What is Pump Paintball and Why You Should Try It

What is Pump Paintball?

Just about every paintballer on the field today is familiar with semi auto and electronic paintball guns, but there are quite a few players that are completely unfamiliar with the world of pump paintball.

Pump paintball is simply playing with a paintball gun that requires you to re-cock or “pump” the gun after each shot is fired. As the gear is simple in design and are slower to shoot, pump players rely heavily on skill and teamwork to win.

Every field I have gone to allows players to use pump action paintball guns, and some fields even encourage it if there are a lot of rental players on the field.

What is a Pump Paintball Gun and How Do They Work?

Pump paintball guns are very simple in design when compared to that of your standard semi auto and electronic paintball gun. In order to shoot, you must pull back on the pump handle to simultaneously load another round and cock the paintball gun each time.

Because of the simplicity of the design, pump action paintball guns are typically more reliable, require less maintenance and can be more efficient setups.

Pump paintball guns require a constant air source like a regular paintball tank to work. You don’t have to “pump” air into the gun with the handle, air is constantly flowing into the valve at all times. The only thing you are doing when manipulating the pump handle is cocking the bolt and loading another paintball. This means that your pump paintball gun will shoot at the same velocity as everyone else and can’t be “pumped up” to shoot faster like you can with a BB gun.

If you want to see some different pump paintball configurations like stock class and open class setups, check out the article I wrote here: https://www.paintzapper.com/stock-class-vs-open-class-paintball/

Nelson Valve vs Sheridan Valve Pump Paintball Guns

There are two main styles of pump paintball gun configurations; Nelson Valve and Sheridan Valve. Sheridan based paintball guns like Autocockers have a stacked tube bolt configuration. On the other hand Nelson based pump paintball guns like the phantom, have an in-line bolt system.

One style is not any better than the other and different players will prefer one over the other for various reasons. I have used both types throughout the years and find them both equally as effective on the field.

– Sheridan Valve

Sheridan style pump paintball guns are stacked tube design and are similar in feel to most blowback and poppet style paintball guns on the market today. Examples of Sheridan Valve paintball guns are the Empire Sniper, Azodin KP3, and the CCM S6.5.

Lots of players gravitate to Sheridan pump gun as they are easier to transition to from a standard paintball gun and have a much lighter pump stroke. Most people will find them easier to point and shoot over the Nelson style pumps as they sit lower in the hand.

The animation below from ZDSPB is a great example of how a Sheridan valved paintball gun operates:

– Nelson Valve

Nelson style pump paintball guns have an in-line bolt and valve assembly and are similar in feel to most spool valve paintball guns on the market today. Examples of Sheridan Valve paintball guns are the CCI Phantom, Tippmann SL68-II, and the Indian Creek Designs PRP.

The Nelson style pumps are typically smaller and lighter than their Sheridan counterparts, giving you a nice and compact setup. They do tend to have a heavier pump stroke due to the valve design but is still quite easy to use.

The animation below from ZDSPB is a great example of how a Nelson valved paintball gun operates:

Why You Should Play Pump

OK, so now you know what a pump paintball gun is and how they work, but why would you want to use them?

Pump paintball guns excel in some areas that your standard semi auto and electro setup just can’t touch. For a player like myself, these key advantages more than make up for the reduction in firepower.

  1. Weight reduction – A lighter weight setup not only allows you to play for longer without getting worn out as fast, but lets you run faster and move in and out of bunkers with ease.
  2. Small profile – The smaller the target is, the harder it is to hit. Pump setups typically have smaller hoppers (or use stick feeds) and smaller tanks. Not having that large hopper waving around helps keeps you from both getting hit and seen as easily.
  3. Improves your accuracy – Most properly configured pump setups can be just a bit more accurate than your standard blowback. Plus, since you already know that you have to make each shot count you subconsciously will take better aim with each shot.
  4. Improve skills you don’t normally use – The main reason why I play pump is to hone my skills as a player. You don’t realize it, but having the super easy (and fun) option to just shoot paint can hinder you from moving or even working with your team.
  5. Makes the average player more challenging – There is no denying it, you will be outgunned by even the rental players. This to me is great as most of my local fields have a lot of inexperienced players on the field, so playing pump makes it more challenging and enjoyable to play.
  6. Less expensive to shoot – Lets put it down to simple math, a case of paint is $50-$80 and might last you all day with a semi auto or electro. A $15-$20 bag of paint can last you all day long with a pump and you might even have some left over at the end of the day.
  7. Low maintenance – Cleaning and maintaining your pump is a breeze as they are super simple. There are fewer moving parts and o-rings to take care of making basic maintenance a breeze.

Pump Paintball Gameplay Strategies

Playing pump will require a slight shift in how you think and act on the field. But it’s these changes in how you play that can make you a force to be reckoned with. You wont be able to brute force your way up the field with a bunch of paintballs in the air, instead you develop other strategies to get the upper hand on your opponents.

  1. Move up fast and hard – At the beginning of the game, you should be moving up the field as much as possible. Let your teammates with the faster shooting setups cover you and allow you to get behind a good bunker to shoot from. Pump players are more effective further up the field charging the other team.
  2. Just snap shoot – You have to pump a ball into the chamber after each shot, so just start snap shooting. This will reduce the amount of time you are out in the open and reduce the possibility that you will get eliminated.
  3. Don’t stay in one spot – Your biggest advantage is being lightweight and more mobile. Rapidly moving from one section of the bunker to another (or another bunker entirely) can confuse the other team and make them doubt where you actually are.
  4. Be a decoy – Don’t forget you have teammates! As a pump player, the other team may think you are an easy target and try to make an aggressive move on you. Set up an ambush with your teammates if you think the other team may try to rush you.
  5. Be stealthy – If the other team doesn’t know where you are, you will have more time to line up a shot or move up and flank them. Staying low and being patient may provide you with some amazing shots if the other team looses track of you.
  6. Know the field layout – For most fields, you will be able to see the entire layout and maybe even walk around on the field beforehand. Know what areas each bunker can cover, their weak spots, and any blind spots to take advantage of.
  7. Use your teammates – If you are playing on a field with semis and electros, call on them to give you cover so you can move up or get out of a bad spot. You may have limited firepower, but you teammates may be willing to throw some paint for you if needed.

