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Minnesota Dart Factory Day

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#1 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 02:58 PM

We talked about this last Saturday: getting together for a few hours to make communal darts. We end up using a communal dart pile at wars, so speeding up production seems like an obvious step to take. We should set up a meeting time sometime after the ex-SOF war this week to make stuff.

Before we do this, we have to decide what sort of darts we want to make:

Foam:
I would suggest using either 1) Swiftnerf's white foam 2) Mrcrouse's red foam 3) Menards foam. Swiftnerf and Mrcrouse foam is about $0.28 per foot, or about $0.04 per dart. Does anyone know what the price of Menards foam is? You've all felt Swiftnerf's white foam; it is what I used for my white darts. It's wonderfully firm. It is also very easy to find in the grass. Mrcrouse's red foam is slightly more squishy, and Menards foam is even more so.

Stretching/Heating (diameter):
It is probably worth stretching or heating the foam to get a consistent thickness out of it, as well as to straighten it. I have never done this, so someone else fill me in on how well this works. As for thickness, I think we should aim for getting a perfect airgun fit out of PETG (just barely slides down the barrel), since this seems to be a common setup among Minnesota nerfers. This diameter will also result in a nice tight springer fit in CPVC, which seems to be the other common setup. A side bonus from this: stock darts fit CPVC very well.

Length
Most of us use shorter than 1.5" darts. I cut mine at around 1.25", which is the length I would recommend. I have guide made out of PVC which I use to cut stefan blanks that we can use, or we could make a new PVC guide if you guys think a different length would be more desirable.

Weight
1/4 slingshot ammo seems to be the standard. I would be curious to try 2 bbs as well. I pre-burn holes in my blanks using a soldering iron, which is what I would recommned that we do.

Dome
You all use hot glue, but I would suggest that we use clear liquid nails like I use in my darts. They are very durable and cheap to make. But, my feelings won't be hurt if you reject my silly ideas. Liquid nails does take several hours to cure, but it is not runny, so the darts can be set on their sides instead of in some sort of holder while the adhesive sets (as you would need to do with hot glue). If we use hot glue, we should use colored sticks.
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#2 Carbon

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 03:06 PM

Does anyone know what the price of Menards foam is?

Menard's foam is $2.68 for 20 feet.
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#3 atomatron

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 03:20 PM

Menards foam is $2.68 per 20' (with tax is $2.87) so $0.14 per foot or $0.02 per dart.

I'm going to check if Axman has 1/4" bearings, they would probably perform the same as 1/4" slingshot ammo but cost less; ~$2.71 per pound.

Can you test the durability of liquid nails after it's been in a freezer for a period of time? I would like to know if it has the same problem as hot glue at low temperatures.
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#4 tack66

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 03:29 PM

This is a good idea it should be done for wars on a regular basis.
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#5 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 03:47 PM

Can you test the durability of liquid nails after it's been in a freezer for a period of time? I would like to know if it has the same problem as hot glue at low temperatures.

I will freeze some darts tonight. I will also check how temperature affects the dart fit of white foam, red foam and menards foam.

Edited by Daniel Beaver, 20 July 2009 - 03:49 PM.

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#6 koree

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 03:54 PM

I'm in. Of course, I'm not in MN till august... so i'll just have to pitch in money for now. ;;

I agree on Beaver for the weights of 1/4" and lengths of 1.25 inches or so.

I would like to put my support on the liquid nails, as i've seen how durable they are.

