Brass Eagle’s first (attempt at a) semi automatic was not the gigantic boat anchor known as the Golden Eagle but the sleeker, several pounds lighter, and even less functional Eagle.
Originally advertised (or hyped up since their wasn’t an image in the ads) under Brass Eagle’s earlier company name, War Games Air Gun Supply, the Eagle operated as an inline blowback and was the somewhat natural progression from their their inline pump markers.
The Eagle essentially looks like a Nightmare with the pump handle removed and a cylinder on the breech. I haven’t taken an Eagle apart in the last few years so I don’t specifically remember the differences internally from the Nightmare but it attempts to function similar to a standard inline blowback but with an added front “air chamber.”
The bizarre thing about the Eagle is that it is first advertised around Winter of 1988 with photos appearing in Action Pursuit Games around Spring of 1989.
Other paintguns, released or first appearing in Action Pursuit Games around the same time (winter 1989 to spring 1989) were the Tippmann SMG Internal Line, National Survival Games’ Rapide, the revised Phantom (with M-16 frame), and Short/Long Barrel Piranhas.
Brass Eagle had their aluminum bodied Nightmares out, but I don’t think Brass Eagle’s double actions appeared for another few months, probably around summer of 1989.
The Tippmann 68 Special and VM-68 both premiered around July 1990 at the Bay City Open (although Dennis Tippmann Jr. has told me that Tippmann had the 68 Special completed before this time and was waiting on Sheridan/PMI to release the PMI-3 so that the 68 special wasn’t isolated, being the only mass produced Semi Automatic and risk having the 68 Special banned at fields and tournaments.)
In the linked video I mention that the Elite Rifles and Glenn Palmer’s Camille possible predate the Eagle, since the first advertisements and even the briefly produced production model are very much a rough prototype.
In a Warpig interview Glenn mentions that he started putting together Camille, and what would become the Elite Rifle design in Fall of 1988 but “I didn’t get a couple of bugs worked out of the automation system…until late October.” And the ram was later mounted to the side of Camille (as a dual air instead of spring return ram) in June of 1989.
Read the entire interview on warpig here:
The Elite Rifles were advertised around Fall to Winter 1989 in APG. Again quoting Steve Mitchell’s Warpig article, Glenn says his design of Camille in June of 1989 was his first design “that worked.” Glenn goes on to say that his idea came from Dave Craig and Matt Brown of AGS / Taso, so it is possible that the AGS rifle is earlier than Fall of 1988. I think the AGS rifle is advertised (or briefly mentioned) in APG but I haven’t found the issue yet.
So you could say that advertisements and appearances for the Brass Eagle’s Eagle predate the widespread appearance of Palmer’s design but since the Eagle is really just a prematurely released prototype for their Golden Eagle, which didn’t appear till a full year later (Summer of 1990 and on the cover of Action Pursuit Games in September of 1990) the claim for first direct feed semi can’t exclusively belong to Brass Eagle and the claim for first working direct feed Semi Automatic doesn’t belong anywhere near the Eagle. The Eagle might take the claim for the first inline blowback semi automatic but I’m still trying to research New Zealand’s (Steve Constable’s) claim to that.
The most awkward factor with the Eagle is the extreme trigger pull. The force required is more than their Jaguar or Barracuda double actions.
Above is a brief video by Fred Stolte, demonstrating the cycling of the Eagle’s action. This Eagle belonged to Weltman, was then sold to Carter Brown who later sold it to Sean Chip.
Sure the extreme trigger pull, awkward and and hypersensitive action, and the fact that the Eagle was built around a Brass Eagle Nightmare explain why this early attempt at a semi could be considered a neat piece of paintball history. But I think the highly collectable nature of the Eagle is not because of its form or function (or odd nature) but rather because of an unconfirmed “rumor”, that only 11 Eagles exist. I don’t really believe this rumor and I can’t figure out its source but I’ve heard it over and over throughout the years.
Supposedly 100 Eagles were released and 80 of these were recalled. Over the years 9 more were returned to Brass Eagle leaving only 11 remaining. I’ve managed to find I think 5, and I’ve seen two others. One (in Fred’s video above) was owned by Thad “Weltman Drum” and later traded to Carter Brown, and the other I’ve seen is in the EMR museum.
Carter Brown has posted on Vintagerex.com:
“About 100 were made, and then re-called. All but 20 made back into a Nightmare pump again. Over the years about 9 more were sent back. All but 11 were rumored to be re-called. How many are actually out there is unknown. We’re trying to catolog all the known Eagles. Please if you know of one, please drop me a line and let me know.”
Find the Eagle on Vintage Rex at:
I can’t really explain the function of the front Air Chamber but eventually I’ll do a breakdown with more information on the internals and their functions. It could be that aside from the recocking the hammer from the valve, the air chamber helps to recock and cycle the bolt.