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Review Tippmann FT12

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    Posted: 28 September 2012 at 1:53pm
Went to the field last weekend and took the FT12.  I Used the higher quality field paint.* I attached 68/4500 air tank and an old Ricochet AK hopper.  Used the stock barrel.  I ran it for the first two games, a friend tested it for the second two and it spent the rest of the day in the hands of a new player who was having trouble with a BE Eradicator.

Overview:  Very good basic marker.  The takedown is amazingly easy, the mechanical linkage for the trigger is clever and it allows for a well balanced mechanical marker with a unique and attractive mil-sim look.*** Emphasis: Moving the grip/trigger forward and the resulting adjustment in the location of the tank make for the best balanced mechanical marker I have ever fired.

Ergonomics:  As I said very well balanced.  I like the forward grip as it suits my preferences in marker handling.  For aesthetic reasons I do wish the forward grip was only a cover with attachment points for a rail if desired but I have to admit, if it was I would add that rail and stick a grip on it.  (I just know some people that would prefer it without.)  The additional weight of the thicker barrel is noticeable but isn't problematic.  And, after having put a 10" J&J on it and seeing exactly how not right the thinner barrel looked,****  I know exactly why Tippmann designed the barrel the way they did.

I am not sure I am a fan of the feedneck attachment.  It is very secure and is easy to operate, but I am a fan of the flip-down attachments on the 98. The new system operates by sliding the flanges on the sides of the feedneck into slots on the side of the marker then turning a lever 180* to lock it in place and it has it's pros and cons:
  • Pros
    • It is marginally faster than the system on 98 series/base markers - this could make a difference to field owners with multiple markers to set up/take down/clean/maintain and this was originally designed as a rental marker.
    • It is definitely more secure, I have seen folks accidentally drop their hoppers to the side on 98 style markers at very inopportune times - this won't happen with the FT12
    • It is a simpler system
      • Less moving parts means it is probably easier and less expensive to produce
      • It also decreases the chance for failure - no little pins that can work loose like on the 98s
  • Cons
    • Adds time to doing on-field barrel cleanings with a pull-through squeegee
      • With the 98 you could drop the hopper to the side, pull a squeegee through the barrel, drop the squeegee, flip the hopper in place and be ready to go, with the FT12 that hopper is going to have to be set on the ground and picked back up during a quick barrel cleaning
    • I had to clean the barrel after I got the marker back from the gentleman with the Eradicator.  (He was using the cheaper field paint which I have quit using because of breakage issues.)  When I went to remove the hopper I had problems because a paintball was setting just right to block the movement of the feedneck once it was unlatched.  (The paintball was protruding into the breach.)
      •  In fairness, this wouldn't have been a problem if I had been using the stock hopper; the switch on the Ricochet AK kept the paint in the feed neck from reentering the hopper when I tipped the marker. 
      • I really can't see this as being a problem for most users of this marker.
 
Disassembly:  As I mentioned earlier, the disassembly is very easy; it is obvious that a lot of thought went into designing this:
  • Remove hopper as described earlier
  • Unscrew barrel
  • Push and hold button on front of grip assembly to unlock barrel nut
  • Unscrew and removed barrel nut
  • Lift front of top of marker to allow body to pivot open on rear hinge and separate body halves once body halves are clear of each other
  • Everything else is essentially lift out and the trigger assembly, while nothing like the A5 trigger assembly, is modular like in the A5.

I won't go into more detail as it would just be repeating the instruction manual but suffice it to say everyone I demonstrated this for, and I demonstrated it a lot, was quite impressed.  (I should have charged admission.)  Field owners and individual users can't help but love the disassembly on this marker.  And, for those who are wondering, I did demonstrate it for the field owners (twice) and yes, they were very impressed.

Operation:  It is a basic semi-auto mechanical marker.  It was my opinion that the blade trigger allowed for a slightly faster rate of fire than previous mechanical Tippmanns and the experienced player I let use it for a couple of games concurred with this opinion.

Shooting:  Locating the grip forward, and the resulting relocation of the tank forward, combined with the short barrel made for a very tight marker.  It worked well in thick natural cover and while working bunkers, allowing me to stay as well tucked in as an elderly pudgy guy can.  As a former military member and long time mil-sim fan, the operation of this marker well supports the looks that just scream CQB.  (I'm thinking if the opportunity arises I will have to throw a 50 rnd hopper from one of my pumps on it along with a 13 cu. in. tank and see what happens.)

Barrel:  The stock barrel is 98 threaded and is the 8 1/2" length that older players will be familiar with from the 98s and A5s.  It is, however, much better finished than these barrels ever were. The inside is honed to a bright finish with no visible imperfections of any kind.  I didn't have any issues or note any deficiencies with this barrel but the games I ran the FT12 during worked out so I was either surprising people at close range (normally from behind) or surrendering them so I didn't really engage much at longer ranges.  The experienced player who used it noted that it didn't seem as accurate at longer ranges but he was comparing it to his TM15 and after-market barrel equipped Tippmanns.  He did note that he had his best games of the day with the FT12 which he attributed to the light weight, compact size and the fact that the barrel seemed more forgiving on the paint that he was having trouble with in his other markers.  (He also eliminated me once with it - shooting me with my own marker that I let him use; that's just not right.) 

