It is little known beyond the Montneel inner circle, but back in 1992 work started on a highly secretive project for an advanced spool-based paintgun that Montneel hoped would revolutionize paintball. The Montneel LEGEND
The original idea came out back in mid 1992. AGD Automags had started replacing blowbacks as the preferred gun for professional tournament players. Automags, however, had many flaws. Specifically, they were extremely hard on paint, with slow feeding, and excessive chops/breaks being all to common, giving rise to the nickname "Autochop".
Marcus Neeleys cousin, Mark Silar, came up with the original concept for a pneumatic spool-driven paintgun, actuated by an on/off valve. The concept was loosely based on the Automag, but further enhanced by making the bolt fully pneumatic. So instead of a "Blowforward Spool" design, it became a "Pressure Balanced Spool", many years before the DYE Matrix (originally known as the Omega).
This design eliminated the feeding problems found on the Automag by ensuring that the bolt was completely closed before the spool dump chamber emptied into the breach. Another advance utilized was making the pneumatic bolt "Pressure Venting". This meant that the bolt would "vent" instead of chopping a paintball. Here is Craig explaining how the Anti-Chop bolt worked:
The chamber on top filled and pushed the bolt forward closing the bolt, but if a ball was in the way, the bolt would stop and the air in the chamber would leak out, not allowing the bolt to chop a ball. At that point you would pull the trigger back again and the bolt would return to the open position allowing the blocking ball to drop again. As the trigger was released, the air chamber would open again pushing the bolt forward.
Once Marcus and Mark Silar had a functional idea, everyone at Montneel became involved to fine tune the details, including Craig, and Moe Dumont. A main requirement by Marcus was that the design be built onto the existing Icon-Z platform. This means sharing the same Look and Feel, as well as utilizing as many common parts as possible (forward breach/bolt/feed receiver). This was done to keep costs low, while maintaining a high level of product visibility, such as the trademark Montneel "Square" body design.
At this time, NATIONAL PAINTBALL SUPPLY was the primary distributor for the Icon-Z paintgun. While delivering a batch of paintguns, Moe and Craig brought the LEGEND prototype to the owner of NPS, Gino. He was absolutely blown away with it. The fully pneumatic trigger meant it was likely the fastest gun in paintball at the time, combined with the unique anti-chop bolt, and relatively inexpensive production built on top of a well known platform. A contract was set where Gino would give Montneel $250,000 towards refining the design, in exchange for exclusive distribution rights.
Gino took the prototype to Bob Long, of the Ironmen. He was equally enthusiastic, and wanted the guns right away. A sponsorship deal was arranged between the Ironmen, and NPS, but before anything firm was set, there was a suddenly a major problem. Montneel was facing severe subcontractor issues, and was unable to meet its production quota for NPS, angering Gino. At the same time, Gino was demanding lower wholesale pricing, as well as a sole distribution deal for the Icon-Z, to which Montneel refused.
The end result was Montneel ripping up the Icon-Z contract with NPS. This angered Gino, who then purchased the rights to the "ICON SPLATMASTER", then sued Montneel over name "Icon". Gino then discovered a Chinese-made Icon-Z clone in Europe, and imported here using the name "ICON". Montneel responded by pulling the LEGEND prototype as well, and breaking all contacts with NPS, and Gino.
The disaster meant that Montneel now had to market, and distribute there guns themselves, which no longer left any resources to work on the the LEGEND, and the project was cancelled. Later that year, the primary designer Marcus Neeley was unhappy with the direction the company was taking, and left the company. As part of the deal was given total rights to the LEGEND design.
Marcus left, and formed his own paintball company specifically to sell the LEGEND. However, the original prototype had some very serious flaws. Most apparent was the internal regulator was simply inadequate. It did not recharge nearly fast enough, and would self-destruct if even the smallest amount of liquid co2 entered the system. The on/off valve also had similar limitations. At the time HPA was still very rare, and the design really needed to function well with CO2.
Fortunetly, Marcus ran into a bit of luck. While looking for a production facility to produce his gun, he found Paintball Heaven in Bridgewater Massachusetts. They were best known for producing the rotary-bolt PHOENIX paintgun, until they ran into contractual problems with the designer Eric Scott, and were looking for a new project. Marcus, and the owner of Paintball Heaven realized they could take the well-made regulator from the PHOENIX, as well as its on/off valve, and adapt it into the LEGEND, effectively solving all the issues the original prototype had.
After a few months of testing, and fine tuning, the design was finally finished in early 1994. It was renamed the FALCON.