Introduction: Speedball Equipment for Beginners

   Alright, after seeing very few speedball i'bles, and the ones that are here not very good, I have decided to make my own.

   Now the first thing you should know is that speedball is very different from woodsball.  Woodsball is not as fast paced, and in my opinion, as exciting as speedball.  Woodsball involves semi-automatic mechanical guns (I know you can get e-triggers and the like, please dont post about small things like that), while speedball guns are incredibly fast shooting, and are electronic.

  So, because speedball is much faster, and requires more complicated equipment, it is much more expensive than woodsball.  Starting guns go for about $150, you can go lower, but it isnt recommended.  Hoppers are also more expensive, because you need electronic ones, and you shoot a lot more paint.

  So if you're thinking about starting speedball, read on!

Step 1: Get a Feel!

Before you go out and buy your own gear, play with rentals at local fields for a while, and once you know (not think!) you want to buy your own gear, read on!

However, many people make the mistake of rushing and buying their gear, without doing any research.  This is crucial because the equipment in this i'ble can be obsolete in as little as a year.  Not only that, but only consider buying gear once you have enough money.

Step 2: The Most Important Bit of Gear

  You can play without a hopper.
  You can play without a tank.
  You can even play without a gun!

  Your mask is arguably your most important piece of gear, as it is what protects your eyes and mouth from speeding paintballs.  I can not stress this enough.  First and foremost, get a good mask!  Not a crappy $15 mask that will fog, and are made with silicone that can not fully protect you from paintballs.

  Alright.  There are three different kinds of lenses.  The first is single, which is basically just a piece of plastic, that WILL fog, although the cheapest.  Next comes anti-fog, for people who want less fog, but who are on a budget, it's a piece of plastic with stuff on it.  Finally, the best is thermal lenses.  It is two lenses positioned one in fron of the other, with an air pocket in between.  These are the most expensive, but give the least fogging.  Some masks also come with the capability of putting a fan in, but this isn't really necessary unless you have some serious fogging issues.

  You might be able to get away with some special sprays that prevent fogging on the cheapest lenses, but this is more expensive in the long run.  There are also other ways, like wiping a piece of potato on your lense, among other things.
  Now before you buy, go to your local paintball store and TRY THEM ON.  No point going out and buying a mask that doesn't fit or is very uncomfortable.  However, if you're willing to take the risk, is a good online store.

I recommend:
Dye I4 09 ($100)
Empire E-vents ($100)
Sly Profit ($90)
V-force Profiler ($60)
Proto Axis Pro ($80) 
Invert Avatar ($70)
Thermal Save Phace ($65+) (Only get one of the thermal ones)

  You can go for cheaper masks, but i don't recommend it.  If you choose to however, do research into the mask you want, look at reviews, etc.  A good cheaper mask is the proto EL ($30).
  Take your time choosing, don't rush it.

Step 3: The Power Source

How do the paintballs get launched? Using the power of compressed gases of course! There are two different kinds of gases available for paintball. The first and cheapest is CO2, and the tanks come in sizes from 4oz to 24oz ranging from $10 to $40. On average you should get about 50 shots per ounce. However, Co2 is not ideal, as it is stored in a liquid state inside the tank, and if the liquid gets inside the gun, it could cause pressure spikes that can damage the gun. There are some guns that guard against this, and there are devices that protect your gun from this, like Palmer's Stabilisers, however, it is still not ideal. Great on a budget, bad in the long run.

   The other kind is HPA (Highly Pressurised Air or something like that) which is compressed air stored at 3000 PSI! The tanks are more expensive than Co2, but the fills are usually cheaper. They are completely safe for your gun to run, and they come with two output pressures, high and low.  Most guns run high, but Angels NEED low.

   So, for Co2 tanks, brand does not matter, just get the size you want.  Getting an Anti-siphon (a tube inside the tank that helps to stop liquid getting in your gun.) or a stabiliser is recommended, but not required.

   Because HPA is the more used one, there are many brands and kinds of tanks to choose from.  You can choose between a steel tank or a carbon fibre.  Steel tanks are  much cheaper, but are a bit heavier, and hold less air, therefore fewer shots before a refill.  They hold less air as they only have a volume of about 48 cubic inches and are pressurised to 3000 psi, while fibre wraps are usually 68 cubic inches, and store air at 4500 psi.  Ninja and Guerrila are your best bet for steel tanks, and they are $30-$50.  Carbon fibre tanks are more expensive, but are much lighter and last longer between refills, which is why they are the tank of choice for many pros.  Good brands include Crossfire, Ninja, and Guerrila.

   If you decide to go HPA, buy a cover to protect your investment.  They also have pads on the back if you decide to use your tank as a stock.

Step 4: Feeding Machine!

Now, how are all those paintballs going to get into your gun?  With a hopper of course!

