The SYX has a funky name because Empire has made 5 previous guns that have used the same platform. It started off with the original Mini back in 2006, then came the Empire Axe, Mini GS, Axe Pro and the Axe 2.0.
When the Mini was launched back in 2006 it was priced at $325 and was priced to compete with guns like the Smart Parts Ion. At launch, the gun was a bit wonky and had some issues, as time went on though Empire tweaked the design and made it one of the most successful bolt systems ever. Because Empire was able to refine and improve the Mini so much, they released a higher-end version of the Empire Axe in 2010.
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The SYX is missing that Axe name though. Empire is likely calling the SYX, just the SYX, not the Empire Axe SYX, to make it look higher-end than an “Axe”. Axe’s kind of has that mid/low-range connotation, making it not the Empire Axe SYX make it not an Axe and gives the feeling that it is more premium than Axe.
Empire have changed some big things like the bolt and regulator and some smaller things like the grips, bolt release and board navigation.
The Bolt system is not completely new it still has that familiar Axe design with the spring and bolt guide, but the poppet has been resigned. Without question one of the weakest spots on the Axe/Mini was/is the poppet. It had issues. Sometimes the face seal did not seal very well. The new version no longer uses a proprietary seal and opts for an old fashion 108/70 standard o-ring. Going to the o-ring is great.
The bolt system is also a bit longer which adds some volume and lowers the pressure to 165 PSI from 200 PSI. You would think that the lower PSI helps reduce the sound or kick, but from my shooting the SYX and shooting 100s (yes hundreds) of other Axes and Minis I did not notice much difference. That added volume should help reduce some other possible issues though. Typically an increase in volume, will reduce velocity drop off and increase consistency all good things, the Axe/Mini doesn’t really have issues in these areas, but the added volume will make it even less susceptible to cold weather or other situations that may cause velocity or consistency issues.
Another part of that velocity consistency is the regulator and Empire have finally redesigned the regulator. One of the issues that the Axe’s and Mini’s had was the Relay regulator that came on the bottom of the grip frame. It’s just a bit weird and not typical, it’s hard to services and in some cases requires specialty tools. They have gotten much better over the years though bot the Axe Pro and Mini GS both have updated version of the Relay and are much easier to take apart than previous versions, they still require a 3mm nut driver a not so common tool.
The Empire SXY regulator is not very easy to remove and disassemble, something that we really should expect on guns now, especially guns in this price range. Being able to service regulators quickly and easily are a big deal, they don’t have problems often but when they do they are often catastrophic. Many people over the years have had to pay to have guns serviced by a professional or sent the gun back to GI for services. With the SYX you can just do it at home with an allen wrench and a wrench. You just remove the two screws on the bottom of the ASA/Reg/On/Off and the whole thing slides out. If you are familiar with the previous Relay regulator you can see that there has been a huge change. For normal maintenance though you only need that single Allen wrench.
In the hands of the right away the new trigger frame feels great. The new grips and the regulator are notably different
Holding that foregrip, I don’t like. Really as soon as I saw the thing, I knew I was not going to like the foregrip. At first glance, I thought about how dumb the finger grooves were on the foregrip, but it was pointed out to me that the grooves are not designed for fingers, they are there to add some grip or a place for your hand to hold so it is not just a smooth. While I get the idea, I’m not sure they need to be so aggressive, there are lot of guns like the DSR or CS1, while not 100% vertical they don’t have a crazy shape and both are easy to hold and I don’t think I have head anyone complain about not being able to grip them well.
So that all the tech stuff, out of the way. How does this thing shoot? Like an Axe, if you have ever shot an Axe you are pretty much going to know how the SYX shoots, it is not that much different. I couldn’t tell much of a difference if any, that’s not really the point though, Empire wasn’t trying to make the SYX shoot that much different. The Axe was already quite and smooth, and they have a bolt system that is very reliable, so why change something if it works very well and is reliable? It would be like Eclipse says hey the GammaCore (what PE calls there bolt system) in the Gtek works great let’s change it. That would just be a bad idea.
So the SYX even though Empire don’t really like to call the SYX an Axe, it still is, it is refined and polished version to make the best Axe possible, and they have made steps to that.
The Bolt system is improved and the regulator is much better, the only things I do not like about the SYX are style choices like the foregrip shape and the on/off lever, they don’t really affect the way the marker performs and while I dont like them you could love the way the foregrip feels or like the placement of the on/off lever.