Paintball marker - Buyer's Guide for a Newbie!

Hello SDMB! I know from past topics on paintball we have some relatively experienced people here who may be able to provide me some insights, opinions, and/or advice. I am looking at purchasing my first paintball marker. Some back-ground info on me, my needs, etc.

I have gone paintballing, perhaps a total of 3-4 times over 5 years. Each time has always been at an outdoor “woods” facility, using rented Tippmann carbine semi-auto type markers. I have never played “tournament” style games, i.e. speed-ball or played in an indoor facility.

I am:

a.) looking for a “package” deal with marker, mask, plug/sleeve, tank, hopper, squeegee, and other assorted accessories. One stop purchase, so to speak.

b.) interested primarily in outdoor “woods” games vs. indoor tourney style play. I want a versatile marker however that will not be completely out of place in either situation. Perhaps that is expecting too much?

c.) I have many expensive hobbies and realize this will add to that list. Therefore, I need to maintain a relatively low cost of entry, getting the most for my money. Unfortunately, this also contradicts my general approach to these things and that is to by more X than I need as a newbie with the belief that it is better to start with the best possible equipment and grow into it than start cheap and have to then buy “up”. Unfortunately, economic realities dictate that spending over 200.00 for a marker is really pushing the envelope right now. Therefore, as much as I’d like to look at 500.00+ markers (ha!) I must limit myself to 300.00 and preferably in the 150.00 to 200.00 range.

d.) sadly, I am fairly ignorant to most paintball marker terminology. For example, on another forum I got lots of tips: “buy an autococker”, “Definitely get a revo hopper”, “electronic marker all the way”, etc. I appreciated the input but um… what is that exactly? The forum was not too tolerant of newbie questions so here I am on SDMB. So, anyone willing to provide a quick tutorial on the basic differences would be fan-tabu-lous!

Here are a couple markers I’ve looked at and if you have any experience with, or opinions on any of them, I’d appreciate it.

Kingman Spyder Impulse Deluxe - I like the “look” of this marker and some reviews I’ve seen online give it high praise in the price to quality department. Do the tri-modes of fire honestly bring any value in most play? Do fields allow full-auto or tri-burst firing? Isn’t semi-auto firing fast enough for most situations? This marker, and the next one below, and many others sure look… “pretty”. Are these indoor only type markers or is this something I can use outdoors where exposure to Mother Nature will be a factor (cold/hot, streams/water, mud/dirt, rain, etc.)

Kingman Spyder Xtra - This looks similar to the Impulse deluxe, minus the fancy firing modes. That however is only to my layman’s eyes. Can anyone else explain the pros/cons of the differences? This has a ported barrel vs. the other one - is this a big deal? Bigger than any pros the other way? Is this also a decent marker for my intended purposes?

Tippmann A-5 - I have received a few suggestions that this marker is definitely the way to go. The price point is a bit higher than I’m comfortable with but I do at least know of the Tippman name. One thing I’ve read about this is you must replace the barrell b/c the stock one is just junk and very inaccurate. Yes? Another benefit I’m being sold on this one is that it is a very simple design in terms of maintenance and “on the spot” repairs. True? How complicated are these things really? I’ve owned my fair share of real guns, handguns, shotguns, rifles - not exactly challenging in terms of complexity. Even the military M16A2 was not that bad in terms of complexity and it is one of the more complicated weapons out there. Is this apples to oranges? Is there a reasonable comparison in terms of complexity of a marker? I have also been told, considering my preference towards outdoor “woods” games that this is the only way to go due to its durability.

Anyway, I hope someone has some ideas. I’m dying to jump into this one, much to Mrs. MeanJoe’s protesting. :smiley:


I’d go into Central Ohio paintball and ask them a few of these questions. They were very helpfull when I bought my Tippman 98 custom there, plus thy’ll give you a coupon sheet with free air fills, discounts on gear, and discounts on Splattepark memberships. Plus, you can see what they’re talking about by handling a few markers.

Doc Nickel has a really cool site he might even reply to this thread. He really knows his stuff. I’m a newbie as well, maybe sometime we can meet up at Splatterpark and shoot each other.

