LongShot Paintball’s Guide to Paintball Gear – Beginner’s Edition V2

LongShot Paintball’s Guide to Paintball Gear – Beginner’s Edition V2
 
Paintball is an amazingly fun sport.  It’s active, social, and discipline building.  However, it is an expensive sport to play.  Admission fees on top of paintball fees make playing the sport costly each time you go out, on top of rental fees.  Rental gear on their own is meant for abuse due to the gear seeing use every other day and not treated well by their renters.  Not to mention, enough rental fees and you might as well have bought your own set.  This document is to serve as a beginners guide for purchasing gear.  This is not an explicitly inclusive guide.  There are dozens of different brands out there that have their range of low to high end products.  This is simply a document to help those starting out get some knowledge of what to look for.
 
This document will cover what we think are the essentials and in the order players should purchase them.  Again, this is just our opinion, but we hope it helps.  Whatever you end up purchasing, our only rule is to NOT purchase package deals.  The crap they add in to entice you is never worth it and you’ll never be able to sell it off to get better stuff.  Spend a little more now to get into the sport and thank us later.
 
Disclaimer:  LongShot Paintball is not sponsored by anybody.  The shopping links provided are just what google pulled up easily.  The youtube links are just what youtube found first.  If you like the item suggested based on the review or your own research, please try and find your best price.  We also highly suggest purchasing from your local store if possible to ensure that our community continues to grow!
 

Purchase Order

Purchase order is highly subjective but in this document we have it listed as Mask > Hopper > Tank > Marker > Other Gear.  Mask first (see that section as to why).  And hopper and tank before the marker.  Why, you might ask?  Because most of these things are what we call “marker agnostic”.  Meaning they’ll work on any marker you want to slap them on.  It doesn’t matter if you are using the most expensive marker out there or the cheapest, your mask is on your head.  It doesn’t matter what hopper you slap onto your marker, it’s still going to be a hopper (though obviously, performance will differ!).
 
That being said, not all purchases make sense for every marker.  Depending on your goals for starting out, a smaller aluminum tank can be just fine vs a larger carbon fiber tank.  A gravity fed hopper might be fine for you starting out (though we do recommend an electronic hopper if you plan on purchasing an electronic marker!).  
 
Since most of the gear transfers over between markers, spending a little more on those pieces up front will save you money later from upgrading.
 
Please note that the general markers/gear listed is for the “average” paintball player.  There are definite differences in styles of play and different needs if the player wants to do more focused styles (speedball, mechanical only, pump, etc).  See the “Other Playstyles” section for some general info.
 

Masks

Mask first.
 
This is subjective.  If you are using this as a buying guide for a gift for your kid, masks probably don’t rank high up there.  But if you are a player trying to get into the sport, the mask is essential.  A comfortable mask that fits your head will allow you to breathe better, see better, and make it so you can play longer.  Masks have a huge range in price.  A decent brand goes for around $70 and high ends can go up to $200 or more.  When purchasing a mask, the best thing you can do for yourself is try them on.  A mask that can work for someone with a big head like myself may not work for someone with a smaller head.
 

Mask Price Review Shopping Link
HK Army HSTL $45 PBRML PB Wizard
JT Proshield $50 PBRML Amazon
Virtue Vio Ascend $100 PBRML Amazon
V-Force Grill $70-$150 PBRML ANSGear
JT Pro-Flex $85-$100 ANS Gear ANSGear
Empire E-Flex $100 ANS Gear ANSGear
Virtue Vio XS $115 DefCon PB VirtuePB
Virtue Vio Extends $115 LoneWolf PB VirtuePB
Virtue Vio Contour II $190 PBRML Amazon
Dye i5 $190 PBRML Dye
Push Unite $190-$200 PBRML ANSGear
BNKR KINGS CMD $170 PBRML BNKR KINGS
Empire EVS $150 PBRML ANSGear
HK Army KLR $100 LoneWolf PB HKArmy

 
Phil’s Recommendation: I personally use the BK CMDs.  They are comfortable to me, breathable, and have limited echo.  You can also “upgrade” them by purchasing the Virtue soft ears and universal pad.  I also have used the Virtue Vio Ascends and Dye i5.  Both are great masks on both sides of the spectrum
 