As long as these foams work on a RSCB's +bow, i'll be ok with any kind.
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#7 elf avec gun

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 04:05 PM

This is actually a pretty good idea. If we would have thought of this earlier we could have planned this out even better. I would propose that we buy a spool of our own.
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#8 Nerf Bros

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 04:53 PM

Great idea Beaver! Anyways is there anyway to make different fits for cpvc and 17/32 brass? Or would that just get too complicated? One problem with heating (at least with my darts) is that the darts at the bottom of the pillow case aren't usually as straight or the same diameter. So heating a lot of blanks at a time might be a problem... Then again I've been wrong before.
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#9 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 04:55 PM

Koree: This came from your dart factory idea of making lots of slug darts for indoor wars. After playing an indoor war in the civil engineering building, I'm thinking that stock darts may be a better choice after all. Using high ROF stock blasters proved to be a lot of fun compared to taking potshots with my tagger 3B.
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#10 koree

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 05:13 PM

Koree: This came from your dart factory idea of making lots of slug darts for indoor wars. After playing an indoor war in the civil engineering building, I'm thinking that stock darts may be a better choice after all. Using high ROF stock blasters proved to be a lot of fun compared to taking potshots with my tagger 3B.



Alright. It was mainly an issue of cost of buying darts for the indoors but you do have a point.
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#11 venom213

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 06:31 PM

I'm in. The Menards foam I get is thinner than Julian's and maybe Paul's too. I'd reccomend we get their Menards foam if that is what we use. I know that Julian's foam fits in PETG the way you describe it. Those other foam types seem too hard to obtain, and cost like twice as much. I don't reccomend using 2 copper BBs, it's much more difficult. For straightening the foam, I reccomend the way CS does it, using a Hair Dryer. I'm afraid of using a Clothes Dryer because I have screwed up many batches that way. I can definatley supply Slingshot Ammo and Liquid Nails for doing this. I also have a soldering iron or two. We must make sure we have plenty of sharp cutting tools, like Razor Blades. Do these liquid nails darts need to dry upright? Because, I'll be willing to bring some boards with a bunch of holes drilled in them for that.
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#12 Ryan201821

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 06:42 PM

Beaver I love the idea but there are a few other things to consider.

Swiftnerf's white foam expands quite a bit on a hot summer day. I have a batch of ~300 of these that I made and used at the last Minnesota war I participated in. After lunch, the darts had gone from a nice tight fit in my barrels, to not even being able to get half of the dart in. Luckily now I have two different barrel setups when the foam expands. I don't know if it's the foam or just the color of the darts. I know the Season of foam team had problems later in the day at Armageddon with their darts because of the foam expanding.

I don't think I've seen any of McCrouse's red foam but I know caffeine bought a huge role of 1250'. Maybe he'd be willing to unload a bunch to us.

I've been using McMaster-Carr's foam this entire year which has yielded in some of the best darts I've ever made. It's exactly the same stuff as Menards foam. I believe the manufacturer is Dennis Caulk Saver, or something like that. This stuff also varies from batch to batch, but some of the most consistant stuff that I've purchased. It's pretty small in diameter and fits in McMaster-Carr's CPVC beautifully. Some of the CPVC I've received from Home Depot, FlowGuard Gold in particular, seems to have a slightly larger ID and not a tight enough fit on the darts, at least with springers. For air guns 17/32" brass is perfect fit. The cost factor here is better than any other type of foam as well. A roll of 250' through Mcmaster-carr only costs $35.92. That comes out to ~$0.14 a foot and little more than a penny a dart. The downside to this foam is it is harder to see than the white and the red. I've been painting the back of my darts with bright orange acrylic paint. Makes dart recovery a lot better. A tube of acrylic paint costs a few bucks and can be used for at least a couple thousand darts.

I agree with you on the weights. 1/4" slingshot ammo seems to be the way to go. I have a distributor I go through for these which way be a little cheaper than purchasing them from retail stores.

About the domes and the hole for the weight... I'm very picky when it comes to my darts and I want each dart to have the weight perfectly centered with a perfect dome on the top. If any of you have seen my darts, you know what I'm talking about. I don't know about everyone else's ability to make darts, but I saw a lot of shitty darts at the last war.

A way to maybe eliminate hot glue domes without sacrificing performance is CS style darts. Though instead of putting the washer and felt tip on top, I've been adding a slingshot weight underneath the washer to give it the proper weight. I've yet to done range testing with these types of darts vs. normal hot glue domed darts, but from preliminary testing, they look to shoot with the similar accuracy and performance. Though only downside is that they do cost a bit more than traditional stefans.

