Contents
Where am I?
Wutz Noo?
Articles & Infosheets
See my stuff
Stuff 4 Sale
Links
My thanks to W'Orr Game Products for loaning me the 'guns tested in this review.
Ravi's Paintball Place


Budd Orr (finally) Gets It Right

The 1999 WGP Autococker


© Ravi Chopra, 1999

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past several months writing about many of the mega-buck custom Autocockers on the market. What may have gone unnoticed by many is that WGP has been hard at work over the past several years improving the much less expensive stock Autococker. The new for 1999 model is the best stock Autococker to come out of the W’Orr Game factory yet. In fact, I’ll bet that many people find the stock ’gun to be damn near perfect straight out of the box.

I’ve been following the steady improvements implemented in WGP’s stock Autococker for many years now. Though the improvements were always welcome, I’ve always found one or two things I thought could have been implemented better. I’ve always found one or two things missing from the stock gun that I really thought should definitely have been there for a really complete, polished package.

With the 1999 model, Budd Orr has almost completely dismissed all of my concerns. This year, he has dotted all his "i"s and crossed all his "t"s to release the most completely accessorized and impressively reliable stock Autococker to date.

Brief Primer on How the Autococker Works

The Autococker has two separate-but-related pneumatic systems. The first is the hammer, valve, and bolt which together deliver air to the back of the paintball, firing it out the barrel. The second is the autococking system at the front of the ’gun which recocks the hammer and feeds a new paintball after firing.

If you take a close look at the insides of an Autococker’s trigger frame, you’ll find that the trigger does two things. As you pull the trigger, a ramp at the back of the trigger plate rocks the sear, dropping it and releasing the hammer. The main spring which is compressed behind the hammer throws the hammer forward into the stem of the cup seal, punching it forward and opening the valve for a brief period of time. The air that rushes through the valve is channeled up to the bolt which directs it forward into the back of the paintball, firing it.

At the same time, you’ll notice a rod on the right side of the paintgun which goes through a hole in the grip frame and trigger plate, and goes forward to the 4-way valve in the lower right hand corner of the front block. As you pull the trigger, this rod is pulled back, switching the air flow through the 4-way. At rest, air entering the paintgun goes forward into the Sledgehammer regulator (at the lower left side of the front block, the largest of the front-end pneumatic components). This regulator puts out a pressure of 90 psi or so, feeding it out to the 4-way valve previously mentioned. This air is channeled to the front of the 4-way, and from there to the back of the ram at the upper left of the front block. The ram is connected to the back block at the rear of the ’gun where it holds the bolt. With pressure in the back of the ram, the back block is held forward. As you pull the trigger, pulling the piston in the 4-way back, you switch the flow from the front port of the 4-way to the back port which feeds out to the front of the ram. With air pushing into the front of the ram, the back block is cocked back, pulling back both the bolt (allowing a new paintball to feed) and the hammer (recocking the hammer).

When you release the trigger, the 4-way is switched back to bring the back block forward again, pushing the paintball forward into the barrel (the closed-bolt position) where it is ready to fire again.

When these events are timed properly, the Autococker fires and cocks properly with each trigger pull. For more information on timing the Autococker, see my article in the June ’98 (No. 111) issue of Paintball Games International, or my web page.

The New Stock 1999 Autococker

Trigger

The Autococker’s trigger hasn’t changed too terribly much since the ’gun was first introduced. The biggest change has been the introduction of the carbon-fiber trigger frame a couple years back; a change that didn’t exactly have everyone cheering. Despite the fact that the new material is both stronger and lighter than the original metal frame, many people thought of it as a cheap plastic replacement. Personally, I think that the trigger drags in the new carbon fiber a bit more than in the old metal, but the difference is very small.

This year, though, there is a new change that everyone can cheer about. The trigger plates installed in all ’99 Autocockers are both polished and nickel plated. Not only do they look gorgeous, but they’re more slippery-slick than any Autococker trigger has ever been. Not only do these best previous stock trigger plates, these are polished and plated better than any of the aftermarket triggers I’ve seen for the Autococker. The trigger pull is now incredibly smooth due to the exceptional polishing, particularly on the ramp at the critical trigger-sear interface where most roughness and dragging crop up in non-polished and non-plated triggers. Trust me when I say, you’ll love the smoothness of this trigger plate.

As with all stock Autocockers ever made, the stock ’99 is very conservatively timed. The full trigger travel is 5 mm, and you’ll need to use all of that to cycle the ’gun completely. The firing point is about 3/4 of the way back in the trigger pull, with the cycling stage timed just behind that at the far back of the trigger pull. The two stages are set close enough that I did not have any problems short-stroking the ’gun, even during rapid-fire. It may sound like a long trigger pull, but once you get used to it, it is very easy to shoot fast.

The stock trigger, as always, is completely lacking in any guide or stop screws. As such, it has a bit more slack and play than more expensive aftermarket Autocockers. I did not find this to be terribly bothersome, though. The longer pull and conservative timing dramatically lessen the effects of a loose trigger.

