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KAPP Custom Flame Autococker

© Ravi Chopra, 2001

KAPP has long been known for their aftermarket products for paintball guns. They’ve made custom Autocockers for a while now, but until now I haven’t had the chance to try one out. It hasn’t been from a lack of my trying to get one, though. They’ve been promising to send me one for something like two years. Honestly, I’d completely given up on ever getting my hands on one when one finally appeared on my doorstep.

Now, when a company sends me a custom product, I pretty much know that nothing that even barely resembles an instruction manual is going to be included. As a result, I ask them to include a list of upgrades and modifications, any operating recommendations, and their list price. KAPP sent nothing with this gun. To make matters worse, the gun does not include an in-line pressure regulator. As a result, I had to use my own and guess at the optimal operating pressure. Very annoying as it took two games to get the thing operating properly (more on this later).

Anyhow, after getting past the frustration, I did finally get the gun running properly. Here’s what I found.

TRIGGER

The KAPP trigger is built into KAPP’s own aluminum .45 style grip frame. This frame has all the prerequisite set screws to take slack out of the trigger’s action, finger grooves in front, and a standard single-finger trigger guard. The machined-in finger grooves prevent the use of wrap-around grips.

The trigger plate is a custom KAPP part cut and chromed for smoothest action. It even has a cool ìKî milled through the side so you know who made it. The trigger has moderate to light springing for a soft trigger which still has a reasonably snappy return. The sear release is smooth, if not as effortless as that found in P&P and Eclipse cockers.

I did encounter one problem with the sear return spring. The spring they installed in the test gun sent to me was very soft and of a slightly smaller diameter than standard sear return springs. In the very first game I played with this gun, I found that the hammer was not catching back when the gun cocked. When I got off the field I took off the grip panels and found that the sear return spring had kinked forward and slipped out of the channel it normally rides in. This is much more likely with smaller diameter, soft springs. After replacing it with a standard Autococker sear return spring the gun was back up and running and I was back off to the field.

On the whole, the KAPP Autococker’s trigger is (when the sear return spring is in its channel) on-par with those found in top-end custom Autocockers. It is smooth and fast without dragging or binding. People who like a stiff return will likely want a heavier trigger return spring.

PNEUMATICS

The front-end pneumatics are predominantly KAPP parts and work adequately.

The low pressure regulator is KAPP’s Rhino regulator. This small pressure regulator is externally adjustable with a long, stainless steel adjusting knob. Like most of the adjustable regs out there, it works just fine at passing the low pressure flow to the 4-way valve and is smaller than most in size.

The 4-way is the latest version of KAPP’s switch, now with annular grooves to give it a cooler look. It’s switch length is the same as before, which is to say that it’s about average. It also had a tendency to leak transiently with pressure to the side of the timing rod. On the other hand, it had a very smooth action.

The pneumatic cylinder is a chromed Clippard ram. These rams have long been very popular aftermarket replacements for the Autococker, but are not particularly reputable for durability. They don’t break, but they do stiffen up with extended use.

INTERNALS

KAPP’s custom Autococker comes with mostly KAPP made internals as well.

They include their own relatively standard, but still home-grown hammer kit with lighter-than stock springs. This very soft springing of the hammer allows the lug to catch even with a very soft sear return spring (as long as it stays straight). The hammer has a pair of set screws in the side to provide a snug fit for both the lug and cocking rod so both can be screwed in and out but won’t vibrate out unintentionally. This kit also includes a stainless steel velocity screw that threads in behind the hammer.

The valve is KAPP’s stainless steel exhaust valve with Pro-series seal and stem. This valve is a fairly standard high-efficiency design now, with the Pro-Series seal and stem really being the bigger part of the story. I’ve had good luck with this part in other Autococker’s I’ve played with, in addition to a pair of Angels I’d cut it down to fit as well. It works adequately in KAPP’s own gun as well, providing something on the order of 1000-1100 shots from a full 68 ci, 3000 psi compressed air system.

The KAPP bolt is an 8-hole venturi design that resembles an Evolution bolt from the front face, but has a groove cut full around the bolt at the inlet like a ANS bolt. It works just fine at passing the gas to the back of the paintball and includes a spiffy Evolution-style quick-pull pin for reliability and ease of use.

ACCESSORIES & EXTRAS

The 15 degree, forward-angled vertical ASA (now also found on Black Magic Autocockers from WGP) includes a small set-screw in the side where the timing rod runs through it, very similar to what Eclipse did with their custom Autococker. This screw is designed to keep the timing rod in line and prevent 4-way leaks. It works pretty well in this regard, though the 4-way design prevents it from being as effective as it is with valves that seal more tightly.

