Thanks to everyone for their comments. I got a predictably wide range of viewpoints, which is cool. An additional comment and then a follow-up on one point:
First, I wasn't clear about it, but part of my motivation is that, until this "coming out of retirement" thing, I've never been a hardcore "pump player." I'm excited about playing pump, largely for the significant paint savings and the old-school attitude of it all. But I haven't always been into it, and I don't necessarily see it as a way to show how bad-*** I am (since, umm, I'm not...though I do think that people who are great with pumps probably *are* bad-***...not sure what my point is here!). So, part of my reason for asking about other markers is that I like the idea of having a couple of options when I head out for a day of paintball. It's very likely that I'll want to play a fair amount with my Phantom, but if I'm feeling super frustrated or just want a change of pace, I like the idea of having a semi around to give me a ROF crutch for a few games or provide me that palate-cleansing sorbet between pump courses. :-)
Second, I guess I should have added another criterion:
7) Quirkiness. I'm a bit of a weirdo. And though I know it probably works against the "reliability" rule, I kinda dig on weird guns. Part of the appeal of the nickel-plated Sheridan pump is that people grin and shake their heads when they see someone using it. And this last time, some kid was very excited to borrow it for a game, despite my warnings! I have a Brass Eagle Rainmaker that I've been trying to coax back to life with no luck, and I've been warned it might take more to revive it than it's worth. And I know it wasn't that popular, but there's some appeal to that. Guns that have caught my attention recently or over the years? Air Power Vector, Micromag, the Rainmaker obviously, and most recently, the ICE Epic.
So, with those things in mind, I'm still interested in recommendations on a semi.
Anyway, on to a response to this:
Originally Posted by sdawg
Firstly, as long as you're having fun, you're not too old for this sport. To answer your questions:
1) your guns can be accurate if you make sure the barrel an breech are immaculate and you are using high quality paint. Since you are playing pump, splurge and get the tournament grade paint that breaks on target. the lb probably has too big a barrel bore to be used with today's sub-680 paint, which is probably partly the source of your velocity issues.
Yeah, I felt pretty sure that crappy paint wasn't helping any. I have a bag of balls that I got at the local outdoors store less than three weeks ago, and some of them are already alarmingly out of round. So, no, I'm not too surprised that I had bad luck with crappy paint. I'll definitely take your advice and buy the better stuff next time, especially since the field/store will sell it to me by the bag.
But I worry about your later point. I specifically asked the store owner for "big paint" when I bought this Rage, since I knew that both the Piranha LB and the Phantom were rolling the garbage paint from Bass Pro Shop out like crazy; I *knew* that the bore size on these old guns was massive and I was starting to gather from the Interwebs that paint is getting smaller. I figured bigger paint would help. Maybe it did.
But if tournament grade paint is so much smaller, then what? Obviously, the Piranha LB will be hopeless, not even having a ball detent to keep big paint from rolling out. Smaller paint won't stay in at all, and efficiency and consistency will be rubbish. Maybe you were telling me that anyway...that the Piranha might be a bit hard to get working to my satisfaction? But let's limit ourselves to the Phantom. I did receive a set of the ball detent rings for it, so I'm pretty sure I can keep even small paint from rolling out, all the way down to the gold ring at .670. But that doesn't address the accuracy, consistency, and efficiency problems of the huge bore barrel. How do I fix that? Does this Freak back or something like that exist for the Phantom? And if it did (and the pump handle fits over it, etc., etc.) are you saying that good paint and a good match (at the back, not necessarily over the length of the barrel) should make things should very straight?
Thanks for your help.