© Ravi Chopra, 1998
Despite the fact that it is one of the oldest semi-automatic paintgun designs on the market, the W´Orr Game Products Autococker remains one of the most popular and well-regarded tournament-level paintguns on the market. The Autococker´s longevity stems largely from the fact that the ´gun has been the benefactor of a steady stream of improvements, first to its reliability (which was appalling when the ´gun first hit the market), and then to it´s performance. Most of these improvements were brought to players by aftermarket airsmiths and shops who custom-tuned the ´guns for tournament players who required the ultimate in performance, regardless of the cost. These shops were few and far between and had legendary reputations.
These days, of course, everyone with the means to run an ad in a paintball magazine has his own "signature series" Autococker. With so many shops building custom Autocockers to order, it has become increasingly difficult for shops to build a reputation associated with their ´guns on the field. In response to this, several shops have begun building custom ´cockers with a very specific and unique custom appearance that only their ´guns have. Perhaps the most extreme example of this is the Boston Paintball Supply Twister Series Autococker. As with most Autocockers of this type, it comes with a similarly extreme price tag of $1549.95 as tested.
Boston Paintball Supply had already built a pretty good reputation with their Express Cocker, their former top-of-the-line custom Autococker. The Twister is nothing more than an Express Cocker with their special Twister millwork.
One important thing to remember is that all Boston Paintball Supply Autocockers are built to order to the buyer´s specifications. You can have the ´gun built with any combination of components that your heart desires. The specific ´gun I tested was custom built to the specifications of a player who could not pay the balance due. As such, it is important to remember that a different Twister, built to different specifications may not perform identically. Never the less, many characteristics of this ´gun will be common to all Autocockers that come out of Boston Paintball Supply. I´ll try to be as specific and detailed as possible in describing those things that you could have built differently if you so choose.
In my review of the Twister Autococker, I have broken it down into systems: trigger, autococking system, internals, accessories & extras, cosmetics.
Boston Paintball Supply goes quite a bit further than most other shops in tricking out and tuning the triggers of it´s Autocockers. In addition to extensive custom tuning, timing, and polishing, virtually every component of the trigger-system is replaced by custom parts.
They start by installing a 45-style grip frame, an option which on its own tends to lead to a smoother trigger pull. On the Twister I reviewed, the guard was cut off and a double-finger trigger-shoe was installed. Boston Paintball Supply installs their own custom trigger and sear plates which are wider than stock plates so they fit the slot in the grip frame with less lateral slack. Also taking up trigger slack is a vertical set screw beneath the front of the trigger-plate to take up up-and-down slack in the trigger. Most impressive was a small trigger-tweak I´ve only seen before in Bad Boyz Toyz Autocockers - a small bend in the trigger-plate itself that eliminates virtually all vertical slack in the trigger´s action. It only works with 45-style frames, but when it´s done properly it does more to smooth out the action of a double-finger-trigger on an Autococker than any other modification. Rounding out the trigger and related components is a trigger-stop, custom springing, and a custom threaded timing rod of their own manufacture.
The first thing I noticed about the Twister´s trigger was that it is extremely soft. I have never felt an Autococker´s trigger that was as lightly sprung as this one. In fact, I didn´t think it was possible to spring a ´cocker´s trigger this lightly without running into reliability problems. Understanding just how impressive this is requires a little explanation, so please bear with me here.
Two springs go into returning an Autococker trigger: the trigger-return spring, and the sear return spring. The trigger-return spring not only pushes the trigger back to it´s starting position, it also has to supply the return force for the timing rod to close the 4-way valve and complete the autococking cycle. To use a very soft trigger-return spring, you need an extremely well polished 4-way valve and a low autococking system pressure so the trigger does not stick back when released. The difficulty with polishing a 4-way valve this much is that the piston o-rings no longer fit tightly against the valve walls and any small twisting of the piston from a perfectly centered position leads to leaks. Most threaded timing rods (which couple the trigger to the 4-way valve) do not thread tightly into their collars so when you tighten down the set screw to fix it in place the assembly kinks slightly at the junction between the rod and collar. This kinking twists the 4-way valve shaft off-center and your well-polished 4-way begins to leak. The secret to the Twister´s success is the timing rod which they machine to much higher tolerances than most other threaded rods and does not kink when the set screw is tightened.
