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The Smart Parts Ion is somewhat of a venture into new territory for Smart Parts, a company synonymous with the quality high-end tourney type of marker: – the Impulse and the Shocker being prime examples of these. But no, here comes the Smart Parts Ion, a low to mid priced ($300ish) marker aimed at as possibly being a first purchase, or a first step up from a cheaper marker. So what’s Smart Parts game?? What are they playing at?? Is the Ion just a high-end shell with cack internals and naff functionality?? Well, lets find out shall we and, yes there is good reason why the Smart Parts Ion was a seriously anticipated paintball gun back when it was released back in 2003
Check the Smart Parts company website too
Around $300 US (check this out)
What you get in the box
·Barrel plug/condom (depending on how you like to say it…)
·9V battery used as power source for electronic trigger
·Manual and 1 year warranty
I will be honest with you, from first impressions of the Smart Parts Ion; I was not overly impressed…I thought it kinda had a tacky, rubbery, plastic-ey type feel to it. It just somehow didn’t look overly refined to me, even for a marker at this price range. I mean, if you took something like a Spyder E-99 and sat it down next to this and was begged the question, “Well, which one looks cooler??” I’m sorry, but the E-99 would win, hands down.
But the Ion’s looks grew on me, I must say. I was wooed even more when this baby performed, yassers, it was poetry in motion for a marker of this price. Getting a little side-tracked there …Yes the coating, which is composed of a composite-type material (the marker itself is actually made of aluminium), is there in place for protective purposes, to protect against whatever cack and abuse you give this gun.
Another cool feature this body kit allows is to change and interchange the colours of the body kit. With the tools you get with the gun and a little bit of time, the body kit can be removed quite easily and replaced. There is quite a variety of colours out there too- yellow and black, red and black, blue and black and just plain black. So, you can wear your heart on your sleeve a little, or your gun (as the case maybe) and have a colour that suits your playing mood. Or if you plain get sick of the blue Ion you bought last week, at least you could make it a yellow one this week.
Looks in a nutshell:
Initially, I thought the Smart Parts Ion had a very plastic, almost ugly look to it, but given time the looks became more appealing, even palatable. The composite material the aluminium body is coated in is there to crank up the durability of the marker and take some flak that you will inevitably give it. There is also the option of changing the colour of the body kit, as the body kits have been designed to be inter-changeable, with the available colours being yellow and black, red and black, blue and black and just plain black.
·Electronic trigger with four firing modes (semi-auto, fully-auto, three shot burst and rebound)
·17 bps capable in semi auto and rebound modes, 10 bps in fully auto and 3 shot bursts.
·Easily customisable dual fingered trigger, that includes a magnetic return feature that enables easier “walking” of the trigger
·12″ Smart Parts threaded barrel as stock, also accepts barrels threaded for the Impulse
·Vision Beam-break anti chopping device (bolt won’t fire ball until ball is fully loaded, virtually eliminating chopping)
·2lbs 2oz’s in weight, making it only marginally heavier than the more expensive Shocker (minus ballistic medium tank and paintball hopper of course)
·Low pressure operating gun (around 140-180psi)
·Open bolt design assembly
How does this baby shoot??
Right, now we get down to the good stuff
Firepower: So, for shelling out $300US on the Smart Parts Ion, what sort of ball slinging ability are we buying into here?? I am excited to say that you would be buying into a gun that has, quite frankly, an intimidating rate of fire for this price. Try 17 bps for size on semi-auto and rebounce/rebound modes and 10 bps on fully-auto and three shot burst modes. Those are the four modes of firing that the electro trigger that comes with the Ion enables, the mode switches are found inside the rear grip.
