© Ravi Chopra, 1998
Over the past several years, P&P Paintball has become one of the industry giants in custom Autocockers. Where once P&P Autocockers were best known by the many magazine ads that pushed them, now you find them less in ads and more in the hands of tournament players. Where P&P once had to buy components from other top shops, they are now one of the biggest manufacturers and suppliers of aftermarket Autococker accessories. And though his name hasn´t quite reached the status of Bob Long, Fred Schultz, Pete Robinson or Danny Love, Cesare has certainly become well known for his ´gun work and tournament exploits.
Now the confession. Anyone who has been connected to the internet for several years and reads the rec.sports.paintball newsgroup knows that there was a period of time where my relationship with P&P Paintball Connection was anything but rosy. Ugly is more like it. But as they say, time heals all wounds. Over the last several years, the reasons for animosity have faded away and P&P´s popularity has skyrocketed. Through the same painful process of trial-and-error, P&P Autocockers have steadily improved. I was anxious to see how Cesare´s latest ´98 Supercocker performed.
What Cesare pulled off the shelf and handed me to review was a base, left-feed, ´98 Supercocker. It is important to note that this is not P&P´s top-of-the-line ´cocker. The basic Supercocker is designed as full-featured, tournament-prepped Autococker for the budget-minded player, eschewing only a few of the top-level features without sacrificing performance. The result is a price tag of only $850 - quite a bit lower than that of any other Autococker with this level of performance and cosmetic upgrades.
As always, I have broken the review of this Autococker down into systems: trigger, autococking system (pneumatics - components that cycle the ´gun), internals (components that deliver gas to fire the paintball), accessories & extras, and cosmetics.
As always, I start with the trigger. My personal belief is that the trigger is the most important part of your paintgun. If you aren´t happy with how the trigger feels to you, you won´t be happy with the paintgun, regardless of how well the rest of it performs. It should feel comfortable and natural to you so the ´gun can become like an extension of your hand when you hit the field. It is because of this that I typically spend the most time describing the trigger´s feel and characteristics.
The first thing you´ll notice is that the trigger is built into a stock aluminum WGP trigger frame. As a .45 frame is an expensive option, for his base Supercockers Cesare has invested a great deal of time and work into getting the most from the stock frame. The result is a trigger that is as impressive as any I´ve ever felt built into a stock frame.
The first thing you notice when you pull the trigger is that it feels very friction-free. I´m tempted to call it smooth, but it has a very different feel from other top-level Autocockers that excel in this area. The stock Autococker´s trigger is not perfectly smooth on any of its surfaces. Small ridges, particularly on the top and bottom surfaces rub and scrape against the sear and inside of the trigger frame. The trigger components are left relatively loose so they don´t rub and bind as much as they otherwise might. As a result of this, stock Autococker triggers have a rough and loose feel. To improve this, most airsmiths meticulously polish the surfaces of the trigger-plate to remove these small ridges and imperfections. This results in very smooth contact points and therefore, a very smooth trigger feel. The trigger-plate is not a very low friction material even when polished, so even though the components move very smoothly against each other, they do still experience some friction and drag.
That´s what most people do. Cesare took a different path to achieving a smooth pull: he chrome-plates his triggers. The chrome-plating offers much less friction than the underlying trigger plate. Therefore, even though there are still small imperfections in the trigger´s surface, the chrome is of such low friction that the components glide easily over each other without dragging or binding. It´s a different feel from Autocockers that take the polishing route to smoothness (e.g.. Belsales´ Evolution), but it is no less fast or smooth. The stainless steel sear plate is left bare in order to allow it to still effectively catch the sear lug without slip-over.
The trigger´s springing is somewhat heavier than what you typically find in top-level trigger-jobs. Where in other ´guns this might feel stiff and heavy, the chrome trigger glides so freely that it ends up feeling very springy and fast instead.
The frame is drilled and tapped for a trigger guide screw beneath the trigger to take up vertical slack. The Supercocker´s guide screw is installed a bit further forward than that of most Autocockers, offering a longer, more stable platform for the trigger. The frame is also equipped with a trigger stop to limit the trigger´s backward travel. This ´gun was stopped at a pull length of about 4.5 mm, slightly shorter than the stock Autococker´s 5 mm pull.
The Supercocker´s timing is reasonably conservative with a significant gap between the cocking and firing stages of the trigger pull. This gap assures that you don´t get any blow-back. It does, though, leave a small amount of space in which you can short-stroke the ´gun if you get too anxious with the trigger and don´t complete the pull. That said, I never had a problem with short stroking this ´gun. I should also note that this gap is smaller than that of other tournament-level Autocockers I´ve reviewed like Boston´s Twister and Belsales´ Evolution.
In contrast to what most Autococker customization shops are doing, P&P uses a stock WGP 4-way valve instead of going with one of the short-stroke, loose-fit aftermarket valves. Though it isn´t as short and smooth, the stock valve offers a couple advantages. First, it helps keep the price down. Second, the o-rings fit snugly and don´t leak like some aftermarket valves can. The trigger´s stiffer springing prevents the valve from in any way negatively impacting the trigger pull.
