Introduction: Given the gear focused nature of paintball a lot of newer players seem overwhelmed when it comes to the choosing their starter gear seeing as it can be quite the investment for you younger guys. This thread has been a long time in coming, because for the most part the regular members on techpb answer a lot of the same questions time and time again and its getting to the point where we have good content and the firsthand knowledge to back it up. Myself as well as several other members think it would be a good idea to condense everything into one specific thread to hopefully give a lot of you newbies a good reference tool to select gear so we can get you out playing on the field with the best setup for your money so you can get out there on Sunday and have a good time.
Investment: I’m going to be completely honest with you here, paintball can be expensive, I myself have sunk several thousand dollars into gear alone, however it does not need to be that way. You CAN enjoy paintball for a rather minimal investment of several hundred dollars. But keep in mind, once you have your gear you still need money to play. That includes paint, airfills, entry fees potential field memberships you name it. This brings me to my first point.
Paint: You will get the most fun out of your time on the field if you make the investment for good paint. Buy fresh paint in the highest quality you can afford. In my area at least Empire RPS is what most people shoot and I have found that FRESH Marbilizer makes the grass grow green. It shoots wonderfully straight and breaks on anything you hit with it. With good conscience that is the only paint I can recommend because its all I shoot. I have heard good things about Valken Redemption as well as GI 4-5 Star. Anything below that in quality just insure that it is fresh and always inspect your paint for dimples, broken balls or excessive oiliness before purchasing it.
Buying Used: Now I know what you're thinking here, wait what if it does not work right, what if there is a problem with it the original owner did not see, what if im going to get scammed. Buying used is a GREAT way to save money and get better gear than you could for the price of new markers in your price range. For the most part you can get almost any highend electro from say 2009 and older for 300-400 these guns will absolutely blow anynew midend or lowend out of the water. If your willing to take the risk and maybe hop on a gun that is a little dinged up from being used so often then you can get A LOT of gun for the money. Your safest when buying used while using a Paypall account and paying using the goods option. Most BST sites such as (Techpb, PBN, and MCB as well as the various owners groups such as IOG “Intimitador owners group” Automag Owners Group, or the various Tippman Owners Group) have not only rules that must be followed but also a “feedback system” to ensure you know the person you are dealing with is trustworthy only deal with individuals that not only have good feedback but are willing to function test their gear before selling this will ensure that you are as safe as possible.
Gun Whoring: You will see this term thrown around A LOT, it simply means that you go from gun to gun to gun without never really sticking with any one thing. Im going to make this short and simple. Don't waste your time, find something that works for you and stick with it. It will save you a lot of time aggravation and money.
Now onto the moment you have all been waiting for the ultimate gear buying guide. For the sake of convenience i'm going to only review a few used markers. If there's something I don't mention please feel free to ask about it.
Masks: THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF GEAR YOU WILL OWN, and for good reason. Masks are important for several reasons. 1: No field will let you play without one, 2: You would be dumb for trying to play without one your eyesight is valuable! 3: A good mask will not only be more comfortable but be more resistant to fogging up on you in a game. When not being bothered by an uncomfortable mask or not being able to see through the fog you are much more likely to enjoy your time on the field and do better while you're out there.
With that said masks all boil down to personal preference.
I always suggest overlooking all of the “cheeper” masks for their “highend” counterparts you will thank me for this later. Expect to pay roughly 80-100 for a good quality mask.
Your best options would be to look into.
Dye: I4s, I3s
Proto: Pro Axis
Empire: Events, E-Flex
All of these masks will keep your eyes and face safe out on the field their major differences lay in how they fit as well as how you change the lenses, try on as many masks as you can before you purchase one for yourself. Pick whichever fits your face best and never look back.
Hoppers: Here is something that again I will almost always recommend buying used they tend to never really wear out and are a good value when purchased used. They are an integral part of your game and most if not all hoppers now a days will do the job of feeding paint into your gun consistently so you can pew pew pew at kids downfield. Currently there are not many different options for new hoppers. So please bear with me as with anything I will almost always recommend buying a used superloader over a new mid end loader.
