PBC takes a look at the new Smart Parts Ion
Review by Daniel Tyler
|$300 welting machine|
The Smart Parts Ion is a very inexpensive gun with a lot of punch. The Ion is a lightweight marker with break beam anti-chop eyes, 17 balls per second performance, and feather-lite trigger pull. The Ion is a very capable marker that will cost you less than three hundred dollars!!!
|The paint you shoot in|
a month will cost more
The Ion has a unique composite exoskeleton that shrouds the aluminum body. Other than the trigger and the exoskeleton, the rest of the gun is made of aluminum. The exoskeleton is available in four colors red, black, yellow, and blue. The removal of the exoskeleton is quite easy once you have the Ion disassembled. Disassembly is quite easy with the step by step instructions for the manual.
|Under the hood|
The basic operation of the Ion is quite simple; due to its simplicity the Ion shouldnít give any operator any trouble. The bolt is similar to the Shocker, but the Ion operates with a blow-forward concept. Air from the solenoid drives the bolt back to allow it chamber a ball and to seal the dump chamber. Charged air that is ready to propel the ball forward is stored behind the bolt. When the Ion is fired, the air propels the bolt forward till the bolt reaches its furthest forward motion when air goes through the bolt to the ball.
|Easy to disassemble|
The plastic double trigger is returned by a magnet. The trigger has a stop screw to adjust the pull. Once you remove the grips, you can adjust the post travel of the trigger. I was able to make the trigger pull very short. In fact I had the trigger pull set so short that the Ion bounced uncontrollably. After backing it out a bit, the Ionís trigger was very responsive. Even without the Rebound settings (more about rebound later) the Ion is a very fast shooting gun. Anyone that can follow instructions can adjust the trigger pull. In fact the whole gun is relatively easy to work on with the proper allen wrenches that are included with the gun.
|Easy velocity adjustments|
The Ion comes with a wrench to adjust the regulator. Typically you donít want more than 225 PSI going into the gun. Adjustment is easy with the supplied wrench. Counter clockwise and the pressure decreases. Clockwise and the pressure increases. The regulator is a new design from Smart Parts. During testing the regulator was very consistent and the Ion never once had any drop off even with rapid long strings of paint. The Ion regulator is solid performer I donít see a deep need to replace it based on performance. The only gripe I have against it is that it can come out of adjustment easily while not under pressure. A sure fire way to ensure that you donít over pressurize the Ion when gassing up is to make sure that the regulator adjustment is screwed in (counter clockwise). I inadvertently pumped about 700 psi into the Ion (very very bad to do this mind you) and the Ion protested with air hissing out everywhere. I took the gun apart and made sure everything was okay, luckily for me it was as I was really looking forward to playing with it.
|Team rolling with the Ion|
The feedneck is a mid-rise with two orings in the neck to grasp onto a loader. I found that I could fit Halos, Evolutions, Apaches, as well as all the Reloader variants. The orings do help to keep the loader on the gun. Personally I would have preferred that Smart Parts would have made a no-rise but the feedneck threading are Impulse threads and by now there are tons of aftermarket feed necks available now. Mine will have a Q-Lock from Smart Parts on it as soon as this review is published.
The barrel that comes on the Ion is basically a hollow tube. The barrel is Impulse threading so some of you wonít even need to buy a replacement. I was not impressed with the groupings that I got from the stock barrel. But with the Ion retailing for less than three bills I can see how Smart Parts saved us some money. I found my old All American barrel from my previous Impulse that I had a couple of years ago and on the Ion the groupings were very tight. I still feel that my Shocker has tighter groupings but the Ion was very respectable. At 120 feet the Ion is capable of a pie pan sized grouping. Couple that with the rate of fire on the Ion and it becomes very respectable on the field.
The Ion features four modes of fire full-auto (capped at 10 bps), 3 shot burst, semi-auto, and Rebound. You all pretty much know what full-auto, 3 shot, and semi-auto are. Rebound is basically what the Turbo mode was on the earlier Shockers. In Rebound mode, the Ion basically multiplies the trigger actions. To basically state it, the Ion has a 17 bps cap and with Rebound on, it is very easy to hit that cap with one finger. You will need to find out if your local field will allow this mode otherwise; the Ion in semi-auto is easily capable of high rates of fire once you have the trigger adjusted to your liking.
On the field the Ion was fitted with a Halo, my old All American barrel, and a 68 4500 tank. The overall profile of the Ion fully setup is very compact. The duckbill ASA that came with the Ion felt good with the tank as I prefer my setup to be long. The longer setup really helped me keep the gun stable when I did my run and guns/throughs. I used the Ion in semi-auto for the testing with XO Velocity paintballs. The Ion setup with the accurate XO paintballs had me taking out a lot of people. Needless to say the Ion is a fun ride and it doesnít cost an arm or a leg to get. I am really impressed to have a gun that has break-beam eyes and high rate of fire for less than $300 that is not a sear-tripper. The Ion would make a great back-up (even primary) gun for any paintball player.