9 Best Paintball Guns for Any Budget – Reviews & Buyers Guide
In addition to airsoft, paintball is close to our heart. I personally got into paintball in high school over 18 years ago, using a Tippmann 98 Custom marker (that is still as popular as ever today). Paintball helped me get into airsoft, but I still love playing paintball too. It’s my first love.
There is a lot of confusion, perhaps even moreso than airsoft, about paintball guns, and which ones are best for beginners. So I wanted to do an informed blog post on our top picks for best paintball guns at each price point. Here, we cover paintball markers in each tier; each paintball gun is ordered by their respective prices in their respective price tiers.
So, without further ado, here are our recommendations for best paintball markers in each tier.
Click the Links Below to View Individual Products on Our List
Low Tier (Beginner & Entry-Level: $1tip – $250)
Azodin Kaos 2 Paintball Marker
The Azodin Kaos 2 is an incredible mechanical semi-automatic blowback marker in a tiny package (literally) and can usually be had for under $100, sometimes much less than $100. It’s our top pick for guns in the double-digit price range. This marker has features and aftermarket parts that you would expect from a marker 3 or 4 times the price.
The Kaos 2 is lightweight yet durable and mostly metal construction. The stock barrel is sturdy and makes an awesome “ping pew” sound when shooting it (it’s a little loud, and may give away your position, but I can’t help it: I love that shooting sound!). It comes in just about every metallic color, it looks like an expensive, electronic gun, it’s easy to clean and maintain, and if will make a great backup gun should you decide to upgrade.
Let’s look at some of the more expensive features that you would find in a more expensive gun: double detents, 12-inch autococker threaded barrel, twistlock feed mechanism, and runs on both CO2 and HPA gas.
The one possible downside: the Kaos, as with every other gun at its pricepoint, has been known to chop the odd paintball. But you’d have to be naive to assume that a gun at this price won’t occasionally chop paint.Check Price on Amazon
GoG eNMEy Paintball Marker
The Gog eNMEy is hands down our pick for the best low-budget paintball gun on the market, for both users and competitive players. It can run safely on either a regular CO2 or an HPA compressed air setup, and it’s air efficient with CO2 which makes it yet another reason why it’s the best paintball gun for the budget. If you’re an experienced and competitive player on a budget, it’s probably also your best choice for a backup paintball marker.
The list of reasons why this gun is by far the best at its price is extensive. The GoG eNMEy features a true pneumatic, spool valve design (the only spool valve marker in its price range, everything else in its price range is a blowback), runs at a low 160 psi pressure, shoots consistently, safely, and smoothly, and is quiet with little to no recoil. It can take a beating from new players or players who don’t put a lot of time into cleaning and maintaining their marker. It’s also lightweight, mechanically simple, small, and perhaps best of all, features a lifetime warranty from GoG.
The GoG eNMEy market rivals cockers and mechanical markers and guns at double the price, and thanks to its spool valve design, can shoot high quality paint, which doubly makes this paintball gun even more accurate and smooth. It is ready to go out of the box and there’s not even a lot of upgrades you can install on it that would make it perform better than it is, except for maybe a new barrel, as the stock one is about 10 inches and has a pretty wide diameter inner barrel. However, you certainly shouldn’t see many, if any, problems with the stock barrel, except for the occasional double pull.Check Price on Amazon
Tippmann 98 Custom Paintball Marker
The Tippmann 98 Custom was the first paintball gun I purchased when I started playing in 2001, and there’s a reason it’s still around and trusted as one of the best beginner paintball guns on the market. It’s been around for over 20 years, and Tippmann is still the most trustworthy brand for entry-level paintball markers on the market.
The Tippmann 98 Custom will run on either CO2 or HPA (compressed air). It has an accurate shot, the trigger feels good in your fingers, and it shoots almost as well as 4-figure paintball guns. It shoots up to 8 shots per second, it’s air-efficient (also good for your budget), is easily to take apart and clean, and it’s absolutely the most durable market on the market, which means it can take a beating both internally and externally. You can throw it in the mud, drop it on the ground, kick it; hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if you ran it over with a car and it still worked like new.
