If you're just getting into paintball, it might seem like there's a massive amount of paintball equipment to choose from and it can be a little daunting deciding what to pick as your first paintball setup. Obviously you can look through all the paintball gear we have on offer and decide what you like the look of but it's important to know that the equipment you pick is all compatible and you'll be able to use it on whichever paintball site you play at. There's a few things to think about when buying paintball equipment.
1. Where will I be playing paintball?
As a general rule, most sites will let you bring your own paintball equipment but they won't let you bring your own paintballs. Sites supply the paintballs because they need to ensure they've been kept in the right conditions before they're shot. Most sites will let you bring your own gear to play with although they will sometimes ask that you make sure any marker (gun) you use is a mechanical marker. (Guns are called "markers" because they "mark" you with paint). Some sites will run special "walkon days" where you can bring your own equipment and play against other customers with their own equipment and, normally, on a walkon day you can use mechanical or electronic markers. (Check out our post on Mechanical v Electric for more information on this). Check with your local paintball site and simply ask if they'll let you bring your own paintball equipment to the site. Often sites will supply just very basic equipment and sometimes the masks are anti-fog which can fog up during game play. If you purchase a thermal paintball mask you'll find this much more effective and you should have clear vision throughout the day.
2. Do I want to play in tournaments or just recreationally at my site?
Once you start playing more regularly you'll notice there are lots of different styles of paintball play. You can get into the more fast-paced, quick game play that is featured in paintball tournaments. In these tournaments you play on inflatable "sup'air" fields and teams are made up of between 3 and 7 players. There are various different formats for tournament paintball and the markers used tend to be the faster firing, electronic variety. If you're more interested in the "mil-sim" or recreational style of play where you play largely in concept game fields - (simulated warzones, woodland, etc.) you might be more interested in the more realistic looking paintball markers. These are often based around real military issue paintball markers - such as the MP5 or M16 - and can look very much like the real deal. Again, check with your local paintball site if they offer any tournament style play if this is what you're looking to get into or there are various tournaments organised across the UK. These two styles of play often come together at various paintball "Big Games" in the UK. Big Games are where large numbers of paintballers come together for a weekend of playing either one large scenario event with various "missions" or a few different games over the space of a few days. There can be up to 2000 players attending these Big Games with over 1000 players at a time on some much larger game areas.
3. Do I want air or Co2?
This is one of the major decisions to make when purchasing paintball equipment. Most mechanical markers can work on air or Co2. Most electronic markers will only work on air.
The Co2 used for paintball markers is 'liquid Co2' and this is extremely cold under pressure. It's held in a Co2 bottle with a pin valve on the top. This pin depresses when the bottle is screwed onto the back of the marker allowing the pressurised gas to feed into the marker and power the bolt. Compressed air is also pressurized when put into paintball cylinders but this isn't a cold gas so it is a lot "kinder" on the O-rings in your paintball marker. You can only put Co2 in a Co2 bottle and only put compressed air in an air bottle - you must never mix them up. Air is considered more reliable than Co2 because the air bottles all have regulators. The regulators ensure the same amount of air is pushed through the paintball marker with every shot rather than the random bursts you get through a Co2 bottle. Co2 is a cheaper setup cost, however, and as such is often the beginner's choice.
If you're not sure which bottle to get then contact your local paintball site and see which gas they're able to fill as this is your easiest option for getting your gas bottle filled.
If you're looking to play privately - in your own grounds - then perhaps pre-filled co2 bottles are more convenient for you. These are called 4oz Airsource bottles and they come ready-filled with just under 4oz of Co2. You do need an adaptor to use these with any paintball marker but once you've got the adaptor (they're about £10-£11) you can simply replace the 4oz bottle when it runs out. Each 4oz gas bottle can fire approximately 150-200 paintballs. A 20oz cylinder will fire approximately 600 paintballs and a 3K air system can fire approximately 800-1100 paintballs depending on the marker you're using.
4. What's my budget?
This is often the most important question. We have various packages available to fit with all budgets, from £75 to £1000+. If you're just getting into paintball you can either go for the cheapest package and see if you like it before spending more money or spend a little more to begin with and have something that will last a little longer. You'll never waste money in paintball as most of the equipment is compatible with the next level up, ie. if you purchase a full paintball package but then decide to upgrade your paintball marker, you'll find the hopper from your package will fit the new marker too.
If you're in doubt about what kind of paintball marker or full package to buy, the best bet is to give us a ring and we can give you all the options.