Btw, the rebound feature is an interesting feature, so for anyone that is a tad curious as to what it is, let me explain a little. Its kind of a grading program that the circuit board is programmed for, and tries to act almost like a “predictor” of your firing intentions. If you start pulling the trigger very quickly, the gun reads this and thinks “ok, this person is pulling the trigger really quickly now…hmmmm…they obviously want to fire lots of paintballs very quickly…so lets up their firing capacity”. So the firing mode is ramped up from semi auto to 3 shot burst and then finally to fully auto until the person stops pulling the trigger, then the program resets to semi auto when the trigger is pulled again. It’s a really nifty feature, but one you either love or hate. I personally like it and find it really cool, but I know my opinion is not too widely shared.
The gun runs well off of CO2, but HPA is definitely the ballistic medium of choice. If you do want to run it off CO2, grab a high-pressure canister so as to keep up with the high ball-slinging rate of the Smart Parts Ion. The regulator that the Ion comes stock with will help ease any pressure spiking that might affect the velocity of the balls very well. However, I can tell you that the electronics in the marker will not be overly impressed if they get a little chilly from the drop in temperature if any liquid CO2 finds its way into the gun. Do the electronics a favour and grab a CO2 tank with an anti-siphoning feature on it. Overall though, HPA has the smoothest velocity consistency for ball popping.
Based on the fact the gun is low pressure, you certainly get a decent amount of balls out of the barrel before the gun gets puffed out and has to catch its breath, so to speak
One of the other many excellent features to be found on the Smart Parts Ion is the Vision anti ball chopping system. It is essentially a sensor that detects if a paintball is fully loaded before it allows the bolt to be released and paintball catapulted towards its victim. This feature virtually eliminates any ball chopping that might occur in the barrel from a mis-loaded ball and an over anxious trigger-monger. There is one draw back to this, and that’s watch out with darker coloured paint. The Vision eye system often has a little difficulty registering its presence in the barrel. Stick the lighter colours such as yellow, orange etc to be on the safe side.
Accuracy: As my list of admirable points for the Smart Parts Ion is growing, we come to the accuracy of the gun, and I have to say that straight from off the shelf and out of the box, this gun is surprisingly accurate. The 12″ stock barrel that comes pro stock with the marker is one of the best stock barrels that arrives with a gun in this price range. I have to say though that I was initially a bit suspect of it, upon closer examination of the barrel, you will notice that only a small portion of it is ported. But, this turned out not to be too much of a problem.
If you want some specifics as to the distances of accuracy of Smart Parts Ion, up to 100ft the barrel works well, but beyond 100ft, there is some spreading out in the shots, especially on multiple shot firing. A longer, more upmarket barrel would definitely tighten this up. But unless you want sniper-type accuracy from the Ion, there really shouldn’t be too much of a hurry to rush out and upgrade the barrel. A decent barrel, if your interested though, would be the Freaks’ barrel set that Smart Parts themselves manufacture.
As a side note, the Ion can also accept barrels that are threaded for the Impulse, which is a neat feature.
Trigger: The trigger is an interesting feature of the Smart Parts Ion, and one that has a little bit of controversy surrounding it. The focal point of this “controversy” is the magnet that Smart Parts have snuck inside the trigger of the Ion. The magnet inside the trigger is there as a kind of “push back” mechanism i.e. the magnet allows the trigger to return fractionally quicker than usual. If you have little flight-footed pinkies, this feature lets you dance the trigger and get a high rate of fire from it.
However, it can lead to some stiffness in the trigger, as the magnet is resisting your pulling motion on the trigger. This has actually led to some people taking the magnet out, and if that suits you, then that’s cool.
There is a site out there that tells you how to remove the magnet, the link is right here (insert link)
I personally have never had any trouble with the magnet (the Smart Parts Ion is the first paintball marker I ever bought ).
Another wicked-cool feature of the trigger is, it’s a piece of cake to customize. A couple of screw turns later and you can adjust the triggers sloppiness and tightness to suit your firing style.
How does this baby feel in action??: The first thing that will strike you as you lift this brand new baby out of the box, is just how incredibly light this marker is!! At little over 2.2lbs, the Smart Parts Ion is only fractionally heavier than the Shocker, which is over twice the price of the Ion. To top it off, the Ion is well balanced when the canister and hopper were tacked on. This makes for a super manoeuvrable feel AND The kick on this gun is almost non-existent.
