Tippmann Alpha Black Tactical
Pure Energy Remote Line
Pure Energy 20oz CO2 Tank
VL 200 Hopper
UTG Tactical Vest with MOLLE system on back.
3 point tactical sling
Zap/Archon 200 Hopper
Tactical Vest (MOLLE on back side to incorporate Tank Pouch)
RAP4 MOD Tank Pouch
VL 200 Hopper or Archon 200 Hopper
Specter CST Tactical Sling
No detachable Carry Handle.
Could not sight down it easily with mask on.
When I first set out to purchase a marker I was looking for something that looked and felt like a military weapon. I love Mil-Sim (Military Simulation). Not that I think anything I do truly emulates what our troops do every day for us, but I like to get as close as possible. My searching was gravitating towards the Tippman A5 since it is so customizable and has the most diverse upgrades. But lets face it, A5's are downright expensive. I work in the helping professions and spending $300 to $500 on a paintball marker (after upgrades) is hard to rationalize to my wife.
After about 2 months of searching for the right marker for the right deal I stumbled across a Tippmann vendor on an online auction that was selling something called an Alpha Black (AB). *hmm This caught my eye. It is the officially licensed marker of the Army. *hmm So I knew where to go to find good reviews....www.pbreview.com. Reviews were great. Everybody was loving theirs and only seemed to complain about the weight and the maintenance.
The only reason I didn't jump on and hit the "Buy It Now" button was the complaints of marker weight and convincing my wife. After addressing the latter I purchased it. I sweat bullets about how heavy it was going to be and after a very short period of time, it arrived. Now, we are asked not to attack other reviewers and I need all to know that I am not attacking the other reviews, but instead offering another perspective. I did not find the Alpha Black to be at all heavy. But to make sure, I handed it to my wife (I did not tell her anything about these reviews) and the first words out of her mouth were "wow, this is really light."
But, for the sake of attaining Mil-Sim (which incidentally reduced any additional weight I could have had), I purchased a RAP4 CO2 MOLLE mod tank pouch to go on the back of my UTG tactical vest and I inherited a Pure Energy remote line from my brother-in-law. I included in this a 3 point tactical sling.
[ADDENDUM] The remote setup has worked amazingly well. It has put the tank on my back and out of my way. The marker is very light especially with the 3 point sling's assistance. I have had no problems with the remote line getting snagged.[ END ADDENDUM]
Please know, I am no paintball guru with no special powers or amazing gift at paint-slinging. I love to play and look professional while I do it, but I am quite convinced that when I pulled out my AB and set up my rig I heard about three people gasp. We took pictures of ourselves and I saw what I looked like. Even though I am not a scary or intimidating person, I looked very intimidating and lets face it, intimidation can come to your advantage. Sure, you need to be aggressive, make continual progressive advances, and utilize flanking maneuvers, but it always helps when the opposing team is scared to get in front of your line of fire. [ADDENDUM] A player, when I had my rig assembled at the last match, asked if I was trying to kill people....for real. [END ADDENDUM]
But enough of this story telling. Lets get to the facts. Accuracy was the most incredible I have ever seen. I have consistently used Custom 98's and Spyder markers. My AB could give me almost 15 to 20 extra feet of distance compared to the 98's I was going up against. This kept them pinned down at much farther ranges. The accuracy was stunning. To originally test it out, I fired the AB at single pipe of a pipe fence (approx. 3 inches wide) from 55 feet (approx. 18 yards). Out of 8 rounds fired, 3 met their target. But before you get bent outta shape, walk off 55 feet and imagine shooting a pipe 3 inches wide. All other shots were near misses. I was firing Xball Recreational Paintballs and Sterling Competition Paintballs. I do not consider either of these to be high grade balls and they preformed nicely. This is particularly beneficial when, like me, you don't play enough to rationalize buying extremely expensive balls. [ADDENDUM] So far I have used the two above mentioned paintballs as well as the Spyder Competition balls and I have irrefutably found that the Sterling Competition balls are the best so far (even over the more expensive Spyder paintballs).[END ADDENDUM]
After turning around from that test fire at the pipe, there were about 8 white faces (they were on the other team) and 6 people asking to shoot my AB. The first question someone asked me about it was, naturally, how much it cost. I got it for $130 (that's shipping included) on the online auction. One guy noted that he had just bought his [I did not recognize the brand] for $100 and would have gladly have scrounged up another 30 bucks to get an AB. I gave out the information on the seller to about 5 people that day. Incidentally, it should be noted that I am not the seller nor am I associated with the seller in any way. I am just a customer that was genuinely impressed with the marker he/she sold me.
