Home Paintguns Mechanical The Tippmann SMG 68 and the Failure Prone Aluminum Magazine

The Tippmann SMG 68 and the Failure Prone Aluminum Magazine

Left side view of SMG serial 667.
Left side view of SMG serial 667.Missing plastic magazine end cover.

Tippmann SMG-68s have risen in value significantly in the last 5 years.  This is a result of a small production (at least for Tippmann) and that even smaller run being canniballized to turn into the far more reliable 68 specials.
But what most enthusiasts fail to consider about this seldom seen classic, is the weak point of the aluminum magazine which can render this paintgun a wall hanger.
But they’re a Tippmann, they can shoot 68 caliber out of a magazine and were introduced in 1989, what could possibly go wrong with them?

Full view of Tippmann SMG 68 mags.
Old full view of SMG 68 magazines I had.

Unlike the durable Tippmann SMG-60, which uses a steel magazine, the SMG 68 uses an aluminum magazine to hold the red (68 caliber) stripper clips.  

Tippmann SMG 68 Mag, coil spring and mag end cover.
Tippmann SMG 68 Mag, coil spring and mag end cover.

Over time, and thousands of cycles, the force from the hammer slamming into the valve and depressing the cup seal, in either full auto or semi auto modes, ripples through the entire paintguns and eventually causes the aluminum magazines to deform.

Front facing barrel side of Tippmann SMG 68 Mags.
Front facing barrel side of Tippmann SMG 68 Mags.

On top of this, the barrel screws through the mag, and this can lead to other possible probems if time is not taken to line the mag up correctly.

Back facing valve side of Tippmann SMG Aluminum mags.
Back facing valve side of Tippmann SMG 68 Aluminum mags. These are the stock mags that came with SMG 68s serial 667 and serial 1185.

After the magazine has seen extensive use and the thin walled magazine has been deformed, the square end of the mag typically starts to buckle in and causes resistance agains the stripper clips. This friction prevents the stripper clips from feeding smoothly when pushed towards the breech by the coil spring.

Right side view of SMG 68 Serial 667.
Right side view of SMG 68 Serial 667.

Over the past 10 years I’ve come across two examples of SMG-68s for my collection. Unfortunately, when I finally tested them last summer in Northern California, I found both examples has smashed in mag ends. I brought one down to Los Angeles last winter to mess around with.

On April 5th, while browsing craigslist, I came across a listing for some “Laser Tag and Tipman SMG 68 Stuff.”
Okay, probably a SMG 68 converted to a 68 special, I thought. And then I read the rest of the ad, “I also found stripper clips and spare magazine for a tipman SMG68 paintball gun.” I called the seller, Phil, who seemed excited to hear I actually had an SMG-68.

Serial plate on SMG 68 667.
Serial plate on SMG 68 667.

I went out to meet Phil on April 6th (yesterday). I brought my SMG 68 with me to show him and we talked a little about his paintball past. Phil told me how he moved from a PMI 1 up to a SMG-68 in the late 80s (likely 1989) and he played all over Southern California, mostly on outlaw fields with his friends.  Some of the exotic locations they played at were the early 1900’s Los Angeles Subway and at the 1930-40’s Nazi encampment in the Santa Monica Mountains.

I wasn’t sure what he meant by the old LA Subway, so Phil asked if I had seen Predator 2 (with Danny Glover), and I answered “of course!” He then described the subway as, “the tunnel where the Predator’s spaceship flies out of at the end of Predator 2.”
I tried to find that clip but all I could find was the above Danny Glover vs Predator dance off (which is definitely worth posting).

SMG 68 Magazines and clips from Phil.
SMG 68 Magazines and clips from Phil.

Phil’s parts included a junk mag, a nearly new and not squished aluminum mag, a parts kit and a ton of clips!  Phil’s SMG-68 went off for repair work in the last few decades and has met the same fate as so many other classic paintguns, likely lost or thrown away. Phil told me if no one messaged him in the next few days about these parts they’d go in the trash as well!

SMG 68 serial 667 with clips and magazines.
SMG 68 serial 667 with Phil’s collections of clips and Magazines.

With this amazing stash of parts I’ll be able to get SMG-68 serial 667 shooting this summer and record some videos. Giant thanks to Phil!

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Dan, an amazing stash of smg68 clips and mags, I to am a lucky owner of an un molested Tippmann smg 68, (in the mid 550’s serial number), it is a one owner used 4 times in its first year and then stored, I could only manage to find 4 strip clips for it , and the only thing missing, which I am trying to hunt down still is the clip catcher bag, (if you ever come across one then ping me off an email).
    I have been an avid collector of all things Tippmann, since I brought my first one, a 68 special (the first one tested in the UK ,by the then Nam Wrekin Crew, who ran NWC paintball in Dartford and went on to be European Champions)My portfolio of markers goes from a sheridan pump action rifle, 2xPhantom Tourneys, 68 special , smg68, 98 custom platinum (electronic trigger, and many barrels) , an A5 m16 replica with nade launcher and response trigger, tpx… tiberius 8.1, delta, pmi’s etc etc….
    Any info or parts that you can think of that you have available for the smg 68 , I would possibly be interested in, ESPECIALY the clip catcher bag….
    Thanks
    Cole (a fellow smg 68 owner)

  2. Dan, can you do a comparison of the sizes of the stripper clips and magazines from a SMG60 and SMG68? i’m thinking from memory (but might be faulty) that the clips on the 68 were thinner and would physically fit in a 60 mag. might be a way of adapting or machining a 60 mag to fit.

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