Smart Parts Ion Paintball Marker Review

Entry-level markers generally suffer from a number of common problems. They're heavy, bulky, inaccurate, and chop balls like crazy. People generally write this off saying "Well, you get what you pay for..." and the manufacturers get off scot-free, laughing all the way to the bank. With this sort of outlook pervading the entry-level subset of the market, I found it very encouraging to stumble across the Smart Parts Ion. Smart Parts does their best to challenge the stereotypes of the sub-$200 marker with the Ion and succeeds quite admirably, though not without fault.

Comfort & Ergonomics

The first thing you'll notice with the Ion is the weight. Tipping the scales at an anorexic 2.2 pounds, the Ion is a far cry from your average 5 pound behemoth that most new players are carrying. The construction is above-average, and the marker is very well-balanced. The Ion is built from a polymer frame rather than metal, but despite my initial worries, the frame seems to be very sturdy. I'm not sure the marker could take hardcore abuse, but with replacement bodies available for very reasonable prices, you're not out the cost of the marker if something cracks. I can't foresee any issues cropping up with the frame during standard play.

The grips are large and roomy, and are well-suited to glove-wearing players or those with larger hands. I fall into the latter category, so I happen to be a fan of the grips. The trigger presents a bit of an issue, however. The Ion has what pistol shooters refer to as a "cop trigger". A cop trigger is defined as any trigger that requires significant travel to make the shot actually fire. With a live firearm, this can be a good thing, as it prevents accidental discharge in high stress situations. With a paintball marker, this is a bad thing, with no exceptions. The amount of effort required to actually discharge a paintball from the Ion is ridiculous. You will want an aftermarket trigger replacement. I'm sure the three of you who actually like the stock trigger will be filling my inbox with vitriolic hate mail, but sorry guys, it's the truth.


The Ion performs exceptionally well for a sub-$200 marker once you get past the issues with the trigger. It's more accurate than a lot of $500 guns I've shot, and rarely chops balls. Considering that accuracy and chopping issues plague low-end markers, this is a huge point in favor of the Ion.

The weakest point of the marker is the feedneck. I'm not sure how Smart Parts justified shipping the marker with a feedneck this bad, but all you need to know as a consumer is that you need to buy a replacement feed neck if you are planning on purchasing this marker. Unlike the trigger, this is pretty much inarguable. If this wasn't such a great marker for the price, the feedneck would be a deal-breaker. With that little caveat out of the way, let's weigh in:


  • Lighter than any other entry-level marker I've seen
  • Deadly accurate
  • Very comfortable
  • Less chopping than any other marker at this price point


  • Trigger is harsh and unwieldy and is almost a mandatory replacement
  • Feedneck is terrible and requires aftermarket replacement before even using the gun

Final Thoughts/Summary

The two biggest issues with the Smart Parts Ion Paintball Gun are definitely serious, but thankfully, they're both easily solved. Even factoring in the cost of these upgrades, the Ion still offers much better bang for your buck than any other entry-level marker. With decent aftermarket replacements on the trigger and feedneck, I'd rate this marker 8.5 out of 10, docking 1.5 marks for the fact that I had to replace those parts in the first place. With those issues taken care of, the Ion outperforms markers costing several hundred dollars more, and is definitely a worthwhile investment for someone looking to upgrade their gun on the cheap, or for a new player looking to start with a gun that they won't outgrow for quite a while. With this marker's accuracy, ask yourself this: Would you rather be looking down the barrel, or into it?

About the author

Niko Brain is a freelance writer and offers sound advice on the sport of Paintball. He runs his own personal paintball site and enjoys writing reviews on the Tippmann 98 Custom Paintball Gun, the Tippmann a5 Paintball Gun and Dye Paintball guns. He's your "average Joe" paintball player and is an up and coming industry resource that loves to help newcomers to the sport.



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