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Best Entry-Level Tournament Paintball Gun. Your Ultimate Guide, from Best Overall to Best Budget

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This Article will be focusing only on paintball guns that are authorized for “Speedball” tournaments (not to be confused with the soccer variant of the same name.) and that are qualified for use under the PSP (Paintball Sports Promotions) guidelines.

Professional paintball is a different form of paintball: Woodstock is the unofficial and recreational version of paintball while Speedball is the professional form.

Whether you're a seasoned veteran amassing an infantry of your own to pick from as you see fit or fresh blood poising to make something of yourself in the sport called “paintball”, the process of finding the best entry-level tournament, paintball gun is a tedious and expensive one.  That is, if you’ve got loads of cash lying around or don’t know what you’re looking for. 

Here, laid out before you is an array of the best guns on the market for the sport of speedball in all price ranges.  It’s all here. Again, it’s important to note that these guns are all speedball qualified and adhere to all rules laid down in the PSP rulebook. 

If you’re looking for exclusively woodsball markers, you’re in the wrong place.  Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?  

Best Overall Entry-Level Tournament Paintball Gun

DLX Luxe X

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Go big or go home, right?  Well, if this is your motto and you’ve got a good sum of cash lying around the back end of your bank account, the DLX Luxe X is the right pick for you. 

For a solid price of $1500 you can obtain for yourself a gun whose shots hum a finer tune than any other on the market, and whose superior frame emanates from its sleek build a culture wholly superior to anything you’ve ever seen in the sport of speedball. 

From its technologically savvy UI and versatile charger, to the simplistic complexity of its frame, the Luxe X will do nothing but satisfy players of all ranges of experience. 

Inset at the back of the marker’s handle grip lies the gun’s UI screen which is water resistant and surprisingly efficacious to the user by easing the process of programming the marker for different firing modes.  The Luxe X is an electronic marker, but don’t let that deceive you into thinking that it's too complicated of a gun to use. 

As a matter of fact, it merely adds to the simplicity.  The marker comes with a USB compatible charger, so you can get everything set up on the go, and its frame is entirely wireless-so, no need to fret about maintenance. 

As a matter of fact, the entirety of the gun’s frame can be removed without the use of any tools as all electronic currents within the gun are distributed via wireless contact nubs(composed of 24 karat gold for improved response times) on each half of the frame. 

On top of this-with the new core-the Luxe X will perform 20-30% more efficiently than the company’s previously acclaimed model, the Luxe Ice.  You will also be able to get a couple more shots out of it because of that fact. 

The battery is located underneath the rubber grip which can also be removed without the use of tools.  Also contained underneath the grip is the speaker system which is covered by a light plate(also able to be removed without any tools) that way you don’t need to worry about water damage. 

It has a velocity regulator on the bottom of the fore-grip for easy adjustment and its barrel is an eight-inch, XL insert that offers pinpoint accuracy to about 250 feet. 

The eye cover on the side of your Luxe X (the cover for the mechanism responsible for knowing when a ball is fully loaded into the chamber) is fortunately able to be removed without any tools, and able to snap firmly back into place so that any superficial or internal maintenance can be done easily and without having to fully disassemble the marker. 

Pros
  • Looks greatnProbably the best shooting gun on the marketnSmoothnAfter-service is fantasticnTrigger curve is very comfortablenEasy to clean and maintainnDoesn’t break paint (ever!)
Cons
  • PriceynEye covers are magnetic, therefore could be lost if you aren’t careful

Best Budget Entry-Level Tournament Paintball Marker

Empire Mini GS

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If you’re an avid speedball player this gun comes at no surprise to you.  The Empire Mini GS is, perhaps, the most well-loved speedball marker of this decade.  Whether you’re fresh coming into the sport or a worn and calloused player, this gun will suit all your competitive needs for a price well under $400. 

Whichever color you choose, the models will all come with a C02 gauge at the bottom of the grip and a velocity valve to control your force and rate of fire.  This mechanism prevents CO2 or compressed-air leakage and ultimately serves as a very proficient way of conserving CO2 and preventing internal damage to the gun. 

