written by: Doug Lamont
Which is better – the Empire Mini GS or the Planet Eclipse Etha 2?
Paintball guns are a dime a dozen. They all shoot paintballs, some are electronic paintball guns, other are mechanical paintball guns. The differences can be subtle when you’re looking in a similar price range. So just how, then, does anyone make a decision on how to buy a paintball gun?
The Mini GS
comes in at right around $350 on average, where the Etha 2
sits steady at $469.95. That’s a pretty stark difference, right? In terms in paintball guns, both of these markers are considered “low end”, and that classification is based strictly on price, not quality of equipment. Both markers are electronic, can achieve high rates of fire and they both need compressed air to operate, NOT CO2 as explained in our YouTube video
which tells why electronic paintball markers cannot use CO2.
So then, what justifies spending more for the Etha 2 when the Mini GS does all the same things for less? The first and probably most notable difference is ergonomics.
Pictured above you can clearly see the black Etha 2 has much more space between the rear and front grips than the Mini GS, as outlined by the red lines.
The Etha 2 has a fully independent foregrip that allows players to wrap their thumb through and around it completely, whereas the Mini is much smaller and more compact. While this could be seen as a disadvantage, the Empire Mini GS could simply be better suited to younger, newer paintball players.
Efficiency is a huge discussion before you decide to buy paintball gear. It’s usually ideal to get as many “shots” from your tank fill as possible without having to get more air. Often times in paintball, accuracy by volume is king and he who carries more paint holds the upper hand. Efficiency is somewhat determined by operating pressure. For example, the Etha 2
runs at an operating pressure of 135 PSI (pounds per square inch), and the Mini GS
runs at 200 PSI. A difference of ~10 PSI won’t make much measurable difference in efficiency, but the difference between the Mini and the Etha 2 being 200 and 135 PSI, respectively, is significant enough to suggest a noticeable difference in performance.
Why do these two markers have such different operating pressures? For one, they are manufactured by two very different but every notable companies. Planet Eclipse
and Empire Paintball
have both been around a very long time and offer some of the best paintball equipment in the game! To answer the question in a technical sense, the bolt systems of each marker are entirely different. The Empire Mini GS uses a poppet engine and the Etha 2 uses a very popular type of spool valve bolt called the Gamma Core
. Classically, poppets use a few extra pieces to motivate the paintball out of the gun. The Gamma Core has been around for years in Planet Eclipse’s G-Tek Series paintball guns
and is trusted and reliable, while also being one of the most efficient bolt systems on the market. Neither marker features toolless bolt removal.
An interesting advantage the Etha 2 has over the Mini GS is its compatibility with the Planet Eclipse PAL Loader System. In a nutshell, the PAL loader features paddles that use air from the marker being fired to agitate paintballs faster into your marker. The PAL hopper is less than $20 and removes a huge cost barrier to entering higher rates of fire, making the Etha 2 an incredible value to the player even long after purchasing the gun itself. To watch a video on how fast the PAL loader can shoot, watch our video here!
A likely contributor to the cost difference between the two markers, the Gamma Core bolt system has newer and more thoughtful engineering behind it. It features a pneumatically latching spool designed to release exactly the right amount of air for each shot, acting independently of the solenoid and dwell time. Think of it as a third checkpoint through which it regulates pressure. This precision allows for much more controlled airflow and results in simply not needing as much to move the bolt and shoot a ball!
One major feature the Empire Mini has over the Etha 2 is its full aluminum construction. While both guns feature a two-piece aluminum barrel, the body of the Etha 2 is largely made of a composite plastic material, specifically the foregrip, trigger frame, back cap and body shell. While these materials are durable, the aluminum body on the Mini GS will likely withstand more of a beating.
Both markers feature a “venting” or on/off ASA (air source adapter). The advantage of an on/off ASA or venting ASA is the ability to relieve pressure in your gun and the ASA itself, thus making it easier to unscrew your tank and prolonging the life of the threads on your compressed air tank
. The Empire Mini GS features a lever release for the venting ASA and the Etha 2 uses the widely-liked POPS ASA (push on purge system). Both serve the same purpose!
The final point we’ll cover today will be ease of battery changing. The Etha 2 is our champion in this category with its toolless battery changing ability, made possible by Planet Eclipse’s Lock N’ Load Battery System. The Mini GS requires the removal of multiple Allen screws to access the battery.
At the end of the day, we always suggest getting your hands on any marker at your local field or pro shop
before making your decision, but hopefully we’ve been able to help with your decision! Regardless of which gun you choose, both will serve you well. Make sure to pick them up at Punishers Paintball
***Based out of Mansfield, Ohio, Punishers Paintball is dedicated to delivering premium products and even higher quality customer service, every time. Growing paintball is our mission and we take pride as ambassadors to the sport.***