The Complete Gear Set-Up with Hercules

The Complete Gear Set-Up with Hercules

Fort Lewis, Washington
by Ron "Hercules" Talcott

Smart Parts' Impulse
A couple of months ago, many readers gave me advice on what marker I should get hooked up with. Being part of PaintBall.com, I was fortunate to receive a Smart Parts Impulse to use and review. I took it out for some familiarization a few weeks ago and told you that I liked the way it looked and felt, but there is nothing like a “trial by fire” to test a product. In early April, my Impulse and I trekked out to Danger Zone Paintball at Fort Lewis, Washington to get the all important operational test. Danger Zone Paintball is run by Denise and Nick Goobin and they also recently opened a “pro shop” at 6517 6th Avenue in Tacoma. You can get all the info on their website at www.dzpaintball.com.

Redz Dimension Pants
So, first, I have to remind you that I am a newbie. But I am not new to teamwork and shooting as I am a retired US Air Force pilot and Viet Nam veteran. So I have a lot to learn about paintball equipment, but I am having a great time doing it. My son, Burt (Breeze), has helped make sure that I am “the fully equipped” paintball player. I have quite a few people to thank for that. I wrote in the past about playing with Greg Hastings who is “Red” of Redz Comfort Gear and he was able to give me the basics – thanks Red. I have his full size equipment bag for my gear and Red helped me fill it with his elbow pads, knee pads, neck pad, a cool autographed blue jersey, a pair of Redz Dimension pants with blue trim and a 4.3 Comfort Pack with the Comfort Belt system. Great equipment and it all washes easily to get the paint and northwest damp and dirt out.

JT Proflex
I bought my own JT Proflex goggle system with the 7visor and thermal lens. It is light, comfortable and I have not “fogged” over yet. It seemed pretty easy to clean up with just plain water. I have worn rental goggle systems, but I like the fit, feel and function of my JT Proflex goggles in blue to match my Redz jersey.

Nitro Duck HPA
I am also equipped with a Nitro Duck HPA bottle that seems to be working very well for me. On the Impulse it makes the whole marker system pretty long, but at my body size it is not a problem. I want a drop forward, but the one I purchased myself (a Smart Parts product) will not allow the bottle to screw on and off without contacting the pressure gauges. It needs to be a ¼ inch shorter in the drop forward, so I am still looking for a way to adapt it, but with a different bottle system, it would work fine.

Now, down to the Impulse and the barrel system I am using. We have access to many products at PaintBall.com, but the logical barrel system for the Impulse, if you want to step up, is the Total Freak Barrel Kit. Make sure you order the FreakBack that fits your marker and you will have an easy to manage, flexible barrel system that will make your shots fly where you want them.

The Total Freak Kit
Having the right barrel bore to fit the paint you are using is critical to accuracy. When you try new fields and use field paint, you need to be able to make your barrel system fit the paint you are using. It is pretty simple, or so Burt told me. You just take a few of the balls you will be using and set them aside where they won’t get dirty, wet or warm in your hands. Choose a barrel insert from you Freak Kit and place the ball in the insert. If it doesn’t fit into the insert with just a little help, the insert is too small. If it rolls right through, the insert is too big. If it just slides in with a little tap and you can blow it through easily with your own breath, it is just about right. Note the size so if the paint begins to swell as the day heats up, you can move up to the next size and keep your accuracy. The inserts are all different colors with the size printed on them, so they are easy to differentiate compared to kits that just have the size printed on them.

Different Colored Inserts
Once you have the insert you want, slide it into the back and screw the FreakFront on and screw the whole assembly on to your marker. The front barrel has an “O” ring seal you have to get seated before the threads will catch. My FreakBack is silver and my FreakFront is blue. My Impulse is a high shine black, so they are not color coordinated. My Impulse has the optional Max-Flo Vertical Regulator installed. I have taken a couple of lessons on regulators, their purpose and their operation, and I think I have gotten the idea.

Upgraded Bolt
I also have a Tapeworm fromSmart Parts, which makes the re-cock function on my Impulse work when there is no paintball to load. This eliminates chopping balls in the big picture and a big mess to clean up while you are under fire and would prefer to be defending yourself or going on the offensive. If you have a hopper that is gravity fed, it is easy to have no ball to load without shaking the hopper (and marker system) occasionally to get a ball into the loading position. And, if you have an electrically agitated hopper to keep a ball always in the loading position, it is possible to move the “on” switch to “off” in the act of playing the game. You get that “I’m out of paint sound” just after you loaded the hopper and you know it isn’t so. When you turn the hopper back on, the Impulse bolt is already re-cocked so that you don’t chop that first ball down the chute.

