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Empire Axe Review
4.5 out of 5 stars
- Excellent Detents
- Consistent PSI
- Advanced Trigger Design
- Lifetime Manufacturer’s warranty
- Poor Feed Neck Construction
- Shorter Barrel
- Self-servicing might result in voided warranty
- Inefficient with air
Above-average marker at a reasonable price
- Bore: .689
- Weight: 2 lbs 4 oz
- Barrel Length: 12 inches
- Firing Modes: Semi-Auto, Millennium-Ramping, NXL, and PSP-Ramping
Empire Axe Review
The Empire Axe has a well-known and well-respected place in the paintball community. And that place is well-earned. With you buy this marker, you get quite a bit. You get a quick start guide, an owners manual, a parts kits, the barrel and a barrel sleeve. The parts kits contain o-rings, screws, detents, and lube.
The Axe is a testament to how much paintball marker technology has evolved over the years. Ten years ago you would have to pay 3-4 times the price of the Axe to get this same quality. You now have an excellent marker that has proven itself in professional play. The best part is that you get all this at a reasonable price.
Company and History
The Axe is Empire’s answer to the issues reported with their earlier model; the Mini. There were feeding problems, feed neck problems, and chopping issues, just to name a few issues. Also, the design of the mini was just as the name implies. It was compact which was reportedly uncomfortable to use for long periods of time.
The fact that Empire, as a company, listens to their customers sets them apart from other manufacturers. Customers of Empire know their voice has power and this has resulted in a very loyal following. Empire heard all the complaints of the Mini. They then took these considerations to the design floor, and made the Axe.
The threads of the barrel are Autococker threads instead of the Tippmann A5 threads. There is a lot of “discussion” on the paintball forums about which is better. We want you to be aware that you will not be able to use A5-threaded barrels with this marker. This way you will be able to find the best barrel that is compatible with the Axe.
Similar to the Tippmann Crossover the Empire Axe has the regulator built into the ASA. This assembly feeds into the marker via an internal gas line (air transfer tube). The benefits here are the same as all interior gas line systems. Namely, you don’t have to worry about a leaking or damaged macro line while playing. The downside is that to service the tube it requires taking the grip panel apart.
The bolt is possible to remove without tools which are not exceptional by today’s standards. But there are two noteworthy design features. First, a spring-loaded button located on the back and underside of the bolt chamber holds the bolt held in place. This button makes the bolt even easier to access on the Axe than most tool-less bolt systems. There is far less twisting required. Also, the spring then has to go through a bit of a maze. You have to physically twist the bolt back and forth before you can remove it. Both of these design features ensure secure placement of the bolt without making it a fight to access when needed.
The foregrip is comfortable and spacious. However, the materials used to make the foregrip could have been better. This material feels like a hard plastic and when covered in either paint or sweat can get a little slippery. We recommend modifying this with some grip material.
The feed neck on the Axe, while a clamping feed neck which is the best kind, only has the clamp to make a secure fit. In other markers, there are additional options such as a bolt to tighten as well as the clamp. This configuration results in a somewhat insecure fit even when an attached hopper. And the clamp just flops around when you don’t have the hopper attached.
The eyes of the Emprie Axe connect to the board via connector plates instead of wires that complete the circuit to the rest of the marker. A design feature like this makes one big difference. If you need or want to take the bolt chamber off of the marker then you do not need to unplug any eye wires to do so. This reduces the risk of damaging them.
The stock barrel that comes with the marker is 12 inches. This length is about 2 inches shorter than what most professionals recommend using. It is not imperative to the function of the marker that you get a 14-inch barrel. However, it would maximize your marker’s performance.
There is an updated ASA with on/off capability, but the system still can use some improvements. The lever is not very sturdy, and if you flip it too fast or too hard, you could bend or break it.
The gauge on the side of the ASA can also be a source of contention for some. It sticks out of the side of the ASA which just adds bulk to the side of the grip panel. You would want something that follows the line of the marker. Adding this to the side means you might hit it with your hand when trying to access the on/off switch. This could also happen even in general use. Some players like it and some don’t.
Lastly, you should note that the regulator of the Axe is not a self-serviceable part. This means that if you take apart your regulator you void your warranty. For some players, this is severely irritating. Why? Most of us enjoy making such tweaks to suit our liking. We don’t appreciate either not being able to enjoy their marker or voiding our warranty entirely. If you are not the type of player, who makes internal adjustments to your regulator then don’t worry. It is unlikely that this regulator will ever malfunction.
One of the updates to the Axe from the lessons learned with the Mini is that Empire enlarged the back of the bolt chamber. The reason for this is that the change made it easier for a larger volume of air to pass through the market. The increased airflow made its operation much more comfortable and smooth.
However, there were two problems that resulted from this.
- Users have reported that the poppet o-ring on the bolt tends to dry out very quickly with the extra airflow. Make sure that you take great care in keeping all your o-rings well-lubricated. You want to focus especially on this one.
- The larger volume of air also has resulted in lower air efficiency. Some users claim to be able to shoot one or two additional pods more with other markers with the same air tank.
The stock trigger that comes with this marker is where the Empire Axe truly shines. It is a 3-point adjustable, four position magnetic-return trigger.
What does all that mean?
It means you can adjust the trigger to whichever firing signature you prefer. If you do not already have a preferred firing signature, then you’re in for a treat. This marker has a wide variety of options to play around with. By tinkering around a little, you can determine your preferred firing signature.
The magnetic-return functionality of this trigger gives you consistent pressure against your finger. You will feel this pressure whether you are depressing the trigger to fire or release the trigger to reset. With spring-return triggers, you can sometimes get slop followed by stiffness in a trigger. That makes it difficult to know when it will break. Magnetic-return triggers make it easier to predict when your trigger will break. These are therefore better for distance.
As mentioned before, the Axe has a firm reputation in the field. In fact, it is not uncommon to see these markers in professional tournaments. Professionals use it against considerably more expensive paintball guns.
The Axe operates at a low 200 PSI with a regulator. The PSI is so consistent that it would be unusual to experience more than a 10 PSI variance between shots.
While one of the weaknesses of the marker is that it is not very air efficient it is very reliable. Many reports being able to fire thousands of paintballs without a single malfunction. They do this even when switching between firing modes.
Essentially, once you set this marker at the recommended 200 PSI, leave it there, and fire to your heart’s content.
There are few negative things to say about the Axe. If there are negatives they don’t impact anything significant about its operation. Empire listened to its customers, put effort into redesigning the Axe and made a reliable marker that the professionals trust.
Pick up the Axe and feel the difference between what a company thinks you want in your hands and what a company knows you want in your hands.