F2A Review: JT Splatmaster z300

JT Splatmaster z300 Sniper

You know the drill.

First, a little more about what JT Splatmaster is about, what the JT First Shot Challenge is, and where Splatmaster is going next, thanks to Rich Telford (XSV Paintball), commissioner of the JT First Shot Challenge, Pro Paintball player (for 20 years now), and overall cool guy:

And that being said,  here’s the demo video and some shots I traded with Thomas Taylor after PSP Chicago.  Dude is a beast at normal paintball, and it was an honor to trade paint with him.

STATISTICS:

  • Price: approx. $49.99
  • Available:  Now, varies by location 
  • Range: approx. 100′ (flat, not angled)
  • Priming Mech: Side-lever arm, mimics a bolt-action feel of sorts
  • Capacity: 15 Splatmaster .50 paintball rounds
  • Loading: Breech-loaded, through an opening on the top of the marker.
  • FPS: Approx. 140, but may shoot higher.
  • Attachments:  Tac rails on top and bottom (perfect fit for picatinny mounts, I have used a GoPro mount), removable and adjustable stock.  Stock has a spot to attach a sling/bandolier.
    Barrel plug is included.
  • EDIT 07/16/13 Sorry for overlooking this – if it wasn’t obvious the priming arm is on the LEFT side of the blaster, effectively making this only for right-handed people.  The z200 is still a decent enough primary for both lefties and righties, but lefties are going to have a bit of a different mechanic from righties if they use the z300.
JT Splatmaster z300 (barrel plug is in)

Tactical rails along the top and bottom of the barrel; picatinny mounts work just fine 🙂

Safety button

Down the sight, and this aims pretty well.!

The lever arm priming mech; kinda felt like a bolt-action rifle after a bit.

.50 paintballs are loaded throught the breech here (the blue part is a door you push open to load)

Your ammo stores here; see how many shots you have left

 I first checked out Splatmaster with the z100 pistol and z200 shotgun, and the z300 is way different from either. 

The z100 and z200 were tested with a chronograph to around 120 fps; the z300 will usually hit around 140 fps but I have seen videos where the fps hit around 180 fps at max.  So, definitely a beefier, stronger shot.  However, the priming arm mechanic feels a lot slower than the z200’s pump-action motion so there’s definitely going to fall on the player whether they want the power of a z300 or a faster run and gun style the z200 lends itself to.  Additionally, the z300 adds a little backspin to keep the shot aloft (hop up?), so I sometimes sailed a little high from my target.  It took some adjustment at first, but eventually I got comfortable.  Still, the power and accuracy in the z300 are pretty righteous.  It’s a nice trade if you have a more deliberate and surgical play style.  Overall, the range and accuracy are pretty impressive.  I’ll definitely do a follow up with higher standing targets and revisit this in the future.

The EXPERIENCE:
  
 Let’s talk about how the z300 handles and feels.  As far as holding it, the adjustable stock really helps.  It’s comfortable, and after holding other toy blasters it feels skinnier and a bit easier to aim, carry, hold, and run with by comparison.  The styling lends itself really well to a proper rifle, making moving and aiming pretty intuitive.  If I had to critique anything, I’d say it needs a bipod, as this is the Sniper type of marker in the lineup.  The priming action is smooth, the trigger pull doesn’t fight, and the arm sits against the body in line with the rest of the marker, so if I strap it to my back it doesn’t jab at me.  There is only one sling point though, and that’s on the back of the removable stock.

Removable stock with 5 different settings.  The sling point is that loop on the back of the stock .

Furthermore on the handling.  The z300 loads through a door in the top of the marker that holds the paintballs (illustrated in the pics above.)  With every move of the priming handle, a ball loads into the barrel (via gravity and a follower that pushes the balls along, it might take some practice or jiggling if you experience any misfires) and the trigger pull launches the ball.  I didn’t experience any chopped/broken balls so far and misfires are rare (and I’ll attribute those to human error), so between the paint and the marker itself, everything is pretty reliable.  You can reload the chamber either one at a time with paintballs but there are also speedload tubes (pods) that JT makes (see the pic below) to expedite the reload process.  It took a little practice to get the right motion/angle to get the tube to push the door down and feed the balls, but as you can see in the video above I got it.

In a way, this simulates refilling your hopper with a full pod (and it’s very possible to miss reloading a proper paintball hopper too, so that’s just part of the game.)  Either way you choose to do it, you have options.  In fact, of the existing ammo containers, the grenade shaped ammo packs work pretty well too, just they’re bulkier than the speedload tubes (and during the Splatmaster First Shot challenge you only have 30 rounds per player, so starting ammo & 1 tube.)

