Machine Paintball is a new company in the paintball industry, but it’s owned by experienced designer and manufacturer Mike Spurlock. Over the years Spurlock has designed and manufactured products for his own companies as well as others. M3/Dragun, and Hard Corps were his most recent companies before Machine, making low end guns and a high performance loader respectively. Before that he designed and built the DXS Pulse loader, and his factory in Tainan City, Taiwan produces both low and high end products for other brands currently on the market today. In addition to the paintball market, Spurlock and Co. make parts and products for the Cellular phone industry and automotive industries.
But his first love has always been paintball, so he decided to create Machine Paintball as the ultimate expression of what he thinks paintball products should be. The first product for Machine is the Vapor, a super high end paintball gun. Designed from the ground up, the Vapor takes ‘high end’ to the extreme, with every feature, material, and part designed to be the very best of the best.
During the design and prototyping stages of the gun’s development, Spurlock made the guns out of 6061-T6 Aluminum, which is a staple in the aviation industry. It’s also widely used in the paintball industry due to its’ toughness and easy machine ability.
Early prototypes came out of anodizing looking just like everyone else’s gun, which for this gun wasn’t good enough for Machine Paintball. After some experimentation with different alloys, Mike decided to use 6065 Aluminum, which is slightly harder than 6061. The finish that anodized 6065 gives vs. 6061 is night and day, giving depth to the colors, and a very bright finish.
Most high end guns come with a nice case to store the gun in, but again Spurlock wanted to be ‘next level’, and created a custom case for the Vapor. The outer shell is molded out of very tough ABS plastic featuring the Machine Paintball logo, and internally the gun sits in foam, while the barrel kit sits on purpose built studs that hold the barrel backs and tip in place for transport, but makes it very easy to pick them out for use. The Vapor ships with a curved trigger installed, but to appeal to everyone’s tastes in triggers, a second trigger comes with the gun, this one a reverse curved trigger similar to aftermarket triggers from Critical Paintball and others. Also in the case is a basic tool kit, replacement o-rings, and a small tub of grease to lube up the gun.
The Vapor is a relatively small gun, with the vital statistics as follows:
Height: 195 mm (7.68 inches)
Width 36 mm (1.42 inches)
Length 535 mm (21.06 inches with barrel attached)
Weight 1 pound, 15 ounces (with barrel and battery)
Out of the box the Vapor lived up to its’ name, with a light, feathery feel to it. The Vapor is a hoseless gun, with air being routed internally through passages milled in the gun’s body and frame. The inline regulator is purpose built for the Vapor.
The gun’s feed neck is milled into the body, giving it a very low ‘no rise’ height. Rather than using cuts in the feed neck to help it clamp onto a loader, the Vapor’s no-rise has a slot cut into it and the clamp itself impinges into the feed neck’s barrel to directly clamp onto a hopper.
The gun’s ASA has a built in on/off using a lever to control the gun’s air supply. Turning the air supply to the gun off also degasses the gun.
The ‘bolt engine’, which handles the paint and air for the gun comes out of the gun’s body by pushing a button up and pulling the bolt out for cleaning and lubing. The eye covers attach to the gun magnetically as well as having a small mechanical latch to make sure they stay in place.
Electronically the Vapor is powered by Advanced Paintball Electronics (APE) custom built for the Vapor featuring Gen 4 programming and an OLED display. While I didn’t try to find it, there are rumors of a ‘stealth’ break out mode on APE boards that is absolutely devastating when used. When asked about the existence of this ‘stealth’ mode on the Vapor’s board, neither representatives from APE or Machine Paintball would confirm or deny the existence of the mode. Programming the board is accomplished by choosing what options you want to modify using an on screen menu. It also features a lock to make the gun tournament legal.
For this review Machine Paintball sent a blue/clear gun, which they call the “Ice Vapor”. As I play mainly scenario games, I left the gun’s rate of fire settings at the factory 15 balls per second, and set it to use ramping. The Vapor requires a low pressure input, no higher than 650 psi going into the gun’s ASA. For testing I used a Custom Products 68/4500 air system with a low pressure kit installed, giving an output of about 500 psi.
