you content taking each shot as it comes?
Paintball is a personalized sport, so there’s no one “best” marker for everyone.
More than Just the Marker
Great, so you’ve bought the best paintball gun you could afford, and you’re off to the field to win honor and glory.
You see, paintball requires a fair amount of gear besides the gun. You’re probably aware that you need the standard safety equipment to prevent injuries, but what beginners often don’t know is that the paintball marker should be considered as a kind of base model for your paintball rig.
Besides the marker and basic safety equipment (more on that in a minute) you’ll most likely need:
- cO2 or HPA Tank
- Magazines (for some models)
- Holster/Waistband/Harness (depending on the size)
- OLED Board (for electronic models
Some beginner paintball guns come with the essentials attached, or you can get kits for a discount. My no means does this imply that these are badly made paintball guns; rather, they’re designed for someone who wants to get out and play, not for the person who likes to build their own marker from scratch and choose all of the customized pieces.
Part of the fun of paintball, however, is that it’s meant to be customizable. You could show up to a huge tournament with thousands of players and not have the exact same rig as anyone else, if you’ve slowly build up your marker with your preferred accessories.
It’s not just a sport about your shooting and tactical skills, it’s about your engineering know-how, too.
Paintball is, of course, designed to inflict a little bit of pain. One of it’s main draws is that a capsule filled with paint being forcefully propelled towards your body stings, and that incentive to avoid a hit fuels the adrenaline and the competition that draw many to the sport.
While you might sport a few paintball bruises, you shouldn’t be sustaining serious injury from paintball. Before you play, you’ll need the following safety gear:
- Paintball Goggles
- Barrel Plug
- Hat (nothing special, just enough to protect your head from direct hits)
You’ve probably seen pictures of paintball enthusiasts geared up like a SWAT team, but the most important thing to remember is just to show as little skin as possible.
If you’re into scenario paintball, then you might want to develop a costume around your storyline. Just make sure that your arms and legs are fully covered, because paintball hitting bare skin seriously hurt.
It’s not the time for your Converse, either. Wear something with some grip that can stand the mud and dust of a paintball field.
Paintball goggles are absolutely indispensable, and you need to get a pair designed specifically for paintball. By “goggles” we don’t just mean the protective eyewear that you don when using your circular saw – they’re a full-on face mask that resembles what fencers wear.
For high-impact paintball, a padded vest is recommended. The vest is a multi-purpose item, since it also holds your extra gear and paintballs.
Wherever possible, add extra padding. Simply covering your arms with a long-sleeved t-shirt isn’t going to be enough to stop a paintball going 200-miles-per-hour from leaving a bruise on you.
As with any intense sport, make sure you drink plenty of water when paintballing and watch your step. While paintball bruises hurt, players run into more trouble from dehydration or twisted ankles.
While we prefer the Tippmann Cronus Tactical Paintball Gun for its versatility and dual Co2 and compressed air compatibility, the paintball gun preferences are as varied as paintballers themselves.
You probably won’t find two paint ball nuts who agree on the right marker model, so it’s a great idea to try out a few yourself. Rent them at the field, borrow your buddy’s, and find which one gives you the best grip and range for your preferred method of play.
Whichever paintball gun you pick, you’re now ready to go strategize and dominate the field with your friends, so get going!