by David McBryan
Crush the competition in 2021
Are you looking for the best paintball gun to up your game? That's where we come in.
This guide rounds up the top paintball guns across 11 different categories spanning everything from lightweight speedball markers to pump-powered pieces and even the best paintball pistol.
There's a lot to cover, so let's jump right in.
Best Paintball Guns
It's impossible to put together any definitive list of the top paintball guns, because there are far too many factors that influence which marker is best for you:
That's why these rankings aren't really rankings in the traditional sense.
(In fact, #9 is my second-favorite paintball gun.)
Instead, these are just 11 of the best paintball markers available for various situations.
Let's start with what I actually consider to be the top-rated paintball marker and my personal favorite.
Best All-Around Paintball Gun
Every feature on the Etha 2 feels like it was designed exactly for its purpose, from the size and spacing around the trigger to the efficient spool valve design to left and right-side firing mode LED indicators for shooters of all handedness.
Blowback-free, buttery smooth firing with incredible accuracy in a 2.2-pound package makes the Etha 2 perfect for any type of game, though it really shines in speedball.
Best Speedball Gun
The calling card of this marker is its ultra-efficient, amazingly quiet firing system. It features a way cool breech sensing system that covers the firing chamber mid-shot to trap pressurized air, allow you to use less air per shot with fewer refills.
Overall, the GTEK 170R is an amazing speedball gun because of how lightweight and balanced it is. It's so precisely designed that it feels impossibly small, but I mean that in a good way. Ultimately, this is one of the most popular paintball markers available and players rave about it with good reason.
Best Woodsball Gun
Many players associate big, bulky, tactical-looking markers with woodsball. However, the truth is that any marker can be a woodsball marker, because the same things that make a marker great for speedball make it great for woodsball: maneuverability, balance, accuracy, and reliability.
On those points, the Empire Paintball Axe 2.0 excels. Many players compare it with the Etha 2 and ask which is better, but that answer comes down to preference. Compared to the Etha 2, the Axe 2.0 offers an all-aluminum exterior, shorter, more compact design, and better trigger sensation at the expense of its weight as the Axe 2.0 checks in at 3.5 lbs (1.3 lbs more than the Etha 2).
Many paintball players say this is their absolute favorite marker for any gameplay type. It's quiet, efficient, reliable, and makes for an excellent woodsball marker.
Best Mechanical Paintball Marker
If it weren't for the Emek 100's mechanical assembly, you'd think it was a top-of-the-line electronic marker. After all, it comes with the same Gamma Core drivetrain and breech sensing technology of the three markers above, allowing for a low, 135 PSI firing pressure and no sear tripper or springs like other mechanical markers. This thing is reliable and will keep firing as long as you need it to.
It also features a 10" barrel constructed of high-quality, airplane-grade aluminum and a durable, glass-reinforced Nylon exterior in an amazingly light 1.87 lb package. The barrel-length is too short for some, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a more consistent marker under 2 lbs.
You'll also be hard-pressed to find a better mechanical marker - it's easily one of the best mechanical paintball guns available. And when you consider price, the Planet Eclipse Emek 100 stacks up closely with some of the best electronic paintball guns available.
Best Pump Paintball Gun
Pump paintball markers offer a totally different playing experience than either mechanical or electronic markers, but some players absolutely love them.
Whether you're a paintball player looking to get into pump paintball or have used these markers before, the Azodin KP3.5 KAOS is an excellent option. The best feature of this paintball marker is its smooth, dual cocking rods that make loading paint easy and satisfying.
Overall, the KP3.5 is simple to use, bordering on idiot-proof, and is an astounding value at its price point with some nice features like the aluminum clamping feedneck and pull-pin release bolt.
Best Paintball Gun/Marker for the Money
When it comes to value you can't go wrong with anything from Tippmann. Their products have earned them a strong reputation. The Cronus Tactical gets the nod for two reasons.
