Primary weapon: Tippmann A-5 with Special Ops commando stock & A-5A2 foregrip; Smart Parts Freak Back with Hammerhead Pro Tip front barrel; Simmons 40mm red dot scope; JCS dovetail-to-weaver offset rail; PMI coiled remote line with slide check; Palmer Pursuit inline stabilizer; PMI 72cu/3000psi HPA tank.
Alternate Primary: CCI VSC Phantom with 45 grip, White Wolf Airsmithing Stealth 11" barrel & trigger shoe, ball detents.
Secondary weapon: Tiberius Arms TAC-8 pistol with 3 extra magazines.
1) No sight rail
2) Few aftermarket products (except barrels)
3) Hawaiian adapter not included
I've recently joined in the ever-growing trend back toward old-school paintball: pistols and pumps. One of my teammates is a police officer who teaches at the academy. He brings out his cadets to the field to play on Saturdays. To promote realism, we have started using pistols and pump guns to simulate (and stimulate) tactical combat. I had my CCI Phantom to dust off, but I had heard good things about the Sterling STP (the older model) and wanted to try out this new offering from Arrow-Precision (AKA Sterling).
The Sterling Stock Class (SC) STP arrived in a well-designed box printed to look like a metal gun case. While I agree with the other reviewer that the print is entirely superfluous, I think it was a nice touch from a marketing perspective. Contained within the box was the SC STP and several other accessories: velocity adjustment rod, horizontal feeder, vertical feeder adapter, vertical air adapter, bottom-line adapter, 12-gram CO2 quick change adapter, stock barrel, small parts kit, and (of course) the manual. I was disappointed to find that the Hawaiian bottom-line CO2 adapter was not included in the box even though the part was detailed in my instruction manual as well as on the advertisement where I had purchased the marker. I contacted Arrow-Precision and they informed me that the Hawaiian CO2 adapter was only available in select kits and that I must have purchased a kit without the Hawaiian adapter. To their credit, they were kind enough to sell me the Hawaiian adapter at a discounted price because of the confusion.
Perhaps the neatest feature of the SC STP is its versatility. The marker can be modified to be either stock class with a horizontal feeder or non-stock with the vertical feeder. There is a single bolt that can be loosened at the top of the marker that holds either the horizontal or vertical feeder adapter in place. Switching between the modes of feeding is amazingly simple. However, I found that if this bolt is not tightened enough, the entire feeding mechanism can slide about 2 millimeters forward and prevent ball feeds. The horizontal feeder can also wobble a bit if the bolt isn't fastened securely as well. So, be sure to tighten that bolt! One small complaint I have is that the horizontal feeder doesn't have a dovetail sight rail like the CCI Phantom.
The pneumatics can also be adjusted easily. My marker came configured with the thru-grip bottom-line air adapter already installed. This bottom-line air adapter can accommodate either the 12-gram CO2 quick change adapter or constant air (CA). Changing to vertical stock class (VSC) is simple: loosen the bolts that attach the grip to the breech, detach the grip from the breech, disconnect the hardline from the air adapter at rear of the marker, use an Allen wrench to loosen a single bolt on the top of the grip, pull the hardline connected to the bottom-line adapter out of the grip, and reattach the grip to the breech. Then, simply insert the vertical air adapter hardline into the rear air adapter and fasten the adapter to the trigger guard. While this may sound complicated, it's actually quite easy. A nice feature about the SC STP's hardlines is that the hardline connectors don't need to be tightened with a wrench like the CCI Phantoms to prevent air leaks.
The SC STP is nicely balanced and very light. The pump stroke is nice and smooth. The stroke itself is about 2.5 inches. The marker has an auto-trigger that allows it to automatically fire after every pump stroke if the trigger is depressed. A ball detent is built into the body of the breech that prevents double-feeds which is very nice. However, the marker itself can be double- or triple-pumped with multiple paintballs being loaded into the breech.
