The Smart Parts SP-1 has gained significant popularity since its debut about two years ago. It was created as a continued effort from Smart Parts to develop tournament level performance in entry-level priced paintball guns. The original Ion started it all. It taught the rest of the industry that a tournament level gun no longer had to cost 500+ dollars. The Ion was holding its own on fields filled with guns costing 4-5 times as much. The SP-1 replaced the Smart Parts SP-8 as Smart Parts’ flagship scenario marker. It soon found a permanent place in the ‘entry-level priced’ woodsball arena.
The Smart Parts SP-1 offers 3 firing modes from the factory: semi, 3 burst and full auto. This was not the case originally. The first series of SP-1 guns were only electronic assisted semi-auto. It has an ultra-low operating pressure of about 180 psi. This offers minimal kick and less ball breaks. Also, low pressure means less turbulence as the ball exits the barrel resulting in better accuracy and more consistent firing. Smart Parts even released videos on their website of the SP1 firing underwater! The board (like most on the market today) is coated with silicon to resist water. It was their way of showing the paintball world that the moisture associated with paint or rain will not affect the operation of this rugged, all-weather paintball marker.
The SP-1 functions very well straight out of the box. There are many upgrades available that will allow you to take performance to new levels. This article will discuss the most popular ones sold on the market today and what to consider when purchasing.
Barrel – The SP-1 uses an Ion (Impulse) barrel thread. This means that ‘most’ barrels designed for the Ion will thread into the SP1 breach. We say most because the SP-1 uses a longer shroud than most woodsball guns requiring that the barrel be inserted about 6″ into the shroud before meeting the threads of the breach.
Most SP-1 owners purchase at least a 12″ barrel. How does the stock barrel compare to most of the aftermarket barrels on the market? The old adage applies here – ‘you get what you pay for’. Consider a barrel in the range of $35 – $50. Some of the best valued barrels include the JJ Ceramic, CP 1 Piece, Lapco Big Shot and the Smart Parts Tactical Barrels. They come in various sizes and have an outer diameter that will allow them to work with the SP-1 Shroud.
SP-1 Board – Although the factory board is fine for everyday use and even tournament level events, people still like options and love to tweak. They are plenty of aftermarket boards that offer more firing modes and rate of fire settings than you’ll ever use. There are literally millions of setup profiles that you can create to tweak the firing characteristics to your exact preferences. One of the most popular upgrade boards sold for the SP-1 is made by Virtue Paintball. They have plenty of years experience in the industry, creating boards used by some of the best players in the world.
Paintball Loader – The factory SP-1 is capable of at least 15 bps (balls per second). Really any paintball gun that can fire over 10 bps would benefit from the use of an electronic loader. Do you need a $150, 30 bps loader? No, you don’t. Stick with one that is capable of at least 20 bps. There are loaders on the market that run in the neighborhood of $45-60 that will suit your needs just fine. The new Invert Halo Too, Invert Reloader II, VL Evolution III and the Spyder Fasta loaders are all solid performers that offer a great performance match for the SP-1. Most offer optional board upgrades that increase loading speed. Having this option may be important if you swab the factory board out later or become insanely quick on the trigger.
SP-1 Bolt – The factory bolt in the SP-1 is far superior to the bolts found inside other paintball guns within the same price range. But you can achieve even higher levels of performance by swapping the bolt out with one of many quality aftermarket bolts on the market. One of the best SP-1 bolts out there today is the TechT Paintball L7 Bolt. This bolt works in the Ion XE, SP1 and Vibe. It only weighs about 7 grams. It is designed for maximum airflow and minimal drag and friction on the internal o-ring around the bolt. This equates to faster cycling, even less kick than stock and better accuracy from shot to shot. It should not be the first upgrade you make, but after all other areas are covered, the L7 bolt is a worthwhile internal upgrade to any SP-1.
SP-1 Stock – Seeing that the SP-1 is a tactical paintball gun, it only makes to add a rear butt stock. Smart Parts makes a stock adapter plate for the SP-1. This allows the SP-1 to accept ‘some’ 98 style rear stocks. The key word here is ‘some’. First the adapter requires some space to attach to the end of the stock. Rear Stocks like the carbine style collapsible stock have the extra space due to the length adjustability of the center tube. Other stocks the have a rear plate that immediately follows the end 98 adapter will not work with the SP-1 Stock Adapter. These include most of the AK style stocks, folding stocks and various other designs out there. The only stock we’ve been able to use with the adapter plate is the 4 or 6 position collapsible carbine (M16) style stock. Not all brands will work with the adapter either. If you look at the end adapter piece on a Tippmann 98 stock, you will see special ridges milled into the end. There is a deeper groove that must be there for the Smart Parts adapter plate to properly seat completely. Not many stocks have it. The Liberty (Tapco) T6 98 Stock does have it.
A paintball stock has many functions. Adding a stock aids in shooting stability. By resting the end on the stock on top of your shoulder, it also frees up one your hands for reloading. Having a butt stock on your SP-1 also provides a rear attachment point for a tactical sling.
Most of the other SP-1 upgrades that people commonly add are a matter of personal preference: aiding in a certain look or specific function depending on the type of play. Weaver-based accessories like a bipod, sight, laser or grip are all options to consider for an even more tactical setup. Any accessory that has a weaver or picatinny base (measuring 7/8″ in width) is most likely to work. Accessories that are specific for ‘dovetail’ or 3/8″ rails will not work on the Smart Parts SP-1.
The SP-1 Tactical offers a solid foundation from which you can build the ultimate scenario paintball gun. If budget is a factor, first get the upgrades that will give you to most performance gains for your buck . Then add the accessories that’ll give you the desired look and added function later.
Be safe and enjoy the woods!