by David McBryan
Our 2021 picks have you covered
"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
Mike Tyson doesn't offer much sage advice, but he's spot-on with that one.
It's easy to get excited about your new Etha 2, Empire Axe 2.0, or souped-up Tippmann A5, but what happens when you exhaust your ammo, gas tank, or battery while your opponent has you pinned?
That's when you turn to your backup sidearm for close-quarter combat: your trusty paintball pistol.
There are a ton of different paintball pistols from compact .43 caliber models to powerful, .68 caliber, military-style replica handguns.
This guide has our top pick in each category so you can find the best paintball pistol for you.
8 Best Paintball Pistols of 2021
Best .43 Caliber Paintball Pistol
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 rate of 280-285 feet per second, so you'll need to make some personal adjustments to make it field-legal.
Best .50 Caliber Paintball Pistol
The GI Sportz Menace is a .50 caliber paintball pistol with a 7-round magazine that uses 12 gram CO2 cartridges. It's lightweight and well-balanced with an ambidextrous safety for comfortable use for both righties and lefties, and its realistic design only adds to its appeal.
Best .68 Caliber Paintball Pistol
Tippmann doesn't just do highly-customizable long-barreled rifles. They also have one of the best paintball pistols on the market: the Tippmann TiPX .68 Caliber Paintball Pistol.
The TiPX features an effective shooting range of up to 150 feet and is small and compact for excellent control while shooting. It has a comfortable, easy-to-pull trigger, allowing you to lock in on your target and quickly add color to your opponent.
The realistic and stylish appearance of the Tippmann TiPX adds form on top of function and is the best great large-caliber option.
Best Paintball GLOCK
Everyone knows the GLOCK 17, and this replica by Elite Force is just as effective as it is identical. It has comparable firing action and recoil to the actual GLOCK firearm with loudness similar to using a suppressor on the actual firearm, which is possible thanks to its realistic gas blowback action. However, all this noise and power this does reduce the GLOCK 17's firing capacity to 25-30 shots. Its comfortable design and reliable performance make this GLOCK 17 paintball pistol great for either skirmishing or indoor target practice.
Best Paintball Revolver
Any of the best paintball pistols above would be effective in close-quarters battle on the paintball field. This Umarex T4E TR50 Paintball Revolver is more for show than anything else, but it's incredibly powerful with up to 360 fps firing velocity that you'll need to dial down in order to make it field-legal. It has a 6-round rotary clip and is powered by a 12 gram CO2 cartridge located in the pistol's grip.
Best Pump Paintball Pistol
A fantastic entry-level paintball pistol, the JT ER2 Pump Pistol combines high-powered CO2 propellent with realistic hand-pump action to chamber each new paintball. You need to pump the handle several times to power it up before each shot, which really kills your rate of fire, but that's the cost of doing business with an inexpensive, entry-level marker.
In a time when many paintball gun manufacturers focus on realism or extra cool features at the expense of user experience, JT went the other way with this ER2 Pump Pistol. It's incredibly easy to use and is a fantastic beginner paintball pistol.
The JT ER2 doesn't have the firing power or range of other pistols above, shooting up to 75 feet with accuracy to 30 feet, but pistols are used in close-quarter combat, so this gun still should get the job done. Plus, it's rated up to 280 fps, which is the maximum allowable velocity at most fields anyway.
Best Cheap Paintball Pistol
The JT ER2 Pump Pistol above is cheap, but this Splatmaster z100 .50 Cal is even cheaper (usually). It's actually designed as an entry-level paintball pistol for kids, but that doesn't mean it's for kids alone. It's suitable for people of all ages and fires purely with hand-cocking action with no CO2 cartridges or other propellants required. While convenient, that means the Splatmaster's firing velocity tops out at just 140 fps.
Would I want to bring the Splatmaster z100 paintball pistol on the field in a competitive game? Heck no. But it's a great entry-level marker and would make a serviceable backup sidearm should something happen to your primary, which hopefully is one of the other best paintball pistols showcased in this guide.
Best CO2 Pistol For Self Defense
Did you catch that?
The H&K HK45 isn't a paintball pistol. It's an airsoft pistol.
A lightweight, highly-efficient, non-blowback CO2 airsoft pistol, the H&K HK45 is yet another great replica by Umarex. It has a polymer frame instead of a full metal design with a 15-round magazine, and it features an adjustable hop-up and 20mm Picatinny rails to mount lights, lasers, and other accessories.
As a non-blowback gun, the Umarex H&K HK45 sacrifices a little realism for gas (and cost) efficiency plus extra accuracy, but it still checks enough boxes in terms of overall functionality to be a quality CO2-powered pistol at an amazing price point, and its authentic appearance makes it a great deterrent for self defense.
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