Pump marker tips, tricks, and tactics

Thought I would try and share some of my personal experience and techniques that I use when playing with a pump marker. In many areas, pumps and stock class markers have taken on a spot on the field. Yet, there are some too that have never tried to play a single game with a pump. Especially with the latest and greatest electros like the Angel Speed or Smart Parts Ion.

I hope this article will provide some insight on how to play properly with a paintball marker. And for those that have not played with one, give you enough courage to try it. This article is geared to stock class players. Though I am sure the regular pump players can get pointers here as well.

The Markers

There are basically two types of pump markers that one could use. You have the regular pumps and the stock class pumps. And even those can be broken down to how they operate; the Sheridan and Nelson based. But all have a common association – they require the user to manually cock and load a paintball after each pull of the trigger.

I think the most common pump marker that one thinks of when that terminology pops up may be the PGP. The PGP is probably one of the earliest paintball markers used in the sport. Sure, there were the Nelspot 007 that the forestry division used to mark trees. Or the Splatmaster being the first marker specifically made for the sport.

But all in all, the PGP is the most common design. This is your Sheridan based marker. Some other common ones you may see today is the CCI Phantom, WGP Sniper, and the Buzzard. These are Nelson based markers. The Lapco Grey Ghost is also trying to make a come back or the solid built Palmer Pursuit Shop line of markers. There are many others too that you may see on the field from time to time.

Does a Sheridan based versus Nelson based have advantages over another? No, not really. It is just how the design and and firing mechanism works.

Selecting a marker is limited to your funding and what you like. The older markers like a P68 or KP rifle will turn heads. But you may pay a higher price for these historical classics compared to the price of them when they first came out. However, they are a solid marker that have lasted to this day, and will last just as long more.

The Phantoms have been around for some time and one that I highly recommend. They have great customer service. The design in the marker that has not changed much since it was first created. And is still in production. Upgrades are limited, yet is customizable to many configurations. From a true stock class set-up to a bulk hopper fed pump. Converting from one configuration to the other takes under 5-minutes.

For the Stock Class player, the entrance to the breach may be on the back of the marker where others is on the front. PGP’s are towards the back. Phantoms are more in the front. This requires two different techniques to loading the paintball marker. PGP’s need to be pointed in an upward angle during the pumping to allow the paint to roll into the breach. The Phantom is pointed in a downward angle during the pumping.

Do some research and pick one that you like and compfortable with.


Upgrades for a pump? Sure thing! Especially for those that use the 12grams. Course, if you can change barrels, getting a good paint to barrel match is a good thing. Here are a few items that one can consider.

Palmers Pursuit does a few upgrades to PGP’s. Also, check out PGP Owners Group. You may find information or other places to increasing the performance of your marker. And you thought there wasn’t much that you can do with it. Just read through there forum.

Phantoms allow different barrels to be used. Lapco, Smart Parts, and DYE make barrels for the Phantom. Though, the stock barrel is really good. A hard thing to find is a lightened hammer that would benefit the Phantom. Lapco made them for the Grey Ghost that also happen to fit the Phantoms.

Why lighten the hammer? To reduce bounce or rebound. This is an internal phenomina that is associated with the hammer hitting the valve open. When you fire the marker, you release the hammer. This is forced forward by the main spring and hits the valve open. When the valve pin closes, it hits the hammer back. The main spring then pushes on the hammer making it reopen the valve and loose some of the CO2. Not very efficient. The lightened hammer will not have enough mass to reopen the valve during the rebound.

As mentioned, Lapco made one for the Grey Ghost. You may need to have a machinist take some material off. I am not aware of a commercially made lightened hammer for Sheridan type markers. Though, you could also take this to a machinist to get it lightened.

Another internal upgrade are power tubes. These are commonly found in Nelson based markers. These are basically tubes that have different I.D.’s to allow more (or less) air to travel. These are hard to find. But you may luck out and find some. These are useful for the older ones. Newer pumps like the Trracer and Phantom have the best one suited for it.

