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Things you should know about markers before you buy


There are three different types of markers:

The action is controlled solely through mechanical means. Many mechanical markers have a hammer which when cocked is held back by a catch connected to the trigger. It will also have a spring trying to push the hammer forward. When the trigger is pulled, the catch is released and the hammer is allowed to slam in to the valve. This diverts the flow of air from the tank, through the bolt and into the paintball, propelling it out the barrel. Excess air not used to propel the ball is then used to re-cock the hammer. This type of marker is called a blow-back design and is the most common approach used. The Kingman Spyder line of markers are examples of blow back design.

The firing system is all controlled electronically. This allows for firing of the marker with less effort than it requires to click a button on your mouse. It also enables markers to have several different firing modes such as 3 shot bursts, 6 shot bursts or even fully automatic. However, virtually all tournaments and paintball fields only allow semi-automatic mode (1 trigger pull, one shot). Because of this, some high end markers ship with a control board only allowing semi-automatic, and for fully auto modes the board will need to be replaced. Others rely on LCD or LED indicators to indicate that a non-semiautomatic mode has been selected; some guns have a jumper that you can remove to lock the gun into semi-auto mode when necessary.

Electro mechanical
A hybrid approach, where the mechanical firing of the marker is actuated via an electric coil. This allows for the short light trigger associated with electronic markers on an otherwise mechanical marker. The Kingman markers using their ESP trigger, and the E-Mag by Airgun Design, are examples.

Tournament versus recreational paintball markers
Players usually fall into two categories: recreational and tournament players. Tournament players take the game seriously, investing $2,000 or more in paintball gear. They also attend tournaments in teams of 3-10 people. A common tournament team game is "Speedball", where players play on an enclosed field with a single central flag and hide behind small scattered walls and barrels. A top of the line paintball marker can cost $700 - $2,000. A recreational marker can however be purchased for $50 to $300.

Rate of Fire
No low-end blow-back marker can cycle itself faster than about 13 BPS (balls per second) without shaking itself to pieces. The electronic circuitry to cycle at 20 BPS is the easy part, but you have a heavy metal hammer hitting back and forth against your valve and springs, and if you are running at 700-800 PSI (pounds per square inch), a lot of force is being produced and no marker can survive that kind of punishment. Even the expensive Angels and Intimidators are made to operate at pressures below 150 PSI, and they have no internal springs.

Some of the gas that propels the ball forward is escaping into the feed port and up the hopper, pushing the incoming balls back out. If it delays the next paintball from falling into the breach, this will cause dry firing or chopping. High end markers that never chop balls, have a sensor ("eye") that will not allow the gun to fire until the paintball is in its place.

Ball Feed Port
There are two types of input feed port: A vertical feed comes out of the gun vertically, while a power feed comes out of the gun at about a 45 angle. The vertical feed will not allow you to use the sights to aim since vision over the top of the gun is blocked. The power feed cannot rely on gravity to feed the balls, and need an electric hopper to feed the balls.

A detent is an anti-double feed device used to prevent feeding more than one paintball at a time. They can take different form; AutoMags use a wire. Spyders use a rubber nipple. Autocockers use a spring loaded ball bearing. It holds the paintball in the chamber until the bolt pushes the paintball into the barrel. Double feeding will cause breaks in the barrel, or reduced velocity of the two paintballs.

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