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Old 06-05-2013, 11:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Stark Pursuit Zetamags: Initial Impressions...

Edit: Ok, I decided it might be a good idea to give a little background on my own pistol experience just so people know where I'm coming from on this...

A history lesson:

I started playing with paintball pistols in 2007, with two Ariakon ACP 2.0's which were pretty much a disaster. Needless to say they didn't last very long, though to be fair, if I knew then what I know now I probably could have made them work just fine. My next shot at pistolero-hood, and the one that made the bug finally stick, was a T8 that I won in a raffle from Urban Ops Armory (www.uoarmory.com). I immediately bought 10 mags for it and began to rock it exclusively at small monthly scenario games in the area. For the most part, everything went great, and I began to hone my skills.

After a while, as my team got more and more involved in larger scenarios, I began to notice weaknesses in my setup. If left loaded for too long, on long treks sneaking across the bigger fields, the mags would allow too much humidity to contact the paint, resulting in a stuck together mess. Dirt would make its way into the slots of the mags and cause failures to feed when the follower stuck midway up the mag. Part of playing pistol for me is getting down and dirty- crawling, diving, bouncing off of things to get into position quickly. Changing my style of play was not an option, but I felt the T8 mags (not the T8 itself, mind you) couldn't keep up anymore.

Lo and behold, Tippmann releases the TPX. The mags were light, the gun was light, it supported a remote line, had a more common barrel thread, etc... So I jumped onto the bandwagon immediately. Sadly, I found out the hard way the 8-round mags originally released with the TPX were no more up to the task of dealing with dirt and humidity than the T8. At a West Point Spring Combat Classic in oh... 09, I think, I nearly chucked the TPX off a cliff (literally) when I came around behind a small squad of the opposite team, thought it was Christmas come early, and pulled the trigger only to be rewarded with the gas cloud of a dry-fire. Every single mag had turned the ball stack into a single, stuck-together mass before I'd ever had a chance to fire a shot. I don't think I need to explain how that particular ambush ended for me.... Cleaned it up at the end of the weekend and sold the whole setup.

I finally found pistol happiness with an Armotech Zeus, modded for faster reloading and a thru-grip remote line. The horizontal feed placed so little pressure on the ball stack, and the 10 round tubes used to reload it kept the paint so dry that I never had a single failure to feed or other jam related issue. Not to mention the 2-3 ball extra capacity over the T8/TPX. This was the gun that taught me my mantra of "Reliability > Everything Else". My T8 was prettier, my TPX was lighter, but the one thing needed to ensure happiness on the field was the confidence that every time I pulled the trigger, an intact paintball would leave the barrel and head toward whatever I was aiming at. So, 4 years later, and the Zeus has remained a constant, even after a revisit to the T8.1 and TPX w/ Tru-Feed camps, just to see if the magfed guys had gotten their crap together yet...

They hadn't. While clearly improved over their predecessor, 8.1 mags were still ridiculously heavy and still left paint exposed to the elements and enough spring tension to cause rounds to "siamese" together. Tru-feeds used a spring so light that the slightest spec of sand or dirt would cause a failure to feed. On top of that, the retainer that held the balls in until the mag was loaded into the gun would allow small, and even medium sized paint to fall right out if the mags were carried in the common, upside-down orientation. I finally gave up on mag-fed pistols and happily stuck with my Zeus.


Enter the ZetaMag.

Having known the designer of the Zetamag from some of his work on the Milsim Empire boards, I decided to gamble and grab a few of these. My goal was to see if they eliminated enough of my gripes with the other current pistol magazines to make it worth giving a mag-fed another go. Upon opening the box, I must say, I am thoroughly impressed. There are many subtle design elements that make it clear these were designed, or at least heavily influenced, by true pistol players.

The construction is much more solid than the TiPX "Tru-Feed" mags, offering almost no flex anywhere, whereas Tru-Feeds are known for the front of the clamshells bending and flexing enough to jam the follower. I've personally had this happen after using stock mags with pouches that were were a little too tight.

Instead of a full length slot there are just two small slots on each side to gauge remaining capacity. This will allow less paint and dirt to get into the mag's internals, and hopefull, less humid airflow as well.

The tops of the mags are chamferred, I presume for smoother loading into the magwell. This is a subtle but elegant touch.

Ball retention is worlds better than stock mags- I can shake a fully loaded mag brutally hard without dislodging any rounds.

Best of all, and most importantly, the stack has virtually zero spring tension on it when the follower is locked down, meaning they are unlikely to crush or jam paint together if left loaded for extended periods. They apply even less tension in this position than stock Tru-Feed mags.

Loading is a different procedure, requiring an included rod to depress the follower, but it is simple and some might say easier than trying to grab the tiny follower tab on the stock mags.

