Electronic Feeder & Barrel are a must (as with most markers)
Drop forward, on-off & HPA optional
Price, Realistic & Adjustable Foregrip
Same genes as A-5 & Custom 98
Gravity feed is just too slow, chops paint.
Little Heavy, plastic internals subject to breakage
**(UPDATE)**With several thousand balls and about 3 play dates under my belt since this review was written, my velocity tube cracked on the gun. It is a plastic piece inside, and cannot be fixed in the field. I was sidelined about an hour into an all-day scenario game. No idea why it broke, calling the durability of this gun into question. I will update based upon my experience with BT's customer service.
If you are reading this, you are interested in an affordable entry-level mechanical paintball gun for woods or recreational paintball. You're in this sport for fun only, and you're probably just making the jump to buying your own equipment. That was my scenario a little over a year ago when I started researching my options. My buddies had just dragged me off to a scenario event, and I came home with the PB disease. I borrowed and rented my equipment until I was sure that this was a sport that I was going to stick with. The problem with renting gear is that youre dumping more cash into each day that you play, and the guns that you get (while generally good stuff) are all short-barrelled and slow firing. Once I decided to put rental fee's behind me for good, I set a realistic budget for myself in the hopes that if my wife ever found out, she wouldn't go nuts on me.
If you don't know already, you need to know that unless your goals change, you will forever be happy with either this gun ($129), the Custom 98 ($160) or the A-5 ($250). They are all solid, reliable, accurate and modestly priced. They will all last for years, with little maintenance, and give you few problems along the way. You can bring any of these three up to match the others in most shooting specs, and if you find yourself staring down the barrel of someone else on the rec or woods field, you can rest assured that you've got what you need to take them out. You can also mod any of them to look like one bad-ass assault rifle. I'm not badmouthing any other gun maker out there, I know there are some other great guns too, I just can't speak to them. My friends have all shot Tippmans for years.
For price and stock performance, it really is a toss up between the Custom 98 and the BT-4. Some will tell you that there are more upgrades for the Custom, but a good painballer can install just about anything made for the A5 and somethings made for the 98 into the BT-4. **The A5 response trigger does work in the BT-4, and they are now comming out with an e-grip (and more) tailor made to fit the BT-4** The barrels are also interchangable between the three. The cyclone feeder is the A-5's main advantage over the 98 and BT-4. It is definately a nice feature, but a decent electrofeeder will bring you right up to speed if you don't mind having to change batteries every once & a while. (You can either waste batteries with an electric feeder, or waste gas with the cyclone, again it's a toss up...so long as you don't mind the extra weight and occassional expense of the AA's) One thing that you should also consider is that when the cyclone on the A-5 malfunctions, as they occassionally can, you're out of play. If your standard or electrohopper fails, you can just plug a new one in and keep playing.
The A-5 is a little over $100 more than the BT-4, but again, you WILL have to add an electrofeeder onto the BT-4, so that cuts into your savings. The 98 will work fine as a semi-auto with a stock gravity feed, but for some reason, the BT-4 just cannot drop balls fast enough to keep up with even your standard trigger semi-auto action. It's fine for your backyard, but often when you are on the field, you will want to have a couple balls in the air at a time. The BT-4's stock hopper has trouble with this, you WILL chop paint annoyingly -even stock trigger. I've seen it on mine and several other BT versions. A decent electrofeeder will completely solve this problem though. ($70 later)
So why didn't I just go with the A-5? Well first, no-one told me about the hopper thing, but I'd still be shooting the BT-4 anyway. I'm in law enforcement and have a lot of experience shooting assault style weaponry. The stock BT-4 feels very nice, and very real, in your hands. It's heavy (maybe a bad thing) but well balanced. The foregrip on the BT-4 is long AND adjustable, whereas the A-5 is short and fixed. If you know nothing else, this may not matter to you, but if you've got any experience with real stuff, this is significant. You can only fit half a hand on the A-5's foregrip, and it is very tight to the trigger housing. That bugged the heck out of me. Plus the BT-4 has piccatinny rails. I'll probably never use them, but nice to have the option. Nothing like it for the 98 or A-5.
