Selecting your first paintball equipment can be quite daunting to a new player. It’s hard to know where to begin if you’ve just begun playing. Our best advice is to stop by a paintball store and ask the staff to show you some basic paintball equipment. We operate two stores in the Twin Cities. One is located at Splatball Indoor Paintball in Minneapolis, MN. The other paintball store is located at Air Assault Indoor Paintball in St. Paul, MN. Our staff love to help new players!
Basic Paintball Equipment
When planning your first paintball purchase, don’t cut costs on your goggles. Try on different brands and find a pair that best fits your face. You’re going to spend hours wearing your goggles, so comfort is essential. Does the mask pinch your nose? Does it put pressure on temples? Take a close look at the foam. Is it soft? Is it easily replaceable? Your mask foam will wear over time and will need to be replaced periodically.
There are two types of lenses used in paintball goggles: anti-fog lenses and thermal lenses. Anti-fog lenses are like the windows in your car. They are a single pane construction with an anti-fog coating to reduce fogging. Thermal lenses are like the windows in your house. They are a two-layer construction. An air gap between the two layers reduces fogging. Thermal lenses typically perform better than anti-fog lenses and are well worth the investment.
The choices of paintball guns are endless, but they can be broken into three general categories: mechanical, electro-pneumatic, and pump. These categories describe the way the marker operates.
A mechanical paintball gun uses a a mechanical linkage to cycle the paintball gun. A pull of the trigger releases a sear, allowing the hammer to travel forward and strike a valve. The valve releases a small amount of air that travels through a bolt. The air propels the paintball down the barrel. Once the firing sequence completes, the bolt and hammer reset and the gun is ready to fire the next ball. Mechanical paintball guns are typically semi-automatic, which means the gun fires one paintball each time the trigger is pulled.
An electro-pneumatic paintball gun uses a circuit board and solenoid to cycle the paintball gun. The trigger is connected to a micro-switch. When the trigger is pulled, the switch send a signal to the circuit board. The circuit board cycles the solenoid which releases air into the bolt, propelling the paintball down the barrel.
Electro-pneumatic paintball guns have a few advantages over mechanical paintball guns. The trigger pull is much lighter. The circuit board allows for fine adjustment of the firing sequence, giving the user an ability to fine-tune the paintball gun to their taste. A variety of firing modes can be selected, including semi-automatic, burst fire, and full-auto.
Pump paintball guns are similar to mechanical paintball guns in that they both use a mechanical linkage. The main difference is a user must manually re-cock the gun between shots. Pump paintball guns require a good amount of skill to use effectively and are typically popular with veteran paintball players who are looking for a challenge.
Paintball loaders, also known as hoppers, are the device used to feed paintballs into the paintball gun. Some hoppers are gravity fed, while others have a force-feed system controlled by a circuit board. Force-feed loaders supply paintballs to the paintball gun at a higher rate when compared to gravity-fed hoppers.
Paintball loaders are universal and can be used on any paintball gun. Gravity fed hoppers are sufficient for pump paintball guns and most mechanical paintball guns. Electro-pnuematic paintball guns typically require a force-feed hopper to keep up with their higher rates of fire.
The paintball pack is an item worn around the waist. Its purpose is to carry a supply of paintballs. Paintball packs come in many configurations. Visit your local paintball store and check out their selection of paintball packs. It’s important to try some packs on before picking one. Check the fit of the pack. Can you tighten it to your body so that it doesn’t shift when you’re moving? Can you reach the paintball pods easily? Do the pods come out smoothly and are they easy to put back in? Look closely at the construction of the pack. Look at the materials and the stitching. A good pack will be made of heavier fabric and have good stitching.
If you’re going to buy some clothing, there are a few items that are well worth the money. Pants that have some kind of knee padding will protect your knees. Look for pants made of a heavy material.
A pair of paintball gloves is absolutely essential. Not only will gloves protect your hands from bumps and scrapes while you’re playing, they also protect your hands from close shots. Look for a pair of gloves that have good padding on the back of the hand and thin fingers. Thick fingered gloves can make it difficult to manipulate the trigger on your paintball gun.
Other popular clothing choices include jerseys, arm pads, footwear and head protection. Your local paintball store is the perfect place to check out clothing. Our paintball stores located in Minneapolis and St. Paul have the largest variety of paintball gear in Minnesota.
Paintball Gear Bag
As you can tell by now, players bring a lot of paintball equipment with them when they play. A gear bag is a great way to keep all your paintball gear together. When shopping for a bag, look for a rolling gear bag. A good gear bag should have a sturdy, retractable handle.