A paintball gun can come in any of three basic types: pump action, mechanical semi-automatic and electric semi-automatic. While all three use similar CO2 firing mechanisms, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each.
Most entry level paintball guns use mechanical semi-automatic action, which fires one round each time the trigger is pulled. These guns are durable, reliable and inexpensive in comparison to their electric counterparts. If you’ve rented a paintball gun at a court or field of play, it was probably a mechanical semi-automatic.
Pump Action and Electric Semi-Automatic
Pump action paintballs must be pumped by hand to put a round into the firing position. They are slower than automatics and hold only 10 rounds but have the advantage of quiet firing and greater gas efficiency. In electric semi-automatics, the trigger is just an electrical switch as opposed to a mechanical release valve. The trigger pulls much more easily, making for faster shooting and a three-round burst option. On the downside, however, the switch relies on battery power, which could run out mid-game if the operator isn’t cautious.
When shopping for a paintball gun it may be wise to consider purchasing some attachments. A hopper, used by many serious players, attaches to the top of the gun and can increase ammunition capacity to 140 rounds. A squeegee, too, is considered a must-have by many players. If a round breaks in the chamber, the squeegee is by far the fastest way to clean your marker and prevent further jams. Finally, a butt plate may be the best way to make carrying and firing your paintball gun a more comfortable and sustainable experience. The butt plate attaches to the CO2 cartridge and simulates the stock of a rifle.