I’ve been talking to Bud Orr on the phone over the last couple weeks, trying to establish dates for when he worked on some of his earliest projects.
One of the topics we discussed were his early Commando nelsons.
Pictured above is a very early WGP Commando body that Bob Fowlie gave me back in 2012. This body is missing a feed and a front screw post that is welded/soldered on. Notice the rough pump arm slots.
Bud said the earliest Nelson/Commando bodies he made while at his shop in Santa Fe Springs in 1988. Bud said the shop was located on a “little piece of Santa Fe Springs that goes up into cerritos, at Alondra Blvd & Carmenita Rd.” Across the street was Cerritos and Bud’s side was Santa Fe Springs.
Up until this time Bud was working as a foreman at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard on Private Sector Jobs. He had already been building his Snipers since mid 1987 (premiered in APG in December 1987) and when Bud’s father passed away in 1988 he took 4 months off from the naval yard and spent this time pursuing his paintball projects. During this time his wife asked if he “wanted to make a go at [paintball]” so he started the shop in Santa Fe Springs.
A little while before this time, likely in late 1987, Woodfield Distributors’ California Cobra project ended abruptly. I would guess, it was becoming apparent that a stock feed gun would be the wrong item to bring to the market. Areostar’s Gale Gough and Sam McBride who were partners in the problem must have pulled out and left the third partner, Rich Breen with a partially complete project.
Bud told me that Rich was looking to move back to Colorado so they made a deal for all Rich’s his left over inventory. What Bud received from Rich was “Mainly frames” so he decided, “I’ll just make a nelson based gun.”
I would guess Bud was making some nelsons even slightly before receiving the parts from Rich and these would have been WGP Commando bodies such as the one pictured as well as the Survival New York commando bodies which are a low grade stainless. This body looks like steel (although it might be a similar low grade stainless). Although early on Bud’s Nelson bodies could have been offered both as a stand alone gun and as upgrade kits for 007s to be able to take Buds threaded barrels which were already being used on his Snipers.
Another interesting fact that Bud mentioned was that one of the first items he manufactured in large quantities were Nelson and Sheridan direct feeds for Matt Brown and Dave Craig of Adventure Game Supplies. So making bodies to sit under a welded or soldered on feed would be a logical next step in a nelson gun.
The Adventure Game Supplies ad above (scanned from the September 1989 APG) shows some of those feeds although this was likely a year or more later after Bud was making them for AGS. Find the full September 1989 APG scan here:
Find more information on the WGP Commando and the Woodfield Distributors California Cobra here:
And more article relating to Bud Orr here: