Paintball is a fun, tactical sport that is open to players of all ages and skill levels. Your paintball gun is your most important tool in both achieving victory and having a good time, but with such a wide range of paintball markers to choose from, how do you decide which one is right for you? Whether you’re new to the paintball scene or an advanced player ready to step up your game, it can be a difficult decision.
We reviewed dozens of paintball guns and have identified the best of the best to help make your decision a little easier. Considering factors such as reliability, customization variety, and overall shooting feel we’ve picked our top choices and broken down the rest to show you our favorite electronic, mechanical, and pump paintball guns.
After running through the gamut of paintball gun options we’ve chosen the Planet Eclipse Etha 2 as our paintball gun top pick. Lightweight, well-balanced, and quiet, the Planet Eclipse Etha 2 hits all the marks and works well in every type of paintball environment from indoor to outdoor, speedball to woodsball. We have no doubt that this is the most well-rounded paintball gun on the market.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Paintball Guns
|Best Overall||Planet Eclipse Etha 2||4.8|
|Runner Up||Empire BT Dfender||5.0|
|Best Budget Buy||Tippmann Cronus Tactical||4.6|
|Best Electronic Paintball Gun||DYE M3+||n/a|
|Best Mechanical Paintball Gun||Planet Eclipse EMEK||4.2|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top Pick: Planet Eclipse Etha 2
The Planet Eclipse Etha 2 is a highly refined paintball gun that packs in a wealth of advanced technology under its durable shell. This is one of the most reliable paintball guns on the market today and takes our top spot because its versatility is unmatched. The Etha 2 is a .68 caliber paintball gun that will shoot far with accuracy, load ammunition smoothly, and get you back into the fight quickly with its lightning-fast POPS On/Off ASA assembly.
Driven by a revolutionary Gamma Core spool valve drivetrain, this gun is prepared to handle harsh weather conditions and below-freezing temperatures. Paired with the strong inner-workings of this marker, the ultra-durable shell ensures that this gun is one tough nut to crack. The Planet Eclipse Etha 2 will unhesitatingly withstand the rough conditions of indoor battlefields and outdoor warzones.
Built upon the reliable framework of the original Etha, the Etha 2 has evolved in just about every way. The ultra-responsive trigger is connected to a micro switch, the hoseless air system reduces leakage, and the bolt system is ahead of the curve with impressive firing performance and reduced recoil. You’ll be able to switch between firing modes (semi-auto, ramping, de-bounce, rate of fire) via the fully adjustable circuit board and monitor your settings on the ambidextrous LED indicator. All of these elements combine into a sleek paintball gun worthy of our top spot. Amazon reviewers say that this is the most well-designed marker available, and we agree.
Planet Eclipse Etha 2 Key Features:
- Durable composite external construction with aircraft-grade aluminum interior
- Gamma Core spool valve drivetrain
- Outstanding POPS On/Off ASA assembly
Our Runner Up Pick: Empire BT Dfender
A beast in both speedball and woodsball, the Empire BT Dfender revamps the usual paintball gun design into a practical weapon with a menacing appearance. The unique design removes the loader from the top of the gun and instead jams it into the stock of this bullpup-style wrecking machine, giving you a clean line of sight. Constructed with the popular Empire Axe at it’s core, this beefed up powerhouse will have you slaying at the paintball park.
There’s what you would call a high rate of fire, and one step above that is the Empire BT Dfender. Flip through the five different firing modes to choose your favorite volley. Selecting burst or full-auto will result in ribbons of paint splattering the field, draining your ammo at mach speed. Though it can fire paintballs hyperfast, the Dfender is also accurate, even at long range.
The ultrastrong, ultralight magnesium frame is compact despite the marker’s aggressive appearance. Its small silhouette is harder for your enemies to see and hit, but also tucks nicely into a comfortable firing hold that is uninhibited by a large hopper or extended magazine. The gun features an easy to use on/off regulator with a T-slot rail, removable Picatinny rails, and an integrated loader. Maintenance is at a minimum and its Break Beam Eyes prevent ball chops, ensuring clean firing on the regular. Though the price tag is a little high, many users have claimed that the Dfender is worth every penny.
Empire BT Dfender Key Features:
- Magnesium shells for high strength and light weight
- Break Beam Eyes in breech prevent ball chops
- Selector switch with five firing modes – semi-auto, burst, ramping, full-auto and select fire
Best Budget Pick: Tippmann Cronus Tactical
Coin conscience consumers will be looking to spend under $125 for a reliable paintball gun. The Tippmann Cronus Tactical marker scores high marks with its friendly price tag and Amazon average rating of 4.6 stars. It’s an excellent entry level gun with fun and useful modifications over the base Cronus model that we think new paintballers will enjoy.
The high-impact composite body of the .68 caliber semi-automatic gun will hold strong against a fair amount of punishment and last you a long time with regular maintenance. Cronus’ proven in-line bolt system is as reliable as they come. It’s an uncomplicated machine that doesn’t ask much from its user, though it has the firepower and accuracy you’ll be asking from it on the field. The gas line is internal, which helps keep things simple, and the molded rubber grips are a welcome comfort on this budget gun.
What makes this more special than other budget paintball guns is the added modifications, some of which are simply cosmetic while others help with performance. Included along with the base Cronus is a mock silencer with a front sight, six-position collapsible stock, and a carry handle with an integrated rear sight. These added features give more personality to the weapon than many of its in-class competitors. The marker can be further augmented by adding more modifications to any of the four Picatinny rails.
Tippmann Cronus Tactical Key Features:
- Front and rear fixed sights
- Bonus modifications added to a solid frame
- Strong and reliable in-line bolt system
Best Electronic Paintball Gun: DYE M3+
There’s no paintball gun on the market more advanced than the DYE M3+. Those who fancy the latest and greatest in tech gadgets will drool over the MOSAir Operating System, which features 5 player profiles, 3 training modes, and 7 play screen options. Plus, it offers storage for 3 custom boot screens, as well as cable free charging. The Method Operating System enables you to customize practically every aspect of the M3+, providing the ultimate paintball playing experience. This is the paintball gun of the future, the one you didn’t think you would get to see in your lifetime.
The physical gun itself is a masterpiece of engineering. It features an updated FL-21 Bolt System with an all-new 2-Stage Flex Face Bolt Tip that sets the new standard for performance and dependability, maintaining the ideal bold speed throughout the bolt cycle. This paintball gun can operate across a wide range of extreme conditions. And, DYE’s patented Eye Pipe System, now in its 4th generation, offers updated breech geometry and independent detents that can accommodate a range of paint sizes – even extremely small paint.
The DYE M3+ also boasts an all-new BWing21 Mag-Reach Trigger Blade, delivering increased leverage and speed on the trigger, with a raised midpoint and tip on the trigger blade to provide increased trigger feedback on your fingertips. The DYE M3+ is as electronic as electronic paintball guns get.
DYE M3+ Key Features:
- 5 player profiles, 3 training modes, and 7 play screen options
- Updated FL-21 Bolt System
- Patented Eye Pipe System handles a range of paint sizes
Best Mechanical Paintball Gun: Planet Eclipse EMEK 100
Though electronic markers are making headway, mechanical paintball guns are still the most popular type of marker sold on the market today. The Planet Eclipse EMEK 100 is a single-piece composite body lined with an aluminum interior that fires smoothly, is a breeze to maintain, and won’t break the bank. This is an excellent gun for beginner and intermediate users who want a dependable marker without much fuss.
Get out into the field and start having fun right away. The EMEK was designed with quality materials around a basic make-it-good, make-it-work philosophy. The Gamma Core drivetrain is a solid system that provides consistent shots time after time, battle after battle. The single-hinged trigger strikes the right balance of pull sensitivity, and the safety switch is easy to access so you remain safe but can switch to game mode in a flash.
Reviewers call this paintball gun a “workhorse” and the “best bang for your buck” in the mechanical marker market. Planet Eclipse has a built a reputation on the foundation of quality products, and this gun is no exception. This is an excellent, high-quality mid-range paintball gun at an accessible price point. Awesome features like the DefTek offset feed and tool-less grip keep you on the field longer and get you back out there quicker.
Planet Eclipse EMEK 100 Key Features:
- Gamma Core spool valve drivetrain
- Single-piece GRN frame and foregrip
- Tool-less grip access/removal
Who Should Buy a Paintball Gun
You’ve been interested in paintball for a while now. It sounds like a fun sport, but you haven’t actually played it yet. Should you buy a paintball gun and all of the other gear you need before jumping into your first match? Probably not. Most people start out by renting equipment or signing up for a free-play event where equipment is provided. It’s best to get a feel for the sport and test out a couple of rental markers before you start dropping dollars on the big guns.