First, its supreme customizability. Almost everything on this marker can be upgraded or customized if (more likely, when) you want to purchase those mods. And because the Cronus Tactical is so reliable and durable, you'll be able to make those changes over years without worrying about the marker failing. These markers are so durable that many paintball fields purchase them as rentals, which is a testament to how much of a beating they can take.
Second, the price point on this marker is incredible, generally well under $200. Whether you're looking for a quality entry-level marker or an inexpensive base model with a ton of customizability, chances are the Tippmann Cronus Tactical is for you.
Best Beginner Paintball Gun
I'll be straight with you: This is Kingman's lowest-end marker. But that doesn't mean it's garbage. To the contrary, the Spyder Victor delivers a surprisingly good experience for just north of $50.
Its components are mostly lower-quality to make that price point possible, resulting in accuracy issues beyond 40-50 feet and a good amount of chopped paint, but its highly customizable, has little blowback, and is extremely gas-efficient, all of which make it great for beginners. Nobody would confuse this for a high end expert gun but if you're at the beginner level just starting out it's a solid pick.
Best Paintball Pistol
Paintball pistols are a whole other beast and not optimal for competitive paintball when matched up against any other kind of marker, but they definitely have their place as either sidepieces or showpiece.
If that's your line of thought, the Umarex T4E is a phenomenal option.
T4E actually stands for Training For Engagement, meaning Umarex designed the T4E with the size, weight, and feel of an actual firearm. It shoots .43 caliber paintballs, powder balls, and rubber balls at about 360 feet per second (FPS). Unfortunately, this is well above the maximum-allowed firing rates of 280-285 feet per second, so you'll need to make some personal adjustments to make it field-legal. At the time of this writing the balls per second isn't clear.
If you're looking for a realistic type of paintball pistol for training purposes, check out our guide to the 17 Best Airsoft Pistols. Airsoft offers much more realism with many airsoft pistol manufacturers taking pride in how realistic they can make their guns, modeling them after classic firearms like the Beretta APX, P226, M1911, Desert Eagle, and others.
Best Paintball Sniper Rifle
The Tippmann A5 Sniper is the same marker as the standard Tippmann A5, except it comes with the sniper package with a longer barrel for more accurate long-range shooting. However, "sniping" can be misleading in paintball. If you're firing standard, round paintballs at or below the maximum allowable velocity, the longer sniper barrel won't give you more range.
But if a paintball sniper rifle is what you're after, the Tippmann A5 Sniper is your best option.
Best Lightweight Paintball Gun
There are several advantages to having a lightweight paintball gun, but maneuverability is at the top of the list. With an accurate shot from its 12" barrel and plenty of high-rate firing modes, the Empire Paintball Mini GS is an awesome entry-level or intermediate option, especially for speedball players. It's leagues better than its predecessor, the original Empire Mini, so don't let that marker's poor reputation dissuade you from adding the Mini GS to your arsenal.
Most Reliable Paintball Gun
You could put just about any Tippmann marker in the "most reliable paintball gun" category, but the Tippmann 98 Custom gets the nod because it's the gold standard for durability and versatility.
In fact, its biggest plus is right in its name: its customizability.
The base model, shown in the image above, looks like a plain old marker. When fully loaded with whatever upgrades you like, it looks like something from Call of Duty.
Check Price on Amazon
The Tippmann Cronus Tactical Marker is our pick for best paintball gun for the money.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a finer mechanical marker than the Planet Eclipse Emek 100
We picked the Tippmann A5 Sniper for it's accurate long-range shooting. It has a long 16" barrel which gives it 250-foot range
The Umarex T4E shoots at about 360 feet per second (FPS), well above the maximum-allowed firing rates of 280-285 feet per second. You'll need to make some personal adjustments to make it field-legal.
The most expensive on our list is the Planet Eclipse GTEK 170R at $799.
The Azodin KP3.5 KAOS is an excellent option.
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Featured image courtesy of Wallpaper Flare