Finally, a threaded timing rod couples the 4-way to the trigger, making it easier to time the ´gun and dramatically improving reliability over the stock rod. Associated with this is one nice feature that I haven´t seen in any other Autococker. In the Supercocker, Cesare cuts a small ramp in front of the timing rod hole in the frame. Normally, the bend in the timing rod can bump against this part of the frame and force the rod out to the side. This can lead to the 4-way binding up and/or leaking. This small groove removes the area that the rod bumps into, assures that the rod stays in perfect alignment, and eliminates these problems completely.
The trigger really is one of the Supercocker´s highlights. Though my personal preference runs to short, lightly sprung triggers, I really enjoyed shooting this ´gun. The chrome trigger offers a completely unique smooth feel that is fast and snappy.
AUTOCOCKING SYSTEM (PNEUMATICS)
The P&P Supercocker doesn´t offer any surprises in its pneumatics. They´re all standard, tournament-level components that easily allow the ´gun to cycle as fast as you can pull the trigger. What is a bit surprising is that these components have been upgraded. Often, these parts are left stock in less expensive ´cockers.
As I mentioned above, P&P uses the stock WGP 4-way valve. It is rugged, reliable, and functional. The way Cesare times and tunes the trigger makes the 4-way a non-issue as long as it works properly and does not leak. This is the only stock part of the pneumatic system.
The regulator is Palmer´s excellent, industry-standard Rock regulator. As most people know, it offers significant advantages over the stock Sledgehammer regulator. First, it is externally adjustable. Second, it provides higher flow and more consistent output. Finally, it comes with Palmer´s lifetime warranty. This has been the tournament-standard regulator for the Autococker for years now, and very likely will continue to be well into the future.
Possibly the most surprising feature of the Supercocker´s pneumatics is that it does not come with a stock ram. Several top-end Autocockers that cost much more money still come with the stock WGP cylinder. I would have expected this to be the first part left stock in any budget ´cocker. Not the P&P Supercocker. A speedy Clippard ram graces the front end of every Supercocker, helping increase the cycle rate.
Finally, the autococking system is rounded out by low-weight components to minimize the load on the ram. Both the pump and cocking rod are titanium, and the back block is cut down even further than the now stock cut block.
The Supercocker´s internal components (the parts responsible for delivering air to fire the paintball) are the ones that have received the least upgrading. Both the valve and bolt are stock. I found that this did not detrimentally effect performance.
First, the hammer kit and velocity adjuster have been upgraded to a Nelson-style kit, allowing the use of the softer, larger diameter Nel-spot spring. The hammer has also been drilled and tapped to take one of the fat, round-bottom lugs that have become the de facto standard in tournament Autocockers.
The bolt, though stock in origin, has been significantly lightened. Intelligent design is evident in how this was done. Many bolts, both stock and aftermarket, are lightened by shaving excess metal off of the outside of the bolt behind its functional front end. The problem is that if this is carried all the way down the length of the bolt, when the ´gun is cocking, the back block can wiggle from side to side. Over time, this weakens the thinned-down middle of the bolt. I´ve actually seen some aftermarket bolts snap in half as a result of this. The Supercocker´s lightened stock bolt is narrowed down for only part of its length. With the block fully retracted, just before the bolt exits the body, it widens back out to full stock diameter, preventing the bolt and block from moving from side to side. This back part is hollowed out to maintain a very light weight.
As I mentioned above, the valve is also stock. Despite this, Cesare has managed to wring some pretty impressive performance from it. Out of the box, this Autococker shot 290 fps with an input pressure of 400 psi. Though some aftermarket valves offer lower operating pressures than this, this is much lower than any stock Autococker ever used to work. The only ´gun I know of that can beat this is the Evolution Minicocker, a far more expensive ´gun that runs at 290 psi with a stock valve and the Evolution bolt. The Supercocker was very impressive in this regard.
Velocity consistency was very good, staying well within a 10 fps range. Efficiency was acceptable, and about on-par, if not a bit better than the stock Autococker. Keep in mind that this can easily be improved by ponying up the cash to have an aftermarket valve installed.
ACCESSORIES & EXTRAS
A very nice thing about the P&P Supercocker is that it comes with a number of nice features that are rarely or never included as stock equipment on other custom Autocockers.
All Supercockers come with an aluminum DYE barrel. DYE´s barrels are among the most popular in use today, and with good reason. They shoot very consistently and very well. I find them to be a little loose for some of today´s small tournament paints, but that is nit-picking.
The next feature is small, hidden, and probably won´t be noticed almost anyone. But it´s so important that I think it should be incorporated into the stock ´gun. A screw is installed below the valve retention nut to keep it from backing out. Anyone who has worked on an Autococker´s valve knows that after the valve goes in, it is retained by a screw from below (hidden by the grip frame) and a large inverted nut that threads in behind the valve. A potentially disastrous problem occurs if that valve retention nut backs out and lies free in the space between the exhaust valve and the hammer. Every time the ´gun is fired, the hammer smashes the loose nut into the threads it is normally screwed into, slowly destroying the threads. If these threads are completely stripped out, your ´gun body is wrecked and needs to be replaced. By installing a retaining screw for the nut, the risk of this problem is completely eliminated. Kudos to P&P for this simple, invisible, huge improvement to the Autococker´s reliability.