The sear-return spring supplies the force to push the sear back up to catch the sear-lug sticking out of the bottom of the hammer. If the sear return spring is too soft the hammer will slip over the sear during the return stage of the cycle leading to double-firing. Using a soft sear-return spring requires using a very soft mainspring (the spring that pushes the hammer forward). Using a soft mainspring while still getting sufficient velocity requires a delicate balance of valve tuning and springing. It sounds simple, but getting it to actually work reliably is a difficult business.
Of course meticulous polishing of all the trigger components contributed to the very light trigger as well. It is a testament to Boston Paintball Supply´s airsmithing that in a trigger this light, I didn´t experience any binding or double-firing. It was extremely reliable.
The timing of the trigger was very conservative. As you probably know, the Autococker´s trigger has two steps. In the first part of the trigger pull, the hammer is released and the ´gun fires. In the second part, the timing rod is pulled back, the 4-way valve is switched, and the ´gun cocks. In the Twister, these two steps are spaced rather far apart resulting in a 5mm trigger pull; about the same length as a stock Autococker. Setting the trigger up like this helps minimize blow-back, but it also makes it possible to short-stroke the trigger; a condition where you pull the trigger far enough to fire the ´gun but not far enough to initiate (or to only partially initiate) the cocking cycle. Widely spaced timing like this is also found in other top-level Autocockers like the Evolution. The difference is that the Evolution's trigger is sprung more heavily so the force required to pull the trigger forces you to carry it straight through the entire cycle. The Twister's very light springing has the unfortunate side-effect of potentiating short stroking if you aren't careful to pull the trigger all the way back with each shot. During extended rapid fire or near the end of a long day of paintball when my fingers started to fatigue I found that I had a tendency to not complete the trigger pull, short-stroke, and get dropped shots and frustrating chopped balls in the breech. It is important to remember that this is not a defect or flaw in the Twister. Making sure to pull the trigger completely back with each shot completely eliminates this problem.
I knew that I could minimize the potential for short-stroking by moving the cocking part of the cycle forward with a small adjustment to the timing rod. After getting permission from Boston Paintball Supply's airsmith (Lappy), I attempted to adjust the rod to do just that. Unfortunately, I ran into the one flaw in the threaded rod. It's about 2mm too long to allow a full range of adjustment and was already at it's shortest limit. This is easy to fix by nipping 2mm off its threaded end (I've successfully done this with my own Autococker), but I wasn't about to do that to this very expensive loaner 'gun. I wrote Lappy again with my experiences and he assured me that since each 'gun is built to order, you can order your 'gun with as long, short, stiff, or soft a trigger as you like.
In conclusion, the Twister's trigger is quite impressive and will very likely appeal to a lot of players out there. Its pull is softer and easier than that of any other Autococker I've ever shot, and it is very nearly as smooth as my reference Evolution and Bad Boyz Toyz Autocockers. My only complaint about it is that the combination of a long pull and soft springing makes it entirely too easy to short stroke.
The Twister comes with a fully upgraded autococking system.
The 4-way is a Custom Performance valve with a stainless steel shaft. As I mentioned above, it is meticulously polished and extremely smooth, yet does not leak.
The ram is a standard brass Clippard pneumatic cylinder. Though newer polished stock rams have closed the performance gap somewhat, I still feel that Clippard rams offer slightly faster cycling times.
Boston Paintball has chosen the ANS Jackhammer regulator for this Twister. Though it has not been around as long as Palmer's Rock regulator, it has developed an extremely good reputation for reliability, performance, and the ability to rebuild it at the field if it develops problems.
As a final touch to lighten the weight of the system, the back block has been not just cut, but milled away to almost nothing. In accordance with current trends, the pump rod is made from super light-weight titanium.
Though it doesn't break any new ground, the Autococking components of the Twister Autococker are up to current state-of-the-art levels and work extremely well. The 'gun was easily able to cycle as fast as I could pull the trigger and I experienced no problems associated with any of it's autococking components.
