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Bob Long
Ravi's Paintball Place

Bob Long’s Intimidator

© Ravi Chopra, 2001

Bob Long has been jerking me around for years. Here’s a guy with his name on more products than anyone short Walt Disney. He is famous for his exploits as both captain and businessman in this sport. Naturally, I want to test and evaluate his product. Every so often over the last umpteen years I’ve called him up and asked him to loan me his latest doodad to review for this fine publication.

"Sure," he replies, "I’ll send it out today!"

I sit on my porch eagerly awaiting the latest, greatest Bob Long product EVER! Waiting, waiting with the smile on my face that slowly migrates to indecision and ultimately to disappointment as I realize, months later, that he was jerking me around AGAIN and that he’d never sent the damn thing out in the first place. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me seven times, shame on me!

Anyhow, I’ve completely given up on Bobby actually sending me one of his products himself. Instead, I decided to just find one locally. I’m fortunate in having a good relationship with several of the local shops (RAGE Sports and P&P being my two favorites) and was able to borrow one of Bob Long’s guns off the wall of a local establishment.

That said, Bob Long has been slapping his name on other people’s paintguns for years. He started with the Autococker, putting out his customized Autococker. He followed that later with the Millennium, a custom blowback body that took Spyder internals. His next gun was an electropneumatic called the Defiant; his own version of the Bushmaster 2000.

Following on the heels of the Defiant, Bob Long has finally released a gun all his own and called it the Intimidator. The Intimidator is an electropneumatic paintgun with a new design rather than being a modification of or upgrade to an existing gun. It’s high-tech, feature-loaded, and designed with tournament-level performance in mind.

How It Works

The Intimidator is an electropneumatic paintgun that fires from an open-bolt much like the Angel, Impulse, Defiant, and many other electropneumatics available today. It has two pressure regulators at the front. The top regulator is the high-pressure reg and controls the pressure used to fire the paintball. The lower regulator is the low-pressure reg and controls pressure to the cycling system. The top chamber of the paintgun contains the bolt. The bolt has a pull-pin vertically oriented through it which couples it to an assembly in the tube below.

The assembly below is essentially a piston which is driven back and forth by output from the low-pressure reg. When the trigger is pulled, the circuit board directs a solenoid (essentially an electronically controlled 4-way valve) to switch the low-pressure air flow back and forth between the chambers in front of and behind the piston. At rest, air is directed in front of the piston, holding the piston and hammer back in the retracted position to allow a paintball to feed. When the user pulls the trigger, the gas flow is switched to the back of the piston, driving it and the bolt forward. The bolt chambers a paintball while the front-end of the piston is driven into an exhaust valve, allowing a burst of air to flow up through the bolt and firing the paintball. The low-pressure feed is then returned to the front of the piston to reset the system for the next shot. The settings on the circuit board determine how long the bolt is held forward and how long a time delay there is between shots.

The system is really quite simple, and will be readily familiar to anyone who has been inside an Angel, Bushmaster 2000, Defiant, or Impulse, all of which work similarly. The difference in the Intimidator is that, rather than having a ram assembly with a hammer at the tip of a piston rod protruding from one end, the Intimidator simply uses the entire lower chamber as a pneumatic cylinder and uses the piston itself as the hammer and part to which the bolt couples.

As a result, the Intimidator shoots very similarly to those other open-bolt electros with similar systems. It is a simple, fairly robust, and proven design that can cycle very fast.

Features and Accessories

The Intimidator is built with a center-feed body that takes Autococker-threaded barrels - a nice feature since every barrel made is manufactured with Autococker-compatible threads. The high-rise feed stands well forward on the body and is ready to take any of the popular motorized hoppers available today. The relative stability of the cycling system absolutely requires the use of an agitated hopper to ensure a steady flow of paint.

The front end of the Intimidator features a pair of brass, horizontally-oriented pressure regulators; high pressure on the top, low on the bottom. The Intimidator instructions indicate that the high pressure reg is used for gross velocity adjustment while the low pressure reg below it is used for fine adjustments. As the low pressure regulator essentially determines how hard the piston strikes the exhaust valve, it will have an effect on velocity. Counting on it too much in setting the Intimidator’s velocity will certainly lead to problems getting the gun to shoot properly, though. If the gun is cycling properly, I strongly recommend using the high pressure regulator exclusively to set velocity.

