Each of you has surely faced the terrible scenario of waking up at night and hearing sounds of an intruder. In such situations, it is important to keep calm, dial 911 and be able to defend yourself to make the intruder flee. If you do not know any martial arts, self-protection weapons can be a valuable help in defending your own property and family. For example, RAM guns – but do they really help?

The most important facts in 30 seconds

  • A RAM(Real Action Marker) is a compressed air powered pistol/rifle and shoots different types of ammunition
  • You can buy a RAM gun from the age of 18, no gun license is needed for this
  • RAM weapons can be used for home defense
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Background on RAM weapons

RAM weapons are a pistol or rifle that shoots compressed air-powered bullets (rubber bullets or pellets filled with powder or paint). Learn more about Real Action Markers here.


Definition: What is a RAM gun?

What does RAM stand for? RAM stands for Real Action Marker.

It is a compressed air powered firearm that shoots paint or rubber pellets. RAM guns are close to so-called paintball markers. However, some RAM firearms eject a casing, paintball markers do not, they fire paint balls that are not “packed” in casings.

  • A second major difference with paintball markers is appearance. RAM guns are almost indistinguishable from live pistols.
  • The difference with a scare gun is that here ammunition (rubber bullets, paint balls, pepper balls) etc. are often also fired by compressed air (and not with cartridges).

What ammunition is used?

In RAM weapons, paintballs, rubberballs and powderballs are mainly fired – in bullet form – not with cartridges. However, there are both formats and these types of ammunition:

  • Paintballs are gelatin balls filled with food coloring.
  • Powderballs, on the other hand, are balls filled with colored chalk powder. Upon impact, the paintballs and powderballs burst, marking the hit spot with a colored stain. Mostly paintballs are in bright colors like green, orange and yellow. However, red is not a popular color because it is difficult to distinguish from real injuries.
  • Rubberballs are rubber bullets. The rubber bullets can be reused after use and, depending on the hit, can be quite painful on impact.
  • The hard plastic balls can definitely cause pain. If hit in the face, it can be assumed that more than pain will result, but also permanent damage may occur.

RAM weapons that use casings are usually made of aluminum or plastic, though aluminum has not been able to prevail. The casings can usually be reused after ejection, provided they have not been fouled or damaged.


Today’s applications

Primarily, RAM weapons are used today for official or game purposes, or for defense.

For training

They are used by the authorities and the military to train the use of the weapon.

  • For this they enjoy great popularity, because they help to recreate real scenarios with little financial resources. If, on the other hand, only blanks are used, it is not possible to reproduce the impact of a hit.
  • Many military units and authorities have now recognized the advantages of the RAM system and are using it successfully for training. Even the US Army and the United States Marine Corps use them for training purposes.
  • In paintball, so-called markers (the paintball gun) are used for different game scenarios. Players compete against each other in teams.

For home protection

But also in the civilian sector RAM weapons are increasingly popular. This is due to their realistic functionality and authentic appearance. Often they are bought for home defense.

Pepper balls for defense

In addition, there is the possibility of using pepper balls (also known as pepperballs ). They have proven to be useful especially for home defense. Upon impact, they burst and release an agent that impairs both vision and breathing, and thus can render an attacker harmless or provide time to escape.


Advantages and disadvantages of the weapons

Below we present advantages and disadvantages that RAM weapons offer compared to other self-defense weapons.

Advantages of RAM weapons

Basically, RAM guns are good for protecting yourself, your home and your family from attackers.

  1. Deterrence & Time: This is partly because the weapons look very real at first glance, this deters attackers. This buys you time to dial 911 or make your escape.
  2. Inability to fight: When defending with rubber bullets, it can hurt an attacker a lot. Hitting a pepper bul let will then create a corrosive cloud that will drive away both human and animal attackers, while you yourself will take no damage. Anyone hit by a bullet will be startled and, at best, still incapacitated.
  3. Keeping your distance: Unlike other defensive weapons such as batons, stun guns, and knives, however, RAM pistols have one distinct advantage: you can maintain distance from attackers and don’t have to get as close to even threaten or impress the intruder.
  4. No strength is needed to use a RAM gun. Therefore, even untrained people can use such a weapon.

Disadvantages of RAM weapons

  1. Risk of confusion: The advantage of RAM weapons is at the same time a disadvantage: they look like real weapons. This danger of confusion means that attackers or police officers may use a real weapon against you. Therefore, you should store your RAM weapon only at home and use it only in case of emergency.
  2. No Ammo = No Weapon: Any weapon that requires ammunition is ineffective without it. If you run out of ammunition, you are defenseless.
  3. Risk of escalation: The use of weapons always carries the risk of escalation. If you use weapons, your attacker may also use weapons. Even if he initially “only” wanted to steal something. Any weapon also carries the risk of disarming and being used against you.

