The Millennium Shocker
Shocker Sport 2000
© Ravi Chopra, 2000
The electropneumatic revolution is in full swing in the world of paintball. Just about everyone is either releasing, updating, or planning their own electric-trigger paintgun or conversion. Electro-madness has captured the sport and there1s no end in sight. Who1s responsible? Well, it could probably be very strongly argued that it was WDP and their stellar Angel electropneumatic that really finally pushed the electropneumatic into the spotlight and raised it to it1s current level of popularity. But if you think back far enough, you1ll remember that it was Smart Parts who first stuck their necks out with a startling paintgun called the Shocker, which not only was the first of the electros, but also was the first to really push the idea of deep low pressure operation.
The original Shocker, novel as it was, had some problems. Reliability was a major issue with the original Shocker. Efficiency was appalling, forcing the use of CO2 to get reasonable shot counts. Smart Parts boldly presented CO2 usability as a strength rather than the detriment it truly was. Dirty CO2 was and continues to be the biggest cause of Shocker break-downs. Finally, the Shocker was impressively ugly. Few paintguns could compete with the Shocker in a mirror-shattering contest. Despite it1s novelty, this was clearly not the paintgun that was going to come to dominate the tournament circuit like Smart Parts hoped.
Over the intervening years, Smart Parts has put significant effort into quietly improving and upgrading their flagship paintgun. They severed their relationship with Pneu-Ventures, the company with which they originally developed both the Shocker and the Max-Flow nitrogen system. They significantly revised the 1gun1s shape and layout from a bulky triangular cross-section to a somewhat less bulky rectangle. They added a number of features and options, not least of which being the controversial "turbo" board which allowed the 1gun to shoot much much faster than you actually pulled the trigger without technically violating the NPPL1s semi-auto rules.
With the Shocker 2000, they take it even further, adding a host of new features (most notably a standard center-feed), improved reliability, improved cosmetics, and finally a viable nitrogen option with their new 4500 psi, 88 ci Max-Flow nitrogen system. With that said, lets take a closer look.
HOW IT WORKS
Its worth taking a quick look at how the Shocker works because its completely different from every other electropneumatic currently in production. First, it is a true closed-bolt semi-automatic. That means that at the beginning of the cycle the paintball is already chambered forward into the barrel with the bolt forward to close off the feed tube. Like the Autococker, when you pull the trigger, the paintball is fired and then the bolt is cycled to chamber another paintball for the next shot. Unlike the Autococker, this is all directed electronically. When properly timed, this completely eliminates blowback, making feeding much more reliable at high fire rates. Some people also believe that closed-bolt paintguns are inherently more accurate than open-bolts.
Compared to most paintguns, even electropneumatics, the Shocker is quite complex. It has two solenoids (electrically switched 4-way valves) to operate its cycle. One solenoid drives the bolt assembly (essentially a ram with a bolt head attached to the front of the piston). The second solenoid drives the firing piston which alternately opens an air chamber to the inlet air feed (at rest) and to the bolt (when the gun is fired).
At rest, the bolt is held forward by pressure at its back. The firing piston is pressurized, holding the air chamber open to inlet air and closing it off from the bolt, allowing the chamber to fill with air at the inlet pressure. When the Shocker is fired, the firing piston is depressurized, allowing a spring to close the fill popped (shutting off incoming air) and opening a port that leads to the bolt, firing a paintball. In the next stage of the cycle, the firing piston is repressurized to allow the air chamber to refill. The solenoid running the bolt cycles it back and forth to chamber a new paintball and youre ready to shoot again.
All of this is initiated by a pull of the trigger and coordinated by the circuit board which determines how long the firing piston is depressurized when the gun is fired and how long the bolt is held open when chambering a new paintball. Both of these variables can be adjusted with dip-switches on the circuit board. Dip switches can also be used to turn on and off the turbo function, as well as semi-auto, 3-shot burst, and full-automatic modes. If you buy the gun with the Select Fire option, you can switch between these modes from a switch on the front of the gun.
One thing you may have noticed about all this is that the Shocker delivers a fixed-volume of air each time the paintball is fired. Unlike most other guns which deliver a quantity of air based both on how hard a hammer hits a valve and the pressure of air entering the gun, the Shockers velocity is determined entirely by the operating pressure (like an Automag). As the gun runs at low pressures (200 psi in the sample I reviewed) an extremely consistent air source is imperative if you want consistent velocity.
