Two weeks ago we held out annual Bacci Mountain pump event, hopperball Saturday and stock class Sunday. Our turnout was okay and the games were fantastic as usual, with only one player being stung by bees (sorry Gary!), and no rattlesnake bites.
One night while falling asleep in my tent cot I was browsing ebay on my phone and came across a bizarre sniper 1, converted into an Autococker (or Autococking Sniper).
I messaged the seller asking for the serial number and then fell asleep.
I didn’t think about this auction for the next few days till after our pump game was over and I received another message from Dirk Gadberry with a link to the auction and ask my thoughts.
What do the photos say about this Autococking Sniper 1?
I emailed the seller again about the serial. The price had jumped and it seemed pretty unlikely I’d bid, but I hadn’t really analyzed the photos and thought about the history on Autococking Sniper 1s.
Later that day I took a good look at the photos and a few things tipped me off that it was an earlier body. The welded feedneck, the raw Thompson style barrel (similar to Sniper 1 #11) and the Sat Cong sticker. All three of these signs pointed to this Autococking Sniper having a serial number under 300 and possibly a unique story.
The seller emailed back two days later (must have been an 9 day auction?) with, “It’s stamped ‘2.’”
Okay, not super helpful, since there is probably a serial until the asa similar to the serial on Sniper 1 number 11 I found a few years ago so I emailed and asked for a photo.
The seller replied with a photo showing a 2 with no numbers around it.
I started thinking about the fact it was a Sniper 1 converted into an Autococker, AutoSniper or Autococker Sniper 1.
I had seen a few Sniper 1s that had been converted, I’d even owned one that was in horrible shape when I eventually parted out. The serial was in the 700 or so range and I didn’t know any back story on it.
Buddy Farkas’ WGP Snipers 1 serial 72, the first converted Autosniper (and #71)
But I had also heard from Buddy Farkas, of Fontana Paintball, KMA and Team Navarone that he had one of the first Autocockers. Buddy’s marker was built on his Sniper 1, serial 72. I remembered this number because I have sniper serial 71.
I asked Bud about this and he replied, “Buddy’s was the first one I converted for sure.”
Buddy told me he sold his to a Police office friend and never saw it again.
If there was a number hidden it would make sense it that it was a 7 making this serial 72.
Definitely a production Sniper 1 conversion and not a prototype, but from when?
Looking at the photos this Autococking Sniper seemed like a production gun and not a prototype in any way, except that the knob on the LPR was different than other 1st gen brass WGP LPRs variations I’ve seen. Tim Firpo, at Paintball Tek, also pointed out a few weeks back in discussion that Bud moved from a course thread to a fine thread to help prevent the lpr from coming out of adjustment as easily.
Tim writes, “[WGP] Changed to fine thread to prevent backing out while shooting [on the early brass low pressure regulators].” While working on Navarone Cockers with these regs we had also come across other variations, such as Brass knobs, even though most use steel knobs.
So it would make sense this was an early variation of the Autococker.
The other pieces seemed to fall in line. If this was Farkas’ Sniper 1 number 72 then maybe parts were switched from prototype to production as new parts were released, this would make sense, since Buddy eventually ended up receiving a Navarone Sniper and at that point probably sold his original Sniper. Randy Kamiya, editor of APG and a Navarone Team member wrote me, “Buddy was the reason why we got the [team Navarone] cockers from Bud among other things.”
The facts on this Autococking Sniper 1
So thinking through all the possibilities and likelyhoods for this Sniper 1.
•Only a single digit serial is visible, meaning that it’s unlikely more than one number is hidden under the asa leaving this as a two digit Sniper 1.
•Buddy Farkas’ Sniper 1 was serial 72.
•#2 is the number visible.
Based on how many Sniper 1s I had seen converted to Autocockers it was likely this Sniper 1 would be one of those two numbers, #2 and #72. Sure it could be another number which would make it far less interesting to me. Definitely a gamble to bid on but I’d take my chances.
