The Stigma Surrounding Machine and the Vapor is Unjust
The following is my review on the 2014 Vapor and based on experiences with both the 2012 and 2014 Vapor. First off I have not owned a vapor, I am not a personal fan of a spoolie however I will give any marker a chance especially if it breaks down and I can tech it.
I will admit, I hopped on the bandwagon of Machine hating trolls who loved to say anything negative about the marker. After shooting my teammates 2012 Vapor back in 2013/2014, I was completely surprised and taken back by how the quality of the marker was! Everything I ever said to bash the company I regretted. I feel as though it's on par and sometimes better than any other spool valve on the marker i.e. Luxes, Geos, DMs etc.
This review does not contain 100% positive things to say. There were a few qwerks with the marker HOWEVER, it's nothing that a bit of troubleshooting and patience couldn't solve. What will be contained in this review is 1. Packaging and features 2. Marker out of the box function 3. Tuning, Settings, Modes. 4. Physical marker disassembly and look through.
The case from the outside is a nice hybrid hard/soft case. The case has a nice amount of flexibility, great for stuffing into gear bags and still keeping the Vapor well protected.
Upon opening the case the owner is faced with a nice assortment. The inside of the case has a nice mesh pocket with the barrel bag. A Center flap houses a single barrel front with 1 Carbon Fiber barrel back (0.691" Bore). This is a change from the 2012 Vapors in that Machine provided, an unexpected but rather nice change.
In a plastic box, users are gifted with an extensive parts kit, an extra pair of eyes, A USB which contains the user manual, grease, and a set of allen/hex keys.
Here is where some users may not particularly like about the 2014 Vapor and accessories; the hex keys are flat bottomed unlike a PE set which is ball end making the fit of the keys spot on, but use of the keys are limited. The Manual in .pdf format is nice however I feel that a paper manual is still superior as it allows the player to trouble shoot the marker on the field.
The Manual I feel is a little lacking, there is nothing regarding tuning of the trigger or board settings. The board itself is a Gen4 APE board, and the setup guide and the advanced tuning guide can be found on the APE website. Machine should have provided those on the USB drive as well or preferably as a paper copy.
Flipping the flap over the users are finally able to see what their money has purchased. The 2014 Vapor. Its sleek, light, comfortable and rather easy to operate from first handling it.
2. Marker Function out of Box
Applying air from an out of box condition I was faced with a leak, I will not say that this is from poor quality on Machines end, but most likely due to shipping from factory where a temperature changed caused the O-ring to crack. It happens and I wasn't overly concerned. The O-ring in particular that was questionable was #12pu70 on the front of the bolt pin. Changed the o-ring and re-aired, this time no leaks, I turned off the eye sensor and took a few dry shots (even the tuning guide says dry firing is ok, so before anyone says that Is shouldn't have dry fired the marker it is perfectly ok).
I decided to chrono it; with my virtue clock 234, 227, 237 were the first shots. Not horrible, the marker felt smooth and at the same time like it had something to offer. The marker felt solid with my tank on it (Ninja 90/4500 SL w/V2 Pro Reg)
3. Tuning, Settings, Modes
I had the LED format of the Vapor in my hands, that meant tuning was all done by the colors of the LED, no fancy OLED screen to look at. Unfortunately Machine did not provide a copy of the APE board manuals on the USB drive however both guides were easily procurable off the APE website.
Tuning was very comprehensive and there was a lot to learn. The Vapor APE Gen4 board comes pre-loaded with 8 shooting modes. Changing the firing modes from the board being on was incredibly simple and easy, in fact so easy that should the tournament lock not be on in a game a player can easily change to any one of the 8 modes (something I had experience during a practice).
The tournament lock is not defined in the marker manual and really should be as it comes from factory in the off position. The location of the tournament lock is located in the Gen4 LED user guide manual, something that should have been provided from the beginning but is not overly a huge concern.
Should the Vapor have been an OLED format, I feel that tuning would have been must easier.
4. Physical Marker and Detailed assembly
After going through the marker and its operations and seeing what the settings were like I wanted to know more. I like seeing the insides, the guts, the working parts and how everything is all fit together.
Upon popping the bolt out (second time I have done this) I noticed another minor thing I wasn't overly fond of, this time it's the quick release, the nub one is to grab in order to pull to bolt assembly was rather sharp. It felt as though it dug into my finger and wanted to pierce it, thankfully no damage was done, I just felt as though this was a cosmetic thing that I wasn't overly fond of.
After pulling the bolt and the minor inconvenience aside I was able to see just how the whole marker is put together and what has changed. Noticeable the eyes are no longer in the side of the breech, rather the eyes come through the bottom of the plastic breech port which also houses the detents (no more replacing the rubber ones!!!) the function seems to be as though a single beam gets refracted through the lens at the bottom of the breech.
The 2014 Vapor bolt is noticeably different, ok its completely different. There is nothing familiar between the 2012 and 2014. It is almost like a DLX Luxe and Vanquish had a child and this was the outcome. A 5 Piece core is what we get faced with. Breech, Front Can, Bolt, Power Can, and Bolt Pin. A simple screw together assembly that has possibly a few more o-rings than are really absolutely necessary but functions incredibly well and has had the engineering well thought out.
Looking down through the feedneck, I was finally able to see the eye system. Simple and its effective and gets the job done. While I'm not familiar with this system it looks to be similar to the Dye Eye pipe design. I actually like this format over the conventional system much like what my LV1 has with the dual eye pieces passing through the breech. a single lens is easier to clean.
After splitting the frame, a process which I recommend new users to go slow on. I could see the simplicity of the solenoid that connects to the board, and the eyes that connect to the board as well. The wires for the solenoid I feel are excessive and clutter the batter/board compartment, they could be shortened 2 inches, possibly 3. There is a ton of extra slack that just isn't necessary, I feel that if I had to split the frame I may as well disconnect the solenoid and eyes and completely separate the two pieces.
The Battery harness is also another area I'm not overly fond of, this is more of a personal opinion (and many reviews often are) but I am not a fan of a long harness just to connect a 9V batter which will live its life next to the board. Instead if I had been the manufacturer of the board then I would have gone the way of the Planet Eclipse e-mortal board and had 2 battery spring-clips hard mounted directly to the board. Machine had opted to cheap out with the harness and that is overly fine however could have made the board compartment look a little cleaner with my suggestion.
The ASA confused me a little, an internal piece of the on/off piece HAS to be removed in order for one of the two attaching screws to be removed. This design does hide the screw and makes the bottom cleaner than most other markers, but creates an almost brutal headache should a user need to change an O-ring or replace a part.
Based on everything that I have seen and the experiences with the marker both on the field and from a technical standpoint I am very impressed by the craftsmanship. The 2014 Vapor to me SHATTERS the stigma surrounding Machine and proves that the company is capable of extremely well built markers. The minor "negatives" noted aren't a huge let down, they certainly don't degrade from the overall quality of the marker.
I could not give this marker a number rating, I personally don't feel that is fair as every marker has positive and negative aspects to it. I will simply state that the 2014 Machine Vapor was an absolute joy to shoot, it is well built, accurate, reliable and undoubtedly once broken in will be as smooth firing as any other marker from any other manufacturer on the market to date.
I do admit, when I first looked into Machine and their Vapors well over a year ago I did hop on that bandwagon and spread the stigma, that is until I actually got my hands on a vapor and was able to look over it in detail and experience the marker both field and bench side. I am glad to have never been more wrong. This was a joy to shoot! and I hope to one day own a vapor of my own!