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The bulk of the paintball marker is made up of the main body, and everything else attaches to this. The main body contains something called a bolt. The air flows through the bolt and the bolt forces the paintball out. The main body also includes the cocking mechanism. This is either a pump or an automatic system that recocks the gun. Recocking means placing another paintball in the firing chamber.


The chamber or breech is where the ball awaits the rush of air that fires it. Near the chamber is something called a ball detente. This mechanism holds the paintball in place so it doesn't roll out. It also serves to prevent more than one ball at a time feeding into the chamber.




The basic parts of a paintball marker


The bulk of the marker is made up of the main body, and everything else attaches to this. The main body contains something called a bolt. The air flows through the bolt and the bolt forces the paintball out. The main body also includes the cocking mechanism. This is either a pump or an automatic system that recocks the gun. Recocking means placing another paintball in the firing chamber.


The chamber or breech is where the ball awaits the rush of air that fires it. Near the chamber is something called a ball detente. This mechanism holds the paintball in place so it doesn't roll out. It also serves to prevent more than one ball at a time feeding into the chamber.



Paintball marker types


This is NOT going to require a degree in engineering to understand! I will keep it simple, but you do need to have a basic understanding of the types of markers, and how they differ .



Markers fit into one of two broad categories: pump action or semi-automatic. Pump action guns work exactly like a pump action shotgun. Semi-auto markers can work in one of three ways....

Open Bolt Paintball Markers

"Open bolt" is the basic description of the more common type of semi-automatic action. It is referred to as open bolt because the bolt remains in the rearward position between shots.

  • When the trigger is pulled, the sear which is holding the bolt back is dropped or pivoted down out of the way,

  • the bolt slams forward under spring pressure and chambers a paintball.

  • In most cases a hammer simultaneously strikes the valve as the bolt chambers the ball, firing it out the barrel.

  • Some of the gas used to propel the ball is vented back to push the bolt back to the open position where it...

  • rests on the sear until the trigger is pulled again.

This is also the description of a blow back semi-automatic. The terms are interchangeable, and correctly so, as an open bolt semi is usually a blow back semi and vice versa.




Closed Bolt Paintball Markers

This refers to a semi-automatic action which fires the paintball and then moves the bolt (the exact opposite of the open bolt or blow back action).

  • The closed bolt design usually relies on some type of pneumatic ram, which is controlled by a pneumatic switch, connected to the trigger.

  • The trigger action not only fires the paintball, but a split second later, activates the ram which pushes the bolt back (connected by a rod), cocks the action, and allows a ball to drop into the chamber.

  • In most designs the bolt will stay back until the trigger is released.

  • When this is done the switch then changes the airflow in the ram, causing it to drive the bolt forward, feeding a ball into the breech.

  • The entire process repeats itself when the trigger is depressed again.

This operating system can best be described as a "pneumatic robot". Unlike normal semi-automatic actions, the gas used to actually propel the ball is not used to also operate the system. The system bleeds off small amounts to power the ram and switch. The system also uses a regulator to bring the gas pressure down in order to prevent high pressures from damaging the low pressure components of the system.


The closed bolt design is inherently more accurate as the breech is fully sealed by the bolt and the bolt is not travelling at the moment of firing. Also, range is increased, as all the gas is used to propel the ball and none is vented away to work the action. However, closed bolt designs must have perfectly tuned valves because they rely on an EXACT amount of gas to be released for every shot.




Blow Forward Paintball Markers


A semi-automatic operating system where the gas pushes the bolt forwards, chambers a ball and fires it. A spring then returns the bolt and resets the action for another shot. The blow forward design is mechanically complicated as the system relies on complex "switches" to regulate airflow and operate the system, rather than simple mechanical contrivances, like sears. The blow forward design is also more gas efficient, as there is no gas vented away to operate the action by re- cocking it.

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