Preview of the Western Paintball Autococker
© Ravi Chopra, 1997
I was recently sent a prototype of a new Autococker that should soon be coming to market called the Western Series Autococker made by the people at Western Paintball, Inc. Since the 'gun I saw and shot was a prototype, this can not be considered a complete review and I'll be keeping this rather brief. A more complete report will be written once I have a final, completed production model to review. As always, I'll break this down into systems: trigger, autococking system, internals, accessories & extras, cosmetics.
The trigger of the Western Series 'cocker was very cool. First, it is built into a .45 style frame fully equipped with a bottom AND lateral guide screws! This is the first implementation of lateral guide screws I've seen in a .45 frame and the result is superb. This trigger has absolutely ZERO slop in ANY direction, yet it glides smoothly forward and back with no noticeable drag.
The springing of the trigger is extremely soft, both in the sear and trigger-return. Though extremely soft springing can cause problems in 'guns that do not have well-polished trigger components, the Western Series never had any problems completing its cycle. A stiffer trigger-return spring may be preferable to give it a snappier feel and more positive return.
I have to mention that the timing in the prototype 'gun I was sent was a bit off. It actually began to 'cock before releasing the hammer when the trigger was pulled slowly. This was easy to rectify by making some small adjustments to the sear lug. Never the less, this is unacceptable in a 'gun at this price range. It is my hope that production 'guns will be properly timed and tested before being sent out.
The autococking system of the Western Series is up to current state-of-the-art levels. The ram was a stainless steel mini-ram which, refreshingly enough, didn't blow out when I was using it. I must admit that the experiences I've had with this kind of ram have not been good, but this one worked well on the Western. The 4-way is polished for faster, smoother action. The regulator is a Palmer's Rock with knob for easy adjustment. The block is a lightweight cut-block. Final production versions of this 'gun will come with a reverse-cut P-block. The cycle rate of this 'gun was fast enough to keep up with any shooter's trigger-finger.
The Western's internals were also a pretty good set. It came with a Pro-Hammer Nelson-style spring/hammer set for lighter springing. It also came with the appropriate holes drilled for external sear-lug adjustment.
The valve was stock, but production models will include a R.A.T. valve for better efficiency. The bolt was one of the "Twister" venturi-faced expanding bolts which is supposed to allow you to set the 'gun closer to the timing edge without blowback. I hate these bolts because they encourage people to mistime their 'guns, which is dumb. Fortunately, the bolt will also be changed in the final 'gun; it will be getting a new custom venturi bolt that Western Paintball is desinging themselves.
Accessories & Extras
The Western Series Autococker came with a host of accessories to bring it up to full tournament level specs.
As always, it came with a Cooper-T ball detent, threaded timing rod, and beavertail for reliability and tournament legality. As I always say, the Cooper-T is not my favorite detent, but it's better than nothing.
A Uni-Reg comes standard on the top model set at 400-450 psi into the 'gun. This low pressure operation is good indication that the 'gun will be relatively gentle on bad paint, particularly when combined with a venturi bolt. In my time with it, the Western did not break much paint once it was properly timed.
This 'cocker came with a 12" spiral ported BOA barrel. In all honesty, I've never had much luck with BOA barrels, and this one was no different. Fortunately, the Western Series Autococker will be offered with a variety of barrels incuding several styles of BOA and DYE.
In the top model that they sent me, a 114 ci Falcon nitrogen system was mounted bottom-line in a Bob Long cradle. In my tests, the Falcon has proved to be a decent nitrogen system, performing about equally to a Raptor, as well as being able to fit nitro cradles designed for the Raptor. I really dislike the Bob Long cradle though. It is poorly positioned for a tank this size. Fortunately, the production 'gun will come with the much better Pro-Team cradle or gas-through stock for remote operation.
Finally, a Worrier Sports 'gun bag will come with each Western Series 'gun sold. This is a very nice touch.
This 'gun had some serious cosmetic work done to it.
First, the 'gun has been seriously milled out, including bottom and pump-arm slots, bolt windows, and shallow angled slots in the front block. The millwork was nothing particularly unique (though I thought the slots in the front block were a nice touch), but were nicely, evenly, and tastefully done. The polishing was decent as well, certainly as good as anything this side of an Evolution (the most perfectly polished 'gun around). In the final version, this 'gun will include a reverse-cut P-block.
All Stage III Western Series 'cockers will come with 3-color splash anodizing. This one came with purple base with black and silver splash. The quality of the anodizing was good, not showing any pooling or thing spots. The anodizing on the whole was a bit thin so the small swirls from the millwork that made it through the polishing process were quite evident.
To complete the cosmetic package, all the rods are stainless steel, and the autococking components up front are all nickel plated.
The Western Series Autococker doesn't really break any new ground in technology, cosmetics, or price (this 'gun will be sold with the nitro system for $1350). What it does offer is a very nice package at a price that is competetive with other 'guns at this level of modification.
Obviously, before I can give this 'gun a serious recommendation, I'll have to see a final, working version that is in time and functioning perfectly. Right now, I do see a lot of potential in this 'gun, particularly in the trigger which is set up very nicely.
All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 1999