Empire evokes a great name from paintball’s history as they double-down into pump paintball!
By Joshua D. Silverman
Photography provided by Empire Paintball and Jennifer C. Silverman
As Published in PaintballX3 Magazine
I’ve been saying for some time that the growth of pump play within both competitive and recreational paintball is a good thing in which I’ve taken some personal satisfaction. More companies are making pump markers than have been in years, more pumps are popping up at local fields across the United States and it all adds up to more choices for players looking to enjoy the classic thrill of pump play and the increased ability of players on even the tightest of budgets to hang in the sport we all love. One company that already understood the benefits of pump paintball and proved it by releasing an affordable pump with a classic name, the Trracer, has reaffirmed their faith in the segment with the release of a high-end, tournament-grade pump aimed at the CCM and Phantom-shooting crowd and again, they’ve given it the name of another great pump from paintball’s history, the Sniper.
Originally built and sold in paintball’s infancy by Bud Orr and used by legendary players like members of the Ironmen, the Sniper is still regarded as one of paintball’s greatest markers. Now that the Sniper name falls under the KEE Action Sports umbrella, it has been resurrected by the company under the consolidated brand name responsible for KEE’s best products, Empire. Resembling the original Sniper in name and concept but packed with modern pump features that enable it to punch with the very best models in twenty-first century pump paintball ball-for-ball, the new Empire Sniper was one of the most talked-about products at the 2011 PSP World Cup in Florida and continues to generate a buzz as 2011 becomes 2012!
Available only in grey with black parts, the new Empire Sniper pump is subdued but stylish and certainly looks the part of a high-end pump paintball gun. Engraved with the Empire logo and a logo jewel with crosshairs, the Sniper is aggressively cut both for style and to further reduce the weight of the marker, which comes in at just over two pounds. The weight of the Empire Sniper stands up competitively with the latest CCM pump markers, widely regarded as the benchmark for top-level pump models. The half-blocked Empire Sniper sits even with the two-and-a-half pound CCM T2 and Series 6.5 on the scales. Packed with features, the Sniper requires nothing but an air bottle, hopper and good quality paintballs to be ready for play.
Standard features abound on the new Empire Sniper pump. A lever-operated, on/off bottle adapter sends air from a player’s air bottle of-choice to a stylish and comfortable inline regulator with an angled air fitting adapter. Thanks to a front-mounted macroline adapter on the bottle adapter and the swiveling, angled fitting adapter on the regulator, the Sniper is equally comfortable when shot with either a left or right-handed grip, allowing players to remain as tight into their bunker as possible. A comfortable .45 grip frame is standard on the Sniper, and the single trigger inside it is drilled for weight and breaks cleanly with absolutely no take-up. An auto-trigger is standard on the Sniper, allowing players to shoot quickly- almost as quickly as many mechanical semi-automatic paintball guns. A manual, push-button safety is also included.
Dual ball detents sit behind black covers on either side of the Sniper’s breech and the marker’s short, Delrin bolt is sealed with three o-rings. Hoppers are held onto the Sniper by a low-rise, lever-clamping feed neck that can be quickly and easily replaced with an included tube feed for stock play. Dual, stainless steel pump rods keep everything moving in the same direction and the spring-returned pump handle is light, slim, comfortable in the hand and even complete with an aluminum pump-assist bracket that allows experienced pump players to re-cock their marker with the squeeze of two fingers, helping keep the marker on-target for quick follow-up shots. Finally, the Autococker-threaded barrel of the Sniper is delivered with three tight backs, in .675, .680 and .685, tight enough to securely hold practically any paintball securely in the breech. The aluminum, two piece barrel is well-honed and features massive amounts of porting to ensure the quietest shot possible.
Josh testing the Empire Sniper pump for his review for the Catshack Reports Paintball news website
Geared up with a Ninja 45 cubic inch bottle and a Pinokio Hopper, the lightest full-size setup available, my test Empire Sniper was game-ready at around six pounds. Players using “old school” Revolution hoppers or even smaller, pocket-sized hoppers and smaller compressed air bottles will easily be able to take to the field with Snipers weighing five pounds. In the hands, the new Sniper feels very comfortable and advanced with its wrap-around Hogue-style grips, ergonomic regulator, well-carved pump handle and pump-assist modification. The marker, with its black and grey finish, is subdued enough to allow a player to creep around unnoticed in the woods while still turning heads in the staging area. Players immediately noticed the Sniper for what it was and I barely had time to play any paintball for all the questions asked and requests to lay hands on it.
Over the chronograph, the Sniper proved itself to be a consistent paintball marker. The only variances noted at the chronograph were due only to rollouts before the proper barrel size was determined, and due to somewhat dubious paint quality. Overall, the Sniper delivered solid readings over a Paintball Radarchron unit, including strings of 264, 264, 264 in one instance and, later, a string of 276, 273, 274. Once the proper barrel back was selected, the .680 back, the Sniper proved capable of landing multiple shots into one splat at distances as far as fifty feet. The stock Sniper barrel proved not only accurate, but very quiet as well. The included pump-assist on the pump handle enabled me and other shooters to keep the barrel on-target for rapid follow-up shots with just the squeeze of the pump handle with two fingers.
The Empire Sniper is an excellent and welcome addition to the world of pump paintball. While it may not be the cheapest pump marker available, it isn’t targeted at the Wal-Mart crowd and the value for each dollar spent on the Sniper is great. The new Empire Sniper is packed with features that any pump player will appreciate, is game-ready out of the box and able to hang with anything in the pump world. Players looking for an excellent high-end pump marker now have another name to add to the shopping list when they hit their local paintball store, the proven and successful Empire name.