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elco Thursday, August 24th, 2006
Period of
Product Use:
1 year17 of 17 people found this review helpful.

Paintball
Experience:
More than 5 years
Similar
Products Used:
Tippmann A5 (good value, very customizable, very common, and benchmark for scenario markers)
Ariakon SIM4 (good value, reliable in mech mode)
Armotech WG-65 Electronic (decent, but had some QC issues later addressed by MilTech's updated line)
AutoMag RT (reliable, costly, and HPA only--so is the AT85)
Marker Setup: AT85 customized with 16" barrel, ATS weaver rail, Armotech parts (front sight, carry handle, RIS, and muzzle brake), T-stock, generic red dot sight
Recommended
Upgrades:
A remote setup in conjunction with ATS's gas-thru stock, or bottomline

Any combination of the millions of Mil-Sim accessories out there.... know your style, and assemble something that works best for you.

Strengths: Durable, ergonomic, reliable, easy service, no batteries, lots of mask clearance.
Weaknesses: Cost of mags, mediocre gas efficiency, inconvenient velocity adjustment.
Review: This will be a long review, and I will not regurgitate the many good points common to other reviewers. Instead, this review will focus on issues seldom mentioned, but useful or interesting to readers/potential buyers. (Be sure to take a look at the AT-4 reviews too. Both AT-85 & AT-4 are identical twins in different clothes.)

History:

Second-hand buyers should beware the TS-1 which is a 1st Gen AT-85. TS-1 was made by Tagline (later sold to ATS). The TS-1 had major reliability issues and teething problems. The AT-85 addressed all problems by introducing a high-flow system, and by going HPA only.

**Tagline TS-1 vs. ATS AT-85**

1st caveat: the Cog. The TS-1's old mag cog looks like a saw with all teeth filed down. The AT-85 cog has only the first 4 teeth filed down (much more reliable feed). You can fit an AT-85 cog into the TS-1.

2nd caveat: the Mag. The TS-1 mag's right-side has a metallic "turn key" (looks like the turn key on those antique wind-up toys or clocks). It is very easy to grab it by mistake during firing, and jam the marker. The ATS mag has a pop-up wind key that is snag-proof. Although ATS sells a replacement winder kit, it's very difficult to swap the winders. The age (or wear-n-tear) on TS-1 mags almost always guarantees that the plastic will shatter on any attempt to pop out the metal turn key. The ATS mags also have a unique anti chainslap plate *molded* into the mag housing that extends chain life. The old vs new mags can make or break your marker.

3rd caveat: TS-1 had a slightly different regulator assembly. This is very prone to stripping, and can seize from HPA usage. You can easily refit an AT-85 regulator to the TS-1, but this won't change the weak regulator threads inherent in the TS-1 chassis. You can, however, buy a new ATS valve housing. This updates the TS-1's reg and valve system to an AT-85.


Why Choose ATS?

I own & love the scenario benchmarks: AutoMag & Tippy A5. If you were to combine the best of both, what would you get? Well, I don't know.... but the ATS comes pretty darn close.

The ATS markers are made for players who want something different. Gone are the days when ATS markers dominated tthe realistic look department. There are plenty of reasons, other than looks alone, to justify getting an ATS.

ATS epitomizes the saying: " the whole is worth vastly more than the sum of its parts."

In terms of looks, feel, ergonomics, and ROF, many companies excel on one or 2 key strengths. But the ATS delivers the *whole* combination--all of the above. It's designed for players who want it all.

My decision for buying an ATS hinged on a few other reasons, different from what other reviewers have said. Here are some of my favorite ATS features:

1. The Profile:

AT4 or AT85 equipped with a carry handle, RIS, and a 30mm Red Dot scope has the *top* of its hopper sitting at least 1" lower than the scope. Try this with a flat-top hopper (eg the Ricochet), and you will notice how much lower the hopper sits relative to the scope. This translates to a 180 degrees of unobstructed view during maneuvers. No hopper or Cyclone feeder to obstruct your right hemisphere.

**It must also be noted that the Q-Loader, compatible with nearly every marker, also offers the same no-obstruction benefit. Both Q-Loader & ATS magazines employ unique feed mechanisms that require user care. A Q-Loader pod has a more durable plastic than the ATS mags. However, an ATS hopper adapter plate allows much easier reloading and you can "top up" your hopper constantly. The ATS also has a more blended design. But the choosing either ATS or Q-Loader depends on what you're willing to tradeoff.**

When you add an ASA-mounted collapsible stock, the benefits of ATS's clean design become more obvious. You can aim without straining your neck on an ATS, unlike most milsim markers. The clearances on the ATS are VERY well-thought out. You can compare it to many scoped, M4 look-alike markers out there, and you'll be amazed that on the ATS, the collapsible stock does not hit your mask.


2. The Trigger:

The AT-85 has one of the best mechanical triggers, period. The normal trigger has a pull less than 3 lbs. If you opt for the factory trigger job (aka "tourney trigger mod"), the pull is light as a mouseclick. The trigger travel is approximately 3mm, either way.

This is one of the most underrated features of the ATS line. The trigger system performs and feels very similar to AGD's ULT. If you own an ATS, don't overlook its excellent semi mode. It is fairly easy to go as fast on semi as it is on full auto! (Note that this excellent trigger has been the same on EVERY ATS marker, regardless of manufacturing date.)


3. Ease of Maintenance:

Huh? You say.... Isn't the ATS a very complicated marker? Yes and NO! The actual maintenance required from the user are the following:

-5 drops of oil on the ASA at the start of your game day. Keeps the cycling mechanism happy.

