Making a Paintball Gun from Scratch – Getting Started

Ben came over for the weekend a couple of months ago, and we were looking for a project to do in my fledgling machine shop. He’d never really used machine tools, and I hadn’t done any “real” machining in my home shop yet, so we were looking for an excuse to pick up some experience.  Ben’s in to paintball, so we decided to try to make a paintball gun.

We tossed around making a Spyder clone since that’s what Ben’s taken apart the most, but decided not to because I wasn’t sure how we could make the stacked tube housing with the tools currently in my shop. Keeping things to a single centerline makes them a lot easier to make on a lathe!

The next type of gun that came to mind was the Tippman style marker.  They work on basically the same principle as the Spyder, but are arranged in a straight line rather than two stacked tubes. However, neither of us had ever owned a Tippman, so we couldn’t just make up the design from memory. We did a bit of research and came across a great site in With the info on that site, and a few crude hand sketches, we headed out to the shop to “get something done.”

Ben running the Lathe

We ended up getting something done, but that something wasn’t really progress toward our final design. Ben learned how to run the lathe, and we proved that we could hold acceptable tolerances and make some of the features that we needed to make to finish the gun. Our rush to get started didn’t really have a lot of engineering behind it though, so we didn’t have much confidence that this thing would actually work when we got done.


With the weekend over, Ben took the parts home to look at, and we went back to the drawing board. Digging around ZDSPB some more resulted in a lot better understanding of the different types of markers out there. It’s amazing how many different ways people have come up with for shooting a glob of paint down range!

We ended up picking the Smart Parts Ion as our marker to copy, due to its simple mechanical design. There’s only one moving part in the firing assembly! It requires a solenoid and microcontroller to fire, but that gives us the opportunity to do some Arduino programming, assuming we get that far with the project.

We’ve made quite a bit of progress since that weekend in October. We’ll get to that in future posts though 🙂

Look what I made…