Samstag, 27. August 2011

Zodiac “ZR1” Renegade

Chris Cole has been in paintball for a long time, playing and winning at the highest level with such teams as Ground Zero. Playing isn’t the only item on Cole’s list of paintball accomplishments, however, as he has been putting paintball guns together, both for himself and professionally, for quite some time. From smooth, straight-shooting custom Autocockers in the heyday of ten-man to the FEP Quest electronic marker, Chris Cole has literally had his hands in high-performance paintball markers for longer than most of today’s  competitive players have even known paintball existed. Now, Chris Cole is back with a new company, Zodiac Paintball Inc, and he’s bringing with him his best paintball marker yet, the Renegade.
A sleek, swooping and attractive marker cut from aluminum and anodized to a rich, bead-blasted finish, the Zodiac Renegade may look like another spool valve marker but it does offer something new. Inside the slick body of the Renegade is a patent-pending, simple yet capable operating system, a dump valve system with an integrated low pressure regulator. Indeed, the low-pressure regulator of the Renegade is housed in the rear of the bolt assembly, while the high pressure regulator of the hose-free marker is not the rubber-wrapped vertical fore-grip, but rather the bottle adapter bolted to the bottom of the  grip frame. For those who would prefer to use a different manufacturer’s pressure regulator on their Renegade, this is easily accomplished. The user simply removes the bottom-line bottle adapter/regulator, installs the included dovetail rail, slaps a bottle adapter onto it then threads a new pressure regulator like those from Dye or Custom Products into the vertical bottle adapter in place of the fore-grip. Linking the two via macro-line will then set the Renegade up like any other gun.
The Zodiac Renegade is offered with numerous standard features that enable it to compete with other high-end markers straight out of the box. A lever operated, clamping feed neck holds onto any hopper securely and is easily adjusted, the marker’s double trigger is a forward swept model that is light yet snappy and fully adjustable and the stock board of the Renegade is a Hater model, complete with an iron-clad warranty and every adjustment and firing mode a player will ever need! As the receiver of the Renegade is Autococker threaded, there are about a million aftermarket barrels readily available for it from manufacturers like Stiffi, J&J, Deadlywind, Dye and many others. However, the stock barrel shipped with the marker is a very good one. A two-piece model, the Renegade’s stock barrel features a very smooth internal hone and a rubber grip area allowing it to be easily threaded into the marker or removed, while the tip is heavily ported in a unique chevron pattern to reduce noise during firing. The Renegade is delivered in a small but very durable and padded plastic case with Hater lubricant and o-rings.
Extensively field tested by Chris Cole and his many old friends from the legendary Master Blasters team, the Zodiac Renegade, in its production form, is an extremely capable paintball gun. At two pounds, six ounces, the Renegade certainly isn’t the lightest marker in its class, but it isn’t exactly a heavyweight either. Simple to operate, switching the Renegade on and operating its eyes is accomplished via a small, rubberized set of two buttons at the bottom rear of the marker’s grip frame. A nine-volt battery inserted into the grip frame beneath the marker’s wrap-around rubber grips provides the gun with electric power. Making the marker ready for play requires the user to simply open the box, thread the barrel’s two pieces together, thread the barrel into the marker and then add a hopper and compressed air bottle. Zodiac recommends a compressed air bottle with low to medium output pressure for optimum performance.
Testing the Zodiac Renegade was extensive. Several compressed air bottles, including Ninja bottles, were used, along with both a Pinokio P250/400 and a Dye Rotor loader. Several brands of paintballs, including Evil, Nelson and DXS were shot through two Renegade markers. Testing conditions were hot, humid mid-summer days in the Mid-Atlantic region. After adding a full hopper and compressed air bottle to a brand-new Renegade marker, velocity testing was performed using two different chronographs, a basic handheld Paintball Radarchron and a more advanced Paintball Radarchron ROF unit able to measure both velocity and rate of fire. Initial velocity readings showed the Renegade to be quite consistent, as it shot an average of 287 feet per second with barely eight feet per second of variance from shot to shot over hundreds of shots. Velocity fluctuation reduced as testing continued. Thank in no small part to this consistency, accuracy delivered by the Renegade was impressive. At close ranges out to fifty feet, skilled players were easily able to place one splat on top of another, making one ragged splat on target. At further distances, groups remained tight and streams landed predictably on-target. Neither marker skipped a beat in PSP mode with hundreds of rounds fired, while in semi-automatic mode, rates of fire as high as 11.9 paintballs per second were recorded. Other shooters were able to reach the high teens, and even rates of fire over twenty shots per second in semi-automatic!
During several days of testing the Zodiac Renegade, only one single paintball was broken and none were chopped. This one odd paintball broke halfway down the barrel’s back section and the barrel quickly shot through, allowing further shooting without a pause for a thorough cleaning. The Renegade markers used for testing shot smoothly, with little recoil and were reasonably quiet. While the bottle adapter/regulator does not offer an on/off feature, bottles thread in and out easily and the marker purges as a bottle is removed. Adjusting velocity and the LPR pressure is simple, as is dismantling the marker for cleaning or lubrication. Switching modes, from semi-automatic to PSP or otherwise, is very simple, accomplished via trigger pulls and flashing lights. The Zodiac Renegade also proved to be an efficient marker, as players can expect 1,400 shots from a full 68 cubic inch, 4,500psi bottle in optimal conditions.
For a small, independent company to envision, build and release a new marker is no small task in modern paintball. For such a company to create and release a high-end, tournament-level marker that is competitive and of good quality is even more difficult, and Zodiac has accomplished this difficult task with the Renegade. Players in search of an accurate, fast, efficient and feature-rich tournament marker certainly should add the new Zodiac Renegade to the list!
Zodiac Paintball Inc
Distributed by Avid Extreme Sports 


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