Dye: Rotor it is the most common loader around for a reason, it always works you turn it on and it feeds paint, no settings to mess with no crazy parts to take care of its bullet proof. Turn it on and it will feed paint superfast until its out of paint to feed. Easy to take apart and good on batteries. Honestly when in doubt just buy a used rotor and call it a day. The only real issue with the rotor is that it does not like reballs and sometimes it will have jamming issues with crappy paint.
Empire: Prophecy Z2 this is the yin to the rotors yang, some people swear by them others hate them. From my experience I am not a fan of the shell at all. I have seen them literally fall apart and bust open from use in a game or during a dive or slide. They do feed rather nicely and offer good adjustability for different modes of operation but i'm still not quite sold on the shell and how long it takes to break down properly and clean. It is rather light weight and slim however so that is a bonus.
Spire: The newest of the bunch, and most revolutionary of the bunch. from the limited use I have gotten out of mine I have never had a problem with jamming or feed issues, I would recommend the spring ramp and the speedfeed is second to none especially with its lifetime warranty. Its simple to take apart and care for as well as rugged and low profile. Overall a great buy if you can justify the price tag.
Ponokio: Kind of overlooked because of its novelty nose cone and rarity out on the xball field. Its not toolless but still very easy to clean and it is actually the lightest weight of any hopper out there, it also feeds very consistently with anything you put through it. My only real complaints are its profile and size. It sits pretty high up on your gun making it slightly harder to hide it behind your bunker.
Older Hoppers: If you're looking into spending say $30 or so on a hopper you can always go with one of the many variations of Halo released throughout the years or even a Vlocity. These hoppers will do the job of anything out now, they will simply not be tooless and for the most part they are terribly battery inefficient.
Air Tanks: For the most part a tank is a tank is a tank. If you're looking to play often you should invest in a good quality carbon fiber HPA tank. COMPLETELY IGNORE CO2 you will thank me later. The big difference in tanks is the regulator as well as tank size. The first number when it comes to tanks refers to its volume in cubic inches the second number is the amount of pressure it holds. So a 68/4500 tank holds 68 cubic inches of air at 4500 PSI.
The most common tank is a 68/4500 it will fit most people well and its what the majority of players use. It also has the best resale value, all other sizes will mainly be different in terms of size shape and weight and is also something subject to personal preference find something you are comfortable with and stick with it. Just remember the larger the tank the more air it holds the more paint you can shoot without refilling. I would go into more detail when it comes to tank regulator design but that is something you should not worry about quite yet as long as your tank comes with a mid output regulator you should be fine which most tanks do stock anyways.
Now ok you're most likely sitting here thinking HOLY CRAP this is a lot to take in all at once. But wait all this gear and you havent even spoken about markers yet? I want a gun guns guns guns they are soooo cool. Best most awesome part of gear. Your right the marker is the most exciting part of your gear. Its your piece it allows you to be able to participate in the game and shoot paint and get kills. Now depending on how much you are willing to spend you can go off and blow nearly $2,000 on a marker alone but in my honest opinion if you pay anything more than $500 for your first marker you are doing something horribly wrong. I am going to try and cover every used marker that can be had for <$500 that I can recommend with good conscious.
For those of you who dont know most electros are divided up into three different sub categories. Spoolie, Stacked tube Poppit, and Inline Poppit for the sake of my review and this article im going to stick only to electros because quite honestly they are the most common and most versatile guns for the money.
For the most part spool valve markers will operate much quiter and smoother given the design of the valve. They are almost always a single tube design and very sleek and easy to hold. Because of the shot quality and nature of the design however these markers do generally require slightly more general maintenance and also typically get less shots per tank than their counterparts. Markers Such as the Luxe, Geo, Dm, and Clone are all spool valve markers.
Stacked Tube Poppits are the polar opposite of spool valve markers. The most popular stacked tube poppits are the Ego and Intimatador platform. It is called a stacked tube because the valve sits below the bolt.Stacked tube markers tend to be slightly louder, and more kicky as compared to their spool valve counterparts but for those two principal drawbacks you gain a significant boost in efficiency and ease of maintenance.
