View Full Version : Sovereign Reviews and History

11-03-2008, 02:52 PM
It can't be denied that the Sovereign III – or Sovereign The Third, as we prefer to call it – vaguely resembles a weapon of Mordor. If it has the power to match, we're still listening

Tested by Oliver Bell

Way back when, the Sterling pump marker combined the best features of a number of designs into one accurate, smooth and classy package...and it's still available today. The rise of the semi led to the Sterling fading from the scene, only to return as a semi called the Sovereign, a quirky design that never really caught on in any big way. Years (and quite a lot of work) later the Sovereign has returned in the guise of the new Sovereign III, brought up to scratch by John Bonich and Arrow Precision, and marketed by Powerball in the UK.

With no batteries, a very different design and a slightly agricultural look, can this blast from the past compete in today’s game? Opening the box brought an instinctive slight shudder as my eyes fell upon the large shiny hard line, external 3-way and protruding hoses that give the Sterling the look of something one might attach to a tractor. Hell, anodize it yellow and green and stick a John Deere logo on the side and you’ll be the envy of all those at the annual Paintball bash, barn dance and pig grope in Humpgrunt, Arkensaw.

Whilst the body is actually a very slim extrusion, with nice lines if no fancy milling, those players who live for form over function will already be running screaming from the room. More fools they, because a closer inspection shows thick and even anodising over a flawless finish, with a matt body and gloss parts all fitting together beautifully with close tolerances throughout. The Sovereign comes with a WGP front reg, again plain to look at but a proven performer, and a 10” barrel with a ported muzzle brake, excellent honing and Spyder threads.
Krank it up
So how does it all work? The Sovereign is similar to other automated cocking markers in that a pump design is driven by a ram and three-way set-up, but in a way that is unique to this marker. The regulated gas entering the vertical ASA is split between the Sterling style valve chamber and valve and the large LPR, which passes regulated gas to the cocking system. Pulling the trigger releases the hammer before the slotted trigger plate activates the 3-way, which switches the gas supply to the RamBolt. That’s right, the bolt and ram are one integrated unit; the center section of the bolt is waisted and has a collar riding up and down it that locks in place with a screw through the top of the body. Put gas behind this collar and the bolt is driven back, carrying the hammer into engagement with the sear via a pin through the bolt that fits into a brass pickup on the stainless steel cocking rod. Release the trigger and the bolt moves forward, chambering a ball, to give a true closed-bolt operating cycle.

The components that work such magic are again familiar but significantly different to similar designs. Starting at the loud end the LPR is a large volume unit with a nicely machined piston that opens and closes a standard schraeder valve- a nifty feature that allows a fast reg seal change for a few pennies. The hardline is a new style with all joints o-ring sealed, allowing an easy strip and rebuild with no leaks or drama, and the three-way can be adjusted via a hole in the rear for a small screwdriver as well as a threaded collar on the timing rod. The body has a fixed center feed, Spyder barrel threads with no adaptor/sizer as on previous versions, and a classic wire style ball detent as beloved of old school types everywhere.

Butt nekkid
Stripping is a lot more straightforward than it looks, with removal of the front frame screw allowing the ASA, valve chamber and brass valve to slide out as one unit. The bolt can be removed for cleaning by turning the LPR all the way out to degas the cocking system, then just loosen the collar retaining screw and pushpin and slide it out. Replacement is a little more tricky as the collar has to be lined up with the retaining screw, but there are a couple of easy ways to do this without trauma. For a more extensive strip, removal of the rear screw allows the bolt, hammer and beavertail to slide out as one unit, revealing a shiny waisted stainless hammer with a chunky lug for reliable cocking and a grub screw to retain the cocking rod.

Velocity adjustment is taken care of by an angled grub screw at the front of the beavertail that moves a brass collar in and out against the mainspring, allowing external adjustment over a wide range with different springs available for extreme conditions. The RamBolt is very well machined and sealed by easily replaceable o-rings, and the overall impression is of a marker with little to go wrong and easy field fixes for any problems that may develop. Reassembly is made simple by a machined groove around the beavertail that shows when everything is in the right place and the screw holes are lined up.

