Paintball Grenade Launchers: What They Are and How They Work

Much like thunderflashes, paint mines, and smoke grenades, paintball grenade launchers are commonly used during non-tournament scenarios and recreational games. But what is a paintball grenade launcher, and how does it work?

Paintball grenade launchers are a type of projectile-launching equipment commonly used in non-tournament paintball games. By launching explosive or non-explosive paintball grenades, they allow players to spray paint at enemies and do massive damage against the enemy team.

However, before you start shopping for a paintball grenade launcher for your paintball games, there are a few nuances you need to be aware of. In this article, I’ll share an extensive overview of what these launchers are, how they work, and which launchers are the best for players.

paintball grenade launchers
Don’t expect to see advanced machinery for paintball grenade launchers. Mostly paintball grenade launchers don’t work like a typical grenade launcher. Think of it more like a shotgun system. Watch the 2nd video below for a better explanation.

What Is Paintball Grenade Launcher?

Paintball grenade launchers are a type of device used to launch paintball grenades. Several varieties of paintball grenade launchers exist, but these paintball weapons are generally used to launch explosive paintball grenades or non-explosive paintball grenades.

Explosive paintball grenades rely on a fuse that is pulled out before the grenade is launched. Once the device is thrown, the ignited fuse quickly burns down within two to five seconds before the grenade explodes, and the internal paint is sprayed all over the surrounding area.

Non-explosive paintball grenades operate similarly to their explosive counterparts but are designed to burst on impact instead. When the non-explosive paintball grenade is launched and hits a hard surface, the pressurized paint inside is immediately splashed over all nearby surfaces.

Paintball grenade launchers aren’t used in every type of paintball game. These devices aren’t used in competitive paintball tournaments, but they are extremely popular in scenario paintball games and recreational play. 

It’s worth considering adding paintball grenade launchers to your games if you’re looking for a fun new twist on the usual game. The range and accuracy that a launcher provides means that paintball grenades will become a new and significant danger in your next scenarios.

How Paintball Grenade Launcher Works

Paintball grenade launchers work by utilizing a similar mechanism as regular paintball guns. Simply put, these grenade launchers hold compressed air within the chamber and release it when the paintball grenade launcher is fired to send the grenade flying through the air. 

When compared to the regular action of throwing paintball grenades, it becomes clear that these launchers have a few benefits. Aside from being considerably more accurate, they can also send the grenades flying much longer distances than most players could conceivably do by hand.

Depending on the type of paintball grenade launcher you choose to purchase, you may find that it functions in slightly different ways. Paintball grenade launchers for explosive and non-explosive paintball grenades both prime the grenade to explode several seconds after it leaves the chamber.

Of course, there’s still a bit more nuance to how paintball grenade launchers work. It’s worth understanding the difference between the different types of paintball grenades before you get started.

Video: Paintball Grenade Launchers

How Do Explosive Paintball Grenade Launchers Work?

Explosive paintball grenade launchers rely on similar mechanisms as other airsoft launchers. Once the pressurized air is released into the chamber, and the grenade is expelled from the launcher, the fuse burns toward the black powder inside the grenade.

These grenades are typically constructed with a bag of paint surrounding the black powder and a loose, breakable shell forming the external surface of the grenade. Once the fuse burns down and the black powder is ignited, the grenade explodes, and paint is forcefully launched everywhere. 

How Do Non-Explosive Paintball Grenade Launchers Work?

Conventionally, the launchers expel non-explosive paintball grenades with highly pressurized air. These grenades work somewhat like water balloons, relying on a strong impact to burst and release the paint.

Many non-explosive paintball grenades are designed as rubber tubes with one tight end and one loose end. Upon launch, the pin is pulled away from the loose end, causing it to lose even more tautness. 

When the tube impacts a hard surface, the paint is expelled from the loose end and sprayed over the surrounding area. Players marked by the splatter are considered to have been caught in the explosion.

Other paintball grenade launchers use grenade rounds which are loaded with paintballs and charged with pressurized air. M203 .68 caliber paintball grenades, for example, are filled with up to three .68 caliber paintballs and pressurized with Green Gas before launch. The paintballs inside the grenade round are spread when the grenade makes an impact. 

How To Properly Use Paintball Grenade Launcher

Offensive Paintball Grenade Launcher Strategy

There’s no doubt that paintball grenade launchers allow players to have a tremendous impact in-game. However, if you want to make the best use of your paintball grenade launcher, it’s essential to use the weapon strategically.

Paintball grenade launchers are excellent to use in offensive play. Much like throwing a regular paintball grenade, this equipment allows you to splatter opponents with paint and do some massive damage when encroaching into enemy territory.

Unlike regular grenades, though, you aren’t restricted by how far you can throw. If you have a sufficiently powerful paintball grenade launcher, you can reliably send the paintball grenade flying dozens of yards toward your distant opponents.