Hopper

Once you have locked in on your mask and marker, everything else is cherries on top.  A hopper, while beneficial, is not something you need to put money into.  Unless you plan on throwing walls of paint down the field, you don’t need something too extravagant.  Also, since most places don’t allow ramping (unless you’re playing speedball) and definitely not full auto, it’s not necessary to get something that feeds that fast.  Most of the electronic hoppers will work just fine.  However, the more expensive the hopper is, generally, the lighter or lower profile the hopper is and the more consistent the hopper will feed at rates of greater than 13bps.  Note!  Competitive play such as NXL is limited to 10.5 balls per second.
 
Any entry grade marker only really needs a “gravity” fed hopper (that is, non electronic).  PAL markers (Planet Eclipse emek 100 and Etha 2) can also get a PAL hopper which is still gravity fed but uses a pneumatic assist from the marker itself.  But an electronic hopper makes life a little better for any player.  Not having to shake the hopper to get the ball to load and having some assurance that your trigger pull will fire a paintball lets the player worry about a little less on the field.
 

Hopper Style Price Review Shopping Link
Proto Primo Gravity $20 PBRML ANSGear
PAL Gravity $18 PBRML ANSGear
ProToyz Speedster Electronic $65 PBRML ANSGear
Valken VSL Electronic $80 PBRML PunishersPB
Dye LTR Electronic $100 ANSGear ANSGear
Virtue Spire IR Electronic $100 PBRML Virtue
Dye Rotor R2 Electronic $180 ANSGear PunishersPB
Valken V-Max+ Electronic $60 ANSGear Valken
Empire Halo Too Electronic $80 ANSGear PunishersPB
Virtue Spire 4 Electronic $250 PBRML PunishersPB
BK CTRL Electronic $235 PBRML PunishersPB

 
Phil’s Recommendation: This is definitely one of the pieces where I think buying used is more than acceptable (see the section below for used gear).  I personally use the Bunkerkings CTRL because I like the low profile but it is an expensive hopper.  I think the Spire series are exceptionally good and also really light.
 

Tank

If you are just starting out… Just get an aluminum HPA tank.  If you want something that is going to last you and is much lighter, get a carbon fiber HPA tank.  Whatever you do, don’t get a CO2 tank.
 
Tanks are listed as Cubic Inches/Pounds per Square Inch.  Carbon fiber HPA tanks are rated to 4500PSI and aluminum HPA tanks are 3000PSI. 
 
The standard size for HPA tanks of the Carbon fiber variety is 68/4500.  If you want something slightly smaller, a 50/4500 (also called a peanut or stubby) is something to look at.  If you want something bigger a 77/4500 or higher is fine.  The price range for HPA tanks is generally around $150+ new
 
For aluminum tanks, the standard size is 48/3000.  The price range for aluminum tanks is generally around $50+ new.
 
There’s an excellent article here – http://www.zdspb.com/tech/misc/resources/shotspertank.html – that gives a general table of shots per tank size.  Keep in mind that different markers use different output pressure settings (both from the tank and on the marker itself) so the table on that link should be used as a “general” guide.

Paintball Marker

Rental markers now a days are mainly Tippmann branded – Tippmann 98s, Tippmann Gryphons, or Tippmann Cronus*.  These markers are fine because of how much abuse they can take.  With how many kids throw them around without caring, these things take a beating and can keep working.  However, they are not the best performance-wise.  
 
* The Cronus now has a new series called the Tippmann Stormer.
 
What makes a marker good is the consistency.  The Planet Eclipse eMek 100 is the new standard for entry level markers.  It is also being used in many paintball fields as the new rental standard.  Although the price comes in at double that of a Tippmann Stormer (base version), there is a reason why paintball fields are switching.  That is because the marker is so good and almost bullet proof that they will give rental players a better experience and be easy to maintain.
 
Again this document is mainly for beginner players, but I will also list some of the mid to high end markers too.  Please note that I personally do not have experience with the high end spectrum and there is way too much to list easily.  This list also does not contain pump, magfed, or “custom” guns like autocockers or automags.
 

