Bad Boyz Toyzs new center-feed Shocktech Autococker
© Ravi Chopra, 2000
A few months back I wrote an article about the Bad Boyz Toyz Shocktech Autococker. It was the budget level little brother to their no holds barred, top-of-the-line Westwood Autococker. With virtually all of the performance upgrades and a price of only about a thousand dollars it offered a sensible, more budget conscious alternative to the more expensive gun without sacrificing the performance you crave.
Well Bad Boyz Toyz has now upped the ante more than just a little bit. The long awaited Shocktech Autococker with center feed has finally arrived and it's better than ever. No, it's not just a center feed version of the old Shocktech Autococker. It goes several steps further, bringing the equipment up the current state of the arts standards and offering several new options as standard features. Better yet it does all this without jacking the price into the stratosphere.
As always, this review will be broken up into several sections: trigger, pneumatics, internals, accessories and extras, and cosmetics.
Putting together a truly excellent trigger always starts with frame selection. Bad Boyz Toyz is taking advantage of their close relationship with Dave Youngblood Enterprises to include a DYE .45 frame with all of its Shocktech Autocockers. Like every other frame manufacturer in the world, DYE has ripped off the P & P design of including both front and the back vertical guide screws to provide an exceptionally tight, slack free, and smooth trigger pull. Since WGP changed the trigger plates in the 1999 Autococker, there is no more room for a traditional trigger stop screw. I've heard that Bad Boyz Toyz has found a way to install stop screw in the new frames, but as with the old Shocktech Autococker it is not stock equipment, and you may find it an unnecessary added expense.
Possibly the single biggest improvement to the Shocktech Autococker comes in the form of the new WOrr Games chromed trigger plate. In the stock Autococker, the chrome to plate makes for an exceptionally smooth pull. Drop it into the meticulously timed Shocktech Autococker and youve got something really special. In contrast to current popular trends, Bad Boyz Toyz uses the standard oval hole stock plate rather than the round hole STO plate. Like me, they believe that some slack is required around the end of the timing rod to get a trigger that will reliably stay in time over the long term.
The Shocktech timing and spring selection are classic Danny Love. The trigger setup is springy and lively which, when combined with the buttery-smooth chromed trigger plate, makes for an almost sensuous feel. The springing is about medium-heavy. Many people say they want the softest, lightest trigger pull possible. In my experience though, the longer you shoot an Autococker the more you value a strong trigger return to make rapid firing easier. As usual, Danny has timed this trigger with the firing and cocking stages very closely spaced. This short timing gap makes for a snappier feel and reduces the chance of short stroking the trigger and chopping paint. The trigger pull is a near-stock 4.5 mm due to the absence of the trigger stop. Installation of a trigger stop would allow you to shorten this somewhat, but as mentioned will cost you extra. I typically like to have my trigger stopped out shorter, but this did not bother me as a result of the general excellence of the rest of the triggers setup.
It's no secret that I like Bad Boyz Toyz triggers. There's just a certain special something about the way Danny Love tunes, times, and tweaks the Autococker trigger that just feels right in my hands. This gun is no different. All these components are pretty much the same as what were in the previous right-feed Shocktech Autococker. The final piece of the puzzle is really the chromed trigger plate which makes this trigger glide without the hint of grinding you almost always feel in non-plated triggers. The snappy release combined with exceptional smoothness and the springy return resulted in a trigger that I found easy to both snap shoot and get into a rhythm with during rapid fire. Ive since shot a new Westwood with the same chromed trigger and the result is simply out of this world.
Ive always found it amusing how much attention the Autocockers pneumatics get these days. Way back when, when the Earth was young and the Autococker was still undergoing teething pains, the stock WGP front-end was pretty rotten. But much time has passed since then. These days youd be hard pressed to find a real performance difference between the bare-bones stock equipment and the most expensive aftermarket parts. Despite the fact that they make almost no appreciable difference in performance these are often the parts that people replace first.
None the less, if youre spending a lot of money for a custom Autococker you want to know that youre getting quality parts. No surprise, Bad Boyz Toyz uses a selection of conservative, durable, high-quality, performance components to drive their Autocockers.
Regulating the pressure to the front end is paintballs "old reliable," a Palmers Rock regulator with a stainless steel adjustment knob for easy on-field tweaks if you need them. Ive sung the Rocks praises enough times before not to need to repeat them again. Suffice it to say, this reg is the gold standard against which all other regs have and will be judged.
