What is a Paintball Marker?

Paintball markers, commonly called paintball guns, are the main piece of equipment which you’ll be using while you participate in the sport of paintballing. That said, there’s an absolutely bewildering array of markers out there, and it can be kind of hard for a newbie to make sense of it all.

Lucky for you, we’re here to help answer any questions you might have, and guide you in the right direction to know what you’re looking for.

Gregory, Author Paintimpact


The Basics

Essentially, a marker is a device that uses a mechanical action or compressed gas in order to propel a paintball.

Most fields will limit the velocity of the projectile to about 260-280 feet per second in order to lower the potential for injury. Even if you’re playing with friends in an unregulated place, it’s generally a good idea to stay within those parameters in order to do things safely and not end up with excessive bruising.

There’s a few different factors which determine the actual workings of any individual marker. There’s not really a “best” it’ll depend more on the type of play that you engage in and your own individual style. Let’s break them down, so you can see exactly what goes into making a marker.

What Type of Marker?

There are several types of marker available to the prospective player, and each has their own advantages and disadvantages to contend with.

Pump markers are the simplest and usually the cheapest. They have a similar action to pump-action shotguns, requiring you to work the action between shots. The lower rate of fire typically means you’ll need to be more accurate than if you’re using a semi-automatic gun.

Some new players can find these guns rather challenging to use. If you’re playing with friends or on a field where semi-automatic or automatic guns rule the day then it can be a challenge to even get a shot off without getting hit.

Some of these can be “slam fired”, meaning that you can hold down the trigger and work the pump instead of

They’re making a comeback in the market lately, with high powered and highly accurate guns being favored by those who like to snipe on the field.

Mechanical markers are the most common, and also called semi-automatic. In most cases these guns will rely on CO2 or pressurized air in order to increase the rate of fire and each pull of the trigger will fire another shot.

They’re easy to use and maintain, as well as being quite cheap and they’re favored most styles of play. The ease of use and increased fire power over pump markers makes them absolutely ideal for the beginner who wants to get into the sport without breaking the bank.

Electronic markers are the most complex and expensive. They tend to combine the functionality of a semi-automatic functionality with advanced electronics that allow for some interesting features.

For the most part, however, players are interested in the “ramping” feature which tends to set these guns apart from the rest. While automatic guns are pretty much banned on fields, and can be hard to find for that reason, ramping makes for a loop hole in these rules and has become accepted on most fields.

Ramping means that the gun will begin to fire more and more rapidly the more the trigger is pulled. This means that you can maintain the same tempo of trigger pulling of a couple of times a second and quickly find yourself launching ten to fifteen balls per second.

The “trigger” in these guns is most often a micro-switch held under the trigger, rather than requiring the relatively long pull that’s found in most paintball guns. This makes for a short trigger pull and allows easier access to ramping.

Since it’s an electronic control, there’s a few programmed “presets” which are used in competitions, and you should always adhere to the rules presented to you.

Electric guns are more expensive, but in a lot of cases they offer the maximum amount of firepower you’ll be able to use on any regulated field.

What Types of Feed Are Available?

The other main factor, apart from the type of gun, is how the balls are fed into the chamber. This is actually the limiting factor in rate of fire for most markers and there’s a few different types available.

Gravity fed hoppers are the most common type, and they’re also the cheapest. These drop the paintball directly in front of the firing mechanism without any kind of mechanical assistance. While they require no maintenance, they also limit you to about eight balls per second.

Electric hoppers are a bit different, and come in a lot of varieties. The cheapest are kind of a pain to work with, since you’ll have to manually turn the motor off and on and this will often lead to them using up their battery power quite quickly.

If you’re willing to spend a little bit more money, you can often get 15-20 balls per second loaded with a sensor-activated hopper. The earliest of these worked on sound, and they’re still useful if you have a marker that’s loud enough to activate it.

Many of the newest high-end markers are almost silent however, and you’ll need an eye-activated hopper. These will sense how many balls are in line and automatically turn on to fill the tube when it’s low.

For those with truly high-end guns, there are also forced-feed hoppers. These use an impeller to grab and slam the paintballs into the hopper while you’re firing. For some markers it’s literally the only way you can keep up with their actual maximum rate of fire.

For the most part, use gravity-fed hoppers for pump and mechanical markers, but invest in an electronic system if you’re using an electric marker.


Trying to understand markers can be a bit of a challenge, especially for those who didn’t know what a paintball marker is in the first place. We hope that we’ve answered your question and shown you how simple it is to make sure that you can find the right paintball gun for whatever your purposes may be.


  1. http://www.ebay.com/gds/Your-Guide-to-Buying-Paintball-Hoppers-and-Loaders-/10000000177627860/g.html
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paintball_marker
  3. http://www.paintball-online.com/Types-of-Paintball-Guns-s/633.htm