Spring kit is a plus. Thise assist with stubborn velocity issues. AutoCocker springs are useable in Phantoms. A long time ago, AutoCockers were pumps. The pneumatics do the work of the pump motion.

Shoulder stocks helps steady your shot. If your marker configuration allows it, the larger 14oz tank can serve this purpose. Those that cannot use a tank, you can fit a “T” stock like the one from CCI. Adding a stock of some sort will add length to the marker. Pumping with a stock is not hard for those that are using a stock class feed system. Keep the stock against your shoulder. If you need to point the barrel up to allow a paintball to roll into the breach, simply lower your stock shoulder. Do the opposite for those that need to point the marker down.

You may find different pump handles. Like the Nasty Pump for PGP’s and KP’s. This allows one a better grip while pumping the marker. This helps when pumping in the prone position. More than likely, the arm that the pump is resting on is supporting your weight. Therefore, move the other arm, thus moving the marker body.

A 12g changer for the stock class player may need an upgrade. I know for the PGP, it takes several turns to access the 12g chamber. A Faast changer reduces this to a little over 1 full turn. This is specialized to the PGP. CCI, the maker of the Phantom, makes one for there line that only requires just over 1 full turn to access the 12g. This will fit any marker that has a standard ASA.

An extention of the marker is a harness that you wear. This will hold your 12g and paint tubes. Ronin Gear makes a specialized stock class harness. You could also essentially use a shotgun belt found at the local gun shop for the same purpose.

For those that use a hopper, try to use a small one. WGP and Brass Eagle have a 40round hoppers. They resemble a wedge of cheese with a hole in the top and a tube on the bottom. They are not large and bulky like a 200round hopper. Will not make the marker unbalanced. Again, with these hoppers, one little upgrade that I add is to visit the local gun shop and buy a flip cover for a rifle scope. This should fit over the lip of the feed. When you need to load (using stock class tubes), just flip it open, load, then close.

Gauges on the marker can tell you how much pressure you have in your marker. If you know the pressure minimum for the minimum velocity that I suggest, you won’t need to count shots and guess that you need to change air.

Wondering how much paint can cost you that perfect tag if you shoot air at the target. Mill some slots into the side of the feed tube. If you do this yourself, make sure that you deburr so as to not break paint in the feed. Believe me, it is a pain getting all the goo out. This slot, or series of slots will help you visually with how much paint you do have.

Polishing the internals will help with the reduction of friction. Remove all of the internals. Where metal moves on metal (hammer, bolt, valve pin, etc..), this will help with firing and cocking. Use a medium grit paper. Then work your way up to a higher grit of 1,000 or more. Do not remove too much material. And don’t do the inside of the marker. Rather, clean the inside of the marker. Then, use a good metal polish and do the parts you sanded and the inside of the marker.

Proper maintenance could be considered an upgrade. Many really would not consider cleaning and oiling a pump marker since there is not much in a way of moving parts. However, it is the best way to keep your marker working at peak performance which is just as good as upgrading parts.

On The Field Tactics

Stock vs. Stock. Move when your opponent fires. He needs time to pump the marker and reaim. Also, move when he is out of air/paint. If able to count his shots, chances are that if he fires more than about 15 times without changing air/adding paint, he will be suprised to the lack of those items. Air velocity is reduced and more than likely will bounce. Make every shot count.

Pump vs. Pump. Move when your opponent fires. (S)he will need time to pump and re-aim (unless the marker has an AutoTrigger). Move also if then add paint. If you know they are using 12g, take a larger risk on them if they shoot more than 15 shots.

Pump vs. Semi. Moving can be a slight problem since the opponent can keep a steady stream of paint on the target. Pop out from behind the bunker at different places and try to get a shot off. If you have an autotrigger, use that to your advantage to keep a steady stream of paint going. Move when they are adding paint.

