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Old 12-30-2017, 03:24 PM #1
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New To Paintball? Getting back in? Here's the Ultimate Buyer's Guide (V3)

To recap, here's where this thread began long ago:

Today, I'm looking to bring it up to speed since it's been a few years since the last iteration (that and most of the pics are gone from the internet lol )

So let's get the show on the road.

  1. Most gear and equipment can and should be bought secondhand (name brands command a premium), but that doesn't excuse the need for scrutiny when purchasing. Always buy from reputable sellers and don't be ashamed to ask for details. If this is too much of a headache, buying new is totally fine.
  2. Some of the best paintball gear isn't from the paintball industry at all. Avoid having a fixed mindset when it comes to finding solutions for your needs. (Heck, my current kneepads are actually G-Forms, which are downhill MTB pads)
  3. Safety (and comfort) first. You can be an absolute badass with a slingshot, but you can't be a badass with busted kneecaps or shortness of breath from a crap mask.

Buying Priority

1. Look for the best mask you can. That doesn't mean the best mask money can buy, but what fits you best. In today's market, a $100 option can be 500% substantial, so don't feel like you're shorting yourself by not buying a $200 one. However, once you start dipping below about $75-80, you're going to get ****.
  • Buy masks with thermal/dual pane lenses and good airflow throughout
  • Look into double strapping your mask, or finding one that comes with either a double strap or a nice, thick one to keep it secure to your head. Many masks can be double strapped after the fact.
  • Look for one that has quick changing lenses. The easier it is to swap them out, the more you'll be motivated to actually take care of and clean your mask and that's vital for its longevity.

2. Pads (and compression gear if you like) are an absolute must. I don't care who you are or what you think you are. Pads go under the clothing anyways, so even if you're insecure about how cool you look, nobody knows and nobody cares. You will if you end up never doing another sport again, though.
  • Knee/Shin pads not only cover more, but will stay in place better than their knee-only counterparts. They cost a tad more, but the level of comfort and safety is bar none in my opinion.
  • Look into other sports that involve physical contact with hurty things. Downhill/Mountain biking pads are great, as are volleyball pads from walmart. One pair might run $90, the other might run $9.
  • If you're going with something that has elastic/silicone straps to hold it in place, make sure that these bands are wide so that it doesn't (a) cut off circulation or (b) constantly slide down to your ankles.
  • If you're buying used, try to avoid anything that's older than a few years or was used by someone who practices for tournaments. Those have lost their robustness, most likely, and won't do you worth what you're saving on them. Carry on.

3. Peripherals. Some say the tank is more important, some say the loader, some say the barrel. I personally believe in getting a futureproof loading option since that's the most directly impacting to your experience at this point. This is the segment that you get the maximum bang for buck when going Used/Secondhand.
  • I'm going to be blunt here: Buy a used rotor. You can buy one for $50. The only thing more ****proof than a dye rotor is a frickin' Lada. It's toolless, the batteries can last as long as 2 years or more in it. It holds 180 balls which is absolutely ample. It's the tallest of the 2015+ high end hoppers, but it's been the shortest hopper on the market until then (which was like 2008-2015ish, and that's absolutely ****ing amazing).
  • I can't shill the rotor enough. Buy out the entire used market for all I care. That was a perfect product and it will last forever. You can buy one that was used by a pro player for 5 years nonstop in sand, sleet, rain, snow, mud, etc, and it will be as good as new the day you get it, wash it out, and throw some fresh batteries in it. Replacement parts are a dime a dozen unlike other dye products. Just get it. When you've been in paintball long enough, you can start to discern between the options.
4. Peripherals (cont'd). At this point, what you have left is the tank. Again, this is another "best bang for buck" when it comes to buying used/secondhand and there's just about no reason to buy new unless you're just that flush with cash.
  • When shopping for a tank, look at its birth date, its hydro date, and the condition of the regulator.
  • The regulator should have clean threads that aren't damaged, and it would be nice if the owner said he maintained it, but it really doesn't matter.
  • You can often get a killer deal on "leaking" tanks, which typically just have a busted burst disc and is a super quick and easy $5-10 fix. No, really. Tank regulators are stupid simple and robust in design as they have to withstand roughly triple the pressure it's rated for or higher.
  • But when it comes to buying one, here's my rule of thumb: If the gun you have is cheap or hardy and isn't a high end, go for a budget 68 (cubic inch)/4500(psi) bottle that's 2010 or newer. If you're running something that can shoot at higher ROFs, is a higher end marker (new or old), I would suggest going for a name brand tank. If you have spare change, pick up a Ninja SL77 (used of course) as they can be had for around $100-125 at the time of writing this (12/30/17) which really isn't all that bad.
  • What I would avoid, however, are tanks with brass regulator internals, such as guerrilla or first strike. Those are susceptible to self-destruction and the brass bits can wreck the internals of what you're shooting.
  • There's no need to spend over $120 or so, but at the same time, spending under $60 typically leads to buying a heavy piece of crap which needs another $30-50 to get hydrotested and approved for safe use.

