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Warped Sportz’s Dark Angel LCD 2001

©Ravi Chopra, 2001

Well, another year has come and just about gone. And with it have come two more revisions of Warped Sportz’s Dark LCD customization of the Dark Angel design from WDP. Apart from some radical new milling, the Dark Angel is not much changed from the Dark LCD I reviewed last year. Still, they sent me the gun and there is enough new stuff to be worth mentioning, so here goes.

For those of you new to the sport and you paintball veterans who have been living in a cave for the last several years, Warped Sportz is the Colorado-based store affiliated with Avalanche, one of the better known and more successful Pro teams of recent years. Avalanche was one of the early adopters of the electropneumatic Angel and have long been sponsored by WDP. As a result of this strong relationship, WDP builds a custom version of the Angel for Warped Sportz called the Dark Angel which Avalanche players shoot (except Rocky and Chris LaSoya, who each market their own custom Angels).

The Dark Angel has been through several iterations, including a version of the original Angel and three versions of the LCD, of which this is the latest. Every new version has offered a bit more over the stock Angel than the last, though none have offered as much custom work as some of the scarcer and more expensive aftermarket Angels. No surprise there as the Dark Angel is built for Warped Sportz by WDP.

HOW IT WORKS

I’ve described this countless times before, so I’ll keep this brief. For a more full description, read my last review of the Dark Angel LCD. It works exactly the same.

In short, the Angel is an open-bolt, electropneumatic paintgun. When the trigger is pulled it trips a switch on a circuit board. The electronics operate a solenoid; an electronic valve that directs low pressure air between different outlets. Air from the solenoid drives a pneumatic cylinder (often called a "ram") in the lower right side of the gun, with a brass hammer at the front of the piston. The bolt has a small rod that fits into a groove in the hammer so the bolt moves with the hammer. At rest, the hammer is held back. When the trigger is pulled, the ram drives the hammer and bolt forward, chambering a paintball and opening the valve to fire the paintball down the barrel. The hammer is then retracted by the ram and is ready to fire again.

Most of the electropneumatic paintguns on the market right now use this exact same system. It’s proven, robust, fast, and very well executed in the Angel.

STOCK FEATURES

Though these have been well covered in other articles, the standard features that come with the stock Angel LCD are still worth mentioning.

The Angel’s electronics are housed in the grip frame and include an LCD screen that indicates all aspects of the paintgun’s functions (dwell, rate-of-fire, fire-mode, etc.) as well as a game-timer, shot-counter, and locked mode that can only be unlocked with a user-defined PIN. The various settings are changed with a set of three buttons set in recesses in the back of the grip frame and a pair of buttons on the circuit board. The charger plug is right above the three buttons and covered by a tab that extends from the rubber, wrap-around grips.

The grip frame itself is a .45-style frame with a full two-finger guard. Air enters the gun through a WDP in-line pressure regulator that is used to adjust velocity. The regulator is threaded into a standard vertical ASA in front of the grip frame.

The weight of the Angel’s body is very well centered at the grip frame to keep it well balanced and nimble. The 8-hole venturi bolt rests in the patented "Rota-Breech" right behind the center-feed. The Rota-Breech is a segment of the body that rotates out to the side to allow quick and easy access to both bolt and breech.

The battery is new for the LCD and now offers well over 100,000 shots from a single charge, even when running a hopper through the Intellifeed plug. Also standard with the LCD is the low pressure valve and larger channels that allow the gun to shoot at 350 psi or so.

The barrel included is WDP’s very nice, 0.687" ID, two-stage, straight-ported barrel. The gun also comes standard with a charger that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter and what may well be the best instruction manual in the business.

THE DARK SIDE

The Dark Angel LCD adds a few nice features and parts not found on the stock LCD, and they’re not all cosmetic.

To start, Warped Sportz adds an all aluminum high-rise feed tube designed to take the new VL Revolutions. If you take your VL with the Intellifeed upgrade, you’re all set. They also replace the standard sight-rail with a sculped part with an integrated Intellifeed jack that allows the gun to run the hopper paddles when the gun is fired.

The back plate of the Dark LCD gets an upgrade that will be welcomed by many. The small plug-hole that turns the gun off when a small key is installed has been replaced by a recessed power-switch that is easy to switch on and off when you want.

Warped also adds a "low pressure" chamber to the right-front of the gun in front of the low pressure regulator (LPR). This chamber doesn’t actually allow you to run the gun at a lower pressure. Rather, it provides a larger volume of regulated air to run the ram. Some people think this improves reliability, particularly if little care was put into the gun when it was first set up.

The trigger is also a new part. Rather than the standard two-finger trigger, Warped Sportz is now including their sculpted Dark Dagger trigger, available in both matte silver and gold colors. As with the stock trigger, it has both fire-point and stop set-screws to allow you to set the trigger as short as you like. As before, Warped Sportz is happy to set up the trigger however you like when you order it.

The Dark Angel LCD also comes with Macro-line and connectors to hook the gun up to your air source.

That’s all well and good, but, as with most aftermarket Angels, none of it does much to really improve the gun’s performance. The real story is in the cosmetics, the area in which this third-generation Dark LCD takes a giant leap forward.

Previous Dark Angel LCDs were distinguished from the stock Angel by a row of tear-drop cuts cut at an angle down the side of the gun. They looked good, but didn’t really compete with the more radical cuts found on other top-of-the-line guns, including the latest Angel LCDs coming from WDP.

The new Dark Angel departs from the old stodgy looks and takes a wild foray into the third dimension for a much more curvaceous and organic look. The tear-drops are still present, but barely recognizable. Now the cuts curve over the Rota-breech to give the gun a smooth, rounded, wasp-waisted look. Similar but smaller cuts curve over the top of the Intellifeed sight-rail. Fat tear-drops spiral around the vertical feed and in-line regulator as well. The solenoid housing in the back is notably changed as well. Rather than having more of the same tear-drops, they now cut it with a raised flame-like shape with the new "Dark Angel" logo gel seated in the back of the side. The new look is hot and thoroughly trumps all Darks that preceded it.

The look is rounded out with the same choices of color anodizing as before: black, bronze, red, blue, green, purple, pewter, and silver. They do seem to have finally addressed the durability issues I previously found with the anodizing. The plastic LCD window and breech knob are colored to match the anodizing.

As always, the Dark Angel LCD comes with Warped Sportz’s lifetime warranty on labor should your Angel require servicing. Price is $1680. If you would like to add an Angel Air HPA system to the package, it will run you an additional $525.

CONCLUSIONS

You’re probably wondering why I’m at the conclusion already without having touched on how the gun shoots. The reason is simple. It shoots like an Angel. The trigger is mouse-click short, light, and fast. As quickly as you can tap the trigger (extremely fast for most people) it rips paint out. With good paint (I HIGHLY recommend RP’s new Advantage formulation) it’s as accurate as anything out there. If you haven’t shot an Angel, just read one of my earlier reviews (you can find them at p8ntballer.com on the web as well) for the full story. I’m not going into detail here because there just isn’t anything new from a performance perspective. If you like the Angel, you’ll love the Dark version. They’re fun and ridiculously fast.

So if it shoots like any other Angel, why spend the extra money? Simple: rarity, great looks, and name. People spend big bucks for custom Angels and the Dark Angel is one of the less expensive non-stock Angels out there.



All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 2001