Best Paintballs

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

17 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
361 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best paintballs

Last Updated December 2019

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of paintball. Like a first-person video game in real life, paintball allows players to practice aim, movement, and combat tactics in a high-paced yet safe environment. The game started in 1981 in a recreational context, but today, it’s grown into a full-fledged sport with major tournaments and a professional organization. No matter where you sit on the experience spectrum, one thing is certain — you need paintballs to play.

Paintballs may all appear the same at first, and to be fair, the majority are constructed in a similar way. They consist of water-based paint inside a brittle gelatin (and sometimes polystyrene) shell that’s designed to break on impact, releasing the colorful liquid inside. Paintballs are offered in different colors, calibers, package sizes, and aerodynamic architectures however, so there’s more variance than you might think.

Have your sights set on more info? Read on to learn more.

Paintballs are designed to be environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and water-soluble. If you wash your paint-covered clothes soon after playing, the color should wash out.

Key considerations

The type of paintball you use largely depends on the type of weapon (marker) you wield and your style of play.

Color

The color of paint inside your paintball may seem like a trivial detail, but if you’re playing with a squad, it’s helpful to have consistency and distinction between players. Not only does this help you identify the enemy more clearly, but you can choose a color that matches your team’s logo or general aesthetic.

Caliber

A far more important consideration is the caliber of your paintball. Just like a real bullet, paintballs need to be chambered in the appropriate size for the weapon you’re using, or else you risk jamming, misfiring, or equipment damage. Caliber refers to the diameter of the projectile. For example, a .68 caliber paintball measures .68 inches across.

There are several calibers available, but here are some common examples:

  • .50 caliber: These small paintballs are geared toward beginners, casual players, or those using blowguns or slingshots. Assuming equal pressure, these carry less energy than larger calibers, and by consequence hurt less and travel shorter distances.

  • .68 caliber: By far the most common paintball caliber, .68 is preferred by serious players due to its high impact. The increased weight requires more energy to move, meaning each shot uses more compressed gas.

  • .72 caliber: These larger paintballs are less common and specialized for hardcore players.
DID YOU KNOW?

Paintball guns are powered by compressed gas, including carbon dioxide, air, nitrogen, and sometimes propane. When the gas starts to run out, the projectiles will begin to lose velocity. A common tank capacity is 20 ounces — approximately 800 shots.

Features

Paintballs are relatively simple products. While there are some variations with glow-in-the-dark coatings, scented fillings, and the like, the main “feature” you see when shopping has to do with paintball stabilization.

Stabilization tech

A modern firearm features a “rifled” barrel that spins the bullet as it leaves the gun to improve accuracy. Paintball markers work a bit differently, though. Paint projectiles are fragile compared to real bullets and are fired at closer ranges, so a rifled barrel is both unnecessary and counterintuitive, with a few exceptions. That said, certain paintball manufacturers offer integrated stabilization features such as fins, ridges, and aerodynamic shapes to replicate the rifling effect. These products tend to cost more than their conventional equivalents, but they can go a long way toward becoming a bona fide paintball sniper.

Paintball prices

Inexpensive: You can find inexpensive packs of 100-count paintballs for around $6, but keep in mind these may have inconsistent, low-quality shells that can break during shipping or won’t break when they hit their target. Either extreme is bad. They can also be less accurate.

Mid-range: For about $10 are 100-count packs with more consistency in shell quality. These reliably break upon impact and fly straighter.

Expensive: At the top of the range, expect to find paintballs with high-end gelatin or polystyrene shells, stabilization features, and unique characteristics like glow-in-the-dark coatings. These can cost $25 or more per pack.