The trigger frame is machined alloy with an alloy .45 grip sporting rubber wraparounds, and a passivated stainless trigger plate riding on brass-tipped guide screws, giving a feel close to the best slide trigger ‘cockers at a fraction of the cost. Sear release is snappy and definite with a very smooth remainder of the stroke, and it’s all too easy to forget the mid-range price of this marker whilst shooting it.
Accuracy over volume
So – enough fiddling, time to find out how the Sovereign performs. The first surprise for everyone who picked up this marker was the accuracy. I am a firm believer that all markers should shoot to a similar accuracy with good paint and a clean barrel, so was a bit confused as to how the Sovereign seemed to hit everything it was pointed at, over and over again. The slide frame allows for a reasonable rate of fire for those with old fashioned trigger fingers, and the Sovereign was very stable and fuss-free at any rate of fire, with no ball chops or breaks during testing. I was concerned about the three-way hoses getting hooked up during play, but never found this to be a problem, although I would recommend carrying spare hose in the bits box at all times.

Consistency was mediocre with the stock barrel unless the marker was tilted back to prevent ball roll on chambering, but shrunk to +/- 8 fps with a barrel fitted to the test paint. Another real surprise was the Sovereign’s efficiency, with an average of 1800 shots from a 4500/68 preset, and possibly more to come with a little tweaking. I had to check this result several times before I would accept it, but believe me you will run out of puff before this marker does.

So all in all, the Sovereign presents an ideal package for the player who is looking for a reliable non-electro that shoots way over its price and can be fixed in the field on the very rare occasions anything goes wrong. I fear that the lack of batteries and the clunky looks will turn a lot of prospective buyers away from the Sovereign, but those who can look past the externals will be able to buy an awful lot of performance for the asking price of £435. If you want a marker to carry all day out rec-balling (on one fill!) or to compete without worrying about batteries or bounce, I would recommend shooting a Sovereign III before making a decision. MSRP £435.00


11-03-2008, 02:56 PM
Arrow Precision

Although an innovative and reliable design, buyers of the first Sovereign often found that their new toy suffered from quality problems. Jon Bonich and his trusty helpers at Arrow Precision promise you a more satisfactory experience with the Sovereign II.

It’s an automatically cycling, closed-bolt marker, that has been produced at a ‘customized’ tournament level. Purchasing a Sovereign II gets you the new improved model with the Hellfire barrel of Evolution fame, an all-metal 45 grip frame, Hogue finger groove grips, your choice of left, right or center feed, and a snappy, fast trigger job. In addition, most of the internals in the Sovereign II are hard metal and rumbled to a smooth finish. This improves reliability and effectiveness and will lead to less wear in the long run.

Think of the Sovereign’s trigger as a pumping handle on a pump-action. The bolt is connected to the cocking rod by a pushpin, simultaneously engaging the hammer ready for shooting. This elimination of a separate ram led to the Sovereign bolt being given the illustrious title of ‘Ram-Bolt’.

Adjusting the timing of your Sovereign’s cycling couldn’t be easier. The high quality brass spool in the three-way can be screwed in or out of the trigger rod via the back of the valve body.

As in the Evolution, before the bolt comes forward, the paintball is held in place by a wire nubbin, which has proven performance in ensuring that only one paintball is cycled at a time and will not scratch up your bolt to any significant degree.
One of the improvements over the old Sovereign is that it has done away with a cocking block at the rear of the marker. This means that you retain the sexy clickety-clack bolt action that mesmerizes newbies, but as it won’t extend beyond the anti-tamper cover on the cocking rod you don’t have to worry about bashing your lens with a cocking block any more.

The Sovereign II comes with the same reliable cocking regulator that was used on the old Sovereign, but the piston that compresses the valve now has a recess machined into it so that it fits snugly on to the end of the valve and will not slip off when over-pressurized. The cocking regulator uses an easy adjustment system, allowing you to dial pressure up or down. Dialing the adjuster in increases pressure on the spring in the regulator, increasing the gas pressure that drives cycling. Set the cocking regulator so that the marker cycles and shoots, give a bit of an extra twist to ensure it doesn’t starve under rapid fire and you will now be cycling at the lowest practical pressure. The removal of the back-block, improvements to the Ram-Bolt (the new ram valve is made from stainless steel) and all-round better machining, make it possible to set your cocking pressure so that the gun cycles at very low pressures. This will reduce wear and tear and the risk of chopping a paintball.

