Do Paintball Guns Have Recoil?

Many paintball players love the sport because it imitates the realism of real battle with features like hit markers and realistic gun models. But what about the recoil aspect – do paintball guns include that element of realism?

recoil in paintball guns
Paintball guns have a very slight recoil. Not big enough to impact your aim. In fact, in electronic paintball guns, you can spray and be quite accurate without too much effort.

So, do paintball guns have recoil? Yes and no. Paintball guns aren’t designed to have recoil, but there are a few factors that can create a kickback. However, the recoil of a paintball gun is nothing remotely close to a real gun or even a BB gun.

The rest of this article will answer some essential questions regarding paintball guns and recoil:

  • Does a paintball gun kick back when you shoot with it?
  • What factors cause a paintball gun to have recoil?
  • Does recoil impact the accuracy of a paintball gun?

Does a Paintball Gun Kick Back When You Shoot with It?

People who haven’t used paintball guns are often concerned about recoil for two reasons:

  1. They don’t want the gun to hurt them when it kicks back. 
  2. They don’t want it to look or sound like a real gun to avoid alarming neighbors or police officers. 

Before you start getting too concerned, you should know that paintball guns don’t look, feel, or sound like real guns.

typical paintball gun
Typical paintball guns look completely different than the real ones.

When you shoot a paintball gun dry (without any paintballs in it), you’ll hear a hissing sound without any kickback. This sound is simply the bolt and spring moving forward without anything in its path. Paintball guns with ammo in them sound similar in most cases, hissing a little bit louder due to the projectile inside of it.

All of this maybe makes you wonder if it is bad to dry fire a paintball gun? I have a detailed answer in my other post.

The point is that a paintball gun that’s unloaded doesn’t naturally have any recoil. If there is a small amount, you’ll barely even notice it. Many people believe that airsoft guns have a stronger kickback than paintball guns, which is hardly an issue as it is. However, there are a couple of reasons why you might experience recoil with a paintball gun.

If you are interested in comparison between airsoft and paintball, then read this detailed article.

When a paintball gun with paintballs loaded fires, there’s a force that feels like a kickback. This kickback occurs because of the impact of the paintball being moved forward. The momentum of this force causes the paintball to exit the gun while the opposite force blows the gun back.

Again, the recoil truly isn’t that bad at all. Even with a few added issues, paintball guns are far from realistic when it comes to the kickback mechanism. There’s no gun powder, no mini-explosion, and no metal bullet and shell being ejected from the paintball gun. For this reason alone, you shouldn’t worry about experiencing pain or bruising from recoil.

Some people prefer to have a bit of a kick to their paintball gun when it fires. If you’re interested in mil-sim paintball sports, then you might want to add an attachment for this. 

Note: Mil-sim refers to military simulations that certain paintballers prefer to try out. They’re fun and much more realistic than traditional paintball.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t buy anything from a third-party service that offers recoil attachments. Only do so through professional services to prevent internal damage to your paintball gun. If you’re mechanically inclined, you might be able to get away with doing the installation yourself.

Other Factors That Can Make a Paintball Gun Have Recoil

Whether you’re new or experienced with paintballing, you’ve probably heard about CO2 cartridges. These cartridges instantly release an incredible amount of pressure upon each shot to shoot the paintball much faster. CO2 paintball guns are popular because they tend to be a little bit more accurate due to the speed.

However, CO2 has a noticeable kickback when the pressure is released. Although it’s still not that powerful, CO2 paintball guns do have a slightly noticeable recoil. Many people who use those types of guns find it not to have much of an impact on the way they play paintball.

I have one of those CO2 guns at home and I personally quite like the subtle feel when I press the fire button. It adds a bit to the authenticity and reminds you that you are indeed playing paintball.

Two other contributing parts of a paintball gun that might add a little bit of a kick to the shot are the bolt and the spring. Again, neither of these will change the feeling too much in the end. They’re both worth mentioning simply because those are the primary two parts that help to shoot the projectile from the gun.

recoil in paintball guns is not big
There is no gun powder and no mini-explosion, and no metal bullet in paintball guns, also no shell gets ejected either. All this makes a real gun have a noticeable recoil. In paintball recoil is negligible.

Thick springs always have more force behind because of the built-up tension. When this tension is released, the spring will vibrate and possible cause a small bit of recoil. The bolt works in the same manner. Instead of the tension from the spring building up, the bolt released tension by moving forward when a shot is taken.

All in all, paintball guns don’t really have much recoil at all. However, anything that shoots out a projectile with a spring, bolt, and pressure release will have a small amount of recoil or kickback. Even a Nerf gun has a little bit of recoil, but nobody ever complained about bruising, pain, or inaccuracy from the foam darts.

Certain high-end paintball guns are intentionally made to look and feel more like a real gun. Again, this is primarily designed for military simulation paintball games. These guns might produce a bit more recoil. You can also upgrade the spring and bolt to acquire more tension and pressure release. This will increase the recoil slightly while also adding much more speed and accuracy immediately.

Does Recoil Impact the Accuracy of a Paintball Gun?

Anyone who’s fired a real gun will tell you that recoil plays a role when it comes to accuracy.

After the first shot, it can be very challenging to keep up with the bounce if you’re not accustomed to the process. This might make you wonder if recoil impacts the accuracy of a paintball gun, even if there’s very little in the first place.

The truth is that recoil or kickback doesn’t change much about shooting a paintball gun. As mentioned throughout the article, paintball guns don’t generally have recoil. This means that you don’t have to worry about your accuracy dropping very much at all. Buying upgrades that might increase recoil (such as a spring) will end up increasing the accuracy since the time to target is reduced.

If you’re still concerned about losing accuracy due to recoil caused by your paintball gun, you can make a few adjustments. Loosening the spring or buying a thinner gun will instantly cut down on the kickback. 

Perhaps the most significant change that you can make is opting for electronic paintball guns rather than CO2-powered paintball guns. They require charging for the battery, but you don’t need to spend extra money on CO2 when the cartridge runs out.


To recap, here are the main points you should take away from this post:

  • Springs, bolts, and paintballs all change how much recoil you’ll experience. However, the total recall caused by these additions is minimal. 
  • Paintball guns never have enough recoil to cause any bruising. You don’t have to worry about a paintball gun recoiling hard enough to harm you. 
  • The slight recoil caused by a paintball gun isn’t enough to change the accuracy. 
  • Springs increase recoil by a small amount, but they improve accuracy in exchange. Again, this recoil will hardly be noticeable, and won’t be enough to injure you. 
  • Recoil attachments can be purchased for mil-sim games. You won’t need these if you’re just looking to play paintball regularly, though. 
  • CO2 cartridges are much more likely to produce recoil than any other paintball gun. If you want the least chance of recoil possible, go with a gun powered by compressed air instead.