Functionality in the field was awesome. The gun feels as solid as a rock. The aluminum is high quality and feels as durable as a Tippmann should. [ADDENDUM] I have put this marker through a total of 5 high intensity, high impact woodsball games. I am not gentle with my markers once the matches have begun and submit them to what I consider to be considerable stresses including finding cover quickly, crawling through grass, dirt, trees, and briar (if you are from Texas and some other areas you know how nasty briar can be). It's quality and durability have surprised me (as most Tippmann's do).[END ADDENDUM] Telescopic stocks are fantastic for woodsball gaming. I shortened the stock for CQB (close quarter battle) and it was awesomely snug. I noticed that my mask prevented me from sighting effectively down the rail sights, but the way I ball I rarely use or need direct sighting. With the 3 point tactical sling, it fell comfortably to the left side of my body allowing me to kneel or squat (behind cover I mean) without the barrel getting in the dirt
The marker worked flawlessly with my remote line and 20 oz tank. We played 5 scenarios and I fired over 1100 rounds through the AB. It did not chop a single ball. [ADDENDUM] Due to balls getting stuck in the feed neck of my VL 200 (not the markers fault obviously), I bought an Archon/Zap 200 hopper and have solved 9 out of 10 of my stuck feed neck problems. [END ADDENDUM] I limited my firing to, on average, 3-6 shot bursts and had no problems with cycling or freezing. With the 20oz tank, I did not have to change tanks at all. As mentioned above, this gun sips on gas like a Japanese car. When I unscrewed the tank at the end of the matches, there was still a significant amount of air left in the tank. [ADDENDUM] I can push a total of 1500 rounds through this marker before I notice a degradation in performance (i.e. balls stopped breaking when they made contact with objects). [END ADDENDUM]
Though no paint broke in the barrel, I was effectively covered in paint from other players and this included my marker. Since I desire to see this marker last me a long time, I've resigned myself to tear it down after every game. There seems to be some fierce debate between reviewers about the difficulty in maintenance. I will admit that it does take a small amount of finesse to get it open and there are a substantial amount of very little parts. However, I have absolutely no proficiency in working on or repairing markers, or any other mechanical devices for all that matter, and I was easily able to get the case off, oil all of the internals, and get it back together [this took approx. 30 minutes]. And to answer the question you should be asking yourself...yes, I fired it afterwards and it worked perfectly. I've successfully torn it down a total of three times now and I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of where the internals go and how they work (thanks to Tippmann's very simple Custom 98 internals). [ADDENDUM] I have torn it down a total of 6 times now (one of those times I completely disassembled it all the way down to the frame so I could paint it) and it still functions. I have cut the amount of time needed to tear it down from the above mentioned 30 minutes to approximately 15 minutes (which includes tear down, oiling, and reassembly). [END ADDENDUM]
This marker can fit a variety of players and scenarios. If you like woodsball, I most certainly recommend this marker to anyone. If you are a person that enjoys Mil-Sim, I'm not sure you could get a better marker for the price.
And, if you're just a baller that wants to have fun, you don't really care about all the nerd stuff I'm into, and want a reliable inexpensive weapon, I recommend the Alpha Black to you.
If you're wanting that "edge" over your fellow woodsballers I haven't shot another gun that I recommend yet. With the accuracy to be precise, forks or "v's" in the trees become a viable option for head shots. It's no longer an issue of "can I hit them" and more of an issue of "where do I want to hit them" now.
The only reason I'm not giving it a 10 is because the administrators of this forum are right. There is no such thing as a "perfect" marker. So it should say something that I rate it a 9. It isn't perfect, but it got dang close in my opinion. And I'm pretty picky. [ADDENDUM] I've added a picture of my marker on pbreview.com (see above). [END ADDENDUM]
9 out of 10
Last edited on Sunday, May 31st, 2009 at 11:30 am PST
Very good and indepth review. By reading this it seems to me you know what your talking about when it comes to paintball markers. I have never actually owned one but I have wanted to for a few years now. I'm not exactly sure what to buy and I was wondering if you could give me an idea of what I should be looking to buy. I just want a marker to shoot around around for fun in the woods by my house, nothing serious. Thanks for your time.
Thank you for your kind words Rack. First off, to be as helpful as possible, I'm assuming that you are in the learning curve for paintball and may use descriptions that seem overly-basic. Please know that I do not mean to be patronizing and that you may already know some of the terminology used.
First, I highly recommend this marker (Tippmann Alpha Black or Alpha Black Tactical) if you like a solid marker that looks like a real weapon (they are about $130 at Academy not including tax). If, however, you are not as interested in that style of look, I still recommend Tippmann. This price does not include a hopper and tank however.
Tippmann has several markers of varying price that are excellent. One of the lower range markers (one that sounds like meets the criteria of what you're looking for) would be the Tippmann 98 and Custom 98. They have very simple internals and are built like a rock in terms of durability. Have a buddy who's 98 Custom flew out of the window of his pickup at 55 miles per hour and it still functions flawlessly. The 98 Custom has been out long enough to have a vast amount of aftermarket products to fit your exact style of play. They are carried in popular sports stores like Academy as well as online.
Other TIppmann's include the A5, which is worth looking in to, but will be more expensive, and the X7 which is one of their newest top of the line markers but these are probably too serious in price for what you described being interested in.
If you are starting from scratch I recommend that you look into some type of "Powerpack" (or some other name derivative of that) that will include a the marker, hopper (what you put paintballs in), tank (for carrying Co2), and a mask. You can also do some checking on eBay if you are proficient in buying off of eBay. Sometimes you can find "Powerpacks" that will include a tank, hopper, pods (for carrying extra balls) and sometimes a harness (what carries the pods) for a reasonable price.
Conclusion: Try looking at the Tippmann 98's first and see if you like anything. There are often ones that come pre-painted with Mossy-Oak etc. Bare minimum you are going to want the marker, hopper, and tank so that you can do the side-of-the-house plinking you mentioned, something I am quite fond of doing as well. Good thing about these models is that, with some care and maintenance, you will have for a very long time. If you ever decided to upgrade you will have this as a back up or something to loan to a friend/family member.
Let me know if you have any other questions and I would be glad to answer them.
Last edited on Monday, March 16th, 2009 at 1:23 pm PST