Development lab: Axe classic bodies Body fabrication projects represent the highest level of customization for paintball markers. Marker bodies are absolutely the most precise components of a paintball marker as a whole; the precision required to produce a marker body is unusually high compared to the other items found on a typical paintball marker. I have made several marker bodies for other platforms in the past, with varying levels of complexity. Some bodies are more simple but not many have the level of detail found on an Empire Axe. The gasket and eye features are of particular complexity. We make lots of precision products for other industries so this isn't necessarially a problem, but making new Axe bodies does represent a new type of product for our paintball products.

This tech article is meant to deliver many details on fabrication of marker bodies in general, not just Axe bodies. However, the finished product is a classic Axe body which has some unique features compared to more simple bodies. When we produce a new marker body from scratch, I follow a two-step process. The first step is to fabricate an unmilled "body blank" which represents all the required custs that can be used to create a functional marker, but with no cosmetics on the outside edges. The second step is to use the body blank and perform cuts around the outside which will sculpt and shape it into the cosmetic-milled finished component that a customer will buy.

Nummech Axe body design changes:
The redesigned Nummech bodies include a handful of tweaks which were meant to fulfill some special goals. Some of them are enhancements that I believe will improve the marker, while others are simply changes meant to make the bodies easier to manufacture.

  • A latching feedneck boss is integrated directly into the body (compatible with Empire's feedneck spec).
  • Unmilled material is extended around the back of the body, which partially-surrounds the bolt endcap. A small amount of material is also added to the front, extending the body slightly further forward. The purpose of this material is to allow crazy cosmetics beyond those available from the stock/OEM bodies.
  • Eye covers were added to allow access without disassembling the body. The bodies still use Axe sensor boards, detents, and detent springs. The eye covers can use standard-size socket head cap screws, or low-profile "button head" screws to blend better with the body.
  • Precision pinholes were added to the body to make them easier to locate for custom milling.
  • Serial numbers are engraved directly into the body itself, allowing them to remain intact even after re-anodizing.

The above design changes constitute the main reason why we prefer to create the entire marker body from start to finish. Every product we manufacture starts as a bar of raw material when it enters our machine shop, then it exits as a fully functional product when heading out the door. We control every aspect of the manufacturing process which allows us to make any changes we wish to the original design then measure and inspect the workpiece at any time throughout the fabrication. This has the disadvantage of adding more production time to the finished product, but the advantages make it worthwhile.

Prototyping Once the design was finalized, I needed to create some prototype bodies. The main purposes of these prototypes was to test the changes and develop the manufacturing process. Below you can see some initial pictures I took to show the changes made with each body...

Nummech Axe body blank prototypes 001-004. Once the prototyping was complete, I performed a great amount of tests with the unmilled body blanks. Testing an body in this way is very uncommon; the unmilled body is large and difficult to wield, even off the paintball field. I even took a quick test video to show the body during testing.

Testing out a Nummech Axe body blank prototype.


After a few weeks of testing, the final results were very promising. I had only a few small adjustments to make on the manufacturing side, but ultimately these bodies function very similar to the OEM versions. It was decided to officially scheuld the first batch of bodies for production.

Body production and cosmetic grafts We followed through and produced a small number of body blanks for custom milling. I didn't photograph the bodies throughout the production process (the machine shop was very busy during that time), but I can show you what it looks like to view a similar AxePro body batch partway through the fabrication:

Nummech marker body production process at various stages of fabrication.

Shown below are some completed classic Axe marker bodies after anodizing.

Assorted Nummech Axe marker bodies.

Ultimately we only produced one batch of classic Axe bodies then began development on the Mini-GS and AxePro platform. As mentioned, we use a similar development and production process for other marker platforms, although the body details are obviously very different. Axe bodies are very complex so I'm looking forward to making some new bodies for other markers in the future, whic will hopefully be a little easier to produce.

Written by Andy "Ydna" DuBuc
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