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
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
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