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Tippmann A5 E Trigger
by Bill Mills - Dec 2003
The name Tippmann has been synonymous with paintball since the mid 1980s, and Tippmann Pneumatics has built a solid reputation for both reliability in their products and excellent customer support. The Tippmann A5, their current flagship product has drawn attention both for utilizing a built in force feed hopper system, and for resembling an H&K MP-5 submachinegun. Often overlooked is the modular construction of the A-5 that makes it one of the simplest paintguns to maintain or repair.
The A5 is a blowback powered semi-automatic, and with electronic paintguns being state of the art, an electronic trigger conversion for the A-5 was a natural add on for Tippmann to produce. While Tippmann manufactured a couple of electronic trigger options for the Model 98, both where somewhat complex to install – not so with the A-5 E-grip. The 98’s conversions also had associated components mounted below the grip frame. The E Trigger for the A5, in contrast, has all of its components housed inside the grip assembly, and from the outside looks no different than a stock A5.
Installing the E Trigger is as simple as swapping the E Trigger grip frame for the stock frame. Between the two grip assemblies, many of the parts, including the trigger, sear and most of the trigger group are identical to the original.
Not only does the switch to an electronic trigger mean a lighter, more precise trigger pull, but electronic control makes the addition of various modes of fire such as 3 shot burst, full auto and turbo mode practical.
Functionally, the trigger frame is rather simple. The standard A5 trigger is used, but the small folded metal latch on its top rear edge used to trip the sear is removed. When the trigger is pulled it releases a small lever microswitch. This is opposite of most electronic paintguns which push a switch when the trigger is pulled, rather than release it. The trigger switch is wired to an electronic control board, which features an onboard, preprogrammed microprocessor. The board is powered by a 9volt battery, which is also housed in the grip. A capacitor is connected to the board by a pair of wires. The capacitor temporarily holds the charges used to pulse the grip’s solenoid, and placing it on wires rather than soldering it directly to the circuit board allows it to be placed low in the grip frame, which is an effective use of available space.
Also wired to the control board is the solenoid, a coil of wire with an iron core. When the control circuit dumps electricity into the coil, it draws the iron core upward with electromagnetic force. The core presses on a stainless steel link rod, which Tippmann calls the armature pin. The armature pin is what caries the movement from the solenoid at the bottom of the grip up to the front of the sear. When the armature pin presses up on the front of the sear, the back of the sear is lowered, releasing the A5’s hammer to strike the valve and fire the paintgun.
Installing the A-5 E-Trigger is surprisingly easy, but there are still a couple of catches to look out for. First, is the most complicated part – installing or changing the battery. While a fairly simple procedure changing the battery on an A-5 is more complicated than most paintguns – a price to pay for the electronics being so well integrated and concealed into the paintgun.
Starting with the grip frame fresh out of the box, the safety is slide out of the side of the grip frame, which allows the trigger group and sear to lift out of the top in a single move. With this done, the 9 volt battery clip is clearly visible in the center of the grip frame. A word of caution that is missing from the double sided instruction sheet – the solenoid may fire when the battery is first connected. This can send the armature pin flying out of the grip frame. A fingertip resting on top of the armature pin remedies this problem, and if it does fall out, it is a simple matter to drop it back into place.
With the battery connected it is slid down into the center of the grip frame, and the battery wires are tucked on top of it. The trigger group is carefully set back in place, and the safety returned. Unlike some paintguns where the safety is commonly removed as part of a “trigger job” the safety must be installed on the A-5, it is an integral, piece which secures the trigger group in place.
At this point, the grip is ready to mount on the A-5. That is simply a matter of removing the A-5’s two grip frame pins, and pulling off the grip. If a bottom-line is attached to the stock grip it is removed at this point in the process. The E Trigger slides onto the A5, the two lock pins are put in place, and the A5 was upgraded to an electronic trigger system that fast and easy. That is the beauty of Tippmann’s modular construction.
For A-5s which have a Response Trigger installed, this is where a small problem arises. First, the E-Trigger will not work also as a response trigger – the electronics get in the way of where the response ram needs to be. That’s not a big issue, the user just needs to chose between an E-Trigger or a Response Trigger. The real issue is that the gas fitting on the rear of the A-5 receiver which is used to route gas down into the grip frame gets in the way of the E-Trigger frame. There are two solutions to this. One is to cut a couple of slots in the side of the E-Trigger frame, which is what Tippmann does to the Response frames at the factory, and the other is to remove the gas fitting from the receiver.
