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Tiberius Arms

Perfect Circle

Control Testing performed with DraXxus Paintballs provided by Procaps Direct

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First Strike Projectiles
by Bill Mills - Photos by Dawn Mills - Aug 09

Page1 - Page2

The shell of the First Strike round is made of polystyrene, the same type of plastic commonly used in plastic model kits. It is relatively rigid and inflexible. According to Tiberius Arms, this material is photodegradable, so if it is fired outdoors, the fragments left behind will eventually break down, due to sunlight exposure. Perfect Circle's manufacturing process results in a thin shell with characteristics that are different than most polystyrene products. Although the First Strike paintballs can take a steady pressure well, such as in a spring fed magazine, they are more likely to crack and shatter from a sharp impact, allowing them to break more easily when striking a target.

Twenty sample First Strike projectiles used for review weighed in at 1.7 ounces, or approximately 0.09 ounces per ball. Although not directly applicable, since it defines a paintball as a “spherical ball” in shape, ASTM standard F1779 – 04 Standard Specification for Paintballs Used in the Sport of Paintball paragraph 3.3 sets a maximum weight of 3.5 grams for a paintball – or 0.123 ounces. For comparison, 20 DXS Gold paintballs weighed in at 2.2 ounces, or approximately 0.11 ounces per ball.

Controlled testing of the First Strike round was restricted by a limited supply of the projectiles, meaning that both set-up of target position, marker aim and velocity adjustment had to be done with few enough projectiles to have enough for firing a target grouping.

Test firing was performed with an LCD Matrix, bench mounted. Each round was muzzle loaded into the marker. While most WARPIG.com testing is performed with a Smart Parts Freak barrel, in order to keep a consistent standard (the same barrel front and bore can be moved to markers of varying thread types) it was quickly discovered that this was an impractical test platform for the First Strike rounds. Because of their shape, the First Strike rounds would not muzzle load through the Freak, instead their rear skirt caught on bore insert halfway through the barrel. While the change in diameter would not stop the projectiles from firing out of the barrel, they could not load through it, and removing the barrel to load each shot would have required un-mounting the marker from its test stand, invalidating shot groupings.

A Paintball Assassin carbon fiber barrel with 0.692 breech sizer was used as the test barrel, and the First Strike rounds loaded easily through it. The feedneck was also removed from the Matrix to allow greater visibility, making sure each round was properly seated in the breech.

The test firing was done at a range of 100 feet, 25 feet further than the range typically used in WARPIG target group firings. The longer range was used as the First Strike projectile is promoted as providing better performance at longer distances – it should not be construed as the maximum range either projectile can reach.

Initial shots taken with the First Strike round yielded a low velocity, (low 200s) but despite the decreased velocity, the projectiles were observed to fly more than a foot above the target frame which had been aligned with initial firing of paintballs. Over subsequent shots, the CP regulator on the Matrix was adjusted, eventually to its upper limit, in order to get a velocity near 285 feet per second, and the marker was re-positioned to strike the target with the new projectiles. Ideally, additional adjustment would have been done, increasing the dwell timing of the marker so that the pressure setting could be better placed within it's regulator's operating range, however a limited supply of test projectiles made this impractical.

By subjective observation, it was clear that the First Strike projectiles had a markedly different flight path than paintballs at the same distance. Over the last several feet of their flight to the target the paintballs could be seen to drop more rapidly (or more specifically, more rapidly compared to their forward motion). In contrast the First Strike rounds held a noticeably straighter flight path, implying that that less drop-off adjustment would be required for them if using a telescopic sight. This observation and conclusion was consistent with the need to re-align the test marker to a lower aim-point in order to place its shots on target.

Twenty First Strike projectiles were fired at the target, and their velocities were recorded. It was noted that mid-way through the shot string, the velocity increased and remained higher. The author suspects that since the CP regulator was at its adjustment limit, an internal component may have shifted affecting pressure output.

A loader and feedneck were then attached to the Matrix, the regulator re-adjusted to fire the paint at approximately 300 feet per second (to match the initial velocities from the First Strike target string) and the marker re-aimed to center its grouping on the target. Twenty control shots were then taken with DXS Gold paintballs, and their velocities were also recorded.

Comparing the two recorded velocity strings the First Strike projectiles were generally more consistent in velocity than spherical paintballs, with the exception of in increase mid-way through the string. The velocity increase mid-way through the string is clear when the velocities are graphed, and each shot thereafter remaining high, is consistent with the increase being due to the regulator on the Matrix LCD.

At first glance the target groupings of the First Strike projectiles does not appear that different from the paintballs – however there are 4 less impacts on the paintball target, because four shots missed the paper entirely, spreading the group wider than pictured. For raw data, click here.

Although muzzle-loading the First Strike rounds would not be very practical in a typical paintball game, it did provide some insight into their performance for testing and review. It became clear from testing, that getting the best in-game performance from the First Strike projectile would require not only a compatible feed system, but a marker tuned to its specific needs. With a retail price tag (at the time of writing) that is approximately 20 times that of tournament grade paintballs, the number of rounds used to adjust velocity and perform marker testing and configuration will need to be considered for those adopting the new porjectiles. Although the test conditions did not provide that optimal configuration, they did show notable differences between the flight characteristics of the new projectiles and traditional paintballs, consistent with the claims of improved range with reduced drag. The First Strike rounds represet something that is unusual in paintball - deviation from the 68 caliber spherical paintball standard and hold the potential to open the door to providing players with more options in the future.

 


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