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Smart Parts


Product Testing performed with DraXxus Paintballs

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by Bill Mills - Photos by Dawn Mills - Oct 2007

How It Works

Features HowItWorks Disassembly Adjustment Testing Data

Inside the Epiphany is where both its similarities, and operational differences with the Ion can be found. All the aesthetics aside, the Epiphany was built to outperform the Ion during rapid fire shot strings. All paintgun designs need a certain amount of time for their air passages and chambers to charge with gas before they can fire. How fast this takes depends on the design of the marker. Factors such as operating pressure, gas space volume, as well as regulator and transfer space flow rates all come into play.

If a marker is fired with a delay between shots that is at least as long as is needed for the valve to recharge, it will be able to maintain its best possible velocity consistency.

If it is fired faster, with each shot coming so close to the one before it that the valve does not have time to completely recharge, then the velocity for the later shots will be decreased, because they are fired from only a partial gas charge. This is commonly called drop-off. When the Ion was reviewed on, microprocessor controlled testing showed both a measurable drop off in velocity and a decrease in shot to shot consistency when fired at 12 bps compared to 1 bps.

The Epiphany was designed to deliver more consistent velocity under rapid fire than the Ion, by reducing the amount of time its valve assembly needs to recharge. Smart Parts addressed this quite simply by decreasing the size of the fire chamber, the portion of the valve assembly where gas is staged before firing.

Smart Parts Epiphany Valve Bolt

When looking at the components of the Epiphany's bolt and inner receiver which make up its main valve, one can quickly see that it is nearly identical to an Ion. The body breech is the same, as is the bolt stop, and the same bolts can be used in either marker. The difference is the fire chamber. The Epiphany's fire chamber has less airspace in the center.

In order to maintain a proper field velocity of 285 fps with its smaller fire chamber, the Epiphany needs to be fed with a higher pressure of compressed air or CO2 than the Ion. The Epiphany is built to run at 260 psi (280 max) which remains within the realm of what is widely considered to be “low pressure” operation.


Getting the right balance between volume and pressure to deliver the proper velocity turns out to be a little more complicated than just making a smaller fire chamber – especially when many players switch to aftermarket bolts that take up more or less airspace in the fire chamber. To compensate for these and other variables, Smart Parts has made the volume of the Epiphany's fire chamber adjustable.

paintballJust like The Freak barrel system, the Epiphany fire chamber is adjustable through the use of inserts. Three anodized aluminum volume control inserts ship with the Epiphany, allowing for levels of volume adjustment. The inserts slip into the fire chamber, and simply take up space.

The thickest walled insert is silver in color, and reduces the gas space so much that it is meant for use at night games and indoor fields where the Epiphany must shoot at lower velocities – such as 250 fps. The blue insert is of a middle size, and the green (which is installed at the factory) insert is the thinest. The highest gas volume possible is achieved by running the marker with no volume control inserts installed.


Regardless of how it is set up in terms of volume, the Epiphany operates the same as the Ion. When it is at rest, waiting to fire, the bolt is in the rear position, and a paintball is sitting in the breech.

Compressed gas from the regulator is supplied to the marker's solenoid valve, which sends an un-interrupted supply to the rear of the fire chamber. This gas supply is what charges the valve, and will be used to fire the paintball.

Additionally the solenoid valve supplies gas to a fitting in the bottom of the body breech. The gas pressure in the body breech presses on the central o-ring in o the bolt. Because there is more surface area exposed to rear-facing air pressure than forward facing air pressure, the supply of gas in the body breech pushes and holds the bolt back – even though the gas is at the same pressure on both sides of the bolt.

When the Epiphany is fired, the trigger actuates a microswitch on the circuit board in the grip frame, which in turn sends electrical current through the coil of fire in the solenoid valve. This pulse of current creates a magnetic field, which moves the core of the solenoid valve, blocking gas from being fed to the body breech. At the same time, it opens the air connection to the body breech, allowing it to be vented into the grip frame.


Without compressed gas on the front of the bolt, the gas pressure in the fire chamber forces the bolt forward, which pushes the paintball from the breech into the rear of the barrel and seals the face of the bolt against the SFT o-ring that is in the front of the body breech. When the bolt reaches the forward end of its stroke, gas is able to flow through slots in its center, around the bolt stop. This allows the compressed gas in the fire chamber to expand out, past the bolt stop, and through the front face of the bolt where the only thing holding back is the paintball blocking the barrel.

In a fight between a paintball and compressed gas, the gas wins. As it expands, it pushes the paintball faster and faster, until it shoots out of the barrel.

After a preset amount of time has passed (the dwell time) the circuit board stops sending power to the solenoid valve and the valve resets, once again sending compressed gas to the body breech. This gas quickly pressurizes the body breech, and the gas pressure once again pushes the bolt to its rear position while the fire chamber recharges for the next shot and a fresh paintball falls into the breech.

paintballThe Epiphany's circuit board is one of its components that are almost, but not quite entirely the same as that of the Ion. Upgrading an Ion to achieve Epiphany valve recharge rates requires installing an Epiphany fire chamber, a set of Epiphany volume control inserts, an Epiphany regulator spring, and changing to an Epiphany (or Epiphany rated Blackheart) circuit board and hoses. All of these component changes must be made as a group, both to supply, and handle the higher gas pressure for the Epiphany. It should be noted, that many QEVs on the market, including the original 360 QEV from Smart Parts will fail if used in this pressure range. Smart Parts updated their QEV, and the newer Epiphany rated models are identified by a red o-ring on their base.

It is the solenoid valve that marks the difference between an Epiphany circuit board and a stock Ion circuit board. According to Smart Parts it has had some slight design changes which make it better capable of operating consistently at 280 psi compared to the Ion solenoid valve. Epiphany circuit boards can be identified by a red label wrapped around the solenoid valve with a black Ion logo. Similarly the newer Blackheart upgrade circuit boards which are rated for use with the Epiphany have a red coil wrap (older Blakchearts have a black wrap with red logo) and a speaker attached to their capacitor.)

Continue to Disassembly .


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