Over the last couple years an early Autococker with serial 5501 and “DARRYL IRONMEN CALIFORNIA” acid etched on the side has surfaced multiple times. Originally etched for Darryl Trent of the Ironmen by WGP in late 1990 or early 1991, this Autococker has been heavily modified from its stock configuration.
Posted to several paintball forums by a paintballer in Norway, Darryl’s Autococker appeared to have an early 90s P block cut done to the body / back block, as well as Belsales components added. In the instances this unique Autococker had been posted, the owner asked about changing pieces, value and history.
Here is one link on Tech PB:
Asking Darryl about this Autococker’s History
When I initially saw this Autococker posted back in 2010 I asked Darryl Trent, if he had any details on it. Darryl told me that this marker was stolen from him along with his gear bag while traveling in Europe. Also taken was a bandana head wrap he had silkscreened with Ironmen skulls and crossbones, which he frequently wore in early 1990s photos. Darryl also commented that he was really upset to see how it was modified since it left his possession. When he had last seen this Autococker it used the stock full back block, had an uncut trigger frame, and used the stock pneumatics (with possibly a Rock reg).
Darryl’s Ironmen Autococker in 2016
A couple months back while browsing old Paintball Games International magazines I saw a photo of an unnamed player holding with the same Autococker! Post back block conversion, but prior to the addition of Belsales pneumatics. The trigger guard is also uncut. I made a mental note to scan the magazine and threw it back in whatever unsorted box it came in.
Two weeks ago this same “DARRYL IRONMEN CALIFORNIA” Autococker was posted for sale on http://www.customcockers.com by the same paintballer in Norway, Simon Aslund.
I spent a couple hours searching for the Paintball Games International and shot the photo quickly with my phone and sent it over to Darryl, along with the Custom Cockers link to see if he wanted to try and import it back into the US. The ad had been up for a day so I figured any efforts were probably too late, but I emailed the seller regardless.
The next day I talked to Darryl on the phone. Still very adamant about his feelings on the backblock cuts and other modifications, he did remember a few details after seeing the PGI photo.
Darryl recalled that his earlier memories of this cocker being stolen were incorrect. He remembered letting a UK player stay with him in Northern California in the early to mid 1990s and at that time either gave, sold or traded this Autococker away. Darryl told me if I was interested in it for my collection to go for it. Later that night Simon emailed that the cocker was still available and I sent over payment.
The next day, Simon Aslund shipped it off from Norway and I started looking into the history and modifications of the “DARRYL IRONMEN CALIFORNIA” Autococker.
During the 1990 paintball season the Ironmen began transitioning from their Line SI sponsorship to shooting a mix of Bushmasters, Palmer’s Pursuit Shop Hurricanes and WGP Snipers. Carpet Bob, Marty Bush, Chip Hyde, Rick Cendejas, and Bob Long won the 1990 5 man Line SI Masters in October 1990 with this mix or markers.
Going into late 1990 / early 1991 the Ironmen began talks with Bud Orr on a full WGP sponsorship, and shortly after began receiving markers from Bud. This would be sometime between October 1990 (Masters) and the March 1991 Lone Star Open, (where the Ironmen premiered the Autococker).
During this period from late 1990 until March 1991 a few Ironmen members received their first WGP sponsored markers. Ironmen player Alexander “Zander” Rose received his first sponsored marker from Bud Orr, a Sniper II, with a serial of 5800, prior to the March 91 Lone Star Open.
Zander recalled the history of the above pictured Sniper 2 in an email from September, 2015. He writes, “The Sniper is serial number 5800 and I remember Bud pulled that even number body for me specifically and had my name etched in it.” And he goes on, “I don’t remember [the exact date] but I know it predated the Autocockers for sure. I believe it got pulled when we were just getting to know Bud before the full sponsorship and the prototype cockers in 91.”
Acid Etching from WGP
Acid etching doesn’t turn out as clean as laser engraving and the edges aren’t super crisp, but sort of fall away as a gradual transition into the anodizing. A few feet away the letters look clean, but under closer examination the edges aren’t sharp.
I asked Bud Orr about the acid etching on Zander and Trent’s Ironmen Autocockers and he replied, “I think Jr [,Harold Bruce, who worked for WGP,] did do the acid [etching] job on them.”
Based on Zander’s Sniper 2’s similarities, I had assumed this paintgun would have been given to Darryl as a pump, but talking to Darryl he doesn’t remember shooting any WGP pump markers on the Ironmen. He explains that he moved from his Line SI Bushmaster, now owned by Tony Meno (video above), to the Prototype Autococker used at the 1991 Lone Star Open.
Darryl remembers that Zander, Marty Bush, and James Walsh were the players who would have continued to use Sniper II pumps after the team switched over to WGP markers from Line SI Bushmasters.
Based on the similarities in the engraving, The “DARRYL IRONMEN CALIFORNIA” Autococker was likely given to Darryl by Worr Game Products in late 1990 to early 1991. The three likely possibilities for this Autococker are:
•Received as a Sniper II and not used and then converted to a Autococker for the 1991 Lone Star Open.
•Received for the 1991 Lone Star Open.
•Given to Darryl after the Lone Star Open but during 1991.