RAM guns

Basically, RAM weapons can be divided into long guns and short guns. There are also differences in the ammunition. Below you can find a video, there you can see a RAM rifle test:

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RAM rifle test

The gas tank/ CO2 capsules

In a long gun, the tank that contains the gas is usually integrated into the shoulder stock. In Germany, disposable CO2 capsules, which have a filling weight of 88 grams, are mainly used for this purpose. However, since new long gun models appeared in 2009, the 2 x 12 gram “R-Tubes” have also been used. Internationally, there are also reusable tanks with different fill weights ranging from 45 to 60 grams.


Structure of the RAM rifle

The heart of the RAM rifle is called the core. This is where the trigger movement is converted and the preset amount of gas is released. This accelerates the bullet through the barrel. This is followed by a lever action to eject the empty case (if at all cartridge operated, many RAM rifles also have bullets as ammunition).


Ammunition or bullets for the rifle

Ammunition (bullets or cartridges) is loaded into the magazine on rifles. The capacity depends on the model. Just like a real gun, you insert the magazine into the magazine well, whereupon it locks into place. The magazine spring then pushes the first case or bullet into the firing chamber. Now the RAM long gun is ready to fire.


The engagement positions

  1. Safe means that the weapon is secured
  2. Semi means that the gun is not locked, but set to semi-automatic operation, so that the trigger must be pulled once for each shot
  3. Auto means that the weapon is in fully automatic mode and shots will be fired as long as you pull the trigger

Banned in Germany – the fully automatic mode: In Germany, as well as in some other countries, it is forbidden by law to use the fully automatic mode. Accordingly, the long guns sold in this country do not have this mode. Auto mode has the same function as semi mode in Germany.

RAM pistols

RAM pistols are also available. They usually use disposable capsules filled with 12 grams of CO2. However, they often do not use cases. This allows more ammunition to be accommodated in the RAM pistol. In the following video you can see a RAM pistol in test:

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RAM pistol in test

Manufacturer of RAM pistols

There are a number of manufacturers that have RAM handguns in their assortment. There are imitations of well-known pistol models, such as the Glock 17, the Walther P99 or the Walther PPQ. Many of them use the 0.43 caliber, but there are also lesser-known manufacturers, which are also cheaper in price.


How the pistols work

When the trigger is pulled, compressed air fires a bullet or pushes a cartridge into the barrel, which contains ammunition. Some of the gas released for protection is used to push the slide of the gun backwards, reloading it.


Capacity & service life

  • Depending on the model, the magazine of a RAM pistol usually holds between 6 and 20 rounds. However, you can also keep a spare magazine on hand that can be reloaded directly.
  • A compressed air cartridge usually lasts for around 100 shots. Then the cartridge must be replaced.

Legality: What you should look out for

The maximum muzzle energy of a RAM weapon is less than 7.5 joules. Accordingly, RAM weapons are so-called free weapons according to the German Weapons Act. This means in plain language:

  • Anyone who is at least 18 years old can buy and own a RAM weapon without a special permit.
  • The only important thing is that the weapons were purchased in Germany and have an embossed “F” in the pentagon to indicate the status as a “free weapon”.
  • Since paintballs are not ammunition in the sense of the Weapons Act, it is permitted to transport them together with the weapon – unlike with live weapons. Under no circumstances, however, may the weapon be loaded.
  • Buy only an original weapon, modifications are not allowed.

Attention: You must pay attention to this!

  • Nevertheless, RAMs are firearms in the sense of the law. This means that you are not allowed to carry them in public. It is therefore not allowed to carry the weapon loaded and ready to use at any time.
  • There is nothing against transporting the weapon from A to B, but you must place it in a locked transport container such as a bag or case.

Conclusion & FAQ

Our conclusion about RAM weapons is: They offer a deceptive security. You have a gun in your hand, but only with 7.5 joules of power. That can be enough, but it doesn’t have to be. You can still find answers to common questions below:

RAM Pistole
Source: Gigaset in Wikipedia in German(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Attention: Our content has been carefully prepared, but legal norms change and some are subject to interpretation. We can not take any responsibility for the following information, for legal advice please consult a lawyer. Status: 20/ 2020

Update: 2023-01-20 / Affiliate Links / Bilder von der Amazon Product Advertising API