The valve system comes with an ASA, on/off lever which can quickly shut off airflow to the barrel when need be.  On top of this, the marker is fully electronic-a pleasant advantage to have when you notice every other player’s gun clogging in the middle of battle. 

It is powered by a 9 volt battery buried nice and flush within the guns’ large foregrip which prevents water damage and allows for a much more comfortable hold on the marker.  The fact that the gun is fully electronic permits the user to program it for different firing modes whether it be single shot, semi-automatic, or even fully automatic that way you’ll be extra certain if your gun is suitable for tournament use. 

If you do happen to experience the rare occurrence of a clog, all screws within and without the gun’s frame can be taken off by two hex wrenches(so no need to carry a huge tool bag). 

Furthermore, both the foregrip and the handle are entirely coated with a thick layer of rubber to prevent wear from use as well as to serve as a nice comfortable hold when employed on the field. 

Another popular feature in the Empire Mini GS is its use of a pressure controlled poppet engine.  This mechanism is responsible for regulating the amount of air pressure that shoots against your paintball. 

Though it consequently will result in a harder kickback and a louder shot from the gun, it will also allow you to pump out a couple more shots than you would be able to with the spool variant.  There will also be less maintenance in the barrel of the gun due to the striking mechanism of the poppet engine. 

It does come with a one piece, 8-inch barrel, however given the price and functionality of the gun in its entirety, such downsides feel negligible. 

With this in mind, it would be right to maintain that the Empire Mini GS remains the best intermediate style gun for speedball, and that it is perhaps the most functional, solidly priced marker for players of all experience levels.  

Pros
  • Extremely light weight and balancednSmooth precise shootingnHigh speed and accuratenVery efficient with gasnHas different firing modesnMinimum recoilnTough and very durablenEasily customizablenGreat value for the price
Cons
  • Smaller frame, therefore it may be uncomfortable for players with big handsnHPA may leak if not maintainednMaintenance is important and can take timenSome models have been reported to be defective.

Best Entry-Level Tournament Paintball Gun Under $1000

SP Shocker XLS

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The next gun on the list is the Shocker XLS whose price sits just a little over $700.  The company responsible for this weapon of mass destruction is known for their lightweight frames, and accuracy-centered barrels. 

The XLS comes with a two-piece, eight inch barrel known as the Freak XL; the design of which is responsible for the marker’s CO2 efficiency.  The Freak XL prevents C02 wastage by focusing more air on the ball with less air coming from your gun’s tank, thereby increasing velocity with less CO2 consumption. 

The gun’s barrel also has an auto cocker thread for easy removal from the frame and a much broader versatility for customized barrel attachments.  The gun itself is also longer than its previous model. 

Having an elongated chamber, wider grips, and a much roomier trigger frame for us with sausage fingers, no one’s hand will cramp using this marker.  An important thing to note with the Shocker XLS is that its elongated frame will decrease the amount of pressure building up inside of the chamber from 170 psi to 145 psi. 

However, with the Freak XL barrel this doesn’t matter much at all when you understand that the Freak XL Barrel’s design is catered to counter this problem with its ergonomic design.  The electronics within the gun and the UI screen at the back of the handle are all water resistant, making it viable in both woodsball and outdoor tournaments for those who are wondering. 

Just, don’t shoot your brother or uncle with this gun because it’ll hurt a lot! 

For a $700 price tag, you can never go wrong buying from Smart Parts and with the SP Shocker XLS you’ll be putting that money to good use. 

Pros
  • Freak XL Barrel is stocknMarker is well made and comfortable to holdnVery responsive triggernVery light weightnTough and durablenEasy to maintain
Cons
  • Battery life could be an issuenYou have to be careful replacing the batterynIt’s not cheap!

Best Entry Level Tournament Paintball Marker Under $700

SP Shocker RSX

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For just a little over $500, the SP Shocker RSX offers the player a thin but sturdy, lightweight, aluminum frame that measures a tad under two pounds with the barrel attached. 

It is the lightest, paintball marker on the market and comes with a compact carrying case for easy storage.  However, don’t let its frail-looking figure fool you. 

