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PB_Guru10 Saturday, October 29th, 2005
Period of
Product Use:
3 months8 of 8 people found this review helpful.

2 years
Products Used:
Piranha PRO-E
Tippy A-5
Marker Setup: SP Ion w/ Orange body kit
SP Q-Lock Feed (black)
SP Freak Jr. w/ .691 insert
Orange Unicorn Bolt
AirSoldier Q.E.V.
CP Reg (black)
CP Tirgger (black)
BadHabitz On/Off (black)
Crossfire HP 68/4500
Viewloader eVLution w/ Y-Board (black)
Definitely the regulator and barrel; the others are personal choice as far as customizing goes. Also, the high press. tank is a must; even an anti-siphon CO2 si gonna give you o-ring problems down the road. Those types of things lead to bigger mishaps--don't take the chance. If you can't afford a carbon fiber tank, get a steel one (like the Crossfire 3000/47 for around $85) and learn to use its weight in your games--soon you won't notice a thing.
Strengths: --Excellent anti-chop eyes (HUGE!!)
--Solid construction
--Light weight
--Efficient air use
Weaknesses: --Certain stock elements (feedneck, regulator, barrel)...but nothing comes perfect at any price
Review: I consider this to be my first 'high end' marker that delivers more performance than the competition at sometimes twice the cost. Though comparitively priced to other companies 'high end' markers, this is Smart Parts' least expensive venture in the paintball scene. As most people have probably heard or experienced, the gun itself leaves nothing to be considered "cheap" by any means. For an electronic gun using a closed bolt system, that isn't an autococker, to be priced less $300 and to actually deliver is unheard of. Sure, it's stock reg basically promotes shootdown, but that's a simple and fairly cost effective replacement. And who uses a stock barrel anyway these days? No one. Not even the kids who are using the $1400 DM4--so that being said, I almost hesitate to call them 'weaknesses'--I like to think of them like minute production flaws, that are unilaterally agreed upon to be replaced at the expense of the user and not forced upon us by Smart Parts. I like that--a company that lets you make your own decision about the usability and customization of its product. So, with all of this being said, I'll delve into my impression of the Ion's performance.

Whether or not you like how it looks, or whether or not you think that interchangeable body kits are a frivilous idea for a paintball gun that's based on performance and NOT aesthetics, almost everyone has to agree that the fact that you can change the looks of the Ion to meet your preference is uniquely intriguing. If you want to argue that it shouldn't be a factor in a review, or that it shouldn't be important to a decision when buying a gun, then I just have one question for you: why isn't your gun barbie pink and white camo instead of the color you chose? Answer? Preference. Period. So, now that all the critics have been put in their place for aesthetics, performance comes into the picture. There's absolutely no denying that the Ion performs WELL above the $300 expectation. Those of us who started paintballing with Spyder's and Piranha's, and other marker companies who produce 'cool' lower-end guns, will appreciate the simple yet effective mechanical design. Yes, the Ion's regulator actually works--even if it's not up to par with 15 bps firing with no shootdown like a CP reg would be. However, compared to the "regulators" that other companies are using on their production markers, Smart Parts' Ion reg is refreshing because it's actually efficient at it's job, and not just a cheaply designed marketing tool. The eyes of the vision board are absolutely astonishing; no one argues with that. No one has chop with this baby--and if they do, as you will read in other reviews, it's most often the culprit of weak/cheap paint. The Ion's closed bolt promotes durability (compared to some Tippmann's easily messed up open design that is prone to dirt and grime). And to those of you who are using Angel's and Shocker's, hey, c'mon--of course the Ion could have been that expensive, but it's designed to be almost as good, yet less expensive.

The Ion's bolt is very efficient, though I do use a Unicorn by Orange Paintball. When I aired my gun up for the first time and cycled through my air tank, I noticed I got about 1300 shots; with the upgraded bolt it increased by about 300-400 shots. Accuracy with a stock barrel is MUCH better than any other gun at the price. And when you slap on a $60 upgrade like a Freak Jr., it's basically like shooting with a top of the line marker. Any more consistency in my mind would have to be measured in the tenths of inches at any distance because (with good paint and a good reg) there's no variation with the Ion's accuracy. This leads me to another good point that is oftentimes considered obvious, but merits distinction when a gun like this is so accurate: that the use of air and the bolt system is very efficiently designed because it's also consitent. Yes, the barrel is most important, but to have a marker that is so well designed that it's barrel and air firing is virtually indifferable makes the paintballing experience that much more fun.

Yes, it's got full auto (capped at 10 bps)...and burst...and semi...and ramping. Like almost every other gun. However, unlike every other gun, the Ion allows the user to adjust basically every aspect of each of these modes: rate of fire and dwell settings for the marker affect each mode individually (thought the target "48" dwell+ROF number is still optimal for performance shooting). I prefer semi and ramping (duh) when they're allowed by the field because they're the most fun to shoot. getting a hoppeer that can keep up with the 15-17 bps you can shoot when ramping will really drive home the fact that this gun can handle like a pro, for a fraction of the cost.

After 10+ cases of paint through it, and countless maintenance strip-downs and re-greasing, and more use and abuse, and one beer spilling on it, and a couple customizations, I'll flat out guarantee to anyone that they'd have a good time using the Ion. Even if you do shoot an Angel and you think this is a pathetic excuse of a gun, pick one up and squezze off a few rounds. And if you're thinking of ANY other gun in the $200-$300 range, it's infinitely worth just keeping a few more pennies in the bank for the Ion. It's got everything you'd need, and more, so don't waste time with a different gun because of some marketing hype. Smart Parts, I tip my hat to you--great job with the marker that's more popular than any other in the world for under $500 right now!!
Conclusion: Don't just buy one; WANT one because you're getting more for your money that with any other marker. Don't just settle for an Ion; KNOW that you're getting a performance machine that is designed to be used and played with by paintballers the world over. And finally, don't just take my word for it; USE one and make your own decision.
10 out of 10

Review Comments
footballn62 Saturday, November 12th, 2005 | 9:39 pm PST
kudos to you my man not comparing this to a very expensive gun and bashing it just because it isn't awsome right out of the box. Thanks for the excellent review i will soon be getting one of these sweet little puppies if all goes correctly and i get this job im looking at.

madasian87 Saturday, November 26th, 2005 | 8:30 am PST
I am also about to invest in an ion. This review should not be so far back as i see it to be very helpful and descriptive. Thanks for the awesome review. And for the record, if i were undecided about buying an ion, and i saw this review, i would have made up my mind very quickly.
thanks again for the awesome review

relyt206607 Tuesday, November 28th, 2006 | 2:28 pm PST
Im about to buy an ion and i was wondering, Does this work with co2 or only HPA cause im too cheap for HPA and theres only 1 place I know of that fills it i think but besides that please tell me soon bcause im bout to get 1.

-Great review!

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