One of the best ways to use a paintball grenade launcher offensively is to launch it just before you intend to rush toward your opponents. While this tactic might force you to make an entrance with a bang, it will leave your opponents scrambling with surprise — and that’s often the perfect opportunity to eliminate enemy players.

If you’re playing with a team, it’s safe to say that paintball grenade launchers are even more effective. Many teams have several players sneak toward the enemies while one waits further away with a paintball grenade launcher. Once the grenade is launched, and the opposing players scatter, your team members will easily ambush and eliminate the other team.

Video: Paintball Grenade Launchers explained and are they bad?

Defensive Paintball Grenade Launcher Strategy

You don’t just have to settle for using your brand-new paintball grenade launcher on offense. This powerful equipment also makes a perfect addition to a well-rounded defensive strategy.

If you notice that opponents are rushing toward your team’s area, using a paintball grenade launcher is the perfect way to cause some chaos and deter your enemies. Unlike regular paintball grenades, these launchers provide significantly more range — so you’ll be able to make a powerful offensive move as soon as you notice the other players.

You can also use your paintball grenade launcher to create distractions. While players quickly notice the explosion of paint that comes from a grenade, it’s much less common for them to be able to tell where the grenade came from. If you use your launcher correctly, you can easily redirect players and force them to run the opposite way for cover.

Safety First

It’s essential to play safely when you’re using paintball grenade launchers. Between the forceful launch of the grenades and their powerful explosion, there’s no shortage of things that can go wrong if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

You should always make sure that every player is wearing the correct protective gear when using paintball grenade launchers — and this isn’t a bad step to take when playing paintball in general. Everyone on the field should wear regulation paintball face shields, masks, or goggles. 

Full-body protective gear is also advised when playing paintball. It already hurts enough being hit with a tiny paintball. The pain of being inadvertently hit with a paintball grenade might be overwhelming if you aren’t wearing the right gear.

Many sports shops sell protective gear specifically designed for wear during paintball games. Equipment like padded outfits, chest protectors, and helmets provide essential protection while ensuring you still have all of the mobility and discreteness needed to win.

If you’re unsure about what gear to wear, you can also check out our thorough guide to proper paintball gear. With the advice in the article, you won’t have any trouble preparing to play your next game of paintball safely.

Additionally, you should always look where you shoot before firing your paintball grenade launcher. You should never intentionally fire a grenade at a player. When in doubt, you should always adjust your aim to ensure that the grenade will spray on players without making any direct contact.

Don’t ever shoot your paintball grenade launcher without intending to fight other players. It’s never excusable to fire a paintball gun or grenade launcher at passing wildlife, vehicles, or scenery. If you choose to fire your paintball grenade launcher improperly, you may only end up putting yourself and other players at risk.

Best Paintball Grenade Launchers

Some of the best paintball grenade launchers include the 6mmProShop Airsoft Cannon, the EMG Helios Spike’s Side-Loading Grenade Launcher, and the ICS MGL Revolver Grenade Launcher. There’s no shortage of variety, so it’s easy for any player to find a grenade launcher that suits their style and experience. In this section, I’ll explain why these are among the best.

Note: Even though many of the following grenade launchers were built for airsoft, they still work fine for paintball. As long as the grenades match in size. For example, a 6mm ProShop Airsoft Pocket Cannon Grenade Launcher Pistol can fit 40mm airsoft grenades and 40mm paintball grenades as well. So for your grenades to match, ensure compatibility with the size of the grenade shell. These grenade launchers can also be used for other purposes (non-military), like keeping the wild animals away.

Best Paintball Grenade Launcher for the Money: 6mm ProShop Airsoft Pocket Cannon Grenade Launcher Pistol

The 6mmProShop Airsoft Pocket Cannon Grenade Launcher Pistol is one of the best paintball grenade launchers to purchase on a budget. With a compact design and sturdy construction, this pocket cannon grenade launcher is meant to provide you with the same power as a conventional paintball grenade launcher — just at a fraction of the price.

Video: 6mm Pro Shop 40mm Pocket Cannon review


  • Compact. Most paintball grenade launchers are bulky additions to your existing paintball gun or a hefty new weapon to lug around. This grenade launcher is perfect if you want something that will fit in your pocket. 
  • Compatible with 40mm grenades. Versatility is important if you want to keep the process of restocking your ammunition cheap. Fortunately, this pocket cannon is compatible with most standard 40mm paintball grenades. 
  • Upgradable. This pocket cannon offers a standard 20mm top rail, meaning you can attach sight or optic accessories. It’s also compatible with mounting on your weapon if you use a rail adapter. 
  • Ergonomic design. The 6mmProShop pocket cannon is designed to be easy to fire. As a result, the cannon was designed with a thumb switch activation and easy reloading.
  • Customizable grip. This pocket cannon uses the advanced ergonomic Matrix tactical training grip. If you want to change how the launcher looks, there are many other Matrix grips to choose from online.
  • Affordable. The 6mmProShop pocket cannon can be purchased at an extremely affordable price. This makes it a great pick for anyone trying to fit the purchase into a budget. 