One feature that I feel the Ion is missing is a drop forward. With the gas tank attached, it has almost a rifle-like feel to it. If you wanted to turn the Ion into a neat, trim little operator then a drop forward is a definite upgrade you should consider.
The grip was also little small for my hands, I am one of these people with thin gangly fingers and it was a little uncomfortable holding the Ion. Plus the ASA was a bit of pain.
I also had an issue with the power button. The button makes it a real pain in the ass to tell if the gun is on or not. The only way to tell, is if the red LED under the button is lit or not, which is hard to see, especially when you have your finger over it. There is no click or anything like that. I had to physically feel the gun to see if it was heating up or not. If you wear any hand protection then it becomes nigh on impossible to tell if you have switched the gun on or not.
Second to that, the button is damned stiff!! Straight out of the box is the worst and it does get a little easier with time. But even after owing a Smart Parts Ion for a while, you still have those moments where you feel like tearing your hair out trying to turn to gun on. No fun, believe me…
How does the Smart Parts Ion shoot in a nutshell??
Phew, the Ion has so much cool stuff (and a little not so cool) to talk about. But, you want a summary right?? Ok here goes…
The Smart Parts Ion has four firing modes, and can belt out 17 bps in semi auto and rebound modes and 10bps in fully auto and 3 shot bursts. The anti-chop system works like a dream, although I recommend you look into using light coloured paintballs with it. The Ion also can handle CO2 but I recommend using a high-pressure tank with some kind of anti-siphon system, but better still, use HPA or nitro. The stock barrel in surprisingly accurate, although looses accuracy over 100ft distances and on any more than one shot being fired. The customisable trigger is a doddle to adjust by a few screw turns but some people find the magnetic return trigger to be a little stiff. The gun is fantastically light and well balanced at a slim 2.2 lbs. The real troublesome issue remains with the on/off button, which is annoying unresponsive, second to that, the grip is a tad on the thin side for my liking.
The Smart Parts Ion is not a simple marker to strip and maintain and it’s certainly not a gun you would want to go kaput on the field. So I advise you to take some time and patience, especially in the beginning to suss out what’s going.
Fortunately help is at hand though!! The manual that comes with the Ion is jam-packed full of info and juicy technical pics to help you along the way. This is a real godsend, so before you start the maintenance process, do yourself a favour and check out the manual.
The Smart Parts Ion also has a decent 9v battery life, but I seriously recommend buying spare battery set, preferably ones that are rechargeable (the stock batteries do NOT come with a charger).
Maintenance in a nutshell:
I can sum up the maintenance of the Ion in three words: USE-THE-MANUAL!! The Smart Parts Ion is not the simplest marker to maintain, but you look after it and it will look after you on the field.
With this being one versatile mother of a gun, there are a real wide variety of people that could use this gun.
It is cheap enough for someone to buy this a first gun, but I would recommend the Smart Parts Ion as a first step-up after purchasing his or her first gun and want some more serious firepower. Christ, after a few upgrades, this baby could make it as a low-level tourney gun and even as a back up gun for higher end tourney players.
In terms of types of games, the least likely place to the Smart Parts Ion would be at the scenario type games. But everywhere else, sure!! The most popular place being on the rec ball field, but the Ion is sharp enough and fast enough for low level tourneys and speedball. You may also see it in a few woodsball games too .
Well, lets round all this up then shall we…
The Smart Parts Ion is a true over-achiever in its price class. Behold a marker that for $300 US has a list features that you would be hard pushed to find on a marker that costs $700 US.
Sure, the Smart Parts Ion is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s certainly good enough!! I seriously and whole-heartedly recommend the Smart Parts Ion gun to absolutely every kind of paintball player except possibly the scenario players and high-level tourney player. Everyone else be my guest!!