Bottom line, while the priming motion and rate of fire is a tad slower than the z200, the z300 is definitely worth the $49.99 for it’s power, range, accuracy, portability, aesthetics, and just overall feel.  For kids and adults looking to start in paintball this is a great offering.  It is definitely one of the coolest looking things I’ve used, and handles so nicely.  That the rails accommodate picatinny accessories (like my GoPro mount) is a huge plus (and might address the bipod gripe I have) and only adds to how much I like this marker and is a must-try for anyone thinking about this line.  So far Splatmaster has the z90 (not reviewed yet, debuted at JT Splatmaster Chicago), the z100, z200, and now the z300.  Each offers a little something different in the play experience so see which suits you!  Just please remember to obey the local laws regarding paintball products, please. 

In closing, big thanks to Rich, Thomas, and everyone at Empire/JT for their time and efforts.  Hope to see you all again!  As a majority of my time with them was spent at THE FIRST JT First Shot Challenge in Chicago, of course I have pics 🙂  Splatmaster is a brand worth watching with what their goal is (building paintball by making it more accessible to people) and what they’re making for people.  They’ve got some great ideas, and I hope to see them come to fruition.

https://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/picasaweb.googleusercontent.com/slideshow.swf

 PIC PREVIEW SPAM:

 

Fish Out of Water – Playing in Living Legends 6 [paintball]

First, let’s get some pertinent links out of the way:

CPX Paintball
Living Legends of Paintball
Viper Paintball Scenarios

A favorite saying I have is that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  Having played Nerf so much, I also try to keep an open mind about the other Ways to Play out there, whether it’s water pellets, rubber bands, or in this case, paintball.

I barely remember my first time playing paintball, just that it was a bachelor party.  It was fun, but definitely different from Nerf in range, pain factor, ammo capacity, and so much more.  It was its own game, and I had a blast when all was said and done.  It was cost-prohibitive to me though, so I didn’t play all that often.  Whenever someone had another bachelor party or random get together, I managed.  And then I found out about Living Legends.

For a little history, the first Living Legends was held in 2008, and it was a relatively huge paintball scenario game that took place at CPX Sports, an approx. 143 acre property with about 18 or so different fields.  Only for Living Legends…. basically the entire park was the battlefield.  It was intended to let people come together and have a great experience playing paintball with some of the greats in the sport.  And maybe through the weekend, earn a legend of your own.   That first Living Legends had just under 700 people.

This year’s, number 6, had just under 2,000. 

CPX is below:

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=CPX+Sports,+Chicagoland,+Schweitzer+Road,+Joliet,+IL&aq=0&oq=cpx+c&sll=39.739318,-89.266507&sspn=8.697629,19.753418&t=h&ie=UTF8&hq=CPX+Sports,+Chicagoland,+Schweitzer+Road,+Joliet,+IL&hnear=&radius=15000&ll=41.466207,-88.155785&spn=0.071946,0.071946&output=embed” width=”425″>
View Larger Map

Anyway, I decided this was something I needed to experience at least once, so I went for it.  Two teams (New Empire vs The Horde), and a game that ran all weekend.  I picked up some gear, played a couple of more times at CPX leading up to Living Legends, and finally this happened –

(Language warning, a word or 2 slips in the video)

It was intense, it was dirty, it was great.  Work to organize an event like this began about 6 months prior, in order to organize missions, planned skirmishes, the works.  Points and objectives were all out there, it was up to us the players and our commanders to get out there and do the work.  From about 10 AM until 6 PM I was respawning and marching to different points of conflict, making friends along the way, and just throwing myself into it.  If there was a particular spot they needed people, I went.  If I was walking along and ran across a firefight, I joined the line.  It was by and large one of the most physically demanding things I ever put my body through (on top the gear and activity, it was about 80+ degrees that weekend so water was my best friend) but it was worth every bruise and sore muscle afterward, just to say that I did it.

I had a number of tense moments in trees, bushes, and buildings thinking that I’d turn a corner and run into a cadre of Horde team members all bearing down on me, or just trading shots with multiple targets and hearing paintballs fired at 270-300 fps zip past my ear, break on trees and burnt out cars.  And your only choice is to keep going until you’re hit, paint, or air ran out.  (And the way they handled logistics, it was more likely you’d get hit before the other 2 conditions played out.)