For the purpose of review, a slot was cut in the E-Trigger frame. While removing the air fitting from the receiver is not a tough task for an airsmith, modifying the grip frame instead means that it will take only seconds to swap from the E-Trigger frame to the Response Trigger frame, keeping the system completely modular. The location for the side slot is marked with an indent on the inside of the trigger frame, and cutting it out takes only a couple of minutes with a rotary tool, such as a Dremel. Another slot had to be cut inside the frame to make room for the internal gas fitting. On the frame used for review all electronics were removed from the grip frame, and the cuts were milled, to allow precise control and clean workmanship.
An additional note: For airsmiths removing and reinstalling the grip's electronics. The wire leads for the solenoid are not insulated for the first one or two millimeters coming out of the circuit board. It is important to make sure they do not touch each other and short circuit. This can be a problem with early model E Triggers that are not reassembled carefully. On later model E Triggers Tippmann added a drop of silicone glue to insulate the wire leads and prevent them from shorting.
With the slot cuts, the grip frame slid right onto the A5 RT as it would with a standard A5, and the RT adjuster valve was closed off, to prevent blowing a blast of gas down into the grip frame when each shot is fired. With the bottom-line (if used) mounted on the E-Trigger frame, the A-5 is ready to go with a new, electronic trigger.
For review the E-Trigger setup was not kept completely stock. Instead a Psychoballistics two finger trigger was added. Because of the parts compatibility, the two finger trigger parts for the standard A-5 work on the E Trigger frame as well. The trigger group lifts out and comes apart to swap triggers. A slight modification needs to be done to the 2 finger trigger – the metal clip on the back, used to trip the sear is popped off, since the sear will be tripped by the armature pin. The trigger guard must also be replaced to make room for the new trigger. A larger trigger guard is included with the Psycho Ballistics trigger, and it drops place while the grip is in half. Finally the whole thing is reassembled and mounted on the A5.
Using the E-Trigger is easy – it works just like the standard trigger – with the safety used to lock it out when not in use. It ships from the factory in semi-automatic mode – pull the trigger and it shoots – but the trigger is noticeably more crisp and light than the mechanical trigger.
Included with the E-Trigger frame is a small jewler’s scredriver which is used to adjust the frame’s mode and rate of fire. In the front of the grip are two small holes. The top hole gives access to a rotary switch for mode selection, and the lower switch provides access to the variable resistor used to set the rate of fire.
The rotary switch has off positions alternating between the modes. It can be a little tricky, in that there is no start or stop, it can be turned continuously in any direction, so it requires testing the particular mode, rather than counting the number of clicks from a starting position, in order to set to a particular mode. Looking at the rotary switch from the front, an arrow, like the hand on a clock points to the switch position. When it is pointing up toward the trigger it in position 0.
3 round burst fires a burst of 3 shots, or less, if the trigger is released before the burst is complete. Full automatic fires repeatedly as long as the trigger is held down. Auto Response mode fires a ball once when the trigger is pulled, and then again when the trigger is released, in essence doubling the user’s rate of fire. If the trigger is held down for an extended period of time, the E-Trigger will not shoot when it is released. The final mode is called Turbo mode, though it is not the same as the original Shocker Turbo Mode. Instead the Tippmann Turbo mode acts as a normal semi-auto until the trigger is pulled at 4 shots per second or faster at which point it switches into Auto Response mode.
It is important to note that the only one of these modes allowed at most paintball fields, and under most paintball insurance programs is semi-automatic mode. Because the modes can only be changed with the use of a tool, the E-Trigger is legal in semi-auto mode at most fields and tournaments. Once set in semi-auto mode it is “locked” there since a tool is required to change it. In addition to setting the rate of fire for the automatic modes, the rate of fire adjustment also sets a limit for semi-auto mode. From the factory this adjustment was near the middle of its range, capping fire at around 6 shots per second. Turning it down to the extreme of its range set the rate of fire around 4 shots per second. Dialing it all the way up set it up to its maximum of 11 shots per second.
On the field, the E-Trigger made the A-5 easier to shoot fast, and the light trigger pull made it easier to shoot multiple shots without the grouping being thrown off by tugging on a heavy trigger. The trigger it had some extra room in its pull, especially in the rear end of the stroke after the switch had been actuated. A custom trigger job to improve and shorten the overall trigger stroke with the addition of a pair of set screws would be a relatively simple task for an airsmith. Even with the extra space in the pull, the author was able to achieve the frame’s maximum 11 shots per second in semi-auto mode without difficulty, a marked improvement over the stock, and even Response Trigger A5 configurations. The use of a folding stock from Jet City Specialties made shooting fast while staying on target a simple task.
Equally impressive to the E-Trigger’s performance was its look – completely concealed inside the grip frame, an E-Trigger equipped A-5 looks no different from a standard – retaining the looks and durability that are the reason many players choose the A-5.
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