During my twenty years of paintball, few things have remained constant. From pump paintball guns to semi-automatics, then electronic guns to the high-tech markers we have today, from CO2 to compressed air and from trees to inflatable bunkers, practically everything has changed.
However, one thing that was well known when I entered paintball remained the same for quite some time: JT. Winners wore JT. World champions wore JT. That remained the same for years. Then other brands like Dye, Eclipse and Empire rose to challenge and eventually surpass JT as the dominant brands in the game. Now, carried on the backs of Sacramento XSV as they fight their way back into the professional ranks of the PSP, JT is back. In addition to pants, jerseys, casual clothing, packs and their legendary goggles, JT has brought a high-end tournament paintball gun to market, the Impulse. Light, small, sleek and efficient, the JT Impulse aims to power the JT brand back to the pinnacle of tournament paintball.
The JT name isn’t the only one on the side of this new marker with some history in paintball, as “Impulse” is a marker name that has been around for a while as well. Originally a stacked-tube marker created and sold with great success by Smart Parts, the Impulse was a favorite of numerous players and teams in tournament paintball thanks to its simple operation, solid performance, affordable price and the plethora of upgrades available for it. I played ten-man and regional five-man paintball around ten years ago with a private label version of that marker, the Nasty Impulse. The Impulse name was resurrected by Smart Parts not long before the company’s exit from paintball, but the design was completely new, a design that closely resembles this current iteration brought to market by JT.
A stacked-tube, poppet valve electronic paintball gun, the JT Impulse weighs one pound, fourteen ounces with a battery inserted and its two-piece, ported barrel attached. Adding a Ninja compressed air bottle and the lightest hopper available, a Pinokio, brought the marker’s total weight to a shade over six pounds ready to rock and roll. There’s an elephant in the room so I’ll get this out of the way right up front: yes, forum quarterbacks, the Impulse looks like an Ego or one of Bob Long’s Intimidators. It’s a stacked-tube electronic marker and there are only so many ways something like that’s going to wind up looking so let’s get past that and move on. Now that’s out of the way, we can move forward. The JT Impulse offers sleek, swooping lines cut and carved into its aluminum receiver, lines that flow through its contoured, comfortable and slender grip frame as well.
Standard with every JT Impulse, in addition to its aforementioned, two-piece ported and honed barrel, are a lever-clamping feed neck that sits nice and low, a quick-pull Delrin bolt, a balanced valve, high and low-pressure regulators, a lever operated on/off bottle adapter and a forward-swept, blade double trigger on bearings. Delivered in a soft case with Allen wrenches and a barrel cover, the Impulse is easy to set up via a large, clearly visible OLED screen and single button at the rear of the marker’s grip frame. Between button presses and trigger pulls, the user can set everything from firing modes and caps to dwell, eye controls and more. To go a step further, users can even head over to PaintballSolutions.com and, with the help of a micro-USB cable, download software updates or program their marker from their computer.
One minor area where the new JT Impulse may feel a little dated to some users is in the manner by which air is delivered from its bottle adapter to its regulator: external macro-line. Many other manufacturers have moved away from external macro-line, from Empire with their Vanquish and Axe to Luxe, Bob Long and MacDev. However, other respected manufacturers continue to use it, including Planet Eclipse on their Geo3 and Dye with their DM line, so this certainly isn’t a major issue and shouldn’t be a deal-breaker at the paintball store.
Light, comfortable in the hands and offering all the amenities, the JT Impulse certainly looks the part of a high-end tournament marker. Once the paint starts flying, the JT marker backs up its looks with impressive performance. Though not as quiet as some competitors like the new LV-1, the Impulse doesn’t bark like many other stacked-tube markers and offers smooth cycling with very little perceptible recoil. Over the chronograph, the marker, thanks to its impressive stock barrel and dual regulators, is very consistent, delivering one string at 289, 289, 290 with Valken Redemption paintballs, and another at 287, 285, 289 with Empire Marbalizer. The trigger pull of the JT Impulse, out of the box, was smooth and soft though a bit long, with a crisp and perceptible micro-switch break allowing for solid rates of fire well into the teens in semi-automatic mode. No paintballs were chopped or broken during testing with any brand, in weather conditions ranging from hot, humid 100-degree weather to more bearable and slightly less muggy eighties.
Even with gloves on, finding and manipulating the on/off button at the rear of the marker’s grip frame was simple. Efficiency was well within expected parameters for a poppet valve marker, with well over 1300 shots recorded from a hot fill to 4,000psi with a 68 cubic inch bottle, with air to spare. Players on XSV have reported in excess of 1600 shots per fill, and more. Weather conditions, paint match, rate of fire and other issues will certainly affect this number for players in the field, but Impulse-shooting players can certainly load up on pods and lock it down from the back line without fear of the dreaded “bloop.”
Though it may not be technologically groundbreaking, the JT Impulse offers excellent, pro-level performance from an attractive package and the technology that makes it go “bang” is proven to say the least.
Attractive, lightweight, smooth-shooting, accurate, efficient and carrying a both a logo and a name that have long-reaching and storied histories in the game, the newest incarnation of the Impulse looks to be a winner for JT, and a marker more than capable of powering the JT brand and XSV back to the top of the game!