-LUBE SPRING PLATE: save yourself a lot of grief by removing only the spring plate, and only the spring plate. Put a dab of grease, and re-install. Always complete this process *BEFORE* removing the valve housing and you'll never break a spring. BTW lubing the plate is needed after about 5 cases of paint, not after every game.

-LUBE Regulator as specified: this is the only tricky part of ATS maintenance; it is not difficult, and the reg is made up of only 4 small parts anyway; however, the parts are very small, and it's easy to lose them if you're not careful. ALWAYS do this on a well-lit area, on a clean work table.

-Lightly lube the sleeve, bolt, and hammer: this is needed very, very RARELY. See mfr instructions on how & why.

-above all, always keep it clean: wipe all paint splatter with a damp rag

So there! The user does not need to take apart nor service anything inside the valve housing, ever. There is no reason or need to ever take apart the 4-way cyclic valve.

Note also how little servicing is needed on the internals.... you don't have to physically dismantle the marker to lube the bolt after every game.

In actuality, here are the parts you need to inspect semi-regularly: magazine chain, cog, spring plate, hammer, bolt, and bolt sleeve. If you aren't intimidated with taking apart a Tippmann A5, the AT-85 will feel right at home, if not easier.

In summary, maintenance is just a bit more involved than a Mag, parts count somewhere near the A5. The engineering, intelligent parts layout, and ease of use are very similar among the ATS, AGD, and Tippy markers.

I hope this really dispels the "very complex mechanism" myth for many potential ATS buyers.


4. Full Auto

Everyone's raved about this on the ATS, but nearly every competing marker has this feature now. The ATS mechanical full auto is, to this day, the benchmark of reliability and elegance. It's reliable because the indexed ratchet system prevents chopping. It's elegant because it requires no batteries, no RT mechanism, and no fine-tuning needed. (Feed/cycle problems occur only if someone has improperly re-assembled or wrongly adjusted the regulator.)

5. Flexibility

The ATS line is exactly identical except for external configuration. What this means is that you can buy any body kit, and barrel set, or, a spare valve, and swap at will. You can start with an AT-85 kit and eventually buy just the AT10 or AT4 bodies and never worry about fit problems!


6. High Precision Workmanship

The high precision manufacturing of the ATS is very apparent in its velocity consistency. If you ever owned a blowback, you know that you need to rechrono and recalibrate every time you gas up the marker..... what was 240fps yesterday could be much higher (or much lower) the next time you gas up. This practically never happens with the ATS markers. The velocity and regulator settings do not have the tendency to "wander" or fluctuate at every gas up. I am NOT saying that you can skip chronying by owning an ATS. (Always chrony--it's for everybody's safety!!) Rather, on the chrony line, you can dial-in the correct velocity in little or no time at all. Just don't lose the velocity adjusting rod!!!!


**Recommend ATS Accessories for New Owners:

If you want to invest in an ATS, be sure to keep the critical spare parts. When you need them, nothing else will suffice. Here are some very useful spare parts:

-Ricochet Hopper (not from ATS, but the angular shape works very well for RIS-crazy setups)
-at least 1 spring plate
-1 spare mag
-seal kit (it includes regulator maintenance parts!!)
-2 screw kits (you will lose a bolt or 2--always keep one kit in your toolkit)
-spare plastic handle & 3-prong cap for the velocity adjuster (must be custom ordered from ATS--less than $1 each!!)
-spare velocity adjuster (one of mine has been mistaken for a "broken" stick squeegee, and was tossed away by an ignorant player.... this is very likely to happen to you)
-lube


Conclusion: The ATS line of markers has always been a niche in the Mil-Sim market. There are markers that are very reliable (AGD), those that shoot fast (Mag RT, A5 RT, electros), super customizable ones (A5), or slick looking types (Ariakon, Armotech, etc).

If you're happy with 1 or 2 particular strengths, you can easily find your dream marker. If you want all of the above, then the ATS is one of those rare, do-it-all markers. It does not excel at a particular strength. Rather, it is good at everything, with a few trade-offs mentioned previously.

You can shoot fast when needed, have an unobstructed view during maneuvers, shoot lots and not worry about chopping or dropoffs. Accomplish all of these without batteries. And, impress others with a killer-looking marker. All of these right out of the box!!!

Price-wise, the AT-85 is very competitive with many customized Mil-Sim products. You can customize it to a near AT-4 lookalike, and spend the extra change on paint or Mil-Sim accessories.

That's what got me to buy an AT-85, and to never look back--it's basically as if my Mag and A5 got fused into one... Just enough uniqueness to make you WANT to use it.



Rating:
10 out of 10Last edited on Saturday, August 26th, 2006 at 5:23 pm PST
 

Review Comments
IllWitted Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 | 9:55 am PST
Nice review! Found it to be VERY helpful. Looking forward to buying it in the future!
wait...and is it really that loud as they say?
   

elco Friday, November 17th, 2006 | 7:13 pm PST
Hi Witted..... sorry for being late responding, and thanks for the compliments

The original ATS/TS-1 barrels were *unported*, probably to maximize efficiency. They were indeed as loud as the early Spyders (high pressure, unported).

The current barrels (including the 14" version, with the realistic muzzle brake) have large, spaced portholes. I don't really notice any noise reduction--just guessing loudness depends greatly on which end the barrel points :-)

BTW, the sound of the ATS really turns heads, and many have commented it sounds like a Pulse Rifle. The sound of an ATS is most reassuring, unless you're on the opposing side......
   

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