Tippman 98 Custom stock barrel
14" Tippmann 98 Custom barrel (forgot where I got it from and the manufacturer)
Tippmann 98 Custom
Smart Parts Tactical 06 20" barrel
Brass Eagle 20 oz. CO2 tank
JT Elite Headshield mask
Soon to be added:
Medium bore. Small will work well too. So far I haven't had a problem with my paint choices.
Length takes some getting used to.
Back in December 2007 I was in the market for a newer, more reliable barrel to add to my Tippmann 98 Custom. The marker itself is still in a relatively stock condition, although I had a 14" barrel that satisfied my expectations as to how it should perform in woodsball scenarios. However, the more I played with my barrel the more disappointed I became with it. If there was any residual paint from either a chopped round or if one ball in the bag was compromised, my shots would go wildly off target. Even when the barrel was in its best condition, it wasn't as consistent as I would like it to be, especially since I prefer to fill the sniper/marksman role and do it well.
I did some research, browsed several online paintball site's selections, and found the SP Tactical on one of the sites. It was 20", which perked my interest since a longer barrel is typically more accurate, so I did some research on just this barrel, read several reviews from this website, and weighed the good and the bad before I made my purchase.
When it arrived I immediately tried it on my marker to get a feel for it. The extra length gave my marker a more balanced feel, although I noticed it also affected my ability to bring it to bear on an imaginary target around a corner. I knew I would have to rethink my gameplay to compensate for the extra length. I was impressed with its accuracy when I fired my first round. I picked a 8" diameter tree about 50 ft away from where I was standing and fired five rounds into it. Four out of the five hit well within the target tree, the first round having barely missed it.
In my first woodsball game with this barrel on, it immediately drew notice from the crowd and friends. A few friends chuckled and quoted sniper mottos and the field master joked that I had to be two extra feet away from my target in order to make use of the "live or die" challenge. It did intimidate some players a bit, making some people try to avoid me altogether, while others focused on me to eliminate me early. So people noticed the "big stick." When I first dropped my gun to my side, the barrel was so long the tip scraped the dirt a bit and I had to inspect it to make sure I would have clean shots.
While in play, the barrel threw me off so much... I'm the kind of player that'll crouch low or even go prone and crawl further up to avoid detection and set myself up for a proper shot. A lot of woods that I play by have open fields that have 5-6' tall grasses and shrubs growing by mid-spring, and the dead grasses from the previous year were still standing tall, making ideal concealment for sneaky players like myself. The problem was, my gun was catching on the grasses and holding me up a lot more than I had expected it to. The only way I really got around that inconvenience was to just put my whole body into a turn while easing my marker through the grasses so I could bring it to bear on my intended target.
After figuring out the in-game feel, then I started noticing the advantages it'd give me while in the fields and woods. If I'm in a heavy patch of grasses, I'm able to remain relatively concealed while I can have the tip of my barrel poking out and at my intended target. The porting makes it quieter than the other barrels out on the field, so I can usually get off a couple extra shots before players know where the fire is coming from.
As for its reliability, I have had only a couple rounds break on me inside the barrel due to some sand getting inside while I was defending a flag set in some sand dunes (no, I was not playing on a beach although I'd bet it'd be an awesome experience). Even after firing the marker a few times to get the paint and any sand out of the barrel, the overall accuracy was still up to my expectations.
Now, almost a year after my purchase, I'm so used to it that it serves more as an extension of my arm. Going back to my 14" barrel, I'm usually back to my 20" after just a few shots because of my dissatisfaction from the loss of accuracy and "quirky" feel (I lose the feel that I'm shouldering a rifle and I'm swinging around a SMG). I know accuracy is affected by whatever sized paint I'm shooting, but I've used cheap Monster balls to higher end and field-only paint, and I haven't observed any noticeable change in accuracy. So really I have no preference to what I'm shooting as long as it fits through the barrel.
I've received plenty of feedback from the barrel's performance, of which several friends have told me it's quieter. One friendly rival sporting an automatic marker with a flatline system told me that "I'm usually the only player he's concerned about going up against not because of my rate of fire (as fast as I can pull the trigger), but because my shots go where I want them to." Since I'm that guy that'll run a good quarter mile to flank the enemy and crawl to get even closer, I tend to get the jump on people more than he does. Even with us going toe-to-toe hiding behind a trees pumping paint into each other (and those unfortunate trees), I usually have the luxury to leave my cover and pop a few rounds into him before he can recover as he's reloading his hopper (since he goes through a whole lot more paint than I do). Granted, this has more to do with player's skill and game tactics, but when I find myself in situations where I have a window of opportunity of just a few seconds, the last thing I want to do is worry about my shots veering off target. Compared to the flatline system my friend uses, I don't have the range he does, but I do have the accuracy, since I can tilt my marker on its side without having my shots veer to the side like a flatline equipped marker's paint would.
All of the above review applies to my stock Tippmann 98 Custom. Now (10/14/08) I'm about to have my first game with my marker with a Response Trigger and Cyclone Feed System installed, and I'll come back to write my initial and overall thoughts once I've seen some action.
This barrel is designed for the woodsballer in mind. The increased accuracy and reliability on the field makes it a superb barrel to play with regardless of a player's overall experience, although its length takes some getting used to. Being an avid woodsballer myself, I am very happy to have this barrel on my marker. I have only played in a speedball setting twice, the first was with my 14" before I had the SP Tactical, and the second game with my 20". It performed flawlessly in the setting I was in, as I was able to keep a constant stream of fire directly upon my hiding target's head and contend against the other team without any real limitations imposed on me due to its length.
But to quote I love my A5: "Its soul is woodsball; if you are a speedballer do not buy this." Overall, I give it a 9.7 for my experience with this barrel.
10 out of 10
Last edited on Tuesday, October 14th, 2008 at 8:44 pm PST