© Ravi Chopra, 1998
Those of you who bought the June 98 issue of PGI got to read my article on Bad Boyz Toyzs Westwood-milled Autococker. Those of you who missed it can find a copy here. The Westwood is Bad Boyz Toyzs top-of-the-line signature gun. It offers superb performance and gorgeous looks, but at a price tag that would intimidate anyone who didnt pull down a CEOs salary.
Realizing that people of lesser means need Autocockers too, Bad Boyz Toyz has come out with a line of "budget" Autocockers under their Shocktech brand name. Dont be fooled, though. This is no el-cheapo knock-off meant to ride the coat tails of their flagship products. As with all Bad Boyz Toyz custom paintguns, the Shocktech Autococker is designed, built, timed, and tuned by the Dalai Lama of Autocockers; Danny Love. The Shocktech cocker is designed to be a fully-loaded tournament-prepped gun at a price that doesnt require a second mortgage. At $999 U.S. it is far from cheap, but it does undercut the similarly equipped Westwood by $750. As such, questions naturally arise. How good is it? How does it compare to the Westwood? Is it good enough to make the Westwood nothing more than an exercise in reckless spending? These questions and more will be answered herein.
Those of you who have read my previous Autococker review articles will likely be stunned to find that I have broken this review down into sections to cover individual aspects of the Autococker: trigger, pneumatics (components that pump the gun), internals (components that deliver air to the paintball), accessories and extras, and cosmetics.
As Ive stated countless articles before this, the trigger is a key component that is absolutely crucial for the player to be happy with his paintgun. Since it is built and tuned by the same guy, it should come as no surprise that the Shocktech Autocockers trigger shares many characteristics with the Westwoods superb pull.
The Shocktechs trigger system starts with the superb P&P .45-style grip frame. As with all other .45 frames, the P&P frame comes with holes pre-drilled for both the trigger guide (which eliminates vertical trigger-slack) and trigger-stop (which allows you to shorten the trigger-pull by limiting backward travel). The P&P frame takes it a step further by adding a second guide screw hole below the back of the trigger plate. The point of this second guide screw is to lift the back of the trigger plate to take out the last of the vertical and rotational trigger slack which can lead to binding and timing changes in finely tuned triggers. Danny Love used to correct this problem by bending up the back of the trigger plate, but the guide screw is a far more elegant solution.
In the Shocktech, Danny utilizes both the front and back guide screws to level the trigger plate and eliminate all vertical and rotational slack. The back guide screw (which you can not see from the outside of the gun) has a small Teflon insert in its side to prevent its backing out over time. Curiously, though the hole comes pre-drilled and tapped in the P&P frame, no trigger stop screw is installed. The part itself is a 20 cent screw that you can find at just about any hardware store, but it does require someone with a little knowledge to install it to work properly with the rest of the trigger. This is not a huge omission, but it does differentiate the Shocktech from the Westwood.
Rounding out the trigger assembly is a LAPCO threaded timing rod (still the best there is) connecting the trigger to an exceptionally smooth STO 4-way valve. Unlike the Westwood, Danny does not hammer the end of the threaded rod flat. This leaves a stock-like gap between the beginning of the trigger pull and switching of the 4-way valve. The result is a slightly longer trigger pull.
I had something of a revelation when I was reviewing the trigger on this gun. Anyone who has shot a lot of different aftermarket Autocockers has probably noticed that there are two very general classes of trigger feel. Type-A Autocockers have a long, smooth, gliding trigger feel. They invite rhythm firing and riding the trigger to get fast fire rates. Autocockers that fall into this category are the WGP guns (both the stock and STO Autocockers), P&P Supercockers, Evolution Autocockers, and offerings from Boston Paintball Supply. Type-B Autocockers have a shorter, snappier feel that appeals to people who prefer to tap the trigger rather than riding it when rapid firing. Bad Boyz Toyz Autocockers always fall into this second category.
