by Baca Loco.
The sky is a bleached blue and the air is still and pregnant with foreboding. Dust swirls around the legs of a dozen men moving cautiously but with determination and guns drawn toward the local livery stable. The muted clank of spurs and a hushed cough echo like thunderclaps. There is history and violence behind this moment, pressing each of the participants forward toward the inevitable confrontation.
Nearly deaf from the repeated concussions of nearby mortar strikes punctuated by the intermittent fall of heavy artillery shells the downed pilot takes a moment to assess his surroundings. Resting his cheek on the cold, pitted concrete of a shadowy passage he struggles to gain control of his racing heart. Gulping air he blinks away rivulets of sweat. Clutching his sidearm he listens intently for the sounds of his hunters. He needs to reach high ground and assess a possible escape route. Taking a quick glance around the corner he quickly covers the distance to the stairwell.
The piercing oscillation of sirens reverberate in the alley. Is it his imagination or are sirens getting louder? The ringing alarm within the building he and his partner have just exited makes it hard to be sure. She rushes past him, dressed all in black with her long blond hair flowing from under a black beanie. She pauses and looks back, nodding. At the same time she unholsters a pistol and checks the action to make sure a round is in the breech. Suddenly there’s a flashing of red and blue lights as a police cruiser swerves into the mouth of the alley.
By now I’m sure you’ve seen adverts for the new Kingman Training (KT) paintball pistols using a unique 11mm (.43 caliber) paintball. The Kingman folks look to be going all out. Now personally I don’t have any intention of buying a paintball pistol but the big campaign got me thinking. Or maybe piqued my curiosity is a better way of expressing my, probably temporary, interest. I’m curious on a couple of counts; the actual market for the pistol-sized marker and the marketing. Nor is this simply about the KT pistol as there are others already available and some other recent entries into the marketplace.
I once owned a Rapide which probably accounts for my general disinterest in paintball pistols. It was a massive, lumbering plastic handgun of a paintball pistol that was anything but rapide, or rapid. The trigger (in)action was so brutally stiff it could (and surely did) leave more than a few index fingers looking like they had abused steroids. But starting with the Airgun Design Sydarm of a few years ago the paintball pistol was resurrected. The Sydarm was designed to serve primarily as a tactical training tool for law enforcement and in that role it makes sense. And the newer designs that more accurately reflect the size, weight and feel of real handguns probably make even more sense. I suppose there must be a decent market for non-lethal training tools but is there really a market for paintball pistols in paintball?
This column opened with evocations in which the pistol plays a pivotal role in an oft-revisited mostly male fantasy of bravery, peril and fighting back against all odds. Is that the kind of thing that can (and will) sell paintball pistols to paintballers? I don’t know. It doesn’t particularly move me but I’m old and cynical. It seems like it might strike a chord with the scenario set or the mil-sim crowd but again, I don’t really have a clue. Could it be the stuff of action movies and TV dramas seem kinda cool but don’t really translate to on-field paintball action? What do you think? What future does the paintball pistol have in paintball?