How Much Does Paintball Cost?

35 Potential Expenses (Plus the Cheapest Way to Hit the Field Today)

David McBryan, Paintballer-in-Chief

David McBryan
Paintballer-in-Chief
Updated: 10/20/20
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Paintball is an exhilarating sport, but it isn't the cheapest hobby out there. How much does paintball cost? And what's the cheapest way to play? We've got you covered.

How much does paintball cost - primary image

You and your friends have decided you want to give paintball a try.

But there’s one problem: You don’t have any gear.

That leaves you asking yourself, “How much does paintball cost? Is it too expensive for me to try?”

While there’s no single number I can give you, because there’s a lot of person-to-person and field-to-field variability.

What I can do is make things simple for you.

This guide will categorize everything so you can get a sense of the costs associated with playing paintball regardless of your situation.

At the very least, we’ll answer this question:

“What’s the least I can spend to see if I like paintball?”

We’ll get to that in a minute.

First, let’s look at every conceivable paintball cost.

35 Paintball Costs (Seriously, It’s Everything You Can Think Of)

The table below lists every cost you could incur playing paintball.

First, a little more info on what the different labels in each column mean:

  • Category: There’s some overlap between categories — for example, gloves are both Clothing and Protection — so try not to get caught up on the details.
  • Frequency: One-time costs are things you can buy once and be set for a while. Recurring costs are things you’ll churn through quickly and need to re-purchase frequently. As needed costs don’t need to be replaced frequently but will be used up over time.
  • Type: Essential is something you absolutely need, no two ways about it. Personal must-haves are things I think are essential, but you can get away without them. Nice-to-have is stuff you don’t need but will make your day easier or more successful.
  • Min Cost: The least you can expect to spend on an item.
  • Avg Cost: The average you can expect to spend on an item.
  • Max Cost: The most you can expect to spend on an item.
Item Category Frequency Type Min Cost Avg Cost Max Cost
1. Primary Marker Marker One-time Essential $50 $200 $500
2. Backup Marker Marker One-time Nice $25 $200 $500
3. Hopper Marker One-time Essential $20 $60 $200
4. Barrel Cover Marker One-time Essential $4 $12 $25
5. CO2 or HPA Tank Marker One-time Essential $15 $25 $40
6. CO2 or HPA Gas Marker Recurring Essential $1 $4 $8
7. Paintballs (Cost for 500) Paint Recurring Essential $10 $15 $35
8. Pod Pack, Harness, Etc. Paint One-time Essential $5 $40 $80
9. Cooler (For Paint) Paint One-time Personal $15 $35 $80
10. Remote Line Paint One-time Nice $20 $35 $50
11. Grenades Paint Recurring Nice $5 $20 $80
12. Loose Clothing Clothing One-time Essential $5 $35 $100
13. Extra Clothing Clothing One-time Personal $5 $35 $100
14. Boots/Shoes Clothing One-time Essential $10 $40 $120
15. Mask/Goggles/Helmet Protection One-time Essential $15 $45 $130
16. Head Protection Protection One-time Essential $2 $10 $30
17. Neck Protection Protection One-time Essential $2 $10 $25
18. Knee, Elbow, Forearm Protection Protection One-time Nice $12 $30 $70
19. Gloves Protection One-time Personal $7 $15 $35
20. First-Aid Kit Protection One-time Personal $5 $25 $50
21. Squeegees Accessories One-time Personal $2 $5 $20
22. Tools and Spare Parts Accessories As needed Personal $5 $15 $50
23. Lens Cleaner Spray Accessories As needed Personal $2 $5 $45
24. Batteries Accessories As needed Personal $2 $5 $10
25. Tape Accessories As needed Personal $1 $3 $5
26. Compact Binoculars Accessories One-time Personal $25 $60 $250
27. Carabiners Accessories One-time Personal $0.25 $5 $40
28. Water Survival Recurring Essential Free $2 $4
29. Gear Bag Comfort One-time Essential $10 $40 $240
30. Garbage Bag Comfort Recurring Personal $0.10 $0.20 $0.50
31. Hydration Pack Comfort One-time Nice $25 $40 $150
32. Bug Spray Comfort As needed Nice $3 $5 $15
33. Sunscreen Comfort As needed Nice $5 $10 $20
34. Talcum Powder Comfort As needed Nice $1 $4 $10
35. Field Fees Facility Essential Recurring $10 $20 $30