The RSX spans about 14 inches and packs a whopping punch given how little air pressure the gun lets build up inside of its frame.  The low air pressure is due to the marker coming prepackaged with the acclaimed Freak Barrel insert that optimizes the amount of air pressure building up against the back of the paintball while in the chamber and reduces the amount exerted while the gun is inactive. 

Not only does the two-piece barrel increase the velocity of your shot, but it suppresses the firing sound for a much cleaner and quieter experience on the field.  The gun itself is electronic as well which allows for an incredibly simple interface to reprogram your gun’s firing mode. 

Its easy-to-use, bolt-release mechanism allows for quick disassembly and easy maintenance in the spur of any, given moment.  Also, located on the foregrip are a series of pin-sized holes that act as exhaust-pipes in case there are any leaks or built up pressure within the frame, reducing the amount of damage done to the gun when there is a C02 leak. 

The SP Shocker RSX is a straightforward gun and well-suited for players of all experience levels. 

As its price tag insinuates, the RSX isn’t quite as prestigious as its cousin counterpart, the XLS.  However, given the $200 difference it certainly doesn’t fall short as a promising, victory weapon.

Pros
  • Tournament u0026 casual game playnLightweight and compactnTrigger is awesome (4-point precision trigger )
Cons
  • Pricey (especially compared to the XLS)

Best Entry-Level Tournament Paintball Gun Under $500

Dye Rize CZR

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The Dye Rize CZR paintball marker is the most well balanced gun under $500.  The Dye Core barrel is a two piece, fourteen inch barrel that maintains the honor of being one of the most accurate pieces on the market. 

Not only does it offer near unmatchable accuracy right out of the box, but a shot that is almost as inaudible to the user as it is to his opponents.  The electronically maintained frame along with its new solenoid is powered by a nine volt battery hidden underneath the rubber-matted handle grip which has been made wider and more spacious than any other previous Dye product. 

Hidden behind the eye covers is a self cleaning, eye-pipe system(a small, hollowed out, plastic cylindrical mechanism responsible for positioning the paintball before it’s shot out through the barrel) that prevents any paintball from splattering before it reaches your target. 

Furthermore, if the gun manages to clog somehow or you find yourself wanting to admire how far paintball has come as a sport, the eye pipe is able to be manually extracted from the base of the barrel divett with nothing but your fingers(after you’ve unscrewed the barrel, of course.) 

On top of the gun and outside that little divot where you fit your hopper into, is a lever clamp which allows for easier maintenance and customization as far as ball-feeding goes.  That wonderful tidbit though seemingly dull in contrast to all the other wonderful mechanics is important to note as it was previously nonexistent in the usual markers Dye made in the past and makes the gun even easier to uphold for beginners. 

Contained within the foregrip of the frame is the marker’s hyper, air-pressure regulator to allow for quick adjustments on the field.  This piece of technology permits the gun itself to maintain higher output air pressure on even the most brittle of tournament paints. 

The gun itself is fully programmable for all firing modes since it is electronic, and it has an external hose connecting the handle to the foregrip. 

Again, the Dye Rize CZR is the most well-balanced gun under $500 on the market and will serve you well for as long as your body is capable of handling it.

Pros
  • Great marker for the pricenGood performance, quick firingnEasy to maintainnLightweightnVery accurate
Cons
  • Feedneck is plasticnLonger 12 inch barrel

Best Entry Level Tournament Paintball Marker Under $300

Tippmann A-5 .68 Caliber Marker

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For about $230 you can purchase the Tippmann A-5 off of Amazon and marvel at the brilliance of this company’s creation. 

The sixty-eight caliber’s frame has a built-in cyclone hopper feed which not only allows for a faster fire-rate but prevents even the most brittle of tournament paint from popping or tearing in the internal frame of the gun. 

The frame itself weighs only a little over three pounds and allows for accurate shooting well over one-hundred and fifty feet.  The Tippmann A-5 is suitable not only for those just beginning to get into the sport, but well-experienced players as well. 

With its durable frame and easy-to-use mechanics, you’ll find yourself loving this gun as much as you love paintball.  On the left side of the gun’s frame is the safety switch, allowing for a quick and easy way to make sure no one will get bonked by accident. 

