Many people ask us what our favorite paintball guns are, in fact this is probably the #1 question we get. The issue to answering this question is that paintball has been around for 30 years, and some of the people working here (Dave) will give you some bizarre answer depending on which antique he's coveting at the time. So this list is our top five paintball markers that you can actually buy without smashing your ceramic pig.
The main factors we consider are; performance, reliability and bang for the buck.
#5 - Tippmann Cronus Tactical Yep, it's a $109 paintball gun and it made the list! The Cronus is a durable, reliable marker that's really inexpensive. It holds up to almost any abuse an new player can dole out and keep running. It's based on the Tippmann 98 drive train, so it's built to last. Of course it's got drawbacks; the ability to upgrade is limited to the barrel and even then you've got to stick to 7/8" outer diameter models. It's also pretty tedious to take apart and thoroughly clean. For new players, it's a great entry level paintball gun though.
#4 - Empire Axe 2.0 This is the evolution of the platform, and it comes with some really important upgrades from the original; notably a well made two piece barrel and eye covers. The barrel will help with accuracy and the eye covers will allow you to clean the Anti-Chop sensors in the breech very easily if you happen to break paint. The Axe/ Mini platform is reliable, accurate, easy to maintain and is capable of high rates of fire. For someone looking for a great mid-range marker we love them
#3 US Army Project Salvo - Based off the indestructible Tippmann 98 valve, the Salvo is great choice for somebody looking for that "tactical" look without giving up reliability or upgrade options. There are infinite barrel option to choose from if you so desire, as well as performance upgrades such as the Response Trigger and Cyclone feed. On top of that, the Project Salvo is covered in tac-rails, so mounting sights and grips is a breeze. Functionally, it's the exact same marker as the Alpha Black, but has (in our mind, and it's our list) a cooler looking hand guard.
#2 Tippmann TMC - Finally!! Somebody made a reliable, easy to use Mag Fed paintball marker, its valve and hammer system are very closely realted to the Cronus, so performance upgrades (other than barrels) are more limited than higher priced Mag Fed paintball guns. That said, it's an inexpensive marker that can load your paintballs from either a hopper on top of the marker, or from 20 ball magazines from the bottom. Not only that, it's easy to switch that set up, unlike some of the higher priced mag fed guns. We've been selling a ton of the TMC's since the day they came out, and since we back up the markers we sell with a lifetime labor warranty, we tend to guide people towards gear we know they'll have fun with week after week.
#1 Planet Eclipse Emek 100 - Last year, this place was held by the Etha 2, the Emek's fully electronic big brother, but mechanical guns are super fun!! The Emek uses the exact same bolt system as the $700 Gtek 160R, which means it's accurate, efficient, gentle on paint and durable. We got one of the pre-release Emeks and abused it in any fashion we feasibly could and it took everything we threw at it and continued to operate flawlessly. For $219.99, we don't believe there's a better dollar for dollar paintball marker available. Of course, there are faster, and flashier guns out there, but they're two to five times the price of the Emek, and I bet they won't make you smile any wider.