I'm sure every single one of us has seen one of those social media posts asking "what is the best MagFed marker?" What is being asked here is a great question, one that doesn't always have an answer that's easy to come up with.
As you sift through the never-ending supply of answers that seem to vary wildly, you may begin to ask yourself, "How do I define BEST?". Unfortunately, there are a few ways to do that too. Some will base their definition on price, looks, function, reliability or performance. But I'm not sure that every answer takes all of these into account. Granted, I'm not sure any answer short of what is about to end up as an article.
Price is a huge factor in today's buyer, wouldn't you agree? You want to get the most for your money, and damn right you should. But how can we break that down a step further? Do you want the best LOOKING marker for your money, do you want the most reliable marker for your money, do you want the highest performing marker for your money? What if there's a way to do all of the above.
I'm going somewhere with this, but I wanted to give you a chance to think about it a bit first. When you look at recreational athletes, versus professional athletes, you often see a stark variation in the gear they choose to use. Professional athletes have what is marketed as the best in the game because a company with huge markups takes those profits and pays influential people to tell you how great it is. I mean, they made it to the pro's, why would they lead me astray? Then you look at the recreational athletes, the ones always trying to find a way to up their game. They're not wearing the big name brands with all of the matching logos, but rather, a carefully curated selection of gear chosen based on performance and any small percentile they can use to improve their performance.
As we all want to dream that someday we'll be a pro, the reality is, and especially in paintball, that the definition of Professional is unclear. The overwhelming majority of us are the recreational athlete, the weekend warrior, or in my case, the moderately overweight father that needs to get out of the house and feel like he's getting more exercise. Without endorsement deals or contracts, we've got to make sure every penny we spend is going to the right place.
So how do we make our game the best? We buy the best performing marker our money can buy. But how do we know? Well, the wonderful folks at Carmatech Engineering recently embarked on a journey to provide the public with knowledge about how markers perform under standardized testing to create a level playing field.
It's important to note that the test below focusses on the consistency of each marker platform, which ultimately determines the accuracy of the marker. To make it simple, this chart shows which marker is most likely to hit where you aim it, every time you pull the trigger. The tests below are performed using the stock barrels included with each marker as well. Performance barrels should and will add improvement to any platform.
Here's where they stack up:
Now you're probably asking yourself "Why the hell did a MILSIG guy post a chart that shows other markers performing better?". The answer here comes within the interpretation of the chart.
The M17 (CQC model was used for this test) sits just below Maxtact's TGR1 model, a marker that includes a stock barrel over double the length of the CQC's basic .689 smooth bore barrel, and weighs in at a price tag of $550 USD, compared to the CQC's price of $300 USD. All of that for a +/- .22 FPS consistency difference. Next up is the Dye Dam at a hefty $1500 USD, gaining you an improvement of +/- .59 FPS. Meanwhile, as you work your way down the list you find First Strike's T15 second from the bottom with nearly half of the consistency (+/- 7.97 FPS), of the M17 CQC while using a longer included barrel, still sitting at $499 USD.
As I've worked through this list, and some of the most popular markers in the MagFed world, you've probably started to get what I'm pointing at. The M17, on a consistency (accuracy) level, even with the relatively short, overbored stock barrel included, outperforms, or performs virtually on par with markers starting at nearly double its price.
Obviously, this test doesn't include every single marker on the market, but in a comparison of some of the most popular options, it's really hard to argue the value that the M17 offers over other options at higher price points. Oh, and it includes full auto for free. No extra kits or parts required. Just flip the giggle switch and go Rambo.
For more information on the statistics in this article, check out the full study here: http://carmatech.net/Studies/Consistency.pdf