For the longest while, I thought that the big difference between these two trigger types was just the length of the trigger pull. Type-A cockers always had trigger pulls in the 4-5 mm range (the stock cocker has a 5 mm pull). Type-B cockers always seemed to have very short trigger pulls in the 3-3.5 mm range. The Shocktech, like all other Bad Boyz Toyz cockers Ive had opportunity to shoot, has a Type-B feel. It has a short, crisp trigger-pull that feels like its set on rails. Imagine my surprise when I actually measured it and found it to be 4.5 mm long!
As it turns out, the difference that really accounts for the difference in feel between Type-A and Type-B trigger feels is the spacing between the sear release (which fires the paintball) and the switching of the 4-way valve (which begins the autococking cycle). Type-A Autocockers have a wide spacing between the two stages. It is a conservative way to time the gun leaving no blowback whatsoever, but making it easier to short-stroke the gun and necessitating a longer trigger pull. Danny Love times the gun with these two stages set very close such that there is almost no room for short stroking.
In the case of the Shocktech where the timing rod isnt flattened, it forces the cocking point of the trigger pull back from where Danny would normally set it. To keep the feel of the trigger pull the same, he pushes the firing point back a similar amount such that there is a bit more dead space early in the trigger pull but the spacing of the two trigger events remains the same. The result is that the trigger still ends up feeling short, snappy, and fast despite being 50% longer than that of the 3 mm Westwood pull. It also adds a certain bit in terms of long-term reliability since the sear is catching a greater length of lug.
Astute readers will have noticed something a little bit strange in my description. The stock Autocockers trigger pull is 5 mm, while the unstopped Shocktech is only 4.5 mm. I found this strange myself and actually initially thought that a trigger-stop had been installed in the Shocktech that had been sent to me. When I took a closer look, I could see that in fact it had not. The answer lies in the STO 4-way valve, which limits backward travel of the valve piston earlier than the stock valve. Coupled with the shortening through timing rod adjustments, the 4-way actually bottoms out when the trigger reaches 4.5 mm and itself acts as sort of a trigger stop that cuts 0.5 mm off the triggers maximum travel.
The Shocktechs trigger is not as short or ultimately refined as that of the Westwood. Nevertheless, with the .45 frame and guide screws eliminating all slack, the trigger pull had a wonderfully tight and slop-free action. If youre the kind who prefers the short and snappy feel of a closely timed Autococker, the Shocktech will definitely not disappoint. As the kind of person who absolutely loves this kind of trigger-pull, I really had fun shooting it. It is really only revealed to be less than the absolute best it could be when compared to the gun that really is.
The Shocktech Autocockers pneumatic system incorporates some old friends and a few new surprises that I have not been accustomed to seeing on Bad Boyz Toyz cockers.
As always the system is driven by Palmers still-industry-standard Rock regulator. As the oldest aftermarket Autococker reg on the market it is a testament to the excellence of its design that it continues to be the most popular regulator as well, still making regular appearances on many of the best tournament Autocockers. With the stainless steel adjusting knob that Bad Boyz Toyz adds, the Rock is easy to set and provides unbeaten consistency.
In a development that I found a bit surprising, an STO 4-way and ram complete the front-end gadgetry. The STO 4-way is a nice replacement, offering smooth action without having to polish it out and match parts as they used to do with the stock brass valve. The aluminum construction also allows it to be anodized.
The STO ram was a somewhat bigger surprise given Bad Boyz Toyzs long history of using Clippard rams on their top-end guns. I asked Danny about this and he indicated that he had been having problems with Clippards wearing out quickly and that the STOs provided similar performance, but with greater durability. The reason for this is because of the way he times the Autococker. Rather than using the cocking rod length to limit the blocks backward movement, he prefers to screw the block on further and use the rams back-stop as the limit for block backward travel. By doing this, he can minimize wear on the sear lug by setting it such that the hammer is only pulled back just far enough to catch the sear. The trade-off is that the rams piston crashes into its own back-stop with every cycle of the gun. Any ram that isnt up to this kind of punishment isnt going to fare well. The STO ram is much more durable and rebuildable to boot.
Both the back-block and pump-rod are 98 Autococker stock. The rod is standard polished stainless and the back block is the standard cut block. Neither is particularly special, but upgrading these parts really does nothing for performance, so this was a very good place to save costs.
