Vanguard Avalanche Demon
Vanguard Cracks the Pro Ranks with A Truly Custom Spool Valve Marker
Text and photography by Joshua D. Silverman
(As published in PaintballX3 Magazine)
There was a time in paintball when custom paintball guns meant more than a fancy anodizing job on the aluminum. Players had signature series markers and teams had custom markers that had their own modifications, their own bodies and their own cutting and carving that truly made them unique, limited-edition items that were hot sellers then, and continue to be sought-after today. More recently, team-edition paintball guns often feature custom color combinations, unique graphic anodizing and not much more to differentiate them from the stock models, and while they are still successful, it just isn’t the same for many players who expect more than anodizing for the extra money they spend. When Vanguard signed Frank Connell and his St. Louis Avalanche professional team to shoot their Creed and Demon markers, they promised a truly custom Avalanche edition marker and as the 2011 season has come to a close they’ve delivered, bringing to market an Avalanche Demon that offers a custom milled body and unique anodizing combinations to create a special, team-edition marker.
Avalanche had an up-and-down season in the professional ranks of the seven-man NPPL league in 2011, finishing as high as second place at Chicago’s CPX park in a controversial showdown with Dynasty that almost ended in hand-to-hand combat. What remained consistent for the team throughout 2011 though, was that at any given moment, in any given game, Avalanche was a threat and they proved capable of knocking off even the most competitive of the NPPL’s top teams. By the end of 2011 Avalanche had made the transition from Vanguard’s earlier marker, the poppet-valve Creed, to early models of the spool-valve Demon, a marker first reviewed by PaintballX3 in its prototype form. While the pre-production model we reviewed several months ago had a few teething issues, we saw it for the potential it had and when the Avalanche version was put in our hands, it quickly became clear that all that potential for excellence has been fulfilled and the Demon is now an in-production marker capable of shooting ball-for-ball with the rest of the high-end, high-dollar paintball gun crowd. The Avalanche Edition adds custom cutting on the body, a custom regulator housing and unique anodizing combinations to create a limited edition of even greater value than the stock model.
The Demon, now that it is fully in production, is a well-appointed and attractive spool-valve marker designed with efficiency, accuracy, light weight and quiet shooting at the top of the engineer’s drawing board. The Avalanche model we tested, the first production Demon we’ve fired since initially spending time with the several pre-production models, delivers on all these performance facets and then some. The Avalanche Demon delivered to X3 for testing was richly anodized black with red parts with a slightly dusted finish for a subtle yet attractive finish, and the St. Louis Avalanche team logo, recently updated for 2011 and beyond by Forgotten Muse Media, was engraved into each side of the receiver creating a truly custom marker. The Avalanche edition also features a custom carved high pressure regulator for a unique look and a slightly more comfortable fore-grip. The Demon’s smooth and understated lines are still visible in the Avalanche edition marker.
Features standard on the Vanguard Avalanche Demon include an on/off bottle adapter, hose-less design, a vertical, low-rise clamping feed neck and a snappy, responsive adjustable blade double trigger that makes shooting fast simple even in semiautomatic mode. Break beam eyes are standard behind aluminum eye covers, the grip frame is a comfortable .45 model with wrap-around rubber grips, the buttons at the rear of the frame are rubberized to protect from dirt, paint, water or impacts and the OLED screen on the rear side of the grip frame is easy to read. The Demon, like the Creed, operates via a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery that is very efficient. Standard with Autococker threads, the Demon is sold with a stock barrel with one-piece inserts that deliver accuracy, versatility and, thanks to a multitude of ports, very quiet shooting. Two fourteen inch barrel inserts are included with the Autococker-threaded Demon barrel back with each marker, in .685 and .689 bore sizes that can successfully accommodate most of the paintballs on the current market.
The simple spool valve system of the Vanguard Demon carries over unchanged from the standard model to the St. Louis Avalanche edition. Easy to remove, clean and maintain, the Demon’s bolt system requires only a few moments to remove by hand by unthreading it from the rear of the marker, and a few more moments with some grease to keep lubricated. The spool valve system of the Demon features a sealed breech design which, according to higher-ups at the company, eliminates blowback and the turbulence it causes, improving accuracy and trajectory while helping to produce a smoother-firing marker. The Demon is one of the lightest paintball guns X3 has tested in 2011 and the Avalanche Demon continues this trend, weighing under two pounds with its barrel and battery. A player using a lightweight setup like that we used for testing, a Ninja compressed air bottle and a Pinokio Hopper, can easily expect to walk onto the field with a marker, tank and hopper package weighing six pounds or less, a number that should make the small snake players and the back players with big bottles and heavy packs equally happy.
Speaking of making players happy, shooting the Avalanche Demon should make any player happy, as it certainly put a smile on our faces. Consistent, the Avalanche Demon shot between 280 and 290 with every ball we fired through it, without any adjustments necessary, right out of the box. We were shooting Marbalizer paintballs on a chilly, forty-degree Mid-Atlantic December day, through the .685 Demon stock barrel. As for accuracy, a relatively new player standing next to us on the target range put it better than we ever could as he watched us shoot the marker- “hey look, all those paintballs are landing in the same spot!” He was correct, as our Avalanche Demon test marker put an impressive group the size of a fist on a target thirty feet away and the groups were in no hurry to open up as the ranges increased. The Demon’s lack of recoil certainly helped, as did the marker’s inherently flat trajectory, which helped us put accurate streams of paint out to long ranges. The Demon also fired very quietly, making communication while shooting possible and helping sneaky players stay hidden while shooting from the snake or while creeping in more wooded environments. Players can easily expect well over 1000 shots from a Demon with a full, 68 cubic inch air bottle.
The Demon, now that it has finally made it to market, is selling well and has proven itself to be a very competitive high-end paintball gun. The St Louis Avalanche Demon is a rare, attractive and unique version of the marker that is more than enough gun to compete on the highest levels of the game. Packed with features, light, quiet, accurate and simple to maintain, the Avalanche Demon is an excellent choice for any player looking for a world-class piece of equipment.