5. Here's the fun stuff. The gun stuff.
  • Keep in mind what environments you plan to play in.
  • Keep in mind how good/willing you are at maintaining your gear (don't lie to yourself here, this is a key point)
  • Keep in mind how long you plan to be on the field, as air efficiency can be a deal breaker for people who are primarily scenario players, or don't want to carry around a huge/expensive high volume air tank.
  • Keep in mind what features you really need and which you can do without. High end guns are for those who know they want the best, not just for those who "need" the best as all of the features that make high ends what they are on a functional level can be found in the midrange pricepoint. (or you can just buy a used or older high end marker. most marker prices depreciate REALLY fast, kinda like cars).
  • Older markers typically involve more involved maintenance practices and have things that might be more susceptible to breaking (such as eye ribbons in old DYE markers). Every gun has their quirks and shortcomings unless you're paying several thousand for a completely custom arrangement, so make sure you weigh the costs and benefits of each marker and make sure to look at several at a time so that you have a more objective experience comparing them to one another.
  • For your first marker, always choose something that can be your "daily" and make your secondary marker the one that you modify and beef up, if you're the kind to tinker with ****. Always make sure what you have doesn't stop you from doing what you want.

Last but not least, I've finally found a reliable paintball product review/info channel on youtube. Look up Paintball Ruined My Life for relatively well explained and laid out product review videos. He does a pretty fantastic job of highlighting the nuances of different options on the market.

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Old 12-30-2017, 03:31 PM #2
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There are 3 main types of markers.
1. Mechanical
2. Pump
3. Electronic

In this day and age, we are finally seeing the release of markers which can be interchanged between electronic and mechanical, or mechanical or pump.

Outside of that wonderful step forward, we still need to determine which one suits our play style the best.


  • Typically less maintenance, less to break, less susceptible to "conditions"
  • No programming
  • Per-shot performance is comparable to anything else out there
  • Many prefer a simple one-pull one-shot scenario and this fits the bill perfectly. Most modes on an electronic marker never get used as they're mainly gimmicks or for those that participate in various types of tournaments.
  • Much more beginner friendly and tunable than an electronic marker
  • You can only shoot as fast you can pull the trigger (woah there, speedy gonzales)
  • Modifying markers to be electronic is generally quite an ordeal, modifying an electronic marker to be mechanical is much easier
  • There are very few mid-grade mechanical markers these days. You're either spending $100-250, or $900-$2500. There is a GMek on the market currently, and it's really nice as well as being something like $600, so there's that, but it's an odd one out that's for sure.

I liken pump to driving stick. Sure it's the least efficient way to drive, but it's the most involving and visceral. You actually have to aim and place shots, not just pepper **** up. It develops skill much faster, but requires more to succeed as well. It's the best playing format for anyone looking to have a little challenge. Different markers have different pump strokes, which is something to pay a lot of attention to in this segment and help you determine the difference between a high end and low end pump paintball marker. The nicer it gets, the slicker and less effort the pump stroke requires. It might even come with an auto-trigger feature that lets you hold the trigger down and just pump to shoot.