I used the stock barrel kit for most of the testing, and to handle stuffing paint into the gun’s breech, I used a DYE Rotor. For her part of the testing, Team BBK’s Ashley Ford used a pre-production black/purple gun powered by her DYE Rotor and using a Guerilla Air LP Myth 45/4500 air system. She also used the stock barrel kit for the majority of testing.
Over the chronograph, once we got the velocity dialed in to where we wanted it, the Vapor was on the extreme side of consistent. Using fresh Valken Graffiti, velocity spreads were no more than 1 foot per second, with long strings of shots at exactly the same velocity.
The guns were tested over the course of several different events, including scenario games, walk on play, and a large tournament scrimmage. X.O. Industries Spectrum, RP Premium, Valken Field, and Valken Graffiti were all used during the course of testing. Testing was conducted at Low Country Paintball in Ludowici, GA, Carnage Paintball in Woodstock, GA. The Castleman Compound in Moultrie, GA and Gator Paintball in Hudson, Florida.
On the field, the gun’s light weight made it easy to flick in and out of a bunker, and with the no-rise feed neck, contending with the inertia of the hopper’s weight was reduced significantly. The Vapor flicks up into firing position naturally and very, very quickly. Ashley’s pre-production Vapor was noticeably louder than the production gun, but hers was by no means loud. The production gun is very quiet, but it gives enough aural feedback to make someone used to a poppet style gun to be comfortable with it. When the gun is in ramping mode, once the ramping kicks in, the Vapor has a chattering quality to its’ sound signature, but it’s much quieter than a poppet style gun’s sound signature would be.
During a tournament scrimmage at Low Country Paintball, most players commented on the gun’s grips, which to them were a touch thick and chunky. I personally didn’t notice them being overly thick, but I have very large, strong hands. For those who don’t like the grips, I would imagine that it’s only a matter of time before companies like Stinger Design make thin acrylic grips for the Vapor. “Jeezy” of GTF Paintball complained that the gun was TOO light, but he felt that it was something that he could very easily get used to. “Big Scott” of Team Magically Delicious didn’t like the test gun’s curved trigger, but was very pleased to hear that the gun ships with another trigger to suit his tastes. “Pedro” and “Big Scott” both commented on the gun’s grips being a bit thick for their tastes.
They all liked the flat trajectory the Vapor offers, and the efficiency was a major plus for them. During testing the Vapors we had got anywhere from 1500-1800 shots per 68/4500 fill, depending on environmental conditions and paint. Ashley’s gun got 1200-1500 shots per 45/4500 fill.
As expected, the tournament grade Valken Graffiti shot the best with the Vapor. Using Graffiti, the Vapor is extremely precise. During a Zombie inspired scenario game at LCP, I was playing as a human, and the only way to take out the Zombies was to shoot them in the head using event-only Valken Graffiti. Using the Vapor, I gleefully started picking out what part of the head to shoot opposing players in. Using the lower end Valken Field and X.O. Spectrum opened up the shot pattern somewhat, but even in the hot, humid conditions testing was conducted in the Vapor remains a precise shooter. The mid-range RP Premium shot very well through the Vapor, but not as precise as the tournament grade Graffiti.
During the later stages of testing, we fitted both guns with Deadlywind Carbon Fiber barrels. Ashley used a Deadlywind Fibur barrel, while I fitted a Deadlywind Null barrel to my Ice Vapor. To Machine Paintball’s credit, the only noticeable difference adding the Deadlywind barrels gave was slightly decreasing the gun’s weight and making them slightly quieter. The Vapor’s stock barrel kit compares very well with Deadlywind’s precise and accurate Null and Fibur barrels.
For the US Market, only 100 Vapors a month are coming in. This makes the Machine Paintball Vapor an exclusive gun. The Vapor is designed to be a top of the line, exclusive gun using the very best in materials and design elements.
The MSRP for the Machine Paintball Vapor is $1650, which makes owning the very best an expensive proposition, but as they say you get what you pay for. For the player who wants to stand out from the crowd while getting exceptional performance, along with a 2 year warranty, the Machine Paintball Vapor is the way to go.
As the year progresses, Machine Paintball isn’t stopping. Design has started on different guns to appeal to the scenario/woodsball markets, as well as other products. For more information, check out http://www.machinepaintball.com