The Tippmann 98 Custom ACT with Response Trigger is a reliable, customizable marker with a very good customer support system to back it up. The Custom 98 RT with ACT (Anti-Chop Technology) is a newer version of the Custom 98 equipped with a factory installed response trigger (an upgrade designed to increase rate of fire). In this review I’m going to talk about the base system (98 Custom with ACT), the Response Trigger, how the base system and Response trigger complement each other, what I don’t like about this marker, the customer support for this product, and the upgrades I personally recommend for this marker .
The Base System
The 98 Custom ACT is the latest addition to the 98 Custom line of markers. The 98 Custom is arguably the most customizable marker on the market today, with hundreds of mods available commercially along with dozens of homemade mods designed to help you make your marker perform the way you want it to. With ACT, or Anti-Chop Technology, instead of chopping a paintball during a misfeed (jam), it will pinch the ball and return to the cocked position before chopping the ball in half (see pictures).
The Custom ACT package includes a quick-release feeder elbow, maintenance pack (tools, oil and spare O-ring), 200 round gravity hopper, and a removable front grip (not quite). The only immediate upgrade required is an after-market barrel as the stock barrel isn’t very accurate at all .
A few of the advantages of owning a 98 Custom ACT are:
Simplicity- The 98 Custom is a very simple marker, performing the way it is supposed to perform without the use of electronics and other complicating devices. This marker is an open bolt blow back marker. This means that as long as the marker is cocked and connected to a gas source (CO2 or HPA), whenever you pull the trigger the rear bolt slams forward into a valve pin, which releases the gas used to propel the ball, the excess gas then slams the rear bolt back into firing position, giving the marker semi-auto capabilities. Velocity is controlled by a screw that protrudes into the firing chamber; turning the screw inwards will lower velocity, while turning the screwing outward will increase velocity.
Durability- The 98 Custom ACT is very durable, few of the exposed parts are made out of plastic and it feels very solid (it’s made out of die cast aluminum).
The few exposed parts not made out of metal are the hopper, feed-neck, and front grip. Some of the internals are also plastic but they are protected by the die cast aluminum shell. Many Custom ACT’s have been dropped in puddles, onto rocks, or suffered collisions with trees; only to suffer a few scratches and keep firing. There are accounts of 98 Custom ACTs having been dropped off of roofs or ran over by trucks yet they still fire!
Customization- The 98 Custom is one of the most customizable markers available. There are hundreds of parts and upgrades available for this marker. You can buy barrels, drop forwards, front bolts, rear bolts, power tubes, stocks, new hoppers, regulators, and expansion chambers (the list goes on); the possibilities are endless. You can also buy cosmetic mods such as rail kits, body kits, and other milsim upgrades. The E-grip is also available on the 98 Custom ACT; prior to the ACT version the E-grip was only available on the Custom Pro. This gun is also very user moddable with many well established mods that are known to improve performance. You can polish the internals for better performance, cut off the front grip and install a horizontal grip for comfort, replace the trigger spring with a pen spring for a lighter trigger pull, and the best part about these homemade mods is you can find detailed instructions for how to perform these mods just by performing a quick search on the Internet.
Price- The 98 custom ACT is well priced marker that performs well and is fully customizable to your needs. The base system costs $139.99 (I haven’t reviewed the rest of the gun yet) on www.TippmannPros.com, but the version in this review (98 Custom ACT with Response Trigger) is $179.99. Many markers of lesser quality cost about the same, while markers of a higher quality cost at over $150 more.
Some problems with the 98 custom ACT:
Only half of the front grip is removable- The top part of the front grip is permanently attached to the body of the marker, although many people use a hacksaw or dremel to cut it off and replace it.
Stock Barrel is inaccurate- The stock barrel is inaccurate, although that is to be expected on most entry level guns, just buy a cheap after-market barrel (such as the J and J Ceramic) and you’re good to go.
Some older upgrades are not compatible with it- The older version stocks are not compatible with the 98 Custom ACT unless you drill an extra hole in the end cap. Other incompatible upgrades are the Dark Horizon Rear Bolt and rear velocity adjusters.
Loud- This marker is very loud when compared to higher end non blow-back designs. You can decrease the noise level of this gun by performing a couple of mods, but I personally think it is a waste of time. Once you fire more than 5 times in rapid succession with any marker your position will be known almost immediately anyway. Although the marker isn’t loud when compared to a real firearm, don’t buy this gun if you want to be an ultra-sneaky ninja sniper.
Gas hog- The open bolt blow-back design is not efficient by nature, it has to use excess gas to reset the bolt after every shot, lowering the efficiency and requiring a high air/CO2 pressure.
Common- Everyone and their best friend’s enemy has this marker, although once you start upgrading and modding it your particular marker will be unique. If you go to a field with a stock 98 Custom ACT you won’t get any extra respect for your marker (the Response Trigger will help others learn to respect you), unless everyone else is renting or new to the sport.
