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Paintball guns essentially work in the same way: the paintballs are expelled from the end of the barrel of a paintball gun using expanding gas in controlled bursts. Typically, the compressed gas is either compressed air or compressed carbon dioxide from a canister that is attached to the gun. There are some guns which even use canisters containing compressed nitrogen gas as a propellant.
The hopper is the part of the paintball gun that holds the paintballs and feeds it into the firing mechanism. Typically, the hopper feeds one paintball into the chamber for a single press of the trigger. The hopper feeds the paintball into the chamber right in front of a piston, which is powered by the compressed air. Whenever the trigger is pressed, a certain amount of gas is released from the canister which pushes the piston that propels the paintball out.
The exact firing assembly can be different from model to model but the general gist of it is this: there is a gas valve sealed against the release of the gas. When the trigger is pressed, the seal moves, releasing the gas and allowing the bolt to move forward. These are the basics of how a paintball gun works.
Now we are going to take a look at the different types of paintball guns and understand how they work.
Spring Loaded Paintball Gun
The first type of paintball gun we are going to take a look at to understand how a paintball gun works is the spring-loaded paintball gun. Also known as a mechanical paintball gun, this is a semi-automatic gun. When the trigger is pulled, a bolt is released which propels forward because of a spring into the barrel of the gun.
When the ball comes into the barrel, the bolt strikes a pin that opens the valve, allowing air to go down the barrel and push the paintball out. The expanding air doesn’t just push the paintball out, it also pushes the bolt back into position.
Electronic Paintball Gun
The second type of gun we’ll take a look at to understand how a paintball gun works is an electronic paintball gun. These paintball guns fire the paintballs using battery-powered circuits that activate solenoids that propel the paintball.
Pulling the trigger sends the signal to activate the gun, the mechanism moves based on the signals and the battery-powered solenoids propel the paintball at pretty decent speeds. Since they use circuit boards, you can program the gun to fire single shots, bursts or fully automatic based on your need.
Gas Paintball Guns
While spring-loaded paintball guns are also gas-powered, they are mostly semi-automatic paintball guns. Gas paintball guns also come as automag models that blow forward as opposed to blowing back like with the spring-loaded paintball guns.
They do not need you to cock the gun and the hopper feeds the paintballs constantly for however long you press the trigger. Essentially, once you press the trigger, the bolt releases and the paintball guns keep firing until you let go of the trigger and lock the seal back into place.
Gas paintball guns with automag mechanisms like this are very reliable and they are quite a popular choice. They operate with very high pressure at around 800 psi and they can handle a pretty great rate of fire. There are options in some models which allow you to control the rate of fire using an electronic mechanism like in electronic paintball guns (electro-mechanical paintball guns).
The only disadvantage you have with these is the fact that they use up a lot of gas. A full tank with one of these will not last you as long as a mechanical paintball gun with a spring-loaded mechanism.
Now that you know how a paintball gun works, you can select the best paintball gun you feel will suit your needs. Ideally, you should start off with the spring-loaded paintball guns so you can get a feel of it and then move on to either of the other two. As always, make sure you take all the precautions and play safe!