  You get three different kinds of hoppers, gravity-feed, agitator, and force-feed.  The gravity feed is basically just a plastic container with a tube at the bottom that the paintballs fall through, typically cost about $5 very slow, jams quite often.  Next comes agitator, which just has some way of moving the paintballs around so that they do not jam like the gravity feed, good for budget ballers, but if you can, go for force-feeders.  These use rotating paddles to force the paintballs down the tube and into your marker.  They are by far the best, although most expensive.  force-feeds also jam rarely, however the higher end hoppers have anti-jamming systems to counter this.

   Don't get a gravity feed.  You'll regret it, and you'll end up having to get another hopper anyway.  If you're on a budget and you'll settle for an agitator, get the Extreme Rage Overdrive Sonic DB for about $35, however if you are going to spend that little bit extra (and I highly recommend you do so!) there are many force-feeders to choose from.

There are three hoppers at the moment competing for top place.

The first, and probably the most popular of the three is the dye rotor.  Feeds 50 balls a second, holds 200, spring loaded floor tray means you can aim upwards better, low profile makes it harder to hit etc.  Uses "eyes" to see whether there is a ball in the gun or not, so it can load a ball when there isn't.  Has a pull handle to get rid of jams.  $160

  Next is the empire prophecy.  Feeds about the same as the rotor, no tools needed for disassembly, jam prevention and automatic fixing, includes rip drive (little thumb wheel on bottom to feed the paintballs in manually if the batteries run out), 200 ball capacity. Goes for about $150.

  Finally is the strangest of them all, the Pinokio.  It feeds slightly slower at 30 balls a second, but it holds up to 400 balls with a changeable nose.  And you're never going to shoot faster than 20 balls a second, so this is fine if you want the extra capacity.

  So those are the three top hoppers, but unless your willing to spend lots of money getting an incredible set-up, it's best just to get a cheaper one.  Here is a list of the cheaper ones:

  On the cheaper end of the medium area are the Viewloader eVLutions (commonly called "eggs")  the egg 3 has been out for a while, and is actually a pretty decent hopper for the price, and on zephyr they are sold for $60 with a z-board, which is a lot better value than the egg 4, which has recently come out.

   From these hoppers we move into the range of $70+ hoppers:
  The first two are Invert Halo Too and the Spyder Fasta , and many people swear by the Halo Too, and noticeably fewer for the Fasta, but both are good for the Mid-Medium range.  I personally use the fasta.  The Halo Too is sound-activated, while the fasta isn't, not sure how it is though.  If you had to choose, take the Halo Too.

   Next comes the Halo B and the Empire Magna , and both are good for the $80 on zephyr, the halo feeds faster, but the magna has RF (A special function that lets your gun communicate with the hopper to tell it when to load).  I would take the Magna for the looks and RF, but it does not really matter.

   Finally its the viewloader VLocity for $110.  It is much the same as the previous two, employing a different paddle system, but equally good.  However, this hopper sports select force, an option allowing you to choose how hard the paddles push.  Great for pushing both stubborn, cheap practice paint as well as the brittle and fragile tournament paint.

Step 5: The Gun

Now, there's a reason why I left this section to last (well, near last).  People go out and have x amount of money to spend, and see a gun that is about the same as the amount of money he/she has, and says "OOOOH, I can get that"  meanwhile neglecting all the other bits of gear that they need.  BEFORE you choose a gun, go back to the previous sections, and choose good equipment, calculate how much it will cost, subtract that from your total funds, and see how much money you can put toward your gun.

   Before I go into the guns themselves, you all need a little education.  Paintball guns are divided into two different systems.  The way a gun works is the bolt inside the gun pushes the paintball forward, and then shoots it out with a puff of compressed gas.  The two different systems, poppet and spool, Have different ways of achieving this.  The poppet has the bolt move forward (either by gas or a spring), and once it has moved forward all the way, something attached to the bolt hits a valve which opens it, releasing the gas through the bolt and into the chamber, propelling the ammunition.  Spool guns have the bolt pushed forward by the compressed gases that will eventually shoot the paintball, and once the bolt has moved forward, holes in the bolt line up with certain O-rings, releasing the gases so that they may launch the paintball.  Poppet valves are generally louder, and with the lower-end guns have more recoil than spools, but are more propellant efficient.  Spools are quieter and have less recoil, but are less gas efficient, and have more O-rings.  I personally go with poppets, as loudness does not matter much in speedball, and because in the mid-range guns the is virtually no recoil.  It's your choice.

