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Comments on theBroodwich's Review

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theBroodwich Monday, March 12th, 2007
Period of
Product Use:
6 months3 of 3 people found this review helpful.

Paintball
Experience:
More than 5 years
Similar
Products Used:
Every other generation of Freestyle - they all have their definitive characteristics but the FS8 just improves on the design in every way.
PM's, DM's, Shockers,

No point listing every marker I've ever owner or shot, the markers mentioned above are the only ones I have experience with that are similar to the Freestyle.
Marker Setup: Gloss Red FS-8
v2 Slider Valve
Nox Reloaded
Upgraded Solenoid
Custom bolt and body modification
AKA Sidewinder HPR
Palmer's LPR
CP ASA

Crossfire 68/45
Halo B
Recommended
Upgrades:
Recommended:
Board - Nox preferably, gets rid of the bounce issue that many of the stock Pred Ltd. boards have as well as offers more customization and *IMO* better board programming.

Not necessary but beneficial:
Regs, Barrel, ASA
Strengths: Size
Weight
Kick
Sound
Speed
Efficiency
Price
Weaknesses: Regulators
Frame
ASA
Review: The FS-8 is the newest marker released by Indian Creek Designs, and will most likely be so until at least the 2008 season. Quite a few mainstream paintball players might cringe at this, but the truth is that ICD just does not need to release a marker this year. With a solid design that performs excellently, why bother making small insignificant modifications just so that the marker can be repackaged as a "NEW" marker. Other manufacturers may need to do it to create hype, but that is not what this company and this marker is all about.

The FS8 is a single tube blow-forward marker, similar to a spool valve marker but with a different design and function. In this newest incarnation, ICD has revamped the bolt system to improve efficiency, reliability, and overall performance. Besides the improvements in valve design, the FS8 has new body milling which still follows some of the original lines, and an improved feedneck. The marker comes with a CD manual, some lubricant for the bolt, as well as some small parts.

The FS-8, although very slightly larger in size that previous models, is very small and can compete in this attribute with most any high end marker on the market. This holds true for the marker's weight as well, however where the FS8 excels is in the balance of its weight proportionately throughout. The price point is a huge factor with the FS8, with retail prices far lower than most other guns of similar quality.

Out of the box, little time is needed to get the marker running. The bolt slides out of the back of the marker easily after the bolt retaining screw is removed. It unscrews into 5 separate pieces and lubrication takes less than a minute, then the bolt is right back in the gun. The Predator Ltd. board that comes stock offers a few firing modes along with dwell, debounce, and rof adjustments. Although this may leave some people wanting more, it is plenty for the average player. Once the board is programmed, the marker can be aired up and all that is left to do is balance the regulators. Unlike most markers, the HPR and LPR in Freestyles work in balance to keep the bolt cocked back as well as to make it shoot forward, so for those new to the marker a quick glance at the manual is necessary to orient themselves to the operation. With the regulators balanced properly, the bolt snaps back and forth very crisply, but does not put excessive force on the paintballs in the breech.

Dry firing the marker allows the user to see how little the marker kicks, similar to that of spool valve markers. The quietness of the FS8 is also noticeable when compared to stacked tube ram and poppit markers such as Egos and Timmys as well spool valve guns such as PM's and DM's. The sound signature of the FS8 is very unique and is less like a pop and more like a pfft (I have no idea how else to describe it). Setting the board to a ramping mode for the purpose of testing shows just how fast the marker can cycle in its stock form, putting no doubt in my mind that it will shoot as fast as my hopper can feed paint.

With a spare bag of paint, some open space, and time to kill, I set out to see how the gun performed. As expected, the marker cycled very quickly and smoothly, both in semi and in ramping modes. The stock barrel did not provide the best accuracy, but that can easily be resolved with a simple CP one piece barrel or equivalent. When setup properly, I experienced no FSDO, although the stock regs produced an occasional shot that strayed from the normal consistent strings of paint. The FS8 seems to have a slight issue with bounce, which the stock is unable to mask even at high settings. Although not horrible, it can be troublesome for tournament players. Each full 140 round pod used between 450 and 500 psi on my 68/45, which means on a full tank I can expect to see around 1300 shots before needing a fill. Although this cannot be compared with efficiency numbers obtainable from stacked tube ram markers, the numbers are on par if not better than other guns that operate similarly. You just can't compare apples with oranges.

As far as problems go(every gun has problems, if you can't find it you are not looking hard enough) they are not outrageous. The regulators could definitely be more consistent and operate smoother, but most people opt for aftermarket high performance regs even on the highest end markers. Not all of the regulators produced by ICD operate the same, some work very well in fact, it is kind of hit or miss. The ASA has a tendency to starve the gun of air, although the problem can be fixed easily at home, it should still be done from the factory. Then there is the bounce issue. This review is from the marker in its stock form where there is a significant amount of bounce. With the Nox board, I have not experienced even the slightest amount of bounce, even on lower debounce settings. Finally, there is a personal problem of mine, the frame. Up until the last few batches of FS8's, all freestyle frames were characterized by a hump on the rear of the frame. This hump gave a the gun a very comfortable feel which is now gone. Whether the hump will return or not is uncertain, but it will surely be missed.
Conclusion: I would recommend this marker to anybody in the market for a high end paintball gun. The FS8 offers the performance of every other high end gun, along with reliability, and excellent customer service at a fraction of the cost. I am rating it a 10 simply because the few small nuances that the marker has just cannot outweigh the overall great product that ICD has created. Even if you are a person who must completely upgrade a marker, you can spend less money buying an FS8 and putting a full range of upgrades into and still spend less than other high ends, at which the FS8 would probably outperform them all.
Rating:
10 out of 10
 

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