The Apex is much different than anything I've used (progressive, tear drop, evil pipe, J&J Edge, Powerlyte Scepter
Tippmann 98 Custom, HPA, Variety of barrels
Small to medium bore with a slightly harder shell
Distance is crazy long
Accuracy is poor (especially at long distances)
Note: This review is written by an experienced player with a critical but fair perspective. I do not give raving reviews and perfect "10"s for every piece of crap paintball item on the market.
Not having used an Apex barrel before, my first impression was "weird", my second impression was "whoa", my third impression was "this might be decent for a back or cover player".
As a woodsball player. I was attracted to the BT promise of longer flatter shots. So, I found an Apex for a good price at discountpaintball.com ($28.20 on 10/26/08).
Once received, I took it outside and fired about 50 rounds of Nelson paint and about 100 rounds of Zap paint. Here's what I discovered...
The Apex has Eight different settings. The settings control the severity of the spin and ball curve. On setting one, there is no spin/curve. On setting eight, there is severe spin/curve. It seemed to me that the most useful settings were between 4 and 7, depending on the paint and the distance of the shot.
I also noticed that on the higher settings you really have to aim your marker upward because the ball comes out of the marker at such a low trajectory and then curves up towards the target. (This is a significant disadvantage from the prone position.)
Pros: The Apex barrel really did significantly extend the range of my shots.
Cons: Accuracy was very poor at the longer distances. Long shots seemed to sail like a kite and would hit all over the place. At short to medium distances, accuracy was only slightly better than a stock barrel.
Also, the flight trajectory is not flat. On the higher settings, the spin on the ball causes the ball to fly in a severe arc. The ball exits the barrel on a downward trajectory, then the ball travels upward and eventually dropd again due to gravity. This causes an "S" shaped flight path for the longest of shots.
The player that would benefit most from this barrel would be a back or mid woodsball player that provides covering fire for front players. With medium to long shots the accuracy is decent enough to keep people down until a front player can move into position to make a kill shot.
Due to the fact that this barrel exponentially complicates the physics of the shot trajectory, lots of practice is necessary for proficiency.
If you're a back or cover player with lots of time and paint ($$$) to practice, this might be a good choice for you. Shot physics is more complicated. Accuracy is limited. But, distance is impressive. For me, I'll play some games with the Apex, especially when I get tired (cause I'm old =)) and want to play back. However, my trusty Smart Parts Progressive still out performs anything I've tried on my Tippy and will likely continue to see the most field time.