Burt also tweaked my Impulse with a Smart Parts Voo Doo Bolt and a hammer assembly Smart Parts’ calls a “brass assembly firing cylinder.” They are Smart Parts upgrades that make the Impulse an even better performing marker.

The Front Reg
The Impulse is electronically controlled and pneumatically operated. The 9-volt battery is hidden in the grip and easily replaced. It should be good for 25,000 shots, and even at the rate the Impulse can put out paint, that should last through about 12 cases of paint. If you have the Impulse “on” for 20 minutes without shooting it, it will automatically deactivate and not fire. That will save some batteries, dirty barrels and barrel plugs. The Impulse will begin to beep every 5 seconds when the battery power drops below 6.8 volts, so it is always a good idea to have some backup batteries in your kit.

Since I am old enough to wear reading glasses, I really like the Impulse “on” “off” switch which makes a small pulse sound when it is pressed and held to turn the marker electronics on and off. The switch has a small flashing purple light next to it that flashes at a short interval to let you know the marker it “on.” And I can see that light without my glasses on.

There is also a good operator’s manual with a detailed layout of all the parts in each assembly and the whole marker along with recommendations for maintenance and troubleshooting any problems encountered.

Chrono Station
When Burt and I got to Danger Zone Paintball, the first thing I did after I got all my Redz gear on was head to the chrono station to chrono my Impulse. That was pretty easy with the stock vertical regulator, an Allen wrench and with a little patience it was firing right at 280 fps. The limit for the day’s play was 285 fps.

There were a number of groups who were playing and Burt and I joined in a “pickup” game on one of the woods fields. There were about 15 players on each team and the field was full of trees, brush, bunkers, fox holes and a few other items that offered cover. We played “capture the flag” and the games had 20 minute limits. We had one eleven year-old, some young guys, some Army soldiers and a few older guys, but at 58, I was the oldest player on the field. There was a group of about eight soldiers, members of the 132 Quartermasters from the North Dakota National Guard. They were at Fort Lewis to process for deployment to Iraq as water supply specialists. Great young guys were out because they wanted to have some action after their Saturday Army responsibilities were completed. Thanks for your service troops!

So, now for the good part. I really liked my Impulse. What a treat to shoot and have the ball go where you aimed! And it was easy to split shots between both sides of a tree that an “enemy” player was trying to hide behind. I got paint on both sides of him before he knew it. The Impulse accuracy and fire power allowed me to create some “holes” in the other team’s skirmish line so that my teammates could maneuver with less threat. We cleaned up the left side and made the remainder retreat. When what was left of the “red” team tried to flank us to the right, we filled the few firing lanes with paint while a two man team from our left flank maneuvered in relative safety to pull their flag and return it easily to our flag station.

Liking the Impulse
The second game was equally fun, but the interest is developed when you are working from the opposite end and without walking the field trying to make up the strategy on the fly. A couple of standard rules stood out: communication is the secret to success. You have to let each other know what’s happening, where the “enemy” is, where the strengths and weaknesses are, and where you team needs cover and reinforcement. Your communication lets the other team know where you are, but not entirely.

I am not a runner, but maneuvering is still within my capability. My team was making progress and we were advancing. I reloaded behind a huge old tree stump, one of the old growth forest remnants the northwest is famous for. I was having such a good time that I decided to move forward a little more aggressively. I had the few remaining “enemy” located trying to guard their flag station from behind a couple of trees, rock piles, a fallen log and wood pile bunkers. That’s when I found out that you can easily turn off your hopper agitator while playing the game and not know it. That “you’re out of ammo” sound distracted me enough that by the time I figured out the problem and got the loader going again I had left myself without cover sufficient enough to protect me while not being able to fire. So I was out, but our team had moved forward enough that the game was over in a few more minutes.

"An Excellent Electronic Marker"
This all happened in a light rain and the beauty of northwest timber on a great Saturday afternoon. And I got to play with my son, Burt. It doesn’t get much better than that! I need to play some speedball with the Impulse before I make any definitive statements and I am getting a new hopper soon. But for right now, my Impulse is an excellent electronic marker. I shot a half a case of paint and didn’t chop a ball. All I had to do was wipe it down and put it away. The Impulse is available in its basic configuration for a very reasonable price for a birthday or holiday gift and you can upgrade it as Burt has for me when you can afford the different pieces. There are a lot of markers to choose from, but the Smart Parts’ Impulse is a good investment when you want to step up from field rental markers and start to build your own equipment.

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