© Ravi Chopra, 1997
If a list was made of the most important and influential paintguns in the history of the sport, Glenn Palmer's custom semi-automatic markers would certainly occupy one of the top spots. His semi-automatic rifle, the Hurricane, was the first commercially successful semi to hit the market, and a closed-bolt design to boot. The same automation system was later modified to fit a pistol-grip paintgun in the Stroker (a semi-automatic conversion of a Sheridan pump-gun) and Typhoon (a ground-up hand-built semi-automatic pistol). This is essentially the same automation system that Budd Orr ultimately bolted onto the WGP Sniper pump-gun to turn it into hugely popular Autococker. Quite an impressive pedigree.
Now that Glenn is gearing up to produce the next generation Palmer semi-automatic (the Blazer), I thought I'd take a look at the latest Typhoon technology that Palmers is putting out. Glenn was kind enough to send me a new stock back-bottle Typhoon (s/n P1020) and a no-holds-barred, highly modified so called "Classic Series" Typhoon (s/n P1400) to review.
The Typhoon has always been a very exclusive paintgun. Not only is it relatively expensive out of the box ($500 and up, depending on options), but it is made in very small numbers (Glenn has recently estimated something on the order of 2000 Typhoons have been built to date). Adding to its exclusivity is the fact that every Typhoon is hand-built from the ground up. The 'gun is so rare that in some areas of the country, people have never even heard of, much less seen a Typhoon. In others, Palmer semis have garnered an almost religious following and are eagerly sought after by discriminating players who know their advantages.
Options and Features
To start, the Typhoon is available in several configurations. Air options include back-bottle, vertical, bottom-line, and dual tank ASAs. The barrel is usually 11" long, but since each 'gun is hand-built to order you can really have any length you like. Spiral end-venting is also available if you so choose. Most Typhoons come with fixed barrels, but if you really feel a need for exchangeable barrels, Bad Boyz Toyz distributes a removable-barrel variant of the Typhoon.
Every Typhoon comes with a host of impressive features. Comfortable battle-grips wrap each trigger-frame. All Typhoons come with a beautiful matte-nickel finish, a built-in sight rail, a ball-detent (anti-double-feed mechanism), and a "wedgit" to prevent small-paint roll-out. This 'gun also has the fastest quick-strip system in existence. All Typhoon barrels are match-honed for optimal performance (more on this later).
The Typhoon is, like the Autococker, basically just an automated pump-gun that fires from a closed-bolt position.
The trigger has two operational steps. The first part of the pull releases a spring-loaded hammer which strikes a valve, opening it, and allowing a burst of air through the 'gun to fire a paintball. The second half of the trigger-pull switches a 4-way valve housed in the grip frame. When this valve is switched, gas is delivered to the front of a pneumatic cylinder (the "ram") on the left side of the 'gun. The ram's piston moves back, drawing the bolt and hammer with it. When the bolt is drawn back, a new paintball can feed into the breech. When the trigger is released, the 4-way valve in the grip is switched back, sending gas to the back of the ram which moves forward, drawing the bolt forward into the closed position. The hammer, having caught the sear, stays retracted against its spring.
If this is too confusing, you can find a full description as to how this system works in my article on semi-auto systems that appeared in Action Pursuit Games, October, 1996, and the correction that appeared in APG, December 1996. You can also find it at my web page (http://www.paintballravi.com/index.html).
The stock Typhoon has changed surprisingly little in the years since it first hit the market. In fact, if you were to put one of the first Typhoons made next to one of the newest being built today, there are very few clues (other than the serial number) that would allow you to differentiate one from the other. Some small changes have been made to the regulator for the autococking system to improve it's consistency. The valve has been modified for improved performance with its barrel. The trigger-pull has been shortened marginally. A small raised ring called the "wedgit" has been installed in the barrel to prevent small-paint roll-out. Most of these are relatively minor performance tune-ups. That the Typhoon has remained so popular after so long is quite a testament to its design.
One of the first things you notice about the Typhoon is it's weight. With virtually all-brass construction, the 'gun is heavier than it looks. That is not to say that it is cumbersome. Rather, the weight acts to stabilize the 'gun without bogging you down with excess weight. With a 20 oz. tank the 'gun is very nicely balanced, and with the battle-grips it points EXTREMELY well.
The trigger on the other hand is quite heavy. This is one of the most common complaints about the Typhoon. In these days when most people seem to equate high-performance with high rate-of-fire, the Typhoon feels almost antiquated. It CAN be fired very quickly, but the trigger-pull is very heavy and long when compared to other top paintguns on the market. What this means is that you will have to exercise your finger and grow accustomed to the trigger before you are able to lay down fast strings of paint with the Automags and Autocockers that you run into on the field.
But then, the Typhoon has never been about rapid fire. The Typhoon's greatest strength, the thing for which it has achieved almost legendary status, is its range and accuracy. I remember a field where they actually forced Typhoon shooters to chrono in 30 fps lower than everyone else because paint from a Typhoon "shot further and hit harder". I've been shooting a Typhoon myself (s/n P480) for 3 years now. During that time I've also owned a Tippman Pro-Am, VM-68, Automag, Minimag, and an Autococker, each with a host of different barrels. None of them has offered as CONSISTENTLY excellent range and accuracy as my Typhoon. Though it can NOT be said conclusively that two paintguns chronographed in at the same speed can shoot different distances, the straightness and consistency of the flight-path can definitely create a difference in effective range. The Typhoon (and other Palmer-made paintguns) excels at effective range. Many consider it to be the ultimate sniper's paintgun.