I won’t use this space to explain what all of the above items are because our Ultimate Paintball Gear List already does that. (Check it out. It’s worth the read.)

Instead, let’s talk about a few specific items and scenarios.

Don't have a marker? No problem! Most paintball fields will let you rent equipment for a reasonable fee.
Don't have a marker? No problem! Most paintball fields will let you rent equipment for a reasonable fee.

Scenario 1: Renting Equipment (Instead of Buying)

Renting paintball equipment can be a great option instead of investing a ton of money upfront in your own. There are two situations when it makes a lot of sense to rent:

  1. You’re a beginner and aren’t sure if you enjoy paintball yet.
  2. You only play 1-3 times per year, so it doesn’t make sense to purchase equipment that’ll be outdated by the time you’ve used it enough to make your purchase worth it.

Let’s talk tangibly about field fees and equipment rentals using a real-life example: RHC Paintball Fields.

(I picked them because they’re first in Google if you search for “paintball field fees” so it’s easy for you to find them again.)

In addition to their $22 daily admission fee, which includes all-day HPA refills, you can also get a basic equipment rental for $20. This rental includes the following:

  • Semi-automatic mechanical marker
  • 200-round hopper
  • 3,000-PSI HPA tank

Then they offer an a la carte rental menu for other essential pieces of equipment:

  • Mask: $5 used, $15 new
  • Pod Packs and Pouch: $5
  • Chest Protector: $5

Like many paintball fields, RHC Paintball requires you to purchase your paint through them. This is called field paint.

For the most part, this is done for safety reasons. By providing paint that RHC Paintball knows has been properly stored and taken care of, they can ensure it breaks on impact as expected. Field paint fees here are as follows:

  • Standard Paint (500 Count): $25
  • Standard Paint (2,000 Count): $80
  • Premium Paint (500 Count): $31.75
  • Premium Paint (2,000 Count): $90

It’s a little more expensive than purchasing paint yourself, but that’s what’s required to play at RHC Paintball.

That covers several essentials. You’ll have to provide the rest, which we’ll use low-end costs to estimate:

  • Clothing: $5
  • Boots/Shoes: $10
  • Head Protection: $2
  • Neck Protection: $2
  • Water: Free

A gear bag isn’t required when you rent everything, so I’ll leave that out.

All told, your minimum cost to play paintball for your first time at RHC Paintball is $96 if you rent your gear, go for the used mask, skip the chest protector, buy 500 rounds of standard paint, and bargain shop for your clothing, boots/shoes, and head/neck protection.

Scenario 2: Cheapest Cost Purchasing Your Own Gear

If you’re committed to the sport and want to buy your own gear, $158 is about the least you can expect to spend. Here’s the breakdown using the numbers for the table above:

  • Primary Marker: $50
  • Hopper: $20
  • Barrel Cover: $4
  • CO2 or HPA Tank: $15
  • Paintballs: $10 for 500
  • Pod Pack, Harness, etc: $5
  • Loose Clothing: $5
  • Boots/Shoes: $10
  • Mask/Goggles: $15
  • Head Protection: $2
  • Neck Protection: $2
  • Water: Free
  • Gear Bag: $10
  • Field Fees: $10

A note about minimum prices for clothing and boots/shoes: Go to your local thrift store. You don’t want ruin any of your existing clothes, so new stuff is a good idea, but you don’t want to pay top dollar for gear that’s going to get covered in paint. You can find cheap, baggy sweatshirts and pants for less than $5 apiece at a thrift store and a sturdy pair of boots or shoes is about $10.

