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Collecting info for new Dart thread.

Need your help to put together this resource

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#1 Langley


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Posted 03 August 2011 - 01:29 PM

It's come to my attention that the old Dartsmithing Tips thread is a bloated, outdated mess with only a couple of really useful posts buried in the middle of it's many pages. So in the spirit of the modifications and homemades directories, I am putting together a new thread as a list of dart making tips, tutorials and resources that are relevant to today's nerf wars. I am going to try to keep this list limited to designs that are still in use, have been tested, and are widely accepted at most wars. I'll also be fleshing out this list with my own commentary to try and provide some context for new nerfers.

Here is the information I am trying to collect:
Do you order your foam online from anywhere beside McMaster, Kane's Pink Foam, and Best Material's Beige Foam?

Does anyone have a good supplier for hot glue or plumbers goop? (aside from the usual local stores)

Between Slugs and Domes, what is allowed at your wars? If both, then what is more commonly used? Have any of the alternative dart types (gumdrop, nuthead, etc) really taken hold in your area, or are they still in the experimental stage? If you use Domes, where did you learn how to make them? What weights do you use, and where do you get them?

Aside from Slug's dart tutorial, are there any posts in the Dartsmithing Tips thread that you would consider to be required reading for a new nerfer?

I do not want to start a debate about the relative safety of different dart types or the merits of as-yet-untested dart designs. I just want to find out what you and other people in your area are doing at your wars. I only use slugs at my wars, but I understand that is not the case everywhere and I am willing to give Domes and other designs a fair shake.
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#2 Phree Agent

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 02:05 PM

Are our responses supposed to be in paragraph form, or were you looking to get more of short and minimal survey responses? Maybe an example post would be helpful? This sounds like an excellent resource forming.
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#3 CuppaSteve



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Posted 03 August 2011 - 02:11 PM

Here in the southeast we use slugs and domes alike. At most of the wars I've been to, it's been about 50/50 between the two. All of us use relatively high-powered blasters, so the general consensus is that whether you get hit by a slug or dome won't make a considerable difference in the pain factor. I've been shot by a pumpsnap-wielding Nerfomania with a slug and it still left a welt for a few days (and a smiley face).

I use M-D foam which can be ordered from amazon, but my HD carries it.
From taerkitty:

Foam: M-D Building Products 71480
Price: $0.62 + S&H per 20' as of 6/17/10
$2.99 + S&H per 20' as of 7/18/10
Springer Barrel Fits:
- Maker 1: CPVC (easy twist in), 1/2" (very tight, muzzle-load only), 17/32 (slide in)
- Maker 2: CPVC (very tight), 17/32 (easy twist in)
Airgun Barrel Fits: PVC sched 40 and 80, PETG (blow-load)
Squishness (on a scale of 1-7, 7 being the most squishy):
- Maker 1: 4
- Maker 2: 5
Variance (on a scale from 0-4): 2
Overall: Found it on Amazon for $0.62 for 20', with $6.14 shipping to me in the Pacific Northwest. However, the S&H charge seems to be per pound, and the item has a shipping weight of 2.4 oz (0.15 lb) so up to six can be shipped for the same $6. (Extrapolating from an S&H charge of $18 for 20 units.) Will update when order arrives.
Link: http://www.amazon.co...uct/B000BQWOC0/

It evidently comes from two manufacturers. Out of 8 packs, 2 were slightly wider and squishier. Both will easily slide through PVC - so loose they will likely drop out if the barrel is pointed down.

^I have not had as much trouble with variance. Most of my darts swell to a twist-fit in the heat.

I have not seen any dart designs other than slugs and domes in the southeast. The closest thing to a variant is the use of craft foam padding for slugs rather than felt that Nerfomania uses. I personally use domes weighted with BB's which I get off Amazon here. I learned to make domes from several sources and experience, but Ryan's post in the old thread is very helpful.

EDIT: I live in central Florida, but the generalities of dart restrictions span into Georgia and sometimes into the surrounding states, sorry for being vague.

Edited by CuppaSteve, 03 August 2011 - 02:27 PM.

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#4 Langley


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Posted 03 August 2011 - 02:24 PM

Are our responses supposed to be in paragraph form, or were you looking to get more of short and minimal survey responses? Maybe an example post would be helpful? This sounds like an excellent resource forming.

CuppaSteve's post above is pretty much what I was looking for, although something more specific than "the Southeast" would be nice as far as the location of these wars. Also, if you are adding information about an area that was already discussed earlier in the thread, mention that in your post so that I know you're talking about the same wars.
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#5 taerKitty



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Posted 03 August 2011 - 07:03 PM


Log Home will also sell white foam by the spool - you have to contact them directly and ask. B1g13en once said this was his supplier.