  • Reliability. There's like nothing that can go wrong. If there's a leak, replace the valve Oring and that's it. Donezo.
  • Consistency. You're shooting slower, your regulator will recharge in time for the next shot. This also means you can get away with cheaping out on stuff like this, which can be nice for budget minded players.
  • Cost efficacy. Pump is bar none the cheapest way to play. Not only are the markers cheaper (yeah yeah you can impatiently buy a CCM off someone for more than MSRP... or you can just not be stupid), but the parts are cheaper and so is the paint use (however, please PLEASE buy high grade paint when playing pump. Since you're shooting so much less, the cost of shooting crappy paint and getting bounces, breaks, and curveballs is higher than if you just went with some quality paint that put a dot wherever you pointed your barrel)
  • Weight. Since you're not shooting as much, it doesn't hurt to run with a smaller/lighter hopper and tank. The weight savings can actually be incredibly noticeable.

  • You're not shooting more than a few balls per second
  • It is more involving. If your vision sucks, you prefer eating off silver platters, go bowling with the lane guards up, or are impatient and noisy, then pump play might make you hate paintball.
  • Most pump markers are designed to be pump and pump only. Of course when there's a will there's a way, but more often than not, you're kinda stuck with the hand you've been dealt. (This, again, doesn't apply across the board. Most cocker-based pumps are just autocockers with a different front end and that's it. Some platforms offer a non-pump variant due to the differences between the two such as Azodin)

Fast, zippy, modern, luxury, bla bla bla, space gats. Lots of modes which you'll never use, but lots of neat features which make ownership a breeze as well.

  • Modes. it's nice to have modes. gimmicky, but nice.
  • Rate of Fire. Sometimes being able to shoot as fast as your heart desires, as long as the field allows it, is pretty nice. Sometimes
  • Modern e-markers are pretty comprehensive with what they can provide, and more importantly, more robust than the ones that came from 1998-2012. (not to say pre-2012 was a bad time, Planet Eclipse and some other markers held their value so well because they checked a lot of boxes off, but things like "toolless disassembly" and "user friendly electronics" weren't really things that companies invested much into until around that time) Seriously. There was a myriad of e-gats that were well known for being a pain in the *** the second you start messing with them. Modern ones are leagues ahead, with things like tool-less bolt engine disassembly, waterproof electronics that tell you when your battery or air is running low, if your eyes are damaged versus just turned off, and more. Some even talk to you lol. The ones that have OLED displays are my favorite, but again, this is highly dependent on personal preference and nothing beats checking the product out in person.
  • Options. This is the biggest market segment of the marker market, so you have **** tons of new and used options to choose from

  • Less reliable. they just inherently are. That's not to say they're unreliable, though. It's not uncommon for something like a Planet Eclipse Ego to achieve 500,000+ shots without needing to replace anything but a couple orings, though experience varies per climate, platform, model, etc etc etc.
  • replacement parts are more expensive. A valve in a cocker is $5-50. A solenoid is $35-150. That's just one part.
  • Not as "condition"-proof as mechanical or pump, though the more modern you get, the less that's a problem.
  • Well, if your battery dies, your game's kinda... over, kid.
  • Resale value generally falls faster unless it's something special.
  • More maintenance, more often. If you're lazy and don't play aggressively, then you should prob stick with mechanical. There's nothing degrading about shooting what works best for you. I think it sucks more if you're sitting in the staging area going "I ****ing hate this, I ****ing hate paintball, where my cheetos at"

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Old 12-30-2017, 03:31 PM #3
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Types of Paintball Markers (Operation)

1: Spool valve
Examples: Dye, Proto, Smart Parts markers excluding the Impulse and Nerve, Dangerous Power excluding their Fusions, Hostile Creations, Vanguard Demon, MacDev excluding their Cyborg series, and more.