A vertical ASA milled into the bottom of the paired regulator housing invites the use of a third regulator, though it is unnecessary. The regulator housing also conveniently includes two ports for the installation of gauges to allow you to read the high and low output pressures should you feel the need to track this. Though not particularly necessary on a day-to-day basis, a pair of gauges can be useful in letting you know where your gun operates best and in helping track down regulator problems should your Intimidator stop working properly.

Low pressure gas is routed via low-pressure hoses much like those found in the front of an Autococker. This hose directs low-pressure gas to the solenoid housed in the grip with the electronics. The solenoid switches the low pressure feed between the front and back of the ram chamber below the bolt. After degassing the gun, you can unscrew the back cap and pull out the ram piston without tools. The bolt in the top tube of the body has a quick-pull pin to allow easy field-stripping without tools. The bolt itself has a large, angled-forward inlet and an open face for efficient gas redirection and dispersal.

The trigger is a two-finger aluminum part with three set screws. The lowest one sets the trigger back-stop. The middle one allows you to set the point in the trigger pull where the paintgun will fire, and the top one allows you to adjust return spring tension. This allows you to set the trigger however you like completely externally, unlike the Angel which requires removal of the grip frame to access the set screws.

The grip frame itself is constructed with a .45-style angle and has a nice, large two-finger guard to make space for all but the most jumbo-sized hands. The bottom of the frame has a built-in drop-forward which positions bottom-line mounted Air America 68 ci air systems comfortably and for adequate balance. The grip panels are plastic and sit inside a groove in the grip frame. As these are non-standard parts that include the backlit LCD screen, they can not be replaced with a grippier, rubber alternative, though rumors abound that Bob Long is working on more comfortable alternatives to sell as aftermarket alternatives.

The electronics in the Intimidator are housed in the grip frame and can be externally adjusted via two buttons and an LCD screen just above the grip on the left side of the gun. This screen allows you to set all of the gun’s electronically-controlled features. You have several fire mode options: semi-auto, burst, full-auto, and turbo. You can digitally set the dwell (bolt-forward time) and fire-rate (delay between shots). If you are having trouble with the anti-chop eye or wish to trouble-shoot the gun without paint, the eye can be deactivated so the gun will cycle properly without a ball in the breech. The LCD also displays a game-timer and shot-counter. Fire-mode, dwell, and fire-rate can all be locked for tournament play by setting micro-sized dip-switches on the circuit board hidden under the grip panels.

As mentioned, this gun is equipped with an anti-chop eye which only allows the gun to cycle when it detects something (preferably a paintball) occluding the bottom of the breech. This is a particularly nice standard feature for people who chop a lot of paint or outrun their hoppers. On the few paintguns on which it is available, it is an added-cost feature that comes at a substantial premium. On the Intimidator, it is standard equipment. The anti-chop eye can be deactivated for testing without paint. Paired rubber anti-double-feed detents are hidden under the same plastic covers that house the anti-chop eye. Power is supplied by a 9 volt battery held in the bottom of the grip frame below the electronics.

Rounding out the Intimidator package is a two-stage barrel with a stainless steel back and spiral ported front. The inside of the barrel barrel does not have a particularly smooth or even finish in either the stainless steel or aluminum stages.

The Intimidator’s manual was a lousy, stapled-together photocopy with a near-complete absence of diagrams. The instructions were adequate to describe the basic use of the gun’s many features and basic maintenance. But in light of the superb manuals being included with guns as modest as the PMI Piranha and as elaborate as the Angel LCD, this manual seems sadly inadequate.

Cosmetics

The Intimidator body is a standard two-tube structure over a solenoid housing and grip frame, much like the Bushmaster, Defiant, and Shocker. The sides have a detailed milling pattern of thin lines cut vertically across stretched-out triangular spaces. The chromed, forward-pointing pressure regulators have spiral grooves wrapping them much like those on a Twister Autococker. With a little imagination, it is easy to picture the swelling at the top around the vertical feed tube to look something like a fighter-jet cockpit, giving the Intimidator a sort of F-16 profile that splits people’s opinions between cool-looking and simply big and goofy.

Anodizing is available in five different fades including gray, green, red-orange, blue, and purple. The quality of the polishing and anodizing is good, even, and durable, though not exceptionally lustrous as you find with the very best work. The chrome on the regulators also appeared to be of good quality with no signs of chipping, peeling. or separation from the underlying metal.

