At CPX’s Living Legends 5 I did a two part interview with Kevin Donaldson, captain of the New York Master Blasters and owner of Action Sports Outfitters.
High winds made this footage difficult to stabilize but I did my best and tried to clean up the audio as well.
The first part of Kevin’s interview focuses on Rob “Termite” Smith’s Termite Gun and the thrown together team of the Widowmakers from the August 20th-22nd, 1988 tournament Poconos Skirmish in Jim Thorpe , PA.
In this video Kevin discuses the main variations between the different models of the Termite Gun but warns that it’s hard to separate generations of Termites because each paintgun is custom made.
Kevin Donaldson’s early Termite Gun. The Master Blasters received their Termites after the PBGA tournament so likely c. late 1988. Pictures courtesy Kevin Donaldson and the Master Blasters’ facebook page.
Although after the second generation Earon Carter machined nearly the entire gun and the Termite became more compatible with Earon’s Buzzard. So these later versions are easier to separate from earlier guns.
Jessica Sparks proudly holders her early 1st generation Termite gun on the cover of the June 1989 issue of Action Pursuit Games.
The earliest generation of Termite Guns were likely built in late 1987 to mid 1988. The earliest of these are very similar to Frank Postle’s Frank Gun but featured an Aluminum barrel. These early Termites had nelson grips frames, aluminum or delrin pumps, and most parts were nelson specification.
Jim Lively’s early Termite Gun. Pump handle is delrin, feed block is ambidexterous. Photo courtesy of Jim Lively.
The next batch of Termites were also built in very limited quantity and were also likely thrown together with various part that Termite Smith sourced from various southern California airsmiths.
As the Early NW and Carter grip frames became available Termite utilized these frames but some of these second generation guns still featured nelson 007 grip frames.
It is important to note that Kevin’s Termite, pictured in the video and above has a nelson grip frame but it was likely built after Jim Lively’s Termite.
Termite may have used a nelson grips frame because that is what was available for building the Master Blasters’ pumps or these bodies could have basically been upgrade kits. Looking at Kevin’s gun the pump handle looks like a polished WGP commando pump handle.
Grips were made by Tim Stone. Spring is likely retained/hidden beneath the pump arm. Sight rail and asa valve body are likely lapco. Photo courtesy of Jim Lively.
Some second variation of Termites featured Delrin pump handles similar to the handle found on Jim Lively’s Termite, shown above.
Jim wrote the follow to me about his Termite:
“Rob built it for me I think in 1988. It has custom rosewood left handed grips that Rob made as well. Still looks new.”
I believe Jim had this gun at the PBGA Skirmish Poconos Tournament in August 1988, shortly before Kevin and the Master Blasters received their guns.
Later 1988 Termites likely had aluminum pump handles and looked similar to the second generation Termite that follows the pictures of Jim’s Termite in the video.
The second generation of Termite still used standard nelson specification parts (back bottle valve bodies) and some lapco parts such as delrin pump rings and lapco sight rails.
The feeds on these Termites were either ambidexterous or there was a gap between the sight rail and the feed block.
Earlier Termites (before generation 3/1989) typically have one center screw to secure the collar onto the pump instead of two.
This Termite was likely created around the same time as the bodies for the Master Blasters’ Termites in 1988.
It was between the second and third generations of Termites that Earon began selling his version of the collared dual pump nelson which he sold as the Buzzard, named after friend and “Who are Those Guys and That Gal, Mercenary Service” player, Jay “The Buzzard” Jackson.
The third generation of Termites were likely completely built by Earon Carter with help from Termite and would likely be late 1988 to 1989. When talking to Earon he told me several different between his Termites and Termite’s earlier pumps.
One of Dana Mennerich’s Termites. Likely built by Termite and Earon in 1989. Dana removed the sight rails. Pumps arms look welded but could be covered with tape. Solid trigger, not aluminum. Removable muzzle break (removed). View enlarged crops of left and right side. Photos courtesy of Dana Mennerich.
Non ambidexterous feed and 5 concave holes on either side of sight rail.
Earon told me that his guns:
*There was no longer a gap between the feed and the sight rail. The sight rails had Earon’s five Convex milled circles and butted up against the feed block.
*The valve bodies were similar to Earon’s comps, and were a smaller outer diameter allowing them to slide inside the body of the gun.
*The guns were still all custom made but there was less variation.
*The bodies started to change into a stainless barrel rather than a unisized (or unitized).
* Earon also mentioned that his early Buzzards featured welded on pump arms but as can be seen in the video, one of the Termites that Dana Mennerich owns has the welded on arms.
One difference Kevin Donaldson told me between Third Generation Termites and Buzzards of the same time was who the guns were sold by.
If Earon sold them to ABC paintball in New Jersey they were Buzzards (and likely featured internals made by Earon). If the pumps were sold to Kevin’s store in New York, Action Sports Outfitters and used Jim “Howdy” McGuffog’s bolt and hammer, the Howdy Bolt, then they were likely sold by ASO labeled as a Termite.
Regarding the Howdy Bolt, Kevin Donaldson wrote, ”We made these bolts originally for the Bushmasters we were shooting just prior to the Termites, [but it] was not too soon after we finished the bolts [that] we started shooting Termites. At that time all Termites sold by A.S.O. had Howdy Bolts installed by us and Carter Machine was putting his version in all Carter guns.”
Kevin went on to write, ”The first bolts we made did not work as well as we liked and made several changes along the way. One of the last changes we made was to add a 3rdscrew hole for the under cocker pumps(Carter Comps).”
Highlighted Termites/Buzzards began at the end of the third generation with aluminum one piece bodies.
The third generation would end around 1990 and the bodies moved to threaded stainless and no longer used a one piece aluminum barrel/body or as Earon calls it a “unisized” barrel.
After the third generation of Termite Guns there would be little to no difference between Termites and Buzzards other than the retailer/internal components.
The highlighted guns were present into probably 1990 and later highlighted Termite/Buzzards used stainless body.
A solid color Termite/Buzzard. For this generation the main difference would be the internals being the component that separates a Termite and a Buzzard.
The completely colored Termites/Buzzards followed these highlighted paintguns and were probably sold until 1991 or 1992 (as is shown in the ASO ad).
Thanks on this project to Kevin Donaldson, Dana Mennerich, Jim Lively, Kenneth Hefferle, Dave Arnold, Jerry Braun, Paul “Luck Duck” Schreck, Adam Coker, Bob “Flex Hone” Fowlie, and Earon Carter.
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Written material and pictures copyright Daniel Bacci
baccipaintball.com and other owners (Kevin Donaldson, Dana Mennerich, Kenneth Hefferle, Jim Lively).
Scans from magazines copyright their respective owners 2013.
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