Amazon has M-D foam by various suppliers. It's crap foam, but if your local store doesn't have it, or you don't feel like paying sales tax (and you have Amazon Prime, so you don't have to pay shipping), it may be an option.

Amazon also has various sizes of foam. Given some of the recent forays into larger-bore blasters, they may be a good source if you're hard up for those sizes.

Mod Man foam, in my experience, is too wide for CPVC. It's almost twist-in in PETG, which is slightly larger than CPVC. This could be because the dartsmith didn't stretch his foam enough. Then again, he was using a drop-clipped RF20 (that shot 69-75'!!!) so he may have wanted tight springer fit with his dart/barrel combo.

If you buy foam by the spool, some of it may be deformed in packing. Heating may undo some of the damage. I'm not sure how boxes of foam will fare.

Stock foam (i.e., what's left after your dart head falls off your Nerf-made dart) is not heat-resistant. The hole down the middle will cause it to shred when fired from higher-powered airguns. In general, they're not a good idea.

Editorial plug here, but at this point, I'm pretty much sold on MHA pink foam. It's very good stuff, and they're solid members of the community. Next up would be B1g13en's white and the HotRod XL DarthFreyr and I were selling.


Hot Glue:

McMasters sells in bulk, as does Harbor Freight online.

This may simply be Bob being Bob, but he claims hot glue domes will melt in hot weather. I'm in the Pacific Northwest. 80+ degrees is hot. 90+ degrees is too hot to Nerf. The way I see it, if you have to worry about your darts melting, you should be worried about other things, such as sunburn and heatstroke.

Someone below mentions dual-temp glue guns. Dual-temp glue is something entirely different. It's basically a way to say, "this glue is only as strong as low-temp craft glue, but won't scorch in an industrial high-temp gun." The only high-temp glue I've seen is light amber in color.


Dart Heads:

My only experience has been with Seattle's (Redmond, really) War at Marymoor, originally started by BlackSunShine, now run by Dayko. Any darts are allowed so long as the dart/blaster pair is under 150', with obvious exception for death darts.

Darts that have been used there are: stock foam, slugs, glue domes, bumper heads (glue domes atop washers), and Nisaburo's one-piece foam dart (Nisa, where's that writeup?)

Experiments that have been tried and not adopted: nutheads, wadcutters (1/4" long disc of 1/2" diameter hot glue stick atop foam), FBR-tipped, and using foam weatherstripping as padding.

Latest experiment is inf0rm3r@OzNerf's silitips + blue tubular foam. It looks promising, but the tubular foam has the same unfortunate tendency to shred in higher powered airguns. It worked great in PETG as a blowgun, though.

Weights that are commonly used: #6 washers, #8 washers, and BBs. To the best of my knowledge, slingshots and 3/0s aren't commonly used, if at all.

I suck at traditional glue domes, the ones with BBs. That's why I created bumper heads (or, if someone else wants to claim they did it first, then I'll change my statement to, "That's why I independently developed bumper heads without knowledge of any other such prior art.")

I generally try for 1g or less with my darts. Silitips are much heavier - I haven't had a chance to measure them personally, but the seller mentioned they were 1.7g. Here are some numbers I gathered for another NIC site:

1.46 g     Air Zone sucker darts
1.16 g     Nerf Streamlines
1.10 g     Marksman 1/4" steel hunting shot
0.82 g     3/0 fishing sinkers
0.64 g     McMaster #8 washer
0.6~ g     1/4" length of McMaster .452" diameter hot glue stick
0.52 g     McMaster #6 washer
0.43 g     Heaviest Airsoft BB
0.32 g     Copperhead 0.177 (4.5mm) copper coated steel BB
0.20 g     Most Common Airsoft BB
0.12 g     Lightest Airsoft BB
0.06 g     McMaster felt disc


While not specified in the OP, I'd like to add some tips I've learned. I'm sure they're mentioned somewhere in the Dartsmithing Tips thread, but as the OP says, it's a spew of mostly useless non-info, so I either didn't learn the tips below from that thread, or I did and can't be bothered to find the exact posts in that mess.

- Use good foam. If you use crap foam, it will melt at the sight of a glue gun. It will also not last very long.

- Divot your foam. Melting a hole in the front of the blank increases surface area for the head to bind to the foam. Additionally, it makes the attachment surface non-planar, so if it does start to tear, it doesn't have a simple flat plane across which to separate.

- Your first few hundred will suck. Not trying to discourage you, but dartsmithing is something you can't learn by reading. The right touch on the glue gun, knowing when to let it cool off, and especially the right flourishes with your hand to form the perfect tip are things you have to learn by doing.

- Cut your blanks square. I use a template, a chunk of PVC that has a miter-box aligned cut almost all the way through it. This way, I get mostly square ends on my blanks.

