Galactic Systemz Inc
Bringing the Automag into the 21st Century
© Ravi Chopra, 2000
Galactic Systems is a relatively new company in paintball. It is not terribly well known as its based in Japan, its products are not yet well known, and it does not yet have many distributors. This is unfortunate because their products really are quite innovative and, unlike so many aftermarket parts sold these days, Galactics parts actually do work as advertised and offer some truly unique performance enhancements.
Galactic Systemz was first brought to my attention by Terry Garret of G3 Paintball (www.g3pb.com) who sent me their Z-valve for the Automag. After that, Doug Brown of National Paintball Supply (www.gt-2000.com) sent me the Z-body upgrade to test out. I finally decided to contact Galactic Systemz myself and was put in contact with the owner, Haruhiko "Yoshi" Yoshimura. Yoshi was kind enough to send me the Z-valve for the Automag RT and his own big-bore barrel which he recommends for use with the Z-body. Currently, all their bits and pieces are made for the Automag and Automag RT only.
Z-Valve for the Automag
Ive been waiting for someone to come out with a product like this. It makes perfect sense. Someone has finally taken the Automag RTs on/off valve concept and applied it to an on/off for the standard Automag. The on/off pin has a larger diameter at the top where it seals than through the main length of the stem. Since the main stem diameter is smaller than in the stock valve it lightens the trigger pull (smaller diameter means smaller cross-sectional area means reduced force given the same pressure). The other more important effect is due to the fact that the top where it seals off the air flow when the trigger is pulled has a larger cross-sectional area than the part of the stem which seals off below when the trigger is released. By having these two different diameters, the on/off returns with more force than it takes to pull. If you want a full description of how this works, read my article on the Micromag RT that appeared in issue #124 of PGI. As it only offers the on/off changes from the RT without the major regulator differences, the trigger kick-back effect is nowhere near as strong as found with the RT. The Automag Z-valve also comes with a replacement component for the AIR valve which is supposed to provide better flow than the stock part.
In use, I found the Z-valve to provide the effect advertised the trigger pull is significantly lighter than found with the stock valve and you really can feel the trigger kick back a little bit harder after the gun fires. How much of an advantage is it? Well, that really depends on what youre looking for. If youre hoping to eliminate starving out from short-stroking the trigger, youre out of luck. I found that if I didnt practice good Automag trigger hygiene (all the way on and all the way off the trigger with each trigger pull) I was just as prone to starving out as I ever was. On the other hand, I did really like the extra return force since it prompted me not to ride the trigger and made it a little less likely that Id short stroke. Its a cool effect that will definitely appeal to some people, but dont expect it to effect a miraculous transformation.
At $42.50, it isnt cheap, but some will definitely find it worth having.
Z-Valve for the Automag RT
Since the Z-valve works so well in the Automag, Yoshi must have figured that he might as well make a version for the RT to try out. Near as I can tell, the Z-valve on/off he sells for the Automag and for the Automag RT are identical. Im sure there are probably some microscopic differences in the valve piston length, but everything else appears identical. Rather than the AIR valve component found with the Automag kit, the RT kit includes a new power-tube spacer.
Youd think that, since the Z-valve for the Automag basically copies the design of the RT valve, that this valve would really make no difference when dropped into the Automag RT. Thats certainly what I thought, but I was dead wrong.
Everyone knows how the "reactive" trigger of the RT is supposed to work. The idea is that it kicks back with more force than it takes to fire the paintgun. The result should be that its easier to fire fast because the trigger returns faster, you should be less likely to short-stroke the trigger for the same reason, and you should have less problems starving out during rapid fire since the on/off will open faster. Increasing the input pressure into the gun increases the kick-back force of the trigger after the RT fires. One thing you are supposed to be able to do with this is get the kick-back force of the trigger to a point where you can find the "sweet-spot" where the RT will basically shoot full-auto as it bounces off your finger when it is held with a certain tension. Ive never really been able to get this to work particularly consistently or well with the stock RT. With the RT Z-valve, it becomes a piece of cake to set it up however you want it.
When I first dropped the Z-valve and accompanying power-tube O-ring into an RT, the first thing I noticed was that the trigger pull had been shortened significantly. How short? Think electropneumatic short. Think mouse-click short. The trigger only had to move back something like 1 mm (or less) to get the gun to discharge. And discharge it did. Fast. In fact, it was hard to keep it from shooting anything but fast. The thing was going full auto and was hard to keep from shooting anything less than three shot bursts.
As it turns out, I was feeding it way too much pressure. With a little experimentation I found that the RT with a Z-valve seems to work only within a 100 psi range from 600-700 psi or so. Down around 600 psi, it shoots plain-old semi and kicks back pretty much like the stock RT (but still keeping the ultra-short trigger pull). As you turned the pressure further and further up towards 700 psi, the kick-back becomes progressively stronger and once up around 700 psi you cant keep it from going full auto. Its in that range between 600 psi and 700 psi input pressure that the real magic happens. As you turn the pressure up, it becomes easier and easier to find the full-auto sweet-spot. At lower pressures, it kicks back a little slower and doesnt fire bursts as fast. The point of all this is that you can easily set it to fire however you want. With a little playing around, I found a great point around 650 psi where I could easily control whether I shot single shots or bursts, and it didnt fire too fast to feed. Its like an electropneumatic turbo-mode on steriods since you have full control over the trigger.