It has an ambidextrous grip with an enlarged foregrip for more balance, as well as an external air hose for easy customization and maintenance.  The Tippmann A-5’s barrel is an eight-and-a half inch tube with a one-hundred-dollar accuracy guarantee and a revolutionary noise reduction system built in. 

With the flatline barrel, the Tippmann A-5’s range is increased and reaches up to two-hundred and fifty feet without deviation.  Also on the frame are two hoops to tie straps to for easier carrying on the field. 

The Tippmann A-5 is by far the most beloved paintball gun on the market and has held that title since it was first released. 

On Amazon the Tippmann A-5 can be purchased for about $230, but given the notoriety and quality of the gun, the $230 price tag is a small sum to pay.

Pros
  • Perfect for beginners (u0026 intermediate) playersnEasy to usenCustomizablenGood AccuracynEasy to assemblenLooks greatnDurable
Cons
  • Doesn’t have a very responsive triggernMedium weight, there are lighter optionsnOnly 1 color

Best Entry Level Tournament Paintball Gun Under $200

Tippmann Cronus Tactical Marker

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The cheapest gun on the market that is suitable for tournament play.  The price range starts at $115 dollars, but on eBay the gun sells for $100 or less.  Not much to save, but 15 dollars can get you a lot of other nice things, so why waste it? 

Semi Automatic, Removable barrel for customization, .85 mm thread

If you are a newer player with only a sliver of green to spend and want to get the best bang for your buck, the Tippmann Cronus Semi Automatic Marker is the best suited paintball gun for you.  The price range spans from $115 down to $99, though you can find even cheaper sets on Ebay.  

In addition to its cheap price, the gun comes from one of the most respected paintball companies known to the sport of speedball-Tippmann.  The Tippmann Cronus Basic is a mechanical paintball gun so no need to deal with heavy wiring whenever you feel the need to take it apart. 

A downside to being a mechanical gun as opposed to electronic is that in tournament play the more mature players with the necessary set of skills required to maintain an electronic marker will have paintball guns that will on average have a faster firing rate than yours. 

However, the Tippmann Cronus will give you what you paid for.  It is a wonderful gun, cheap, reliable, and a great avenue into the sport for younger players.  The angled grip and its rubber coating makes it secure and comfortable in hands of all proportions. 

On top of that, it has an adjustable foregrip and a sight rail for anyone interested enough to fix one on top.  It also is capable of handling either compressed air or the more expensive Co2 which is another amazing way you can save money with this gun. 

Unfortunately, not many barrels may fit into the Cronus and if you find yourself later wanting a fully automatic marker, the Cronus will sadly be unable to be upgraded with any cyclone hopper or response trigger capable of producing such results. 

Though the barrel is A5 threaded, and not much customization on it would do you much good, the Tippmann Cronus Basic is by far the best, affordable Tippmann marker for someone just starting to wet their toes in the sport.

Pros
  • Comfortable to holdnDurablenReliable and accuratenGood price and qualitynLightweightnMinimal recoilnGreat for beginners (young players)
Cons
  • Can be difficult to disassemblenProne to leak CA2

Best Alternative Beginner / Starter Tournament Paintball Markers:

Option 1: Spyder MR100

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If you feel that the Cronus isn’t quite the marker you are looking for but are still dead-set on trying to find a cheap and reliable marker to use in tournaments, the Spyder MR100 is a wonderful alternative. 

The Spyder MR100 goes for just a little over $100, is very easy to maintain, and offers an easy-to-clean frame for the majority of us who aren’t mechanically inclined.  The frame is held together with only one screw that connects the stock to the bolt inside of the gun and can be easily taken out to access the barrel and chamber for cleaning. 

Though, as with the Cronus, the Spyder MR100 is nigh-customizable as all scope attachments are limited to the oddly positioned weaver rails on the left and right sides of the gun, the marker is sturdy and suitable for ambidextrous use. 

The gun comes with a standard 12 inch, ported barrel to increase the accuracy and silence of your shot  Attached to the hopper divot comes its famous eco-valve which reduces air wastage and optimizes the pressure behind each ball loaded in the chamber of your gun. 

The Eco Valve promises to double your air efficiency and reduce your CO2 or compressed air expenses.  Again, its simplistic frame and barrel make the Spyder MR100 very easy to uphold and fix.  Its 12 inch barrel allows for accurate shooting to up to one-hundred and eighty feet with the major downside being a much slower firing-rate. 