Much like the Autococking components, the Twister´s internals are fully upgraded, tournament-level components. Anyone with any familiarity with Autococker internals knows that there are countless options for each of these parts, so if these don´t strike your fancy, you can specify any other brand for your own ´gun.
To start, they installed a Boston Paintball Supply custom hammer kit, a pretty standard Nelson-style spring/hammer/velocity adjuster kit. The ´gun body was drilled for external sear adjustment and the hammer was tapped for the fat sear lugs that have become commonplace in high-end trigger-jobs.
The valve was a W´Orr Games Turbo Valve. While this valve worked just fine, I´ve come to expect one of the new generation of high-efficiency, low pressure valves like the Bad Boyz Toyz RAT, Bob Long, or Tornado valve in top-dollar tournament Autocockers.
The bolt was as specified by the person who ordered the ´gun was an Evolution Bolt by Belsales. Twisters typically come with the OTP Slingshot bolt. Naturally, you can choose to have any bolt you like included in the Twister when it´s built.
As it was set-up, the Twister I reviewed ran quite happily at 500 psi, easily getting 290 fps velocities with the tight bore (0.697") LAPCO barrels I used with it. Velocity consistency was acceptable, staying stable within a 15 fps range. The only time I had velocity consistency problems was at a tournament where the paint was of very poor quality (dimpled and oval) it was extremely cold. Efficiency was also acceptable, giving me 800-1000 usable shots from a 3000 psi, 68 ci Max-Flow nitrogen system (no second-stage regulation).
The internals´ performance was acceptable overall, but my experience with other Autocockers leads me to believe that installation of a high-performance aftermarket valve would have improved performance somewhat by lowering the operating pressure and improving efficiency.
ACCESSORIES & EXTRAS
As would be expected of a paintgun with this enormous a price tag, the Twister Series Autococker comes with a full range of accessories and other niceties to round the package out.
This specific Twister was built from a left-feed Autococker. Not all Twisters come with left-feed bodies, but it´s availability does accentuate the fact that this is a custom ´gun which you can have built almost any way you like.
As I mentioned in the Trigger section above, the Twister comes with a .45-style grip frame. In addition to the benefits it provides with respect to the trigger-pull, many players (myself included) feel that 45-frames point better and help improve aim. This Twister came with the very popular Hogue rubber grips, though Smart Parts grips are available as an option.
The ball-detent is a chromed version of the standard ball-bearing detent. This is now the standard detent that comes stock on all Autocockers. It works just fine at keeping paintballs from double feeding. My only problem with this particular style of detent is that it has a tendency to jam up with paint over time. Unfortunately, the only symptom of this jamming is that you start chopping paint; something that could be caused by any of a host of different problems. Fortunately, this problem is easy to fix by either cleaning or replacing this inexpensive part. Since this was a new ´gun that I tested, I did not experience any problems with the detent.
There is one notable and important omission from the basic Twister package: a barrel. The pictures accompanying this article show it with my 10.5" stainless steel LAPCO barrel which shot very well and matched the all-chromed front-end components nicely. While several barrels are available from Boston Paintball Supply with the Twister (they recommend a DYE or BOA Express barrel) they will cost you extra over and above the already exorbitant price of the paintgun alone.
Let´s face it, cosmetics are the real story with this ´gun. If you were interested in performance alone, you´d look at the much less expensive Express Cocker with all the performance work but no custom milling or anodizing . The Twister´s big selling point is it´s wild and unique millwork. Naturally, I can´t tell you if you´ll like the cosmetics of this ´gun or not, but I can tell you how good the quality of work is.
So let´s start with a look at the milling. This is, by no small margin, the most severely milled-down to the bare-bones minimum Autococker I´ve ever seen. Boston Paintball Supply removes virtually every bit of metal that isn´t absolutely required to keep the ´gun in one piece. Just pull back the block to see just how thin-walled the remains of this ´gun are. This Autococker is so seriously thinned-down, it has raised questions as to it´s remaining structural integrity. Despite these people´s fears, I have not heard of any cases where a Twister Autococker has broken in half. When I played with it, though I didn´t exactly use it to drive nails, neither did I pack it in cotton before a game. Though the Twister clearly does have much less mechanical strength than a stock Autococker, I really do not believe that this ´gun is likely to break under normal paintball conditions.