The KAPP custom milled front-block also comes with small set screws to hold both the 4-way valve and ram. This is very nice and eliminates loose parts in the front block ñ a nice and unique customization in my experience.

With the latest version of WGP’s Autococker body, the center-feed hopper adapter can be unscrewed from the top of the gun. With this custom cocker, KAPP has included two custom heights (mid- and high-rise) of vertical adapter to fit the player’s needs. Both are taller than that found on the stock gun and allow a taller stack of paint between hopper and breech to reduce the chance of skipped shots and chopped paint.

The ìFxî ring-shaped beavertail is very reminiscent of Shocktech’s part, but is a bit thicker and narrows down at the back. It is just the right length to protect you from the cocking rod without sticking too far out the back of the gun: a very nicely designed part that looks cool too.

KAPP’s ìTwistedî cocking rod is also a cooler-looking copy of the Shocktech design. Like Shocktech’s cocking rod, the back of the Twisted is cut to take the same size allen wrench used to set the gun’s velocity. As a result, you can use the same wrench to loosen and tighten the cocking rod so it won’t vibrate loose during play. A very cool Danny Love design very effectively knocked-off by KAPP. As though to spike the ball in Shocktech’s face, they’ve milled this part with a groovy twisted pattern so it looks like it’s been wrung out.

KAPP Flame Autocockers now include 14î DYE boomstick barrels in standard diameter. This is a good standard barrel that will shoot most paints very well, though I now am coming to the conclusion that a serious high-end gun should come with a barrel set including at least 3 different ID barrels (or sleeves). Very few gun builders have done this yet and I don’t see this as a weakness of the package, just a potential improvement.

It is notable though, that the KAPP Autococker does NOT include an in-line regulator ñ something required on today’s cocker’s unless you are using an extremely consistent air source (eg. Smart Parts’ Max-Flow). This causes a couple problems. First, you have to go buy your own. Though this is not a problem for me (I’m swimming in extra regulators right now), most players out there do not know what regulator is appropriate for any given gun. This is really determined by the gun design. Most Autocockers are high-volume, low pressure, high-flow designs these days and require a good reg to get the best from them. I tested the gun with a WGP STO in-line reg and had good results once I got it set properly.

This leads to the second problem ñ you don’t know what pressure KAPP recommends for this gun’s input. Most manufacturers simply ship their guns with the in-line reg preset for their recommended input so the player just has to slap on an air source and head for the field. With the KAPP you have to experiment until you get good velocity and hope that it is the most efficient point. I recommend starting with a very low input pressure and firing over the chrono while turning the pressure up until you hit the pressure where velocity is maximum (at a certain high pressure point, velocity actually will start dropping due to premature valve closure). Then set velocity with the screw at the back of the gun. This wasted another game after I’d settled the sear-spring issue. Given the exorbitant price of this gun, this simply is not acceptable.

COSMETICS

As would be expected with a high-price custom Autococker, a significant amount of effort went into the custom look of the KAPP Autococker.

The most striking aspect is the very cool custom flame milling. There have been other paintguns that put a flame pattern on the back of the gun, but none have done it quite like this. The entire back section of the paintgun is milled down around the flames so they actually physically stand out from the back of the gun. They are extremely eye-catching and drew a lot of attention at the field.

The flame pattern is set off even more by the custom anodizing and chroming. The front section of the gun, from the barrel back to the flames has a two-color fade anodizing (five different color pairs are available). The recessed portion at the back all the way through the back block is chromed and makes the flame pattern jump out of the gun even more impressively. The quality of the work is very good and appeared to be quite durable.

The rest of the gun parts are, of course chromed for a consistent look. In addition, many of the accessories have custom milling, including the Rhino reg, 4-way valve, custom back-block, front-block, and center-feed hopper adapters (which sport the same KAPP ìKîs as the trigger plate.

Overall, this is a very nice and unique looking paintgun that will really draw attention at the field.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall the KAPP Flame Autococker is a nice package. As with other high-end, expensive Autocockers, it comes with a whole host of aftermarket parts (most KAPP made), a smooth and fast trigger, and impressive cosmetics.

At a retail price of $1395, it is unacceptable for it not to come with an in-line regulator and have trigger problems in the very first game. When people pay this much money, it really should be ready to run out of the box these days. Hopefully the sear spring problem I encountered is not commonplace.

In the end, a very nice cost-no-object paintgun that should make fashion-conscious players happy.

 



All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 2001