The 5 Best Paintball Markers: Reviews and Complete Buying Guide

Few backyard sports offer as much fun and excitement as paintball. It provides the same accuracy and reaction speed challenges as a first-person shooter, along with the fresh air and exercise of an outdoor sport. And if you want to get a leg up on your friends, one of the easiest ways is to own the best paintball marker in your group.

A paintball marker, sometimes called a paintball gun, is the device you use to shoot your paintballs. We’ve done our research, and come up with five options that represent the best on the market. We’ve also put together a handy buying guide for beginners. For even more on paintball gear, check out our articles covering the Best Paintball Elbow Pads, and the Best Paintball Arm Pads.

With that said, let’s get started!

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…

1. Tippmann A5

Tippmann A-5 .68 Caliber Paintball Marker
  • Cyclone Feed System can Fire 15 balls per second without batteries
  • Can be field stripped in less than 60 seconds without tools
  • Enhanced ergonomics with a longer front grip, lighter weight body and easier to Remove push pins

Last update on 2020-06-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Tippman A5 is one of the most popular intermediate paintball markers on the market. It’s gained this status, in part, because there are so many customization kits available. With a conversion kit, you can easily modify your A5 to look like an AK-47, an MP5, or other popular real-world guns. You can also mix and match parts to make your A5 truly unique. Replacing the stock, barrel, or grip is quick, easy and painless.

The default model is mechanical, with a semi-automatic trigger. However, you can also upgrade your A5 with an aftermarket electronic trigger. This version will support fully automatic firing, although you’ll pay a bit more for the upgrade. Then again, this isn’t a serious concern, since the base A5 is very affordable, to begin with.

Even the base mechanical model is rated to fire up to 15 paintballs per second. Considering that that’s much faster than any human being can pull the trigger, it’s safe to say that the A5 is exceptionally fast. It’s not as accurate as some other markers, but that’s to be expected at the low price point.

Pros:

  • Easy to modify
  • Full auto-upgrade available
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Relatively poor accuracy
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2. Tippmann X7 Phenom

Tippmann X7 Phenom Electro Paintball Marker
  • Three position selector switch
  • Military-style marker that can be customized to over a 1,000 different looks including M-16, MP5, MP5-SD, G36, AK-47, UMP and Assault versions
  • Three position Selector Switch changes from electronic to mechanical operation on the fly
  • FlexValve Technology allows operation under 300PSI, reduces recoil and improves air efficiency
  • Magnetically activated Hall-Effect Electronic Trigger provides 5 firing modes including: Safety Full-Auto, NPPL, PSP, Response and Semi-Auto

Last update on 2020-06-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Tippmann X7 Phenom is an electro-pneumatic paintball marker that supports fully-automatic fire as well as standard semi-auto. In full auto mode, it can fire 1,400 paintballs per minute, a truly exceptional rate of fire. Obviously, this will run your hopper dry in a hurry. But for covering fire or a quick “spray and pray”, the X7 Phenom is truly peerless.

This paintball marker has a short, 9 ½-inch barrel that makes it easy to maneuver in close quarters. Whether you’re trying to peek out from cover or attack a bunker, you won’t have to worry about your barrel getting in the way. The top of the barrel also features a standard Picatinny rail, which allows you to mount reflex sights or other standard firearm accessories.

The only downside is the circuit board itself, which is a bit finicky. It doesn’t perform well with cheap generic batteries. Stick with name brands like Energizer or Duracell, though, and it will work just fine.

Pros:

  • Selector switch for semi or full auto
  • Compact and easy to maneuver
  • Accepts standard firearm sights

Cons:

  • Requires specific battery brands
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3. Empire Paintball Sniper Pump Marker

Empire Paintball Sniper Pump Marker with Barrel Kit, Dust Black/Polished Black
  • Tournament Level Performance pump marker
  • Low Pressure Operation
  • Auto-Trigger for rapid firing
  • Aluminum 2-piece 14" barrel
  • 3 Barrel inserts .675, .680, .685

Last update on 2020-06-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Empire Paintball Sniper Pump Marker is designed specifically for sniping. The pump action is more durable and reliable than your typical mechanical or electro-pneumatic action. It ensures that you’ll be able to keep firing even when your CO2 or air tank is nearly empty.

The Sniper Pump Marker comes with three different control bores, with calibers of .675, .680, and .685. This allows you to choose your favorite paintballs, or to mix and match to use your friend’s paintballs when you run out.

The obvious downside of a pump-action marker is that you have to cycle the action manually between shots. This makes the Sniper Pump Marker ill-suited for front-line use. However, if you prefer a sniper role, this marker is as good as gold. It’s exceptionally accurate, even at long ranges, so you can tag your opponents before they’re even in range.