Another reason why the Tippmann 98 Custom is so popular and iconic decades later is its versatility and upgradability. Sights, stocks, bipods, grips, barrel upgrades: this marker can be upgraded 20 ways from Sunday, and that’s great for someone who plans on investing in and building their entry-level marker for months or years to come. The list of 98 Custom accessories is virtually endless.Check Price on Amazon
Planet Eclipse Emek 100 Paintball Gun
Above the $200 price point for starter guns is when things really get interesting, especially for the Emek, Planet Eclipse’s mechanical marker. Along with the Kaos and the eNMEy, the Planet Eclipse Emek is the best marker at its price.
The Emek can be put in a lot of “best” categories for its price. Best starter gun under $250 (or perhaps even under $350), best mechanical tournament gun, best scenario play gun, best rental gun, best … well you see where I’m going with this.
The Emek also includes the super-popular gamma core drivetrain that is simple, reliable, performs like butter, and is typically found on Planet Eclipse’s paintball markers of 2, 3, and 4x the price.
The Emek uses a single-trigger mechanical frame with adjustable hinge-style trigger that is a pleasure to pull, and is capable of very high rates of fire with semi-automatic shooting. The Emek is quiet, has a low recoil, and is incredibly accurate for a paintball gun of its price.
The Emek was Planet Eclipse’s answer to the Tippmann lineup, and for a bit higher of a price, this is a marker that will shoot accurately, perform reliably, hold up under moderate abuse, and give players on a lower budget a respectable paintball gun for a lower price.Check Price on Amazon
Mid Tier ($250 – $500)
Empire Mini GS Paintball Marker
The Mini GS is the upgraded 2.0 version of the Empire Mini which had rave reviews and very high sales. The GS is a much-needed evolution in Empire’s lineup as it rolls out much of their new paintball tech. It’s electronic, extremely lightweight, small, ideal for speedball (but will also work in the woods), and it’s a great upgrade to an entry-level paintball marker as it has the performance and features of a more competitive paintball gun.
The list of features on the Empire Mini GS at the price is impressive and you won’t find many, if any, markers at its price with the list of features it has. It’s hoseless, has multiple firing modes (semi-automatic, PSP, ramping, and fully automatic), clamping feed neck, anti chop eye, ON/OFF ASA for easy and safe degassing, extremely ergonomic rubberized pistol grip and foregrip, self-lubricating trigger for a smoother trigger pull, and gas gauge. It’s shooting and performance is equally impressive.
The Empire Mini GS will NOT run on CO2, so use compressed air/nitrogen only. It’s also not ideal for bigger players with bigger hands.Check Price onAmazon
Planet Eclipse Etha 2 Paintball Marker
At the Etha 2’s pricepoint, another paintball marker from Planet Eclipse, we’re finally starting to see some of the tech reserved for markers in the mid- and high-tier pricing. The Etha 2 is a lightweight, reliable, and durable little marker with a ton of power, tech, and innovation behind it, as it’s the evolved, next iteration of the original Etha. Like the Emek, it runs on a gamma core spool valve drivetrain, and has impressively high-quality internals with a very durable outer shell. Reloading is quick and a breeze with its amazingly fast POPS On/Off ASA assembly. The Etha 2 also features an ultra-responsive trigger with a built-in micro switch, hoseless air system and an innovative bolt system. As with other Planet Eclipse markers, you’d expect this tech and performance to cost significantly more than its surprisingly affordable price point.
This is a versatile, high-performance paintball gun that will work in just about any environment and in just about any conditions. It is a pleasure to shoot, and shoots accurately and snappily. It has multiple firing modes (semi-automatic, ramping, de-bounce, rate of fire) with a completely adjustable circuit board and our favorite feature, an ambidextrous LED indicator.
If you’re looking for a great marker at mid-tier pricing, we can’t recommend the Etha 2 enough.Check Price on Amazon
Empire Axe 2.0 Marker
The Empire Axe was a very popular marker in the mid-tier pricing range, making it one of the high-selling markers in its price range. In the last few years Empire released the Axe 2.0, an improved version of the original Axe. The Axe 2.0 performs much like its predecessor: accurate, as reliable as a Swiss watch, ergonomic, and snappy.