If youre a real techno-nerd and really want to get a great description of exactly how the Shocker looks and works from the inside-out, Id highly recommend reading Jack Hands excellent article on the internet at: http://www.paintballresource.com/articles/jhand/shocker/shocker-p1.shtml. His illustrations are simply superb.
WHAT ITS GOT
The gun that Smart Parts sent me to review was a brand new, gloss-black Shocker Sport 2000 Turbo. All Shocker 2000s come standard with a variety of popular, well-thought-out features.
For your gripping pleasure, the Shocker features a .45-style frame with comfortable rubber wrap-around grips and standard bottom-line mounting holes. The Shocker sent to me included Smart Parts optional 2-finger trigger-frame which includes both a 2-finger trigger and full-size guard that wraps around the entire trigger for added safety. The frame also includes a standard mechanical safety to prevent the trigger from being pulled when set in the "safe" position.
Finally joining the rest of the high-end world, Smart Parts has finally made the Shocker center-feed with this year 2000 model. The old Shocker Sport is still available only with side and power-feed. The center-feed tube is the standard "low-rise" height found on STO Autocockers and some aftermarket Angels. Like those, the tube flares at the top to allow insertion of the VL moto-loader of your choice (yes, youll need one).
At the front, Smart Parts naturally includes their own 14" All American barrel: 2-stage, 0.689" ID, patented spiral porting in the second stage. They also sent me their Pro-Barrel kit, a 3-barrel set with 4-barrel bag, including 14" All As barrels in 3 different IDs. Smart Parts makes most of their money selling barrels so it should come as no surprise that the Shocker has its own unique barrel thread pattern. If youre switching from another gun to the Shocker, youll be buying a new set of barrels.
The Shockers bolt is a venturi-design, not unlike the Autococker bolts made by ANS with a ring of holes leading forward from a donut-shaped space back at the bolts inlet. The bolt is field-strippable to allow use of a pull-through squeegee. Unfortunately, the bolt unit also includes the ram, so you are required to degas the gun prior to unscrewing the bolt from the back of the Shocker.
Smart Parts also included their curvy Gadget-grip for my comfort. This nice forgrip bolts on in front of the trigger-frame and includes a barrel-plug in its bottom-end.
The Shocker gets its electric power from a unique Smart Parts-made batter housed in the grip frame. This battery is neither inexpensive or rechargeable, allowing Smart Parts to hit you up for new batteries as they run dead. Making matters worse is the fact that this paintgun has no power switch! To kill power and save battery life you need to take off the rubber grips and disconnect the battery manually. A power switch and light is available, but at added cost. Several places offer very inexpensive 9V battery adapters, allowing you to use these much less expensive batteries.
To round out the package, the Shocker 2000 sent to me also included Smart Parts very latest on-gun nitrogen system, the Max-Flow 4500, a 4500 psi system available with both 68 ci and 88 ci bottles. The 88 ci system they sent along is a bit long, so they mounted it on their drop-forward mount to shift it forward into a more comfortable position. The Shocker is a fixed-volume paintgun, so its velocity is determined entirely by input pressure, making the consistency of the feed system absolutely crucial to getting consistent velocity at the chrono. As the Max-Flow is one of the most consistent nitrogen systems on the market, its a perfect choice for this paintgun.
HOW IT FEELS
The Shocker has always felt a little big and bulky to me. The Shocker 2000 is no different. Though quite a bit narrower than the first generation Shocker, the current Shocker is still quite tall and a bit plump when compared to other paintguns. Most will get used to it quickly, but if youre used to shooting an Automag this thing is initially going to feel like a shoebox in your hands.
The Shocker is also rather hefty. It isnt so heavy that its going to challenge your biceps strength, but its enough to give the gun alone a nose-heavy feel. Adding the 88 ci Max-Flow 4500 bottom-line with the drop-forward dramatically improved the guns balance and overall feel.