Choose between center, left or right feed. The center feed stacks seven balls, ensuring that misses and chops are significantly reduced.

The valve train is ‘new improved’ and made of hardened materials throughout. The exhaust valve (the main valve that the hammer strikes to release the puff of gas that propels the paintball) is also a new design. The valve has lotsa porting for a good flow of gas. The Sovereign II comes with a selection of springs to propel the hammer towards the exhaust valve. The internals of the Sovereign II are very easy to get at. Two grub screws and you’re in! One more and you’ve changed the spring; quite literally a five-minute job.

The chambers around the valving and within the front bottle mount have been opened up, ensuring that there is a good reservoir of gas and, in conjunction with the improved internals, the Sovereign II will operate easily at 350 psi.

The Hellfire barrel is a 10" delapena micro-honed and ported tube. It’s a good barrel, but adapters are available for both Spyder and Autococker barrels. Manufacturers that made barrels for the Sovereign I will be able to haul them out of their warehouses at the same time the Sovereign II hit the fields.

The valve and barrel gave good consistency at the chronograph. The variation in velocity between shots over the chronograph was 10 fps on air but a bit more erratic using CO2. The Sovereign II is not a gas hog and will continue shooting until your gas all but runs out.

The trigger
Apparently the trigger is set up to Evolution specs. It is a medium to stiff set-up, crisp and clean, with no sloppiness or slack. It has the feel of a custom Cocker trigger, and better than the Sovereign I. The trigger spring is rather heavy, but this ensures that you do not short stroke.

The ramp on the new trigger plate has been extended and all the parts are now hardened and rumbled smooth. The cocking lug on the hammer is no longer a plain grub screw but a handsome protrusion of shiny machined stainless steel that ensures a snappy release when the hammer disengages from the sear. Your Sovereign II won’t give you the rate of fire of an electro-pneumatic with a full head of steam, but it is fast and with nine-balls-per-second restrictions on said electro-pneumatics you will not be over-powered when tourney time comes around.

There is no two-finger trigger model available at the moment. For the while production will run the standard one-finger trigger grip frames, and that’s it.
It is recommended that if you don’t have a good quality air system giving good gas flow, you will have to use an inline regulator. This is especially the case when using CO2. Recently the ‘industry standard’ has been leaning towards providing an inline reg with the marker.

Finally, having compared the numerous advantages of the Sovereign II over the Autococker, it is only fair to consider its relative disadvantages, of which there are two that are most apparent. The first of these may be of little consequence or perhaps even a benefit to some. Whereas the Autococker has an upgrade path of thousands of dollars and infinite possibility, the Sovereign II, for the present, barely has an upgrade path at all. Of course some players will like this fact, as they don’t want to ‘know’ that there are 20 different rams/triggers/bolts etc. out there that may or may not be better than theirs.

The second disadvantage is when you have to re-insert the Ram-Bolt in a rush after having dealt with an on-field chop. This can be tricky in the heat of a game as you have to line up the collar for the retaining screw and ensure you don’t misplace either the screw or the push-pin. For now there seems to be no way to overcome this consequence of the Ram-Bolt design.

Last words
Your choice of blue, red, black, green, silver or purple Sovereign II (in stylish matte finish) will be distributed by Camp in France, Powerball in the UK and Smart Parts in the USA. You can expect Eclipse versions of the Sovereign II and the Ram-Bolt (as an upgrade) from Paintball Planet in the near future.

The recommended retail price is $545 in the US and £390 in the UK. This is a marker that shoots like a custom Cocker, but at half the price. Until the end of the year the boys at Powerball are also offering an upgrade to all Sovereign I owners. For about half the price of the Sovereign II, current Sovereign owners can ship their babies off to Powerball and receive a Sovereign II.


