Sniping: Semi/Full-Auto vs. Pump Action -A retrospective
2Lt. Jeff Kimbro
1st. Rangers

My platoon and I have been playing paintball for fun and for training for the past 4 years.  In that time we have all learned a thing or two about skill vs. firepower, sniping vs. “spray and pray” and auto vs. pump.  Most everyone begins, as we did, with a low-end pump action marker.  Six of us started out on Brass Eagle Tigersharks.  $90 dollar guns at the time, which we caught on sale for $25 a piece.  Not a bad deal or a bad beginner’s weapon.  As time went on, we began to invite other teams to compete against us and some of us decided to move on to “volume of fire” weapons.  They could only take so many games of being outnumbered three to one and still use their pumps.  In the first month that the first guy got a semi, my entire unit had switched over; all but me.  I had been consistently the best shot from the beginning and continue to be so today because of my trusty pump.  We played for the additional 2 years following that and I was only taken out once by another team (we still won).  25% of that was luck, 25% skill and 50% was due to my team (the best group of guys and girls a C.O. could ask for).  Anyway, now that I’ve established my credibility, lets get down to brass tax. 

There are pros and cons to pumps and semis.  First; pump pros.  To begin with, begin with one.  They are excellent tools for training new guys and instill a sense of fire-discipline and conservation of ammo.  Secondly, pump guns are better (from personal experience) in adverse weather such as rain, snow, extreme cold, etc.  Third, on average, they have low cost.  They are easier to maintain if you don’t know much about markers, or if you have a group of beginners.  Pumps also are generally GI proof, in that they can stand up to neglect and rough handling better.  They also use less CO2.  Lastly, they are easier to modify with homemade parts and accessories.  Now for cons.  They lack the firepower needed for games other than pure rec-ball.  You must trust your teammates to a degree that some people are uncomfortable with (especially those of us who operate as lone snipers away from our main group).  Pumps also tend to have a lack of factory available add-ons.  Things such as easily accessible velocity adjusters or longer barrels are most often overlooked in favor of the semi and f/a guns by the major manufacturers.  Finally, you will be laughed at many times by many people when you stroll onto the field with what most believe to be obsolete equipment.  Either that or they will vastly over-estimate your abilities and target you first when the fun begins. 

Semi and full auto guns have their points as well.  A semi or f/a gun definitely has the advantage in volumetric efficiency.  Any time you or your team needs to run for cover, you can easily deal out the necessary cover fire.  (Then again, how often is a sniper required to give cover?)  Second, they are the industry standard for pro-players.  They have vast amounts of add-ons available for the wide variety of guns that are produced.  Also, the semi and f/a guns are up for grabs in such an array of styles, colors, prices and packages that you can see to it that not many other people operate with the same weapon as you.  After all, one of the benefits of being a recognized sniper is the image attributed to you, right?  The cons, well, cost to start off with. The cost of many semi and f/a guns is above and beyond what many recreational players want to spend.  The weekend warrior who is not totally dedicated to the game will not want to plunk down almost a months’ pay to grab the newest and fanciest gun out there.  Another thing to consider is the accuracy debate.  To me, this debate is non-debatable.  Given the appropriate barrel and sight modifications, the average semi or f/a is as accurate or more so than its pump action brethren.  Another strike against the paintball hoses is cost of CO2 and paint.  If you can keep yourself from trying to make your gun into a field broom, then you have nothing to worry about.  I’ve never seen a sniper hose a field before, but I can imagine it. 

Thus endeth the lesson.  Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what you want to carry.  There are many other unseen factors that can constrain your choice.  Parts exchangeability with teammates’ guns, how often you intend to play, what is on the shelf at your local store, etc.  I still use my Tigershark, though it is almost unrecognizable now.  I converted it to a bolt action, elongated the cocking knobs to allow for one fingered operation, added a scope and laser, increased the air flow to the chamber to add speed, added a self-made three foot long barrel (yes it did improve the accuracy enough to warrant carrying it), added a suppressor, a telescoping stock, and I altered the feed adapter.  Even though I now mainly use a Tippmann 98 C w/ RT and Flatline, its nice to know that in seconds, I can reach to my pack, reassemble the Tigershark and begin wreaking havoc with a totally “obsolete” marker.