The Rock feeds an old-style, aluminum body STO 4-way valve. This is not the new one-piece STO valve found on the 99 STO. It is the valve from the previous STO that had essentially the same construction as the stock 3-way, but with an anodized aluminum body and a smoother internal action. Danny Love has long been a proponent of the older style 4-ways as being every bit as good as and much more reliable than the new short-throw valves that have become so popular. With the strong trigger-return spring on this gun, having the lightest action is completely irrelevant. Its biggest benefit is totally leak-free reliability; something youll appreciate all the more when you see other players struggling with leaky valves.
The ram comes from the latest STO Autococker, and has become one of my two favorite rams. Its fast and durable, offers a swivel end-nipple, and operates at a lower pressure than smaller diameter rams. Plus, its rebuildable if a seal ever dose fail.
Rounding out the package is the stock stainless pump rod and cut back-block. They work. Nuff said.
No, the Shocktech Autococker does not include the latest, most expensive components up front. Instead, they stick with durable, reliable parts that they know and trust. Believe me, you wont feel cheated. This gun cycles faster than you could ever pull the trigger and you should never have to worry about front-end leaks and reliability problems.
Not surprisingly, Bad Boyz Toyz dips into their own Shocktech parts bins to equip their custom paintguns.
Starting with the beginning of the gas path is the third iteration of the venerable RAT valve, the Shocktech RAT valve 3:16. The "3:16" apparently is some reference to a pro-wrestler. As I dont follow pro-wrestling, youll have to call Bad Boyz Toyz for details if you just cant live without knowing. The latest RAT valve is much like the previous version, but with a couple new innovations. First, theyve started making the valve guide (main body of the valve) from aluminum rather than stainless steel. This reduces the cost significantly and allows them to anodize them in a variety of colors. Color anodizing for a part that disappears completely within the confines of the gun, never to see the light of day again may seem patently absurd, but you just know that there are loons out there who will see one in a display case and say "Cool! Blue!" and buy it because it matches the color of the rest of their parts. Pandering to the lowest common denominator has always been a mainstay of marketing and offering colored valves is a brilliant example of exactly that.
The hole in the top of the valve has been reduced from a gargantuan gash to a round hole that matches the size of the port that leads through the body and up to the bolt. As with the RAT valve II, the seal is an inexpensive and easy to replace plastic ring resting in a recess in the front of the valve guide. The cup seal is still stainless and retains the stem O-ring innovated in the very first RAT valve. Finally, a new groove has been cut around the back side of the valve. After installing the valve, you sandwich a second seal between the jam nut and the back of the valve completely sealing off the back of the valve and providing extra friction to prevent the jam nut from backing out and ruining your gun body.
The bolt is also of Shocktech vintage, being the same Shocktech "Alien" bolt that now appears in all Bad Boyz Toyz custom Autocockers. This bolt has both an angled forward inlet and a three-hole face design that cones out to the business-end of the bolt. Both of these design features have proven to provide less resistance to flow, reduced pressure requirements, and somewhat improved efficiency over standard, open-face bolts when used in low-pressure Autocockers.
Since the stock Autocockers hammer kit has been upgraded to use Nelson style springs and fat lugs, Bad Boyz Toyz has opted to stick with the stock parts since, frankly, none of the aftermarket kits offer any real performance advantage any longer. The springs used are those recommended for and included with the RAT valve 3:16 kit.
The system performance is just as it always has been in Bad Boyz Toyz Autocockers. Consistent and predictable, the center-feed Shocktech Autococker ticked along nicely with an input pressure of 300 psi, turning out 1000-1100 good shots from a full 68 ci, 3000 psi nitrogen system. Go up to a 4500 psi system and youll be looking at well over 1500 shots before your system starts to run dry. You could run it lower by springing it up and turning down the reg, but youd likely reduce efficiency some.
Accessories & Extras
While the trigger is this paintguns major highlight, the number and quality of extras included with the Shocktech Autococker are what will certainly first catch the players eye.
Well start with the center-feed WGP Autococker body. This feed option has become hugely popular for the fact that it lowers and centers the hopper to make the whole gun a smaller target. It also keeps you from hanging the hopper further out to one side than the other so you can play both sides of your cover the same. Note, some people like this and some dont. Make sure to handle a center-feed paintgun to see if it feels right to you before buying. You also wont be able to use most sights with this body. A chromed ball-bearing style detent graces the side of the gun to prevent double feeds.