The milling spirals around the Twister, looking very much like a wet towel that has been wrung-out. This pattern extends back into the block, down into the vertical adapter, and forward into the front-block. It also continues smoothly between the upper and lower body sections, and between the sight-rail and upper body. What is particularly impressive is how they´ve matched the grooves between parts, spiraling smoothly from the back block to the main body to the front-block. They even milled the back-block to match the diameter of the bolt-retaining pin precisely. One detail that I really liked is that they did all of this without cutting windows that expose the internals to fouling by dirt or other debris. Boston Paintball Supply claims that, in addition to the 5 hours spent assembling and testing each Express Cocker, the Twister spends an extra 8 hours being sculpted on the mill. It shows. The millwork on this ´gun really is beautifully done. Even the few people who didn´t like the look had to admit that it was an impressive bit of work.
The Twister I reviewed was ordered by someone who is clearly in desperate need of a color wheel. The red with blue splash pattern that this Twister was decked out with was almost universally derided as one butt-ugly pair of color choices. Fortunately, Twisters are available in essentially any splash, fade, or solid-color anodizing pattern you like. If you have access to the internet, you can surf over to Boston Paintball Supply´s web site and check out some Twisters in much cooler splash colors and fades.
The quality of the anodizing was good, but not the best I´ve ever seen. It was very even and smooth over the surface of the ´gun, not pooling or thinning in any areas. It also didn´t scratch or lose its luster during the time I had it. It did seem rather thin, not quite living up to the deep, enamel-like anodizing found on Evolution Autocockers sold by Smart Parts. I´m guessing that the thinner anodizing is intentional, though. The grooves and ridges in the Twister´s millwork present quite a challenge to the anodizer. Any pooling or other unevenness in the anodizing would be immediately obvious on this ´gun. A thin, even anodization looks very good without marring the very elaborate millwork.
Rounding out the cosmetic package is a full set of silver-colored parts. The ball detent, Clippard-ram, Jackhammer regulator, and 4-way valve are all chrome plated. The pump-rod is titanium. The cocking rod and threaded timing rod are both stainless steel. Even the low-pressure hoses are clear. Apart from the grips, every part of this ´gun is either chromed or anodized.
Let´s face it, $1549.95 is a whole cart load of cash for a paintgun that doesn´t include a nitrogen system, secondary regulator, or even a barrel. Is it really worth it? Well, it depends on what you want.
The Twister clearly has all of the performance credentials you would expect. It has virtually every performance upgrade you could ask for, and if you don´t like what was built into this ´gun you can request whatever parts suit your fancy. More importantly, all of the parts are integrated very well. This Twister functioned flawlessly the entire time I used it. My only real complaints were with the choice of valve that went into this ´gun, and with the lightness and length of the trigger which I felt potentate short-stroking. Both of these can be easily changed by Boston Paintball Supply at the player´s request. As a performance paintgun, the Twister is quite impressive and deserves to be considered among the top Autocockers currently available. Naturally, it is up to each player to determine whether this ´gun´s characteristics suits his or her tastes and style of play. Never the less, there are very few players who are going to find performance to be a reason not to buy this ´gun.
The cosmetic work is the most extreme and technically impressive I´ve ever seen. What people think of it is another matter entirely. Some people love the look, others feel nervous about how fragile it looks, others just don´t like the style. Ultimately it comes down to just how much you like the Twister´s cosmetics that determines whether or not it´s worth your $1550.
1998 model Twister Autocockers now come with a few new features that were not available on the Twister that I reviewed. First, the Twister now comes in a new twist pattern that starts in the middle and expands out towards the ends of 'gun creating a seashell effect. Second, the Twister now comes with the exceptional new ShockTech RAT Valve II which should improve efficiency and reduce the input pressure requirements. Finally, increased production runs have allowed them to reduce the price by $200 to $1299 - still expensive, but a better deal now.
All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 1999