The gun comes with a double trigger for a faster fire-rate, but users of this gun have noted that the secondary trigger appears to be unnecessary.  On speedball markers, players “walk” their trigger-using two fingers in a waddling motion to increase their gun’s rate of fire. 

The double trigger, according to users, feels clunky and doesn’t really serve to increase the firing-rate much at all.  The gun is mechanical, as well, so electropneumatic markers will have on average a much quicker firing rate than the Spyder MR100. 

The hopper sits dead center on the top of the barrel which users find making it hard to aim, however, with sight attachments to the side of your gun means this shouldn’t be a problem. 

For just a little over $100, the Spyder MR100 maintains its position on this list as an adequate alternative to the Cronus Tippman, even with its downsides.

Pros
  • Great entry-level gunnVery accuratenGood CO2 efficiencynReliable and affordablenGood control and precisionnlightweight
Cons
  • Not as durable as other markersnScrews may loosennNot really worth upgrading

Option 2: Tippmann 98 Custom

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The Tippmann 98 custom is another alternative to the Tippmann Cronus on this list.  This is the best selling paintball gun of all time.  In late 2019, Tippman released a new “replacement” model, the Tippmann 99 custom, it’s code name is c12x and is claimed to be the fastest shooting and most reliable marker Tippmann has ever made. 

The Tippmann 98 is fully customizable, crazy durable(made out of solid aluminum), and seemingly immortal in the sport of paintball.  The foregrip has deeply cut out grooves for your fingers for a firmer grip, while the handle has the widest matte of rubber ever seen on a Tippmann gun before. 

The Tippmann 98 is in no way bulky, it is a finely honed work of art.  It will turn green players into heroes of legend on the field.  The entire top of the gun is a webbing rail with the hopper placed on the forefront, right side which, again, allows for optic attachments. 

In a way, the Tippmann 98 is the cockroach of the paintball playing field.  When the world turns upside down and paint covers the barricades, the Tippmann 98 will rise out of the mess and turn the game right side up again.  If you get the ACT version of the Tippmann 98 and the cyclone hopper attachment, rest assured that all those terrors of paintballs breaking in the barrel are dead and buried. 

The “Anti-Chop Technology” within the barrel of your Tippmann rifle prevents the bolt of the gun from firing before the paintball is fully situated in the “cockpit”.  This way your bolt will never hit the ball at an angle and cause it to explode before it hits your opponents. 

Built into the gun as well is an adjustable Iron sight.  The gun itself weighs about 3 pounds.  The best part about the Tippmann 98 is that maintenance is made easy by its easy-to-remove panels. 

With these you don’t need to worry about fully disassembling the gun, only the portion where you’ve experienced the problem.  There are panels located over the barrel, over the main handle where your CO2 is pumped from, and the bolt which is responsible for shooting the paintballs out.

Pros
  • Good AccuracynGood for all skill levelsnSemi Automatic, up-gradable to full automaticnEasy to clean and maintainnVery fastn
Cons
  • Goes through air fastnA little heavy.

FAQ

What’s the difference between tournament play and woodsball and speedball?

Let me first describe the difference between Woodsball and Speedball.  Woodsball is typically played outside where there are natural elements like trees, boulders, bushes, etc.  Speedball is typically played on a smaller course and with artificial terrain such as bunkers and other objects to hide behind.

The Woodsball field may not be symmetrical compared to a speedball field, basically because you are playing in a bigger space with natural objects.

Speedball fields are typically smaller and are more likely to be symmetrical, meaning that neither team has a field advantage.

Paintball tournaments used to be played outside, but recently most tournaments are played on a speedball field making it easier to create a field that’s equally challenging or fair to each team.

How many paintballs should I bring to a tournament?

I’ve answered this question in detail in this article:  “How many paintballs do you need for a day?”

For a typical one day tournament, you should bring 400 to 500 paintballs.  That number does depend on your style of play.  If you are a more precise targeted player you won’t need that many.  If you are a spray and pray type of player, then you could go through 500 in under an hour… LOL.

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