If you’re familiar with the original Axe, the Axe 2.0 has added new features like a rubber foregrip, two-piece barrel, push-button bolt eject (it’s like an eject button, for your bolt!), smaller on/off relay regulator (that has been changed in the way it mounts to the marker, making gas mounting and regulation much easier and less likely to break or screw up), and easier trigger removal. But perhaps the most-needed improvement on the original Axe is the new, much easier eye cleaning system, which just use removable eye covers now, allowing you to clean the marker’s eyes in seconds, and leave you in the game much longer without the stress of worrying about ball breaks and bolt chop. The Axe 2.0 also brings the newer, compact build and feel that is the current trend for marker builds.
If you were looking at Empire’s GS, or a were a fan of the original Axe, or are just looking for a reliable mid-range marker with easy access, assembly, and maintenance, the Axe 2.0 is a great marker.
Is it better than the Gtek or the Etha 2? This is going to be a matter of personal preference. All three markers are about the same price, same build, and same performance. They’re all quiet and air-efficient. The Axe 2.0 is a little bigger than the Gtek and Etha 2, so if you prefer a slightly bigger marker with bigger trigger housing and a little more space between the stock and foregrip, go for the Axe 2.0. Honestly, all of these are great markers for the price that will perform well and reliably.Check Price on Amazon
High-End Paintball Markers ($500 and up)
Dye DSR Marker
Dye makes top-of-the-line (and usually top-of-the-price) paintball markers. In the last few years we’ve seen some of the best paintball marker manufacturers put great markers in the 3-figure price rage, and the DSR is Dye’s answer to Empire’s Axe/Axe 2.0/Axe Pro.
Where do we begin? The DSR is a 4-figure marker in a 3-figure price. It’s versatile and will outperform many markers in both speedball and woodsball. It’s a fantastic investment for players who are looking to purchase a fantastic marker they can use in any setting.
The DSR truly shoots like a $2,000 marker that is marketed towards newer players that may not treat it as well (or as often) as tournament players. It’s soft on your paint, it’s highly gas-efficient, it runs like the tournament-grade marker that it is even with minimal maintenance and after sitting in your gear bag for weeks, and like the Gtek and Etha, the entire marker is serviceable with two hex-head wrenches. Battery replacement can be done without tools too. Part of the reason DSR is able to accomplish all of this is with the very low 115 psi arc bolt pressure engine, which is 25 psi less than the Dye M2. It requires very little lubrication.
We’ve established that the DSR runs like a dream even with little maintenance and care. But how does it shoot? It shoots like a god damned laser beam weeks and months after little to no maintenance. My favorite thing about the DSR is that you can toss it in your bag, not play for a month, give it a little lube at most (or not, it would probably shoot like a dream even without it), and this marker just hits shots like nobody’s business. High-grade paint? Hell yeah! The DSR can run like it’s being maintained by a rookie, take your high-grade paint, and still run like a Swiss watch. At the DSR’s price, I wouldn’t recommend any other marker.Check Price on Amazon
Empire Vanquish GT
At the Vanquish GT’s price point, really any marker you get is going to be high-performance and high-quality and as much computer as it is marker. But the Vanquish GT has an impressive list of tech and features, even for a marker of its price. Let’s just take a second to marvel at the amount of awesome in this marker. Widescreen OLED display with super bright contrast, nano-watt XLP flash microcontroller that performs up to 16 million instructions per second, a wireless battery connection between the grip frame and body, 2.7KHz beeper for audio feedback, 5-way joystick for menu navigation, 4-way adjustable dual-bearing trigger, push-button bolt removal and hinged frame for easy maintenance, and precision pressure sensor for onscreen pressure readout. It can literally plug into your PC with micro USB. A marker with this much tech in it can tell you when something goes wrong, or when you’re doing something right, and even features a training mode to allow you to practice your trigger speed.
So now that we’ve established that you can probably call your girlfriend from the Empire Vanquish GT and tell her you’re taking care of your sick grandmother while you’re actually playing paintball, we should probably review the marker’s actual performance too. And the judges say: “it shoots like a god damned laser beam”. Semi-auto, ramp mode, fully auto, this marker shoots like the half-android, half-paintball gun marker that it is.Check Price on Amazon