The Empire Axe 2.0 is an enhanced version of the original, best-selling Empire Axe, introduced in 2023. Providing high-end performance in a compact, affordable package, the Axe 2.0 has become extremely popular as an intermediate-level electronic tournament marker. Here’s an overview of its key features and first impressions after shooting the Axe 2.0:
The Axe 2.0 maintains the same proven inline poppet design and push-button simplicity of the original in a slightly redesigned body. The composite frame with rubber wraparound grip offers a comfortable ergonomic feel while remaining lightweight. The profile and stance are well balanced, making the Axe easy to shoulder and maneuver.
Available in a variety of dusty color schemes, the milling and body styling have an attractive, high-tech look. The reduced body profile compared to similar spool-valve guns helps this marker feel compact in the hand. Setup is straightforward for recreational play, though advanced programming does allow tuning the firing mode, rate of fire, and other parameters.
Performance shooting with the Axe 2.0 is impressively smooth for a poppet design. The shot has a snappy crispness without excessive blast or kick. The rate of fire easily approaches 15 bps thanks to the CTAR select-fire board. Accuracy remains consistent even during rapid firing. The sound signature has a muted mechanical tonality compared to many other poppets.
For scenarios and woodsball, the Axe provides reliable rapid fire to match competitive electro-pneumatic guns. In speedball, accuracy and ROF aid in rapid lane movement and suppression of fire. The Axe 2.0 punches well above its mid-range price point, making it ideal for intermediates looking to upgrade their skills without the expense of a flagship, high-end marker.
The Empire Axe 2.0 incorporates several enhancements over the original while retaining the proven poppet-valve design that made it famous. Here are some of the notable features that make this an excellent intermediate marker:
- low-profile composite frame with wraparound rubber grip for comfort and lightweight maneuverability
- Push-button bolt removal for toolless disassembly and maintenance
- Relay venting ASAs with On/Off levers provide easy adjustment of the air supply
- Multiple adjustable firing modes can be selected via the CTAR board
- Redline’s OLED board provides programmability of the rate of fire, dwell, and more
- Spring ramping bolts enable high cyclic rates of up to 15 bps
- Multiple Picatinny rails to mount accessories like scopes or foregrips
- Enhanced porting and airflow path for recoil reduction
- Improved fiber optic circuit board with color-coded wiring
- Slipstream bolt kits use a one-piece design for added durability
With these updates and refinements, the Empire Axe 2.0 retains the benefits of the original while elevating performance and reliability to an even higher level suitable for experienced tournament players.
What Are The Upgrades in Empire Axe 2.0?
While retaining the same core design, the Empire Axe 2.0 includes several notable upgrades over the original Empire Axe:
Large Trigger Area
In addition to the other enhancements, the Empire Axe 2.0 features an enlarged trigger guard and trigger surface compared to the original. The trigger paddle itself is textured and curved for comfort. This allows for a grip farther back on the trigger using multiple fingers.
The enlarged opening accommodates use with gloves. The surface area combined with adjustability caters to those who prefer resting their whole trigger finger pad versus just the tip. This aids rapid trigger pulls for maximizing Axe 2.0’s high cyclic rate potential during intense paintball skirmishes.
Overall, the larger trigger profile grants players more flexibility in grip preference while retaining adjustability for customization. This combines with the other upgrades to Axe 2.0 for competitive-level performance.
Barrel & Bolt
The Empire Axe 2.0 utilizes a one-piece, 12″ ported barrel for straight-line accuracy. The front apex tip with integrated o-rings provides a tight seal for consistent velocity on each shot. The barrel unscrews easily for cleaning and maintenance.
The Slipstream bolt uses durable thermoplastic rather than separate o-rings to prolong the part’s lifespan through intense play. This bolt works in conjunction with the spring rammer for snappy blowback action and rapid recocking. The striker retaining pin has also been redesigned for longevity, even after hundreds of thousands of shots.
Together, the upgraded barrel and bolt optimize performance shot-to-shot with efficient air use. They complement the other enhancements of Axe 2.0 for competitive intermediate-level play.
Unlike the original Empire Axe, which had a front pressure gauge, the Axe 2.0 omits this gauge entirely. The reasoning is that preset-regulated pressure means the gauge is largely cosmetic rather than functional on the proven Gamma Core drivetrain.
