An Interview with the VM-68's Designer
This is a short email interview that I conducted with the VM-68's designer. Many thanks to Patrick for taking the time to answer my questions!
Chris: Please tell me a little about yourself, your connection to Sheridan, and the VM-68?
Patrick: Chief Engineer Benjamin-Sheridan, Sole Designer of VM 68.
Chris: What were your goals in designing the VM-68?
Patrick: Would be robust, reliable, and built to be sold for $150.00 retail [Chris: I think he meant $450, but I'm not sure]. I added the modularity, It was essential for the VM to stand out in the history industry. Initially it retailed for $475.00 I must have done a good job.
Chris: Were their any major hurddles that needed to be overcome in the VM-68's design?
Patrick: Not really, I was told that Sheridan had an initial design, the 422 (a failed semiauto pellet gun.) and that I should be able to retrofit it to a paintball gun in 6 months,
Instead I began from scratch with the finest aluminum, instead of brass and was to market in one year. Every part of the gun was made of the finest weapons grade alloys with expense and longevity in mind.
Chris: Was designing one of the first blowback semis a particularly tough challenge?
Patrick: Again, I designed everything from scratch from the valve body to the butt stocks. It was designed to be a virtual machine capable of any modification from pistol to rifle with little or no effort. Every process was dissected for cost reduction without reducing quality. 5000 guns a month were assembled by three individuals picked and hand trained by me. I do not remember any recalls or valid failures of any product shipped. We had a few, less than ten, from "the lunatic fringe" that complained of unsubstantiated failures. I personally took the calls tried to satisfy claims but ultimately never saw the guns or had contact with the callers again. Most of our problems came from within, funding from within was modest at best.
We spent over $60,000 in RP paint testing the gun attached directly to the largest CO2 tank attached to any paintball gun. the test shooter had on insulated Gloves and you could see thick Ice surrounding the gun.
Chris: One complaint that many VM-68 owners have is the wieght. Is there any particular reason the VM-68 is such a 'solid' paintball gun?
Patrick: For reliability, the m16 was forged from aluminum with .200" cross section, I used the same principle, in pulltruded form. If it (vm68) or any other (paintballgun) is to heavy, lift some weights, or replace parts frequently.
Chris: Were there any aftermarket mods/upgrades for the VM-68 that impressed you?
Patrick: Not really, most if not all came from my pattern room, we encouraged coping my designed accessories so that others would profit, thereby ensuring market support besides the powers above did not want to expend capital investment in accessories. Later we made long brass barrels and some aluminum wire frame stocks. I experimented with Nitrogen only to be told it was to expensive and would never sell. And even Nitrous Oxide. Both offered performance to the VM that rivaled the competition. I have not seen one upgrade or accessory that I do not posses prior art for.