Cosmetics is an area I really haven't touched on before since it wasn't anything I'd done to my Autococker and I thought it was kind of a frivolous waste. Well, after seeing Danny Love's (BBT airsmith/Aftershock member) Autococker at a tournament last year, I contracted the cosmetic bug myself. As you can see from the link on my main page, I went whole-hog altering the cosmetics of my Autococker. Because of my own personal experiences, and because it appears to be an area of great interest to many people, I decided to include this area with a basic description of your various cosmetic options. Sure it's expensive. Sure it's purely frivolous and egotistical. Who cares! It's fun!
Milling is the process of cutting grooves and channels in the body and shroud of the Autococker to improve it's looks. The cuts can be of various depths, some (so called "windows") even going so deep as to show the 'gun internals. I'm not a big fan of windows since I always get crap (paint, dust, dirt) all over my paintguns and I'm certain something would get inside and jam up the works. Other than that, I really like good mill-work. The problem is that so much mill-work is so bad. I've seen many, many Autocockers that look like they've been milled by ham-fisted goons on rusty mills. My advice to you is if you want the job done well, go to a shop with a reputation for good mill-work and be ready to pay more for more detailed and intricate cuts. Milling can't be undone so it's well worth a few extra dollars to ensure it's done well the first time. Also keep in mind that if you are going to have it anodized later, deeper cuts are harder to polish and won't anodize as well.
- P-Block (Reverse-cut block)
The P-block is a replacement for the stock block on your Autococker, named as such because they typically end up looking rather like the letter "P". The nice thing about it is that rather than jutting out the back of your 'gun, a part of the 'gun body is milled away and a new thin block is milled to fit that new space. The result is a lighter block and 'gun that looks seriously cool. Examples of this are the Evolution Autococker (made by Besailes in England and distributed by Smart Parts in the U.S.) and the Bad Boyz Toyz P-block (which is actually shaped more like a wedge than a "P" - see the picture of my Autococker to see this). The big disadvantage of the P-block is that it requires custom-built shortened bolts since it reduces the length at the back of the 'gun.
- Plating and Anodizing
Not happy with the stock flat-black hardcoat finish on the Autococker? Many aren't. Fortunately, it's easy to change. Any aluminum part can be polished and anodized in color, and just about any metal can be plated in nickel or chrome. I remember way back when it was a rare paintgun that was offered in any color other than black. And those few which were only came in two or three colors. Today, just about every part of every paintgun can be had in any color or combination of colors you can imagine. The Autococker makes a fabulous canvas for anodizing, especially after a cool mill-job. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, as with milling, make sure that your 'gun is being anodized by a reputable, experienced anodizer. I've seen really bad anodization jobs where the coating was thin in some areas and pooled in parts of mill-channels. Second, what you pay for anodizing really isn't all for anodizing. Part of the cost is for stripping and polishing. The harder the 'gun is to polish (complex mill-work), the more you're going to have to pay. For example, my Autococker was very expensive to anodize even though it only has one color because of the many small and detailed cuts.
- Minicocker Upgrade from Autococker
The only differences between the Autococker and the Minicocker is that the Mini comes standard with a cut block and rod, molded grips, and a bottom-line, has a shortened (lighter) body and shroud, and lacks a vertical ASA. Yet the Mini costs almost $150 more than the Autococker. Another way to get a Minicocker is to convert an existing Autococker by having it cut down. For example, Palmers Pursuit shop will cut your 'cocker down, plus performance tune it to the hilt. The price used to be only slightly above that of a stock Minicocker, but it's now actually quite a bit more (see their web page for latest prices). Many shops do this particular modification for a variety of prices.
- Stainless Steel, Titanium, and Plated Parts
As the finishing touch for the cosmetically-inclined Autococker owner, many of the parts and fittings can be replaced with stainless steel, titanium, or nickel-plated analogs. Popular parts for stainless replacement are the pump-rod, cocking pin, bolt-retention pin, ram, and 4-way valve. The regulator, elbows, and hoses can all be nickel-plated. If silver isn't your color, brass parts can be shined out nicely as well. Brasso does miracles to bring out the luster in brass parts. Better yet, sand the brass down to a mirror finish and then polish it with brasso.