What it is
This kit for the Tippmann Pneumatics Model 98 is marketed on Tippmann’s website as a N2/Compressed Air/HPA conversion kit. The idea behind the kit is to allow more consistency and efficiency by taking advantage of the fact that HPA operates at a given pressure, as opposed to fluctuating with temperature changes like Co2. What the kit actually does is lower the amount of pressure needed to operate any kind of automatic paintball guns. It is, in effect, a low pressure conversion kit for the gun, and is referred to as such on the included instructions..
Besides an installation instruction page, the kit comes with an entirely new valve system with a volume chamber and attached vertical ASA adapter, new hammer (a.k.a. rear bolt), new main spring, rear cocking mechanism, side cocking slot cover, a braided steel air hose with a quick disconnect and a small tube of lock-tite. The hammer is the most obviously changed piece of the gun, looking like a chunk of swiss cheese because of the number of large holes drilled through it, and weighing noticeably less than the stock piece. The main spring is larger in diameter, resembling those found in a Spyder. The rear cocking piece connects the hammer, main spring and replacement end cap.
Installation of the kit is fairly straightforward on paper, however, there were a couple of minor complications encountered as I re-assembled the gun. First off, the small grommets which help hold the cocking slot cover interfere with the travel of the hammer. With the grommets in place, the hammer does not move smoothly enough to function properly. The easiest way to address this problem was to leave the cover off. The second (and related) problem also involved the movement of the hammer. With paintball expansion chamber bolted together, the hammer movement was still somewhat restricted, as if the diameter of the hammer was too big for the internal diameter of the gun. I used a small washer in between the body halves, on the rear frame screw just below the cocking slot. That solved the problem and allowed the hammer to move freely. It should be noted that we have encountered similar problems on three different Model 98s (1 standard and 2 Customs) on which the kits were installed.
As in any low pressure operation, this kit requires the addition of a regulator, whether on the gun or on the tank itself. Although the kit was designed for the purpose of making better use of HPA, it works fine with Co2, which is what I have been using. Upon charging the paintball gun valve, the first thing I noticed was an incredible increase in velocity. I have not put a gauge to the system, but have little doubt of Tippmann’s claim that the system allows operation in the 300 to 400 psi range. With my current set-up using a Palmer Stabilizer regulator, the adjustment is backed nearly to the bottom, indicating a low operating pressure. I suppose I could yank a gauge off another gun and stick it on the Model 98, but actual operating pressure is actually irrelevant – what counts is the performance of the gun.
A rather large volume chamber attached to the valve protrudes from the bottom of the gun. Using the cleaning kit does require a paintball gun regulator which can flow a large volume of gas at a low pressure. A restrictive regulator will result in “shoot-down” over a rapid string of shots. From a standpoint of operating, since the installation of the kit and a good flowing paintball gun* regulator, the gun has not failed to re-cock – not once. In that respect the kit has not adversely impacted reliability, which is a common problem in low pressure conversions. If anything, from my observations, the ability to re-cock has been improved. It is also a noticeably smoother process. With a lighter hammer, there is less felt “recoil” in the operation of the gun. The gun is also quieter.
As far as the performance of balls out of the barrel, the gun seems to hold much more consistent velocities. A chart on the basic paintball gun performance over a 10 shot string. This can be found on beginner paintball guns, indicating jumps of as much as 10 feet per second between shots and a 20 foot per second spread over the string. With the current set-up, the gun has about a 3 foot per second variance with a rare occasional drop outside of that range. Of course part of that consistency comes from using a regulator, however, I have tried regulators on the stock gun, and the impact was minimal. Working with a lower pressure apparently puts the regulator to work, making it more effective.
The gun makes less noise, kicks less, and holds more consistent velocities with use of the kit. As is the case with most LP modifications, overall operation simply feels smoother. The one disadvantage is that the gun seems to be a bit more of a gas hog than it was in stock configuration. I like having the kit on the gun, and the advantages it offers, especially the consistency, which was a major problem I had with the stock Model 98. Is the kit a “must have” for Model 98 owners? No, the stock Model 98 will work fine for most people. What the kit does is offer some improvements for those who have the money to spend and like to tinker with performance. Anyone considering the kit should keep in mind that the $120 price tag does not include a regulator.
Whether you are into woodsball or speedball, there are a lot of advantages to having a compact gun, but the one thing you don’t want to sacrifice is performance – enter the short Lapco Bigshot barrel for the Tippmann A-5. The A-5, taking it’s design cues from the H&K MP5 series of firearms, easily lends itself to the idea of a compact design.
The Bigshot for the A-5 is 7.5 inches long. Like others from Lapco it’s flawless in construction and anodizing, with a look of quality and refinement. The fluting is a nice touch. There is a small amount of porting near the muzzle end, but otherwise it’s solid one-piece construction. Inside the barrel seems to have varying diameters. It appears the bore tightens down just inside the first inch or so of the bore, then there is an obvious step just past the porting where the barrel opens in diameter.
From a performance standpoint, the little Lapco barrel works great. When compared to the other barrels I have for the A-5 (a Flatline and a Pro-team products 4 inch barrel), the Lapco stands heads and tails above on consistency. This especially applies to windage, where the other two barrels both tend to fall somewhat short of what I consider “decent” performance. With the other barrels being less than “decent”, does this mean the Lapco is just “average”? No. I’d say it’s above average. It shoots as good if not better than any barrel I have on any gun. It helps that even in stock form the A-5 holds a pretty consistent velocity, but so do most of my other guns.