As with most cockers in this price range, the Shocktech has fully-upgraded pneumatics. Thought has clearly been given in selecting the parts used to maximize both performance and reliability. In short, you wont find anything to criticize here.
The hammer kit in the Shocktech is the Pro-Hammer kit. Before this, the old stock hammer, velocity adjuster, and main spring were among the first things to be pitched in favor of an aftermarket Nelson spring kit which allowed for custom springing, low pressure setups, and smoother, softer trigger pulls. The Pro-Hammer kit, which was formerly only found on the upscale STO Autococker, takes Nelson style springs. Better yet, it is now stock equipment on all 98 Autocockers so this wonderful improvement comes at no extra cost, helping keep the price of the Shocktech down.
The Pro-Hammer kit differs from aftermarket Nelson kits in a couple ways. First, the velocity adjusting screw now threads directly into the gun body rather than into a sleeve inserted into the lower gun body. Second, virtually all aftermarket Nelson kits have a retaining screw in the side of the hammer which helps keep the lug held firmly in place so it cant work its way in or out. The Pro-Hammer kit still does not have a retaining screw, making it more likely that the gun will fall out of time with extended use. Fortunately, Danny Love drills the hammer and installs the screw himself. Reliability is maintained, costs are minimized, everyone wins.
Stock 98s also now come with the hole for external sear-lug adjustment pre-drilled: a huge improvement making it much easier to time the gun if small adjustments ever need to be made.
The 98 Autococker body also comes with a dramatically enlarged valve chamber allowing considerably lower operating pressures.
The valve that comes in the Shocktech is Bad Boyz Toyzs own high efficiency RAT valve II, sequel to the hugely popular original RAT valve which created the market for aftermarket Autococker valves. This valve is manufactured entirely from stainless steel for better durability. Like the original RAT valve, the RAT II has an o-ring around the valve stem to prevent air loss back into the gun body. In addition, it is ported wide open for extremely free flow. In a unique and nifty innovation the valve seal is a small plastic disc that sits in the valve body, is reversible, and costs only about $2 to replace if it ever goes bad.
The bolt theyre putting in the Shocktech is O.T.P.s latest venturi bolt. It is a 7 hole design (6 around the edge and one in the middle) and has a big entrance hole and chamber reminiscent of the Evolution bolt. It is hollowed out for extremely light-weight and is tapped in back to accept an Evolution pull-pin retention system should you choose to install it. This was not installed in the Shocktechs bolt and a standard stainless steel quick-pull pin held it in place.
The performance of the Shocktechs internals was exceptional. The gun chronoed 300 fps with an input pressure of only 330 psi very impressive coming from Danny Love who puts very little stock in the low pressure fad and doesnt go to any efforts in trying to achieve low pressure operation. As with the Westwood-milled Autococker from Bad Boyz Toyz, I was getting 1000-1200 good shots from a 68 ci, 3000 psi Max-Flow nitrogen system with velocity consistency that stayed within a 7 or 8 fps range.
Accessories and Extras
Even a budget tournament gun comes with a bevy of accessories and extras. Naturally, the Shocktech Autococker included all of the stock accessories: ball-bearing detent to prevent double-feeds, beavertail (though they do install a nicer looking P&P part rather than the rather bland stock tail), and WGP regulator to which they have added a chromed elbow and quick disconnect nipple. Though the WGP reg is not the best regulator on the market (the lack of external adjustment is particularly irritating), it is far less expensive than adding a Stabilizer or Uni-Reg and is itself a competent performer. Including an external regulator like the WGP is absolutely crucial for the Shocktech given its low operating pressure. This cocker would not run happily on straight, unregulated CO2.
The P&P .45 frame mentioned earlier not only improves the trigger significantly, but is also more comfortable and is felt by some to "point" better than the stock frame promoting better aim. The Hogue wraparound grips, which are installed in leu of the standard plastic side panels, are more comfortable and much easier to grip.
One less known but not-uncommon problem with the stock Autococker deals with the valve retention nut. This is an inverted nut that threads into the gun body behind the valve and helps hold it in place. Over time, this nut can work loose and gets smashed around between the hammer and valve, resulting in huge velocity swings and destroying the threads it is supposed to screw into. Danny Love mills a groove around the outside of this nut for an o-ring which, when installed, holds it firmly in place and prevents this problem from occurring.