These are markers where all the functioning and moving parts are concealed inside the marker. They're smoother, quieter, and the more efficient ones cost more unless you're going to be upgrading them. These are generally higher maintenance, but are also lighter and most often have a lower profile than a poppet (excluding certain Inline-Poppets like the Empire Axe/Mini or Bob Long Marq Victory). Spool Valves are naturally an inline system where the valve is behind the bolt in a "sleeve". Spool valve markers typically require synthetic or Dow33 based Grease and must be cleaned/relubed after every 1-3 cases of paint (depends on what you have) to maintain its internals.

ALSO: There is a variation of the spool valve known as the Dump Valve. Dump valves like the Dangerous Power "G" Series and the Planet Eclipse Geo Series are basically dumbed down spool valves. They tend to be far less air efficient, but are simpler to build and maintain for that matter. They are also far more durable to stupidity or the elements.

Examples of Spool Valves:

Smart Parts Shocker SFT/NXT

<2007 Dye Matrix Bolt Engine

Planet Eclipse CS1

Proto PM8

Dangerous Power G3 Spec-R (Dump Valve)

The original Spool Valve: The Automag

Also an Automag!

Yup, you guessed it, another Automag

Smart Parts Shocker NXT

DLX Luxe

Geo 2


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Old 12-30-2017, 03:31 PM #4
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2: Poppet Valve
Planet Eclipse Egos, Bob Long Intimidators or Marqs, Empire Mini and Axe series, Alien Independence, Dangerous Power Fusion series, Mokal Aura, Smart Parts Impulse and Nerve, WDP Angels, Autocockers, Spyders, Azodins, Sheridans, and more!

There are various types of Poppet Valve systems.
The original, aside from the Sheridans, were the Autocockers. Autocockers were as rudimentary as they got, where everything that makes it tick is attached to the body on the outside. This led to a burgeoning aftermarket and is the reason the style of platform is still alive and well today. They tend to be heavier and bulkier and take more time to clean than your average Poppet, but they're also badass and highly customizable. It's like why some people stick with building older cars. They got soul, but they're work.

The evolution of that went two ways, the first being the two-tube Stacked Tube Poppet. These are over-under bodies where what makes the marker shoot is in the bottom tube, and the bolt and breech are in the top tube. These were markers like the Bob Long Intimidator, Planet Eclipse Ego, MacDev Cyborg, and more. These systems are fully electro-pneumatic, which means the only springs are in the regulator and the valve (sometimes, it's balanced by air pressure and there are no springs at all besides the regulators!) and everything else is 100% air powered. It also means it has an electronic solenoid, some of which can be expensive to replace, so it's good to know how to service it. These are generally pretty reliable and more often than not easy to maintain. The older you get, the more maintenance and heavier/less air efficient they become, for the most part.

The second half of that are triple-tube stacked tubes. These have 2 tubes on the bottom and 1 on top. Generally speaking, the valve and ram were on the right tube and the left tube would have a battery or volumizer in it. These were markers like the WDP Angel series, or the AKALMP Viking and Excalibur. Cool things. Lots of character. Lots of ways you can **** up the maintenance on them lol. They tend to be pretty air efficient, but will naturally be a bit heavier.

Another unique kind of poppet is the Inline Poppet in markers such as the ATS Diadem, Empire Mini or Axe, Bob Long Marq series, and more. In the case of inline poppets that aren't Bob Long's creations, the entire engine is 100% powered/controlled by air pressure and is just a bolt that slides on a valve inside of a tube. They're low maintenance, light, compact, and quiet at the cost of air efficiency and whatever the consistency of the integrated regulators they come with is. Marqs, on the other hand are a bit more complex operations which lead to them having an interesting maintenance cycle, but amazing performance gains in such a compact package. You don't maintain them very often, but when you do you have to be very particular with every step of the process. If you manage that aspect, these really are the best bang for the buck in my book. They are light, small, and typically have some pretty decent aesthetic. After the first generation marq, all inline poppets on the market were fully hoseless, which is another nice feature.
Tippmans, believe it or not, are also inline poppets. Overall, poppets are robust and fully enclosed platforms that can sustain long periods of time without maintenance, but require you to do a good job when you do. Most styles that aren't fully reliant on air for the full cycle get incredible efficency.

