Since the original came out over ten years ago, Planet Eclipse’s Etek markers have always been a more affordable way for paintballers to get their hands on the company’s outstanding tech and reliability. Everybody might want an Ego or LV, but not everyone can afford those markers’ four-figure price tags. The Etek5 continues the tradition of providing remarkable handling, good looks and rock-solid dependability at a more comfortable $500 price point.
The Etek5 comes in Eclipse’s usual excellent packaging. Inside the sturdy aluminum case, you’ll find the marker, a 14-inch Shaft4 barrel, an Eclipse barrel bag, a robust rebuild kit, a bottle of marker oil, a very nice set of ball-end Allen keys, and an astonishingly thorough user manual. The manual explains — in detailed full color — pretty much everything one could possibly want to know about the marker, from the basics all the way to LPR adjustment and solenoid maintenance. A note, too, about the barrel: Based on feedback around the internet (like Madman Paintball’s review here), it seems earlier runs of the Etek5 came with an overly large .693 barrel back; Eclipse appears to have addressed this concern in more recent runs as mine came with a more useful .689 back.
When I first picked up the Etek5, a number of things immediately struck me. First, thanks to its stacked-tube poppet design, the marker is incredibly thin, especially compared to the spool valve guns many of us have gotten used to in recent years.
Second, it’s longer than one might expect. The SL4 regulator sits almost exactly one inch forward of the regulator on my Dye DM12 when the guns’ ASAs are lined up. While short-armed snake players like myself might prefer the tighter package of the DM12 for maneuverability’s sake, the Etek’s length provides an extremely stable shooting platform for back and mid players, and I’ve had no trouble using it even in the snake.
Last but not least, the gun just feels sturdy and looks beautiful. The body milling gives it a strong look, and that impression extends to the whole feel of the gun. The grip frame, the ASA, even the barrel — they all feel like you could smack them with a hammer and they’d be no worse for wear. (Please note that I do not advocate hitting your paintball equipment with blunt instruments.) The grips, likewise, feel solid and… well… grippy, almost like tires. They’re noticeably harder than Dye’s super-soft Sticky Grips, but they’re still very comfortable and probably more durable.
Once you attach a tank and hopper, the Etek5 feels incredibly balanced. The weight centers right on the rear grip, and I find I can switch hands without even thinking. The balance also allows easy aiming and trigger walking.
The trigger itself has three adjustment points: pre- and post-travel and magnetic resistance. Before buying the Etek5, I was torn between it and Eclipse’s spool valve Gtek. Part of what swayed me to buy the Etek was its magnetic trigger versus the Gtek’s leaf spring trigger, and I’ve been happy with my decision. The Etek’s magnet allows a wide range of different “feels,” including my own setup, which feels almost like a mechanical marker’s physical trip point.
Beyond trigger adjustment, the Etek’s LPR means you can adjust the feel of the marker’s shot to your liking. The shot feels great stock, but the LPR allows you to soften it a bit if you so choose.
The Etek’s available OLED board, which some sites are now including free with the marker, can be installed in minutes and provides useful information at a glance. Battery level, tournament lock status, BPS cap, firing mode, shot count, eye status, and current BPS rate can all be viewed on the main screen. Higher end systems, like Dye’s MOSAir, can certainly provide more info and adjustment options, but the Etek’s OLED display will likely be plenty for most players. Stock, the Etek5 comes with a multicolor LED that older players like myself will likely be very familiar with. It’s less convenient than a proper display, but the light is very bright, even in direct sunlight, and perfectly functional for settings adjustments.
One spot I do think Eclipse could’ve improved is the feedneck. The stock feedneck functions absolutely fine; in about a year of play with my Etek, I’ve had zero issues with it. It holds well, and the Deftek design’s slight offset does seem to decrease the likelihood of chopping. But aesthetically, its ABS plastic just doesn’t look great, and I’m glad Eclipse now has a metal feedneck available as an aftermarket option.
If one really wanted to nitpick, it also would’ve been nice to see Eclipse’s POPS ASA on this gun instead of the twist-knob OOPS ASA. Like the feedneck, the OOPS ASA functions perfectly and seems well built; it’s just not as elegant as the POPS, which is also now available as an aftermarket part.
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On the field the Etek5 is like a dream. The marker’s ultra-thin profile means less of your vision is blocked by the gun itself, allowing easier targeting. In fact, I’ve never shot a marker that points so easily. The first time I gassed up my Etek, I picked out a small knot on a tree, pointed the gun — not aimed, just snapped it to where it felt right — and squeezed the trigger. The first ball hit right on target, then the next, then the next. I was awestruck.
When playing in the middle or back, the marker’s long platform makes it easy to hold lanes without much effort. It has an old-school poppet valve feel in a smoother, more modern package, and when you start walking the trigger, the Etek almost seems to keep the lane going on its own. The shot is instantaneous, like a knife on a chopping block, with none of the delay one feels with spool valves. It definitely lacks the ultra-low recoil of a high-end spool valve, but the jump is very controllable and even pleasant in a way. Other players shooting Shockers, Axes, and even CSes have been shocked at how easily the Etek throws ropes on target.
That said, I strongly believe that the player makes the gun, not the other way around. But I also believe the right gun can make a player better. The Etek5, at least for me, is definitely one of those guns. I’ve made shots with my Etek, without thinking, that surprised me even in the moment. One game, as I was sliding into a bunker on the left tape, I swung my gun up, clicked off two shots, and took out the opposing corner player before I was even out of my slide.
In another game, I was playing back and shot a guy in the wrist off the break, left-handed. This probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I’ve only recently started playing mid and back as I’ve gotten older, so shooting somebody off the break, left-handed no less, felt significant at the time. The gun just gives you confidence that you can make the plays you want to make.
The sense of confidence extends beyond the marker’s handling and feel. In a year of play, I’ve never chopped a ball or had any other issue with my Etek. As I worked on my (now completed) project DM12, I always brought my Etek with me to the field knowing it would work no matter what. The only maintenance I’ve had to do is apply oil to the three o-rings (each) on the bolt and rammer and grease the regulator before the new season. Regular maintenance of the bolt and rammer takes only a couple minutes.
For $500, I can’t name a new paintball gun on the market that I’d take over the Etek5. The shot quality and narrow profile can’t really be found in spool valve guns, especially those in the same price range, and even the simplest spool valves can’t compete with a stacked-poppet’s dead-easy maintenance routine. Guns like Planet Eclipse’s Gtek and Etha 2 might be as reliable as the Etek5, but they still require a bit more care than a poppet. Not to mention, it’s a bit fun, in this age of spool valve dominance, to take the field with something completely different. All in all, it’s just an immensely satisfying marker to own and play with, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially for mid and back players.
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