When I was buying a new barrel, I noticed there was a definite lack of reviews for my first choice: BT's new Apex barrel. The Apex is a product of a very innovative, but also unknown nature. There has really never been anything like it, so most players have never used one. Consequently, there is a lot of hype and gripe going around. This article will clear up a lot of that, and hopefully help you decide whether or not the Apex is for you.
First of all, the technology. The paintball world saw the first example of ball-spinning barrels when the Tippmann Flatline came out. It uses a banana-shaped, uneven textured barrel that puts backspin on the ball. However, players discovered that turning the gun with the flatline on it changed "backspin" to "sidespin." Players could throw wild curvesballs, attempting to hook paintballs around bunkers.
BT designs saw the potential and ran with it. They took a technology similar to the flatline, and made it adjustable. Basically you can adjust the amount of spin on the ball: from zero to an extreme 7. Also, instead of turning the gun, you can now just turn the barrel. With adjustment of those two factors, you can change the amount of curve, and the direction. You can also turn the effect off at any time, just by turning the ramp switch to zero.
What it does
Four trick pony
Yes, it's sweet. According to BT, you can do 4 unique shots, never before possible: Left hook, right hook, long & low, and dive bomb. All of them work, but the two last shots work the best:
Left and Right hook - You turn the ramp (curve adjuster) and rotate the barrel in the desired direction. This is VERY cool when it works. However, I've found it a bit wild to control. It's almost impossible to do it on the first shot. You need to take a few shots in order to find the spot. Like throwing a frisbee, you can't aim directly at the target.
Long & Low - Ever shot a Tippmann Flatline? Well this trick shot is identical to that of the Flatline. It shoots a long, flat, almost floating trajectory (Which is eerily accurate). It comes in very handy when you've got low branches or overhead hanging in your way. The ball will go down when it leaves the barrel, but it slowly floats up. The other cool thing about this shot is that, like the Flatline, you can shoot 200+ feet no problem. The balls just go forever.
The Dive Bomb - When you get a kill using this shot, be sure to prepare your best evil grin and/or laugh. People WILL demand to know how you did it. This shot is just ridiculously cool, and it works the best of all 4. The ball leaves the barrel going almost directly up, but the spin makes it arch back in a parabolic trajectory - right over the opponent's bunker. You can literally drop a ball STRAIGHT down on them, even when you can't see them. Nobody is safe anymore.
Like I said, the only shot that you can rely on for accuracy is the long & low shot. The others require some trial and error, but once you get them where you want 'em, it's devastating. Though I haven't been able to perform real tests, I can tell you that I was able to hit 4/5 shots on a garbage can from 125 feet. After that, you can forget about ball on ball accuracy, however it's still easy to hit a human-sized target at more than that. It just takes a shot or two (But it's still better range than any barrel - ever).
If you've used a flatline and experienced poor accuracy, don't worry. I used to own a flatty, and I got rid of it because I couldn't get it tuned and it was impossible to shoot accurately regardless of range. The Apex has perfected the art of ball-spinning barrels. This OWNS the Flatline in every way.
Kudos to BT Designs for finding a cool trick and making it practical. The Apex is absolutely unbelievable, because of the fact that it works. You really can dump paint on the heads of unsuspecting bunker huggers. With a little patience, you really can hook shots around obstacles.
Stop reading and just go for it. You will have days of fun, and lots of confused (and painted) opponents.
This post has been edited by The Judge: 06 July 2006 - 12:30 AM