In a move that I’ve been promoting for years, WGP has finally included a threaded timing rod as stock equipment on the Autococker. Now, the rod that couples the trigger to the 4-way valve threads into the coupler rather than being slip fit. As a result, the locking screw doesn’t have to bear as much of a load with each trigger pull, and even if the locking-screw does loosen, the rod can’t just slip out and leave the ’gun non-functional. In terms of long-term reliability, this is huge.

On the whole, this isn’t the best trigger I’ve ever seen on an Autococker, but it is far and away the best trigger I’ve ever seen on a stock ’cocker. Few will find much to complain about here.

Pneumatics (Autococking System)

The stock pneumatics on the Autococker are probably the most replaced parts on the ’gun. Ironically, these are the parts which you get the least benefit from upgrading.

The low pressure reg that feeds the 4-way valve is WGP’s Sledgehammer. This is a factory-set, fixed-pressure reg. Its output pressure can be changed, but that adjustment requires disassembly. Though I’d personally prefer a reg that I can easily adjust externally and without tools, the Sledgehammer is probably the best solution for 90% of the players out there. An improperly set reg is one of the most common problems that inexperienced players run into when they have an externally adjustable reg. If set too low, the ’gun won’t cock properly. If set too high, it can lead to the 4-way valve binding up, and even damage O-rings in the 4-way and ram. By making the Sledge non-adjustable, WGP eliminates one large source of player error. Functionally, the Sledgehammer works just fine.

The 4-way valve (what Budd Orr calls a 3-way) is the same venerable valve that WGP has been using from the start. Though dramatically improved over very early versions, the 4-way still has a longer throw and stiffer action than most aftermarket valves. With the stock Autococker’s timing and springing, this really isn’t really much of an issue. It is a sturdy and reliable valve. Many airsmiths still contend that a polished stock 4-way is the best valve available. I’ve polished more than a couple out myself with impressive results. That said, I strongly recommend people not try polishing out their own 4-ways. In inexperienced hands, this valve can easily be over polished and left leaking like a sieve. Leave such work for experienced airsmiths who know how to do it right.

For a couple years now, I’ve felt that the stock ram had been improved to the point where it was just as good as (if not better than) any of the aftermarket rams. It was fast and smooth as the aftermarket cylinders, but sturdier and more reliable. Naturally, Budd Orr found a new ram to put on the stock ’99 Autococker. Frankly, it’s not all that different. The new ram is a bit shorter and now has a sealed front-end rather than a screwed-on cap, reducing the number of required seals. Beyond that, it’s performance seems to be pretty much exactly the same as the old stock ram. No complaints here.

Internals

The internals have undergone the most dramatic changes from previous years, all for the better.

The valve is nearly unchanged. The valve body is essentially the same free-flow part that WGP has been using for years. The exhaust valve has changed a bit, though. In the old valves, the cup seal was a soft rubber ring set into a groove in the exhaust valve. This material was prone to nicks (leading to slow barrel leaks) and even extruding from the groove after extended wear (leading to really big barrel leaks). Sometime over the last couple years, WGP switched the cup seal over to a stiffer plastic part that is less vulnerable to nicking and can not pop out. As a result, leaks down the barrel are now far less frequent than ever before. The stock valve will typically get you 700-800 shots from a 68 ci 3000 psi nitrogen/HPA system. Operating pressure is now in the 350-400 psi range due to a larger channel in front of the valve.

The hammer is now (yea!) Nelson-spring compatible. As a result, you can now swap spring tensions to your heart’s content using any pack of Nelson-size mainsprings. The hammer is also equipped with the now-ubiquitous fat sear lugs that have been so popular as an aftermarket upgrade for years. These fatter lugs release from the sear a bit more smoothly, resulting in a smoother trigger pull. There is still no locking screw for the lug, but the external access hole is now drilled in the stock body so adjustments are quick and easy if they become necessary. It is interesting to note that the velocity adjusting screw now screws directly into threads tapped into the back of the ’gun body rather than into a guide sleeve like the old kit and all aftermarket valves. This is a neat innovation that reduces the number of parts and allows you to take off your beavertail without your adjuster and spring shooting out the back. On the other hand, it does make the installation of aftermarket hammer kits a bit more difficult if you ever decide you want one.

The bolt has changed a bit from the old one. The face is still open (no venturi design or other insert), but it cones open a bit more at the very front. WGP has also eliminated the front O-ring. Purists may complain that this will make blowback more likely. I used to think that way myself, but years of experience has shown me that that front O-ring doesn’t really do much apart from getting chopped up and jamming the bolt. The bolt body is still narrowed down through most of its length and drilled out at the back for minimum weight. The exposed back end is now grooved to give you a better grip when you need to pull it out to clear the barrel or in case of a bolt-jam. The bolt is still retained by a four-ball push-pin through the back block.

