Though there aren't too many similar pumps, I've owned or used the following:
Splatmaster (even trying to compare this to anything would be an insult to both parties, but here goes: slow, inaccurate, and for the time vastly overpriced. But still, it was one of the first when there were no other options)
Tracer (cheaply constructed, but adequate)
PGP (inaccurate and overpriced, but solid)
Hammer (inexpensive, light)
King Cobra 14" (heavy, awkward, velocity adjustment is a joke, but sniper-like accuracy)
The SL-68 II is superior to all the above in many ways. The SL (at the time of release) was more expensive than the above.
Sold off all my semiautos (Automag, Prolites, Patriots, etc.) Primary marker was a $1200 Mag with SS barrel, remote, nitro, VL300 agit., ACI Sub-zero chamber, etc. etc.
Now I just play with a stock SL-68 II with 12 grams and either a 40 round TASO "ammo box" or just with 10 round tubes.
I can't highly recommend any upgrades I have encountered as “needed.” The SL-68 II is ready to go as-is. A red dot or electronic sight might be a good addition, but for that matter it might benefit any paintgun. An aftermarket barrel might make the paintgun quieter if that is a chief concern, but isn't needed for accuracy.
I've used this marker for over 13 years straight. I have tried other SL-68s with upgrades to barrels, hoppers, sighting systems and air systems, and I have never found the need for an upgrade of any kind. See more in review below.
Easy to clean
Velocity externally adjustable
Feed neck doesn’t accept modern hoppers.
Receiver can have burrs.
SL-68s uncommon nowadays.
The SL-68 II is easily the best pump paintgun I have ever owned, played with, or had to face in a game. My SL-68 II is 13 years old and has never disappointed.
It has a one-piece cast metal receiver with a bottomline air setup and built-in feed elbow. No multi-part 45 grips with auto-response triggers and hooptybobs to have come loose, no feed elbow to swivel loose. The bottomline passes through the grip of the frame and up into the valve. The grip protects the air system entire and I’ve never encountered a leak of any sort in any SL I’ve encountered in 13 years. The barrel is not threaded but is held in by a friction grip and allen screw. You never have to worry about cross-threaded barrels or dinged threads not working. It makes barrel change simple and fast. There are a minimum of moving parts internally so there are less things to break. Also, everything inside is rustproof. The receiver is a single cast magnesium alloy, which is strong and amazingly lightweight. In another review on this site it mentions that the receiver is made of “cast iron” which is ridiculous. Also that it “rusts”, which defies the laws of physics and everything I learned in chemistry. The receiver will never rust; it is chemically and physically impossible.
Few parts in the marker, few things to worry about, maintain or replace. That translates into a savings of time, money and worry. You also don’t need to be an airsmith to address any problems, of which I have never encountered. Not one. All internal parts for the SL-68 II are still available through Tippmann.
If you need to strip the gun in the field, that means there’s something wrong with the user, not the device. I can’t conceive of anything that could happen which would require such a procedure mid-game. It just isn’t possible. Between games for cleaning or whatnot it is dead simple to strip. Unscrew one single hex screw to remove the barrel pump, arm and bolt. Unscrew the rear cap by hand or with the hex key and remove the hammer and spring (and valve if truly needed). That’s it. If you wanted to remove the hammer assembly you could do so easily at this point, but aside from a broken spring (which again I have never encountered in 13 years) there’s no reason to do so. Rinse with water, let dry, add oil, reassemble, play. Simple. So long as you properly clean and oil the marker (as you must do with any machine) you won’t ever have any problems.
EASY TO CLEAN
There’s a reason why every major paintball field used to use SL-68s, durability, simplicity of maintenance and ease of cleaning. Apart from being sure not to spray water into the bottomline tank receiver, you can just spray the marker down with a garden hose and let dry in the sun. The best bet is to leave the CO2 attached, unload the paint completely, fire off any gas currently in the valve and then spray with water. The only thing that ever gets dirty is the barrel and chamber, and then mainly because of buying junky paint. A problem with any marker regardless of type or price.
During the game, if a ball breaks, there is a convenient port on the side of the receiver so you can feed a cable squeegee through. An amazingly simple thing which is something lacking on paintguns costing 10 times as much. Mind-boggling, really. Pull the broken paint OUT of the marker, rather than using a straightline squeegee to first shove all the paint into the bolt area, and then trying to pull it out. It’s amazing that all paintguns aren’t built this way. I read reviews on this site which say their one complaint is that it’s impossible to squeegee the marker in-game, and that it’s too hard to remove the barrel to squeegee in-game, to which I can only assume that they don’t actually own an SL in the first place, are blind or something worse. The cleaning port is the most blatantly obvious feature of the marker, and is one of its chief selling points.
Bad paint breaks, that’s just how it goes. So like any marker you need to test to see what paint feeds best. My group tends to play rain or shine, and as rain gets into the barrel and the humidity increases the balls tend to break more. The cleaning port is a Godsend, and the cleaning cable conveniently stores in a storage space in the pump foregrip.
EXTERNAL VELOCITY ADJUSTMENTS
A hex screw on the side of the bolt which is easily seen on the cleaning port. Every quarter turn equates to approximately 15 fps or so.