Not to mention that there were some great people I ran into.  Our Commander, Wolf , was very easy to talk to and say hi, whether at HQ or at the concession stand.  I used a few videos of TechPB’s as a reference about what to expect and how to prepare, and managed to meet him as well.  Everyone I spoke to (either on the field or moments of down time) was either willing to help answer a question about where to go, what to do, or if a ball had broken on me.  The refs were great, making sure the rules were followed but also that players had answers and most importantly, were doing ok.  I had never been asked/told to hydrate so much, it was good reminder.

Also, in the video I mentioned “tanks” and this is kinda like what I’m talking about –

Taken from Bunker Shots – https://www.facebook.com/Bunkershots

Sadly, I only went for 1 day.  Day 2 was the “Final Battle” where moments like this were commonplace: (it’s a battle over a single spot to score points). 

Photo taken from “Bunker Shots”  – https://www.facebook.com/Bunkershots

That being said, I consider this Bucket List item only half complete.  Next year!  Until then, I’ll keep exploring this hobby too and hopefully have a new trick or two up my sleeve for next year.  There’s truly nothing else like it that I’ve experienced yet, and I can’t wait to do it all again.

See you on the field.

Thank you so much to CPX and Viper for putting this all together!  Thank you to the pro shop staff!  To HK Army!  And most of all, to every player that was on that field.  It was an honor.

Announced: JT Splatmaster Tournament is coming to Chicago(land!) PSP Chicago, June 2013!

Fresh from JT Splatmaster… they’re starting a way to introduce newcomers to league play and competition!

(my original review here: http://foamfromabove.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-jt-splatmaster-z100-z200-and.html)  I was a fan of it then, and am still a fan of it now.  Between the accuracy and the comfortable feel of the Splatmaster line, it’s a solid buy if you’ve been thinking about it.  It’s nowhere near as painful as paintball (due to the decreased fps) but tons of fun at closer ranges than you might expect with paintball.

All the rules and regs are listed here:
http://empirepaintball.com/jt-first-shot/. More, after the break.

Players must NOT have any tournament experience!

When:
  • Saturday, June 22
  • 8am-6pm
Where:
2903 Schweitzer Road
Joliet, IL 60436
Registration: $75 for a 3 person team.  But here’s the part where I find it interesting….
Divisions
  • JT SplatMaster
o   No previous paintball tournament experience
o   4 players max per team roster
o   Age Groups
  12 and under
  13 and older
o   Equipment – Must use provided event equipment to participate
  JT SplatMaster z200 Shotgun
  JT Goggle
  JT SplatMaster Ammo
  Quick Load Tube
  JT SplatMaster Versus Vest
o   Paint Consumption
  30 balls per player per point
o   Simple Rules – 
  4 minute matches
  If a player is hit directly by a ball that player is eliminated
  If a ball breaks on the bunker and sprays on the player that player is not eliminated 
  No foul language
  No Alcohol
  No physical contact
o   Prizes Per Age Group –
  1st Place
  Trophy per player
  JT SplatMaster z200 Shotgun per player
  2nd Place
  Medal per player
  JT SplatMaster z90 Pistol
  3rd Place
  Medal per player
So there you go.  If you’re an adult and not quite sure how you like regular paintball (like many of my friends), a parent with a 13+ child and looking for a fun activity to get into together, or just looking to introduce yourself to the sport or try something new, this might be the way to go!
Nevermind that CPX is known worldwide as one of the best fields in the nation (if not the world) but just to get out there and try something new.  
I do love Nerf and everything that goes along with it, but I also keep an open mind.  I’ll be checking this out, and hope to see you on the field.

Review: JT Splatmaster – z100 & z200! (and a group shootout to boot!)

Splatmaster Playgroup – late 20-early 30 year olds, varying levels of experience with gas-powered paintball

Ah, paintball.  Flinging spheres of paint at 200-300 fps out of CO2 charged markers in games of combat, whether objective or elimination based, it’s a hobby that has had quite the following.  In Illinois, we have a truly unique field, CPX Sports that has a HUGE selection of fields.  And not just inflatables, but some include a full-on town (Bedlam), a burnt out city (Armageddon) and an ancient temple (Jungle of Doom).  What does all this have to do with JT Splatmaster, from JT Paintball?

