One of Earon Carter’s earliest Comp Gun prototypes is pictured in the November 1987 issue of Action Pursuit Games. I would guess the photo was taken in the summer of 1987. During this period a ton of open class 12 gram comp (competition) nelsons were beginning to flood the market. Earon Carter’s creation stood out because of the smooth undercocking, the elimination of thumb screws (which would constantly loosen), the addition of the bolt velocity adjuster (which wasn’t as common early on) and the stainless 3 hole powertube.
And in late 1987-1988, as many teams in the Southern California area began switching from 1st generation Annihilators to more configurable Nelson based pumps, Carter Machine’s Comp Gun became a popular choice (along with Line SI Bushmasters).
In the two or three years before building the Comp gun (1984-1987), Earon Carter had been working with Stanley Russell, as South Bay Arms, on various projects including the first generation Annihilators, which were sold through Mac 1, the Master Blaster / Elevator Gun, built off a Crosman MkII pellet pistols, aluminum barrels for Darkside MK1 and MK2 Uzis and other various nelsons, including a bore drop nelson which he called the Tommy Gun.
Most of the Carter Comp Guns built in 1987 likely used Nelspot 007 frames, plastic pumps handles, and lower angled feeds.
In early, 1988 Comps (and Termites/Buzzards) began coming with the Tri Jay / Carter / NW frame, and towards the middle of 1988, likely moved to an aluminum pump handle.
In April of 2013, I met a member of Ralph’s Killboys (at Ralph’s) named Grady. Grady sold me his radical Mac 1 Annihilator which was likely built in early 1988. Ralph’s Killboys were all employees of the Ralph’s supermarket chain in southern California and were captained by Steve “Mongo” Brett.
Grady also teased me by mentioning a beautiful early “Comp Nelson Gun,” that he had. He told me he’d need to wait and see if the Comp, which belonged to a teammate, was okay to sell. Okay, probably an Adventure Game Supplies Devastator or Skirmish, I thought. Maybe if I was lucky it would be a Bushmaster. But I thought he was just leading me on and wouldn’t end up selling it to me.
But a few weeks later, Grady got the okay to sell the “Comp Gun” and we met up again.
The “early comp” ended up being a stunning Carter Comp, which dates to early 1988.
It might be obvious that I almost never choose condition over history and uniqueness with the paintguns I collect and write articles about. Most painguns I own are well used, many feature engraving, some have weird modifications, and nearly all have a story that sets them apart from nicer examples. With this early Carter Comp I didn’t have to choose one or the other, since it features many unique aspects and is in amazing shape!
This early 1988 Carter Comp gun has several features unique to Comps of that period. Some of which I didn’t even notice until Paul Schreck pointed them out to me. One of these features is the top back “wings” of the wood grip panels. Most Carter and NW wood grips are straight up on both the panel’s top forward and back (looking down the barrel) sides and only start to widen out on the bottom base. Paul pointed out that the wood panels on this comp are not straight up at the rear top side. The photo of Earon pictured above also shows wood panels that have a “wing” in the back.
The grips screw in the center of the grip panels, which is a trait mostly attributed to Nicky Wilson’s pumps of the same period, which used the same frame. Most enthusiasts will say that the screw in grips are a determining factor in the identification, but as shown on this Carter Comp, this is not the case. Likely in 1989, Carter Machine would start glueing their grips on Buzzards, Termites and Comps.
This early Comp also came with a plastic pump handle, a featured I hadn’t noticed on early Carter Comps (aside from Earon’s pictured prototype in the November 1987 issue of APG). But after looking around I started to notice many early photos showed plastic pump handles. After examining the pump handle and linkage on this Comp, which has barely been used, it’s obvious why Earon moved to an aluminum handle. The plastic is cracking at the bolt to pump handle linkage. Most of the Carter Comps of this era have likely had the pumps replaced as they saw more use.
Dale “Sugarstump” Price posted photos of a personal Comp on facebook a while back that he used regularly that still featured the plastic pump so others did survive over the years but I would guess most were replaced.
The sight bead on the front of the Comp’s barrel uses the same hard chrome plated brass screw with a glued in red fluorescent pin / bead. This is the same front sight that most early 1st generation Annihilators came with.
The top sight is the standard style that was used on direct feed Carter and NW comps during the late 80s. It is secured onto the body with a screw in the center and is low and flat. An exception are more custom Comps as well as team Comps, which used the taller drilled through style.
The Thermo Tank is underslung in a tank cage and is dated January 1988. This means the paintgun was likely produced within a couple months after that date.
Earon refers to these stocks as the Cobra stocks but I’m not sure who the manufacturer was. I don’t think it was Stan Russell, although Stan did modifiy some of them.
The bolt and hammer look like standard Nelspot internals. The bolt has been drilled out for an adjuster in the center. A new spring has also been added (not the stock steel Nelspot spring).
The adjuster is hex, and not the later 4 hole venturi style that Earon uses on most Carter Machine Nelsons from the mid 90s onward.
The rear valve body is drilled for 1/8th npt, although this Comp also included a drop out changer.
Also included with this Carter Comp, but not pictured in this article, are a brass Carter stick feed, with the round collar and a 12 gram drop out valve.
Eventually I’ll find an early Nelson framed Carter Comp to compare this 1988 model to. And later this year I might even try shooting this Comp (okay, I’ll definitely try shooting this comp).