A few months ago, I was offered and accepted the opportunity to be the “caretaker” of sorts for a piece of paintball history….one of the earliest Bud Orr Snipers ever made. I feel more that my role is as a curator, since this, I believe is more of a museum piece that rightfully has a place in the history and evolution of paintball markers.
This marker came to me after being put in storage almost 30 years ago, after it saw its last trip to the field. It was received by me, in field used condition, just like the last day that Bud played with it, set up constant air, or “CA,” style, with a 10 ounce thermo valve C02 tank mounted to the stock.
Sniper 1 #21 History c.1987
Before the restoration details, a little history on this particular marker is in order. The following details and information came from direct conversations with its creator, Bud Orr.
This marker was from the first batch of Snipers ever made by Bud, and was one of 10 or 12 he said he made and put in the hands of some of his fellow Sat Cong Headhunters teammates. Bud’s first batch of Sniper 1 pump paintguns were “prototypes” of a sort.
The following batches of Snipers that Bud Orr produced would evolve and change based the abuse these early markers saw in the hands of the experienced players and their feedback. This particular marker was one that Bud Orr himself used extensively to put its through its paces. Bud recalled that WGP Sniper 1, serial 21 was made in early 1987 and used frequently that year.
It’s not a stretch to say that many features would change in the upcoming batches of Sniper 1s as a result of play with this marker and a few others by Bud and his fellow Headhunter teammates. And these changes would make their way to Sniper 1s sold not only at Bud’s Sat Cong Village Shack, but at various paintball retailers around the country.
Now to take a look at some of the details and features of this particular marker that make it a unique piece of paintball history. Many things on this Sniper will be recognizable to anyone familiar with the Bud Orr Sniper 1, but a few features will stand out as unique, even to players who’ve used Bud’s markers for decades.
The most apparent detail of this Sniper 1, is the odd color. According to Bud, the first batch of approximately 50 Sniper bodies were anodized at the same time. The ano was to be the standard black the Sniper became known for, and initially, the color seemed correct. Unfortunately, over a short period of time, exposure to the air, atmosphere, or elements turned these Sniper 1s a peculiar color, which Bud dubbed the “Root Beer” ano.
Subsequent anodizing jobs on Bud’s markers were corrected, and turned out the familiar black finish, which sometimes faded to a slightly blued hue as they aged.
Another interesting finishing feature on the left side of the body, is a darker rectangular area that didn’t fade evently with the rest of the marker. This rectagle is where the Worr Game Products / Sat Cong Village sticker was. No sticker remained when I received it this paintgun, but it has since been replaced with a reproduction sticker that is period correct.
At first glance, the body did not appear to be stamped with a serial number, but upon further inspection, “21” was found in the standard location. The flanged part of the ASA that overlaps the side of the body covered this stamp, and only became clearly visible with the asa removed.
The ASA itself is milled raw aluminum that was painted black and was likely added after the body was anodized. Most of the paint on the asa has since flaked/worn off.
Sniper 21 uses the “round” ASA shape. Many incorrectly believe that earliest Snipers had the square ASA design, but the earlist models actually came from Bud with the pictured round design. This round design changed to the square asa block for the following batches of Snipers, and then eventually went back to the round design. What sequences of serial numbers that would have the round asa I do not know, but I do know, from talking to Bud, that this round asa on this Sniper is an original component and has always been on this body.
This ASA does not have the pin valve depressor lug in it, and instead uses a bolt that was drilled through the center to attach the ASA to the body. A C02 washer (similar to what a bulk co2 tank would use) is needed inside the ASA to seal against the air hose fitting that screws into it. A C02 washer and thread tape on the air fitting prevented air leakage.
Stamped on the underside of the body where the ASA attaches is “Pat Pend,” short for Patent Pending. Also on the underside of the body, you can see a much darker “black” streak, where the grip frame attaches. This is the original black anodizing color which eventually turned the Root Beer color on the exposed areas. The black anodizing on the underside of the body, where the grip frame attached, likely remained black because it was not exposed to the air/elements.
The feedneck is welded on each side, with a slight air through port on the top and bottom. This is the case on most early Snipers until Bud began press fitting the feednecks later on.
The left side of the body was milled for an auto trigger set up sometime after being anodized. The raw aluminum in the auto trigger area was painted black at some point to hide/protect it, though the paint had mostly flaked/worn off when I received it.
The pump guide rod on the front of the body is uniformly round as on most early Snipers. Not sure when it changed, but my Sniper 1, serial number 746, has a flat area factory milled into the guide rod on each side so it could be turned with a wrench, without marring the rod during dissasembly.
The bolt appears to be the standard one hole / three o-ring Sniper 1 style, however there is a small roll pin at the very back top.
This pin slides into a milled out slot in the top of the back block, keeping the back block and bolt aligned properly,and preventing the bolt from being inserted upside down. To my knowledge, this is not a feature that was found on many Sniper 1 models, I know my Sniper 1 #746 does not have it.
When screwing the bolt knob/screw back through the back block into the back of the bolt, it could sometimes turn if you were not careful….this roll pin and slot feature on this particular marker prevented that….pretty cool.