Accessories & Extras

The stock Autococker now comes with the WGP in-line regulator. This reg is typically quickly replaced with an Air America reg or one of Palmer’s excellent Stabilizer regs. This reg’s poor reputation is really quite unfair. For the stock ’gun, WGP’s reg is just fine. Like the Sledgehammer, it is a sturdy, reliable, high-flow regulator designed to provide fool-proof performance for the majority of players. For most, all you need is a fixed pressure reg to feed the paintgun a steady pressure. The WGP reg does just that. It comes pre-set from the factory to put out the pressure the stock Autococker needs. Hook up a CO2 tank or nitro system putting out 600 psi or more and you’re ready to go. The reg only falls a bit short in two areas. First, it is not easy to adjust. You have to unscrew the end-cap and turn an internal screw to adjust the output pressure. Though this will be a problem for those who need to adjust their input pressure frequently, it is not a problem with the stock ’gun. Second, it is not quite as good as some other regs (the Stabilizer in particular) at keeping liquid CO2 out of the paintgun. As a result, you’ll want to take some measures to prevent a liquid draw if you run CO2. Good options are an anti-siphon tank, angled-down bottom-line ASA, or run remote.

For several years now, a ball-bearing style detent has graced the side of the Autococker, preventing double-feeds and helping reduce chopped balls in the breech. It is a standard brass unit with a steel ball bearing spring-loaded inside and protruding into the breech. It is a fine, functional detent. I don’t like it quite as much as the wire-nubbin type included in Evolution Autocockers, but it is inexpensive and easy to replace if it ever jams up.

Wrapping the grip are a set of WGP’s plastic finger-groove grips. These are just fine, but I suspect that many players will want to look for something more comfortable if they play frequently. If you plan on keeping the stock frame, I highly recommend VL’s rubber wrap-around finger-groove grips. They are very comfortable and change the angle of the grip subtly to make it a bit more like a .45 frame.

All stock Autocockers are now tournament legal out of the box now since WGP’s addition of a beavertail with the stock ’gun. It isn’t anything fancy, but it works just fine in keeping the cocking rod from smacking you in the face and making it harder for cheaters to thumb the rod.

I do have one complaint. The manual is old, out of date, and not particularly helpful. It has some information that is useful, but just as much no longer applies to the current Autococker since so much has changed in the ’gun since the manual was last revised. In my opinion, WGP really needs to sit down and rewrite this manual specifically for the latest stock Autococker.

Cosmetics

The biggest change in the body style came last year with the introduction of the ’98 Autococker. The body is, as has always been on the stock Autococker, right feed, requiring an elbow to attach a hopper. The bottom edge of the body was rounded off, the back of the sight rail was rounded, and the front was sloped down for a more streamlined look. The back-block was made a consistent wedge-shaped cut block on both the Autococker and Minicocker. This same body style remains on the ’99 Autococker. The finish is still the clean, nice looking satin-black anodizing. Players interested in future changes will still find plenty of extra metal for milling, polishing, and colorful anodizing.

The shroud which covers the front-end pneumatics has received a small change this year. While the ’98 Autococker featured a shroud with straight vertical cuts, the ’99 has new slanted gill cuts more like those found on the Minicocker’s shroud. Personally, I think these look much better than the straight cuts in last year’s model.

Rounding off the cosmetic package are all polished stainless rods - pump rod, cocking rod, and threaded timing rod. The cocking rod has a hex-cut knob for easy removal, and is tapped straight through with a locking screw for easy length adjustment should that ever become necessary.

On the whole, the stock ’99 Autococker looks almost identical to the ’98, model. It is a considerably better looking than the older box-body models, but remains very simple and conservative in appearance.

Conclusions

Probably the single most common question I’m asked about the Autococker is "I’ve just bought a new stock Autococker. What do I have to upgrade to make it work right?" For the past couple of years now, the stock ’gun was just fine out of the box, but I always felt that there were a couple things I’d like to see changed to improve reliability. Now, with the new-for-1999 model, my answer to that question really is "absolutely nothing."

WGP’s 1999 stock Autococker really is, by far, the best stock ’gun they’ve made yet. The trigger is smoother and faster than ever before. The reliability has been dramatically improved with the addition of the threaded timing rod. It now includes virtually every big aftermarket upgrade that used to be considered "mandatory" upgrades for the stock ’gun, including an external pressure regulator, Nelson hammer kit, finger-groove grips, ball detent, beavertail, and a polished and plated trigger.

The price, you’ll be happy to know, has not climbed significantly. MSRP is $425. With street prices sometimes down in the $360s, the stock Autococker is very reasonably priced and well within the means of most regular players. When you consider this ’gun’s tournament pedigree, it’s awfully hard to resist.

If you are considering adding a new stock Autococker to your gear bag, but you’re worried about the rumors of the Autococker needing a lot of maintenance and attention to keep it working right, worry no longer. The ’99 Autococker is very reliable and shoots just great out of the box. The only maintenance it really needs is to be wiped off at the end of the day, clean off the bolt, and run a few drops of oil through it every few months. If you don’t try to "tune" the ’gun yourself, it should work perfectly over the long term. And if you do have problems, WGP offers very good service and will fix and return the paintgun to you with a turnover time of only a week or so.

All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 1999