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phrenologyfiend Monday, April 9th, 2007
The accuracy of this review is disputed. Please see discussion below.
Period of
Product Use:
6 months38 of 38 people found this review helpful.

Paintball
Experience:
More than 5 years
Similar
Products Used:
Classic Automag - same reliability, consistency, and ease of use, but slower rate of fire.
Proto Matrix 6 - Smaller, lighter, easier to fire quickly, and just as reliable and easy to maintain.
Marker Setup: -Proto Matrix 6 (Olive)
-14" St!ffi Switch Barrel Kit
-Critical Raze Trigger (Blue)
-Lucky Un1tech Board with Spitfire software chip
-Halo B
-Pure Energy 68ci/4500psi tank
Recommended
Upgrades:
Level 10 Bolt (if not equipped already)
ULE or Tac-One mainbody
Fireblade trigger (if you can find one . . . rare!)
Strengths: Rugged
Dependable
No paint chops
Consistancy
Innovative
Weaknesses: Heavy
Archaic
Trigger
Cost
Review: When the E-Mag came out in 2001, I was a loyal Automag supporter, but sadly I was also a dirt-poor college student. I was so excited to try one. How could I not be? My beloved Automag was coming out in an electronic format that promised to fire faster, but I had to wait until the end of 2006 to do that when I purchased one from the manufacturer directly. I shelled out the money to try one, and while I was greatly impressed over the improvement from my Classic Automag, I was not by comparison to the electro-pneumatic monsters of today.

Strengths

Dependable: If youíve never used an Automag, youíll not understand, but for those of us who remember the Automag vs. Autococker debate of the 1990ís, you know what Iím talking about. Airgun Designs (AGD) has a history of making some extremely reliable equipment. Even if a part breaks or needs maintenance, it was always easy to do. The E-Mag is no exception to that. Itís almost a simple tube with a spring and some wiring. Maintenance is easy and the marker requires only one Allen wrench to work on any given part or adjust velocity.

No paint chops: AGD outdid themselves here. With the introduction of the Level 10 bolt, they even took the electronic eye off the gun (It was briefly used). The Level 10 bolt stops its forward travel if it meets any real resistance. The founder of AGD Tom Kaye even did demonstrations of its gentleness on paint by sticking his tongue in front of of the bolt and firing. Again, for those of us old enough to remember the old ĎMags, this is a scary thought, but the new bolt stops and vents the gas. Iíll admit that I stuck my fingers in the breech and tried this experiment. It works.

Consistency: I have no empirical proof of this beyond my brief trips to the chronograph and my own observations of play, but the velocity seems to be at least as, if not more, consistent than my Proto Matrix 6 (PM6). Again, though, this is just anecdotal. I have not run controlled tests.

Innovative: Not only does the inclusion of the Level 10 bolt bring this ahead of the Classic Automag, but it has several features that also make it stand out. The trigger modes are a wonderful idea. The E-Mag has several trigger modes: manual, electronic, and hybrid. Manual operates like an Automag RT and has the reactive push on the trigger. Electronic operates by magnetic activation of a Hall sensor in the grip frame and has magnetic return. Hybrid operates by combining the two. It gives magnetic actuation of the solenoid, while still offering a mechanical push on the trigger.

Weaknesses

Heavy: While Iím a big guy and I didnít mind the weight at the time, once I started using other high-end markers that are out there ...well, I became spoiled. I applaud AGD for including a rechargeable battery instead of the standard 9-volt that is needed, but it feels like half the weight of the marker. Fully loaded, it weighs noticeably more than my PM6, or even my classic Autocockers. While the addition of the ULE part line has helped, it's still heavy by today's criteria.

Archaic: While AGD tried many innovations on this marker, they still kept the basic design of the Automag. Iím not saying I donít like that. Like I stated before, I love ĎMags. What it means is that the basic blow-forward, mechanical design that was introduced in 1991 is still used here. The electronic solenoid simply trips the mechanical firing pin faster. It also gives the E-Mag just as much kick as its predecessors.