- If you can, order from McMaster-Carr. Here in the States, their stuff is pretty much the reference platform for other suppliers. I have not yet seen anyone with better felt discs, for example, or better prices for washers.

- Plan ahead. Rushed darts are sloppy darts. Better to make them during the winter months than the day before a war. If you can, keep some supplies on hand. If worst comes to worst, you can resell them at the next war.

- You will go through darts. I expect to lose 50% of the darts I bring to each war. I may be pleasantly surprised after some, but I know I won't be disappointed. Don't expect 200 darts to last you through the whole season. Make more - you can either be a good Samaritan and loan them out at the war, or just plain sell them.

Edited by taerKitty, 04 August 2011 - 09:36 AM.

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#6 roboman



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Posted 03 August 2011 - 07:18 PM

As many of you know, we allow both glue domes and slugs in Socal, but most of us use glue domes. As CuppaSteve said, when shot from high-powered blasters, slugs and domes inflict similar amounts of pain. Personally, I use glue domes with 2 .177 steel BBs in the tip, since my singled 2Ks love them. Mcmaster-Carr foam has always served me well, but tends to be considerably smaller than most foam, however, it can vary wildly from bag to bag. The majority of Mcmaster foam that I've used has been an airgun fit in 1/2" polyester barrels (similar to CPVC), and way too loose for just about anything in thickwall PETG. The density is decent, and it holds up quite well, unless you shoot it at a hard surface from a high-powered blaster.

I haven't seen any alternative designs for darts at the monthly wars. However, at this year's 'Geddon, Shmmee brought a bunch of his gumdrop darts, which seemed to work quite well for him. Unfortunately, they were a tad light for my blasters, but I'm sure that could be remedied.
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#7 Phree Agent

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 09:06 PM

I am speaking from my experience in the DC area:

I have seen stock darts, converted stock darts with felt tips, glue domes and slugs at the wars I have participated in. The converted stock darts are either weighed and have a wrap of etape on the end or have a washer and felt pad head. Glue domes have used single BB, double BB or 3/0's. ALL of the slugs I have seen so far have used #6 washers and sufficient felt padding.

I would say the majority of the darts at DC area wars are glue domes, but not by much. I feel like slugs are becoming more and more popular but are still in a close second place. I have not seen any gumdrop, nuthead ect. darts used in any war I have attended.

I use BigBens white foam, which I think is the loghome white foam that was mentioned earlier, but I am sure he could clear that up for sure. I first used glue domes over 3/0's or BB's depending on what blasters I was using. I learned to make glue domes between threads on here and Youtube videos. I have since switched to making slugs with #6 washers and felt dots from McMaster. I learned to make these strictly from this site.

If I had to give some dartsmithing tips:
1. I, for one, would actually recommend a mini hot glue gun. I got both of mine from walmart (and a pack of glue sticks) for under $5. The miniature guns, I feel, burn better holes in the foam and allow the user to control the flow of glue better.
2. When making glue domes let gravity make the dome shape for you. Do not try to form a dome with the glue using your finger because it will never come out looking as good as a gravity created one. When I first started making darts, I thought it was up to ME to create the dome before it dried; this is false.
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#8 Curly



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Posted 03 August 2011 - 09:52 PM

Ok, here's my rant. If any changes should be made, feel free to PM me to preserve the efficiency of this thread.

I get my foam from ForsakenAngel at wars. He has a website around here that ships it internationally. I love his foam because it takes horrible abuse and still flies straight and far. It also is a perfect springer fit in Pearson's PETG which Angel's site also sells. Most hardware stores carry sub-par foam, but it's fine in a pinch.

I and most Canadian Nerfers use domes with the common weights; those being 3/0 fishing, .177 Copper BB, sometimes 1/4" Slingshot. Recently Angel has begun selling ball-bearings at a similar size and price to 3/0s, and they are becoming popular here as well. When I get the cash I'm making a big Mcmaster purchase and having it shipped here(EXPENSIVE)that will contain a few thousand 7/32 Low-carbon steel balls that are 0.7g, which is ok for weights. It's also $2.71+taxes for 250, so they're a steal compared to similar weights. Their part number is 96455K74 on Mcmaster.

We use domes almost exclusively in Canada. This is because not only do we have no ready access to Mcmaster, it is that we get alot of newbie traffic and poorly made darts are common. Domes are a little more idiot-proof, though not much. Typically Slugs and alternative dart types are allowed provided you show them to the war host (usually Angel) before using them. This can be difficult as the only times people see hosts is at the wars they need the darts for. As for the reduced safety, the initial pain of impact is almost identical to slugs and other padded darts, but injuries are a bit more frequent. There is the occasional swelling and once in a blue moon somebody has a minor bleed. Popping a pimple for me produces more pain and discomfort, and the worst injury I've seen or heard of is somebody running into a brass barrel, which happens regardless of what's in it.