For more pump paintball tips, check out this article I wrote with 14 tips to improve your pump skills: https://www.paintzapper.com/pump-paintball-tips/
If you want some advanced tips that will improve your overall gameplay by getting into the other players heads, you can see them in this article I wrote: https://www.paintzapper.com/advanced-paintball-tips/

Best Pump Paintball Guns and Gear for Beginners

Getting into pump paintball doesn’t have to be expensive at all. Matter of fact, I have found that some of the more basic pump paintball gear performs just as well or better than some of their more expensive counterparts!

Best Pump Paintball Guns for the Money

There are a lot of pump paintball guns on the market and I have shot just about every single one of them. There is no need to drop several hundred or thousands of dollars on the top of the line pump gear, the gains are minimal and this style of play relies heavily on player skill to win your games.

– Azodin KP3.5

The Azodin KP3.5 is by far my top choice for any paintball player wanting to jump into pump paintball. You get so much value out of this paintball gun that it makes it hard to even consider any other setup.


  • Comfortable Delrin pump handle
  • Dual arm pump handle to reduce pump twisting
  • Comes with 2 barrel backs to match to the size of your paintballs
  • Regulated low pressure design
  • Clamping feedneck
  • On/Off ASA
  • Comfortable single trigger frame
  • Lots of cool colors to choose from

They are by far the best value pump on the market at around $250. You can pick one up on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/34dsdsV
If you want the baby brother of the KP3, you can get the basic version called the KPC for about $100 cheaper! Check out Amazon for the most current prices: https://amzn.to/33cDKYn

If you want to see some other great pump paintball options in various price brackets, check out my top picks below:

Best Pump Paintball Hoppers

You don’t want to use full sized hoppers or even motorized hoppers when playing pump. They are just too big and heavy, especially when you fill them with 200 paintballs! Using a small and simple hopper allows you to use a pump setup to its fullest potential.

– GOG Multi Caliber

The GOG Multi Caliber hopper is one of the most effective pump paintball hoppers on the market. You will be hard pressed to find a better pump hopper than this one.

This hopper also comes with a 50 cal adapter installed that you will have to remove in order to use the standard 68 cal paint (hence the name multi caliber). This is super easy to do; just unscrew the hopper, remove the adapter, and screw it back together. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to do.


  • 100 round capacity
  • Weighs 4.5 oz empty
  • Super fast feed rate (faster than the Proto Primo and Empire Splitter)
  • Large lid for easy reloading

These hoppers are super cheap and can be found online for $10 to $15. Check out Amazon for current pricing: https://amzn.to/35CfRv5

– APP Sight Feeder

If you want something even smaller than the GOG Multi Caliber, the APP Sight Feeder is an excellent option! It has a super small profile, simple design and comes with a locking lid!


  • 50 round capaicty
  • Weighs 2.2 oz
  • Decent feed rate
  • Simple one piece molded design

These hoppers are also quite affordable and be found online for $10 to $15 online. Check out Amazon for current pricing: https://amzn.to/35wlryZ

If you want to see more great choices for pump paintball hoppers, check out the link below:

Best Pump Paintball Tanks

When picking a paintball tank for your pump, you don’t need a large 48 ci or 68 ci HPA tank. You will want something small and light but yet have enough air to shoot the entire contents of your hopper!

– 13/3000 HPA Tanks

The tank that most pump players use is the trusty 13 cubic inch (ci) 3000 psi HPA tank, also known as a 13/3000. These are going to be your most commonly found smaller tank size, are light weight, and can shoot 130 rounds on most pumps in one fill.

Different manufactures will vary in prices, but I have found that both HK Army and Tippmann have the cheapest versions. The Ninja 13/3000 tanks come with a better quality regulator and typically cost more money but isn’t necessary for most pumps on the market.

Check out Amazon for the most current prices:
HK Army 13/3000 – https://amzn.to/37FaZXQ
Tippmann 13/3000 – https://amzn.to/35uyVLk
Ninja 13/3000 – https://amzn.to/37vNfoV

– 26/3000 HPA Tanks

If you feel like the 13 ci tanks are a bit too short and don’t hold enough air, give the 26 ci tanks a shot. I have one myself and prefer it over the 13 ci tanks as they are just the right length for me while still being light weight and small.

The ones from Tippmann cost about the same price as a 13/3000 tank and can be picked up on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2DaEv9O

If you want to see more great choices for pump paintball hoppers, check out the link below:

Pump Paintball Pods and Pod Packs

It isn’t ideal to use the standard 130 round pods to fill a 100 round or even a 50 round hopper. You will just end up with loose paint inside of your pod that may break when moving around on the field.

Thankfully, there are 50 round pods available for those who want to play low cap or pump paintball. These will fit in any regular pod pack, so you don’t have to pick up a special pack just for these guys.

These are just a dollar or so more than your standard pods due as these are made in smaller runs, but can be picked up in packs of 6 for a discounted price than individually on Amazon.
Single 50 round pods – https://amzn.to/2KPuMKm
6 pack 50 round pods – https://amzn.to/33fQJse


Florida based paintball player with 20 years of experience playing everything from recball to 24 hour scenario events.

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