The barrel is short, but the range is correspondingly great. Longer barrels might be accurate, but their range is shorter. The effective range in woods is 30-40 yards. If you could actually get a straight-line view you could easily get 60+ yards of accurate fire. In the open you can rain shots easily. My stock SL-68 II can get 8 of 10 shots onto a paper plate-sized target at 75 feet. Better paint will yield better results, and it is easy to get consistent shots to 100 feet and beyond. If you look down a stock barrel they are not mirror-shined. They are stock, basic aluminum. They work and work well. They seem to be in the middle range for paint (.689?) and will throw most brands equally. I’ve found that Marbellizer and “pro” level paints work great.
I have tried a 14" All-American barrel on a teammate’s SL-68 II and it made the marker very much quieter, but not appreciably any more (or less) accurate than the stock 10" barrel, mainly because effective range is limited in a game. For example, you might be able to shoot accurately to 300 feet, but will never get a 300-foot view to anyone in the woods. For that reason alone – noise – one might consider that barrel, but that would be the only consideration. Smart Parts no longer produces the barrel, so any that you'll find (if at all) will be used or a lucky stash found in a warehouse somewhere.
J&J currently produces a 14" ceramic barrel, which is the only currently manufactured aftermarket barrel available. I have not tested them, so I couldn't recommend or discourage the purchase of one, though they are ported so it stands to reason that they will make the marker quieter. I will try to update this review once I have had a chance to test one.
I have two Tippman aftermarket 14” barrels which I recently acquired and will test. They are ported and braked in the last 4”, and it stands to reason that they will make the marker quieter, but testing will reveal all (I hope). The barrels were found on eBay, which is probably your best bet for used SJ-68 IIs and barrels.
A simple red dot sight (like those for BB guns) may be of benefit since the front blade sight is mounted to the pump forearm and therefore moves. Any amount of time spent target shooting with the SL-68 II will compensate easily.
The marker is super light, even with paint and air. It’s so light that a big tank, like a 20 oz, will make it a bit back-heavy. I’ve found that a 12 gram setup, or a small 7 or 9 oz tank is perfect for balance. You can run around all day and weight or fatigue will never be a concern.
The grip angle yields a natural “point” and it’s easy to bring to bear on a target. The stroke of the pump is short and quick, and like the pistol grip, fits the hand well. Everything is within easy reach. It is easy to chrono the marker and adjust the velocity at the same time. The feed elbow is off to the side. The sight rail is grooved to accept any dovetail accessory, but doubles as iron sights effectively.
For many reasons the SL-68 II is inexpensive. The paintgun is durable so parts and maintenance are cheap: oil and the occasional o-ring are it (I have never had to replace a single part on my SL-68 II at all, ever. I bought two more SL-68s as loaners for friends and neither have needed any repairs, and both were purchased used.) Since the marker is a pump, you shoot less paint and therefore save money. Pump play also trains accuracy, which also saves paint and money. SL-68s are available used on eBay or from paintball fields, and can be purchased for very little, usually less than $40, but are still excellent markers.
On the downside, and I find them to not be terrible bad, are that some SLs have little casting marks and burrs on the receiver on the dovetail mount. On those SLs where this happens, it makes adding a scope mount a problem. This can be easily corrected with a nail file, but still, it’s worth mentioning. It has never affected the functioning of any SL that I have used or seen used.
The feed elbow is made for older hoppers (like the 40 round TASO “ammo boxes” or the Zap/Brass Eagle ones from a few years back) so you will need to get an adaptor to make them fit. Another option is to make your own adaptor from PVC plumbing fittings. I find that for stalking and pump-style play, the need for a 300 round loader just doesn’t exist. 40-60 rounds is more than adequate, though I do have a three 150 round hoppers and adaptors for big games.
With SL-68s less common nowadays you will have little choices in the aftermarket arena. Luckily there aren’t really any needs for aftermarket parts.
Between myself and my teammates we have five SL-68s, and not a single one of them has ever broken, sprung a leak or let us down. Three of the five SLs are over 13 years old, and have fired tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of paintballs.
I highly recommend the SL-68 II! It is every bit the workhorse you’d expect from Tippmann, and Tippmann still sells parts for it. It’s worth every penny new or used, and if you can still find one for sale new, snap it up as quick as you can. Definitely a 10 and a must-have!
Very good review - lots of detail which is often lacking on the reviews here.
However, a couple of points. You state that shorter barrels provide better range. If all variables are equal (paint used, angle when shot etc.), and assuming no back spin, velocity dictates trajectory, and hence range. So if the velocity is adjusted to be the same in both a short and a long barrel, range will be the same. I will agree that if you swap barrels without adjusting the velocity, then you would see a difference. Assuming that you are using the same velocity, the difference between barrels would be that the longer barrels would use more gas (to overcome friction) to achieve the same speed.
While you state that you shouldn't need to field strip the marker, you say it is easy enough to do with one allen key. Unfortunately, the majority of fields will not allow you to take tools on to the field, in case a player decides to adjust velocity to unsafe levels during play. Different sized allen key on the SL-68II I know, but field operators generally don't make this distinction, they just ban all tools from the field!
Other than that, this was well worth reading.
It's been a while since I have seen a SL-68 or SL-68II, so I haven't seen the barrels in a long time, but I have a feeling it would be quite easy to machining any one inch diameter barrel to fit, so there is a lot of scop for experimentation with different (though I wouldn't want to start off with an expensive barrel, in case it went wrong!) Should just be a matter of removing the barrel threads of the donor barrel, and then chamfering the breach end of the barrel to match the stock barrel. If you have access to a lathe, it should be a fairly simple project.