Then there's the big bad boys in town, the barrel kits. There's a lot of different kits, but it seems a few are popular. These are the Smart Parts Freak, the Evil Pipe, WGP Kaner, Custom Products Kit, Powerlyte Scepter, and the J&J Edge kit. All of these kits work by changing backs, except the Freak and Scepter, where you change an insert to change bore sizes. From my experience, only 2 or 3 bores are ever used with a kit, so it's not necessarily a negative to have that few options, as long as they're normal sizes (usually .687, .689, .691). Barrels kits tend to be very customizable when it comes to bores, lengths, colors, etc. Once again, these barrels are all excellent performers.
--The Freak was the first major barrel kit, although SP ripped the idea off of Lapco. It comes with eight inserts, so if you're shooting super small paint or super large paint you can always match it well, although most of the inserts at the extreme ends never leave the case. The Freak back is available in aluminum (black), or for a $20 premium, stainless steel (shiny silver!). The fronts come in all the usual lengths, and in two porting patterns, "All American" or "Freak." The AA porting is like that of the Progressive, not a lot and straight holes, and the Freak porting is like that of the Progressive, with a LOT of porting in a weird pattern. Freak porting is notoriously difficult to clean. The standard Freak inserts have some quality control issues (not being the right size), and can be very fragile. To try and change this, SP released an expensive set of stainless steel inserts, which, so far, have cured those problems. You can get a Freak with different numbers of inserts, usually 1, 3, or all 8, and all kits come with one front.
--The Evil Pipe looked to have a lot going for it when it first hit the market-- it was cheaper than the Freak, wasn't suffering from the same problems as the Freak, and shot clean really quickly. None of this has changed. It works by changing backs, not inserts, five of which come with the kit. It's available in a whole bunch of lengths, one of which comes with the kit. The Pipe is available in either a fade or solid black. Of note is that there have been reports of problems with the Pipe fronts being thin and weak, and bending when they crash into a bunker or something.
--The WGP Kaner kit is an Autococker threaded only kit, and it's gaining in popularity for a number of reasons. First, and probably foremost, is its cost- it runs around $130-140, with sale prices down around $100. Secondly, which is also tied into the first, it comes with all you could possibly need, including 4 backs and 3 fronts. Third, the Kaner kit comes from one of the most respected named in paintball, Worr Games. I've yet to hear any complaints about this kit, but if I do I'll keep you posted.
--The Custom Products kit isn't anything different than the excellent CP 2 Piece. It just comes with a bunch of backs and/or fronts, depending which level of the kit you choose. There's three, the Base Kit (three backs, one front), the Full Bore kit (five backs, one front), and the Complete kit (five backs, four fronts). The Base Kit should satisfy all your needs, but if you love spending money, there's no problems with the other two.
Note: The Matchstik kit is the same as the CP kit, because CP makes it. The only difference is looks, and you can get it with three backs and two fronts for $99.
--The Powerlyte Scepter is becoming a favorite kit, due to it's cost to what-you-get ratio and quality. It comes with either three inserts, of which you get to choose the bore sizes (out of 684, .686, .688, .690, and .692) or all five inserts and a front. The choice of fronts is limited to 12" or 14", and you've two choices in backs, aluminum (black) or stainless steel (chrome). The inserts are self aligning in the back, plus they're supposed to have better quality control than the Freak, as well as being more durable. Unlike the Freak, the Scepter kit has what is known as "seamless locking," meaning that if you were to look down the barrel, you wouldn't see a seam between the front and the back. This helps improve performance.
--The J&J Edge is another back-changer, as opposed to insert-changer. At a low price, it comes with four backs and a front, and it even comes in a pretty little foam lined carry case. The backs only come in black, but the fronts come in a bunch of colors. There haven't been any reports of problems with this kit.
Last edited by teufelhunden : 11-29-2003 at 06:32 AM.