Aftermarket Barrels – If your stock BD barrel just isn’t accurate enough for you, an aftermarket barrel should be your first upgrade. The Custom Products 1-piece, Lapco Bigshot, Smart Parts Progressive and Tear Drop, and the Dye Excel are all very good barrels for the money, running anywhere between $40 and $60. If you have the money, buying a more expensive barrel like the Dye Boomstick or Smart Parts Freak System is definitely worth it. Check out the barrel/paint charts in the Barrels Forum and try to get a barrel that matches the paint you usually use.
Regulators – A good regulator will improve consistency over the chrono, make your marker more efficient, and greatly increase your accuracy. If you use CO2, the Palmer Stabilizer ($85) and the Smart Parts max-flow ($110) are the absolute best. These regulators will provide chronograph readings as tight as many preset compressed air systems. Some other regulators that work great on co2 are the PMI Piranha regs ($40) and WGP regs, which can be bought used from Auto-cocker owners for very cheap. Any of these regs will also work even better on nitro or CA. Some very consistent regs that I would only recommend for nitro or CA are the AKA sidewinder ($80), considered to be one of the best on the market, the Messiah, ANS Gen-X, Gladiator, and the vigilante.
Air Hoses – All Black Dragons except for the Compact and the High Compact come with bottom-line air hoses and fittings, but if you buy a new regulator, expansion chamber, fore-grip, drop forward, or ASA you will need to buy new hoses. I would suggest macro-line hoses, because they are cheap, high flowing, easily fitted and adjusted, and can be easily taken on and off. Steel braided hose is just as good, and stronger, but you can’t cut it and it doesn’t bend as easy as macro-line, so you have to buy the right length. Stay away from micro-line, because it has been known to leak and restrict airflow.
Aftermarket Triggers- They are primarily used to replace the cheap plastic stock trigger with a tougher aluminum one. I believe that the Check-It Triggers are adjustable.
Bottom-line converter – If you want to buy a new bottom-line or drop forward, you will most likely have to buy a bottom-line converter. Spyder and Black Dragon bottom-line holes are offset, so most drops don’t fit on them. On BD compacts, the holes are different then offset, so the only adapter is the one at PaintballGateway.com. For all other BD’s, there is the Planet Eclipse adapter at PaintballGear.com.
Compressed air - If you have yet to be using compressed air as an air source, I recommend that you make the switch. Due to the regulator on the tank, consistency and accuracy will increase drastically . Not only that, but compressed air is a cleaner air source and will never freeze up the way CO2 does. It is not as easily affected by temperature either, which makes it safe to use throughout the day as long as you chronograph your gun once, unless you're running on a low tank. Compressed air tanks can run anywhere from $70-$500, depending what brand, size, and where you're buying from. The Crossfire pre-set 68/3000 at $120 is a great deal if you’re on a budget. If you have about $190, you can buy a 68/4500, which is considered by many the most desirable size. There are a few different classifications on nitro tanks. First, preset and ajustable. This simply describes whether the on-tank regulator's output pressure can be ajusted. Generally, ajustable tanks will be more expensive. Preset tanks come with the regulator locked at a certain output pressure. You can buy either high-pressure output tanks (800psi) or low pressure output tanks (450psi). For the Black Dragon you will need the high-pressure tank, because the BD is a high pressure marker. The second classification of hpa tanks is steel and fiber wrapped. Some people believe that you can get a slightly better fill into a fiber-wrapped tank, but both tanks will perform exactly the same. The only difference is that the steel tank is alot heavier than a fiber tank, and the steel tank is tougher. The third classification is how much pressure the tank can hold. 5000psi, 4500psi, and 3000psi are the different abilities. The higher the psi rating, the more shots you can get out of a tank. Also, tanks with higher psi ratings cost more. The last classification is the actually size of the tank, which is messured in cubic inches (ci). The different sizes you can get are 45ci, 51ci, 68ci, 88ci, 90ci, and 114ci. The more cubic inches a tank has, the more shots you get. Below is a chart of estimated shots per fill. Rememder, these are only estimates. Shots per fill could increase greatly with certain upgrades, and could plunge if your marker has a problem.
3000psi (tanks get around 10 shots per ci)
4500psi (tanks get around 15 shots per ci)
Bolt - Buying an aftermarket bolt will help increase airflow and efficiency, and will be easier on paint. It will also allow you to lower your operating pressure. Unless you spring for an expensive bolt like the AKA, Tarantula, or White Wolf, a modified stock bolt will be just as good as most aftermarket bolts. If you remove the venturi from the stock bolt, it will be as high flowing as any bolt on the market besides the ones stated above. To remove the venturi from the bolt, heat the threads of the venturi right where air goes up and through the bolt. It is sealed there tightly with Loc Tite, or some sort of adhesive for metal to metal threads. This type needs heat to loosen the seal. After heating the threads for a while, take a good pair of pliers, get a good grip on the venturi from the face of it, and turn counter clockwise. If you have the option of how many holes you want in the bolt’s face, choose the one hole design because it’s the most high flowing.
Vertical adapters and LPC’s – Aftermarket or modified VA’s will greatly increase the amount of air that can flow into your marker at once, allowing you to lower your OP. If you want to modify your VA, I suggest you go to ottersccustoms.com for instrucitions. The AKALMP Compact Mitey-Max vertical adapters are the highest flowing you can get. Some other high flowing VA’s are the Bob Long and the 32*. LPC’s (low pressure chambers), don’t do much for performance, but some of the aftermarket ones add a really nice look to the front of your marker.
Turbo valve – Aftermarket valves will increase your markers efficiency and lower the operating pressure more than any other upgrade you can buy. A good rule of thumb for bolts and valves is: Higher flowing=Better. The AKA tornado valve is by far the best valve out there. If it is too expensive for you, any other turbo valve like the Taso or 32* will do good, just not like the Tornado.
Internals – Polishing the striker, body tubes, and bolt (if its not derlin) will slightly increase efficiency for those of you who demand every drop of performance.
Hopper- There is absolutely no question, you have to have an electronic hopper if you have a BD. The VL12v Revy is great and only costs $50. Do not get the 9v Revy, it won’t keep up. The Halo-B, Ricochet, Warp-feed, and Evolution-2 are all even faster than the 12v Revy, but they cost more.
Drop Forwards- These will allow you to reposition your air tank, and make your marker shorter. They vary in sizes up to seven inches forward. It is all personal preference. A big drop is the Psych-Ballistics drop, a smaller one is the System-X drop.
Grips- As of now, I don’t think there are any aftermarket grip panels for the BD, so you’ll have to put up with the cheesy stock grips until Dye makes some BD stickies. If you find that the grips are too slick, you can wear gloves with tacky palm grips.
Interchangeable Upgrades- Most parts of the BD can be switched out for spyder upgrades except for: grips, sights, triggers, trigger frame components. Bolts are interchangeable if they have 10;32 threading, but you will lose the flush cocking.
Websites- Most of the upgrades I talked about can be found at good prices at the following websites:
Big thanks to Hsuve, I used his Spyder Upgrades thread as a basis for this. Also, questions comments, and additional information are welcome. Just post them or pm me.