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US Army Paintball

DraXxus

Product Testing performed with DraXxus Paintballs

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US Army Alpha Black

US Army Alpha Black Tactical
by Bill Mills - Photos by Dawn Mills - March 2008

Features HowItWorks Disassembly Adjustment Testing Data

HOW IT WORKS

CLICK HERE for 800x600 Virtual Reality view of the Alpha Black Valve System - Requires fast computer and graphics card.

paintballThe insides of the Alpha Black will be familiar to anyone who has worked on a Model 98 or 98 Custom, as they use the same CVX valve, bolt, hammer, link rod and sear, with a taller trigger to allow for the M-16 shaped receiver which places the trigger further down from the upper-receiver. This gives them the immediate inheritance of 10-year track record for reliability and durability with a light, comfortable trigger pull that is a step beyond Tippmann's earlier designs. In fact, the added length to the Alpha Black trigger places the pull further from the pivot point, further lightening the trigger pull, much the same as pulling on the lower portion of a two-finger trigger does.

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The CVX valve is a poppet style design. The hammer strikes the valve, opening it and releasing a burst of gas through channels that route it to the breech, and a smaller burst back at the hammer, recocking it for the next shot. The CV in CVX stands for Constant Velocity, referring to the fact that in addition to the valve spring, gas pressure helps hold the poppet valve closed. This means that velocity spikes from rises in gas pressure are reduced, because as the gas pressure rises, the valve becomes harder to open.

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At rest, between shots, the bolt of the Alpha Black is open, and the hammer (rear bolt in Tippmann terminology) is in the rear position, compressing the mainspring. A hardened steel latch, called the sear holds the bolt back. The bolt is attached to the link arm, which sits in a slot in the hammer.

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When the trigger is pulled, the hammer is released, and the mainspring decompresses, slamming the hammer forward.

Because the bolt is tied to the hammer via the link rod, it also moves forward, pushing a paintball from the chamber into the rear of the barrel.

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The hammer and bolt continue forward, until the breech is sealed and the hammer strikes the valve core. The impact of the hammer on the valve core presses it into the valve. This allows gas to flow through a pair of channels in the sides of the valve body, forward to the power tube, which routes the gas through the center of the bolt and into the breech where it launches the paintball.

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At the same time, a small amount of gas escapes around the sides of the valve core into the space between the valve and hammer. This space acts as a piston and pushes the hammer back, re-compressing the mainspring.

Once the hammer comes back far enough, it catches again on the spring loaded sear, to await the next shot.

Electronic triggered versions of the Alpha Black operate in exactly the same way. With the mechanical trigger, an arm extending from the back of the trigger pushes upward on the sear, which pivots like a see-saw, releasing the hammer from its back end. With the E-Trigger, the trigger instead trips an electronic switch. Then, a microprocessor detects that the trigger has been pulled, and acts based upon its programming – this may include firing a single shot, a burst, or fully-automatic fire.

In order to fire the Alpha Black, the microprocessor delivers an electrical charge to a compact solenoid. The solenoid is a coil of wire that produces a magnetic field when it is energized. The magnetic field pulls on a metal core. The result is that an electrical signal is converted into a short amount of mechanical movement.

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That movement is applied to a stainless steel rod, which trips the front of the sear, just as a mechanical trigger would. Electronic triggering offers a couple of significant advantages over mechanical triggering. The first of these is the availability of multiple modes of fire. Rather than needing to design complex latching and sear systems, functions like 3-round burst are merely a matter of writing a subroutine in the microprocessor’s software. The second advantage is of benefit even when, like at most paintball fields, players are limited to semi-auto mode only.

When using an electronic trigger, the player’s finger must merely do the work of activating a microswitch. This means that the trigger pull can be made to be shorter and lighter than if the trigger had to directly push the sear against the pressure of the mainspring. A shorter and lighter trigger pull makes well aimed single shots easier to take, and makes higher rates of fire easier to achieve.

Continue to Disassembly .

 


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