Everyone and their mom's dog has an A-5 or has owned on in the past, so it seems kinda useless churning out a review now. However, new players still ask if the A-5 is for them. So for all you folks who are interested in this marker, I hope you find this review helpful.
The Straight Dope
The A-5 is a semi-automatic paintball marker designed and manufactured by Tippmann Sports LLC. The A-5 utilizes a loading concept called the "Cyclone Feed System," which allows the marker to fire at high rates of fire without the aid of electronic hoppers or loaders. Modeled after Heckler and Koch's MP5K sub-machinegun, the A-5 is 20 inches long with the stock barrel, and weighs in at 3.5 pounds without a tank. The in-line blowback operation allows both CO2 and high pressure air to be used as propellants. The marker is available in the standard black finish as well as Real Tree and more recently, SpecOps' "Jungle Stalker" camo. The A-5 is available with either the e-grip or response trigger pre-installed.
Standard A-5 (Black) - $179
Standard A-5 (Camo) - $209
A-5 w/ Response Trigger - $229
A-5 w/ E-grip - $259
My first paintball marker was the PMI Trracer SA, which I sold for the A-5 after I became enamored by SpecOps' sexy A5-A2, back when the A2 was their flagship mod-job and their slogan was "Mods that Make Sense." Unable to afford the A5-A2 at the time, I planned on building my A2 from the ground up. Since that time however, I underwent a revelation, in terms of what a paintball marker can and should be.
One of the features that attracted me to the A-5 was the legenadary reliability that came with the Tippmann label. And for the most part, the my Tippmann has been very reliable, needing only a few drops of Gold Cup on the o-rings, which are easily accessable thanks to the A-5's "quick-strip" pins.
There is a whole sub-industry that caters solely to external modifications for the A-5. Besides the MP5K, you can make the marker resemble an M-4, AK-47, G36, UMP, M249 SAW, Thompson Sub-machine gun, and hell, even an M82 Barret! Without a doubt, Tippmann's marker is one of the most modifiable guns on the market...even if most of these mods are really just asthetic and do not do much in the way of increasing the performence of the marker.
Because the A-5's cyclone feeding system is battery-free, increasing your Tippmann's rate of fire is fairly easy, if not a bit expensive, requiring you to purchase an e-grip or a response trigger kit for you marker. With some tuning you can get your marker firing at around 30 balls per second. However, this puts extra strain on the cyclone's ratchet. If you choose to mod your A-5 with an e-grip or response trigger, an aftermarket metal ratchet like the Vortex mod is advisded.
The A-5's in-line blowback design makes the marker rather longer than other markers based off a stacked-tube desgin like my Trracer or Spyders and their clones. This becomes especially appearent when you have a barrel longer than 8". Also, the gun is damn heavy. Even without any of the dozens of external mods available for the marker, the A-5 starts to really weigh on your arm as you carry it all day at the field.
My other gripes include the cyclone itself. The cyclone sticks out the right side of the marker like a tumor. Even if you don't play speedball, chances are you'll be hit once in the cyclone during a game.
When Tippmann owners complain their Tippy is inconsistant they aren't kidding. I run with a 68/4500 HPA tank and I get fluctuations of 5-10 fps or more. If you're running with CO2, than be prepared for velocity fluctuations like 280fps to 209fps in one shot. But what's so importaint about consistancy? Well, since the paintballs are flying at different velocities after every shot they will start dropping at different ranges. You'll probably be able to gauge the approximate area your balls will land, but achieving "ball-on-ball" accuracy is nigh impossible.
I've mentioned the great accessability the quick-strip pins give the user. Unfortunately, if your problems lie deeper than the powertube and the o-rings you practically have to perform open heart surgery on the marker, unscrewing it's clamshell halves and watching out for small screws and springs that are easily lost. Good news is you won't have to do this very often.
All those aftermarket mods available for the A-5 can quickly add up and if you're not careful, you can quickly spend more on mods than what you orginally paid for the marker.
All in all...
Bottom line, the Tippmann A-5 is a durable, reliable marker that can be modded into a milsim monster if you have the patience and money. However, the marker's weight and clamshell halves can get irritating.
Regarudless, the A-5 is a solid marker and makes a great backup gun or a borrow gun.
I hope you've found this review helpful. Thanks for reading. Please post any questions, comments and disputes below.
If you want to know more about the A-5, please take the time to visit our Tippmann Subforum's thorough pinned topics.
I forgot to mention the Flatline barrel. Just like the 98 Custom, Tippmann has designed a Flatline barrel for the A-5. If you take the time to tune and clean it, the Flatline can launch paintballs about 50 ft further, with more or less the same accuracy of a traditonal barrel. (See Monitor's How-To guide to the Flatline.) The Flatline barrel can be had for about $79 depending upon where you look.
Once again, thanks for reading.
EDIT: 7-7-08, discussed A-5 consistancy
This post has been edited by MaDuce: 07 July 2008 - 09:22 PM