The ball detent is a stainless steel ball-bearing style detent. I still like the wire-nubbin style detents better, but the ball-bearing detent is less expensive, easier to install, and simple to replace if it jams up. It works, ´nuff said.
The front-block retaining screw is significantly improved over the stock screw. Normally, the front block screw has small holes to channel air through the front block. P&P drills these holes out much wider, ports extra holes around its circumference, and chrome plates the entire screw. The result is much better air flow to the autococking system and no more shoot-down problems with Minicockers.
The grips are current stock WGP molded battle-grips. They´re far better than the old stock grips, functional and comfortable.
The only surprising omission is a beavertail. Though it does appear in the photographs, it is not included with this paintgun at its base price. Since this accessory is a requirement for many fields and all tournaments, and even the stock Autococker comes with one of these as standard equipment, I find it surprising that P&P does not include one as standard equipment on the base Supercocker.
The cosmetic enhancements made to the Supercocker are really the thing that separates it from the rest of the pack of budget tournament Autocockers. You could probably buy an Autococker with the same level of performance upgrades for the same price, but there´s no way you´d get all of the cosmetic enhancements.
The millwork is classic P&P. Though it changes slightly every year, there is definitely a family resemblance between all Supercockers. On the upper body behind the receiver it has P&P´s trademark S-shaped gills. The lower body millwork is what changes most from year to year. The ´98 Supercocker has sort of paired hockey-stick-shaped cuts. A matching pump-arm groove is cut in the right side of the ´gun body. Cuts are milled through the sight rail, which itself if sculpted in a manner similar to the STO Autococker. The bottom of the body is rounded off through most of it´s length. To highlight the look, after anodizing Supercockers go back under the mill to add silver highlights. Finally, "Super Cocker" and the model year ("98" in this case) are engraved into the upper body in front of the feed tube. The front block is a custom-milled piece for a unique look and lightened weight. The shroud is a standard stock straight-slotted piece. All of the millwork is very clean and even, no surprise seeing as it is all done on a CNC mill.
Base Supercockers all come with one-color anodizing as a standard feature. The particular ´gun I reviewed was done out in a sharp gloss-black. The anodizing is very nice; rich, even, and perfectly matched on all parts of the paintgun (except the stock trigger-frame which can not be anodized). It isn´t quite the perfect mirror-like finish that I´ve seen on some of the most expensive Autocockers, but it is very nice. A particularly nice feature is the fact that the vertical ASA matches the rest of the ´gun. The stock vertical from WGP is made from pot-metal which doesn´t anodize well and usually is the one rotten looking part on otherwise beautifully done Autocockers. P&P makes their own aluminum vertical ASAs that anodize as a perfect match for the rest of the ´gun.
To match the silver milling highlights, the Supercocker is equipped with all titanium rods, and a chromed front-block screw and trigger shoe. The only parts that don´t match are the Clippard ram and stock 4-way which are left bare brass. For additional cost, these parts as well as the Rock can be had in chrome.
On the whole, I found the cosmetic job on the Supercocker to be a handsome, though rather conservative look when compared to the (twice as expensive) Bad Boyz Toyz and Twister Autocockers out there.
The P&P Supercocker is a very impressive paintgun when evaluated on its own. When you consider the price, it is amazing. For $850, you get an Autococker with most of the big performance upgrades (a beavertail being the only significant omission). Add in all of the cosmetic work, and you´ll find that you are getting a whole lot for your money. In fact, I´m willing to say that, dollar for dollar, the base Supercocker is the best value in Autocockers today. No one else gives you this much work for that little money.
Of course, price for parts isn´t the only important issue. A million dollars worth of parts doesn´t get you anything if they aren´t put together well. This is particularly important with the Autococker which is a notoriously finicky paintgun when it isn´t properly timed and tuned. I expected the Supercocker to be a decent ´gun. In fact, it is surprisingly good. The trigger is tight, smooth, and returns with authority. It won´t make people looking for the softest and shortest trigger happy, but for most people it is a very good feel. I was also very impressed with the performance Cesare has managed to pull from a stock valve and bolt. On the whole, the performance of the base Supercocker gives up very little to Autocockers that cost twice as much.
Of course, the base Supercocker isn´t the best Autococker available. It still lacks some top end features like a .45 frame, aftermarket bolt, and aftermarket valve. These are nice parts to have, and all of these are available from P&P, but at added cost. The key is that none of these is really crucial to providing excellent tournament-level performance.
P&P´s basic Supercocker provides an exceptional balance between price and performance. For the player looking for a top-end Autococker, but who can´t afford to shell out over $1000 for his marker, the Supercocker is about as good as it gets.
All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 1999