Empire AXE: Review by 68caliber.com

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by Ravin_sk, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. Ravin_sk

    Ravin_sk Active Member

    A good Review by
    http://68caliber.com and Techpb

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    [​IMG]This one has been a long time coming. In the middle of the (horrible) winter of 2010-2011, I requested an AXE for review from Empire, hoping that there would be an opportunity to visit a field or get a break from the weather that would allow me to investigate and write up this wonder.
    At the time, I announced that 68Caliber would be giving this marker away – right after the review was finished.

    The review is now finished and those of you who signed up to win it will have your fate revealed this coming Friday. April 29th. Those of you who haven’t signed up yet – there is still a chance to win. (See contest rules at the end of the article.)
    AND BOY ARE YOU GONNA WANT TO WIN THIS ONE!
    By now it is a well-known fact that the Empire AXE is powering a lot of top names to the podium this season: Empire has very aggressively sought out some of the best and the brightest (that last being relative of course, after all, this is paintball) to help them display this wonderous new tool of paintball mayhem.
    Neither side of the equation has disappointed.
    You all have been waiting so long for this that I won’t delay the conclusions any further: the AXE is a WINNER. It is a well-balanced machine, sleek, very light weight, extremely easy to work with. The feel of the trigger out of the box is phenomenal: be careful, you will be seriously tempted to crank out a case or too the minute that you turn this thing on.

    It has features galore, is mechanically reliable and it shoots darts, though as mentioned earlier, you’ll be wanting to hose, and accuracy doesn’t suffer in this regard either. And did I mention that it’s pretty efficient on gas as well? No? It is.
    Now let me back off a second and explain that I’m a very hard man to please when it comes to paintball guns. Coming as I do from ‘ye olde skool’, my experience with markers tells me a couple of things: it should be as light and small as possible (I was a front guy – compact and light is where it is at), it should “feel” good (we used to balance guns at the trigger guard, sans tank and loader. The AXE passes that test). It absolutely must be reliable (brief personal experience and reports from the field give this gun an A in that department). It must be easy to maintain (wow was I surprised here – more in a minute), it has got to be accurate (meaning that with the addition of a reliable loader, tank, good barrel and paintballs, the gun is capable of maxing out on potential performance) and it should be fun to shoot. Maybe so much fun that you’re tempted to give it a name and take it to bed with you.
    The AXE from Empire passes all of those “tests” and more.
    One of the things that I found to be missing with the latest generation of paintballers was a certain level of intimacy with their markers. Yes, the days when you could disassemble you gun while under fire, fix or mitigate whatever your issue was and then get back into the game are mostly long gone. But that isn’t any excuse for not knowing how your gun works, the ability to easily keep it clean and properly lubricated and being able to diagnose basic issue.

    Some of the last world class guns to meet those criteria were the venerable Autococker and Automag. (True, the ‘cockers were a bit more engineer friendly, but if I could pass the tech course, just about anyone can.) I used and loved them both, but one of the standouts for me was the ‘Mags’ ability to entirely remove the valve assembly for maintenance and service.
    Well guess what: easily pulling the guts out the back end of your marker is back, and with a vengeance!

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    I was quite impressed with the adoption of this concept. It’s been improved with a push button release and a retention system for safety purposes, but you could conceivably remove your valve while on field, run a swab completely down the interior of your gun, reassemble and get back into the fray in a number of seconds.

    Another extremely impressive feature is the degassing system built right in to the bottom line (which also serves as a regulator). We’ve seen armature and cam pin valves before (think 12-gram quick releases for example), so I expected to have to use a little force when operating the lever to de-gas the gun. Not so. Flip, hssssss, done. So easy in fact that I imagine one of the ‘tricks’ going on in the pits these days is flipping someone’s lever.
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    This is a notable, extremely well-engineered and virtually mandatory feature that ought to be incorporated into all bottomlines, if only for safety purposes.
    The manufacturing quality of this marker is second to none. I tried to get a few images of the foregrip battery cover where it mates up to the foregrip. Mating surfaces are pretty tough to machine accurately, but Empire has gone the distance to insure quality here. The seam between the two parts is so fine you can’t even get a finger nail into the gap.
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    The rest of the gun is equally well manufactured, arriving here at 68Caliber with a very smooth, satin-type buffed finish. There are numerous colors available, but I really like the muted olive drab as a perfect alternative to flat black. Scenario and MilSim types should have no issues when carrying this marker, in this color scheme, onto the field.