The only thing that significantly detracted from the otherwise nice cosmetics were the plastic grip panels which look and feel cheap.

How Well It Works

If you’ve ever shot a Bushmaster or Defiant, you know how the Intimidator shoots. This paintgun has a very similar cycling system, identical trigger set-up, and mouse-click-twitchy trigger. With it’s electronic trigger and open-bolt operation, this paintgun is extremely easy to shoot fast. The easily accessible set-screws give the Intimidator the most adjustable electro trigger on the market and make setting up the trigger however you like a cinch. Unfortunately, the trigger plate itself fits a bit loosely and has a fair amount of lateral slack which, with the plastic grip panels, leads to a cheap feeling in the trigger assembly.

In addition to the fast and easily customized trigger, I also liked the large trigger guard. With ultra-short-trigger electropneumatics like this it can often be far too easy to brush the trigger and discharge it when you don’t want to. The large guard makes it easy to keep your fingers away from the trigger while still being at the ready to fire.

Starting the gun up is a snap. Just flip the power-switch, wait for the self-diagnostics to complete, and you’re up and running. One irritating feature is that this gun defaults to turbo mode when you turn it on. I’d much rather they shipped in semi. Mode-switching is fairly easy and straight-forward with the pair of external buttons around the LCD, though it is the last thing you want to be putzing around with if they’ve just blown the horn and the game has started..

Like most electros, the Intimidator shoots at a reasonably low pressure (300 psi. Cycle pressure should be set in the 80-100 psi range for best performance, though the final setting obviously depends on how you have set the low pressure reg - more reason to leave it alone once the gun is running properly. Efficiency is pretty rotten. Expect 1100-1200 shots from a 4500 psi, 68 ci cylinder. This is better than a Shocker or Matrix, but nowhere near what you’d get from an Angel. Shot-to-shot consistency was mediocre, falling in the +/-7 fps range even when shooting RP’s ultra-round and ultra-consistent Advantage-shelled Marballizer.

Weight distribution in the Intimidator is biased heavily towards the front of the gun. This leads to the Intimidator feeling bulky and unwieldy on the field. Balance and weight distribution is a big issue in this way. The Shocker is a much heavier paintgun than the Intimidator. None the less, the also-gigantic Shocker feels much more nimble since all the weight is balanced evenly around the grip. The Intimidator feels like it wants to nose-dive, barrel first into the dirt. The relatively light aluminum Apocalypse air system I used to test the gun did little to counter the Intimidator’s nose-heavy nature. For better balance, a heavy, on-gun air system may be preferred.

The Intimidator also looks and feels big. Much like the Bushmaster and Defiant, the Intimidator stands nearly 2" taller than an Autococker from the bottom of the grip frame to the top of the feed tube. It is longer than the Bushie, measuring in just about as long as the Autococker but, as mentioned above, with much more of that length stretching forward of the grip frame.

The anti-chop eye is a nice addition for people who tend to outrun their hoppers as it prevents the gun from cycling until a paintball is completely chambered and ready to fire. In all honesty, I never have a problem with chopping paint, even when shooting the very fastest of electropneumatic semis. People who have problems with this may find the eye to be an advantage. Rec players who want to shoot long bursts or full-auto will definitely find this to be a major help in preventing chopped balls when using these enhanced fire modes.

Accuracy is mostly a function of paint quality and user ability, though barrel quality does play a role in both finish and how well it fits the paint. Though the barrel does not have a particularly smooth or even finish in either the stainless steel or aluminum stages, it did not appear to have a negative effect on accuracy. Shooting RP Marballizer and Slam with the Advantage shell, I was able to shoot the gun very effectively in games.

Conclusion

When it first hit the market, the $899 MSRP on the Intimidator made it a serious price competitor since it offered more features and options than the low-cost electros on the market and significantly under-cut the price of the Angel LCD. Though the Angel’s price is still stratospheric, competing electro prices have nose-dived. As a result, the same has happened to street-prices on the Intimidator. A good thing since right now, $900 is way too much for this paintgun.

On the other hand, if you can find a good deal, and don’t mind the large size and nose-heavy character of the Intimidator, it includes a tempting array of standard features that look terribly impressive on a stat-sheet.



All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 2001