The Droid had a great feeling trigger, a very smooth shot, and had the best ergonomics of any marker I've felt. My Automag has a smooth shot, very simple maintenance, is the lightest marker I've felt.
The downsides of Droid was that it was a very complex marker internally. Close to two dozen orings, many different pieces of the engine, and needed to be aligned perfectly in the body. The Mag is a great gun, but suffers from extreme gas inefficiency. It also doesn't help that the only tank I have that outputs that high is my 45/45, but admittedly, that's just me nitpicking.
I traded my NT for the Axe, and immediately knew that I would like this gun.
The marker I was holding was the "Earth" color, meaning it was the olive drab/brown. Its a nice dust finish, and really doesn't look as gaudy as it does in some of the online photos.
Spacing and ergonomics:
-The next thing I noticed was how nice it felt. Empire has gotten away from the tiny spacing of the Mini. The Axe now has a comfortable amount of room between the trigger guard and foregrip. I am able to completely wrap my thumb inside the guard and not hamper myself when walking the trigger.
-The frame has a nice set of wrap-around grips. This is a nice improvement from the flat panel grips that many manufactures have stock.
-Another interesting feature is how the trigger guard itself is shaped. For semi-auto play, you can easily rest two fingers below the guard and walk the trigger. For PSP, or when you need to reload, I can comfortably fit three fingers below, and finger the trigger with just my index finger. While I don't see myself playing tournaments, any woodsballer who wants a gun with a 3-round-burst would find this very comforting.
-The trigger itself feels great. It has a microswitch activation point, and is has four points of adjustablility. Pre-travel up top, post-travel in the center, a magnet return, and inside the grip is the microswitch activation point adjustment. That magnet upgrade cost me $30 to put it in my NT, so that's a nice touch in a gun that's 1/3 of the cost. I've noticed no side-to-side play in the trigger at all.
All I can say is this marker feels amazing in the hands.
-This marker is a beauty when it comes to cleaning it. You can definitely see the inspiration from the Automag in the Axe's engine. You push one button on the side, which depresses a ball bearing, and maneuver the engine out the back. Very similar to the mag.
-The bolt itself is very mini-esque. However, there is a new addition to the bolt. On the front of the bolt is a soft rubber piece. If anyone has experience with Bob Long's Pillow bolt, it feels to be the same material. That said, it seems much more well constructed and won't fly off the tip after 20-30 cases. There is one large spring (similar to the automag) that will return the bolt back to the resting position. The spring is conical, so it will only fit back on the right way.
-The engine is one large section with the orings on top of it. About as close to idiot-proof as you can get. Unlike the Marq engine, you won't have to worry about putting it in upside down and blocking the air transfer holes. After you're done lubing it, just guide it in with the notch on the body.
-Empire also gives you a nice little tool kit to go along with the Axe. Its got all the allen keys you need to open up the Axe. It also contains lube, orings, screws, and spare detents. Finally, a manufacturer figured out that screws get stripped and need to be replaced! :bowdown
-Velocity is adjusted through the back, and is very straightforward.
-The Empire Relay ASA is a breeze. Screw in tank, flip lever. Flip the lever back to degas, and you're done. No more struggling with a stuck tank in the ASA. Mini owners can rejoice!
Okay, I like the Axe. I really like the Axe, except for two details.
-The eyes are sunk into the Axe's breech. I believe they're located on an upper board inside of the body. If you break paint inside of the breech and need to clean your eyes, you may be in trouble. TechPB Mike offered the quick tip of using Air In A Can to quickly blast obstructions from your eyelet holes. I might be picking up a can, just in case. You may also be able to clear them out by running a swab through the breech through the back of the body. I haven't broken paint in there yet, so I have yet to find out.
-This is more of a irksome annoyance than a serious issue. I tried putting my Rotor and my Pinokio into the Axe's feedneck. While both fit, its a very tight fit, and are an absolute pain in the :censored: to get back out. When the feedneck screw isn't in tightened, it rattles around and could easily back itself out.
Overall, I have fallen in love with this gun. Its simple, its effective, it feels great, and it has everything a gun should have. I can't wait to take this onto the field and exhaustively test her out.
I will soon be creating a Pictorial Maintenance Thread for the Empire Axe
Empire Axe Engine:
Notes from other users:
From Festa, on MCB:
I would like to add a caveat about the screws on the gun. I'm not sure if they come this way from the factory, or if it was because of the dust finish on the gun, but several of the screws on the gun managed to work themselves loose after shooting the gun for a bit. The foregrip screws and both the detent screws worked themselves loose and had I not noticed it as quickly as I did I would have lost my detent covers. So, a word from the wise: put a drop of blue Loctite on all your screws.
From Flau, on MCB:
I use Q tip to clean the eyes. They can be reached from the feedneck.
A Note from Simon Manike
If [the ASA] is loose please don't just tighten the screws from the side. Some of the guns came from the factory with the top screws set a little too high.
The best way to resolve it, is to take them out and blue loctite them (all new guns should have loctite on, but again, some from the first runs didn't).
1) Take off the grips.
2) Back out the side screws completely.
3) Take the rail mount, and adjust the screws down from the top (adding a little blue loctite to them) so that the tips of the screws are just very slightly past the center of the holes. The tops of the screws will be around 1/16th below flush with the top of the rail.
4) Put the rail and asa back onto the gun, and tighten the side screws to lock it all down.
If you can't get it tight that way, you may need to remove the frame from the gun, screw the female air transfer tube up (away from the ASA) and then mount the ASA. Then tighten the air transfer tube down into the ASA fully.
When in the field playing, to clean the eyes, we just use a clean swab and run it back and forth through the gun without the bolt of barrel in the gun. It does take a full tear down to really clean them out though if it's a big mess.
Pictures will be up in a few hours, covering the toolkit, packaging, and engine.
Edited by Algae, 07 June 2011 - 08:38 AM.