A tactic that works for all of the above is to use team work. Support each other when you are moving. Team up with a semi if you can. The semi can fire on the target to keep them from looking around the bunker and allow the pump player to move up on them. If you see an extended lull in there shooting, may mean they are filling there markers with paint. Or air.

Listen to your surroundings. Your opponent may experience a loss of memory as to how full there marker is. They go to change it and have this large hiss of air escaping. a great time to charge.

Take your time and hang back when the game starts. Pick your targets, and battles. Evasion and attacking the target is key. In speedball arrangements, be aware of your angles. Don’t worry about what is in front of you. Take a peek what is in front. Only a peak. And be light on your feet. Fight battles on your terms, not your opponents.

Practice shooting. For those with 12g, your shots will shorten since the pressure goes down. They have limited capacity of air. So every shot counts. I have found that paint traveling lower than 225fps will bounce off targets that are more than 25ft away. Pratice hitting targets about 50-75ft away and build on your snap shooting skills. Experience with the marker will help in the placement of your shots.

Before changing your 12g, have the fresh one out ready to go. When unloading a 12g, allow gravity to assist. Dump it out. Don’t try to pick it out. Same with paint. Have that tube out and ready to load. Find yourself a tube extender. This will allow you to feed faster and maybe even keeping the tube in place.

If you find yourself needing to load both paint and air, air takes priority over paint. Once you have air, this will allow you to “shoot” at your opponent and keep them at bay so that you can get paint in the marker.

Use some kind of harness for the CO2 12g. It is hard to sneak up on somebody when you have “bells” ringing. At least find an armband for them.

Take about 150 – 200 paintballs with you. That turns out to be 15 – 20 tubes of paint. You may not think that is much. Remember, you have a pump. Alittle slower ROF. Also, make sure you have enough paint to fire all the paintballs.

Work within your ability of your marker. Know how many shots exactly you can get with one 12g. for that day. Weather effects the pressure of CO2. Knowing how many shots you get on a rainy day versus warm sunny day is crucial. Find this out by shooting over the chronograph. Put a fresh 12g in and count howmany shots you fire before it gets down to 240-250fps. Fire slow. Like one shot every 5-seconds. This will be prime velocity for the paintball to break. Shoot more down to 230, and this will be the bare minimum for it to break. Try to change your 12g between the 230 to 250fps.

With pumps, one does seem to learn to be faster on there feet, know when to move, and think alittle faster with strategy. They need to with a pump.

If ever you need to make a retreat, don’t go in a straight line. As humans, one has a tendency to go in a straight line away from danger. In paintball, try to circle around to the left or right. If you do this right, you may find your targets all lined up because you are on there flank (sides). Course, when you circle around, make sure your not in sight of your potential targets.

Proper Mindset and Practice

Just because you have a pump marker and are up against semiauto’s, the bottomline is that it only takes one hit for an elimination. Not 10 or 15.

It seems that those with semiauto’s think that they need to be respected by a player that has a pump. Yes, it is true that they can laydown paint and have plenty to use. However, using this technique of laying down paint is ingrained in there heads and a dependancy is formed. They get frantic when it gets time to reload.

They also have this bulky equipment strapped on there bodies that roll and shift. not very compfortable. They stick out and just not natural feeling.

Pumpers seem to take there disadvantage of the slow ROF and use it to there advantage. The think more! They know when to move, where to move, and how to move. The best part, they are not tied down with equipment like pods that makes moving unnatural. There markers are also light. If you are serious about pump play, the following upgrades are a must and worth looking into.

For stock class players, get yourself a tube extender. Not a physical extension to the markers current magazine capacity. This is a bolt on device that will allow you to hold a tube of paint. Masses Machine Shop makes one for PGP/P-68 series and the K Rifles. For something like the Phantom, you can basically stick the tube inside of the end cap. This will help you with knowing how much paint you have.