As I mentioned before, the Shocker sent to me came with the optional 2-finger trigger and frame. Ive written before about how absurd I think it is to put 2-finger triggers on electropneumatic paintguns. My opinion hasnt changed. The Shockers trigger is actually lighter than a mouse-click. Thankfully, it isnt quite the Bushmasters breath-it-too-hard-and-it-shoots twitch trigger, but its still so ridiculously light that anyone who actually needs a second finger in on the action to pull this trigger quickly should probably be hospitalized. This is even more true with the Shockers turbo feature activated. Still, there are obviously people out there who feel they need this crutch, so Smart Parts is more than happy to sell it to you. Unfortunately, with the 2-finger trigger theres no room behind the lower trigger part so you cant shoot with a single finger even if you want to. I do commend Smart Parts on selling this only with the full 2-finger guard. With triggers this light its all too easy to accidentally bump the trigger and discharge unintentionally.
So, how does it feel? Its soft and short. Like a tweaked-out Angel trigger, the pull length is measured in the sub-2mm range but offers less of a "click" when the switch is activated, providing less tactile feedback through the trigger. Personally, I felt that the return was a little soft. It isnt difficult to shoot fast if you tap the trigger, but if you prefer to have the trigger push back with a little force youll probably find the Shockers return to feel a bit slow and mushy. Innovative players and airsmiths who prefer a stiffer trigger will likely find ways to spring the trigger for a little more pull force and snappier feel. Those who like the lightest, shortest trigger possible will find the Shockers stock configuration to be a perfect fit.
Youll hardly know it when the Shocker fires. With a complete lack of drama, the gun barely twitches and emits a quiet chuffing sound. I attribute this to the low pressure operation, ported barrel, and lack of a hammer slamming about inside. Those who fancy themselves snipers or simply like their paintgun to be as quiet as possible cant help but fall in love with this aspect of the Shockers nature.
I must admit that I like the Gadget grip. Its comfortable and provides good grip in addition to a convenient place to keep that barrel plug. The only problem is the big inlet air hose. The Shocker takes its air in through the front and the steel-braid hose that takes it there runs right up the front near the grip. This can make holding the grip a bit cramped unless youre going to hold the hose as well, which just feels strange.
Thanks to the low-rise center-feed the Shocker package I was sent was relatively easy to keep tucked in while shooting around both sides of your cover. It does feel a bit bigger and bulkier than some of the smaller paintguns available, but after a game or two I wasnt much bothered by it. With the 88 ci tank mounted on the drop-forward it was very well balanced and pointed well when shouldered without tending to nose up or down.
HOW IT PERFORMS
The Shocker is a piece of cake to get up and running. Pull it out of the box, gas it up, and go shoot some fools. Setting the velocity is a piece of cake, particularly with the Max-Flow 4500. Since velocity is determined by input pressure, you just adjust the pressure from the Max-Flow. Since adjusting the Max-Flow is as easy as grabbing its front end and giving it a twist this is an easy, tool-free act (see the Max-Flow side-bar for more on this system and why this feature may not be the best thing in the world).
In standard semi-auto mode, the Shocker 2000 is fast. Basically, as fast as you can tap the ultra-light trigger, it fires, all the way up to the electronically limited maximum. As with any of the high-end electropneuamatics, rate of fire will not be an issue with the Shocker. With Turbo-mode activated, the Shocker is even easier to shoot fast. In fact, I often found it to be difficult to keep it from shooting anything other than full-tilt.
Turbo mode makes the Shocker a so-called "super-semi" where the gun can fire more than once for each trigger pull. Through some clever trickery, Smart Parts found a way to dodge around the no-full-auto rule in the NPPL with this feature. For once, Ill skip the technical description and just tell you what turbo mode does. In Turbo mode, as long as you only pull the trigger once or twice a second (or less) it shoots like any other semi-auto, firing once for each trigger pull. Once you get a little faster than that, up to 3 or 4 pulls per second (it seems to vary a bit from gun to gun), the gun, for all intents and purposes, starts to shoot full-auto at its max rate of fire as long as you continue to pull the trigger at that threshold rate or faster. The first time it kicked in it took me completely by surprise. This mode is totally wild. It makes it exceedingly easy to rip off long, fast strings of shots while allowing you to concentrate on aiming at your target. It makes it particularly easy to mow down people trying to move from bunker to bunker because it kicks in so quickly and shoots so fast. In fact if I had to complain about anything, its that Turbo mode activates too easily. Sometimes you want to shoot 3 or 4 shots a second. I often found myself wanting to just plunk out a few shots only to find the Shocker deciding to blast off a full-auto string. Some will undoubtedly find this very irritating. Hose-monsters will love it to death.