I usually have red dot sights on my paintball guns, and the overwhelming majority shots from the Lapco barrel go right where I expect them to go.
I am not sure of the technical reasons for the variances in the inside diameter, but perhaps that has something to do with it. I put the barrel through portions of a lot of scenario games using a variety of field paint brands prior to writing this review. This barrel seems to digest anything well. I have yet to run into anything that caused problems. A 10-shot bench rest test at about 20 yards shows it’s easy to hold a fairly tight pattern with the Lapco barrel despite using a mixed bag of paint (notice the photos).
The barrel also shoots clean with relative ease. At one game where I could actually use non-field paint, I had a mixed bag of leftover paintballs from who knows where. In what has been a rare occurrence for the A-5, I had a ball break in the gun. The Lapco barrel shot clean within about 10 shots and I continued to use it for the rest of the day with no problem. The same problem occurred right after doing this test shot (some of this paint is really old) and again the gun was shooting straight after about 10 shots.
Lapco’s short Big Shot barrel package also allows the user to takes advantage of the guns looks by using a “fake” suppressor cover, which is sold separately for about $35. The cover, which is basically a hollow aluminum tube, comes with a nice threaded mounting block to allow it to easily screw on and off the gun. The front hole of the cover includes a rubber o-ring to protect against marring the outside of the barrel. The cover is entirely cosmetic and does absolutely nothing to suppress the noise level of the paintball gun – and the A-5 is a loud gun.
Like other Lapco barrels, this one retails for about $50. The 7.5 incher easily stands on par with more expensive barrels on some of my other guns (some costing twice as much or more), and there’s the real rub – the cost, and the convenience of the length. Whether I am in the thickest of wooded areas, or trying to squeeze around a bunker on a speedball field, give me a short compact gun any day of the week. This Lapco barrel let’s you have a compact gun without sacrificing performance, and that performance comes without breaking the bank – and did I mention it looks good? The bigshot barrel is a big bang for the buck.
Interested in Tippmann Pneumatics Model 98 Nitrogen? Click here.
I will tell you up front that this review is going to be positive, but there is a legitimate reason for that. And it’s not because the product is being manufactured by a team mate and long time friend. It’s because the product is made just how I thought it should be made.
FRS and GMRS radios are very common in scenario paintball games, and come in very handy for a variety of reasons, but in the middle of the game, a radio going off can be a dead give-away to your position. It’s can also be inconvenient to hold the radio in one hand to operate it, since your hands are usually full of other things. For that reason most players will use some kind of headset, usually consisting of a microphone and earpiece. While a lot of the units sold as accessories for radios will work fine in a lot of conditions, scenario paintball can tend to be harsh on such equipment. Internal wires and flimsy connections often break after relatively little use. Guys on our team have went through any number of set-ups searching for a headset that would last more than just a few games. In an effort to combat some of these problems, Chris Demartini set out to build a more heavy duty headset that would not only last, but function well. His product resulted in the formation of Scenario Enthusiast.
The communication kit sold by Scenario Enthusiast for $29.95 consist of a connected speaker, microphone and push-to-talk switch which can be mounted inside of a paintball mask. Installation is easy, using zip-ties to secure each component in a location preferred by the owner. Heavy gauge wire is used throughout the kit to cut down on the chances of internal breakage which is so common with equipment like this. A heavy duty weather-proof connector allows the user to disconnect when taking off his paintball mask. The main wires are covered in shrink wrap and the external radio connections are coated in plastic for further protection. The connections are currently designed to be compatible with Midland LXT series and Cobra FRS 85 radios. (Scenario Enthusiast also sells a Midland LXT radio for $19.95)
While a lot of off-the shelf headsets require the user to put a small speaker in their ear, I personally find that method uncomfortable, especially after hours of on-field use. I also find the kind of headset worn over the head to be uncomfortable when worn under a face mask, which can be sort of binding. So for me, mounting everything inside the mask was the perfect solution. It’s comfortable and convenient to use. I never have to worry about where I put the headset, or if it will get tangled up with other gear, because it’s always right there in my face mask.
I have the push-to-talk switch mounted in the front of the mask, where it’s easily accessible. The switch is plenty big and easy to find. The speaker for the ear transfers a lot of volume when compared to other units I have tried. In fact, I have to turn the volume control on my radio down, where with other units I usually had to run at max volume. The rather over-sized microphone seems to work well mounted in the front of the mask. The audio transmissions I have heard from other team members using the system are very clear.
To me, the most important aspect of this kit is the heavy gauge wires, covered in shrink wrap. They are not extremely flexible, but this means they are less likely to fly all over the place and get hung on everything in sight, which translates less likelihood of damage. I keep my radio in a pouch on a tactical vest, but the standard 2-foot length of the wires allow the user to keep a radio in a pants pocket or on a belt.
Yes, I like this product, but that’s only natural since I had some input on how it was designed. After years of going through different configurations and products, I finally feel like I have something that will work for the long haul. For me, the durability and the fact that it’s designed to be used the way I am using it gives me some peace of mind and that makes this product worth the price.Check out our article about the LCT Paintball’s Grenade Refilling Kit.