There are plenty of great entry-level guns to start out with once you’ve decided this is your type of game. Any paintball gun on our list will fit you well in the field. There’s no need to purchase the most expensive equipment right away. Our budget pick, or any of the basic, highly-modifiable guns listed below, will serve well to cover your opponents in paint and act as a great learning tool to help you better understand what aspects of a gun you appreciate the most.
Advanced users may have a tried-and-true marker at home that has seen better days and are now looking to step up their game. If you’ve outgrown your first gun, now’s a great time to consider one of our top picks to find a gun that suits your improved skills. With the increased rate of fire and accuracy of the top-tier markers, you’ll notice a big jump in your on-field level of play. Prepare for your next tournament by upgrading your arsenal.
Important Features to Consider
There are a few important considerations to think-through before purchasing a paintball gun.
- Do you want an electric, mechanical, or pump marker? This is the biggest question most paintball players must consider, especially if you only plan on owning one gun at a time. Pump markers are the least common because, as their name implies, they require manual pump-action in order to fire a shot. Pump markers are not the go-to for newcomers to the sport, but enthusiasts might find them appealing for their old-school design. Mechanical markers are the most popular option because they’re reliable, simple to maintain, and are more often less expensive than their counterparts. Electronic guns pack in modern pneumatic technology and magnetic triggers which make for highly-advanced paintball guns, though with more components the chances rise that something may go wrong. The best way to find out which marker-type is for you is by testing guns and asking questions at your local paintball venues.
- How often will you play? There’s a big difference in needs between someone who hits up his local indoor paintball park with friends a couple of times a year and the tournament player who will take her paintball gun to the field dozens of times in the same time frame. Consider how durable a weapon you need, and how refined, because the better the gun the higher the price tag typically will be. If you’ll be out in the field often you may also want to consider checking out our review of the best canopy tents.
- What game-types are you most interested in? The best paintball guns for speedball require a high fire rate paired with unwavering accuracy, whereas your woodsball success may depend upon how far your marker can shoot. There are also scenario-based paintball games that require a different set of tactics, and maybe a different style of weapon. All of the markers on our list will work in whatever playstyle you take on, but most guns lean one way or the other.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a paintball marker?
The term “paintball marker” is interchangeable with “paintball gun”. They refer to the exact same thing. The use of “marker” is becoming more mainstream as a way to distance the relationship between realistic weapons and the safe sport of paintball.
Do I need CO2 or compressed air tanks?
All paintball guns require CO2 or compressed air to fire a paintball. It doesn’t matter if your weapon of choice is electronic, mechanical, or even pump. While some guns can use both, many models were designed with one or the other in mind and so can only use one type. Research your top options before making a purchase so you know whether your gun requires CO2 or compressed air.
What’s with all the modifications?
Modifications are a great way for you to personalize the style of your marker and improve its performance. Modifications include but are not limited to extended barrels, scopes, sights, extended magazines, varying stocks, electronic circuit boards, and software. Some paintball guns are highly customizable while others are not.
How do I keep my paintball gun clean?
For the most part, you’ll need to wipe off excess dirt and paint from the outside and inside if your marker. Disassembling your paintball gun sometimes requires screwdrivers or allen wrenches. Most guns come with their own tools and cleaning kits while others don’t require tools at all for disassembly. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down each element of your paintball gun, then apply lubricating oil as needed to moveable components to keep your paintball gun in top shape for the long haul.
Other Paintball Guns We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other paintball guns. Even though they didn’t make our five best paintball guns list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for a fun showdown at the paintball park. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.
Loaded with features usually only found on extremely high-end paintball guns, the DYE Proto Rail MaXXed is a great bang for your buck. Reviewers praise this guns looks and quiet shooting presence.
- Sticky grips
- Bright LED display
- Micro-Honed 14″ barrel
Similar to it’s Proto Rail brother in many ways, the Proto Rize stands apart with its updated Fuzion bolt kit that both users and the manufacturer claim allows for a smoother and more consistent shot.
- Self-cleaning eye pipe
- UL hourglass grip frame with four tournament firing modes
- Fuzion bolt spool valve
This is one of the most popular paintball markers on the market, and for good reason. The Empire Axe is a solid paintball gun and its push-button bolt system makes for easy maintenance.
- Unique push-button bolt removal system
- Empire Relay Regulator/ASA with On/Off lever
- Many modifications and replacement parts available
Keep a low-profile on the field with the Empire Mini. This is a powerful gun in a tiny package that’s most appropriate for people with a smaller frame.