The only condition when using this valve is that, since the trigger is so sensitive to input pressure, you need a much more consistent nitrogen system than you do with the stock Automag RT. Obviously it must also be adjustable.
Z-Body for the Automag and Z-barrel
The Z-body is really Galactic Systemzs signature piece. It is a full-body replacement for the Automag, not unlike Pro-Teams Micromag conversion. Like the Micromag, the Z-body replaces the stainless Automag body with an aluminum part which includes a power-feed, sight rail, ball detent, and Autococker barrel threads. Unlike the Micromag, the Z-body does not replace the rail and thus allows you to use your stock grip frame if you dont want to shell out the extra bucks for a .45 frame. None of this is what makes the Z-body special.
The Z-body trumps the competition by offering an adjustable skid-plate just in front of the power-feed. This skid plate sits between the point where the paintball drops into the breech and the beginning of the barrel. When the gun is fired, the skid plate catches the top of the paintball and puts a backspin on it as it enters the barrel. The advantage of backspin is obvious to anyone who has seen the Tippman Flatline barrel in action. Backspin gives a paintball considerably greater range than a non-spinning paintball. Yes, people, it actually works. In fact, it works extremely well. The only catch is that if your paint is out-of-round or otherwise of poor quality, spinning it makes the accuracy considerably worse. In fact, your accuracy can be made so bad that it far outweighs any advantage you might get from the added range.
This is where the Z-bodys advantages really stand out. Since you can adjust the tension on the skid-plate, and thus adjust the amount of backspin, you can custom-adjust the backspin for each case of paint to get the best combination of backspin and accuracy. With really awful paint, you can turn the skid-plate all the way out and shoot just like any other Automag.
Even that, though, does not really address the biggest advantage of this adjustable skid-plate system: adjustable trajectory. Its fun to play around with the degree of backspin because you can see the paintballs normal arc gradually flatten out, and even reverse and climb for a bit as you crank in more backspin. Consider the advantages of this on a woods field with a low canopy. Though both you and your opponent are well within each others range, you can reach him much more easily by dialing in some backspin to shoot flat under the trees while his paint is breaking on sticks and leaves.
Later, youre shooting at someone behind a bunker whos just showing the top of his head or hopper over the bunker, but you cant hit him because youre shooting too flat. No problem. Just turn the backspin out and you get your normal trajectory back and can land one right on top of his head.
Theres another advantage to shooting flat. Consider, if youre shooting at someone at extreme range, you have to "rain" the paint down on them by arcing your paint up at a steep angle. To hit your opponent, you have to get the angle just right or youll be dropping your paint either at his feet or sailing them over his head. With a little backspin dialed in, your paint flies flat out to distant range and you dont have to worry about angle.
There are a couple limitations to this system. First, you must use a loose-bore barrel to get the backspin effect. The paintball has to be able to roll along the top of the barrel without dragging to get good backspin. Doug Brown sent me a nice 0.695" ID DYE Boomstick which worked really well with the Diablo Blaze I shot through it. Yoshi sent me his new Z-barrel which is a whopping 0.698" and should be able to backspin anything smaller than a golf ball.
Second, since the backspin system slows the paintball down, you must chrono the gun with the skid plate loosened all the way up (no backspin). Field and tournament refs take note of this. If someone chronos on at a safe speed with the skid plate turned in, they can loosen it on the field and get extra velocity. This is the only area where the Z-body falls short of the Flatline barrel from Tippman. Since the Flatline is not adjustable, you can chrono on with backspin at max velocity. With the Z-body, you have to chrono on with none and then turn your backspin on on-field. As a result, the Flatline will have more range than the Z-body.
So is it good? Hell yes its good. Its so good, in fact, that if I was an Automag shooter, this is the only thing Id shoot. Once you get used to using it, the adjustable backspin system on this body can give you a huge advantage over your opponents both at range and in close. For most situations you can just keep it turned off and play like normal. But when you need that extra range or flat trajectory, its just a couple quick turns of the knob and you get a very sudden and impressive edge over your competition. If I could have one of these patented doodads installed in my Autococker or Angel, I wouldnt hesitate one second.
And yes folks, the skid-plate system is patented, so dont look for any cheap rip-offs anytime soon.
The Z-body is available from National Paintball Supply in South Carolina in the US. Black anodized bodies run $275 retail while chrome cost $299.95. Granted, thats a lot of money given how inexpensive Automags are these days. You can save a few pennies by buying the extra parts you need and just building the gun up around the Z-body rather than upgrading an existing Automag. If you really want the max, consider a Z-body with a Retro-valve, RT Z-valve on/off, and Pro-Team 2-finger .45 frame.
All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 2001