   There are also many parts of the gun.  The back handle where the rubber grip usually is houses the battery, and sometimes even the board.  The power buttons are usually located either on the grip or near it.  On the bottom of the back grip is the ASA.  It is where the tank screws into the gun from there a tube leads the gas into the regulator, which is also the front grip.  This regulates the pressure down to something more manageable for your gun.  From here it enters the solenoid (in electronic guns), which only opens when a ball is to be shot.  From here it enters the bolt system, and ends up shooting the gun.  Many guns have extra contraptions in between, but this is just a general description.

  Guns also either don't or do have "eyes", almost exactly the same as the eyes in hoppers.  The use a beam of IR or something similar to detect whether there is a ball to shoot, and to prevent "chopping" which is when the bolt moves forward and the paintball is halfway into the gun, chopping it in half, spraying the inside of your gun a barrel covered in paint, which is annoying to clean and makes your accuracy worse.

  Many different firing modes are available on guns, but the most common would be semi-auto, 3-shot burst, full auto, and ramping.  Ramping is a firing mode that shoots semi-automatic, until you start pressing the trigger fast enough, at which it starts to shoot faster than what you are pulling.  Ramping is all that many tournaments allow, and there are also different kinds of ramping.

  So now for the actual guns!

  Many rec-ball (rec- = recreation, players who play it as a hobby every now and then) players simply own a beginner-level gun, as this is really all you need.
  Right now, there aren't many beginner-level guns out.  The only good one out at the moment would be the Azodin Blitz going for $170.  It is a poppet with a spring, and is an excellent gun for the price, able to shoot at 20 bps (balls per second).  Quite low recoil for a low-level poppet, making it excellent.  As a beginner, you could also get the Azodin Zenith for $250, but it world be better just to get a better gun for about $300.  Both have eyes.

  Spyder also makes some decent beginner guns, with the Pilot being the best.  This gun is poppet-based spring driven.  It is one of the more commonly used guns, and it has eyes, and comes with a rechargeable battery, 25 bps max, comes with rechargeable battery. Has eyes. $140

  The other beginner guns that many people swear by are the Smart Parts Vibes, SP-1s, and Ion.  However, I wouldn't touch these with a ten-foot pole at the moment as Smart-Parts UK has recently closed down, with the company in other countries about to follow.  However, buying an Ion second hand will provide the possibility of serious upgrading when needed instead of buying a new gun, but I still recommend against it.
Smart Parts has been bought by another company, and are now making the guns again, they should be okay now.  What I neglected to mention the first time round was that I used to own a vibe, and loved it.  Don't try and get intimate with it, because other than greasing the bolt, it's not meant to be taken apart.

   From there we move into the mid-range guns, perfect for the occasional tourney player, who still plays rec-ball.  What you will find is that some of the companies who make mid-range guns also make high-end guns, meaning that there should be many upgrades for these guns.

  The first, and also the one I use personally, is the almighty Planet Eclipse Etek 3.  Comes in two versions, the LT, and the AM.  The LT is $500, while the AM is $600.  The LT has composite body parts, and cannot be upgraded with the Emortal board.  Almost no kick, easy to program board, adjustable firing modes, on/of ASA (allows you to turn the gas flow on and off), and uses the bolt and rammer of the older egos, as well as being able to be upgraded to ego level. Amazing.  (I think I might be slightly biased towards the Etek 3).  Has eyes.

  Another favourite of the mid-range is the Dangerous Power G4.  Great gun for the $300 price-tag, spool-based.  It has a bolt system that does not have O-rings, eliminating one of the disadvantages of a spool system, and also partially eliminates the second as it is more efficient than the average spoolie.  Used by many, loved by all.  Has eyes.

  The Invert Mini is another gun that many people use.  It is a poppet, and it is different in that its board is inside the front grip, as well as the battery.  This allows the reg to be in the rear grip, eliminating the need for the macro-line hose going from the bottom of the rear grip to the bottom of the front grip.  Almost fully customisable firing modes let choose what fire-power you want.  The mini is also probably the smallest and lightest fun available, however some people find that it id too small for their hands, so be careful and try to get a hold of a mini before buying. Has eyes, $300.

  Empire is bringing out their Axe, which is stated to be an upgraded invert mini, featuring tool-less cleaning, as well as having a bigger frame for bigger hands.  I don't think it will be worth the $450 though.  Wait and see, it might be better than you think.  Has eyes.

  The final brand in the mid-range section is Proto.  Known for making excellent mid-range guns, they are a favourite.  Prices vary from $400 to $500 for the Proto Matrix Rail.  This is their more used model, spool, and is a great in all areas.  Air-efficient for a spool, improved over the past few years, not much to say other than it is pretty good for a mid-range.  The SLG goes for $300, and is a cheaper PMR, spool based as well.  Some of it is made from composite, which brings the weight down, but may flex a bit during play.  Not that much of an issue, but a big one for some.  Both have eyes.

  Finally, we have the High-end guns.  Usually going for $800, they will almost certainly put a dent in your pocket, but they are worth every penny.

