Airgun Designs Minimag
I first thought that i was going to get my first mag in a store near me, it was used and looked good for the price. Upon closer inspection and test firing i decided that it was a better idea to just shell out the extra cash and buy a new one ($450 at the time). Upon arriving home I opened the box, to find my new Minimag, the first thing I noticed was the size, it is surprisingly compact with a vertical foregrip and the stock 8 inch barrel. Picking it up I also noticed that it was a very solid gun, not too heavy but it did not have that cheap feeling to it, it felt like it could take some abuse and still keep going. As far as the looks the gun was nice, but then again I didnt buy the gun for the looks, as the first "tournament grade" gun that I have purchased I wanted a reliable gun that would not be too complicated to keep running well.
On The Field
I hooked up my 88/4500 Max Attack and 12 volt and went out to hit the field, at the time a ghetto home made field behind a local elementary school. For the first game it was just my verses a friend of mine, just to see how the new mag would perform. We took opposing sides and started the game with only a hopper full of paint. Now before my mag i had a Piranha, still a reliable gun, and i could get a decent string going with it but man, the mag was just so easy to rip off paint with. The trigger was nice and crisp with a good return, making it damn near impossible to short stroke. The gun was also well balanced, even with my 88cu tank on it. Before I knew it I had wasted through a full hopper, something I will admit to doing, but had never done so fast until then. The mag was just so sweet and easy to shoot fast, I barely noticed how much paint had been shot. (BTWI won that game)
There are many aspects to paintgun performance, and I will try to address as many as possible. The first thing many people notice about a gun is its accuracy, so well look at that first. With the stock 8 inch aluminum barrel it was marginally accurate, but nowhere near perfect. I suppose that you could live with it but as a new barrel is an essential upgrade I would recommend getting one soon. In addition to having mediocre accuracy, it was also very loud due to the fact that it has no porting. After getting an aftermarket barrel, the whole thing changes. I purchased a Smart Parts Progressive barrel on it, and just like that my mag had become a fast, quiet, and accurate paint-throwing machine. The next area I will address is the gas efficiency. The Automag is by its nature a high pressure gun, so it is not too demanding on gas. With the stock 8 inch barrel I could expect about 1500 to 1600 shots on my 88 / 4500. Not too shabby, but it could be better. A longer barrel than the 8 inch stock will help efficiency, as you wont need to use as much gas to get the ball moving in such a short distance. Next to be addressed is the infamous Automag chopping of paint. Many people claim to their dying day that every Mag is a paint chopping machine. This is because of the blow-forward bolt design. There is a fairly decent amount of force needed to fling the bolt forward and propel the ball toward its target. I did not experience chopping problems at first, and in fact not for a while. I only started chopping paint after installing a Z-Grip. This is because it makes the trigger much lighter and therefore easier to short stroke. Also I find that I am able to get a higher rate of fire with the z grip, and I wont deny that I chopped about 7 balls out of a case. Other than that I have had no major problems with the gun and it has performed up to and exceeding my expectations.
Cleaning / Disassembly
I believe that this is a very important topic, enough to get its own paragraph. The feature I love most about the Automag is the ease of field stripping and cleaning. It takes about 5 seconds and no tools to completely strip the valve off the body. Then all you have is an easy-to-clean hollow tube. As far as off-field cleaning, its the same: every once and a while you will want to clean the AIR (the guns main regulator and valve) completely, but you will be just fine by just dropping some oil into the valve and ripping off a string of 10 or 15 shots without the barrel on.
First off, I would get a new barrel, and fast. The stock one will do if you absolutely have to use it, but you will be very happy if you just spend some more money to get a good, ported barrel to utilize the Mags inherent quietness. Other upgrades that I think are well worth it would have to be the (now discontinued) Z grip if you can find one, and the AGD ReTro Valve. Other than that, the Minimag performs perfectly well stock, and I would not recommend any other accessories right away, though it is always nice later on.
All in all, I think that the Minimag is an excellent choice for people looking to get their first tournament grade gun. It is not overly expensive, and is very easy to maintain. Other than a HPA system and a barrel, the Mag comes ready to rock. While it might not be as upgradeable as the cocker, you dont have to worry as much about keeping it in line. I give the Airgun Designs Minimag a 4 star rating!
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