On field Results - First Weekend:
I played multiple games this weekend with the Empire Sniper this weekend as well as the CCM S6.5 (for comparison).
Weather: Low 70"s
Paint: Fresh Empire Evil - fit well in the .680 insert on the Empire Barrel kit.
The Barrel is a 14 inch barrel and shoots lazer beams. When it was on my CCM it drove tacks. I post this here because what I saw on the marker was not a matter of paint, barrel, or paint to barrel match. The paint and barrel performed very well.
I mentioned above that I had trouble getting the marker up to 300 FPS - but had no issue at the field. I found this because I was slightly underbored - the paint fit better in .681 freak barrel that I had - but did not want to overbore the barrel - as I wanted the marker to shoot as close to 300 fps as I could get it. I turned the IVG back a full turn and it shot about 285 all day.
The marker, however, shot +/- 10 all day. I was bouncing between the upper 260's and the low 290's. It wasn't the paint. I shot my CCM with the same paint and barrel - and it shot two times at the same FPS and the third time at +2 of the previous shots.
It has been claimed that some regulators need to be broken in - and this may be the case with this marker. I will say this - it did seem to shoot better as the day went on. I would say that this marker performed better as the day went on - breaking this marker in may be in need for optimal performance.
On the field:
The marker is VERY well balanced, and points and aims VERY easily and well. A full hopper feels natural on the marker and it while running with the marker it feels nearly weightless.
I played woodsball, hyperball, and solid bunkers during the day. The first thing that I noticed was how loud the marker was. As I stated above, but thought it could have been the fact that I was shooting it in my neighborhood, my garage, and at the neighbor's cats.
However, on the field it was just as loud as it was at the house. It was not, again, the barrel. When it was on my CCM it was not as quiet as my Deadly Wind - but not much louder.
I was being shot at by a Phantom at one point during the day - his paint whispered by me - while I BOOMED back at him. This seemed to be a by-product of the low pressure the marker shoots at and higher volume of air that is needed to propel the ball down range. A Phantom runs at 800 PSI (HPA) and a CCM S6 runs between 300 - and 350 PSI. The Empire Sniper runs between 225 - and 250. I cannot confirm this - but the marker was loud nonetheless.
The very good news is that there is no hammer bounce on the marker and it seems to fire crisply every time.
I really struggled to get a rhythm with the Sniper all day. The pump stroke is at the beginning and end of the pump stroke is hindered by the rubber detentes that rub on the bolt (the channels could be a little deeper) and the front o-ring. This did get smoother throughout the day - but the pump stroke is greatly hindered by this set up.
This is not to say that the marker did not shoot well. It did. I simply didn't use the Auto Trigger as much as I could due to the rhythm. I used the marker almost exclusively one shot all day. I shot a bunch of people during the day and the Empire Sniper made these shots happen. However, the marker made me work a little harder than I wanted to. Shots I could have made in one or two- I was finding myself needing three or four to make. The FPS being in fluctuation made me second guess the marker some. However, I will say this, the marker seemed to break in throughout the day and shot better as the day went on.
The pump, although thinner in width than other pump handles on the market doesn't seem to be hindered in comfort. I didn't love the handle - but this being so subjective - I can imagine some people loving the pump handle and others not liking it. I didn't find it to be a hindrance during the day.
I shot the marker without the return spring as I do not shoot pump markers without my hand on the pump. However, due to a fairly heavy pump stroke - the marker is not as fast as it could be whilst recocking. The stock sniper that I compared it to during the day (with a CCM pump kit) has a smoother pump stroke. Thus frustrated me, given the expense of the marker, and the ability of Empire to put out an exquisite marker (the Axe) - a rough pump stroke should have been avoided.
For those that like using the Hitman modification - the marker seemed to work better in this mode. It is easier to pump and easier to use. I think the marker excels in this configuration - although I happen not to shoot the marker in this configuration. I think for those that are transferring from a semi to the Empire - they will find it a fine shooter.
With all of this said - the marker shot fine, not great, but fine. It should be said that the marker seemed to loosen up as the day went on and I have high hopes that the marker will continue to loosen up and feel smoother down the road. The reg may just break in and become more consistent as time goes on. If this is the case - the Empire Sniper would be a nice marker to own.
The question that faces the end user is to wonder if the 420 price tag is worth it. For 100 dollars more a CCM could be had. For a little less a used CCM could be held. However, the Empire comes with a lot of cool stuff (the Stock Class feed, the parts kit, allen keys, and barrel kit) that the CCM's do not come with. The packaging is better as well as the manual and quick start manual is nice. Only a person who has weighed the options can make an good decision.
Changes I could make - if I had any power - which I don't:
1) Include two detente covers in the parts kit - they worry me (Simon assures me they are bullet proof)
2) Redo the bolt slightly to take away the front o-ring or make it more compatible with the bolt. It will make the marker more smooth.
3) Make the guide rod from Stainless Steel if there is galling over time. (Simon argues that the pump runs on the delrin and will not cause galling)
4) Offer the marker in multiple configurations - a) Marker only b) Marker with stock class feed c) Marker with barrel d) Marker with barrel and stock class feed. I think this could bring the marker only price to something that seems more in line with the current configuration and quality of the marker as it stands.
Overall feeling about this marker:
I think the Empire sniper will sell just fine. I think it will get more people into pump paintball. I think people that are moving from semi play to pump play - they will see the Empire Pump in their local proshop and be able to pick it up without the wait that other markers have these days. I hope that Empire will make changes to the marker as they become apparent and the marker will have future instantiations that make it even better.
Last edited by Talfuchre; 11-03-2011 at 05:15 PM.