11-03-2008, 05:05 PM
I have included the Sov manual for those who have one

1 October 2001
Sovereign Information Sheet
This marker has been factory set to be used on Regulated Air (or Nitrogen, USA)
with an INPUT PRESSURE of 450/500 p.s.i.
A) It is recommended that a reliable Inline Regulator is used on this Marker, set with an output
Pressure of 450/500 p.s.i. ( The AIR SYSTEM should have an output Pressure of 700/750 p.s.i.)
B) If using an Air System only, set with an output Pressure of 450/500 p.s.i. from the Air System
Regulator. Note that as your tank pressure falls , the pressure coming from the Regulator will rise
slightly and could affect the velocity from the marker. (An Inline regulator will help ensure the 450/500
p.s.i. is kept going into the marker !!)
If you are going to use CO2 then please observe the following: -
Due to the nature of CO2 it is very difficult to achieve vapour throughout extreme temperature conditions.
So if you choose vapour CO2 as your power source, then a reliable Inline Regulator that allows CO2
vapour Must Be Used. In addition you will need a bottle that has an anti-siphon tube fitted, this will help
prevent liquid CO2 from being drawn into the regulator.
REMOTE SET UP. This configuration takes the bottle off the Marker and will allow gas vapour to be
drawn from the top of the bottle. Used in conjunction with a remote expansion system, this should ensure
that no liquid would be drawn into the Marker. Note NO anti siphon tube is required on the bottles.
When using CO2 the Inline Regulator should be set with an output Pressure of 450/500 p.s.i.
In countries where extreme heat is encountered it is advisable to turn off the source of CO2. This will
make sure that the pressure inside the markers valve chamber is not allowed to rise to a high pressure
(Sometimes CO2 can reach as high as1800 psi !!) which would damage the exhaust valve, and cause firing
and velocity problems.
Once you have made sure the gas supply is fitted and working correctly you should be ready to actuate the
1 October 2001
From here on any reference to adjustment of the marker either when in a gassed or ungassed
condition should be done with the safety In Mind, of yourself and any one around you.
Observe all of the Paintball safety guidelines !!
ALWAYS: Use A Barrel Plug (Use one that actually fits tightly in the Barrel)
ALWAYS: Check before Dry firing, you have not got a ball loaded in the barrel. This marker
uses a closed bolt system (meaning a ball is loaded into the Barrel after one has been fired)
DO NOT LOOK DOWN THE BARREL if you are not sure remove the Barrel and CHECK !!
Setting the Cocking /Firing Action: -
At the front of the marker under the Barrel is the Cocking Regulator, this allows regulated pressure to the 3
Way Valve which distributes the gas to the front/rear of the Ram Bolt to move it back and forwards.
At the rear of the Ram Bolt is a removable Cocking Pin , this connects to the Cocking Sleeve on the Cocking
The Cocking Rod is connected to the Hammer, which is released when you pull the Trigger and finally gives
the burst of gas to fire the ball.
Setting: - Make sure With gas on and no paintballs loaded to the marker (SEE SAFETY WARNING),pull
Trigger at this point nothing should happen. Turn the knob on the Cocking Regulator clockwise, viewed
from the front of the Marker till the Ram Bolt moves backwards, at this point cycle the Trigger so that the
Ram Bolt moves backwards and forwards. At the same time continue to turn the knob until the marker "cocks
and fires" consistently, give the knob a quarter to half a turn more this is all that the Cocking mechanism will
Any more than this could over Regulate and could damage internal 'O' rings and 'Bump' stops.
If the action is "sticky" remove the Ram Bolt and lubricate. (See Ram Bolt Removal)
It should not be necessary to Readjust periodically, may I suggest that after a days play you turn the Cocking
Regulator off so that when you next play You get into the habit of checking and setting this first.
Cocking mechanism Notes :
(a) To increase cocking pressure turn clockwise, viewed from the front of the Marker
(b) To decrease cocking pressure turn anticlockwise, viewed from the front of the Marker. You will need to
cycle the Marker a few times to settle the regulator
(c) To turn Off completely you will have to cycle the Cocking mechanism and turn the knob anticlockwise
until it is completely degassed.
Ram Bolt Removal: -
To remove the Ram Bolt you must first degas the Cocking mechanism, you do this by either turning off the
Cocking Regulator (see Cocking mechanism Notes (c) or completely degassing the Marker.
1 October 2001
