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By Bill Mills - Photos By Dawn Mills - Sept 2005
In the late 1990s, and early into the new millennium, Ben Tippmann was well known as the face of Tippman Pneumatics, representing the company at paintball tournaments, scenario games and trade shows. Ben was well known, not just for connection with the products he represented, but for his own friendly and outgoing personality. In the new Millennium, he left Tippmann, to head in different directions, but in 2004, re-appeared in paintball with BT Paintball.
BT launched with their own line of paintguns based on the BT-16, a milsim/scenario oriented blowback semi, as well as milsim accessories for it, and for Tippmann paintguns.
The Basic BT-16 is known as the BT-16 Elite. Accessories can be added to the Elite to give it the same features as the BT-16 Tactical, which is configured to resemble a military assault rifle. The BT-16 Field, on the other hand is a slightly less feature filled version, designed for use as a rugged field rental paintgun.
The BT-16 is based around a valve of the same design as the proven Tippmann A5. A poppet style valve is struck by a spring powered hammer to release gas forward to drive the paintball, and rearward to blow the hammer back, cocking it for the next shot. The breech and bolt are inline, and ahead of the valve, with a link rod tying the bolt and hammer together, so that the bolt cycles along with the hammer.
While the BT-16 shares it’s method of operation with the A-5, and bears a bit of resemblance, thanks to its H&K MP5 style foregrip, the a major difference between the two markers is obvious when picking up the BT-16. Rather than a cast aluminum receiver made of two clamshells screwed together, the BT-16 has an aircraft aluminum grade, billet machined receiver and grip frame. This paintgun is solid.
In addition to its feel and strength, billet machining has another significant advantage over cast aluminum. Because of the grade of alloy used, aluminum machined for use in paintball can be anodized, which provides a much stronger and durable finish than the paint which is typically applied to aluminum castings.
The BT-16 Elite’s receiver is relatively compact, just over ten inches from the front to the back. Along the top, it features a center-feed port with a collet style screw down locking feed neck. Immediately behind the feedneck is smooth sight rail. This rail is larger than the 3/8 inch size typically found on paintball guns and airguns. It is the size that is more common on firearms a 7/8 inch Weaver, and allows the BT-16 to accept a variety of military style sight mounts and carry handles. On the left side an insert boldly carries the name “BT-16 ELITE” while the velocity adjuster is on the right, along with laser engraved text providing a safety warning, manufacturer’s info and the serial number.
Operating inside the sight rail is a feature that makes the BT-16 pure milsim – a recocking t-cocking handle. The BT-16’s hammer, valve and bolt are fully enclosed within the receiver. The cocking handle is of the same style and a similar position to that found on an M-16. Pulling back on the cocking handle pulls back and cocks the BT-16’s hammer, and when released the handle snaps back into place, under spring tension.
The BT-16’s grip frame is a 45 style, with wraparound rubber grips. A single finger trigger is protected in a full trigger guard. The trigger consists of a wide and comfortable aluminum shoe locked onto the steel trigger with a roll pin through its center. A cross-block trigger safety can be pushed from the right or left and is cleanly labeled for safe or fire. The entire grip frame assembly, like the receiver is billet machined from a solid piece of aluminum. While the grip frame is held to the receiver by a pair of pins and is of the same basic upper shape as the grip frame of a Tippmann A-5, some of the internal shaping is different, preventing BT-16 and A-5 grip frames from being interchangeable.
Screwed into the bottom of the grip frame is a typical duck-bill styled bottom-line ASA (Air System Adapter.) The BT-16 uses industry standard 10-32 screws with center-line placement to connect accessories to the grip frame. A steel braided hose runs from the bottom-line to a male ASA connector that is screwed into the vertical ASA fitting in the bottom of the receiver. This arrangement allows a player to use a CO2 tank bottom line style like a stock, on a drop forward, or to remove the hose and screw a tank in directly, for a vertical placement. In addition to giving the BT-16 a more compact feel, mounting the tank vertically uses gravity to prevent liquid CO2 from feeding into the paintgun’s valve and causing velocity spikes. The BT-Field version does not include bottom-line hardware and is shipped for vertical CO2 bottle setup.
Just forward of the vertical ASA port lies a Picatinny accessory rail. The Picatinny Rail was defined in Mil-STD-1913, and later revised slightly. Basically it is a 7/8 inch dovetail rail (actually 0.83” from edge to edge - a tiny bit narrower than the true Weaver standard) with slots cut into it every 0.4 inches. The slots allow sights and accessories to lock into place, by extending a tab or pin into the slot. This allows for faster mounting of accessories than tightening down a clamping mechanism, and a mount that is more secure from vibration and slipping during firing, especially if mounted on a firearm with sharp recoil. On the BT-16 Tactical, the top rail also features Picatinny slots in the top sight rail.
A round MP-5K style rounded foregrip is mounted on the BT-16 Elite’s Picatinny rail, and it locks in place with the twist of a knob in its base. The knob extends a rod into one of the rail slots. In case it becomes too tight to loosen by hand, a coin slot is included for extra grip. With the foregrip removed, optional accessories such as tactical flashlights, and a below barrel CO2 tank system can be mounted. The BT-16 Field version features a smooth rail, and no foregrip.
The BT-16 Elite’s barrel is fitted with Tippmann Model 98 compatible threads. It is eight and a half inches in length, with a ring of circular ports halfway down its length, and six slotted ports at the muzzle. The barrel threading is not a part of the receiver itself, but rather an insert, which also holds the ball bearing style ball detent in place. This means that inserts could potentially be produced to allow the BT-16 to accept other barrels.
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