One gripe I've heard is the need to manually release the spring one the mag is loaded into the gun. While I concede this isn't ideal, the manual release tab is masterfully located right where the thumb and forefinger naturally gravitate during a mag change. It might not be instantly intuitive for all users but I believe it will be a fast transition for most.

In conclusion, after experiencing many setbacks with magfed pistols in the past, the Zetamag has convinced me to give a magfed rig another go. Now I just need to find a good deal on a TPX! I will update this thread again when I have on-field experience to report. In the meantime I'm happy to discuss anything you guys may want to know about these mags.


UPDATE: Actual Field Use at Long Last!!!

So, I finally got an opportunity to use my 12 Zeta rig at On Target Paintball this past weekend, and all of the Zeta's performed admirably. I only had two hang-ups; 1) forgetting to hit the spring release (whoops!) and 2) that nasty black Pine Barrens sand jamming up the followers. They dealt with the sand much better than stock Tru-Feeds, and even players who were using T8.1's with FS springs were having issues with it, so I can't fault the Zetas. This, ultimately, is why I had been sticking with top-mounted springfeed style pistols, because it's much harder to pick up sand on top of the gun than on the bottom, especially for someone who spends as much time going prone and belly-crawling as I do.

See, for those who don't know, Pine Barrens sand is particularly nasty, super-fine sand that sticks to EVERYTHING. It's more of something between sand and dust, that's how fine it is, so it gets everywhere. And unfortunately, it's the dominant form of soil on most of the local fields here.

So, as I expected, the Zetas did perform really really well. I like them a lot better than the stock mags, and they're better in just about every way. Sadly, they're still not invincible, and in my humble opinion, still not as idiot-proof as a top-mount springfeed. For 90% of people this won't be an issue, but for me, I'm sticking with springfeeds from here on out. However, I will say a Zeta-fed TPX is without a doubt the best "removable box-mag" style pistol I have ever played with.
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Last edited by PistolRogue; 10-31-2013 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 06-06-2013, 12:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 06-06-2013, 12:45 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Good review. I found your take very helpful, and you saved me some time.
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Old 06-06-2013, 01:05 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panda View Post
There's really nothing for me to take pics of at this point that isn't already on the Stark website or elsewhere... Once I have a TPX in hand and some stock mags to compare to, I'll be taking pics and maybe even some video to reinforce the points I already brought up.
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PistolRogue View Post

The construction is much more solid than the TiPX "Tru-Feed" mags, offering almost no flex anywhere, whereas Tru-Feeds are known for the front of the clamshells bending and flexing enough to jam the follower. I've personally had this happen after using stock mags with pouches that were were a little too tight.
Not only do they feel more solid than a stock mag, they much stronger than any extended mag I've made or seen others make.

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Originally Posted by PistolRogue View Post
Ball retention is worlds better than stock mags- I can shake a fully loaded mag brutally hard without dislodging any rounds.
I must be shaking harder cat got to chase a few paintballs down the hall. But they hold on MUCH better than the stock mags. Now if it could fit and replace the detent in the stock mag, I'd buy a couple dozen of those and upgrade my stock mags to match my Zetas

Quote:
Originally Posted by PistolRogue View Post
Loading is a different procedure, requiring an included rod to depress the follower, but it is simple and some might say easier than trying to grab the tiny follower tab on the stock mags.
This will be my biggest testing point in the field. I can reload mags in the field quite easily, and I only do that in the dead box. Keeping that loading rod with me and not being able to do a partial reload will be my concern.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PistolRogue View Post
One gripe I've heard is the need to manually release the spring one the mag is loaded into the gun. While I concede this isn't ideal, the manual release tab is masterfully located right where the thumb and forefinger naturally gravitate during a mag change. It might not be instantly intuitive for all users but I believe it will be a fast transition for most.
I agree this won't be as bad as I first thought. It can be easily intergrated into a mag change routine.

But, I also have to get out and shoot with them this weekend as I have only had them a day. I don't even know if I'll be using the dust covers at all. Now if I can only find time to stitch up some rudimentary mag holders, my regular ones are way too short.
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Old 06-07-2013, 06:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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thanks for the review, i just received my zetamags and plan on using them this weekend.
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Old 06-07-2013, 09:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PistolRogue View Post
There's really nothing for me to take pics of at this point that isn't already on the Stark website or elsewhere... Once I have a TPX in hand and some stock mags to compare to, I'll be taking pics and maybe even some video to reinforce the points I already brought up.
Thanks, I really like seeing user taken pics, I also want to see your pistol. By the way, great review.
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Old 10-31-2013, 01:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Updated first post at the bottom with on-field impressions.

To sum it up quickly, a Zeta-fed TPX is without a doubt the best mag fed (erm, "removable box mag-fed") pistol on the market today. They beat the TruFeeds and T8 mags hands down for capacity, weight, and reliability. However, they're still not immune to dirt and debris, so exercise caution on sandy fields.
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