A further note on the barrel.  The new player I loaned it to who was using problematic paint did have breaks in the hopper, marker and barrel with this paint.  What was surprising was how little paint came out of the barrel when I cleaned it compared to what came out of the barrel of his Eradicator when I loaned him a squeegee and showed him how to use it.  This newer player, an older gentleman who brought his son to play, also noted that the FT12 was much more accurate than his marker.  Since he said this after breaking paint in the barrel (and because of how little I cleaned out of it despite the soup in the hopper) I am wondering if the smooth finish combined with the short barrel length contributed to some self-cleaning properties.*****  This is something that I will test further when the opportunity arises.  If this is indeed the case, this would be a boon for all users of this marker but would be especially useful to field owners as it would make for more satisfied customers.

Upgrades:  This marker was designed as a rental and, having looked at it, I don't think upgrades were considered during the design phase.  (I could be wrong, those guys at Tippmann are pretty clever.)  As far as home made mods, I think that if I really wanted to put a Cyclone Feed on one of these I could do it and tap the valve for air pretty easily.  I am fairly certain that a Response Trigger isn't a viable option.  I could see some type of e-trigger being workable and actually have an idea that involves secreting the various required parts in various places about the marker but have to admit that I probably lack the skills to make it work.  And frankly, this marker is fine the way it is.  I always have a basic mechanical marker with me at the field so I can tone down my game on days with lots of newer players and this marker is going to fill that spot for me from now on because it is lighter, easier to handle, more compact than my other choices and generally cool looking.

Other:  The FT12 will be an outstanding rental marker.  Given the looks, and the fact that I fully expect the geniuses at Tippmann to prove me wrong on the whole upgrades thing, I see this being a quite popular marker.  If I had this marker a few years ago, it would have solved my problem of what to have my niece shoot when I introduced her to paintball.  It can easily be set up compact enough that younger/smaller players can use it without having to tuck the tank either over or under their shoulder and it isn't a marker such players would necessarily outgrow.  Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes the marker of choice for new young players.


Edited Addition:  After looking at the way the sear is engaged on this marker I really have to wonder why they didn't move the grip almost to the front of the marker, make the linkage longer and just have an off the shelf mechanical bullpup.

*No, I don't know what it was, I just know I paid more for it** and was willing to do so because some of the cheaper stuff the field has been getting this year is prone to blowing up in the hoppers, markers or barrels.
**It was still cheaper than the 20 cents a ball we were paying back when I started.
***If it was a girl and I was single I would definitely ask it out.
****I fixed this with a PVC shroud and some flat black paint.
*****I wonder about this because although Lapco Big Shots don't advertise self-cleaning properties I have an 8" one that self-cleans quite well.  (For new folks; self cleaning = being able to clean out broken paint by firing additional rounds through the barrel.)


Edited by Mack - 01 October 2012 at 11:20am
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kendall View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kendall Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 September 2012 at 11:13pm
Great job, Mack. I was just on another thread talking about this marker. I'm really interested in the gun not only for myself but also as a gift for my girlfriend's son. It might actually be a better first marker than a 98 as the 98 has more to learn than meets the eye. This seems about as straight forward as it gets.

Although I understand and for the most part agree with Tippmann's approach in making an economical, durable and efficient marker, I hope they haven't limited themselves by design for mods and upgrades.

Tippmann stands to make a great profit from the perspective of parks and recreational opportunities, but I think they can advance their success with this marker for the simple reason I'm interested in purchasing one for Henry, our son. It is an affordable marker that can be easily maintained from a beginner's perspective, and one great thing about 'mil-sim' guns is the ability to modify and change your marker with the innovative mods provided by its' manufacturer and those who support the industry.

A great first addition would be that of a stock, and secondly rails to fit various grips.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lightningbolt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 September 2012 at 11:30pm
Tippmann really has all of the bases covered now with their lineup. I wouldn't expect much in the way of upgrades with the flip top. The 98, a5 and x7 fill that niche very well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 October 2012 at 3:44pm
I dunno, I'd expect to see an e-trigger upgrade at some point. Also, with the flip-top, it'd be pretty badass if you could just swap out tops for different styles. e.g. the current one for an AK mod or AR mod, etc.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kendall Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 October 2012 at 6:00pm
Good point. Much like the ability to change uppers on AR-15 lower receives for all kinds of different modifications. That is a fantastic idea, actually.

I just can't help but feel this marker has so much more potential than that of a field gun and I haven't even used it yet. I really want to check it out.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CarbineKid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 October 2013 at 1:03am
Mack
In your review you mentioned the J&J barrel looked funny compared to the stock barrel. Besides the aesthetics were there any issues with an aftermarket barrel? I'm wondering if the stepped extra thickness of the barrel serves a purpose...or is it all for looks?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mack Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 October 2013 at 11:10am
As far as I can tell the extra thickness is just for looks.  There were no operational issues with the J&J barrel.

It did look really funny though . . . and anything longer than a 10" barrel just doesn't look right at all.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2013 at 4:35pm
Originally posted by Mack Mack wrote:

As far as I can tell the extra thickness is just for looks.  There were no operational issues with the J&J barrel.

It did look really funny though . . . and anything longer than a 10" barrel just doesn't look right at all.




Yeah, it's got that SMG look to the marker, so when you throw something long on there, it screws the whole aesthetic up.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote feeling111 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 February 2014 at 9:11pm
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Edited by Mack - 19 February 2014 at 3:03pm
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