Or I could just show you guys how I make such a perfect dome. It's really not that hard, but it does take a bit of extra time to make. After the dome is formed, I leave the darts upside down in a bath of ice water to solidify the perfect dome. No need for any type of holder to let the hot glue dry.

Beaver, I'm sorry but I don't like the idea of liquid nails on darts. I made a batch of CS darts with liquid nails which all eventually fell apart. It's also practically impossible to get a good dome on top of the darts. Hot glue has worked better for me in my experience.

I spent such a long time writing this up because dart-barrel fit and properly made darts makes an enormous difference in performance of a nerf blaster. You could have a +bow with shitty darts and bad dart-barrel fit and not even get a hundred feet. Believe me, I know plenty of people who fail at it.

EDIT: I forgot to mention dart length. 1.5" or 1.25" have seemed to work the best for me. I used a template like Beaver was explaining about to cut the blanks with a SHARP razor.

Edited by Ryan201821, 20 July 2009 - 06:53 PM.

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#13 Galaxy613

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 08:14 AM

Some of the CPVC I've received from Home Depot, FlowGuard Gold in particular, seems to have a slightly larger ID and not a tight enough fit on the darts, at least with springers.


Indeed, I am not fond of FlowGuard Gold, it's what my local ACE Hardware stocks. I bought 10' of it thinking it was the "normal" stuff and now I use it for non-barrel applications. Luckly my ACE Hardware had a scrap bin of CPVC that was non-Flowguard and fits my darts nicely.

I'll also like to suggest sticking with Slingshot weights. Double BB's work fine, but take extra time to get both of them centered. I don't know of any advantage over the other anyways.
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#14 sam

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 10:12 AM

If we are going to standardize darts in MN, we should also standardize barrel material. I think McMaster foam with thick-wall PETG (similarly sized to 17/32" brass) is a pretty good fit. I suppose we don't need to standardize barrel material, but it would be nice to do a big group order on some barrel material to keep the price down.

I personally prefer CS darts. I find that they are by far the easiest to make, and weigh plenty.
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#15 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 05:11 PM

If we are going to standardize darts in MN, we should also standardize barrel material.

I was thinking thick-wall PETG for airguns, and CPVC for springers. The advantage of these materials is cost; while brass is nice, at costs $3.50 a foot. 9/16 and 17/32 approximate the sizes of these materials, as well (although 17/32 is slightly tighter than CPVC), so you could still use brass breaches if you wanted.

I think McMaster foam with thick-wall PETG (similarly sized to 17/32" brass) is a pretty good fit.

I think you are confused here -- 9/16 is much closer to thick-wall PETG than 17/32.

I personally prefer CS darts. I find that they are by far the easiest to make, and weigh plenty.

I personally don't have a preference. From what testing I have done, they both seem to perform similarly. Dart fit seems to have a more dramatic effect than anything. I have a few qualms with Slug darts: the felt tips get very grimy while they are on the ground, and I get felt in my mouth when I blow-load turrets.

Swiftnerf's white foam expands quite a bit on a hot summer day. I have a batch of ~300 of these that I made and used at the last Minnesota war I participated in. After lunch, the darts had gone from a nice tight fit in my barrels, to not even being able to get half of the dart in. Luckily now I have two different barrel setups when the foam expands. I don't know if it's the foam or just the color of the darts. I know the Season of foam team had problems later in the day at Armageddon with their darts because of the foam expanding.

Okay, so Swiftnerf's foam probably isn't the best choice then. Temperature extremes are a way of life here.

I don't think I've seen any of McCrouse's red foam but I know caffeine bought a huge role of 1250'. Maybe he'd be willing to unload a bunch to us.

I have a few you can try at ex-SOF. I would be curious to see how much it expands/contracts. The main reason I want to use colored foam is so that we can find it in the grass easily.

