So I managed to get my hands on the new Retro 7 (R7) pistol
, and I gotta say I'm really impressed! Josh kept raising our expectations for over a year, but boy did he deliver! What came with my box
R7, .680" barrel, freak insert barrel, extra pump knob screw, and a brass valve diffuser, for use if your velocity is too high and you can't turn the velocity adjuster outwards anymore. Design
The Avratech Retro 7 is basically a modern take or refresh of the original Nelspot 007. The R7's body, barrel, feed tube, and grip frame are made from aluminum, while the original's components were made from steel and potmetal. There are also a couple of other modern updates, the most important in my opinion being the cocker threaded snub. The ability to use any autococker threaded barrel is a huge plus, as you won't ever have to worry about rollouts. Whether you believe in under-boring, paint-to-barrel matching, or over-boring, the pump handle has approximately a 1" ID so you can use any cocker threaded barrel with it. I'm currently using the stock 5" barrel which has a very nice polished bore, but I am having a custom barrel made that will be KICKASS with this pistol (*cough WHOOSH cough*). The internals include a custom made stainless steel bolt with a brass, hex-shaped open face velocity adjuster, a silver phantom mainspring, a stock phantom hammer, valve nut, and powertube. The pump handle is machined from delrin, with a nice, subtle ribbing for added grip. There are two cocking knobs, as opposed to the Nelspot's one knob. I did like the use of two knobs, however I thought they were too long when used with the pump handle. The knobs are the perfect length for cocking the pistol in the bolt action configuration. This is really
minor nitpicking on my part though, and I just installed two 10-32 screws to replace the cocking knobs to suit my tastes. Access to the internals is granted with a quick removal of the thumbscrew on the front of the frame, even if the pistol is gassed up! You could do a lot of testing and hammer/spring changing in between games with this feature. Build Quality
The build quality of these pistols is really top notch, the frame, body, barrel, and feed tube fit together perfectly, with no machining marks apparent on any of the exposed surfaces. Everything fits perfectly, and appears to have had a lot of thought go into all the parts and how they would work together. Body
There are dual L slots for both left and right handed bolt action cocking. The inside of the body where the bolt and hammer slide appears to be really well polished. Another nice feature is that the feed port to the body is D shaped for First Strike rounds. You have to remove the top tube first if you want to load a FS round, but it does illustrate how much thought Josh put into these beauties. Feed tube
The feed tube appears to have been machined from a solid tube of aluminum. The back end where the 10 round tube goes in has a nice bevel, which helps guide the tube in. There is a tube stop inside as well. Sorry about the picture being so dark, you can kind of see the bevel I'm talking about.
I wish there were rear sights however, I might make a thin rail to go on the top of my feed tube so I could add some millet sights like on this cool nelspot (it's not mine, don't ask about buying the pump handle from me Stilgar lol): Grip Frame
I think this is the best part of the pistol hands down! In the short period of time that I've had the R7 I've become a huge fan of the frame. It is a big improvement over the original AV-1 Falcon frame (which were already pretty ergonomic) because Josh added a larger radius to the R7's frame edges. This results in a slightly smaller and rounder overall frame, which fits your hand better! The angle of the grip is slightly closer to 90* compared to the angle of a normal .45 paintball grip, and this change took me a few minutes to get used to when holding it like a pistol. It does allow you to hold the R7 closer to your body while aiming and tucking into tight corners, and I'd say the angle is somewhere between a .45 frame and a CCM 86* frame. Also you can see in a couple of the pics that the grip frame is very thin for a 12 gram in-handle frame. Of course the original Nelspot pot metal trigger frame is the thinnest even with battle grips, but that pistol is missing a lot of the features that come with the R7. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the R7 grip frame is thinner than Carter in-handle frames. Carter in-handle frames are about 1" thick and feel beefy, I'd guess that the R7's is .900" wide or so? My calipers batteries are dead so I can't check at the moment.
Here's a couple of pics comparing the original AV-1 Falcon frame to the new R7 frame. The third picture is a great closeup revealing the larger radius cut that Josh made to the R7 frames. Josh included the radius on both the front and back edges of the frame, and that allows the frame to fit my smallish hands much better. Trigger
The trigger is thin (1/8" wide?), it's comparable to the width of a stock sheridan trigger. I like really wide triggers, like what Earon is putting on his current era pumps (they're 3/8" wide), so the R7 trigger is kinda thin for my tastes, but the trigger break is very crisp and clean, which I really like. I've heard that the next 42 R7s will have wider triggers, which will be really nice, and I'm jealous of the next 42 owners who get these frames! I like how the triggers look, and the speed holes make pulling the trigger a lot faster than you'd see with a normal trigger without these holes
In the pic below, the two small semi-circle marks on the trigger's finish didn't come from Josh, they're set screws marks from a trigger shoe I installed and quickly removed cause it looked like ****. Twist Knob
The twist knob has a smaller diameter relative to Carter knobs, but the 4 lead threads on the R7 knob equals a REALLY quick unscrewing time. I think the the shaft of the twist knob is the same diameter as a 12gram. The 4-lead threads is 1 more lead thread than Phantom bucket changers have, and I bet a lot of you know how fast those are to unscrew. Also if you've owned a Redux/Carter/CIP frame, you know that sometimes they require a bit of extra torque to pierce and seal the 12-gram in place. Especially the Redux knob..I think knurling is better than the milled slots on knobs for providing extra grip. The R7 knob, despite being smaller and having shallow milled slots instead of knurling, doesn't need that extra force and it is extremely easy to pierce 12 grams! It really surprised me the first time I gassed up the gun. Great design Josh!