Good luck.

Thanks, I take it you are also in central ohio? Any thoughts on SplatterPark? I’m getting a group of my friends together to go there for the first time this month to celebrate my birthday.


Hey there. I think I can give you a hand.

All three markers you’ve mentioned are quite competent for a first marker.

The firing modes on the Spyder Impulse are generally quite useless. Most fields will not allow full-auto or burst firing. Sometimes, they allow it, in situations such as scenario games, but the difference in price generally isn’t enough to justify it. The ported barrel generally is supposed to quiet the marker down, but your accuracy will be the same. Other than that, the Xtra and the Spyder Impulse are identical (Kingman is very well known for making a single minor change in a marker and marketing it as a brand new marker)

The A-5 is quite nice, but as you said, expensive. Of course, for recball (recreational play) it’s pretty much the top of the line. If you don’t want to spend the money on a an A-5, take a look at the Tippmann 98 Custom. It’s almost identical internally (and quite similar to the Carbine you used to rent), except it doesn’t have the crazy hopper, and it looks a little different. It was the de facto recball marker before the A-5 came along, and is still the best rental marker out there. Not to mention 1/3 the cost. Tippmanns are definitely one of the top markers out there for reliability and durability. People have purposely run them over, and they still shoot.

When they told you to ‘replace the barrel’ on the A-5, it’s because Tippmann doesn’t put all that much effort in to their barrels. No matter what marker you get, whether it’s a Tippmann, Spyder, Autococker or Angel, they’re always going to tell you to ‘get a new barrel.’ But the stock barrel on any of them (including the Tippmanns) will work just fine for as long as you want.

From the sound of things, you can at least figure out how things work, so maintanence won’t be a problem for you. All these markers are about as simple as it gets. Just keep them clean and oiled, and none of them will go down. Though some would argue (And I’d agree with them) that the Spyders need parts replaced more than the Tippmanns (the consumable parts, like O-Rings usually) the parts are plentiful and cheap.
Now, the best two pieces of advice I can give you:

1- Buy used. You’ll save a tonne. For example, the Model 98 I mentioned earlier, can be found used for $~100-120. For that price, you can get everything you need for less than $200. (Though I do recommend purchasing the mask new, that way, you can be sure that it hasn’t been abused. Not to say people would do that, but you never know, and it’s better safe than sorry.)

2- Go down to a store and try EVERY marker you can get your hands on. Doesn’t matter if it only costs $50, or $2000, try it. Then narrow down the ones you can afford, and choose the one that feels best. They all do the same thing and all should perform quite similarly, so many times, it all comes down to feel. The marker can make the experience.
I’ve tried to keep as much bias as I can out of this post as I can. (and I don’t own any of the above markers, so I think I did a good job) Personally, if I were in your situation, I’d go with a Tippmann 98. But that’s because I prefer a mechanical trigger, and I love the reliability of the Tippmann. It’s your decision, and make the one that fits your options the best.

Oh, and get the Mrs. out playing, plenty of women play, and she might just enjoy it.

Hope this will help

St_Ides - Thanks for the great response!

I kind of figured that field must regulate the types of firing allowed, else every marker would at least offer full-auto, right? Haha! Although it sounded very appealing to me at first, I think the Impulse has dropped a little bit in my eyes. No sense having a shiny new toy that you can’t use, right?

I’ll take a look at the 98, in fact I will go to the local shops here in town this weekend and look at a lot of them. I didn’t realize you could go and shoot different markers at some shops, etc. I’ll look around, great advice.

My biggest concern regarding the eBay route is that I do not know enough to know if a.) the price is to high and b.) if there is obvious damage that I’d not be able to recognize. I’ll start keeping an eye on eBay though, see what is there and get some price-comparisons.

You absolutely did a great job of it, thank you! That was the # 1 problem of the posts I got from a paintball specific forum - everyone calling me dude, and everyone insisting that THEIR marker was the one that “rawked”, dude! :smiley:


No problem, just one thing.