Glenn Palmer claims that the exceptional accuracy of the Typhoon results from "match-honing" the barrel. Typhoon barrels have a unique "elliptical" honing pattern such that the barrel is tight at the breech, loose down it's length, and tight again at the muzzle. In addition, they fine tune the barrel to the 'gun's valving by test firing and further honing the barrel until they are happy with it's performance. The barrel is also special in that the inside is bare brass. Though the outside of the 'gun is nickel plated, the barrel ends are plugged so the inside is not plated. They do this because Glenn believes that brass offers the least friction to paintballs and makes the best shooting surface for a barrel. The results are hard to argue with. The barrel runs about a mid-sized bore so it can happily take most sizes of paint, and I've found it to be exceptionally forgiving of poor quality paint.
The valve of the Typhoon was optimized for CO2 usage. As such, the 'gun works just as well with CO2 as with nitrogen or compressed air. Unlike other high-performance paintguns, even liquid CO2 does not appear to phase this design. Though it is NOT designed to take a liquid feed, I've dumped pure liquid CO2 through the thing and cycled it until snowflakes were blasting out of the barrel like confetti without a problem or missing a beat.
The Typhoon also has the fastest quick-strip system ever put on a paintgun. A spring-loaded pin through the back of the bolt couples it to the pump-rod. Removing the bolt is as easy as pulling the pin back, rotating the bolt 45¡, and pulling it straight out the back. The whole process takes about half of a second and leaves the barrel clear for a pull-through squeegee. Replacing the bolt is just as fast.
The Typhoon is made entirely from non-corrosive materials. This means that cleaning the 'gun off is as easy as holding it under some running water, or even taking it in the shower with you (the manual actually recommends this!). The design is also extremely robust. It's actually rather amazing how truly low-maintenance this paintgun is. Virtually all paintguns at this price/performance level require some special knowledge to keep them running reliably. But with even the smallest amount of maintenance (occasional cleaning and oiling) will keep the Typhoon running reliably for the long term.
One of the side effects of the Typhoon's extreme reliability is that the design is NOT modification friendly. While other paintguns take some knowledge to keep running, but are relatively easy to modify or change parts on, the Typhoon requires no knowledge to keep running, but requires a high-degree of knowledge and expertise for even the smallest adjustment or change.
The 'gun regulator (essentially identical to the Rock for the Autococker) has a lifetime warranty, and the rest of the parts are covered for one year. In practice, though, I've found Glenn to be much more generous with warranty work, fixing most problems free-of-charge even years after purchase.
Classic Series Typhoon
For the longest time, Glenn Palmer insisted that the Typhoon was just perfect as it was. That ridiculously high rates-of-fire were pointless if you couldn't aim the thing. That add-ons, accessories, and modifications were a waste of money. Players had other ideas though, and pressured him for more options, particularly with regard to the Typhoon's relatively heavy trigger. In response, Palmers has begun to offer more performance and cosmetic options on the Typhoon.
The no-holds barred Classic Series Typhoon sent to me includes an impressive array of features to put it a cut above the already impressive stock Typhoon: performance-ported valving, polished internals (ram, regulator, 4-way, hammer, and sear), trigger-job (lightened and shortened pull), dual-finger trigger-shoe, dual-bottle set-up, bottom-line mounted Stabilizer pressure regulator, custom pattern nickel plating, matched sight-ring, spiral barrel end-venting, louvered fore-grip, regulator knob, sling, tiger-nickel grip frame. All of this comes at a price, though. This 'gun goes out the door for the hefty sum of $1000.
Is it worth it? Well, it depends on what you want. The trigger-job ($150 on its own) is very nice and very worthwhile. In conjunction with the dual-finger shoe it improves the trigger pull significantly and making it MUCH easier to shoot fast. It's harder to judge the effect of all the extra internal work, but the 'gun did seem to run and respond with a little more speed and snap than the stock 'gun. It's all a matter of degree, though. Where the stock 'gun is very good, the Classic Series is exceptional.
The cosmetics of this 'gun are gorgeous. The custom pattern, louvered fore-grip, and sight-hood combine for a beautiful effect that will be unique on any field. The tiger-nickel frame drew mixed reviews. While some liked the look, others thought it looked as though the frame was poorly polished before it was nickel plated. Either way, it's a unique look that further differentiates it from the stock Typhoon.
The bottom-line mounted Stabilizer is worthy of an entire article on it's own. For now, suffice it to say that coupled with the Typhoon's already very consistent system, velocity consistency was exceptional and stayed within 5 fps either way.
The only problem I had with the Classic Series I was sent was a small misadjustment of the quick-strip system. The 'gun came with a back-shifted ram, allowing the use of a shorter, nicer looking pump-rod. The problem was that it was set slightly too long so when I went to strip the 'gun, the bolt actually had to be shoved in a bit before it could be rotated and removed. This could be easily fixed by screwing the pump-rod in a bit further, but in a $1000 'gun, I expect everything to be perfectly adjusted and set out of the box.
In the Classic Series Typhoon, Palmers has brought the Typhoon up to modern tournament standards through improved trigger performance and by offering the kind of unique cosmetics that many people are willing to spend the extra dollars for.
All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 1999