The 9 Best Paintballs

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This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in January of 2017. When playing a game of paintball, it's important that you leave your mark -- literally. We set out to determine which ammunition gives you the best bang for your buck, considering how straight each company's offerings fly and how reliably they shatter on impact. We also factored in caliber, cost, and biodegradability. But no matter your ultimate choice, don't forget your protective safety gear. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Valken Graffiti

2. Valken Infinity

3. Empire Marballizer

Editor's Notes

November 10, 2020:

We decided to remove the Wrek Elite Premium, the Predator Splatballs, and the JT Toxin due to availability concerns. We added the Loader Basic Training and I & I Sports Blood Red as options aimed at those who are just getting into the sport, and also included the GI Sportz Midnight as a choice for more experienced players.

It's important to remember that paintball rifles are dangerous and that you should never play paintball or even operate these weapons at all without wearing a paintball mask.

May 16, 2019:

Because they have a tendency not to break reliably, we decided to remove both the JT GI Milsim and the JT SplatMaster. Also, there are currently higher-quality choices for the money, so we opted to remove those from TradeMyGun. But when it comes to value and use you can count on, we still believe that options from Wrek Elite and Valken are good choices. The Valken Graffiti, especially, are lauded for their accuracy and consistency. They have a dual-colored exterior, too; while this doesn't change how they work, it does give them a certain flair that others lack. And speaking of flair, we decided to add the Tiberius Arms First Strike. They're a unique option that actually have fins for stability, which, according to their maker, gives them a range that's 50 percent greater than standard paintballs, along with better accuracy. You cannot put them in a hopper, though, which means you'll probably want to invest in the First Strike conversion kit that's only available for Tiberius Arms markers. Of course, this means it's a pricey choice, so it won't be for all users.

Special Honors

ANSGear Gender Reveal Kit Celebrate the miracle of parenthood with the ANSGear Gender Reveal Kit, a budget-friendly solution to a boring gender reveal party. You'll get 100 each of pink and blue, so you may want to split them with a friend, unless you happen to be having twins.

4. Venom Mixed

5. Rap4 Black

6. Loader Basic Training

7. GI Sportz Midnight

8. Tiberius Arms First Strike

9. I & I Sports Blood Red

A Marvel Of Engineering, Chemistry, And Social Strategy

For example, the most standard .68 caliber size is 0.68 inches in diameter.

Imagine getting your adrenaline pumping, satisfying the need for adventure and fun through a battlefield simulation in a relatively safe environment, combining competition and teamwork with thought-provoking physical activity, and bringing people together for an experience that sets itself apart from more traditional forms of social interaction. If you put all of these ingredients together, then you will have created the ideal recipe for a thrilling game of paintball.

Paintball is a competitive team shooting sport from which players are eliminated when struck with spherical, dye-filled gelatin capsules that are designed to break upon impact. These ammunition capsules (or pellets) are usually shot out of a low-energy weapon called a marker that is powered by compressed nitrogen or carbon dioxide. Three main types of paintball markers include pump, mechanical, and electropneumatic devices. Pump markers require manual cocking in order to chamber each paintball separately as it is shot. Pump markers primarily serve to improve field skill and accuracy rather than maintain a focus on mere firepower. Common for recreational use, mechanical markers are semi-automatic in design, meaning that only one shot is fired per trigger pull. Electropneumatic markers leverage solenoid valves that accept commands from an internal circuit board, allowing for many shooting options and more rapid firing rates.

Paintball can be played both indoors and outdoors, on a variety of terrains, and in multiple variations, depending on a person's desire or skill level. Now that we've covered some of the basics of the game, let's dig deeper into the main topic of discussion: the ammunition itself.