The barrel itself is nicely polished and accurate. Another great feature is that the marker accommodates Spyder threads. Roll-outs are very common with the stock barrel. The stock barrel is very acceptable, but I quickly switched over to my Smart Parts Freak Barrel which was more accurate. Velocity adjustment is similar to the CCI Phantom, but rather than inserting the adjustment rod into the barrel, the SC STP has a small port through the pump itself just underneath the barrel. I like the idea of not putting a metal rod down my barrel and potentially scratching it, but I still found myself removing my barrel to change the velocity because the adjustment rod could only be rotated about 100 degrees with the barrel in the way.
I tested the Sterling SC STP outdoors (~70 degrees, ~5 MPH wind) at a distance of 50 and 75 feet using Marballizer paintballs. I only used the stock barrel for testing purposes. The following are my results:
Outdoors: 48/50 within a 3-inch radius around the bull's eye (7 hit center, 2 hit ~5 inches from center). No broken balls.
Outdoors: 23/25 within a 4-inch radius around the bull's eye (3 hit center, 2 hit ~6 inches from center). No broken balls.
The most interesting results were when I double- and triple-pumped the marker. I found that the paintballs were still amazingly accurate at 50 feet. I found that the dispersion of paint was only ~6 inches at 50 feet around the bull's eye with three rounds chambered! I went through ~45 rounds triple-pumping and had no broken balls with the stock barrel (none with my Freak barrel either). While intentionally multi-pumping is certainly faux pas, we all know that it happens and that it often leads to ball breaks in the barrel. I found that my SC STP seemed to tolerate this a wee bit more than my CCI Phantom and was a little more accurate as well.
The marker performed very well in-game (using my Smart Parts Freak Kit). I was able to consistently land paint within 6 inches of my targets at a distance of ~75 feet (with most rounds landing within 3-4 inches). The longest distance at which I marked a target was ~125 feet. In one particular game, I somehow drew weak side defensive duties as a solo defender and was still able to keep their strong side 4-man assault at bay simply because I could consistently strike within 3 inches of my targets, keeping them occupied and under cover until our mobile gunner flanked them (I only hit one of four, but I was snap shooting with little aim).
Air efficiency is very good. I usually had ~30-35 rounds per 12-gram CO2 cartridge with little drop off until the last 2-3 rounds. Pump guns are renown for good air efficiency and I was glad to see that the SC STP was at least on par with other pump guns of similar quality and cost. There was no variance in air efficiency with vertical and bottom-line configurations.
One great feature about the SC STP is its ease of field cleaning. Simply pull out the cocking bar retainer, slide out the bolt, and run a straight-shot from the rear of the marker out through the barrel. I haven't had a broken ball in the SC STP yet, but knowing that the marker can be so easily cleaned provides great peace of mind. The marker itself is easy to dis- and re-assemble. The individual components themselves are easily accessed and cleaned. I do want to mention that their customer service is very helpful. Mark Ambrose (Director of Sales/Marketing) is the individual with whom I've been communicating from their customer service center. While he may take a day or two to respond to e-mail, the fact that I could discuss issues directly with him suggested that the company is very dedicated to providing me with a quality product.
I really enjoy using the Sterling SC STP. I cannot say that it performs any better than my CCI VSC Phantom, but it certainly performs just as well. The Spyder threads give the marker more upgrade options from a barrel perspective, but I do wish there were more options available to customize other aspects of the marker (stock, sight rails, pump, etc). I admit that I will likely stick with my CCI VSC Phantom as my primary pump marker, but only because I like having the sight rail and red dot scope (the cadets are better than me and I need any advantage I can get!). Please highly consider the Sterling SC STP if you are interested in purchasing a pump marker: you will not be disappointed in the craftsmanship or performance. It is an equivalent alternative to the CCI Phantom and will provide you with a unique marker that certainly draws attention.
10 out of 10
Last edited on Wednesday, June 20th, 2007 at 7:56 pm PST