EBay isn’t the only place that you can find used markers.
Take a look around Paintball Nation (AKA PBNation) and Paintball Review (AKA PBReview). They’ll have classified ads in there, and you can usually find just what you want, for a price near what you want.

You might be able to haggle the dealer down to a better price, and if you ask others on there, they might tell you a good price. There are people there who would be willing to tell you if you’re getting a good deal or not. But again, these forums are loathed by some people for immature attitudes and people who act like they’re 8 years old.

My advice to finding a good marker used, is: Once you’ve found one you like, check EBay and other classifieds, find out how much it went for, then offer about 10-15% less than what it went for. That way, it usually won’t be considered a ‘lowball’ offer, and you should be able to get a decent deal.
And either way you go, make sure the seller has good feedback. EBay, it’s usually easy to see, and on classifieds, they sometimes have a ‘good seller’ thread, or you might consider just asking around about them. Generally, many people know each other, and you’ll get a fair assessment of the trustworthyness of the seller.

There’s an article here That’s an alright guide to buying and selling online. Although it’s focused more in terms of selling online, it also talks about what buyers should do. It’s pretty basic, but there are some good hints in there.
I hope I’ve covered everything in enough detail. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask, I check here pretty often. You could even e-mail me if you’re so inclined, though I check that less than this board.

Since you’re looking for advice more than hard facts, I’ll move this thread to IMHO.

moderator GQ

Welcome to paintball :slight_smile: One of the most fun sports I have ever played.

I agree with St_Ides in that a Tippman will be more reliable then a Spyder any day. Buying one used is no problem, because it is probably the most reliable line of guns on the market. New you won’t get one below 130ish thats the makers minimum price.

My favorite forum for paintball related stuff is The average poster uses dude less then any other forum.

An autococker is just a brand.
Nice guns I currently shoot one. But I honestly believe they are a little to much maintence for the very new to the sport.

A revo hopper, is a revolution hopper.
when you start shooting at a certain speed regular hoppers can not load the gun fast enough. This hopper is designed to load the balls quicker for you. There are other brands of hoppers that feed faster you will see refrenced. (Egg or Evolution/ Halo/ Reloader/Qloader to name a few)

Many people will tell you to get a nice maske before you do anything. Some of the cheaper ones are uncomfortable on your face or fog up often. A nice one can really increase your comfort level.

From Abbie’s husband:

St_Ides gave very accurate and sound advice.

With any gun, the first thing you’d want to upgrade is the barrel. My personal preference is a Lapco Bigshot, but I’ve been happy with a 32* Night Stick as well.

Since you’re more likely to play rec or woods ball, you might want to take that into consideration. An ideal color would be black… nothing like trying to be sneaky and a sudden flash of sun on a bright orange finish to give you away. And do you really want to take the chance of scratching up that nice cherry red finish?

As for marker preference… it’s whatever feels the best for you. I have a Tippmann 98C and a Spyder; both heavily modified. I mention the tinkering because what you get may not ‘fit’ or be comfortable to you initally but it can always be adjusted.
I personally don’t like double triggers, or bottom line kits, yet I want it to be balanced and appropriate to how I play. Tinkering often comes along as part of the deal, you’ll find things that work, things that look cool but really not suited to you after all; or are really just pieces of junk. So you might want to keep in mind how much you can modify the marker keeping in mind the cost of the upgrades as well.

Upkeep: Keep it clean, and keep it oiled. Other models are easier to do this than others. I’d much rather clean out my Spyder than my 98… because of the ease of maintenance. (Which makes an A-5 look so nice.) But you were also concerned about weather? The types of air you use is the biggest factor you use. Co2 is really fickle about cold weather (Just doesn’t like it at all… trouble with the liquid turning into a gas), whereas nitro is without that drawback. Another issue is the type of valve or pneumatic setup you are implementing. On that matter I’ve always heard good things about Tippmanns but I could be wrong.

Which leads me to the most overlooked item. TOOL KIT… say it… TOOL KIT. Small wrenches, screwdrivers, allen wrenches (both types), paintball oil, O rings, teflon tape, Q-tips, small bottle of water, and toilet paper. Nothing sucks more than to get to the field and it all craps out… and no one else has the tools to fix it either.

