Paintball Gun Digest

Maintained by: Dawn Mills
Original compilation by: Steve Mitchell - 1994 Original html conversion by: Jim Burke


Background Information

This is the Paintball Gun Digest of This digest is the compilation of paintball gun knowledge provided by contributors to, as well as the original author, Steve Mitchell. This digest attempts to give people a brief description of paintball guns, old and new, and to serve as a starting point for further investigation.

 The following participants have provided invaluable information and have aided in this digest's creation and continuing evolution:

The guns are listed in alphabetical order by their common name. No attempt has been made (yet) to classify guns by type (Stock Class, etc.) Where possible, estimates of current available price have been provided. Few technical specifications are provided, but may be at a future date. These technical specifications may include weight, rate of fire, etc.

 The author has attempted to be objective in writing these briefs--including good points, as well as possible weak points about each gun. Suggestions, corrections, and additions to this digest are always welcome.

3357 Spotmarker (Crossman Airguns)

A .50, 12-gram paintball "revolver" that looks much like a real firearm. The Spotmarker holds six .50 pellets in its cylinder, and fires from a 12-gram in the grip. The gun can be fired double action or as a more accurate single action. Additional cylinders are available for quick reloading in the field. The marker went new for around $80.

68-Special (Tippmann Pneumatics)

A classic from Tippmann. This gun, along with the PMI-3, was the warhorse in the early days of semi-autos. Designed to run on liquid, it is a solid, easy to maintain, easy to use marker. It is slightly more complex and less refined than its descendants, the Pro/Am and Pro/Lite, but is a very reliable, good quality, mid-range gun.

 68-Specials are no longer made by Tippmann, but can be bought used for about $200, depending on what kind of shape the gun is in.

Autococker, Minicocker (Bud Orr/Worr Game Products)

This gun is gaining increasing popularity among pro and amateur players. The Autococker is known for its accuracy and long effective range. The gun's design is based on the Bud Orr "Sniper" series pump guns. A pneumatic ram, regulator, and three-way valve allow this gun to cock itself after each shot. However, due to the gun's mechanical complexity, the Autococker has developed a reputation as being hard to debug and maintain.

 Autocockers, like Automags, can be very expensive when accessories and custom work are added to the original price tag. $1000 Autocockers are not uncommon. Unlike the Automag, the Autococker generally requires at least some custom work before it performs well out of the box. With good custom work, the gun becomes a fast shooter and retains its closed-bolt accuracy and good effective range.

 There is also an AutoCocker FAQ available for you to look at.

Automag (Airgun Designs)

One of the most well designed guns on the market. This gun was designed by real engineers, with performance in mind. The Automag's high price tag means it isn't the gun for everybody. It can also be an expensive gun when accessories are added. $1000 Automags are not uncommon.

 The Automag shoots very fast. Out of the box, it is probably the fastest gun on the market. The gun has some pretty complex internal pneumatic workings. Although reliable, any new owner should be willing to consult the manual and carry a spare parts kit if o-rings fail.

 There is also an Automag FAQ avaible for you to look at.

F1, F2 Illustrator (Feral Action Sports Technology, Inc.)

A simple, elegant, mid-range semi-auto. This gun is an excellent design that easy to use, easy to maintain, and performs well. In the $290 price range, this gun is slightly more expensive than other mid-range semi-autos. While its rate of fire is not as fast as some of the high-end guns can be, it is considered a good alternative for anybody who wants a good quality gun without the potential maintenance headaches of the Autococker or Automag.

GZ-1000 (National Survival Games)

A low cost gun very much like the Splatmaster. The GZ-1000 has a direct feed, so it is not useful for real stock class competition--but is probably a fun gun for the beginner. Look for a GZ-1000 as low as $30.

GZ-2000 (National Survival Games)

A semi-auto (double action?) version of the GZ-1000. Cheap materials and a $125 price tag make this gun a poor choice when compared to mid range pump guns.

Icon Z1, Z2 (Bullseye)

A light, reliable, consistent semi-auto. This gun is unique in that it is designed to shoot only liquid from siphon bottles. It needs a special summer valve for warm weather. The Icon is known for its consistent accuracy and good range. It is in the $300 price range, and is often compared to the Illustrator.