Turbo-modes rapid-fire brings me to the next topic, namely, just how well the Shocker 2000 feeds! On other center-feed paintguns, many people like to use tall center-feeds, center-feed extenders, air assist feeds, or VL mods linked to the guns cycle to provide a taller stack of paintballs or to assist feeding when rapid firing. The Shocker has convinced me that all that is unnecessary. With nothing more than a standard VL Revolution feeding the paint into the low-rise feed-tube, the gun never missed a shot, misfed, or chopped paint. Never once, despite the fact that I had the thing going into turbo mode all the time, and sometimes kept it running at full-blast for extended periods while holding people down or providing cover fire. The only time the Shocker failed to fire was when a defective, pancake-shaped paintball got wedged into the breech. Impressively, the bolt never chopped the bad paintball, just creasing it a bit, allowing me to clear it manually without having to clear the breech of paint and shell. Score one for low pressure operation.
Which brings me to one of Smart Parts original big selling points for the Shocker: its low pressure operation. The Shocker sent to me chronoed in the 280s at 200 psi right down around where the lowest pressure Autocockers operate, but not as low as the eccentric Nova. They have long made the claim that low pressure operation results in less deformation of the paintball when fired, making for greater range and a flatter trajectory. Does it? Well, Ill be frank. The few, only-moderately-scientific but at least unbiased tests Ive seen that sought to demonstrate whether or not low pressure made a difference showed almost absolutely no difference either in range or accuracy. Ive shot more than my share of low pressure Autocockers and never found them to offer any significant improvement over their higher-pressure brethren. And in my short time with the Shocker, I couldnt really say that it fired any further or flatter than any other top-end paintgun Ive used. In other words, the Shocker, with a good paint-barrel match is as good as any other paintgun out there but I really didnt find it to offer a level of performance that embarrassed its competition. On the other hand, there are a good number of respected pro-players (not just All Americans) who do feel that the Shocker offers superior performance in this area. Id recommend players interested in the Shocker go out and shoot one and decide for yourself.
Two areas in which low pressure operation unquestionably offer an advantage are in paint breakage and noise. The combination of low pressure and closed-bolt operation make for a combo that is very gentle on the paintball. As long as you dont use a barrel way too tight for your paint you should have almost no breaks in the gun at all. People who like to use ultra-thin-shell paint like All Star, Evil, or Hellfire will find the Shocker to be a natural match since it launches even these extremely delicate projectiles with little or no drama.
Smart Parts extensively ported barrels have always been known for their generally quiet nature. Add in the low pressure operation and lack of a hammer-operated system and you have a paintgun that produces barely a whisper when fired.
Velocity consistency is a function of a large number of factors, including your barrel, your paint quality, how well the paint fits the barrel, how consistently the gun releases the same amount of air at the same pressure with each shot. In the Shocker, with its low pressure and fixed volume operation, the input pressure consistency becomes a crucial factor. The Max-Flow has always been one of the most consistent nitrogen systems on the market, particularly at low pressure, and is more than capable of putting out sufficient flow to feed the hungry Shocker, even when ripping away in turbo mode. Suffice it to say, velocity consistency should not be a problem with this paintgun as long as you leave it properly set up as it comes from the factory.
Efficiency, on the other hand, is a major issue. For years now, efficiency has been the Shockers biggest failing. This paintgun is a massive gas hog, burning through more gas with each shot than just about any other paintgun ever built. For years, this has meant that you had to run a Max-Flow nitrogen system filled with CO2 to get enough shots to get you through a long tournament game. The big problem here is that CO2 is a notoriously dirty gas, often loaded with particles of crud. CO2 also gets really cold when rapidly expanding as it does when Shockers are fired fast. Theres a good reason that other electropneumatic paintgun manufacturers recommend (or demand) their paintguns be operated on nitrogen/HPA only. The delicate solenoids used to switch the gas flow back and forth in the paintgun do not take well to dirt or extreme cold and freezing. The fact that Shockers pretty much had to be run off CO2 led to solenoid failure problems and the resulting reputation of the Shocker as an unreliable paintgun. When Shockers are run on nitro/HPA, theyre as reliable as any other paintgun. Smart Parts has finally addressed this issue. No, they havent made the Shocker more stingy with its gas requirements (its still appallingly inefficient), theyve provided you with a larger gas supply. The Max-Flow that they now recommend for use with the Shocker is their new Max-Flow 4500 psi 88 ci system, offering 50% more pressure than their old 3000 psi system and a bottle with the length of a 114 ci tank and the diameter of the 68 ci. With this big tank, the Shocker can get between 1000 and 1300 shots. Enough to get most tournament players through most games.
