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A First Look at the New PMI Piranha
cjSchaff

First off, I do not work for PMI. I just happen to help out at a paintball store where we got a bunch of these in. During a cold day when no one visited the store, I jotted this out. For more information, try the PMI Web Page, or e-mail me.

PMI has come out with their best contender in years for the mass market paintball community. The new PMI Piranha (not to be confused with the old Sheridan- based pump markers) is a blow-back semi-auto which looks a little familiar to those who know the Spyder Compact. So far, I've only seen them come in a vertical tank setup, but its design makes it especially easy to set it up any way you want.

When PMI was designing the marker, they went to a few fields and asked them what they would like in a rental marker. The suggestions end up being great for any player, and the result is the Piranha.

Actually, the marker practically IS a Spyder Compact with a few exceptions and improvements. Basic function is that of a Spyder Compact, including the entire theory of the internal setup, power feed, barrel, and velocity adjustment. Some of the nice new features in this marker, as touted by their box, include:

Quick change barrel. (Actually, the barrels are interchangeable with Spyder barrels. This means you've got a lot of choices out there already.)

Ceramic coated internals to increase durability and reduce wear. (We'll have to see how well this hold up in the long run.)

The bolt is very similar to the basic design of a Spyder (without bothering to try to fool you with the 'venturi' as Kingman still does).

Now for the big differences

This marker comes with a .45 grip and some type of tough looking polymer frame. Good news...the holes are already in place in the grip, and they're already in the standard alignment making a bottom-line conversion a piece of cake. These grips will also take aftermarket wraps, so you pretty much get all you could ever want in a .45 grip, straight from the stock 'gun.

Rear cocking. Here's one of the biggest differences in appearance from the Spyder. The rear cocking knob is integral with the bolt, leaving no cocking knobs to vibrate loose and lose, and no openings for dirt to get into.

Bolt design. Although the new bolt LOOKS like a Spyder bolt with a rear attachment, it does have some minor variations. One of the biggies is the fact that there's a little more clearance between the bolt and the inside of the marker. Many Spyder owners have experienced 'bolt stick' from a piece of paintball shell getting lodged between the bolt and the body. By increasing this space and allowing a wider o-ring to close the gap, the Piranha should be able to avoid encountering this problem.

Now for the coolest new feature: the field-strip pin. This vaguely reminds me of the Autococker pin, but is actually a little wider and uses a spring loaded ball bearing to hold it in place. This pin can be popped out and the whole bolt/hammer assembly slides out. All of it. Run a squeegie down the body and barrel and out the front and you're good to go. No screws to mess with, and the entire assembly holds together. To reassemble, just line the parts up and push them in. One push of a little sear release slide (located at the top rear edge of the left grip), a push to the whole assembly, and it all pops back into place. Stick the pin back in and you're good to go.

Function

The Piranha has a relatively light trigger pull with a return tension that is just a little light for my taste, but most will like it. I would like to get in and smooth the work out a bit and possibly shorten the pull a teeny bit, but for a stock gun of this price, you really can't ask for any more than it's already got. Besides the slightly lighter trigger, I felt the Piranha was very similar in performance to the Spyder Compact. I felt it may have handled liquid a little better, but I'd like to test it out a little more before I can say for sure.

This new marker holds a lot of promise, especially since it costs LESS than the Spyders out there, but only time will tell if it will experience anywhere near as much popularity as the Spyder has.

But, all things considered, it still is not the perfect marker. There are still a few minor changes I'd like to see.

First, I've already seen one Piranha with a broken sear release slide which is made of plastic. These could probably be made of aluminum for durability, or at least include one or two extras in the package for easy replacement. To give credit, however, I've seen quite a few of these already and only one has experienced this problem. (Actually, while I'm at it in this area, I'll hit the ball detente, too...just like in some early Spyders, I've come across a couple which are missing ball detentes, so if you're double feeding, you may want to check this).

My next suggestion would have to be for the field strip pin itself. It IS a fantastic concept to be in a stock marker, but the pin itself needs some minor changes. The pin just doesn’t' sit well anywhere. It is too round on all sides to let you put it down (say...at a table while at the field), and is inconvenient to keep track of while in the field. A ring, such as on many autococker pins, would make me much happier here. Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing a pushbutton type operation on these, also similar to the Autococker idea.

Finally, I'd like to see a better manual for this paintgun. Actually, there are very few paintguns sold which have what I feel are adequate manuals. To regular paintball players, the manual is sufficient, but for a total beginner, a little extra information regarding disassembly and internal parts would be helpful, particularly such tricks as pushing the bolt/hammer assembly in, then letting up on the pressure slightly before finishing reassembly.

Overall, the Piranha is a well designed marker with the end user and caretaker well in mind. Anyone familiar with Spyders, or working on them, will feel right at home with the Piranha. Aftermarket parts, if they don't fit already, will only require minor adjustments at manufacturers to be converted over from Spyder internals. With the great price and performance I've seen so far from the marker, along with the name, reputation, and history of PMI, the Piranha should start some real competition in the low-priced, high quality semi-auto arena.
 


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