  The most common of all the guns would be the Planet Eclipse Ego , for $1250.  Poppet based, with the low pressure regulator on the front present on all high-end poppets.  It has the eclipse Zick kit (Zero kICK), reducing recoil, and along with the right barrel, makes this gun amazing.  LCD screen on the back for easy programming, as well as being easy to maintain.  Has eyes.

  The second high-end manufacturer is DYE, making the DM and the NT.  The DM is the cheaper one at $900, and comes with the best barrel in the business, the Dye Ultralite.  It has no eye covers, and the eyes are also self-cleaning.  Many people use the DM10, but fewer use the NT, mainly due to it costing $1300.  Has an accelerating bolt to prevent chopping, and it has a customisable shot chamber size, meaning that it can be made more air efficient and quieter at lower speeds, but also Crazy-fast shooting.  Both have eyes.  Both Spoolies.

  Another brand of high-end guns that I would recommend is Bob-long, however, I do not know much about bob-long, and it may be worth your while to do some research into their guns, as they can be upgraded to amazing levels.

  Finally, it's the DLX Luxe.  You either hate it or you love it.  For $1650, it better be a good gun, and it definitely is.  A spool based gun, which requires NO TOOLS for maintenance, does not have a macro-line hose, is extremely customisable, and the programming is down with a joystick going through a voice menu.  That's right, the gun TALKS to you.  Each gun is also hand tested by professionals before being sold.  An excellent choice.  Has eyes.

Well, that's about it, have fun choosing a gun.

Step 6: Paintballs

Speedball paint is slightly different from woodsball paint.  Woodsball needs slightly thicker shells to go through all the plants and such, whereas speedball needs brittle shells that are almost guaranteed to break once they hit something.

A good test to see if paint is good, is to drop a few from waist height, and if most of them break, they are too brittle and are likely to break inside your hopper or gun.  However, they should break when dropped from the highest point you can reach.  The problem is that paints that satisfy the second criteria can be quite expensive.  There are lots of different paints available, and you should go and experiment with them and see which one you like best.  The only paint I recommend that you don't buy is weapons grade paint (its a brand, not paint designed to be used as a weapon) as there have been quite a few horror stories of it leaving scratches on other people's (Is it plural possessive or singular?) masks, which means that they might have to go out and get expensive new lenses.

Step 7: Upgrades

The first upgrades youcan get is a better electronics board.  These allow you to absolutely customise the firing modes, and lots of other fiddly things like dwell, eye sensor time, and other things.  Good brands include virtue and tadao.

Another is a new barrel.  For speedball a 14" barrel is the best length.  Barrels are also bored in different sizes, anywhere from 682 caliber to 697.  The back parts of the barrels are the only parts that are bored to specific sizes, and they can either be changed by changing the entire back of the barrel (two piece barrels) or by using inserts that go insid the barrel back (three piece barrel).  Different bore sizes allow you to match it to the size of the paintball being used, which greatly increases accuracy.  The way to test that your bore size is correct is to put a paintball inside the barrel, and if it gets stuck, blow into the barrel to get it to move.  If you have to blow hard you need to make the bore bigger, or if the paintball doesn't get stuck and simply rolls out you need to make it smaller.

There are other kinds of upgrades that are gun specific, so go look them up.  Examples include quick exhaust valve for faster firing, clamping feedneck for easy hopper attachment, on/off ASAs.

Step 8: Extras and the End

There are lots of little extras you can and need to get.

A squeegee is either a rubber or fluffy device that goes through your barrel to clean it.  This is a necessity.  Any will do.

Grease is needed, TechT gun sav is an excellent choice.  The guns that need oil should come with a small bottle.  If you need anymore, just buy another.

Pods. Pods are long containers designed for storing extra paintballs.  They are carried in "packs" around your waste.

Cotton swabs are good for cleaning tight spaces. carry about ten with you at all times.

Toilet paper roll is also good for wiping paint off your equipment.  But a micro-fibre cloth should be packed for drying your mask after spraying.

For getting paint off your goggles, keep a small spray bottle filled with water to get it off.  Do not wipe it off, as this can scratch your goggles.

Pads, although not necessary, they protect your elbows and knees for sliding.  A good idea is a cap worn backwards under your mask to protect the back of your neck.

If anybody thinks of anything else, please post, and I will add it, and give you credit.

For a real budget baller, you could put together a setup for about $245, and this will actually be decent for a beginner. If you have more money, feel free to spend as much as you want. Just make sure to keep all your gear on about the same level. If you decide to use something that I have not listed here, go and research it first, look for reviews, etc. You will not regret it.

I will soon add an i'ble on posture, positions, and tactics.  (or at least hope to)

Thanks for reading (although I doubt many of you read it all), and please rate. Post if I've forgotten anything.