The Proto Rail is a great spool valve lower-middle range paintball gun. It is smaller than the Planet Eclipse Etek but bigger than the Empire Invert Mini, so it is a nice middle ground. Big enough to feel solid and wrap your hands around, but not too large.
If you are looking at paintball guns under $300, this is one of the better choices.
2012, 2013 and 2014 are newer and differently designed markers, but similar to the 2011 rail.
Proto Rail Specs:
Operating Pressure ~ 155 psi
weight ~ 1lb 14oz
Proto Rail Features & Design
For $250, this marker is packed with some great features and designs.
Dye Hyper-3 Regulator
Eye Pipe system
Composite Ultralite Frame
Proto ASA & clamping feed neck
LED circuit board with four tournament modes
11″ Proto Barrel
The body is solid aluminum and does not feature any composite materials. The Rail comes with an Ultralite (UL) composite Frame following the Dye UL style. The trigger is aluminum, and the frame uses the standard dye style sticky grips as well.
What is quite impressive for the price range is the self-cleaning eyes with Dye’s Eye Pipe. In the event of a chopped ball, the eyes are kept clean of paint by a clear plastic sleeve. This allows the paint in the breach to then me pushed out by the bolt, acting as a squeegee on the sleeve. This eye system is also designed with integrated ball detents.
The bolt is pretty common design that is a screw in/out assembly with a metal back. The feed neck is similar to most current guns being adjustable to fit almost any hopper. I would consider upgrading it with a clamping feed neck as they are easier to use and more secure.
The circuit board is flexible with an adjustable rate of fire that can reach up to 25 balls per second. It has 4 different tournament modes and a LED light interface. The 2011 Rail features an upgraded solenoid from the previous models, improving airflow.
One great design feature from a maintenance perspective is that the internal O-rings are color coded to identify correct sizes. This aids in gun maintenance and eliminates the possibility of using the wrong size.
One of the great features on the Rail is the Hyper-3 regulator that comes with all Dye and Proto markers. It has great consistency compared to other markers in the price range, and operates at 155 psi gives a decent level of air efficiency. The efficiency ranges up to 1200 shots from a 68 ci/4500 psi tank.
Some people disagree with a composite build of markers, but when it is in your hands you don’t feel a difference, and it is more durable and lighter than aluminum frames. As far as the noise it is actually a gun that is noticeably quieter because of the Hyper-3 and spool valve combination.
The barrel is just an average 11″ stock barrel, so I would consider picking up a 14″ inch of some sort for better accuracy.
In my experience shooting and seeing the Rail, the ball chop rate seems to be quite low. I have only seen it chop 2 or 3 times. Due to the Eye Pipe system, chopping a ball has far less effect on performance compared to other paintball guns since it is cleaned through cycling.
Other Players Noted Opinions
For the most part, I have seen hardly any negative thoughts or feelings toward the 2011 Proto Rail. The only issues I have seen and heard about have been from people messing with the internals beyond regular maintenance who didn’t know what they were doing.
Overall there seems to be a high level of satisfaction with marker especially for the price range that it is in.
Comparison & Conclusion
At the time of the review, the cost of this marker is around $250 USD. When compared to other guns in its price range, it can hold its ground.
There are three markers in this range that are at very similar levels. These are the 2011 Proto Rail, the Dangerous Power G4, and the GoG eXTCy. While I prefer the Dangerous Power G4 to this marker, I rank this is second above GoG eXTCy.
Some of the pro’s with the Proto Rail are that it is a light and durable gun with a great shooting consistency. One con about the marker would have to be that it does need upgrades if you plan on playing upper-level paintball (but so would the GoG eXTCy and the DP G4).
If having to choose between the GoG eXTCy and the Proto Rail, it would definitely pick the rail. It is lighter, quieter, feels better in the hands, and has better performance. All of these markers are great for their price and have several similar features. In my opinion, I would most likely go with the Dangerous Power G4, but in all honesty, it’s about personal preference.
The Proto Rail is backed by a great company that packed this marker with some amazing features for the price and is a great value. All-in-all it is a great marker for players looking to start getting more serious with the sport of paintball.
What are your thoughts on the Proto Rail?