Guarding the cocking rod at the back of the gun is the ultra-cool Shocktech beavertail. This thing looks cool as hell, but its really too long to prevent anyone from thumbing the rod. Still it will keep the rod from smashing a hole in your goggles. Certainly as good as any beavertail on the market with much cooler looks.
The grip frame is wrapped in the industry standard Hogue rubber grips. Comfy, grippy, no complaints here.
Differentiating it from the right-feed Shocktech Autococker, the center-feed comes standard with a 14" DYE Boomstick 2-stage barrel rather than a plain DYE aluminum. Some people would dispute any claim that the Boomstick shoots better than the standard DYEs. My personal feeling is that the Boomstick may be a bit better with very fragile paint than the standard DYE due to the step half-way down the barrel, but overall range and accuracy arent appreciably different. What cant be disputed is the Boomsticks higher price tag and much more fashionable looks.
Also added for the center-feed is an Air America Vigilante pressure regulator in place of the stock WGP in-line reg. The Vigilante provides a few niceties that the stock reg doesnt have, including easy external adjustment and being very easy to service at the field if a seal goes bad. I seriously doubt theres going to be anyone whos going to complain about this addition.
Finally, and new for this year is the Shocktech gun bag, now included with all Bad Boyz Toyz Shocktech paintguns. This cool, black padded bag is big enough to hold the paintgun with an Air America Armageddon nitro system attached (some other systems will likely be too big to pack in the bag mounted to the gun), and has a sleeve near the top to hold your barrel. It has a zip-top to keep it all sealed up and a pair of handles to make for easy carrying. Its a small addition, but its such a damn cool idea, I just love it.
The Shocktechs cosmetics arent much changed from the right-feed version I reviewed. Theyre still made in batches of ten, each batch with a new, unique milling pattern hand-cut by Danny Love. The thin, shallow, detailed cuts are vintage Danny Love work anyone whos seen it would recognize it immediately. It isnt radical, but its clean, balanced, and in my opinion sharper looking than anyone elses hand-milling.
As before, you can have your Shocktech Autococker in any color you like as long as its gray. The flat gun-metal gray anodizing really brings out the detailed surface work and looks surprisingly nice, even when compared to the rainbow of colors in which other paintguns are available. I imagine that Bad Boyz Toyz would be willing to anodize a Shocktech Autococker in any color or pattern you like, but they use an expensive anodizer so expect to get blasted with a steep price hike if you opt for another color.
The rest of the gun is done out in black and silver. All the front-end pneumatics are anodized black and have clear hoses running between them. All the rods are polished stainless steel or chrome for a uniform look.
Wrapping up the package is a laser-engraved Shocktech logo on the side of the body.
As with every Bad Boyz Toyz paintgun Ive had the chance to shoot, the quality of their cosmetic work is first-rate. Whether you like how it looks or not is a personal decision. The Shocktech Autococker forgoes a flashy, radical look in favor of a clean, aggressive appearance.
The Shocktechs major selling point for me was the trigger. As Ive said many times before, the first thing people either praise or complain about on a paintgun is the trigger. During a game you dont notice how your gun looks or how many holes the bolt has. The trigger is your interface with the paintgun. If it doesnt feel right to you, you wont be happy. For me, the Shocktech strikes the perfect balance between the soft, mushy triggers of some Autocockers and the too-hard snap that others build into theirs. People used to an electropneumatic will probably find it to be stiffer than they like, but long-time Autococker users will likely find it very comfortable and easy to shoot fast.
So we have a new Shocktech Autococker, now with a better trigger, center feed, and a bunch of cool new standard features. Whats the cost? Surprisingly, not much more than it was before. The price of the right-feed Shocktech has been cut $100 to $900 and the center-feed has been set at $1100. Given that that extra $200 buys you center-feed, a Boomstick upgrade, and a Uni-Reg upgrade, I feel it is a good value in comparison to the less expensive right-feed Shocktech.
On the other hand, other custom Autocockers are available in center feed for under $1000. Is it worth it? Well, it depends on your personal tastes and bias. Bad Boyz Toyz has never been interested in being a price leader. They sell their product based on their good name and reputation. Few people have the name recognition and reputation of Danny Love in the world of Autococker customization. Also, I think youll find very few of these less expensive competitors carry big-ticket upgrades like the Boomstick and Air America reg. If these things are important to you, you likely wont complain about the price difference. If not, Id still recommend trying to get you hands on one for a few test shots. I think you should always try to shoot a paintgun to make sure you like how it feels before making the decision to buy. This one impressed me enough to recommend demoing for anyone if its within your means.
All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 1999