This article appeared in the Australian Paintballer Magazine in 1994
It’s been a few months since I reviewed the Badger semi-auto. I’ve been keeping in touch with Bruce Roberts the designer of the gun, as I’m interested in the logistics of getting a gun into full production from the prototype stage.
To give you an idea of the difficulties involved in refining a gun design, I’ll tell on one of Bruce’s embarrassing moments. He had a problem with the bolt bouncing off the seat a few times when it returned home after each shot. Of course this happened at a tournament in front of the great unwashed. And not all guns were doing it. When a simple fix wasn’t possible and he had resisted the urge to throw the whole lot into the dam, the cause was revealed a few days later. It seems that gas was leaking down the thread on the housing that holds the cup seal in. When the gun was fired this gas would leak back into the chamber causing the bolt to pop off as it did. And because it was subject to the tolerances of the thread, not all guns exhibited the problem. Drilling a bleed hole into the area behind the thread solved it.
The internal specifications of the gun have been pretty much finalised. I saw the first few samples of the frames and they looked good. It had been decided to have the frames cast rather than machined from aluminium. All threads, including the bottle fitting have been fitted with stainless steel heli-coil type inserts for strength and durability. As well, all the machining of the casting has been done by the supplier, which greatly cuts down on the amount of work Bruce has to do.
I made a visit to the Trejay engineering works to see where the other components were to be manufactured. It’s fascinating to watch a CNC machining centre turn out part after part. I looked over a few of the samples made so far and the finish was very good. All the internal parts are to be manufactured in this way as it is cost effective and gives good quality control.
The major bugs have been ironed out of the design. The o-ring problems that plagued the prototype have been solved by using urethane compound o-rings in the on/off valve assembly and a hydraulic cup seal in the power tube assembly. Bruce has also played with different pin lengths and tapers for the power tube pin to increase the gun’s efficiency. And the on/off valve has been fitted with a hardened and ground pin and the sear fine tuned to help lighten the trigger pull. The anti-double feed has evolved through several models to the present system. And Bruce told me that he got his inspiration for the current one from the springy earth tags on a toaster plug! Bruce has also adopted the power feed loading port first seen on the Auto-Mag. He believes it feeds paintballs faster and more reliability than the standard one.
Early on I’d decided to buy a Badger. The first reason being it’s a bit of Australian history. The second, I’d wanted to help in the development of an Australian tournament grade gun. We really need good semi’s for competition here if we are ever going to compete on an international level. As it stands the Badger is primarily aimed at the rental market. Its biggest feature being its simple construction. But it does need to be refined to give a tourney player what he wants.
First of all I’d decided that the appearance of the gun needed changing. I had Bruce gold anodise the barrel and valve body assembly. The stainless steel parts were then polished and the frame bead blasted and given a coat of lacquer. Bruce then had a grip made from leather by a friend. It just clips onto the handle so it can be removed for cleaning. Now I know that cosmetics are a personal thing. A lot of players prefer black or a camo finish because It’s harder to see. But I like a gun that looks good. And I think we achieved that because I think it looks great!
The internals are standard so far, but with field testing I believe that they can be improved. Any changes made to this gun that prove effective will be included in the Badger design. I had a chance to put the gun through its paces in a social game recently and fired around 600 rounds through it. The functioning of the gun was good, it just kept on going. I was pleased with the trigger pull and the leather grip made all the difference to the comfort level. I did have three balls break in the barrel, but they were easy to clear. The only problem on the day was velocity, which wouldn’t crank up above 250 feet per second. While ok for the rental market, it was far to low for play against experienced tournament players. Bruce has since machined up another bolt with a bigger port size that gives around 290 feet per second in cool weather. I’ll be testing this bolt the next time I play.
I’ll keep you posted on the development of the gun as we try different mods to it. There’s an expansion chamber in the works to keep liquid out of the gun as well as a quick detachable barrel. Bruce also has a few other ideas to help reduce ball breakages and improve accuracy. To finish on a positive note Perentie Paintball has closed a deal with Michael Wybrew for 100 Badgers for use on his paintball fields.