    Other nit picky details abound – things that tend to indicate that the manufacturer has sought out the best, most useful features to incorporate. Most noticeable is of course the absence of an external gas line. Gas is routed from the ASA regulator up through the grip. Removing the grip panels will reveal the gas ‘pipe’ and the bottom half of a solenoid. Looking at the arrangement, one can only come away saying that the AXE has really clean lines and interior arrangement.
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    I was surprised and pleased to find that the retaining screw on the battery cover is fixed in place. This is a really thoughtful addition, as most battery changes are made in haste and no one wants to play with the boards exposed for want of a teeny tiny screw.

    The included tool kit, maintenance parts and CD manual were clean and straight forward also. Using the CD, I had the marker up and running inside of about two minutes. The tool kit literally has everything you’ll need to work on the gun in it.
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    The trigger, which I found to be just about perfectly set for me out of the box, offers multiple adjustment modes. I found the trigger’s play to be just fine and was able to walk it at very high rates of fire with no difficulty. The trigger itself is just broad enough to provide a positive feel to the fingers; the return is crisp and springy.

    Electronic adjustments (ROF, DWELL, EYES) are easily accomplished through just two buttons (one interior, the other the on/off – though I do wish someone would add a speaker so the gun can ‘talk’; counting blinking leds is a bit much for eyes more than half a century old) and velocity adjustment is through the back of the valve, Tippmann-style (clockwise lowers, counter-raises).
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    Shooting the AXE, as I said, produces an irresistible temptation to hose; the board can be set for all of the popular tournament modes, as well as true semi. I kept it in the factory settings and cranked, obtaining a stream of paint that would be a joy to every paintballer to behold; alas, the video I prepared for this review is corrupted and too much time would be needed to reproduce it. (As a substitute, just visit a field, find an AXE owner and ask them to demonstrate. This gun is so much fun to shoot they will be more than happy to oblige!)

    No as also mentioned earlier, I’m an old schooler, so when it comes to shooting, I prefer aimed shots or, at most, three round snaps, so I turned my attention to this style of shooting and was equally rewarded: shot to sot variation was more than acceptable (usually staying within 3 to 5 fps) and my accuracy out to range was what I have come to expect from myself – phenomenal.

    After satisfying myself that I could ‘thread that needle’ with single shots, I immediately went back to cranking until my loader was empty. In a word, shooting the AXE is “effortless”.
    For what you get with this marker, the price is wonderous too. AXEs are currently retailing in the $459.95 range, making it very approachable for a huge number of players. You are definitely getting a deal.
    I’ll finish off by saying that if you were an Automag fan back in the day, there is a lot about this gun that will be familiar to you, and, as I did with the Automag, tell you that it’s a MUST HAVE gun, at least if you take your play seriously.

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    YouTube - Empire Axe Supergun Show Review
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2011
  2. DaveJ

    DaveJ Karny 4 Life

    Seems like a great marker. It's a shame it's ugly as ****.
  3. Bambi

    Bambi New Member

    It looks like a ****ing walrus with that grip :p
  4. Ravin_sk

    Ravin_sk Active Member

    Update
    Recommend : picking up either a Lurker or Boss Bolt. I, personally, went with the XSV Boss Bolt. I've also read of people doing a hybrid of parts of each bolt, and creating a "Blurker" but that's probably overkill. It will make it nice and soft on paint, and you can drop your PSI quite a bit (recommended for Boss is 150 psi, 3ms Dwell).

    Also if the Axe comes with the original Optimus board, it'll say it right on the board, get a Shockwave board. You can probably get it under warranty straight from Kee. The Shockwave board adds a few perks over their original Optimus board (the Shockwave is the new stock) but the two big ones are it has memory so it wont lose your settings, trigger programming (Optimus is a button on the board) and tournament lock switch on the board so the Trigger programming won't give issues w/ that.

    The Redline board is the "best of the best" and teams like Infamous and XSV use that, but that's up to you.

    Then just a good barrel setup.

    The stock eyes are perfectly fine, but some people prefer to see them (I have eye OCD and need to see them on) so you can drop a set of Virtue eyes in for 30 bucks super easy.

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