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US Army Alpha Black Tactical
The grip of the Alpha Black departs from M-16 style, instead conforming to the general shape of a Colt 1911 automatic pistol, a design choice that gained popularity over M-16 style lug-mount grip frames on paintguns in the 1990s. This design feature is not limited to style though, it also has an important function. M-16 grips are not structurally sound for mounting a bottom-line adapter with a CO2 tank, nor do they have the open interior space needed to mount a Tippmann style e-grip electronic trigger system.
The Alpha Black ships with an angled bottom-line adapter mounted on the bottom of the grip frame, feeding gas through a braided steel hose up to the marker's valve. The angled placement of the bottom-line adapter means that a CO2 tank will be tilted down at the rear. When the marker is held level, or angled up to gain range, gravity will keep liquid CO2 at the rear of the tank, away from the tank valve, so that only gaseous CO2 is fed to the marker. The angle of the drop forward also allows a 20 ounce CO2 tank to fit below the collapsible stock with room to spare.
In the receiver's magazine well is a plastic faux magazine very similar to that found on the Tippmann X7, though not identical. The X7 magazine is held in place by a magazine release latch on the marker, whereas the Alpha Black faux magazine has a tab on either side that locks into a hole on either side of the magazine well.
The faux magazine is released by pressing in on both tabs, and pulling down on the magazine body. Like the X7, the Alpha Black's faux magazine is actually a folding tool kit, with room to store the included ampule of Tippmann marker oil, and hex wrenches. It should be noted, that to protect against velocity tampering and cheating, tools are prohibited on paintball fields.
The Alpha Black's feedneck is located in a position mirroring that of the Model 98, and it utilizes the same quick-strip angled feedneck. As with the 98, the feedneck has a clamping mechanism to secure a hopper, in contrast to most similarly priced markers that have friction fit neck systems and require and upgrade for clamping.
The Alpha Black features a single-trigger design. Unlike the Tippmann 98 Custom, the trigger guard is a part of the Alpha Black's receiver, meaning that a two-finger trigger upgrade would require cutting of the receiver. This is fitting with the concept that players introduced to paintball with the Alpha Black can eventually move up to the 98 when they seek greater options for plug-and-play upgrades.
Tippmann Sports, LLC's Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, Patrick Ehren explained further, “Although Alpha Black uses the same inline bolt system as the current 98 Custom there are a number of key differences between these two products. The new Alpha Black can be moded to look like an M16, but the 98 Custom literally has 100's of different looks. Alpha Black will feature a 3 mode electronics option while the 98 Custom can be upgraded to a double trigger, Response Trigger or an eGrip with five firing modes. The Alpha Black can not be upgraded electronically and must be purchased as a semi auto or electronic version. And Basic versions of the Alpha Black will not include a hopper.”
Above the Alpha Black's trigger is the cross-block safety, which can be pushed in on the left side to render the marker “safe” or from the right setting it to “fire,” which is indicated by an exposed red o-ring on the left side of the safety.
On the marker's right side, is a screw-plugged exhaust port from the Alpha Black's valve. This port can be used for exhaust gas driven upgrades like Tippmann's Cyclone Feed system. Because it captures gas that would be otherwise released to the air, accessories like the Cyclone Feed or a response trigger ram do not affect the marker's gas efficiency.
Like all CO2 powered markers currently produced by Tippmann, the Alpha Black's velocity adjustment is achieved with a flow-blocking screw. By adjusting restriction of the valve's flow, rather than pressure on its mainspring, spring-balancing and re-cocking issues with extremes of adjustment are eliminated.
In addition to the hex wrenches needed for maintenance, a pull-through squeegee and ampule of Tippmann Marker oil, the Alpha Black ships with an instruction manual written in both Spanish and English as well as the US Army Paintball Field Guide. The Field Guide discusses the importance of safety, preparation, codes of conduct, physical fitness and mission planning that are used by the US Army, and which can be put into place on the paintball field.
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