Pros:

  • Multiple barrel calibers
  • Excellent long-range accuracy
  • Works well even at low pressure

Cons:

  • Only useful for sniping
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4. Empire Paintball Mini GS Marker

Empire Paintball Mini GS Marker, Black
  • Pressure controlled poppet engine for outstanding performance
  • Integrated break-beam anti-chop eyes
  • Wrap-around fore grip for protection from elements and increased grip
  • Venting ASA regulator with ON/OFF lever
  • Only two hex wrenches needed for all screws

Last update on 2020-06-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Empire Paintball Mini GS is very well-named. It’s designed for people with small to mid-sized hands, with a compact, ergonomic grip that’s also soft to the touch. This makes it easy to carry, even if you’re paintballing all day long.

The most innovative feature is the tank release, which features a simple on/off button. Just turn the airflow off, and you can swap your tank quickly and easily. If you’ve ever run out of gas in the middle of a match, you know how annoying it can be. This feature makes it much less of an issue.

The only major downside is maintenance, which can be a challenge. You’ll need to read the manual thoroughly to understand how to fully disassemble the marker. That said, the Mini GS is exceptionally accurate for its size. It might not have the long-range of some sniper markers, but it will put a paintball on target every time you pull the trigger.

Pros:

  • Easy tank swapping
  • Soft, ergonomic grip
  • Great for small hands

Cons:

  • Difficult to maintain
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5. Dye Dam Assault Matrix

Last update on 2020-06-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Dye Dam Assault Matrix is an assault rifle replica paintball marker that’s designed for serious tactical players. Its fire selector switch allows you to choose between semi-auto, 3-round burst, and fully automatic fire. This ensures that you’ll be ready for any tactical situation in the field.

Adding to the tactical appeal is the Picatinny top rail. This rail supports standard firearm sights, so you can trick out your paintball marker just like you would a gunpowder rifle. And all of this comes in a lightweight, 5.15-pound package that’s easy to carry around all day.

The only downside of the Dam Assault Matrix is the steep price tag. You could buy a high-quality hunting rifle for less than this. As such, it’s not a great choice for beginners. But for intermediate or advanced paintballers, it’s one of the best markers on the market.

Pros:

  • Supports semi-auto, 3-round burst, and full-auto fire
  • Ported barrel for low recoil
  • Accepts standard firearm sights

Cons:

  • Pricey
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Paintball Marker Buying Guide

As promised, we’re about to go over some paintball gun basics. Seasoned paintball players can skip this section. But if you’re a relative newbie, this is a handy overview of what you need to know before you get started.

Types of Paintball Markers

When choosing your paintball marker, the first thing to think about is what kind of marker you’re going to use. There are 3 primary types: pump, mechanical, and electro-pneumatic. Here’s a quick overview of how each type works.

Pump paintball markers

A pump paintball marker works similarly to a pump-action shotgun. After each shot, the shooter has to manually pump the gun to chamber the next paintball and cock the action. This results in a slower rate of fire than other types. As a result, there’s only one pump marker on our list, and it’s a sniper marker.

The reason for this is that a pump paintball marker puts you at a distinct disadvantage if other players are using mechanical or electro-pneumatic markers. That said, there’s a lot of fun to be had if everyone else is also using one. The absence of a rapid-fire option means that players need to time their shots and think ahead before attacking. For more on pump markers, here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of playing pump paintball.

That said, pump paintball markers really belong in their own category. If you’re buying your first or even your second marker, stick with mechanical or electro-pneumatic. You’ll be more competitive, and you’ll have more fun.

Mechanical paintball markers

Mechanical markers are the most popular variety, both in professional and backyard games. The reason is simple. They provide a balance of performance and firing rate and stand up well to foul weather. They’re also low-maintenance, which is a big benefit if you’re frequently playing.

Mechanical markers use a similar mechanism to semi-automatic gunpowder firearms. When the trigger is pulled, a spring feeds the next paintball into the chamber. The bolt locks into place behind the paintball, ready to release a blast of CO2 or air to propel the round out of the barrel. Some mechanical markers need to be cocked between trigger pulls, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

Maintenance is also easy. All you have to do is clean and oil them after every few matches. You’ll also need to monitor the O-rings for leaks, and replace them as needed. Other than that, there’s not much to them. Take them out in the rain, mud, or dusty weather, and they’ll continue to function reliably. This makes them most players’ first choice.

Electropneumatic paintball markers

Electropneumatic markers offer the fastest rate of fire or any type of paintball gun. As a result, they’re the only choice if you want a fully automatic action. This can cause you to run through a lot of paintballs in a hurry, but it’s fun to spray a steady stream of paintballs downrange. They’re the best choice for speedball matches since they’ll give you a slight edge in firing time.

That said, electro-pneumatic markers are more sensitive to drops and moisture. The reason for this is that they have built-in electronics that regulate the action. When you pull the trigger, you’re not actually working any mechanical parts. Instead, you’re activating a circuit board, which cycles a solenoid valve to complete the firing sequence. This makes pulling the trigger as easy as pulling the trigger on a video game controller.

