Multiple bore barrel kits are nothing really new. Smart Parts introduced their Freak kit earlier this decade, and for those player who travel to different fields, it was a godsend, giving them a compact, easy to use way to chance their barrel bore to work best with whatever paint they were using that weekend. As time went on, other companies like Custom Products, Furious and others joined the fray with their offerings.
With the demise of Smart Parts as a company, many thought the Freak system was going away as well. As it turned out, KEE Action Sports’ Empire Paintball acquired a lot of the intellectual property associated with Smart Parts, which gave them the rights to manufacture and sell products like the Freak System. However, Empire has put their own spin on the Freak System by introducing the Super Freak.
While the name of the barrel kit brings back bad memories of disco songs from the 70′s, it is an apt moniker for the product. The Super Freak gives the user every possible option available, which gives them maximum flexibility for every paintball out there and every style of play. It does this with arguably better quality than the old SP system at a very good price considering what you get.
Out of the box, the first thing that struck me was the psychedelic colors used on the Super Freak’s roll up carrier. Like the name, it brought back memories of the 70′s and the wild color schemes used back then. While it might be a party on the outside, inside the carrier it’s all business.
Included in the kit is the Freak back, 5 inserts, and 3 tips. The first tip is the standard aluminum ‘progressive’ tip which everyone is familiar with. The second tip is a carbon-fiber tip aimed at minimizing weight. Finally, the third tip is Empire Paintball’s Apex tip, which is widely used in the scenario world to maximize range.
To avoid bringing in a lot of my own preconceived notions on how the system should run, I instead worked with Team BBK’s George “Fat Boy” Smith to do the actual on-field testing for this barrel system. George is an experienced scenario player, and he has some experience as a tournament player as well. We used his wife’s Ego 8 as the test gun for this review. Powering the gun’s pneumatics is a Crossfire 68/4500 air system, and George uses a DYE Rotor to handle the paint stuffing duties. All field testing was conducted at Low Country Paintball in Ludowici, GA using the field paint, Valken Graffitti.
Normally on this gun George uses the stock Planet Eclipse barrel, which in 2008 had a monster .693 bore. To him it shot okay, but obviously efficiency and precision suffered using this barrel. After some experimentation, he decided that the .689 bore in the Super Freak would work best with the paint, and he opted to use the carbon-fiber tip. The difference the system made over his stock barrel was immediate and noticeable, which was expected. The Ego 8 came alive in his hands, with pattern sizes with the Super Freak being half of what the stock barrel’s. Since the paint fit the barrel better, he also noticed an increase in efficiency as well as much more consistent numbers over the chronograph. He also tried the standard ‘Progressive’ tip and the Apex tip, which performed as expected. The Apex tip wasn’t really his cup of tea, but he also knows that they’re very popular with a lot of players.
This is all fine, well and good…properly sizing your paint to barrel is a common sense way to maximize performance from your gun, and any of the barrel kits on the market today will give these advantages to the end user. The weak spot in my mind on the old Smart Parts product was the quality of the bore inserts. They had a tendency to be a bit delicate, which meant storing them in a plastic carrier SP provided, which took up more space in your gear bag, and the carriers themselves were notorious for falling apart over time, putting the fragile thin tube bores at risk all over again.
It’s hard to quantify, but I’m guessing that Empire took a look at the materials used in the Smart Parts design and chose different materials to make them out of for the Super Freak reboot of the kit. The roll up cloth carrier does a fine job of protecting the seemingly tougher bores, and the carrier itself takes up much less space in your gear bag.
At the end of the day, the Super Freak is a psychedelic winner for Empire. It’s got all of the upsides of the older Smart Parts Freak Kit, but it seems to be better made and aside from the somewhat unfortunate color scheme for the carrier there’s nothing really to complain about. The addition of the carbon-fiber and Apex tips make a good system a great one, which for the MSRP of $199.95 makes the Empire Super Freak an extremely strong contender in the barrel kit field. It’s available in Autococker and A5 threading. For more information, or to buy a Super Freak, check out http://www.empirepaintball.com