I've been using McMaster-Carr's foam this entire year which has yielded in some of the best darts I've ever made. It's exactly the same stuff as Menards foam. I believe the manufacturer is Dennis Caulk Saver, or something like that. This stuff also varies from batch to batch, but some of the most consistant stuff that I've purchased. It's pretty small in diameter and fits in McMaster-Carr's CPVC beautifully. Some of the CPVC I've received from Home Depot, FlowGuard Gold in particular, seems to have a slightly larger ID and not a tight enough fit on the darts, at least with springers. For air guns 17/32" brass is perfect fit. The cost factor here is better than any other type of foam as well. A roll of 250' through Mcmaster-carr only costs $35.92. That comes out to ~$0.14 a foot and little more than a penny a dart. The downside to this foam is it is harder to see than the white and the red. I've been painting the back of my darts with bright orange acrylic paint. Makes dart recovery a lot better. A tube of acrylic paint costs a few bucks and can be used for at least a couple thousand darts.

It may be worth using Dennis brand (Menards). Several locals use it, and it strikes me as being pretty good stuff. I think diameter consistency is the most important thing to worry about.

About the domes and the hole for the weight... I'm very picky when it comes to my darts and I blah blah blah blah....

Or I could just show you guys how I make such a perfect dome.

I would appreciate if you could show us, maybe on Friday night.

Beaver, I'm sorry but I don't like the idea of liquid nails on darts. I made a batch of CS darts with liquid nails which all eventually fell apart. It's also practically impossible to get a good dome on top of the darts. Hot glue has worked better for me in my experience.

Regular liquid nails does not work that well, even in CS darts. For my darts, I use clear liquid nails, and I don't make a dome. rather, I sink the slingshot ammo down into the dart, and fill the whole to the brim with clear liquid nails. I'll show you at the war. I think they are much more durable than regular stefans.

spent such a long time writing this up because dart-barrel fit and properly made darts makes an enormous difference in performance of a nerf blaster. You could have a +bow with shitty darts and bad dart-barrel fit and not even get a hundred feet. Believe me, I know plenty of people who fail at it.

I've seen it as well, after firing lots of different types of stefans at wars. As you said, dart-barrel fit and manufacturing consistency will be key to this endeavor.

I forgot to mention dart length. 1.5" or 1.25" have seemed to work the best for me. I used a template like Beaver was explaining about to cut the blanks with a SHARP razor.

I would tend to err on the side of making shorter darts, for no other reason than that I can fit more of them into an inline clip ;)
I use a sharp razor and a template, and I like to think that my cuts come out very straight.
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#16 Ryan201821

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 05:58 PM

...(although 17/32 is slightly tighter than CPVC),

That's not really a true statement. At least not for all CPVC. I have three different brands and each one is slightly different in I.D. Mcmaster-carr's stuff seems to be the best one for the Dennis Caulk foam.

I think you are confused here -- 9/16 is much closer to thick-wall PETG than 17/32.

He might be talking about the polyester tubing aka PETG from McMaster-Carr. It's part #9245K25. It's close to 17/32" and works great for Dennis Caulk's foam with airguns. It's a little more expensive than OMC's though but it fits in CPVC couplers nice. Also a bonus if we're using CPVC for springers. There's your universal barrel system.

I personally prefer CS darts. I find that they are by far the easiest to make, and weigh plenty.

I guess it's a taste of personal preference, but traditional stefans (well-made) fly much further than slug darts.

-----

I love the effort for this. It would be a dream to have everyone use the same darts.
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#17 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 06:56 PM

He might be talking about the polyester tubing aka PETG from McMaster-Carr. It's part #9245K25. It's close to 17/32" and works great for Dennis Caulk's foam with airguns. It's a little more expensive than OMC's though but it fits in CPVC couplers nice. Also a bonus if we're using CPVC for springers. There's your universal barrel system.

I'm going to order some polyester tubing and CPVC from McMaster. If I bulk ordered materials from McMaster, I could provide the Minnesota area with barrel materials at costs similar to what you would find in stores. I really like the idea of using CPVC couplers as universal couplers. You can also nest thin materials in copper if you still wanted to use OMC's PETG. CPVC couplers also fit into PVC couplers, so they are immediately compatible with SNAPs and +bows.
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#18 sam

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 07:29 PM

I think you are confused here -- 9/16 is much closer to thick-wall PETG than 17/32.