An Electronic refers to the way your trigger system operates…on batteries. Pros and cons of this is that you will have a faster firing rate (and different modes-single,burst, or full auto), BUT you may be limited on the type of air you use. Some you have to use Nitro (high pressure) Tanks… which are cheaper to fill but more expensive to purchase. $220 vs $20 for a CO2 tank. Another problem is that you may “out-shoot” your gun, so a battery fed hopper is almost a must.
A cheap electro gun that I’ve been drooling over is a Black Dragun Compact…($75 and both C02 or Nitro friendly) Test fired in a shop a while back and it has a hair trigger that I couldn’t believe. Yet I’m happy with my 98c, so I’m in no hurry.

You may want to give more thought to protection. Armored gloves are nice, but personally a throat guard is a must. (No pain like getting shot there unprotected) The top and back of your head is another area that may be hit, for me a reversed baseball cap works nice and the bill can add protection to the back of your neck as well. There is also the issue of ahem male protection, just keep it in mind.
Your mask needs to be comfortable to you while also dealing with some factors to consider are corrective glasses, venting, coverage of the sides of your head, a skull helmet or ball cap, and fogging.
Foggin’ up is a pain, also wearing glasses and having them fog is another problem. One trick is to put a thin coat of liquid soap on the visor of the mask and dry wipe it before you play… helps, but the smell can be awful flowery.

Where to buy, where to buy? Used is okay, but you can always get burned without a warranty there. I’ve gotten most of my stuff from,, or but there are tons of places out there with various prices… just sit down and find out the best deal for you.

A good idea of prices if you don’t go with an already assembled kit.
Barrel Swab $7 - Hopper $7 or $50 or more for Electro - Goggle System $19 to over a hundred… good starter is around $30/35 - C02 tank $20 to 29 depending on size - barrel plug/bag $3 to 5 - Hopper elbow (if applicable) $5 - and of course the marker varies wildly in range.

Hope this helps.

Well, I’m resurrecting this from the dead for two reasons:

1.) Thank you everyone for all the great tips and advice, I really appreciate the information and I’m going for my b-day “group” paintball outing tomorrow. I’m extremely psyched up because…
2.) Finally bought my first marker today. Spyder E-99 which has an electric trigger system. I also got a JT Nvader Thermal Mask (less fogging?) and just a standard gravity fed hopper. I’ll see how I do in terms of rate of fire vs. gravity fed hopper keeping up. I assume, as I get better, I’ll have to upgrade but for now I’m hoping it is okay. Oh, and a 16oz. CO2 tank, squeege, and barrel cover (not the plug).

I picked up the marker used for 119.00 (reg. 189.00) and it is super clean. Even the bolt, which is blue, has zero wear marks. Josh is one of the managers where I bought it, Central Ohio Paintball, was really shocked b/c he said even minimal use would mark the bolt. Anyway, I feel pretty comfortable it was a good purchase and I find myself just staring at it thinking “Wow, I can’t believe that is MINE MINE MINE!!!”. :smiley:

dnooman - Do you play at the indoor location on Alum Creek Drive in Columbus? How is it? Interested in showing a newbie the finer tips to playing indoors some time?

St_Ides - Mrs. MeanJoe is playing tomorrow too. Now of course, she’ll want her own marker too. This could get interesting! :wink:

Abbie’s husband - Also thank you for a very well formed bit of advice. You know, the one thing I forgot was the stupid tool-kit. Let’s hope nothing bad happens on the field tomorrow and I’ll pick one up next week. Your price estimates are right in line with what I got most my accessory items for so it’s good to see I didn’t get jacked!

One last question, if I may - Do all markers come with such crappy documentation? There is an amazingly detailed schematic on all the bits-and-pieces of the marker but not a single bit of instruction on how to tear it down, clean it, and put it back together. To paraphrase the closest sentence about it is: “…disassemble, being sure to remember the order or parts so you can put it together again…” blank stare I’m thinking “huh?!?” What do I do to get it apart? What areas do I oil? Why was this written so poorly?

