Looks - This is a very understated gun. Like Tippmanns, the stock Impulse's looks don't tell you anything about how it might perform. The only thing that might give anything away is the pressure gauge on the regulator. This gun is son understated, you wouldn't even know it had a regulator ther onthe bottomline unless had done some research. It's very nice to see a gun that doesn't brag about its capabilities. Plain black, no funky colors or paint schemes, and certainly no chrome. It's about time someone made a marker with serious performance, without making it look like a piece of jewelery.
Price - All considering, you get more than what you pay for. Consider the stock gun - electronic trigger, solenoid controlled valve, 150psi operating pressure, Progressive barrel, MaxFlow regulator, drop-in support for upgrades. All of these are the same things you would expect on markers costing upwards of $1,000 - but you get it all for less than $500. The price is expensive, and migh put it out of reach of most rec-ball players, but most rec-ball players shouldn't be playing with this gun unless they're very serious about their game. I believe they could charge another 30%% for this marker, and people would buy. Needless to say, the price is right!
Range - range is good with the stock barrel. Due to simple physics, you won't get much more distance from this gun than any other - you can only make a sphere travelling at 280fps go so far. However, because the gun is cleaner in how it accelerates the paintball (reducing ball deformity), the paintballs *might* fly further because they haven't been beat up in the barrel.
Accuracy - This marker is highly accurate. Because the operating pressure is so low, the muzzle velocity remains very constant - reducing wild variations in ball speed. It's these variations in ball speed that can cause erratic flight behaviors. Also, since the ball is not deformed as heavily in the barrel (again, due to low operating pressure) the balls are more round and smooth - resulting in cleaner aerodynamics and straighter flight. All in all - very accurate. From 50 feet, you can drop balls, literally, one on top of the other. My non-scientific testing yields 8" groups at 60 feet, from a crouch position, with PMI Premium paint.
Dependability - get one thing straight: this is not a Tippmann. You can hammer nails with a Model 98 and it will still shoot the same as the day you took it out of the box. This gun, however, *requires* TLC. Take it on the field, beat it up, shoot a case of paint, play hard all day - but then you need to maintain it. If you care for it, it will be *rock-solid*. Neglect it, and you'll have more problems than you know what to do with. This gun is not meant for someone that wants to shoot the trees in their backyard. This gun is meant for tourney and serious rec-ball players that can, and want, to make a commitment to their gun. That said, this gun is very dependable. I've not had a serious problem with mine, ever. Show it love, and it'll love you back.
Maintainance - is dead simple. Follow the instructions in the manual - _read_the_manual_! Don't *ever* use paintgun oil on this marker. Perform a lubing after *every* day of play - or pay the price (like whatever you payed for the gun). Physically, it isn't at all that difficult to maintain. The bolt comes out by removing one pin, and hammer is removed by unscrewing it from the back. The valve is removed by unscrewing the chamber cap from the front. Lube the bolt with Dow-33, put some lube on the hammer o-rings and the tiniest amount on the valve right where the manual tells you. That's it - that's all. Put it back together and you're finished. The MaxFlow regulator also need to be maintained from time to time, but the interval is much longer. Also dead simple.
Cold Weather Play - very good. The design of this gun lends itself very well to cold weather. On Nitro or HPA, it would be a non issue - as neither on of these is as unstable as CO2. However, what smart-parts designed was a gun that operates at 150psi. What's that mean? Liquid CO2 can't exist at 150psi, so liquid never gets into the gun, so nothing ever freezes. Also, due to low operating pressures, there is minimal (if any) shootdown during rapid firing. I've put over 100 paintballs through this marker in very rapid fire with an outside temp of about 50degrees - and the last shot came was chrono'd at 15fps slower than the first. Accounting for wierdness - that ain't bad at all. Keep in mind, you can't just screw any CO2 tank onto this marker. The CO2 tank *must* have an anti-siphon tube installed, as well as an on/off valve - no pin valves allowed! If you don't use an anti-siphon tube, you *will* break your gun. At the very minumum, you'll need to perform an overhaul onthe MaxFlow.
Barrel - Stock is a Smart Parts Progressive. The Progressive is nearly identical to a Teardrop - make you're own conclusions from that. Personally, I like it. It's a top-o-the-line barrel as far aas I'm concerned. It's quiet, accurate, and has an ultra-smooth bore. Yes, there are better, but it's way better than most stock barrels. Consider that the Progressive is considered by most to be an excellent aftermarket upgrade barrel, and you can see where I'm going with this. The only other barrel I would even consider putting on this marker is an All American. But I have no plans to do that yet.
Fit and Finish - is visually very good. The anodizing is very good, and the black dye is deep and rich.
Ball Chops - Here's where I become flamebait. I have chopped several balls with this marker, using a 12volt Revolution. How's this possible? Other people say they never chopped a single ball! Here's why. My Impulse has no electronic eye - as all stock Impulses. That, coupled with my *very* fast trigger finger, makes the Impulse out-shoot my Revolution hopper. I would think, that if I had bought the Impulse Vision, I would never chop a ball - but who knows. I *must* qualify this though. I have *never* _ever_ chopped a ball during game play. I have only ever chopped a ball while on the target range, beating the trigger to a bloody pulp. Cleanup after a chopped ball is so simple though, that it really is a non-issue anyway.
Maintainance - You *must* be prepared to make a commitment to theis marker! It is not for the weak of heart. If you fail to maintain it, it *will* fail on you and you'll be stuck with no marker - or a $425 paperweight. This isn't really a "bad" - just a stern warning.
Fit and Finish - the rubber cover that covers the dwell adjustment cap and other ports onthe side of the gun is little floppy. I would really like to see a hard plastic cover rather than a floppy rubber one. That's really my only actual complaint with the marker. The side cover *needs* to be stiffer. During heavy play it can flop open, exposing the insides to dust and dirt and moisture.
This marker is the best I've ever shot in stock form - bar none. I know that Angel and 'Cocker users will take exception to that statement - oh well. All of the features on this gun, coupled with a sub-$500 price tag, make this the ultimate in affordable elctro guns. So Spyder has the EM1? Big deal - the operating pressure on the EM1 still is very high. The Impulse has 140 to 160 psi operating range - try that with your EM1!
Accuracy, silence, speed - this marker ought to make an excellent sniper setup. Before your opponent knows what happened you can have a dozen balls on them. Not that I advocate spraying someone down - but you could.
Affordability! A base Impulse is under $500 at most retailers. If you want a Vision - it might cost you $650. No doubt - the best price/performance ratio of any marker out there.
If you want upgrades, you can get upgrades. Barrel, trigger jobs, upgraded controller boards, Vision eye, air assist hoppers, delrin bolts, whatever - you can find it. However - the stock marker is pretty darn good!
Hands down - the finest marker for under $500. This gun raises the bar in performance and price, and other manufacturers are playing catch-up.