On the paintball field, having the right gun can be a big part of the key to success. Not all pump paintball guns are alike, and choosing between class, price and the ability to modify are all variables you have to weigh when picking the pump paintball gun that’s right for you.
1. Choose a class of pump paintball gun you want to use. There are two basic classes: stock class or open class. The stock class is more restrictive, with a gun that has a horizontal tube feed ammunition system placed atop the gun that limits you to about 10 rounds per load, and a 12 gram air cartridge that limits the total amount of shots you can fire per cartridge to 35 or 40 shots. Choose stock class if you’re going to be playing with a group that prefers low-fire battles where tactics play a larger role over mass firepower. Choose an open class paintball gun if you’re looking more toward standing toe-to-toe with better-armed players. Open class allows you to modify your pump gun, using any size of hopper, air tank or barrel, increasing your accuracy, rate of fire and the cost of your final gun layout.
2. Set a price range and then review the prices of the various guns to find one that’s within your range. Entry level guns start at $20 purchased from large department stores, while base guns plus modifications can run you to a little more than $100, and advanced pump guns can cost slightly less than $300 in 2009.
3. Compare the modifications available for each gun and determine if the ones you want are compatible with the models you’re considering. Consider the amount of ammo and air you’ll need when choosing your gun. For stock class play, the ammo load isn’t as much an issue because the guns are limited by the tube and the air connection. For open play your gun choice should be largely based on the modifications you can make and the additional ammo hopper and air delivery system can greatly change the type of play experience you have. Pick a large hopper and a modified air delivery system that allows you to attach an air tank to your gun if you intend on playing long paintball matches. Most pump paintball guns can be modified in this way, but some companies are proprietary, so make sure the gun you buy has the modifications you need available for it.
4. Test fire a few guns to get the feel of the pump action, size and weight of the gun. A stock class paintball gun may weigh as little as 2 pounds while a fully loaded and modified paintball gun can weigh 5 pounds. The 3-pound difference will be felt after a long day of playing, as will an uncomfortable pumping action. So test a few guns, and if possible rent a few to play with for an afternoon before making your final purchase.
5. Pick a gun that comes closest to meeting all of your requirements for play class and modification needs and total feel at your price level.