The Response Trigger
The RT (Response Trigger) is an upgrade designed to increase the rate at which you can fire your marker by using a pneumatic system to reset the trigger instead of waiting for the trigger to return to firing position. Basically the RT is a system of air fittings that channel EXCESS gas (the response trigger does not decrease gas efficiency) into a pneumatic cylinder, which when depressed it springs back pushing the trigger into your finger allowing you to shoot very rapidly. As long as you maintain the right amount of pressure on the trigger the marker will fire full auto. Even at fields where full auto is not allowed this is still field legal because you are still firing 1 paintball per trigger pull. You can fire 10-15 balls per second (bps) once you have found the sweet spot (the right amount of pressure needed in order to cause the trigger to return).
The advantages of the Response Trigger are:
Fully Mechanical Operation- The Response Trigger is fully mechanical, meaning it doesn’t need any batteries, is more reliable than an E-grip, and much easier to fix should anything go wrong (you can always see the problem; it will never be an electrical/programming issue). You will be able to have a high rate of fire and still have the same reliability and durability you expect from a Tippmann.
Controllable- You can alter the rate of fire with the amount of pressure you put on the trigger; lightly pulling the trigger will result in the marker firing 10-15 bps, while a heavy trigger pull will still fire the gun in semi mode. With enough experience you will be able to fire 3 round bursts, semi, and full auto just by altering the placement of your finger on the trigger and the amount of pressure you use. You can even turn off the RT if it’s not allowed at a field or you just want a bigger challenge for a day.
Gives you an advantage- The RT allows you to give covering fire for yourself much easier and the knowledge that you can fire 10-15 bps will affect the decisions of those on the other team. Also, as paintball markers aren’t always consistent and accurate, the high volume of fire will give you a higher chance to hit someone.
The disadvantages of the Response Trigger are:
Personal Taste- Some people won’t like the way the RT feels, while others will absolutely love it, if you have a chance to try before you buy, do so!
Need faster hopper- After buying the RT, you will definitely feel the need for a better hopper. Although the ACT will decrease chopping you will still chop sometimes if you are constantly out-shooting your hopper and you will dry fire often (lowering the amount of actual shots per tank). If you have played without a fast hopper, after buying one you will fall in love with your RT; it will just perform so much better.
Air Line- There is 3 inch air line along the right side of your gun, it doesn’t bother me but if you pull the trigger with your middle finger it might bother you.
The 98 Custom ACT with Response Trigger- A match made in heaven?
The 98 Custom ACT with Response Trigger is in my mind the perfect combination. It allows you to have a fast, fully mechanical gun, that won’t chop unless you’re using very brittle paint (paint that will break after 1-2 drops from 6 feet). The only thing that could make this combination better would be having the Cyclone Feed system or an electric hopper included with the marker.
Tippmann Customer Service
Tippmann’s customer service department is very good (the best I have experienced in any company). I have ordered dozens of parts from them to replace broken parts (due to carelessness mostly, but in one case due to wear and tear) in my 98 Custom ACT with RT. All I need to do is simply ask them for the part I require and they reply with “Your parts are on their way.” If you ever need them to diagnose a problem call them, but if you know what the problem is and you only need parts it’s easier to email them; you’re much less likely to have any problems that way. The one complaint about the customer service is that once I received someone else’s parts instead of the parts I asked for, no big deal, considering I got a free tube of oil and barrel squeegee. If you decide to buy a Tippmann, you can know that Tippmann backs up their markers.
Suggested Upgrades- In Chronological Order with Explanation
These are suggestions, not the 4 commandments on what to buy for your Tippmann! Feel free to buy whatever you want in any order you want!
1. Barrel– The stock barrel just isn’t accurate at all, a good after-market barrel I recommend is the J and J Ceramic and it will cost you about $35. Many other good barrels are much more expensive than this one; do your research before buying a barrel or you might be disappointed.
2. New Feed System- You’re going to need a new hopper, considering the speed you’ll be shooting paint with the RT. I personally use the Tippmann Cyclone Feed Custom 98 Kit. It works flawlessly and is fully mechanical. If you want to buy this upgrade you will need to email Tippmann and ask them to send you a “Banjo T Fitting”, you will need this to install it along with the RT, as they both use the same air source. If you have another marker or are planning to buy a non-Tippmann marker in the near future this upgrade is not for you as it is not compatible with any other guns; buy a standard electric loader if this is the case.
3. Regulator or High Pressure Air (HPA) – This is where you start to have greater flexibility in what upgrades you could buy. I recommend either a Palmer’s Stabilizer (works well with CO2) or upgrading to HPA. Either upgrade will do about the same thing, increasing your marker’s consistency and reducing wear on your marker. HPA is the more expensive option and is better for the player looking to move to a higher end gun eventually, while the Stabilizer is for the player planning to use CO2 most of the time.
4. Pick Your Poison- Whatever works for you at this point. Some upgrades I recommend are Dye Sticky Grips, the Rocket Cock II, or a sight of some kind. These upgrades are useful at any point in owning your marker; you might want to buy one of these upgrades earlier or later depending on your personal preference.
Overall the 98 Custom with Anti Chop Technology and Response Trigger (what a long full name) is a great marker. While this marker has its flaws, it is a great marker for the beginner or intermediate player and will never disappoint if the buyer is making an informed decision.
You read the entire review, what did you think of it? Please leave comments and suggestions as I want to do the best job possible next time.