Smart Parts Paintball
Smart Parts Paintball was a classic paintball company that changed paintball forever. Smart Parts began in the late 1980s when the Gardner brothers began making aftermarket paintball barrels and their first marker, The Boss pump. Their barrels featured spiral porting and reduced the sound of the marker when fired. Smart Parts continued to make custom versions of other markers and accessories until 1996 when they first distributed, then later made, the Shocker paintball gun. The original "Shoebox Shocker" was a contender with the WDP Angel and Brass Eagle Rainmaker in the early days of electronic markers. The Freak Barrel Kit was also released and is still one of the most popular barrel kits on the market today. The Freak featured a threaded front and back, and aluminum inserts of varying diameters to let you match the paint to your bore.
The release of the Smart Parts Impulse kicked the paintball arms race into high gear. The Impulse was cheaper, lighter, faster, and more gas efficient than the old Shocker. The Impulse spawned several variations and private labels models. The Smart Parts Nerve was touted as being their marker to have everything, but production delays hindered sales. In 2003, the Shocker SFT was released to popular acclaim. It bore little resemblance to the original Shocker and was the first spool valve marker made by smart Parts. In 2007, the SFT was replaced by the Shocker NXT featuring newer technology and making upgrading easier.
The year 2008 had the biggest impact on the sport. The Smart Parts Ion was released and changed the industry. The original Ion and later Ion XE was a spool valve marker that was incredibly fast, light weight, easy to maintain and relatively gas efficient. It gave the player on a budget a marker that could realistically compete with higher-end markers for under $300. The Ion was like the Autococker in that it spawned a huge aftermarket in upgrade feed necks, triggers, frames, bolts, bodies, etc. At one point it was possible to build an Ion entirely from aftermarket parts, without using a single factory part!
The Smart Parts Vibe and SP-1 were later released, being simplified and more economical versions of the Ion. An updated Impulse featuring a horizontally split body was also released. However, the economic recession of the late 2000s combined with a corresponding drop in paintball playing attendance hit the company hard and Smart Parts closed its doors in 2010. The founders of SP went on to form GoG, updating several of the designs as well as continuing production of the Freak barrel system.