He might be talking about the polyester tubing aka PETG from McMaster-Carr. It's part #9245K25. It's close to 17/32" and works great for Dennis Caulk's foam with airguns. It's a little more expensive than OMC's though but it fits in CPVC couplers nice. Also a bonus if we're using CPVC for springers. There's your universal barrel system.

Yeah, thats what I was talking about, thanks for the clarification Ryan.

I personally prefer CS darts. I find that they are by far the easiest to make, and weigh plenty.

I guess it's a taste of personal preference, but traditional stefans (well-made) fly much further than slug darts.

I think that regular style stefans have a slightly better performance, but are slightly harder to make at a consistent, high quality level.
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#19 Zorns Lemma

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 08:50 PM

You can bulk order white foam from Log Home at < $.10/ft. Fit is around PETG or 9/16s brass, although variance between spools is fairly large.

But if all of you like 17/32 or CPVC barrels then that might not be the way to go.

Edited by Zorn's Lemma, 21 July 2009 - 09:23 PM.

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#20 elf avec gun

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 08:55 PM

No one ever replied to my idea of everyone pooling money and buying a reel of foam for us to divide evenly...
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#21 Zorns Lemma

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 09:01 PM

You can bulk order white foam from Log Home at < $.10/ft. Fit is around PETG or 9/16s brass, although variance between spools is fairly large.

But if all of you like 17/32 or CPVC barrels then that might not be the way to go.

No one ever replied to my idea of everyone pooling money and buying a reel of foam for us to divide evenly...


In case you guys are interested, it'll be $210 + $20-30 shipping for 2500 ft.

Edited by Zorn's Lemma, 21 July 2009 - 09:23 PM.

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#22 sam

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 09:15 PM

I'd prefer to use OMC's thickwall PETG as a barrel material, but I suppose it doesn't really matter to me.
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#23 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 12:20 AM

I'd prefer to use OMC's thickwall PETG as a barrel material, but I suppose it doesn't really matter to me.

I would prefer this as well for airguns. It is the cheapest material that will slot into Airtech and SuperMAXX turrets.
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#24 Ice Nine

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 12:33 AM

You can bulk order white foam from Log Home at < $.10/ft. Fit is around PETG or 9/16s brass, although variance between spools is fairly large.

But if all of you like 17/32 or CPVC barrels then that might not be the way to go.


Zorn, I know we talked in chat, but I'd like to echo the fact here that I'm totally in for this one.

However, I don't really think I'll be in for the rest of it. I'm partial to washer darts (I'll take the big power drop, thanks) and I don't get the feeling that many people share my sentiment.

Soon I'm going to be switching to brown felt tips on the white Log Home so as to make darts that, as far as I've seen, aren't duplicated by anyone else I go to wars with. I'm going to be putting in a pretty big order for felt and washers from McMaster at the end of the summer to be shipped to my dorm room, and by proximity I imagine that only a few Chicago Nerfers will want to take some off my hands, if any at all.
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#25 Carbon

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 09:51 AM

Since Menardís is my standard foam, I thought Iíd throw my experiences into the pot.

For the most part, sizing remains very consistent. Sort of. The sort of is because I used the same foam for three years, with no variation in size. It was just this year that my Menardís foam got smaller, and now is a good tight fit in CPVC (where I previously had to use 17/32Ē brass). However, if past performance is any indication, itíll stay this size for a good long while.

As far as heating, Iíve found that a hair dryer just isnít enough. Iíve always used a clothes dryer, normal setting, and then heating the foam for three to five minutes at a stretch. Total heating time can be 10-12 minutes (no, Iíve never lost a batch due to overheating). I heat them until they start to sound ďcracklyĒ when I rub them together.

One other thought: I havenít used ľĒ slingshot weights much at all, but isnít that too much weight for lower-ranged springers?
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