Minimag (Airgun Designs)

This model of the Automag has a powerfeed body and a vertical ASA rather than a back bottle connection. It too is a blow-forward style semi-auto. Standard issue is 8" barrel length with an overall length of 13.5" and weighs 2.65 pounds. Standard price is $600.

Model 85 (Para Ordanance)

Not really a paintball gun, but more of a firearm, this marking gun is generally used in police/military training to allow "live fire" without hurting people. The Model 85 is not pneumatic. The gun uses plastic cartridge cases, much like the brass cartridge cases uses in firearms, loaded with a small caliber paint pellet. The pellet is ejected from the cartridge with magnum pistol primers. The gun is fully automatic and operates much like any blow back operated automatic firearm.

 Since the gun's velocity cannot be adjusted, and it shoots its non-standard projectile at about 400fps, using this gun for paintball is not advised.

Nel-Spot 007, and other Nel-Spot based pumps (Nelson)

The Nel-Spot 007 was the gun that started paintball. It was originally designed for marking things like trees or cattle. At some point, people started shooting at each other with them, and paintball was born.

 The gun is outdated now, but has a huge number of descendent pumps that carry on its name. These pump guns are referred to as "Nel-Spot" or "Nelson" based guns. They share some parts with the original 007. There are too many of these guns to include a complete section for each of them--or even to include a complete list, but here are a few of them:

When looking at a Nel-Spot based gun, consider its quality of materials, quantity of desired features, and the gun's general "feel" for you personally. These guns can go from $100 to $200 dollars.

Panther VTS, Puma, Bobcat (Indian Creek Design)

One of the latest paintball guns on the scene, this marker is quickly earning the respect of many in the industry. High quality materials, inovative engineering, and lots of features make this gun well worth its $200-$300 price tag. The Puma comes with built in power-feed, dual bottle adaptors, hammerless vertical valve, and venturi/delrin faced bolt. The guns have no seams or welds and enjoy low maintenance due to few screws or o-rings.

 Accuracy is thought to be a little less than that of other guns in this price range, but a high rate of fire may make up for that.

PGP, KP-2, PMI-1, PMI-2, P68 series (Benjamin Sheridan/Pursuit Marketing International)

The gun that the "old timers" started with. The PGP is a durable little stock class pistol. It was the basis on which most of Sheridan's other pump guns were created. The KP-2 with its distinctive wood stock, the PMI and P68 series guns with their increasingly modernized list of features, are all solid, well built performers. The PGP itself is generally outmatched on the modern paintball field, even against other stock class pistols. The other pumps in the PMI and P68 series have been modernized and are probably a better gun to start with. Due to the quality of their construction PGP's are still sold new for about $80.

 The internals of the PGP often serve as the foundation for many other guns. The Sheridan valve body and hammer design is found in guns from several different manufacturers (Autococker, for example).

Pheonix (?)

A unique design that just might be a peek into paintball's future. The Pheonix is a space age marker that incorporates radical new design ideas. The gun has a synthetic rotary bolt--the gun's only major moving part. It is a simple elegant design, but needs some debugging before it is perfected. The gun currently is reported to have trouble with ball breaks.

 Look for a Pheonix in the $500 price range.

Pro/Am, Pro/Lite (Tippmann Pneumatics)

The Tippmann Pro/Lite is the latest in a long line of mid-range Tippmann semi-autos. The Pro/Lite, and its older brother the Pro/Am, are solid, reliable, decent performing paintball guns. They are based on a proven design that allows for good performance from a simple, easy to maintain marker.

 The cheaper materials used in these guns do not make them indestructible, but Tippmann's excellent service reputation generally makes up for this. The Pro/Lite starts at about $245, making it a great first gun for many beginners. Beware of the Pro/Lite's limited upgrade path, however. A new barrel is about all that can be done to this gun to increase performance. A fairly average rate of fire with above average accuracy is as far as this gun goes.

 There is also an Pro/AM, Pro/Lite FAQ avaible for you to look at.

Rapide (National Survival Games)

A successor to the Splatmaster, this interesting little 12-gram features a double action cocking mechanism, a 20 round rotary magazine, and a brass lined barrel. It is made almost entirely from plastic, which explains its $30 price tag. This gun does not qualify for stock class competition, so its usefulness is probably limited to a very low-end entry level pistol.

SL68, SL68-II (Tippmann Pneumatics)

A classic pump by Tippmann. This is one of the best mid-range pumps made. It is accurate, reliable, simple, and made with excellent materials. The SL68-II has a built-in bottom line, as well as a velocity adjustment on the bolt (accessible externally). Find a good deal on a used SL68-II at about $100+.