- Pressure controlled poppet engine
- Integrated break-beam anti-chop eyes
- Compact and lightweight
Ergonomic grips, low psi requirements, and gentle shot acceleration make the Planet Eclipse Etek 5 feel like luxury in your hands. It’s high-performance and comfort make this an ideal speed-ball marker.
- Dual-density wrap-around grips and foregrips
- Zick3 technology with true two-stage acceleration profile
- Low operating pressure of around 150psi
This electronic version of the highly-customizable A-5 has all of the reliability of its mechanical counterpart with the added convenience of an efficient electric trigger.
- Open bolt blowback design
- Patented Cyclone Feed System
- Magnetically activated hall-effect trigger
Choose your mode of play between magazine fed or a traditional loader on the fly with the Tippmann TMC MAGFED. This gun crosses both mechanical and electronic boundaries.
- Dual feed option: hopper or magazine fed
- Full pneumatic marker with mechanical trigger
- AR-15 style shroud with built-in four sided Picatinny rails
The simple design of this gun comes at a low price point intended for entry-level players new to the sport. It’s durable, highly customizable, and is protected by a two-year warranty.
- Tool-less design bolt and striker assembly
- Allows for a wide variety of aftermarket options
- Covered by a two-year manufacturer warranty
Bring a bit of assault-rifle-style to your game with this rugged piece of equipment. The aluminum body and heavy weight make the Omega a sturdy and intimidating paintball gun.
- Rip Clip Loader compatible
- Omega sight rail for added accuracy
- Multi-position adjustable stock
An entry-level paintball gun with a professional-grade valve system, the Kingman Empire Spyder Xtra lives up to the “xtra” in its name.
- Efficient Eko valve system
- Spring Loaded Ball Detent
- Anodized matte finish
Loaded with the same ease-of-use and great valve system as the Sypder Xtra, but with an upgraded collapsible stock and rail mounting system.
- Upgraded collapsible stock
- Aluminum Side Picatinny Rail Mounting System
- High impact polymer clamping feedneck
As the only pistol on our list, the T4E Walther PPQ M2 stands out for its realistic 9mm design. It’s durable, powerful, and makes for a great sidearm.
- Metal barrel and slide with polymer grip
- Adjustable rear sight and fixed front sight
- Eight round metal drop-free magazine
An old standard in paintball parks, the Tippmann A-5 is lauded by reviewers for its dependability and excessive customizations options. If you want a paintball gun to toy around with, this one’s for you.
- Upgradable and customizable marker
- Can be field stripped in less than 60 seconds without tools
- Cyclone Feed System
Built upon the A-5 foundation, this sniper has increased long-range accuracy over the standard model. This is a great gun for distance shooters who want a reliable and customizable marker.
- Red dot aiming assistance
- Extended 16″ barrel
- Shock-absorbing end cap
Quality at a reasonable price, the Tippmann Cronus is an efficient weapon for entry-level and casual players. This gun is easy to assemble and has a few useful upgrade options to help new players learn the basics.
- In-line bolt system
- Internal gas line
- Multiple Picatinny rails
Reliable, lightweight, and compact, the Tippmann Gryphon is a great paintball gun for kids. There are several color options to choose from including graphic wraps.
- Unique skull graphics
- All metal in-line bolt system
- Blade trigger
Show your military support with this hefty and dependable AR-15 inspired paintball rifle. Reviewers say this gun excels most when playing woodsball.
- AR-15 military look with a six position collapsible and folding stock
- Removable and adjustable front and rear sights
- Quick release feeder elbow
Show no fear with the heavy profile of this M-16 inspired U.S. Army Alpha Elite. This gun comes with pinpoint accuracy and everything you need out of the box.
- Military M-16 styled marker
- Magazine doubles as tool storage
- All aluminum receiver
The Azodin Kaos is a simple pump marker that appeals to players new to the pump gun experience. Save money in the long run by pumping your own psi on this high performing gun.
- 14” two-piece barrel with two backs (.685 and .681)
- Half-block design
- Dual pump rods
This tournament-level pump marker is built upon the notable auto cocker design, but upgraded for peak modern performance. Get that classic look packed with a punch in the Empire Sniper.
- Auto-trigger for rapid firing
- Three barrel inserts .675, .680, .685
- Legendary auto cocker design