For those who still have to shoot CO2, the new Shocker doesnt leave you out in the cold. Smart Parts has installed a new, gigantic filter that should do a much better job than before of cleaning up the input gas flow and help expand out any liquid that sneaks through.
HOW IT LOOKS
Smart Parts has really gone to some lengths to improve the looks of the Shocker. The body is now softer and swoopier in shape than the old, angular body. Picky players and fashion queens will still insist that though its new melted-brick looks are certainly less offensive than the previous shoe-box shape, its still far from being attractive. Personally, I find it to be a huge improvement over the previous generation Shocker. Its still rather big and bulky, but its a much more integrated look now. Add in one of Smart Parts gorgeous splash or fade anodizing finishes and youll have a paintgun that doesnt look half bad as you mow the competition down.
PRICE AND OPTIONS
Base Shocker 2000 4x4: Includes single-finger trigger, Smart Parts All American barrel, and 68 ci Max-Flow system set up for CO2. Cost: $845.
Select Fire: This option adds a 3-position switch to the front of the Shocker, allowing you to switch easily between semi-auto, 3-shot burst, and full-auto modes without taking the gun apart. Nice if youre a recreational player who likes to switch between modes. Useless for tournament play. Cost: $945 for the select-fire Shocker 4x4, $1100 for the select-fire Shocker Turbo.
Turbo: This mode is Smart Parts highly controversial dodge around the NPPL no-full-auto rule. I wont bother going into the specifics. Basically, if you pull the trigger more than 3 or 4 times per second, the gun will essentially shoot full-auto at the guns max rate of fire as long as you keep pulling the trigger at that sedate rate. Its totally wild. If you like that "super-semi" sort of thing, this is the gun that started it all. Cost $1045 for the Shocker Turbo.
2-finger trigger with 2-finger guard frame: Completely unnecessary with a trigger this light, but nice for those of you who like 2-finger triggers on electric guns. Cost: $50
Pro-barrel kit: A 3 barrel kit, complementing the Shockers included 0.689" ID barrel with matching barrels in 0.684", 0.691" and 0.693" IDs to allow you to match your barrel to any paint you might find yourself using. This is a true must-have if youre a tournament player who finds himself shooting a different paint brand or size every weekend. At $225, its a big discount from the single-barrel price.
Gadget grip: A nice, comfy, curvy grip for your other hand if you have the Max-Flow 4500 and cant run a vertical reg. Stores a barrel plug in the bottom-end for easy access and convenient storage during the game. Cost: $25
Max-Flow 4500 psi nitrogen system: Simply the best (see sidebar). This brings the Max-Flow up to current pressure standards, shrinks the system marginally, and finally with the 88 ci tank offers sufficient capacity to feed the gas-hungry Shocker through a full 20 minute tournament game. Cost: $400 with purchase of a Shocker.
Vertical-reg Max-Flow kit (for 3000 psi systems only): This is an awfully nice kit that mounts your 3000 psi Max-Flow reg vertically in front of the trigger. Its a comfortable and nice-looking option, but only for 3000 psi systems, which is to say, only if youre filling your tank with CO2 only the 4500 psi systems offer enough capacity for a good shot count with the Shocker. Cost: $75
Air-assist feed: The optional air-assist uses exhaust air from the Shockers solenoids to help blow paintballs down the feed tube and into the gun. Ive heard that this option works well with side-feed Shockers, particularly when the gun is tipped to the side. With the center-feed, theres not much point.
Viewloader kit: Much like the VL board for the Angel, this option replaces the board in your VL loader and drives it from the Shocker, spinning the blades every time the trigger is pull and drawing off the guns battery. Its a nice idea, but most have found that the standard VL Revolution works just fine (when its working) in keeping the Shocker fed, even in turbo mode. At $79.95 its rather expensive as well.