Marker Price Review Shopping Link
Spyder Victor $80 ANSGear ANSGear
HK Army SABR $130 ANSGear
Tippmann Stormer $140 – $200 LoneWolf PB ANSGear
Planet Eclipse eMek 100 $270 PBRML ANSGear
Azodin Centurion $80 ANSGear ANSGear
Planet Eclipse Etha 2 $430 PBRML ANSGear
Empire Mini GS $330 LoneWolf PB ANSGear
Dye Rize CZR $325 PBRML ANSGear
Empire Axe 2.0 $470 PBRML ANSGear
Planet Eclipse GTEK 170r* $800 PBRML PunishersPB
Empire Syx $700 PBRML PunishersPB
Dye DSR $900 PBRML ANSGear
Shocker AMP** $900 ANSGear PunishersPB
Dye M3+ $1600 PBRML PunishersPB
Planet Eclipse CS2 $1500 PBRML PunishersPB
Planet Eclipse Geo 4 $1200 ANSGear PunishersPB
Planet Eclipse LV1.6 $1300 LoneWolf PB ANSGear
Luxe X $1800 PBRML ANSGear
Field One Force $1500 PBRML ANSGear
HK Army VCOM $1500 ANSGear ANSGear

 
* The GTEK170r also has a mechanical version called the m170r!  You can also purchase a m170r frame separately to convert back and forth between electronic and mechanical.
** The Shocker AMP has a purchaseable mechanical frame to swap back and forth between electronic and mecahnical
 
Phil’s Recommendation: I own an eMek 100 and while it is not my primary marker (I use an m170r), it is the marker I will always fall back to.  With the range of upgrades and customizations out there for it, if you enjoy it, you can really trick it out and shoot it as well as most of the high end guns out there.  Some players may think that it being mechanical makes it not as good, but in my opinion, I love not dealing with batteries and worrying about cleaning out sensors or what not.

Other Gear

There are tons of other things that fit into the load out of a player.  Here’s just a small list of things to look to get.
 

  • Pads
    • Elbow/Arm Pads
    • Knee Pads
      • Finding good knee pads also helps a lot.  You would be surprised how much you will kneel in certain games or for sliding.  Treating your knees well will keep you in the game much longer!
      • I personally use Hydra Fit Hydra Blacks (previously Planet Eclipse HD Core)
  • Pod Pack (also called pod harness)
  • Pods
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Barrel Covers
  • Barrel swabs
  • Boots/Cleats
  • Gloves

 
All of these are optional.  But in my opinion pads are necessary.  Save your knees!  And get bounces off your arms.
 

Other Playstyles

Paintball comes in many shapes and flavors.  The above listings would be the average player at most paintball parks.  The gear there would serve the most general purpose and be used in almost any scenario.  That being said there are different needs for different playstyles.  In this section I’ll quickly highlight different playstyles and what differences in gear those may need.

Speedball

Speedball or airball is the term that is used for the most widely known competitive aspect of paintball.  It’s generally the air bunkers on a 50yd length of field.  For this competitive mode, most markers used will have a mode called “ramping” that being said players in this group tend to need electronic markers, electronic hoppers, and sometimes larger tanks (depending on how much they plan to shoot on any given game).

MagFed/MFOG

Magfed players are sometimes referred to as mil-sim, as that’s the style of paintball they want to enjoy.  Limited paint, counting your shots, reloading.  It’s a different challenge and a different breed.  The markers here are very specific as they require certain body mechanics to allow for magazines to be loaded.  Instead of hoppers, they’ll also need a set of magazines.  Instead of a pod pack, they would need a magazine holder and probably a dump pouch/belt.  Tanks are sometimes remote lined (connected with a hose instead of directly onto the marker) or sometimes smaller to fit in the marker’s stock (see TMC, emek mg100s, etc).  Sometimes the term MFOG is thrown around meaning mag fed only games.

Mechanical Only

Some players value mechanical markers because there are no electronics to go wrong – sensors to keep clean, batteries to keep fresh, solenoids that need love, etc.  Obviously for this style of play, mechanical markers such as the emek100 or m170r are appreciated.  Sometimes there is an argument that mechanical markers can only use gravity fed hoppers but I’m inclined to say use what you want.  However, some tournaments that are mech only may enforce such a rule.