Designed to be biodegradable, a paintball has two essential parts: the outer shell and interior fill. The outer gelatin shell is the part that breaks upon impact, while the interior liquid fill consists of some type of nontoxic and water-soluble oil or food-grade colored dye within polyethylene glycol (or PEG for short). PEG is essentially a laxative, so even though the ingredients inside a paintball are technically ingestible, I wouldn't recommend chowing down on one for a snack. When the outer shell bursts upon impact, the fill ultimately makes a visible "mark" on an opposing player's clothing. Paintballs are commonly available in 40, 50, and 68-caliber sizes, which define the diameters of each ball type. For example, the most standard .68 caliber size is 0.68 inches in diameter. This size is versatile enough for use in various types of games and fields with a dependable strike velocity. The .50 caliber size remains a popular option for low-impact games and beginners. It is also beneficial for scenario games and woodsball, as its smaller size makes it easier to shoot through thick brush than a larger-caliber ammo.

It's also important to note that paintballs are sensitive to both heat and moisture. The gelatin shells of the ammunition tend to swell up and soften as the outdoor temperature rises, which can cause a marker gun to jam when attempting to shoot a human target. Swelling paintballs are also more likely to bounce off their targets rather than burst at the appropriate time.

Making Your Mark

When investing in a set of paintballs, there are several factors that should be taken into consideration. Before you even start playing, make sure you and your team are prepared with the proper gear, which includes reliable and appropriate markers, tanks and masks for safety.

Next, consider the overall quality of the ammunition. Paintball quality depends on a number of characteristics, including the brittleness of the gelatin shells, the roundness of the paintball pellets, as well as the thickness and brightness of the internal fill. Many of the highest quality paintballs used in professional tournaments are almost perfectly spherical in shape with extremely thin shells, making them more likely to burst upon impact rather than simply ricochet off their targets. Thick and brightly-colored fills are ideal, as they are very hard to hide or wipe off, so you can easily tell who's been eliminated from the game.

Caliber range is also an important factor that depends on the marker type, skill level of the players involved, and the venue. If you're a beginner, it's always a good idea to start with .50 caliber paintballs and work your way up to .68.

A Brief History Of Paintball

The use of paint as a projectile dates back to the mid-1960s. Originally conceived by Charles Nelson, co-founder of the Nelson Paint Company, the original intent of paintball was to assist foresters in marking trees. Nelson patented a number of shooting devices for marking timber for removal, one being a squirt gun designed to shoot out jets of oil-based paint. Nelson's company invented the spherical paintball at this time in response to a request from the United States Forestry Service to devise an efficient way of marking trees from a distance. The squirt gun's limited range would ultimately inspire the development of the first dedicated paintball gun called the Nel-Spot 007 in 1974, courtesy of the Daisy air gun manufacturing company.

Modern paintball is played by men and women from all professions and lifestyles, standing as a symbol of human strategy, intelligence, and determination.

Stock Broker Hayes Noel, sporting goods retailer Bob Gurnsey, and writer Charles Gaines had discussed and debated survival in the woods for years. In an attempt to settle this dispute once and for all, the group of three friends, along with nine additional acquaintances, played the very first paintball game on June 7th, 1981 in the New Hampshire woods using Nel-Spot 007 paintball markers. By 1982, Gurnsey opened the first commercial paintball field in New Hampshire and marketed the sport under the name National Survival Game (NSG). The first outdoor paintball field in England was opened in 1985.

In 1988, the International Paintball Players Association was founded as a non-profit organization dedicated to the education, growth, and safety of the sport. Its major contribution was the establishment of the 300 feet-per-second speed limit for paintball markers.

Modern paintball is played by men and women from all professions and lifestyles, standing as a symbol of human strategy, intelligence, and determination.

Luke Perrotta
Last updated by Luke Perrotta

Luke is a writer, director, and illustrator living in Massachusetts. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Literary Arts from Brown University, where he honed his skills as a writer and editor working for various campus newspapers, festivals, and film organizations. Upon graduating he traveled the world, eating scorpions in Thailand and hitchhiking across New Zealand before settling down in New England to write prose fiction. An autodidact and media sponge, he’s well-versed in topics such as literature, nonfiction, textbooks, film, television, recording equipment, video games, and art supplies. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, boxing, playing the piano, and translating complex subjects into plain language.

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