Once you have done this undo the Ram Valve Screw at the top of the Marker, this screw locates into the
groove in the Ram Valve on the Ram Bolt. Then pull the Cocking Pin at the rear of the Bolt.
The Bolt will now slide out, as you remove the Bolt take a look at the Ram Valve on the Bolt. This is the
Stainless Steel ring that slides up and down the Bolt shaft, it has 2 'O' rings on it with a groove between them.
This is the groove that the Ram Valve Screw locates into when it's in the Marker.
To refit the Bolt and locate it correctly align the slot with the hole in the top and then replace the RamValve
Screw and refit the Cocking Pin. Also make sure that the gas transfer port in the Bolt is facing down other
wise you won't get velocity!!
Velocity Adjustment: -
At the rear of the Marker is the Anti-Tamper Block, which is now one piece and does not move as with the
earlier version.
To the left of this block is situated the Velocity Adjustment Screw (a 2mm Allen key fits this(supplied) )
To Raise Velocity, turn screw clockwise (inwards).
To Decrease Velocity, turn screw anti-clockwise (outwards).
Due to the angle of the screw in the block there is only a certain amount of adjustment before the screw runs into the
Cocking Rod, this will lock the action of the Cocking Rod. ( This is about 7 complete turns )
If this happens then simply back off a complete turn, which will allow the action to resume.
If the velocity is not enough after doing this, change the main spring to a harder one than the one you are using. This will
allow for more adjustment at the screw.
Before actually changing the spring, it would be advisable to check the following in this order :-
1) That your tank is full (Air Or CO2 )
2) And the AIR System Regulator attached is set with an output pressure of 700/750 p.s.i
please note: check page 1 , A) & B)
3) Output from inline Regulator is 450/500 p.s.i
4) That the Barrel / Paint Combination is correct; if paint is small it will need more of a gas burst .If the ball
rolls out of the end of the barrel this is a good indication that the paint is small.
This marker is fitted with a Breach Adapter (the silver bit between the body of the marker and the
Barrel). If the paint falls through this standard barrel set-up you will need to try a smaller size.
Three sizes are supplied (The barrel now has a Spyder thread)
1 Small 2 Medium 3 Large and are marked progressively as follows:
1 = No ring next to thread
2 = one ring next to thread
3 = two rings next to thread
Hammer Removal: -
To change the Main Spring , you will need to remove the Hammer Assembly .
(This consists of Hammer, set screw, cocking rod > bumper > and knob, main spring, cocking slider,
anti-tamper block, cocking rod retaining screw ,velocity adjuster inner and velocity adjusting screw
Undo the back and the front strip screw.)
The Hammer Assembly can now be removed from the back of the Marker.
1 October 2001
To separate the Cocking Rod from the Hammer you will need to use a 2mm allen key to undo the Cocking
rod Retaining Grub Screw, this is the smaller of the two screws in the Hammer. Once you have removed
this grub screw the Cocking Rod will now pull out.
You can now swap the Main Spring to the one you require.
Notes on reassembly
Make sure the cocking slider “long end “ is towards the back of the Marker.
The cocking rod pushes in to the Hammer and is held in place by a grub screw that locks into a groove in the
cocking rod.
Make sure that groove is aligned with the grub screw hole in the Hammer before you tighten down the grub
‘Q’ Nector: -
This allows quick and easy disassembly of the marker
The Hardline (the tube that runs from the cocking regulator to the 3 way valve) simply slides out of the Q
Inside the Q nector is an o- ring (006) which is held in place by the o- ring retainer.
This can be removed using a 4mm allen key.
NOTE: When replacing the o- ring, screw the o- ring retainer in until the face is flush of the Q Nector.
There are two Q Nectors, one on the cocking regulator and one 3-way valve, each held in place by a bungey
screw. The bungey screw has an o-ring at the screw slot end (bungey O ring 3x1) this passes through the Q
Nector. Between the flat side of the Q Nector and the regulator /3way goes a 006 o-ring.
WARNING: Do not over tighten.
All that is required to create a seal here is for the o- ring to be slightly squashed.
If you have a leak here is a simple checklist.
1) Nip up screw whilst gassed up.
2) De gas regulators (See cocking mechanism notes (c)) unscrew Q Nector and check o- ring for damage.
Change if necessary. Refit again checking that the o- ring is just slightly squashed.
3) Re gas regulator. To Set Up The Cocking/ Firing Action.