Pump

There’s a widespread rumor that pump markers are more accurate than non pump markers.  They’re not.  As /r/paintball will tell you.  A tube is a tube.  The issue here is that the player needs to make sure their first ball is on point and so training with a pump gets them to better hone in that first shot accuracy without needing to adjust or need less balls to adjust than their semi/ramping/auto counterparts.  I didn’t list pump markers above but for the entry level players look towards the Azodin KP3 or Empire Sniper.  Higher ends would be CCMs or any autococker converted pumps.  Note that within pump there is also the notion of stock and open class play which is another can of worms…  But try pump, it’s fun 🙂
 

USED

You can literally get everything above used by searching the right places.  Facebook has plenty of Buy/Sell/Trade groups for paintball or you can use respected sites such as pbnation.com.  Buying used generally knocks 30% of the total cost off or more depending on the deal you get.  I would suggest buying used for tanks and hoppers or more higher end markers.
 
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Sample Packages

Below are some sample loadouts with average costs for the products:
 
Cheapest “Beginner” Package Example

HK Army HSTL $45
Spyder Victor $80
PAL Loader Hopper $18
First Strike 48/3000 Aluminum Tank $50
Total $193

 
Basic Package Cost(s) Example

V-Force Grill Mask $80
Planet Eclipse Emek 100 $270
PAL Loader Hopper $18
First Strike 48/3000 Aluminum Tank $50
Total $418

 
“Upgraded” Package Cost(s) Example

Bunker Kings CMD Mask* $170
Planet Eclipse Emek 100  $270
Virtue Spire 3 Loader $230
Ninja 68/4500 CF Tank SL2 $170
Total $840

 
“Used” Package Cost(s) Example

Bunker Kings CMD Mask* $120
Planet Eclipse Etha 2 $350
Dye LTR Hopper with speed feed $70
Ninja 68/4500 CF Tank SL1 $100
Total $640

 
* BK CMD mask was sold on Kickstarter for $80 and retails for $170.  Prices vary but resellers who got the $80 version are reselling for $120.  A used BK CMD purchased at $170 will be sold as used for around $120 as well.

So What Do You Use?

I started playing paintball again and regularly in 2017.  I used to play when I was a kid but now with a more disposable income and not needing to beg my mom to drive me out to a park and buy me paintballs, I get to play regularly.
 
When I started playing again, I purchased a Tippmann Cronus and Virtue Vio Ascend.  From there, I got a Dye i5 and a Tippmann X7 Phenom…  Then I went and got the Planet Eclipse eMek.  My journey has been up and down over the past 3 years but I’ve settled with my current set up and am quite happy with it.  So here’s what I rock – 
 
Mask: Bunkerkings CMD (modified with a Dye i5 strap and Virtue Soft Ears)
Markers: 

  • Planet Eclipse GTEK 170r/m170r
  • Planet Eclipe eMek 100
  • CCM S6.5
  • CCM T2

Barrels: 

  • Carbon IC Barrel (Freak XL)
  • Infamous Silencio (Freak XL)

Hopper: Bunkerkings CTRL
Tanks: ImmortalAir ImmortaLITE 68/4500, Ninja 50/4500
Gloves: Mechanix Gloves
Elbow Pads: Social PB SMPL
Bottom Protection: Exalt Slide shorts
Knee Pads: Hydra Black
Shoes: 5.11 Boots
 

LongShot Paintball

 
LongShot Paintball is a Southern California Recreational Paintball group.  We try to schedule monthly private games so that we can avoid the bluster of arrogant/overshooting/yelling players and have a friendly group where we’re not too bummed when we get shot out.  In fact, it’s even friendlier knowing who is on the other side and who your targets are!
 
We are always looking for new players to join our private events.  If you’ve played with us before, you’ll know that we are a pretty relaxed group who like to play hard but also play fair.  We’re not into shouting at you to get out if we hit you.  We’re not into overshooting if we can prevent it or point blank shots on unprotected places.
 
We expect all players to treat each other with respect and play nicely.
 
 

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