By: Kenny Stewart
Tippmann has been producing paintball products since around the mid 1986, since paintball was founded in 1981 it makes Tippmann one of the “Godfathers” in paintball. Their tradition of excellence and quality has been continuing and raising the bar ever since in the paintball community.
When Tippmann developed there first paintball marker the paintball industry did not have a standard for the size of paintball that would be used, so they decided to go with a .62 caliber paintball (Unlike the .68 used today in most paintball markers.) So in 1986 Tippmann released their first paintball marker, the Tippmann SMG 60. The SMG 60 used the .62 caliber paintballs and also very distinguishable for its clip feed system using black or orange clips that balls had to be individually loaded in clips, rather than hopper feed as most paintball markers of today use. This marker was ahead of it time by being the first marker to cycle semi auto and full auto at an amazing 600 rounds per min. Also the marker was the first use constant air rather than disposable 12 gram cartages that mostly all markers used at the time.
Tippmann’s second marker that was released in 1987 was the SMG 68 This marker was almost identical to the SMG 60 other than it now used the now more common .68 caliber paintballs also using a removable slip fit barrel system so that the barrel could be changed out by the player. There were only believed to have been only around 2000 or less SMG 68’s produced.
Most markers of this time were pump and paintballs were expensive and the idea of shooting semi auto or full auto did not appeal to everyone. So in 1988 Tippmann released their first pump marker called the SL-68. This used the more common type of feed system with a paintball hopper replacing the clip feed style system seen in the SMG’s.
Then in 1990 Tippmann released the 68 Special, this marker was very similar to the SMG series of paintball markers. However it used a hopper instead of a clip feed system. Tippmann also offered for around $100.00 to convert you SMG’s into a 68 Special to help players keep up with the times, this also lead many 68 Specials to have a SMG name plate after they were converted the old data plate would remain.
In 1991 Tippmann releases the SL-68 II Very similar to Tippmann’s SL-68’s however the pump handle is plastic, unlike the SL-68’s aluminum ones. The constant air port is also lowered to the bottom of the now aluminum gas threw grip handle. Also these markers had a velocity adjustment screw located in the front bolt restricting air flow to raise or lower paintball velocity. One of the most important innovations was including a first ever for Tippmann markers a safety button to keep the players safe. These markers was available from 1991 - 2003 when it was discontinued. A second generation of SL-68’s were released by Tippmann in 2009 addressing some flaws that were found in the earlier first generations SL-68 II, such as cracking feed necks and the use of feed neck adapters. However with a much lower demand than expected these markers were discontinued in 2012.
With the liquid Co2 markers of the past such as the SMG’s and 68 Special’s a new more efficient marker was developed by Tippmann to meet the need for a better semi auto marker. In 1992 the Pro-Lite was released along with a heavier all aluminum version called the Pro-AM these markers use a new paintball valve that dose not rely on liquid Co2 and was much more efficient. The integrated feed neck and front grip would side forward to allow squeegees to pull threw the barrel. Also had a first ever thread barrel, this replaces the slip fit styles that existed prior to the Pro-Lite’s and Pro-AM’s.
Using a very similar design to the Tippmann Pro-Lite’s and Pro-AM’s Tippmann released the Factory F/A in 1995 there were only estimated to be 2000 produced. This marker is famous for having a selector switch on the grip that would take it from semi auto to full auto. Also easily recognizable for having the first ever Cyclone feed system to be found on a marker. Unlike cyclone feed systems that are used on Tippmann markers today you had to wind it up before shooting to ensure that your feed system worked properly, after shooting you would need to stop and wind it again. It also had a extra set of sears and pistons that were located on the top of the marker that slowed the bolts down to change the rates of fire during full auto operation. These markers even came with VHS tapes with marker technicians showing how to properly maintain your marker. These markers had to also use a specific hopper that would fit on the cyclone feed similar to cyclones that are used today.
In 1996 a similar but smaller semi auto paintball marker was released by Tippmann named the 68 Carbine. This marker used a separate feed neck from the front grip allowing larger outer diameter paintball barrels to be used by not having to use the front grip and still allowing the paintball hopper to be used.
In 1998 Tippmann released what would be one of the leading paintball markers in the market world wide, the Tippmann Model 98. In 2000 would be released as the 98 Custom and then in 2008 the 98 Platinum series allowing more customizing to be done to the marker. These markers are commonly found as field rentals and the recreational players best friend because of there durability. This marker also has a very coarse threaded barrel unlike all other Tippmann barrels that were produced, making it easy to identify.
The last of the Carbine series was released by Tippmann in 1999 as the Tippmann Pro Carbine. The marker was a hybrid of the Pro-Lite and the 68 Carbine also including the all weather CVX valve and true .45 grips. These markers share many more common parts that are found on newer Tippmann markers used today such as the air source adapter and steel breaded hose and 45 grips.
In 2002 the A-5 paintball marker was released by Tippmann and is very distinguishable by the cyclone feed system. Unlike earlier models of the Factory F/A the A-5 does not need to be wound up to be used. It is powered by air from the paintball marker. Also using a cocking handle that does not allow debris to get into the markers internals and a tool less disassemble using push pins to hold the marker together for easy field stripping. Using the pins also makes upgrades and add on user friendly for the average player to do themselves. In 2011 the A-5 was overhauled and a newer version was released most noticeably the safety button is now a switch to match newer Tippmann paintball markers.
In 2005 a whole new paintball technology was developed by Tippmann as they released the C-3. This paintball marker used P.E.P Technologies and replaced traditional Co2 and HPA with Propane. As most people feel that adding something flammable to paintball was not a great idea. It was safe to use as long as used properly as most things are. Using a small spark from a AAA battery to ignite a small amount of gas, the exhaust gas from the small combustion would shoot the paintball down the barrel. This was a pump marker and would get around 50,000 shots per 16 oz gas tank. However now using combustion it was now classified as a fire arm and was soon banned from some states and production stopped soon after.
Tippmann has been developing paintball products longer than some players have been alive and continues to be one of the leading paintball marker manufactures in the world. With new developments such as the TiPX paintball pistol to the state of the art Crossover paintball marker they keep pushing the edge for paintball innovation in markers. However understanding were it has come from starting in 1986 with a state of the art SMG 60 and looking at today’s latest markers like the X7 Phenom it can make you appreciate what sort of paintball technology we have available to the paintball players of today.