 This gun is often compared to the Trracer, but is generally thought to be better built.

SMG-60, SMG-68 (Tippmann Pneumatics)

One of the most unique paintball gun designs ever made by Tippmann or anybody else. This gun is a fully automatic, clip fed marker. Its low magazine capacity, high rate of fire, and, in the case of the SMG-60, hard to find ammo, makes this gun impractical on the modern paintball field.

 This gun is no longer made by Tippmann, but can be found used for about $100-$200. Some paintballers consider them as collectors items. Most fields do not allow their use during regular play, although they can sometimes be seen (and heard!) during special 24-hour or "scenario" games.

Sniper series (Bud Orr)

Bud Orr set out to make the most accurate pump available. Based on the Sheridan valve/hammer design, these guns have a deadly reputation. Later the Sniper would become the foundation for the Autococker.

 Look for the Sniper at over $200.

Splatmaster (National Survival Games)

Another "old timers" gun. The Splatmaster arose from paintball's first big commercial enterprise (National Survival Game, Inc.) This 12-gram stock class pistol is entirely plastic and is cocked manually. The gun's plastic barrel limits accuracy and reliability. It has been supersceeded by the GZ-1000.

 While the Splatmaster is a stock class pistol, it will not perform nearly as well as modern stock guns, but might be useful for the occasional recreational stock game. Look for used Splatmasters in the $20 price range.

Sterling STP, STP Turbo, Silver (Sterling)

A very high quality pump gun that not everybody can afford. The Sterling guns go for $200+. They are made of very high quality materials, have all the parts matched by hand, are highly accurate, consistent, smooth, and nice to look at. The STP and STP Turbo are Sterling's flagship guns. The STP as steel internals and an aluminum barrel. The Turbo has aluminum internals and a brass barrel.

Stingray (Brass Eagle/Daisy)

This semi-auto starts at only $100. It is made of the cheapest materials and manufacturing techniques available. While the gun might be cheap, it works. If you really want an entry level semi-auto, and don't want to spend much money, the Stingray is the gun for you.

 Brass Eagle products have suffered from a bad reputation due to quality control problems. The Stingray is assembled by Daisy (the BB gun maker), so quality control is likely to be better these days.

Trracer (Pursuit Marketing International)

This gun is one of the most popular pumps on the market. It is a great entry level gun. Lots of accessories are available--even several different kits to convert it to semi-automatic.

 This gun is often compared to the SL68. It does not come with a built-in bottom line, like the SL68-II, however, and is not made of quite the same high quality materials.

Typhoon, Stroker (Palmer's Pursuit)

Highly respected autococking conversion of the reliable, accurate Sheridan pump guns. The Typhoon and the Stroker might be a bit slower than a highly customized Autococker, but the guns are well done conversions that cost much less.

Vector (Air Power)

This gun's design started fresh, from the ground up, in order to make a fast, accurate, tournament level gun. Initial reports are that they've succeeded. Air Power is still working some of the bugs out--with the gun current suffering from a few unreliable parts and a excessive gas consumption problem. But the gun is said to have excellent accuracy and effective range, while still having the speed required in the modern paintball field.

 Look for new (and improved) Vectors in the $500+ price range.

 There is also an Vector FAQ avaible for you to look at.

VM68, PMI-3 (Benjamin Sheridan/Pursuit Marketing International)

This gun is an indestructible work horse. It is a classic design that has been around since the first semi-autos appeared on the market. It has changed very little over the years, which means it features tend to be dated.

 The VM68 is often compared to the Pro/Am and Pro/Lite. It is in the same price range ($200+), so it is often purchased by first time semi-auto buyers. This gun is not as "operator friendly" as the Pro/Lite, however. It tends to be heavy, has a slow rate of fire, does not have an external velocity adjustment, or a standard bottom line.

 This gun's major advantage over other guns in its price range is its upgradability. The VM68-Mag, and EXC-68 are efforts by the gun's maker to update some of its dated features. Additionally, the gun has an almost unlimited upgrade path. Almost every part can be replaced with aftermarket improvements--eventually leading this gun to become a tournament ready marker that can compete with the best of them.

 There is also an VM-68/PMI-3 FAQ avaible for you to look at.

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