Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Washington, DC
Yeah, I got this...
It all can be boiled down to a simple quote: Necessity is the mother of invention.
Good tinkering markers are those that are either over-engineered (don't mistake this for me saying it's a bad thing), have poor quality control, or both. The most popular tinkering guns, Autocockers and Ions, at one point or another fit these categories. So let's look at making a cocker versus a mag on a couple hundred bucks here, and see options, and what makes a difference. Basically, it takes the high end off of both markets, and the custom parts runs out. Seems along the lines of what the OP mentioned. And you can't go valve for valve and body for body. For a mag, the valve is the gun. For the cocker, it's a very small part of the chain reaction.
Drive Trains (everything involved with the firing cycle):
Classic valve: stock or you could put a RT on/off in, level 7 or level X bolt, if you want to swap something for the sake of swapping something, you can toss a hurricane reg or an Air America reg on the back.
Retrovalve: ULT or stock RT on/off, level X of level 7 bolt. Pretty much covers it.
Trigger frames: Stock Carbon fiber, CF with a double trigger, Centerflag frame, Intelliframe, Aluminum AGD frame if you can find one, Benchmark (single or double), Dye
Rails: Stock, Benchmark, RT, ANS, covers most of it
Bodies: Gray/Black automag/minimag/straight right feeds
That's pretty much what you're looking at here. Decent amount of options, but not really all that much different than most average guns. The biggest differences will be RT versus Classic, level 7 versus level X, carbon frame versus Intelli, and rail length. Also, pick a grip frame. Most of the aftermarket parts made for a mag show no improvement over AGD parts. Shows the initial quality of the marker, which is a good thing.
Same thing, now with the cocker:
Valve: Several options here, including Rocket, Rat, Tornado, CCM, ANS, stock, Macdev, stock springs, maddman springs, valve specific springs, PE---these can easily effect your efficiency and sound signature
Hammer: stock, slotted, Phat, Sleeved, Tungsten (terrible idea), CCM, PE, rounded lug, square lug, and again with the springs, can effect your cocking pressure, smoothness of the pull, and release point (lug)
Three way: CT, Orracle, brass stock, STO, bomb, dye, ANS, PE, KAPP, etc, CCM, Palmers, Psychoballistics (terrible again), these all can have an effect on trigger pull length and ease of adjustment, and color matching
Rams: Stock, ST, ANS, Palmers, PE, MP4, STO, CCM, Clippard, etc, big differences here are based on smoothness in feel, speed, and rebuildability. Lot of them won't have a big difference, but a few really do stand out in feel, speed, look, and ability to color match
LPR: Sledgehammer, Jackhammers, PE, CT, Oracle, Rock, Extreme Rage (again crap), twister cap, AKA, knob or no knob, tons of them out there, again color matching possible, size, and no knob are really your choices
Frame: Swing- single, double, tons of brands with different feels to many of them, slider- again, many options here with different sizes and shapes, adjustability, and color
Electro: Centerflag, Worrframe, possibly E1s on the cheap, possibly .24 boards on the cheap too
Pump rods: Color, TI, SS, straight, bent, differ by body type
Bolts: Lots of brands, only jams really seem to make much difference, halfblock/midblock/full length
Sear: Ball bearing for smoothness or stock
Body Style: tons milling styles here, can get multiple colors, feed styles, lengths, halfblocked used for well under a hundred, also can decide on banjo bolts/LPCs here, and style of sled/backblock
Barrels: industry standard and by far the most options around
Regs: Any on the market
A lot more parts equals a whole lot more in terms of options. It's really that simple. They also had a great track record of allowing companies improve on their designs, which was a train wreck when they came out, which in turn allowed for a ton of noticably improved parts and more to tinker with. Parts that do allow for adjustment to the style or feel that you're going for, from cheap electro to snappy slider to smooth slider to swing on the same marker, and allow for colors beyond gray/black/polished. Autocockers just have a lot more to work with, and more options. It's hard to argue that they aren't over-engineered to push a ball down a tube, and their quality control flat out sucked for years. It forced the aftermarket to be created, and their to be a huge competition which allow for parts to be made on the cheap. It also allowed for a LOT more versatility in the platform on without resorting to private runs or high end parts. In short, you can tinker like crazy with parts that all effect how the whole thing will feel in the end, and not spend a ton on it.
Automags are pretty simple guns at their core, well engineered stock, and don't have a ton of moving parts. They aren't over-engineered, and the quality control wasn't an issue. There just wasn't a large amount of space for improvement, and very little that AGD didn't come up with themselves. There's not much to tinker with unless you're doing a high end build starting at a few hundred bucks if you have an X valve involved or you want to mess with around within a frame because what AGD put out there to start with so well thought out. Just not a lot to tinker with for you.
I love both platforms, and both can be really versatile if you want to work at it. You can literally make both guns slider/swing/EP/electro/pneumatic/pump. Mags are just more expensive and complicated if you want to expand on their basic platform. Cockers are better for tinkering because they're just more to them, more to play around with, most for you to fix, and allow for more options on the cheap. Over-engineering at its best.
Ok, so there's my argument for you. And mags are faster :-)