Electropneumatic markers also allow for more customization. You can generally set your own rate of fire, for example. However, many tournaments and venues will have rules that limit your rate of fire. If you’re playing anywhere other than your backyard, make sure you know the rules before you bring one of these markers to a match.

A few years ago, even a low-end electro-pneumatic marker could cost you an arm and a leg. But that’s slowly been changing. Nowadays, you can get your hands on an electro-pneumatic marker for only slightly more than a mechanical marker. As a result, they’ve slowly been gaining popularity.

Types of Paintball Hopper

Every paintball has a hopper, which is a small bin that holds your paintballs. These hoppers come in two primary types: center-feed and offset. The pros and cons of each are a subject of hot debate among paintball players, so we’ll just give you a quick overview.

A center-feed hopper is mounted directly over the center of the barrel. This allows for ambidextrous shooting and allows you to lean out to the left or right without having to come too far out of cover. It also keeps your marker well balanced.

That said, a center-feed hopper can make it awkward to aim since you’ll need to aim down the side of the barrel instead of over the top. An offset hopper fixes this issue by being mounted on the left or right of the barrel. This allows for easy sighting. However, if you need to lean out from cover, you may need to lean out further than necessary to allow the hopper to clear.

Best Paintball Marker Brands

A paintball marker is a small investment, but it’s still an investment. As a result, it’s a good idea to know a thing or two about the manufacturer. Here’s a quick look at the manufacturers of our top paintball markers.

  • Tippmann is an American company based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They got their start as a replica machinegun manufacturer. However, after a 1986 change in gun laws made that business impractical, they switched over to manufacturing paintball markers instead. Their markers are well known for quality, durability, and reliability. This is just what you’d expect from a company that cut their teeth by manufacturing real firearms.
  • Empire Paintball is a New Jersey-based manufacturer that produces a number of paintball markers and related accessories. They were recently bought out by Canada-based paintball manufacturer G.I. Sportz. However, due to their pedigree and history in the paintball industry, they still operate as a semi-independent brand.
  • Dye Paintball was founded in 1994 in San Diego, California, where they still maintain their headquarters. Since then, they’ve expanded to service every inhabited continent. They’re well-known for sponsoring some of the most successful paintball teams. In addition to markers, they also produce a wide range of accessories, including masks and protective gear.

FAQ

Before we finish, it’s time to answer a few remaining questions. Here are a couple of the most nagging unanswered questions that remain.

Q: I’ve heard about hopper feed types. What does that mean?

A: A hopper feed type refers to the mechanism that the hopper uses to feed the paintballs into the chamber. There are four main types.

  • Stick feeds use a simple spring-loaded rod to feed paintballs through a tube. They’re extremely reliable, but they feed relatively slowly, and they only hold about 10 to 20 paintballs. As a result, they’re generally only used in pump markers.
  • Gravity feeders are your most common hopper type. They sit on top of the barrel, and the paintballs fall through small through a small feed tube into the barrel. This is a simple mechanism that doesn’t require repair. However, these hoppers sometimes jam, and you have to shake the marker to get another paintball to drop.
  • Agitating feeders are similar to gravity feeders, but there’s a battery-operated propeller that constantly stirs the paintballs. This prevents jamming issues sometimes found in gravity feeders.
  • Force-feed hoppers, sometimes called powerfeed hoppers, have a similar design to gravity feeders, but there’s a spring-loaded or battery-powered plate that pushes the paintballs rapidly into the tube. This makes them ideal for electro-pneumatic markers, which require a very rapid feed. However, they have their own pros and cons.

Q: What about different gas systems?

A: There are two types of gas commonly used to propel paintballs downrange: CO2 and HPA/Nitrogen. CO2 is the most common gas system, and replacement tanks are readily available. It’s also relatively cheap. However, extended rapid firing can cause the tanks to cool rapidly. This can lead to a build-up of frost and condensation in your barrel, which can make a cloud when you fire. This cloud can give you away when you’re otherwise completely hidden.

HPA/Nitrogen tanks use high-pressure air, which is what HPA stands for. They can accept very high pressures, and the tanks can be refilled without being completely emptied. This makes them more efficient than CO2 tanks. However, refill tanks are hard to come by, and many shops don’t even sell them. They’re also pricier than CO2 tanks.

Wrap-Up

If you’re looking for the best paintball marker overall, the choice is clear. The Dye Dam Assault Matrix offers everything you could ask for, including a 4-way fire selector switch that supports a 3-shot burst mode. It also has a Picatinny rail mount. But it’s also expensive, which makes it less than ideal for beginners.

If you’re just starting out, the Tippmann X7 Phenom is an excellent choice. It supports fully automatic fire, but it’s also beginner-friendly. Best of all, it still accepts standard firearm sights, which makes it useful for quick, mid-range shots when equipped with an offset hopper.

And for a good budget option, the Tippmann A5 is tough to beat. It’s not the most accurate marker on the market, but it’s easy to upgrade. You can also convert it into a replica of your favorite real-world firearm. All in all, it’s an excellent value for the price.