One last thought about the grip frame, due to the vertical nature of the 12-gram relative to the R7 body, you'll never have a problem with the bottom grip panel screws threading too far in, and messing up the threads of your twist knob. That was a problem I've experienced on Carter in-handle frames because on those, the 12 gram is angled so that the twist knob is in line with the bottom panel screws of the grips..once I use a grip panel screw that was too long, and I installed it with my twist knob in place. A couple of days later, I tried to unscrew the knob and found it was stuck, I couldn't understand why the twist knob wouldn't come loose. I ended up stripping the threads of my twist knob trying to remove the damn knob, and had to get another knob
. Stupid me never thought that the grip panel screw was screwed in far enough to act as a set screw on the twist knob's threads!
I'm not sure if this was an intentional R7 design feature or not, but it is very nice to not have to worry about using grip panel screws that are too long! You can see what I'm talking about in the see-thru R7 picture, notice how the 12-gram fits perfectly between the grip panel screw holes. Also the picture below illustrates how the Carter knob is directly in the way of the bottom grip panel screw. Valve Design
This is a really cool design, because it's not your traditional style in-handle piercing setup. Josh made his own piercing pin, which doesn't connect directly to the valve. Instead, air routes horizontally backwards from the piercing pin to a "Magic Nipple" that prevents liquid from getting inside the valve (at least I think that's the purpose of the nipple)? Here's a pic courtesy of Josh:
As you can see, the piercing pin is under the valve nut/collar threads. Pretty cool if you ask me! I can post some real pics of the internals if Josh doesn't mind.
Another thing I REALLY like is that there are two NPT ports, one on each side of the valve. This means you could remote line, or run a reg, but the big plus for me is that I can install a gauge. A gauge tells me several things, like the recharge rate of the valve, if I'm going to be shooting hot due to the 12-gram warming up, and most importantly, it tells me when the 12-gram starts running low, due to PSI dropping. Efficiency
Josh and Russ told me they were seeing 35 shots around 280-290 in the stock configuration. I think that making some alterations to the setup could improve efficiency, including a larger bore power tube, a lightened hammer, a longer under-bored barrel, and messing around with the springing. My personal goal is 40 shots @ 275-285, and that appears to be easily within reach with just a few tweaks.
I don't have any shot or chrono numbers yet, but this pistol feels real good in the hands, looks killer, and shoots well too.
Some of you nelson tuning gurus could easily get 50 shots off this pistol. Playing Review
I had a really great session playing with the R7. I was getting 38-40 useable shots per 12gram, from 275-285, and my friend who plays with a stock class phantom offered to buy it from me after a game of play
. I told him mine was not for sale, but that some other people might be selling theirs eventually.
It took me a couple of games to getting used to the angle of the frame relative to the barrel, a good analogy would be that the R7 frame is kind of like using a CCM 86* frame vs a CCM 45 frame. I took a couple of snap shots that went 5 feet about my target lol, but when I had more time to aim I got a couple of nice eliminations
I didn't have a problem rethreading the 12-gram knob after removing it to load a 12-gram, I know someone posted about that being a small issue. Also the shot sound is really quiet using the whoosh barrel. It basically sounds like a Spool valve gun, like a DM8 or DM9.
Initially I did have a couple of barrel breaks, but that was from doing too severe of an underbore with my .675 Ty brass insert. Once I moved to a .684 SS insert (the paint was big, like around .686-.687), I didn't have any breaks the rest of the day. I'm getting really good consistency for an unregulated marker, at one point I got 275, 275, 275 over the chrono. Generally the velocity fluctuated about 10fps though, between 275 and 285.
I didn't see any "snow" or "white clouds" coming out of the barrel, a good sign that there's no liquid dumping into the power tube.
I do like how the pump handle covers the cocking slots, great design and thought there Josh. I found that overall, using the R7 became point and shoot. Your mileage may vary of course... Grip Frame Comparisons Conclusion
For those of you still waiting for the next 40, I think you'll be really happy when they arrive! The R7 is an extremely well thought out design with modern features for today's players and playing environment. The level of innovation on these pistols is comparable to that of the RTR Gargoyle, which is itself a BEASTLY stock class marker. Thank you Josh!!!