Once again, thanks everyone for your ideas and suggestions. That’s why I love me the SDMB - no matter what the subject, there is always someone here who knows more about it than you and can lend a bit of help!


I’m still quite new myself. I’ve not been to that facility, but I’ve heard good things about it. I’d love to go sometime if you’re game. Just let me know when. I’m also getting a group together for a big newbie game at Splatterpark sometime soon, I’ll let you know exactly when once I get it worked out. Have fun tomorrow!

Congratulations. It’ll serve you well.

And yes, usually the bolt will wear with minimal use, so it sounds like yours is barely used.

From my experience… Yeah, most markers come with minimal documentation… I usually don’t mind, I have a compulsion to tear things down and figure out how it works on my own. Otter’s Customs has a good disassembly guide. Actually, that site has a lot of good stuff on Spyders, like basic maintence guides and things like that. You read that and you’ll be a master of all things Spyder (and all stacked-tube blowbacks for that matter)

To oil it, you should usually just put a few drops of oil in the ASA (where you screw the tank in), then put the tank on and dryfire a few times. That should do it.
Have fun, don’t cheat, and have some more fun.

dnooman - I am out of town next weekend and the following weekend is a little bad too. By that time, I’ll be jones’in to get back out so let me know! Email is in my profile.

By the way, if you take a group to SplatterPark you MUST play Civil War. It is simple. It is fun. It is insane! In case you don’t know, Civil War is a game where you line up, about 30 feet apart, into two skirmish lines. The ref gives the “Ready, Aim, Fire!” commands and you fire one shot into the other line directly in front of you while they do the same. Those hit step aside, you close ranks, and do it again and again until there is one man/woman standing. Last night at the cook-out at my place, besides individual kills, what everyone talked about was Civil War.

St_Ides I knew this would happen. Mrs. MeanJoe complained about the rental markers all the way home. She is insisting on her own marker now. Actually, I’m quite psyched she is into it and wants to play, makes my life easier. She got quite a few kills yesterday too! She didn’t just bunker down in the back, she went all out quite a bit. Even the ref was joking around that he doesn’t see many women play paintball, let alone play so enthusiastically as she was! I’ve created a monster. :eek: Hahaha!

Thanks for the link, unfortunately we had the cookout right after our games yesterday so I’ve not done my cleaning (bad MeanJoe, bad bad MeanJoe) so I’m about to tackle that today. I’ll clear the desk in the office, load up that page, and enjoy my first cleaning experience!


Good for her.

We can always use more women coming out an playing.
Now’s the fun part, you get to buy another one… The question is, do you choose the next one or does she?

And cleaning’s no big deal. I make sure I clean my mask that day, or as soon as possible. (The paint works as a weak solvent. If you leave it for a significant amount of time, it’ll weaken it) But other than the mask, I take my time.

'Course, you could just take off the electro parts of your marker and then bring it in to the shower with you after the game and wash it off in there (a pretty common thing to do actually) 'Course… The Mrs might get jealous.

It took me about an hour and a half today to disassemble and clean my marker. I went very slow, following the information on the site you linked to, and just paying close attention to what I was doing. When I finished I really felt it was not that difficult and I’m sure future cleanings won’t take quite so long.

Now, as for Mrs. MeanJoe - I’m sure she’ll want to pick out her own. We were joking in the car today about it. I suggested the Spyder Xtra that is available in a nice powder blue finish. She thinks it’d be funny to put Hello Kitty stickers all over it just to psychologically mess with the other people. Imagine getting beat by a girl… with a powder blue marker… and Hello Kitty stickers. I love her! Haha! :smiley:

Sounds nice enough.

Perhaps you should show her this… I think that’s running around $900 right now. But the psychological effect of being beaten by a powder-pink Angel would be just as much… That’s about as feminine as a marker as you can get (despite WDP’s advertizing, which is mainly half-dressed women)

correction… Wrong picture. Same marker, but here is a better picture.