Last, but not least... although sort of (lol), are blowbacks. These are cheap and easy to manufacture. Some brands (spyder) are your equivalent of a 2002 honda civic. Some (Azodin) like to take a more quality oriented approach and provide you with something that's actually pretty nice. How blowbacks work is that when you pull the trigger and the sear drops, the hammer slides forward with the bolt to strike open the valve, and then the excess air pressure coming through the valve will blow back to push the hammer back into ready position. It's simple, robust, minimalist, and cheap. That doesn't mean it's bad, however, and there's definitely a lot of upgrades available for some of them.

How a poppet works:

Examples of Poppet Valve Markers:

Autococker Valve System (Stacked Tube, Closed Bolt)

Eclipse Ego System (traditional stacked tube poppet)

Invert Mini (Pressure Controlled inline Poppet)

Bob Long Marq Edge

Bob Long Marq Victory

WGP Orracle Autococker

AKALMP Merlin Autococker

Empire Axe (Pressure Controlled Inline)

MacDev Cyborg RX

Planet Eclipse SL66 Ego

Planet Eclipse CSL (Ego)

WDP Angel A1 Fly (tri-tube)

AKALMP Viking (tri-tube)


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Old 12-30-2017, 03:31 PM #5
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Old 01-06-2018, 03:26 AM #6
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So now that you've seen all the different kinds of platforms and markers out there (new and old), it's time to talk about what is worth getting in this market (May 2018). Considering you're a beginner, the main factors that make these top picks in my eyes are their reliability, usability, parts availability, and ease of maintenance factors.

Prices are for markers that can be found in this bracket either new or used in the current market.

I've also added ease of ownership and use factor to each entry.

(easy) is the best choice. This doesn't mean that the gun is trash, but it is wonderfully simple to take care of for literally everyone and anyone. No experience required.

(med) is for people who are aware of the fact that something actually needs maintenance, but don't want to be bothered with actual "work". It's ok, I'm like that sometimes. Just be aware things will have more than a few orings and tools may be required.

(adv) is for advanced. It's not "hard", but it's got a lot of orings, or things that go in in a specific order. If you come from another enthusiast circle like motorsports, or you're a mechanic or machinist or like doing things with your hands, then this is super easy to sort out. for the rest of you, make sure you have all your tools, spares, lubes, manual before you sit down. These are generally potentially finickier due to that, but often times you're rewarded with killer performance for your money.

Under $250 :

Empire Mini
Empire Mini GS
Empire Axe
Empire Axe 2.0
GoG eNVy
Planet Eclipse Geo 1
Planet Eclipse Geo+
Planet Eclipse Geo 2
Dangerous Power E1
Dangerous Power Fusion FX
Dangerous Power G3 Spec-R
Dangerous Power G4
Dangerous Power G5
Dangerous Power G5 Spec-R
Dangerous Power Fusion Elite
Dye DM9
Dye DM10
Dye DM11
DLX Luxe 1, 1.5, 2.0
Infinity Legend
Planet Eclipse Ego 7
Planet Eclipse Ego 8
Alien Independence 10
Alien Independence 11
Bob Long Vice
Bob Long Protege
Azodin Zenith series
Azodin Blitz Evo

Planet Eclipse Emek
Azodin KDII
Empire Resurrection
WGP Trilogy
Planet Eclipse EMek

Azodin KP3
Empire Sniper
Check-It Sniper
Sanchez Machine SM-1

Under $500

Empire Axe Pro
Empire Vanquish 1
Empire Vanquish 1.5
Planet Eclipse Gtek
Planet Eclipse Etha 2
Planet Eclipse Etek 4
Planet Eclipse Etek5
Planet Eclipse Geo2.1
Planet Eclipse Geo3
Planet Eclipse Geo 3.1
Planet Eclipse Geo 3.5
Planet Eclipse Ego 10
Planet Eclipse Ego 11
Planet Eclipse LV1
Dye DM12
Dye DM13
MacDev Clone 5s
Shocker Paintball XLS
Shocker Paintball Shocker RSX
Bob Long Victory (Supercharged, VCOM, or even VIS if you're lucky)
Bob Long G6r
Bob Long Phase
Bob Long Insight

Planet Eclipse GMek

CCM S6.5
Bob Long MVP

Under $1,000

Dye M3
Dye M3s
Dye M3+
MacDev Prime
Planet Eclipse CS1
Planet Eclipse CS1.5
Planet Eclipse CS2
Planet Eclipse LV1.1
Planet Eclipse LV1.5
DLX Luxe I.C.E.