JT Splatmaster wanted a review, and CPX was willing to let me bring a group over to play and give some feedback on both the JT Splatmaster markers and the field itself.  And on that note, let’s take a look at the markers.  Also available are a bevy of accessories, and you can read more about those HERE

First, the  JT SPLATMASTER Z100 PISTOL($29.99):

With barrel plug inserted; and pullback assistance handle attached.
A look at the magazine (7 shots)

Included:

  • Z100 marker x 1
  • Pullback assist handle x 1
  • Barrel plug x 1
  • Instruction manual x 1 
  • Magazine for the marker x 1 (additional magazines sold separately)

WHAT ABOUT IT?
Right off the bat, I knew this thing wasn’t a toy.  Sure, you had “paintball” things like the old lever-action Supasplats and others like those, but they did not feel NEARLY as solid as the Splatmaster markers.  The outside is a really durable and tough, thick plastic.  At least, I think it’s plastic.  Either way, this thing will take a beating.  There’s a button for a magazine release and  a safety switch (a proper one-touch switch; not the continuous hold like on the BlasterPro line), which adds to the feel, aesthetics, and usage of the marker.

The magazine holds 7shots, and primes by pulling back the side on the top, if you can use a Maverick, you can use this.  It’s definitely longer than a maverick and heavier, but it’s also much easier to holster.  Magazines are going to be sold separately.  I found the pullback assist handle not that easy to attach and it came off when I pulled it, so I just left it off.  Still a lot of fun to shoot though, I just wish I had more mags on-hand.

Next, the JT SPLATMASTER Z200 SHOTGUN ($39.99):

 Included:

  • Z200 marker x 1
  • Barrel plug x 1
  • Cleaning rod x 1
  • Instruction manual x 1

This was the marker we used for the duration of the day.  15 shots, pump-action, and breech loaded (even had a floppy trap door over the breach, nice touch!  It also has a safety switch but no other buttons.  You can see it has tactical rails, as I attached a camera to it.  It’ll accept picatinny mounts, so if you have’em, use’em!  Word has it that additional accessories are in the works, so keep your eye out for them.  Additional accessories such as ammo packs, targets, and safety equipment are all located here.  One recommendation from Hustle paintball is to use the 50 count grenade container to hold spare ammo, and there is a nozzle on that and the 200 paintball container to assist in loading through the breech of the Z200 swiftly.  This too is built incredibly solid, and I just wish it had a stock.  Maybe in a later marker.

GENERAL THOUGHTS:
 These have been chrono’d at 120-130 fps, drastically less than their gas-powered siblings.  Even at that rate though, it is wise to treat these as you would any other paintball marker, including using a full mask and goggles when playing in a player vs player game.  For target practice, you can get away with just using the goggles.  Safety first, and it’s usually a good policy to have eye protection on when playing with any toys that shoot.
That being said, these things were a lot of fun!  The group had limited experience playing paintball, some a handful of times and others not at all.  The general consensus was everyone enjoyed the decrease in pain (I told everyone to layer up as they would playing normal paintball) and the much more limited ammo available.  Instead of a full hopper, you had only the 15 rounds to make it in a round (none of us had extra ammo holders available, although some risked keeping spare ammo in their pockets.  I know, I know >_<)  People could run and charge at each other without getting tagged 5 or 10 times from a hail of paint.  Would we do it again?  Sure!  Will this kill paintball?  No!  It'll get more people interested at least, and this is a bang-up way to introduce them to the sport.  Whether 9 or 29, this is a good thing for people looking to play something a little different without feeling beaten up.  These things definitely stung enough to let you know you got hit, but no worse than getting a bad insect bite.  I've been punched harder than these things put out.

It was definitely nice to try some new strategies rather than just lay out paint, and JT is definitely onto something here.  Hopefully, we’ll see even more new markers next year.  Between the solid build, the fps, and the accuracy (these things definitely hit 50′ in a better cluster than I thought, but 100′ is still a max range, and it’s hard to hit anything then.

Interestingly, no ammo with the markers.  Considering how fussy paint balls can be, I shouldn’t be surprised.  It is much easier to regulate temperature and shipping conditions when you separate the products.  Also, the goggles and masks are sold as separate units, to reinforce that younger players should work their way up to playing Player vs. Player games.  Parents, this would be one way to incentivize proper blaster/marker safety.  They can’t PvP without earning their way up to the mask.  Also, some paintball fields might have these for rent:  rentals are different colored from the markers at retailers to prevent theft.  Rentals pistols are red, while the shotguns are blue.  Vice versa for consumer markers.  This does not mean consumer markers are different, just a different shell but they all perform the same.

On that note, here’s a video of various footage I snagged during that day:

Considering the ranges and power these things do have, it’s definitely better to keep the play to the backyard.  You don’t have to worry about accidentally hitting someone unexpectedly which again, safety first.  Definitely nice not having to pick up ammo after myself for once, but it definitely pays to play in a proper field, with ammo that washes away/disintegrates.  Worth giving a try!

Ah well.  Questions?   Comments?  Feel free to post below or write: foamfromabove_AT_G_MaIL-DOT-COM