EXPERT TIP

To increase your chances of winning, use protective cover, and stay in constant communication with your team. This will help you keep track of where your enemies are and coordinate attacks. Also, avoid “tunnel vision” on a singular target when other enemies are near.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Smoke grenades can be used to generate instant concealment during games. To utilize appropriately, check which way the wind is blowing, ignite the grenade, and throw it upwind of where you want the smoke to go. After the smoke accumulates, you’ll be able to move unseen.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • A marker and ammunition aren’t the only pieces of equipment you’ll need to play paintball. You’ll also want to purchase a protective mask, an air tank, a gearbag, marker cleaning equipment, and protective clothing like knee and elbow pads.

  • Paintballs aren’t likely to cause serious or permanent damage, but they can certainly hurt and cause bruising. It’s best to wear multiple layers of long clothing to protect yourself. However, too many layers can sacrifice mobility and cause overheating.

  • Just like racecar drivers do before competition, paintball players often “walk the course” before a game begins. This helps them get accustomed to the different angles, routes, and cover locations on the playing field, so they don’t have to learn on the fly.

  • Make sure your weapon’s hopper (the container where paintballs are stored) is clean before you start a game. If there is debris or residual paint inside, the remaining pellets could stick together and lead to poor accuracy, or worse, jamming.

  • Blind firing is a discouraged if not illegal tactic on most paintball fields, so resist the temptation to do it. Blind firing is discharging your weapon from behind an object without looking, and it’s frowned upon due to potential safety implications. Because the shooter cannot see where their shots are landing, they could accidentally hit a referee or someone who has removed their mask.

  • Store your paintballs in a dry, room-temperature place. If they’re exposed to extreme elements like moisture or heat, the gelatin shells may begin to stick together or become overly brittle.

Other products we considered

The game of paintball has exploded in popularity in the last 15 years, and that means you have a lot of choice when it comes to what products you buy. One paintball package that just missed the cut was the 2000-count Marballizer Case from Empire. The tournament-grade .68 caliber paintballs are high in quality and well regarded. There are other packages of the same size for a better deal. Speaking of value, the WNW .50 Caliber pack offers a nice bang for your buck.

ASTM International — also known as the American Society for Testing and Materials — sets safety and durability standards for paintballs and other products. If your paintball set sports the ASTM logo, you can be confident it’s of the highest quality.

FAQ

Q. I can save money by buying cheap bulk paintballs. Should I do it?
A.
We love saving cash, but you need to do so intelligently, or you risk creating other problems. Low-quality paintballs can break during shipping, so you aren’t really getting your money’s worth. They can also break in your hopper during a game, which is a more serious issue. This can hinder your weapon’s accuracy and prevent it from firing.

Q. What caliber paintballs should I buy?
A.
The simple answer is to buy the caliber your gun is designed for, but if you’re just starting out, choose a paintball caliber consistent with your experience level and play style. Smaller calibers, such as .43 and .50, are meant for low-impact games and beginners. A caliber of .68 is the industry standard and is preferred by serious players, but there are even higher calibers. Keep in mind conversion kits are available to modify your marker to fire different calibers.

Q. How many paintballs do I need?
A.
The number of paintballs you use depends heavily on your play style and the type of marker you prefer. A good rule of thumb is 400 to 500 paintballs per person per gaming session, but if you’re extremely trigger happy, you may use more. If you play in a conservative, accuracy-first style, you could use less. Either way, arenas generally offer paintballs for sale on site, so you can always resupply if needed.

Q. Are there different types of paintball competition?
A.
Paintball can be played a number of different ways, but the most common game types are Woodsball, Speedball, Elimination, Round, and Scenario. Woodsball games are played outside in forested areas (hence the name) and often include slower tactical movement with natural cover. Speedball is a faster-paced game played in flat areas like fields, where inflatable bunkers are erected to provide cover. Elimination, sometimes called Slayer, is relatively self-explanatory, as the goal is simply to defeat each member of the opposing team. Round is essentially a free-for-all, where all players start in a small circle facing out, take 20 or so paces forward, and begin fighting when prompted. Finally, Scenario involves completing specific objectives such as territory holding rather than simply eliminating other players.

The team that worked on this review
  • Andrew
    Andrew
    Writer
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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