Shocker Paintball CVO
Planet Eclipse M170R

Any high end CCM marker that isn't an MBP
CCM S6.5


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Old 01-09-2018, 08:41 PM #7
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Old 04-04-2018, 07:52 PM #8
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Damn, wish I've read this before I started
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Old 04-29-2018, 12:39 AM #9
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Mind me i need to get 5 posts in..smh
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Old 04-29-2018, 09:05 PM #10
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Originally Posted by Rio44 View Post
Mind me i need to get 5 posts in..smh
then make them meaningful. this was your opportunity to get into the swing of things instead of getting a temp ban for spamming out of the gate :/
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Old 05-03-2018, 09:30 AM #11
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Nice writeup. I agree with everything in this post.
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:55 PM #12
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:27 PM #13
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thank you for posting this, it really helped me get back into it.
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Old 05-24-2018, 10:36 AM #14
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Thank you for taking the time to put this together!! very helpful
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Old 08-19-2018, 09:51 PM #15
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what would you say is the most reliable electronic marker you have posted under 250? Axe? I don't see Eteks on there. having a hard time deciding if something like a DM9 would be better than a more recent lower-end gun. thanks!
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Old 08-21-2018, 12:08 AM #16
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Great detail. This is where all new players should look
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Old 08-28-2018, 03:38 PM #17
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now this is a great post!
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Old 09-30-2018, 09:21 PM #18
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Originally Posted by Jordan719 View Post
what would you say is the most reliable electronic marker you have posted under 250? Axe? I don't see Eteks on there. having a hard time deciding if something like a DM9 would be better than a more recent lower-end gun. thanks!
This is a late pass on my part, but the older you go, the more involved the maintenance will be and the less convenient the process will be.

DM8-13 are all pretty similar in terms of maintenance and complexity, so it ends up being personal choice. The more modern you get, the more things become simplified or made more durable, such as the eyepipe and wires, or toolless grips, etc.

The current state of the market is much akin to how cars are now. Everything has comparable reliability, but the higher end you go, the nicer the fit/finish/aesthetic, etc, but higher end stuff will inherently be more complex due to needing to cram more features into a smaller space.

I think the sweetspot for buying new guns is between $650 and $850 (DSR, RSX, XLS) where you have everything you need for the perfect platform. Ergonomics, ease of use, build quality, performance, simplicity are all covered and the only corners cut are cosmetic.

If you really want something fancier, you should only really go so far back in time as the depreciation really starts to flatten out around the $300-$500 range anyways.

A geo 3.5 is a fantastic example. Impeccable in every way and nestled nicely in that price bracket. The Luxe OLED is also about to fall into that category as well. LV1s and Victories can be had as low as $400 and they've been $1250-$1500 guns for years.
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Old 11-06-2018, 11:13 PM #19
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New player here and really appreciate the advice!
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Old 11-14-2018, 06:07 AM #20
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Welcome to the game man! Enjoy! There are some pretty good Youtube Video's by DangermanXX that cover some paintball beginner techniques & tactics. I am going to do a number of my own as well.
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Old 12-11-2018, 01:14 PM #21
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Greenville, SC
Really good write up. I agree with your notes on the possible reliability of brass regulators on the tanks, but it should also be noted that the First Strike Hero tanks should carry a UNISO certification instead of DOT. So while they require a 5 year re-hydrotest, they do not have the 15 year expiration lifespan which makes a decent argument as an investment. This is especially true when the regulator piece can be changed from the stock brass piece to any of their favorites.
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