Two or so days later I won the auction. If the serial is anything other than those two number I likely spent too much. But it was a chance I had to take, and would likely never have again. Regardless, if someone else purchased it they would probably convert it back to a Sniper 1, which I guess would be okay, but it’s just such a cool looking set up.
Bad news and good news.
A few days later I received this Sniper. I opened the box, and no, the serial didn’t appear to be 72, but did look like the #2 was alone on the side. So not Buddy’s Autococking Sniper, but likely number two!
I’ve asked the seller for more info on this paintguns history and he told me his friend was traded this Autococking Sniper 1 and he volunteered to sell it.
The seller asked why it went for so much and I responded with the following:
“This type of paintgun, the WGP Sniper 1 is the earliest version of an iconic paintgun, the WGP Autococker. This particular gun would have come from someone who either worked for the creator of the gun, Bud Orr, or was a friend.
This gun is odd, because you wrote the serial number is 2. Typically guns this early would have been pump but the gun you auctioned had a semi automatic kit on the front. This shows that it was likely a friend of Bud’s who had the gun converted when the semi automatic kit became available. “
Observations after receiving this Autococking Sniper 1
Other observations I’ve made while briefly inspecting this Autococking Sniper:
•The Anodizing has the same faded cooper (earth tone) look as Chuck Link’s Sniper 1 #21 has. Unfortunately someone used either a paint pen or a Sharpie to paint a majority of this paintgun black. Seems to rub off easy, but with the faded nature of the original anodizing I’m going to be very careful cleaning it up.
•The tank is dated 9-91. This could have been switched out or it could be a new tank put on when this Sniper 1 was converted to semi automatic. I would imagine the conversion was earlier in 1991 than September when the tank is dated? But I am not really sure.
•All components seems stock and un modified.
•Wire stock is WGP.
•Back block seems stock Sniper 2 and not Sniper 1 that was drilled out, with no early Sniper 1 stands on the inside or back.
•LPR has collet marks around end. Don’t appear to be wrench marks since they are evenly spaced.
After removing the vertical asa and inspecting the body, the serial number is indeed #2. So this is the second Sniper 1 body serialized.
The base of the body is stamped Pat Pending. No patent was issued for the Sniper 1 but WGP did claim, I believe, intellectual rights over the design.
The history for now…
In August of 1986 Stan Russell and Earon Carter, of South Bay Arms, created a long barrel Sheridan marker which would be sold by Mac 1 as the Annihilator. At Sat Cong Village, Stan Russell chose Steve “Gunner” Tetz, of the Headhunters to sell his marker. Bud inquired to Stan about purchasing some markers to either sell or rent out to players in his rental booth, next to Gunners at Sat Cong Village. Stan told Bud that all sales would have to go through Gunner. Bud disagreed with this formality since they each knew each other and decided he would build his own marker. The WGP Sniper was the result of this.
Bud Orr’s prototype Sniper 1 premiered in the December 1987 issue of Action Pursuit Games (meaning the photos were likely taken between 3 or 6 months earlier and the gun could have been built much earlier).
So based on the serial of this Autococking Sniper 1, #2 was likely produced in the spring to summer of 1987. It was likely converted to a semi automatic sometime in 1991. Any later and I think the lpr would match more standard brass wgp LPRs I’ve seen.
I asked Bud Orr for his thoughts and he wrote, “It definitely is #2 because I only put pat pend on a few guns. The only thing’s that isn’t original would be the bolt and back block.”
By this I believe Bud is referring to this paintgun needing one of the quick release bolts paired with a back block with slightly smaller holes.
I wasn’t sure if the earliest Autocockers included these bolts but it would make sense since they would have been on Sniper 2s from around that time.
Next step in the research on this marker will be to look at some of the original ads for the Cocker in 1991 and to actually see which months the Autococker was first mentioned in ads.
This is the earliest Sniper 1 serial I have seen. The stamp appears the same as used on Chuck Link’s serial number 21 Sniper. The Autococker (semi) parts appear to be original to 91 and this will be a fun paintgun to try and track more history down on and eventually rebuild and shoot (hopefully Tim at Paintball Tek dot com will help me)!