Removing the gauge simplifies the front end and eliminates a potential leak point from the screw-in fitting. This also shifts the foregrip slightly back for a more ergonomic feel.
While some players may prefer the at-a-glance indication of a gauge, on balanced pre-set poppet markers, it mainly provides peace of mind rather than performance benefits. Given the excellent Gamma Core consistency, Empire determined that cost and complexity reduction by removing the gauge outweighed any minimal function.
To protect the breech sensor system, which allows the marker to fire only when a paintball is fully loaded, the Empire Axe 2.0 adds sliding eye covers. These covers completely seal the optical transmitter and receiver lenses when in the closed position.
This prevents paint, debris, and moisture from fouling the eyes when the marker is stored or in a gear bag. The covers slide forward and lock open seamlessly when powered on and ready to fire.
Previously, after-market eye covers had to be purchased separately to protect the delicate electronics. The integrated eye covers on the Axe 2.0 provide this essential protection out of the box for improved reliability and longevity through rough play and storage. The covers demonstrate the attention to detail in these refinements over the original design.
To withstand wet-weather play, the Empire Axe 2.0 foregrip frames the battery in a fully waterproof compartment. O-ring seals prevent moisture intrusion when playing in the rain or diving into bunkers.
Previously, some electro-pneumatic guns suffered battery or electronic issues when exposed to extreme wet conditions without aftermarket protection, as I cover in my guide to the best electronic paintball guns.
The Axe 2.0 grip encapsulates the battery internally rather than under a flush, removable door, helping prevent moisture damage during wet games.
This enhancement ensures the marker performs consistently, even in monsoon scenarios or when diving into muddy terrain. The waterproofing combines with the other upgrades to optimize the Axe 2.0 for real-world tournaments and scenario events that test gear endurance.
Comparison With Axe Pro
The Empire Axe Pro, released after the original Axe, shares some similarities with the newer Axe 2.0 in terms of enhanced electronics, push button maintenance, and ergonomic improvements.
However, the Axe 2.0 distinguishes itself from the Pro with its unique waterproof grip frame, Slipstream bolt, multiple accessory rails, and Deftek feed neck. These give Axe 2.0 a particular competitive-focused edge.
The Axe Pro does include a pressure gauge and a two-piece 14” barrel not found on the 2.0. But for most players, the 2.0’s upgrades provide superior real-world tournament durability and customization potential at a similarly affordable price point. Either platform performs excellently, but Axe 2.0 pushes the namesake further.
After extensively reviewing the features and performance of the Empire Axe 2.0 paintball marker, I’m convinced this is one of the best options for intermediate players looking to upgrade.
Its durable yet lightweight construction, reliable shooting, and smooth trigger pull provide everything I’d want in a tournament-level electric gun without the high price tag.
This axe has proven itself to be among the most affordable paths into serious paintball. I’m excited to try the Axe 2.0 out on the field myself soon.
With the ability to fire quickly and accurately even in tough conditions, I know this marker will give me the competitive edge I’m looking for while still being easy to maintain. For my needs, the Empire Axe 2.0 really does seem to have it all.
Frequently Asked Questions about Axe 2.0
What are the firing modes of Axe 2.0?
The Axe 2.0 offers six selectable firing modes enabled by the CTAR board: semi-auto, PSP, Millennium, NXL, auto-response, and fully automatic. Using the OLED menu, these modes are adjustable, along with rate of fire caps up to 17 bps for PSP legal limits. The versatile settings suit different league regulations.
How loud is the Axe 2.0?
With the refined porting and inline muffler, the sound signature on the Axe 2.0 is noticeably muted compared to some poppet markers. While not as silent as spool valve designs, the composite frame absorbs vibrations well, keeping perceived sound moderate, according to player reviews. The auditory profile favors a mechanical “pop” rather than a sharp blast.
How much does the Axe 2.0 weigh?
In its base configuration without a barrel or loader, the Axe 2.0 weighs around 2 lbs, 5 oz. This keeps it maneuverable and easy to shoulder during prolonged use.
Adding a hopper and 14-inch barrel still keeps the fully equipped marker under 3.5 lbs. total. The composite and aluminum construction provide a balanced ratio of sturdiness to heft for the price tier.
The Axe 2.0 balances proven performance with thoughtful refinements, making it ideal for the intermediate tournament player.
These frequently asked questions address key areas of interest around capabilities, ergonomics, and maintenance for this modern classic marker.