The back block itself is a faded black anodizing that does not match the Root Beer ano on the body, though it does match up as an early Sniper back block.
I cannot confirm that this is the original back block, it has been 30 odd years since the swap was made though if so. Perhaps it was swapped (if it was) because of the milled slot and bolt for alignment. As was the norm for very early Snipers, the bolt itself was connected to the back block by a simple flat head bolt, not the knurled black plastic knob as seen on later Sniper 1 production models.
The cocking rod that came on the marker was an early knurled metal one. I am unable to confirm that it is the original, however, I have replaced the cocking rod and the flat head screw with reproductions of the knurled black plastic bolt knob and the smooth head (push/pull type) black plastic cocking rod knob with collar as were found on most Sniper 1 models.
Sniper 1 #21 Internal Components
Internals, hammer, valve, springs, etc…appear to be standard Sheridan based which was normal on most Sniper 1’s.
The barrel is a 13” bull barrel that was anodized to match the body and also faded with only traces of the Root Beer color remaining. It is almost completely back to raw aluminum from wear and use (I told you it was used…..a LOT).
Standard step honed smooth bore inside the barrel. One odd, or notable thing about this barrel is that near the breech end there is a slight groove milled in it all the way around.
This groove likely fit an “o” ring, perhaps to help seal the breech?
Sniper 1 Pump Handle Examination
Sniper #21 uses a standard early Sniper 1 delrin pump, with the guide rod hole going all the way through, leaving no space for a pump handle return spring.
The photo above show the view directly through the Sniper 1 pump handle from the front.
The pump rod has two nicely milled aluminum auto trigger guides with set screws in each to hold them to the rod. Bud remembered that this marker was one of maybe 2 or so that got this auto trigger modification out of the 10 or 12 that went to his Headhunter teammates to use.
After testing,they decided to go with the bent rod auto trigger kits for Snipers, instead of milling the side of the body.
The bent style Auto Trigger kits could be added from the factory or purchased aftermarket if desired, with no body modifications.
Tank, Air Hose and Air Source Adapter (ASA)
The air hose and fittings connecting the thermo valve tank to the marker are standard brass fittings of the day, and the black plastic/rubber wrapped air hose was also common for the late 1980s. The 10 ounce thermo valve tank is dated 8 – 87 and was brand new when added onto Sniper 21.
When it came to me, the tank had been wrapped in brown/tan electrical tape to “camo” it up a bit since it is a raw aluminum and not anodized or painted.
I removed the tape and cleaned up the tank to look for dings/imperfections and markings/dates.
The tank mounts to the standard Sheridan “wire” style stock, which is attached to the standard Sheridan grip frame (with cut front tab to clear asa) used stock on Sniper 1’s.
A nicely milled tank ring holds the 10 ounce tank to the wire stock. The tank ring was obviously sent out for ano at the same time as the body and barrel, as it has the same “root beer” fade.
The factory Sheridan paint on the stock and grip frame had really curled up and flaked over the years and the inside of the frame was pretty gunked up with the old paint.
I removed the wooden grips that had darkened over time, and cleaned them up a bit,
Sniper 1 #21 During Restoration c. 2016
I had the frame and stock stripped and powder coated a matte black to resemble the original finish and still be functional while not interfering with the inner components of the frame.
Other than the grip frame and stock, no refinishing, anodizing, or painting has been done, just a thorough cleaning and polishing.
Sniper 1 #21 Post Restoration
My intent is to restore this marker to the condition it was in the, when Bud last used it.
After receiving it, I disassembled the marker and cataloged all the pieces, then set about cleaning, polishing and oiling as needed.
The restored and reassembled Bud Orr Sniper #21, ready for the museum, trophy wall, or field.
Hopefully this is close to the condition it would have been in when Bud himself was playing with it at Sat Cong Village during the Spring and Summer of 1987 (and beyond if so).
One last note, Sniper 21 is a true testament and tribute to Bud Orr and the markers he created. After I received it, I was spoke with Bud about it, and he asked me if I had any air.
I did, about half a tank of C02 from another marker. He said this marker had not been aired up or shot in close to 30 years (late 1987/88) and wondered if it would leak and/or shoot.
I removed the air line and screwed an off/on valve C02 tank directly into the ASA and turned it on. No leaks. Zero.
Ok….will it cock and shoot? Bolt was a little gummy/sticky….but it did indeed cock, and shoot….and made that sound, so familiar to anyone who has ever used or heard a Sniper shoot.
This marker is a treasure folks, and I am extremely honored and humbled to be the caretaker for this piece of history, though, from the look and sound of it….it could sure still take care of business if needed!
Chuck Link has been playing paintball since 1987/88 and competed regularly from 1988 till 2002 on TN Grim Reapers, Paladin, The Music City Hooters, Slick Fox Raiders and Team Lightning Strike. Chuck returned to paintball in 2014 and began organizing the KY / TN Stock Group, which promotes pump play with stock class, stick feed, and open class pump games once a month in the KY/TN area.
We would also like to extend a giant thank you to Bud Orr for trusting Chuck as the caretaker to the piece of history. Chuck writes, “Please thank Bud Orr as well for passing this marker on and allowing us all to see and enjoy this piece of paintball history.”