An aluminum DYE barrel is also included with the Shocktech as standard equipment. Contrary to what many people seem to think, aluminum DYEs shoot just as well as their stainless counterparts, are considerably less expensive, and most importantly tip the scales at a much lower weight.
Finally, the Shocktech will soon be offered with center-feed as an option. Center feed is great, but youll want to think twice before jumping on that bandwagon. It comes at a steep $200 premium over and above the standard $999 of the right-feed Shocktech.
If someone were building a tournament Autococker that professed to provide all of the performance upgrades at a reasonable price, youd expect them to keep the price down by skimping on cosmetic niceties. Though it isnt as radical as the Westwood, Twister, or other megabuck Autocockers, the Shocktech certainly doesnt pull any punches either.
To start, Shocktech Autocockers are built in identical batches of 15. When they start a new batch, they change the milling pattern slightly so the new batch of guns are unique, but maintain a family resemblance to other Shocktechs. Eschewing the current popularity of CNC milling, all millwork on Shocktech Autocockers is hand-done by Danny Love. This is stretching into the realm of personal preference, but I have seen a lot of custom-milled Autocockers, and no one but no one does surface millwork that is as clean, sharp, and detailed as Danny Love. The Shocktechs millwork is not as elaborate as that seen on over-$1000 custom guns that Danny builds, but the exceptional quality of the work is still abundantly evident.
Over the handsomely-milled body is a satin-anodized finish that you can have in any color you like, as long as its gray. Thats right, satin gray is the only finish in which Shocktechs are available. You can custom-order one in another color if you like, but the cost will be higher and it will not have the cool Shocktech logo laser engraved in front of the ball detent. You probably will not be unhappy with the standard finish anyhow. The satin gray really does look sharp and beautifully brings out the excellent millwork.
Rounding out the chrome and steel highlights look are a stainless steel ball detent, and a chromed front-block screw and trigger-shoe. The Rock was anodized black, while the STO 4-way and ram were anodized bright red. The front end is covered by the stock slotted shroud with a small hole cut in the front to let the Rock knob peek out.
Though not as far-out as some, the Shocktech has a sharp and handsome look that still turned heads at the field and had people asking who made it.
Perhaps it was just the aligning of the planets, but this gun shot like an absolute dream. I was shooting 4 month old Pro-ball platinum and egg-shaped Zap tequila sunrise. I expected to have a lot of breaks and terrible accuracy. Surprisingly, nothing broke in the gun and it all flew as straight as an arrow.
As with the Westwood, the Shocktech Autococker is just fun to shoot. The trigger feels light and fast. It isnt quite as easy to shoot fast given its slightly longer trigger pull, but the difference is really more an issue of degree than deficit.
All the parts are here for a top-flight tournament Autococker. As assembled, they form a very impressive paintgun. Very few people would be genuinely dissatisfied with how this Autococker shoots, looks, and feels.
Is it worth the price of entry? Thats a difficult question to answer. Even thought it falls far short of the staggering prices of the most expensive Autocockers available, $999 is still a lot of money. Whether any paintgun is worth that much is a question that only you can answer for yourself. What I can say is that, compared to other fully-loaded tournament Autocockers on the market, the Shocktech offers a huge amount of value and performance for the money. If you are in the market for a cocker in this price range, youd be remiss in not considering the Shocktech. It may be the most complete tournament Autococker at this price level.
Does the Shocktech Autococker knock its Bad Boyz Toyz big brother, the Westwood-milled Autococker, off its lofty pedestal? This is another very difficult question. As far as pure performance is concerned, the Shocktech is very comparable to the Westwood. Remember though; the Westwood offers center feed, a wire-nubbin detent (on request), an even shorter and more refined trigger, much more elaborate millwork, the splash or fade anodizing of your choice, titanium rods, and a Uni-Reg for the extra $750 it commands. Whether or not those features are worth the extra money is, again, something that only you can decide for yourself.
All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 1999