For those with hoppers, try to get a small one. Almost resembles a wedge of cheese with a hole in the top and a tube on the bottom. Typically, they hold 40 rounds. Get a rifle scope flip cover. This will not only keep paintballs in. It will also help with speeding up the filling process.

Practice with empty tubes. To load, it is simple. For the hopper player, make sure the hopper is full. Then make sure that all the tubes you are taking onto the field are full. When it comes to time for tube changing, simply remove the tube from your harness and use your thumb to flip off the cap. You will also need to flip open your hopper cover. Pour in the paint and toss the empty tube. Unless you are in a scenario game. Then throwing away the tubes may be an expense to you. If that is the case, don’t fumble and try to stick it back in the harness. Too time consuming. Rather, jam them in side cargo pockets that are available at your local Army/Navy store.

For you stock class players, loading is the same concept. Except you are not messing with the hopper. Still having a full tube ready to insert, use the same hand and remove the empty tube. Like with the pinky and next finger. Immediately pop the cap and insert the full tube. Masses tube extender is real nice as it has a small gate. While shooting, paint that is in the markers magazine will hit the gate and drop down into the breach. Comes to time for reloading, open the gate and tilt the marker. Close the gate and replace with a new full tube.

I mentioned flipping off the green caps. You loose those caps and you will have tubes that are useless. Sure, you could tape over the opening. However, it may be hard to peel that off. Or, you have a paintball stuck on it. Follow this link to making a lasso type of setup so that you no longer loose those precious caps.

Now, for those that need to change air, may not be an issue with a hopper. Good chance you are using a small tank like a 4oz. However, I have seen hopper pump players use a 12g. If this is you, then do these things. For you Sheridan people (PGP, P-68, K-series), get some kind of Faast changer. They are rare. But are worth it. Check out the PGP Owners Group forum. There may be somebody making them. For those with a ASA 12g mounted setup, the CCI quick changer is great. Both changers are slightly more than 1 full turn compared to other/stock plugs.

Practice with empty cartridges. Come to time for changing, have a full one ready to load. Unscrew the plug and dump it. Let gravity help you. Another helpful hint is to know how much your marker can effectively shoot before needing to change. I suggest you do this at the firing range. Weather, as brought out in my Air – FAQ article can and will effect the pressure of the CO2 cartridge. I have mounted a gauge on the back of my Phantom to help me with knowing when to change.

Counting the shots for air and paint may not be feasible. Especially in battle. You can easily loose track. So, add view slots in the side for the feed magazine. This is a good visual to showing exactly how many paintballs you have. For air, add a gauge as I mentioned in the above paragraph. These visual aids is a great help to you.

Final thought

Pump markers are easy to maintain as there are less components to foul. Or even batteries to die. They are less likely to be malfunction on the field. They are lighter and no need for goobs amount of paint. With that in mind, you will run faster, and not have “stuff” sticking out as a target.

The downfall of some pumps is its limited fire power and range. Despite that, you can use that to your advantage.

People that see you don’t see you as a threat. To them, a pump is slow and cumbersome. Really? I think they are not highly coordinated to pump and aim a marker. Practice will help you with a pump marker.

With a pump, you can move around alot easier and more natural. Not bulk loaders and constant air tanks to hamper your movement. In an enclosed area, you are much more manueverable.

For pump versus semi, be patient. Let them come to you. You may get off a good shot when they are moving. Keep at it. You will not be a top player as you will get eliminated quite often. However, don’t think of it as a negative. Think positive. Ask yourself, how and why did it get eliminated? Was there something different I could have done to prevent the hit? Asking yourself these questions will help you become a better player.

Playing pump can and will increase the adrenalin to a different level. And remembering how you took out the player with the Angel Speed with nothing more than a pump is one that will be remembered for a long, long time. Playing pump truly brings one back the the roots of paintball and gives one a whole new outlook.

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