Scenario 3: You Want All of the Personal Must-Haves Without Any Nice-to-Haves

This is where I usually find myself. I don’t need to go all-out with every nice-to-have item, like paint grenades or a hydration pack, but I like a few extra pieces of gear, like gloves.

Here are my personal must-haves, which you’ll need in addition to everything from Scenario 2 above:

  • Cooler (For Paint): $15
  • Extra Clothing: $5
  • Gloves: $7
  • First-Aid Kit: $5
  • Squeegees: $2
  • Tools and Spare Parts: $5
  • Lens Cleaner Spray: $2
  • Compact Binoculars: $25
  • Batteries: $2
  • Tape: $1
  • Garbage Bag: $0.10

That’s an extra $69.10 (if we’re nit-picking) for a grand total of $217 (I rounded this time).

The good news is that most of those expenses are one-time, upfront costs. The recurring stuff is actually pretty minimal. Below are recurring or as needed gear classified as either essential or a personal must-have:

  • CO2 or HPA Gas: $1
  • Paintballs: $10
  • Lens Cleaner Spray: $2
  • Batteries: $2
  • Tape: $1
  • Water: Free
  • Garbage Bag: $0.10
  • Bug Spray: $5
  • Sunscreen: $5
  • Talcum Powder: $1
  • Field Fees: $10

All of that adds up to just $37.

The Tippman A5 is a great entry-level, mechanical paintball marker.
The Tippman A5 is a great entry-level, mechanical paintball marker.

Let’s Talk About Paintball Guns/Markers

There’s a ton of variability within this one category, and that means you have a lot of different options when deciding how much to spend.

First, if you’re new to the world of paintball, check out our guide to the 3 Types of Paintball Guns. It explains the various firing mechanisms and their pros/cons.

Our guide to the 11 Best Paintball Guns has our top pick across 11 different categories and has something for everyone.

The cheapest type of paintball marker is a pump paintball gun, which operates with a shotgun-like pump. They’re inexpensive and reliable, but they’re also slow and inaccurate. I wouldn’t recommend you buy one of these markers to start out. Skill-wise, you’re already at a disadvantage because of your inexperience. Don’t make things worse but having a slow, inaccurate marker.

You can find relatively inexpensive mechanical paintball guns, which have your standard trigger and fire using a spring-loaded mechanism. They’re a great compromise between cost and performance. In fact, the $50 min cost for your primary marker in the table above is just about the lowest-cost mechanical marker you’ll find. Personally, I’d recommend something like the Spyder Victor, which is just a touch more expensive.

At the high end are electronic paintball guns, which have a variety of different firing mechanisms but share one commonality: They use an electronic circuit board powered by either a 9V or rechargeable battery. They offer a ton of fun firing modes to help you pin down your opponent. The Planet Eclipse Etha 2 is one of the best electronic markers with a price tag to match.

Note: You may have noticed the lower minimum cost for your backup marker. That’s because I included those shotgun-like pump paintball guns. While I wouldn’t want one as my primary marker, they’ll do fine as backup markers. The JT ER2 Pump Pistol is a solid option.

How Much Does Paintball Cost? That Depends On You

Paintball is more expensive than many other hobbies, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, especially if you’re just getting started.

In this guide, we looked at four common scenarios:

  1. Lowest cost when renting gear: $96
  2. Lowest cost when purchasing your own gear: $158
  3. Lowest cost including some of my personal must-haves: $217
  4. Lowest recurring cost after you’ve purchased your gear: $37

Those serve as solid, thrifty starting points, because paintball can be as expensive as you want to make it. If you need the latest and greatest marker with realistic combat gear when you hit the field twice per month, paintball’s costs can really add up.

But for most, there are relatively inexpensive ways to get your paintball fix. For more information on paintball gear, check out our guide to 13 Key Pieces of Paintball Clothing and our Ultimate Paintball Gear List.

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