Darryl also explained to me that he owned several Autocockers during 1991 and 1992, so it’s unclear how much he might have used this particular Autococker. He thought it could be the same Autococker pictured in his WGP / Tiger Stripe / Nasty Boys ad, but really, without seeing the serial number or engraving that cannot be proven.
Post Ironmen Modifications at MDS (Marcus Davis Supplies)
The “DARRYL IRONMEN CALIFORNIA” autococker is covered with various body cuts machined post 1991, which can either be a huge turn off, or really neat if you think about the continued history.
Researching the backblock cuts I recognized similarities to a style posted on the Old School Paintball Guns group and the Old Age Paintball Paintball Gun group on facebook. Two UK players, Richard Power and Tim Iline, had posted several old Autocockers with nearly identical cuts.
Power played on Dragon Company and Iline worked for Marcus Davis Supplies (MDS) doing modifications on Nelsons, Sterlings, Automags and Autocockers.
I sent photos to Tim Iline, who confirmed that “The block & bolt certainly looks like my work.”
Iline’s modifications include the “P block, diffuser bolt, the pin system seen, timing adjustment through the top of the body, Nelspot springing, hi flow valves, etc.”
Inspecting the photos of the Autococker he remarks, “Darryl’s gun looks like it has the hole in the body for the hammer lock screw that I used to do before using nylon screws in the side of the hammer. I also started using 1/4 in. dia screws instead of 3/16, in the hammer, with the fronts turned down to fit in the slot in the body, though I believe that was Danny Love’s idea before mine.”
The LPR, beavertail and switch were all replacement component from Belsales and not part of the work done by Iline at MDS.
The brass switch is unique, and is 94/95 aftermarket Belsales 3 way, with the barbs spaced close together, similar to the early aftermarket switches that Russell Breeden, of RKB Engineering, designed.
I explained what I had discovered about the modifications to the seller, Simen Aslund, and he replied that a while back someone recommended emailing Belsales, to see if the body was modified by them. They wrote back the following:
“No we didn’t produce this gun. It looks like its one of the original California Ironmen WGP sponsorship guns issued to Darryl Trent. I have seen this gun before but a very long time ago. I think Darryl either gave it or more likely sold it to someone in the UK.
Although it wasn’t produced by us it has a Twister end cap hence the Evolution sticker.”
By “Produce this gun,” I believe the Belsales employee was referring to the body cuts done by Iline at MDS.
History determined upon arrival, back in California
Once I received the Autococker I started asking around for clues as to who might be holding the “DARRYL IRONMEN CALIFORNIA” Autococker in the June 1996 PGI photo. Was it the UK player Darryl traded/sold it to?
I posted two photos of Darryl’s cocker, along with the June 1996 PGI photo to the Old Age Paintballers facebook group. Almost immediately I started receiving extremely detailed responses.
Paul Cross and Mark Howes replied, and Cross posted an article in PGI covering the Russian Gladiator Television show visiting the UK and playing paintball. The player holding Darryl’s cocker was a contestant / actors on the show.
The Previous Owner, James Tristan Hewitt of Rage and NWC
And the following day, September 25th, James Tristan Hewitt replied that Darryl gave the Autococker to him in late 1992!
Hewitt, who was playing for UK Rage at the time (c.1992) commented:
“So I was the original player who Darryl gave the gun to [in late 1992]. Had a holiday up in Petaluma, [California] with some friends and partied with for a few days after meeting at Nashville Masters.
I had the block chopped and detent fitted.
Sold when I was short of cash, man I’d like it back.
Tim Tighe from PGI borrowed it for Gladiator photo shoot at Paintball, Kidderminster.”
And Hewitt continues that he “didn’t install Belsales parts. [The] Detent was done when being [P] blocked.”
Hewitt used this cocker on Rage at the Mayhem Master in 1993, where they made the semi finals. Rage disbanded in 1994 and Hewitt went to play for Nam Wreckin’ Crew (NWC), who he won the Mayhem Master with in 1996.
Hewitt sold this cocker in 1995/96 to “Tim, from Team Librarians.” “Tim” may have had Belsales upgrade the components, including the Twister Reg cap, beavertail (not pictured) and switch.
Between 1994 and 2010 this cocker made its way to Norway, where Simen traded for it. He remembers, “I traded it for an [Dangerous Power] G3, 4 or 5 years ago from a guy here in Norway. Had some trouble get it shooting so the lpr, asa and main reg was taken off a [2003 Autococker].”
I switched the Lpr back to the Sledgehammer with Twister cap back before the photos.
In the future I will be removing the regulator, bottomine and grip frame and then replacing them with a stock frame with an Air America Expansion Chamber or Unireg (not sure if I want to go HPA or co2). I’ll use an uncut guard WGP frame and either a bottomline or a Fred Shultz Signature Series bottomline mounted Air America (pre Raptor) system. Or maybe a Tsunami regulator system with an aluminum bottom.
Giant thanks to everyone that helped with this article, Darryl Trent, Paul Cross, James Tristan Hewitt, Tim Iline, Richard Power, Simon Aslund, Bud Orr and Mark Howes.
Find more articles on Darryl Trent’s paintball history at:
And more on the Ironmen at:
And more Autococker articles at: