The Gun Gallery

F-1 Illustrator

Write up on 2-20-09

(Image stolen from VintageRX.com)

This gun goes back a long way with me. My first encounter with the F-1 was back in the winter of 1990 (or maybe '89) when playing a Blast Camp paintball in northern Indiana. We had all sorts of pump guns on the field and the Tippmann 68 special was just starting to appear. Even a large number of players were still using the 62 Cal version of the Tippmann at the time. Out pops this guy carrying what we considers a tiny gun. It was a prototype of the Illustrator. He had all the latest gear and really was a one man army. Blast Camp is a former Nike Missile base and close quarters combat was dominant. A small, fast firing gun just dominated this environment. After that first encounter we were impressed.

Next comes the spring of '91. A group of friends with their own resale licenses were in communication with Direct Connect out of Chicago. They got their hands on the first batches of F-1's being produced. The Rouge ball scene was never the same. The first time I borrowed one of these guns, I was in love. I was able to run and shoot with accuracy. Running with a pump was just crazy, but this gun was small and accurate enough to do the job.

Summer of '92 I worked at Dark Armies Paintball in Indianapolis. I had a beautiful green anodized Bushmaster that I was trying to sell. Working out a swap, I acquired my friend's F-1. He and all his buddies were switching over to the new monster on the market, the Automag.

My First F-1 was very straight forward. I had the back-red adjustable valve and the cocking area cover in place. It also came with the stock barrel with foam grip and also a special longer JDM barrel. JDM was manufactured very similar to the Armson barrel. Armson at the time were damn hard to get a hold of. They all had to be imported from South Africa, which was under some sort of trade embargo by the US. Pro-Team Products did not take control of distribution until a few years later, so other, smaller companies, were making similar products.

The F-1 ran off a standard 7oz CO2 tank. I no longer needed the 20oz siphon tanks from the 68 specials. From 7oz, you could normally get about 400 shots, enough for one day of play.

In the Fall of '92 I remember sitting on my porch and shooting squirrels out of the neighbors tree. I mounted a red dot scope that was incredible. It was a crazy time, but soon the neighbors learned that colored squirrels were all around.

In the Fall of '93 I was going through gun after gun. It was basically a new gun every 2-3 weeks. I sold the F-1 to a friend to gather funds for an F-2. The F-2 was nice, but never as solid as the F-1. The F-2 can be another story for another day.

I still miss that original F-1. When I last saw it, my friend had broken the back ASA and used nail polish to seal the air leaks from the body. It still shot, but it looked well used. It was his loaner gun for friends to come play on his backyard field.

In late 2006 I decided I would start the process of trying to re-buy the old guns I used to enjoy. The first on the acquisition list was the F-1. I shopped around on ebay for nearly a month before finding the one I wanted.

The F-1 design was later sold off to Brass Eagle who used the design for their Raptor line of guns. They later incorporated 2-finger triggers and direct feeds into the design, but the components inside were basically the same.

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