Trigger: Initially I was exited about the trigger and its innovative features, but itís not as smooth firing as the other triggers on other electro-pneumatic markers. It's a classic double-finger trigger, and beyond that its shape is blocky and less intuitive to walking. Itís possible to walk it, but it took practice in my case. Also, while it is mechanically capable of firing 20 shots per second, it's very hard to achieve. Not so much on other high-end electro-pneumatics. In hybrid and mechanical mode it also had no rear-travel limiter, so while the reactive push was nice, its travel path was longer and therefore achieved a slower rate of fire. In mechanical mode itís also possible to short stroke, if anyone even knows that term anymore ;-). But to be fair, the addition of the mechanical mode in case of electronic failure was inventive and ingenious.


Cost: All previous criticisms would have been taken with a grain of salt had the price of this marker dropped at a rate comparable to that of the Autococker. It didnít. To purchase a marker new from AGD costs approximately $1000. For that kind of money you could afford quite a few of the top-end electro-pneumatic markers out there. My PM6 cost only $750 new, so I still would have had money to buy a small compressed air tank and a Halo.
Conclusion: As much as I'd love to recommend this product, and as much as it pains me to say this after years of Automag loyalty, this is a product that's past its prime. It's alright for Woodsball, but not speedball. And for the cost, you could make a Woodsball monster out of a Tippman A-5 with plenty to spare. You could also buy a different electro-pneumatic marker that would be more competitive in today's playing environment.

Final rating: WIth 5 being the average and 10 doing everything advertised with no suggestions for improvement . . . 6. It possesses some novel features, but it's just not as competitve today as it was in 2001 when it came out.

Also, along the lines of dates, don't forget to look at the dates of reviews to make sure that the rating of 10 on an item you're wanting to buy now wasn't written in 2002 and may or may not be valid any longer for the given item. That's just smart thinking.
Rating:
6 out of 10Last edited on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 at 10:09 pm PST
 

Review Comments
Argelmcgee Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 | 7:24 pm PST
Dispute:
I think you're right about the price and most of your comments. However, I firmly disagree with your comment about an Automag vs. an A-5. You said that you could make a woodsball monster out of an A-5 for the same price as an Automag.

I own both an A-5 and a Tac-1. I don't think it would be fair to compare them because they're in completely different classes. The Tac-1 was around $200 more than my A-5 with tons of mods. My A-5 needed a replacement powertube and ratchet because the stock parts literally snapped from less than a year's use (although it was pretty heavy use). It also needed a new barrel, and I decided to get a response trigger. I was satisfied with it for a while, but it had started out with problems and I had resigned myself to the theory that paintballs just couldn't get any more accurate and I would have to deal with it.

Then I borrowed a Classic 'Mag from a teammate (who has been playing for 26 years now). After a day of play, I decided that an Automag would be my next gun. I have never regretted it since. I doubt I will ever need a new gun. My Tac-1 shoots probably 50% tighter groupings than the best I had ever gotten from my A-5. For some reason, it also points on target better, but that could be just for me. It's faster, much lighter, and much more well worth the price.

Anyways, that's why I disagree with your statement. An A-5 and any Automag are just in different classes. Yes, you could get an A-5 that will work very, very well for a long period of time. But it's really not made with quality, it's just a simple design that's hard to break. It performs very well for it's price, but what you see in a stock A-5 is pretty much what you get from any A-5. An Automag is just in a different class.
   

phrenologyfiend Monday, February 25th, 2008 | 11:27 pm PST
You're right, and I would agree with you if I had said that you could build a woodsball monster for the cost of an Automag. But if you look at what I said again, you might see that I indicated that you could build an amazing A-5 for the price of an E-mag. That is why I specifically compared the A-5 I could build to an E-mag, not a mechanical Tac-1 or .68 Classic. I can see how you could be confused, but that is not the comparison that was made.

Excellent point, though. :-) That is still why I love classic Automags. I know many people who still use them.
Last edited on Tuesday, February 26th, 2008 at 1:37 pm PST
   

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