Inline Poppits are the funkey hybrid go between of a spool and a poppit. You essentially take a poppit valve and condensed it into a single tube the bolt and the valve sit in the same plane. This crazy hybrid gives you the best of both worlds with slightly diminished characteristics. Not quite as smooth as a spool but not as efficient as a stacked tube poppit. Great mix between the two though. Markers such as the Victory and Axe are inline poppits.
There are literally hundreds of different markers to choose from but for the sake of convenience im going to give you a small selection to choose from. These are all markers I have extensive experience with and would feel comfortable using myself or handing to a friend to use for a day of play. Im also going to divide them up by price range.
$100-$200 = You would be surprised what kind of gems you can find at this price range.
You can find a lot of used midends that will be solid shooters and serve you very well.
Personally I would recommend either
Used Etek1- Etek2: A lot of players hold an unreasonable hatred towards the etek line. I however find them to be excellent markers for newer players. They are totally bulletproof, set them up and go they shoot like an Ego and can hold their own on any speedball or woodsball field and never skip a beat. If you find one I would buy a total rebuild kit go in and clean everything out and replace every oring and seal in her and never look back. After that initial rebuild you should very rarely have to break into her again. Realistically this is the only marker you would ever need if you're willing to deal with the noise and kicky shot quality. Its essentially the ultimate beater marker.
Smart Parts Ion: You can find really well upgraded ions for under $200, you would get a good shooting spool valve marker and if you search well enough you can find one with a new trigger, feedneck, reg, asa, and board. Again another marker that received a lot of hatred at one point but IMO a well upgraded Ion is one helluva little marker and given the wealth of parts made for them you could purchase several and mix and match the parts to create a few nice little shooters smooth, quiet, simple and if you get a bolt out back body easy to maintain again, the only marker you would ever need if you're not hit with gunwhoreitis.
$200-300- Here is where things start to get a little more interesting.
Etek 3 LT: You can find these gems for a little less than $300 and again just like their older counterparts you're getting one helluva marker for the money. You get a dumbed down ego speed, efficiency, ergonomics reliability and simplicity they always go bang and require very little TLC. If you can tolerate the shot quality and noise you will have a wonderful time with one of these badboys. Again it will do everything you ask of it and you could compete with it anywhere at any level. Added bonus, eclipse gun techs are everywhere, if you ever have a problem they can and will be able to fix it.
Shocker SFT/NXT as with the Ion you can find some very nicely upgraded shockers for under $300 i'm talking some serious markers that are more than capable of outshooting markers coming brand new off the line today. The shocker platform is to this day extremely popular and for good reason, a well set up tuned and maintained shocker is as about as smooth as it gets. With the amount of aftermarket parts and “Private Label” guns produced you can very possibly have a unique, superb shooting spoolie for a minimal investment. I will warn you here however, shockers are temperamental gas hogs. They require a lot of TLC and dont expect to be shooting too much paint with them. But for what you get they are very much so worth the money. IF ou do your research and know exactly what you're getting. There are a lot of guys out there that only shoot shockers and they still have a great support system behind them.
Used Empire Axe: The Axe is a phenomenal marker for the price range. You can find used Axes for roughly $300. You get a marker that is easy to maintain, shoots phenomenally well for the price and will most likely never run out of spare parts due to its popularity. The only real gripe some people have with it is it has some funky ergonomic quirks with the foregrip.
Bob Long Vice: A Vice is essentially a compact G6r with Macroline that can be had for roughly $350-$400 insanely efficient, great shot quality for a poppit valve marker reliable as the sun rising and fast. The only real gripe with the Vice is the necessity of a pressure tester to get optimal performance out of it. Other than that, they are some kickass markers for the price. As with most newer Bob Long markers they do tend to require a bit more TLC than most due to how they are designed. However for that persistence you are rewarded with an excellent marker.
