What Does Semi-Automatic Mean for a Paintball Gun?

What Does Semi-Automatic Mean for a Paintball Gun?

The first paintball game in history was played in 1981. You may not know the details of how it went, but one thing is for sure: they didn’t have semi-automatic paintball guns back then. 

Generations have passionately played this survival game, each using a different type of gun. As technology weaved its way in, paintball guns have been steadily evolving. 

Somewhere along the way, we were presented with what we now call semi-automatic paintball guns. 

What are those? How do they work? Do they make the game cooler or do they ruin old-school fun? 

Choosing the right paintball gun can make or break your game, so read on to find out!

3 Levels of Paintball Gun Automation

There are numerous types of paintball guns but the core difference lies in the level of automation. Some guns are 100% manual, others are 100% automatic, and some fall in between.

Pump Paintball Gun

Before technology did its thing, the classic paintball gun was the pump gun. 

If you have a trusty old pump paintball gun, you’ve got to manually move the pump to load a paintball into the chamber. This means you have to manually prepare your gun for the next shot every single time. 

Basically, there’s absolutely no automation with this classic marker. You must mechanically load the bullet, or rather the paintball, and you also have to mechanically pull the trigger in order to shoot.

This vintage marker is simple yet sturdy. It’s cheaper, consumes smaller amounts of carbon dioxide, and gives you 100% control over your shots. However, it’s much slower than more advanced guns and that, in turn, makes it less powerful. 

It’s definitely not the right marker for the new generations or expert players. 

Semi-Automatic Paintball Guns

Semi-automatic paintball guns are quite common, if not the most common type of paintball guns. 

With a semi-automatic paintball gun, your next shot is automatically readied for you. The automation is concerned with loading a paintball into the chamber every time you fire a shot.

The ‘semi’ part, however, is because you still have to manually pull the trigger to actually shoot. It’s a great balance between efficiency and control.

This simplicity makes it easy to use but not overwhelmingly powerful. It’s perfect for first-timers, beginners, and youngsters. 

Consequently, semi-automatic markers are dominant at commercial laser tag arenas around the world. They’re well-known to a wide audience of players. 

Automatic Paintball Guns

Automatic paintball guns don’t wait for the player to pull the trigger to load and shoot every single paintball. 

Once you pull the trigger, paintballs are consecutively loaded into the chamber and fired automatically. One after the other, paintballs are released in great numbers and at a rapid speed. 

The shooting only stops when you release the trigger or if you run out of paintballs.

These markers are ultra-powerful. They’re also quite pricey. Nevertheless, they remain the weapon of choice of more experienced players, especially those who participate in competitions. 

Semi-Automatic Paintball Gun Variants

Standard semi-automatic markers used to be as simple as we just described earlier. However, as they evolved, these markers have come to lean more towards automation. The only difference between one semi-automatic gun and another is how the trigger functions

The basic ones can only be operated manually, so a shot will never be fired unless you press down the trigger. In other models, the standard firing mode in those guns is the typical semi-automatic one, but not the only one. These models encompass other firing modes that players can switch between throughout the game. 

These other options have the trigger electronically operated, not mechanically. Basically, these are hybrid guns that fall in the middle between mechanical and electronic operation. They’re called electro-pneumatic paintball guns.  They’re capable of firing consecutively at a great speed and are more powerful than mechanical semi-automatic markers. 

Here are a couple of examples of electro-pneumatic guns:

3 Shot Burst

In addition to standard semi-automatic firing, you can choose to have 3 paintballs released once you pull the trigger. 

This allows you to fire at a higher rate but also maintain control to a great degree. Nonetheless, it can be a bit of a hassle switching between two modes all the time, though.


If you hold down the trigger without releasing it, this type of paintball gun will continuously increase the rate at which it fires shots. As you you keep the trigger pressed down for longer, the gun releases more and more paintballs per second. For safety, there’s a maximum limit of shots per second.

With this marker, you get great firing speed and volume. You also don’t have to press a certain button to switch between modes, so they’re not fussy at all.

Semi-Automatic Paintball Markers In Points

Let’s review the advantages and disadvantages of opting for a semi-automatic marker.


  • Simply pull the trigger to fire; no fuss!
  • You have full control of your shots
  • Faster than pump paintball guns
  • More affordable than automatic guns


  • They’re only as fast as you are
  • Lower firing rate than automatic guns
  • Not satisfying for professional players

Is a Semi-Automatic Paintball Gun Ideal for You? 

Semi-Automatic Paintball GunDifferent players opt for different guns depending on their age, budget, and level of expertise. If you’re about to play your first paintball game, have only played a few games, or are picking a paintball gun for your kids, sticking to a semi-automatic marker is the best option for you. Moreover, if you’ll be buying your own paintball gun instead of renting one, the price will play a huge role in determining which gun you choose. 

Most people who play just for fun wouldn’t be quick to splurge on an expensive automatic marker. However, if you’re a big paintball enthusiast or a professional player, a semi-automatic just won’t do it for you.

In a Nutshell

With a standard semi-automatic paintball gun, you don’t have to worry about preparing your next shot in advance. Once you fire a shot, the next paintball is automatically loaded into place. To shoot it, all you have to do is pull the trigger! To put it simply, semi-automatic paintball guns are a middle ground between entirely mechanical models like the pump gun and fully automated guns. 

Their use is straightforward and they still manage to give you full control. This makes them an ideal choice for amateur players. However, competitive tournament players prefer more powerful guns with higher levels of automation.

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