Power-switch and light: Smart Parts should be embarrassed that this isnt included as stock equipment on the gun. A must-have. Cost: $49.95
Splash anodizing: Give that shoe-box a shiny coat. Smart Parts was the first, and still offers some of the best splash-anodizing in the business. They offer a great selection of colors, patterns, and fades. A must-have for the fashion-conscious. Add $150 to the cost of the Shocker.
The Shocker isnt perfect. It still has some small bothersome issues that will be problems for some people. The atrocious gas-efficiency, lack of a standard power-switch, and proprietary Smart Parts batteries will likely turn a number of players off.
Despite these issues, this, the latest version of the first electropneumatic paintgun, is by far the best Shocker yet. Virtually every aspect of the paintgun is improved at least a little bit, and in some cases quite a lot. Now that it can reasonably be run off nitrogen/HPA, it can finally honestly be billed as a reliable paintgun. For this reason alone I highly recommend the new Max-Flow 4500.
Though the Shocker has always had a fairly low starting price, the center-feed 2000-model comes with a slightly higher price tag. Start adding on some of the tastier options and your final cost jumps right up there among the other elite paintguns. Its performance and feature set puts it deservedly in that company.
SIDE BAR: THE MAX-FLOW 4500 PSI NITROGEN SYSTEM
The Max-Flow has always been considered one of the most consistent nitrogen/HPA systems on the market. Its output pressure is very nearly a dead-flat line from full to empty regardless of the output level your gun needs. It provides huge flow for even the hungriest, full-auto paintguns. The fact that it could easily be set up for use with CO2 and provide just as impressive performance with that made it one of the most flexible as well. Notable negatives of the Max-Flow system, unfortunately, have been some sporadic reliability problems, a bulky, awkward regulator, and tanks that could only manage a paltry 3000 psi fill-pressure.
Well, Smart Parts went back to the drawing board to see if they could improve on their nitro-rig and bring it up to current state-of-the-art standards. The result is the Max-Flow 4500, a system much like the older 2nd generation Max-Flow, but smaller and with higher capacity.
To start, they shrank the reg. The large spring pack in front has been approximately halved in size. Sadly, this is the only size savings. Though it looks and feels notably smaller, in reality, it only nips about 1" from the overall length of the system. Frankly, Id hoped that theyd find a way to pack the whole thing into a smaller, more cosmetically appealing package, but this is certainly better than it was.
Replacing the old screw in 3000 psi tanks in 68 ci and 114 ci are new, fixed, 4500 psi tanks in 68 ci and 88 ci. The number of shots available from the new tanks is considerably higher, particularly with the long 88 ci tank which shoulders quite nicely with Smart Parts drop-forward boom.
Youd think that replacing a screw-in tank with a fixed tank would offer size savings in eliminating the old valve and on/off. In fact, it doesnt. Now filling that space is a new on/off valve of the exact same size, but which works exceedingly well, switching completely from on to off in only 1/4 turn. More impressively, it turns easily with your bare fingers, even with a full tank no wrench required. (Take that, Air America!)
In addition, the Max-Flow comes with both output and tank pressure gauges, both low and high pressure springs, and a bottom-line mounting kit. I do have to take issue with the bottom-line mount. You need to take out no fewer than 6 screws and the regulator to remove this system from your gun. This is extremely inconvenient. There is a ton of extra metal at the top of this reg. Why didnt Smart Parts offer a dove-tail mount like Air Americas systems? It would have been much more convenient and allowed people a much broader selection of aftermarket bottom-line mounts. Please, Smart Parts, cut a dove-tail into this reg and make all our lives easier!
This system is particularly easy to use. Adjusting output pressure is as simple as adjusting the tension on the spring at the front of the reg by tightening or loosening the big end cap by hand. The problem with this system is that its virtually impossible to lock down reliably. Its way too easy for an unscrupulous player to adjust this system on the field. Smart Parts really needs to fix this problem.
Despite these problems, I must admit that I really like the Max-Flow. I liked the original 3000 psi system, and I love it in its new, shorter, 4500 psi form. It still offers best-in-the-business consistency, flow, and ease of use, and now adding state-of-the-art capacity.
All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 1999