Dart making tips?
-Invest in a dual-temp mini hotglue gun. I got mine for $15 with tax, and it works well. The high setting makes the glue very runny, more than a normal one. This is a great trait for filling gaps as the glue forms quickly. The low setting is slightly lower than normal glue guns, perfect for dart-making.

-Buy a cheap hot glue gun as well. Any piece of crap mini glue gun will do. Rather than glue, use it to burn your holes and keep the dual-temp for glue. Some hotglue guns need to be emptied before they stop dripping glue, so having an empty one at all times is good.

-Don't be cheap with hotglue, no matter the dart type. Every mL of glue adds a significant amount of life to the dart. Be sure to put glue behind the weight/washer as this dramatically improves lifespan. It also envelops the metal in glue, making the dart much safer. Small dome are especially bad, as they pop off easily. I tested a pair of darts, one with glue behind the weight and one without. Against wood the dart without glue behind the weight came apart after 3 shots, and the other took 12.

-Look for deals. As much as it hurts your self-image, bring a pad and paper(phones work too) and record prices on key supplies like hotglue, foam, and weights. Should the price be particularly low for that item, stock up! Hotglue is usually cheapest at Wal-mart or Dollar stores, while at Micheals the price can be pretty high.

-Know your weights. While 6000 copper BBs are a steal for $15, they can't hit shit. Your darts make or break your entire war game, and without good ones no matter how nice your guns are you will die. 1/4" Slingshot weights(where allowed)are very sluggish in flight, but shoot far and straight. 3/0 weights are very well-rounded, being accurate yet fast.

-Don't rush into a new technique. So you've seen a new way to make darts, great. Rather than use the entire roll of foam you have, make about 5 and test them out. Making a heap of new darts can be a terrible waste if the darts don't perform, or are not even allowed.

-Use a blank cutter!!! Blank cutters like Ryan's work best. Especially for hoppers you need consistent length, and this is the only way you're going to get 20+blanks per minute and achieve that.

-Test darts...on yourself. If you aren't comfortable taking a hit from point blank with your most powerful blasters, what gives you the right to use it on others? Heavier darts make for better shots, but the poor sucker who popped around the corner at the wrong time doesn't really give a shit how much it helps your aim. Especially if you're the rushing type, be considerate at what you're firing at other human beings at up to 200FPS.

That's all I got, if you(Langley) wish to edit any or all of this post out to improve the flow, I encourage you to. I couldn't really think of how to shorten the post and not be Engrish. Nerf strong, but not too strong, you don't want to hurt anybody.

Edited by Curly, 03 August 2011 - 10:11 PM.

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#9 RedShot



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Posted 04 August 2011 - 08:13 AM

1. I buy hot rod xl foam, and I have a couple hundred blanks of bigbens old stuff (love it!). I also have a couple hundred blanks of foam from ace, and home depot (those are not my preferred quality but I have to foam just in-case I need it, I also use it to put into guns). I really wish I could get more of the bigben foam because I hear his newer stuff is larger and almost similar to the hot rod xl in diameter.

2. Sadly I do not have a good supplier for either of those two, I got to my local hardware store on an as needed basis for hotglue and it is pretty cheap. I use a large high temp hotgluegun, but I may get a large high/low temp hot glue gun because you can switch between to two settings and it looks like a nice hot glue gun :] I have been trying so hard to find a good supplier of color/glitter hot glue for more distinct darts but I havent found anything solid. The one website that I was the closest to was rainbow of colors in 5lb and 25lb packs. That is ALOT of hot glue!

3. Let me give you a little background on my wars. We are in the south central PA area and my war series for this summer is called TEPAW so you may have heard of that series. Being the host, I alow any kind of dart, stock, modified stock darts, dome stefans, and slugs. Dome stefans are by far the most popular because I do not limit the weight you can put into it, you can get good aerodynamics as well as a nice weight so a far traveling bb. I dont feel that 1/4' slingshot weights are really that sluggish in the air but whatever haha. I am going to try out 3/0 fishing weights sometime and compair the two. For gun bans, well that is for a different topic.

4. I believe if you are making slugs, the dartsmithing thread is helpful but I do not prefer slugs at all but I will make them when needed.

All in all I highly prefer to make dome darts, easier to make in my opinion, and yet go farther! Plus I do not have to order my supplies online from McMaster. I also feel that slugs may have a quicker time until they come apart. I feel that the hotglue may have a greater tendency to come off sooner. I wish we could use dome darts at apoc :] oh well.

Any more questions, feel free to ask.
Thank you for your time!
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