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Critical On/Off ASA
by Bill Mills - Photos by Dawn Mills - June 2007

As commonplace as screw-in preset compresed air systems have become, on/off ASAs add huge convenience, making it easier to turn off the gas supply for degassing the marker. Often, they come with the penalty of wight and bulk compared to plain bottom-line ASAs.

paintballThe Critical On/Off from Critical Paintball puts an easy to turn on-off valve in a package that is about the same size and weight as a typical ASA – weighing in at 2.8 ounces.

The Critical On/Off's control knob is uniquely placed – on the bottom. It is a large aluminum knob in the shape of an iron cross, which makes it easy to grip. One half-turn clockwise pushes through the ASA's depressor pin, to open the pin valve of an HPA regulator or CO2 tank valve, and a half-turn counter-clockwise retracts it. Turning the vale off also vents the ASA, so the HPA system or CO2 tank can be removed immediately without o-ring damage.

The On/Off ASA feeds gas to a centered 1/8”-NPT opening at its front. It does not include a macroline fitting.

paintballDual mounting options are included. A standard ½-inch dovetail air accessory slot is milled into the top of unit, allowing it to slide onto air adapter rails, or straight on to the bottom of grip frames that include them.

It can optionally be mounted with industry standard center-line 10-32 screws, though that is a little tricker than just sliding it on and locking it in place. Rather than supplying an air mounting rail, as many manufacturers do, Critical supplies an adapter plate and pair of screws.

paintballThe adapter plate slides into the dovetail slot, and provides a flat surface for screw-mounting the regulator, creating a lower profile than is available with mounting rails. In order to keep the design compact, access to the mounting screws is a little tricky. The screw heads line up underneath the on/off knob.

paintballThe on-off knob is removed for access by first removing the jewel sticker in its center. This sticker is actually adhered to a small rare-earth magnet, which keeps it very securely on the on/off knob screw. With the sticker lifted away, a hex-head wrench can be used to remove the screw, and the knob lifts away to provide access to install or remove the mounting screws.

When they are installed, the hex-heads of the 10-32 mount screws can be reached through the knob, by rotating it a quarter turn.

paintballFor review, the Critical On/Off ASA was tested both on an LCD Matrix with the standard screw mount, and on the integrated grip rail of a Shocker NXT. It was discovered on the NXT that the set screw in the grip frame which locked the ASA on the rail ended up locking itself to the on/off knob's shaft, preventing the ASA from working. Relocating the lock screw to the rear of the two holes in the Shocker NXT's grip frame solved the problem.

With both mounting methods, the ASA was held securely, was air-tight, and the on/off knob proved easy to grip and turn when used in conjunction with a Crossfire Compressed Air System.

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