DM8: Dye had to make it onto this list at some point and I believe the DM8 is a great choice for the price you would pay for a used one. The reason why the DM line has changed so little over the years is that it does not have to. The bolt engine is perfect for what it is, shot quality is superb as is ergonomics. As with PE service for your markers will not be hard to come by. Dye has a very strong industry presence and techs are everywhere.
V1 Victory: This is the first incarnation of Bob Longs Victory line which is the evolution of his Marq line of inline poppits. PERSONALLY these are my favorite markers ever created, the engine is very efficient yet still very smooth. I feel as if the very little “kick” the marker does have is directed back rather than up. It is also very easy to clean and maintain. Being macroless also gives it a very nice ergonomic advantage over other markers in the price range. This marker also comes with the added bonus of being able to purchase an optional spool valve to convert it from an inline poppit to a spool valve marker in seconds. As with anything Bob Long however you will require a pressure tester for optimal performance.
Ego <11: I have seen ego 11s going for about $500 with later models priced correspondingly lower. All you need to know about an Ego is it is the AK-47 of paintball. They always work, everyone has one and they will never die on you if you clean and maintain them every few months. As with everything Eclipse you are going to have great tech support you should never have to worry about anything going down on your Ego that can't be easily fixed, if not there are techs everywhere that will be able to fix anything that goes down with it. In general you can't fail with eclipse.
Geo2: The Geo 2 is essentially a 2.1 without a pops and 45* Macro fitting that can be had for about $500 if you shop around the BSTs. The Geo takes everything that is good about the Ego and puts it into a spool valve marker. Quite simply the most reliable spool valve marker on the market. Not super smooth, not super quiet but it gets the job done all the time no questions asked. You also have the backing of what is arguably one of the best companies in the sport behind it.
Soft Goods: For the purpose of this thread im going to simplify the process of selecting soft goods significantly. Never buy used soft goods such as pants, jerseys packs and pads. You dont want someone else's sweat and stank on your body. Never buy soft goods without first trying them on to make sure they fit. You get what you pay for, the more you spend the better quality product you will get. Lastly and most importantly, pads are your friend, sliding shorts, knee pads and elbow and forearm pads will protect your joints out on the field you only get one body its not worth beating up for paintball.
Tips and Tricks:
1: Dont be afraid to haggle for a good price, dont be an insulting jerk and throw out lowball offers on everything but theres always wiggle room to make a deal.
2: NEVER offer on something unless you know you have the money and are able to buy it immediately nobody likes a flake.
3: When you get a new marker make sure you thoroughly research it before buying, Mikes reviews are a good place to start as is downloading the manual and reading it top to bottom TWICE.
4: Trigger Adjustments as you soon will learn can make or break a gun, walking a trigger is an important part of the game be sure yours is comfortable.
5: Dont think that because you did not spend thousands of dollars on gear you can not be competitive and have a good time, a gun is a gun is a gun. An elimination is the same no matter what gun the paint came out of.
6: Paintball should always be fun, if its not fun you are doing something wrong.
7: Listen to the field staff, they are there to keep things safe and running smoothly.
8: Never be afraid to ask people questions about the game or their gear, ask to handle their markers, most players wont have a problem with it AS LONG AS YOU ASK. NEVER EVER touch anyones gear without their express permission.
9: If you buy a used gun putting together a general maintance kit with several oring rebuilds, tools, and lube will be beneficial, knowing how to use them even more so
10: No matter who you are, how many guns you own or how good you are at playing, nobody will ever know everything there is to know about paintball we are all equals here “Except for Jawz sharks aren't people.”and there is a lot we can learn from eachother.
LASTLY: This is one of my biggest pet peves, if you do not have DIRECT FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE with a product you have no business making it out to others that you do, it is not under any circumstances ok. The blind leading the blind is not a good learning tool.
In conclusion: Consider this thread the bare bones what you need to know about gear when getting into the sport, if you have any further questions about anything I mentioned please feel free to PM me and I will gladly answer them for you. Anything else you would want me to cover please leave a reply on the thread and I will do my best to help you.
Thanks for sticking around for the whole thing.
If not TL:DR/Holy wall of text BATMAN!
Edited by bigx, 23 August 2013 - 09:20 PM.