  • Reduced power. This small pocket cannon can’t produce the same compressive force as a proper paintball cannon. As a result, you won’t enjoy the same range.
  • Sometimes loose. Some reviewers report that their pocket cannon has a wobbly grip or loose motor screw. You should be prepared to tighten the screws on the cannon if needed.

Best Paintball Grenade Launcher for Beginners: EMG Helios Spike’s Tactical Side-Loading Havoc Airsoft 40mm Grenade Launcher

The EMG Helios Spike’s Tactical Side-Loading Havoc Airsoft 40mm Grenade Launcher is easily the best paintball grenade launcher for beginners. Aside from the fact that it’s compatible with most 40mm grenade shells and paintball guns, this paintball grenade launcher is perfect for beginners because it’s extremely easy to use. 


  • Affordable. Several options are available when purchasing this side-loading grenade launcher, and the prices all span a reasonable range. 
  • Universal fit. You can reliably expect that this grenade launcher accessory will fit any airsoft or paintball gun with a standard 20mm accessory rail.
  • Safe design. The high-quality construction of this grenade launcher ensures that you won’t need to worry about any mishaps occurring during use.
  • Compatible with most 40mm grenades. It can be frustrating shopping for the right paintball grenade. With this launcher, you can expect that most standard 40mm paintball grenades will fit and launch correctly.
  • Lightweight. This accessory grenade launcher only weighs 0.86 pounds (390 grams), so you don’t need to worry about weighing yourself down if you decide to use it during a game.
  • Simple to use. The side-loading mechanism that this paintball grenade launcher relies on ensures that this accessory is easy to install and even simpler to use. It’s a great fit for paintball newbies or anyone looking for a reliable add-on. 
  • Ergonomic grip. The barrel of the gun is designed with small rivets to ensure that you can comfortably grip the grenade launcher during play. You won’t have any trouble holding on to this launcher when firing.


  • Not standalone. Unlike the other two paintball grenade launchers on this list, the EMG Helios is an accessory. You’ll need a compatible paintball gun with a 20mm accessory rail if you want to use this.
  • Bulky. The chamber of a grenade launcher needs to be large to accommodate the big 40mm grenade shells. If you add this to your weapon, you’ll find that the gun instantly becomes a lot bulkier.

Best Paintball Grenade Launcher Overall: ICS MGL Full Size Airsoft Revolver Grenade Launcher

The ICS MGL Full Size Airsoft Revolver Grenade Launcher is one of the best paintball grenade launchers money can buy. This powerful grenade launcher is constructed with high-strength industrial plastic and quality metal components, guaranteeing you’ll enjoy incredible performance and speed with every use.

Video: ICS MGL Grenade Launcher 40


  • 6-grenade capacity. The ICS MGL Full Size Airsoft Revolver Grenade Launcher can hold up to six grenades in the cylinder, ensuring you can fight aggressively without needing to reload after each grenade launch.
  • High-quality construction. This paintball grenade launcher is made with premium industrial plastic. There’s no need to worry about cracking or unintended damage when you purchase a grenade launcher made to this caliber of quality.
  • Retractable and adjustable stock. Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, the manufacturers of this grenade launcher built the device with six positions and three angles to ensure that every paintball player can use the launcher comfortably.
  • Lightweight and easily portable. This paintball grenade launcher only weighs 4.85 pounds (2.2 kilograms) when unloaded. The launcher measures 28.7 inches (72.9 cm) but can be folded down to 24.85 inches (63.12 cm) for easy storage. 
  • Versatile ammunition use. You don’t have to stress finding the right ammo with this launcher. ICS, Matrix, Dboy, King Arms, Madbull, Classic Army, Pro Arms, and other compatible 40mm standard-length airsoft grenade shells are acceptable.


  • Cost-prohibitively expensive. If you only want to purchase the grenade launcher itself, you can expect to pay a whopping amount. Plus, you can expect to pay even more if you want any grenade shells or custom features. 
  • Confusing to use. Many reviewers report that it was difficult operating the weapon. It’s recommended to watch a tutorial or read a guide before you attempt to use the winding and locking mechanisms. 

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult to find the right paintball grenade launcher. When you’re left wondering what a paintball grenade launcher is and how they work, and search engines don’t provide any helpful information, this frustration can often compound. 

When you have the right knowledge, choosing the perfect paintball grenade launcher to start with is a simple feat. I recommend that you start with one of my top three suggestions and explore what features you enjoy to find the perfect paintball grenade launcher.