As with any marker, you will also need a better barrel. $50 bucks later and you'll be right up there with anyone but those shooting the flatline or apex (hey if they wanna spend the money...) I added a drop forward ($30), and reverse mounted an on/off ($30), so my tank now sits under the gun, pointing towards the front. I did this so I can quick peek just my gun and half of my mask around the bunker, rather than exposing my whole shoulder or upper body as is required with the standard rear-mount set-up. Thanks to the balance of the gun, and hefty foregrip, the set-up feels great, and gets a lot of second looks on the field. After getting tired of spraying ice out the tube in warm weather, I finally went with HPA. I did notice a bit more consistency in my groups. My next, and probably last add-on will be the e-grip that is due to be released by Tippman. The gun will then be nothing like the thing I once bought for just $129 at my local shop, but it's one heck of a recreational marker, and it all started as a stock BT-4.
If you've got the money to blow, and don't mind the way the A-5 feels in your hands, I'ld have to recommend the A-5. I think most guys would back me on this. If you go with the 98, you'll probably make it an A-5, via Tippman upgrades within the first year anyway-and will have spent enough to have bought the A-5 originally. If you've got military or law enforcement background though, I highly recommend the BT-4. You'll recognize why as soon as you pick the thing up. Put your new feeder and barrel on the thing and you're way ahead of any stock A-5, for a few bucks cheaper. Also, if you're just not sure where you're headed with PB and wanna get something nice & cheap for now-- that you can upgrade as needed over the next several years...go with either the BT-4 or Custom 98. If you choose the BT-4, save yourself the frustration and get the electrohopper up front. You won't need one right away with the 98, but then again, you'll end up getting one eventually for either.
7 out of 10
Last edited on Sunday, July 23rd, 2006 at 2:50 pm PST
I have the BT4 Assualt, which is like the older brother to this gun, and my feedneck is just...a feedneck, and yours should be too. I can push over 20bps with my CAR response trigger and apache loader, i think your neck might just be too rough, or burred.
20 BPS is crazy fast!!! Gravity feed? I'ld like to see that. In the meantime, I'll check my neck. You may be the lucky one though, I've run into a bunch of guys shooten BT versions that have run into the same hiccup. Thank you for the post and insight.
You are absolutly right when it come to military feel. That is another feature i loved about the gun. I may not be in law enforcment or the Military but i am a huge Military nut and do plan to sign up. your right it is strong and sturdy and higly upgradeable. i have already bought an 11" ceramic barrel for mine and it a beauty also have an on/off drop forward and i just baought a SpecOps Broadsword Vest that has the tank holder on the back and now going to buy a remote so now my tank will be a problem no longer my next upgrade will be HPA then an electoloader but i have to save up some cash though after all of the nessecities comes the cosmetics maybe along the line an APEX barrel but who knows. This gun is awesome and I have a bunch of friends that arer really thinking about buying this gun and retireing their old ones. so far i havent had any chops and that was when i was playing all stock with CO2 gravity fed but thats just me
I think you guys are busten my "chops". A bunch of the guys at the fields, and a bunch on this site have had the same problem as me. It's cool to hear that you and Ironcorps haven't had any broken balls though. If that was the case for me, I would have ranked the BT-4 higher and given it the clear nod over the 98. Minus that issue, I think that the BT-4 will soon enjoy the same fame as the 98 or A5, and for less greenback to boot. Unfortunately though, my gun broke my balls all day until I switched out hoppers. Drove me nuts. My feedneck is fine, so the only other possibility is that I had a bum hopper. We will never know for sure, cause I ran that thing over with my truck. I actually tried the remote tank thing for a day, I found that it reduced my mobility enough to be annoying. I'd rather carry the weight in my arms. I quickly switched to the reverse mount tank off of the drop forward, and I've been loven it strong ever since. You may want to give that a try for the heck of it. Thanks for the post.
The A-5's fore grip is NOT fixed.. it is fully adjustable. And outshouting your BT? That's nearly impossible unless you REALLY try, the feedneck design may be slowing down the flow of the paintballs. Shake and shoot hoppers (gravity fed) are not that great at feeding, but its not necessary to blow $70 on an electro hopper.