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Alternative Ammo


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#1 PVC Arsenal 17

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 03:07 PM

I understand this hobby is very loyal to its traditions (and often with good reasons) but in any case I'm posting this thread to share a potential alternative to stock darts and stefans for those with who are not averse to a bit of change. If you don't like what I show below or feel it has no place in Nerf, please provide nothing more than constructive criticism or move along. I have no intention of bringing down this hobby; I only want to share an idea which has potential for some enthusiasts like myself.

The alternative darts are shotshell wads. Normally they're used to encapsulate a stack of lead shot and allow it to be fired through the barrel of a shotgun. As darts, they're fired in reverse - that is, with the encapsulating "petals" as the trailing end.

Posted Image

From left: 20 gauge wad with tip filled in with hot glue, 20 gauge wad left alone, 28 gauge wad.

Posted Image
(hot glue filled)

Posted Image
(20ga stock)

Posted Image
(28ga stock)


I've yet to find a good fit for the 28ga wads but the 20ga fit extremely well in 1/2" sch40 PVC. I tested some by loading them into a 5" length of pipe and blowing air through the pipe with my compressor. With that setup, the wads were consistently reached 40 feet flat with no weights or modifications of any sort. Doing the same with a 3 foot length of pipe yielded higher muzzle velocities which made the wads tumble due to their light weight. I took one and filled in its tip (which is concave almost like a hollowpoint) with hotglue. It then fired 80 feet consistently from the 3 foot pipe.

Every single shot had superb accuracy. These things are cheap (500 @ $10), durable, and require zero-to-minimal preparation (depending on how you use them).

Link to purchase.

More on this later...

Edited by PVC Arsenal 17, 06 November 2011 - 03:09 PM.

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#2 DudeRadster

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 03:11 PM

I've dealt with shotgun shells before, so this is pretty cool, but how much do those things hurt? If those wads are plastic, then it'd hurt to get hit at 10 ft coming out of a +bow.
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#3 joeri

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 03:13 PM

What are these made of? They look like plastic.
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#4 PVC Arsenal 17

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 03:26 PM

I tested the hot glue weighted dart on myself at 10 feet from the the 3' barrel. The pain was just less than your typical airsoft gun. So yes, they hurt, but this was without any felt tip or other padding. The plastic does not compress upon impact the same way FBR does so you experience a higher impulse.

It's not likely these will be accepted in any major wars, but for the informal ones my friends and I have, this is perfectly game. Once again... not for everyone but they will have their specific purposes.

Edited by PVC Arsenal 17, 06 November 2011 - 03:28 PM.

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#5 DudeRadster

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 05:21 PM

That's true. As you said, they have superb accuracy. It wouldn't hurt quite as much from a NiteFinder (assuming it didn't have home made internals) or other pistols so it would probably be a choice ammo for pistols-only rounds. Also, after filling in the hot glue, you could dip the whole thing in plasti-dip to give it a soft rubber coating so it would be completely safe and nobody's mom would be bitching for any reason whatsoever.
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#6 CaptainYogurt

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 05:54 PM

Before we were blessed with Nerf and even airsoft and paintball, my dad and his buddies would reload shells with the primer, a light powder load, and the wad and go shoot each other with them. I like Nerf better, from a safety standpoint.

We've got bags and bags of these downstairs (mostly 12 guage, some 10 maybe) so I might try this out.

Foreseeable problems I can see would be the association with real firearms, lack of foam, interesting (read: painful) welts if hit at high velocity if not filled with hotglue or something, and finding barrels to fit.

I'd like to see these tested in the state-of-the-art blasters to see how they perform compared to traditional darts as well.

Edit:
As far as resolving the problems, foam in the 'head' that extends past the lip would be best for safety, and a washer could be put under there for better weight/weight distribution.

Edited by CaptainYogurt, 06 November 2011 - 05:57 PM.

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#7 PVC Arsenal 17

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 07:27 PM

I'd like to see these tested in the state-of-the-art blasters to see how they perform compared to traditional darts as well.


This brings up the advantage that attracted me. Being more rigid than foam, these are well suited for linear tube magazines and, with some slight modifications, conventional box magazines. Foam is notoriously difficult to load into any mechanism. These darts would make it easier.

The suggestion of adding foam or otherwise to the impact face should help a lot with safety concerns.

BTW the 12ga wads are said to fit well in 3/4" sch80 PVC.
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#8 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 08:57 PM

How about filling the ends with silicone? That might provide some better padding.

I would love to move away from foam darts, and towards some more durable or easy to produce ammo. One thing I would be concerned about is making ammo which is too good. Part of what makes nerf fun is the relatively shitty performance of the blasters. Right now, the ammo we use effectively caps performance at 100-150ft, and accuracy is pretty abysmal. New ammo such as this would probably raise the performance bar - but would that make the game more or less fun?

Edited by Daniel Beaver, 06 November 2011 - 08:58 PM.

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#9 Aeromech

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 10:05 PM

I would love to move away from foam darts, and towards some more durable or easy to produce ammo. One thing I would be concerned about is making ammo which is too good. Part of what makes nerf fun is the relatively shitty performance of the blasters. Right now, the ammo we use effectively caps performance at 100-150ft, and accuracy is pretty abysmal. New ammo such as this would probably raise the performance bar - but would that make the game more or less fun?

The hell with how fun it would be, how dangerous would it be? Or better yet, how dangerous would it make us be percieved?

Based on the war threads posted in the last few years, there seems to be a trend: most have moved away from allowing traditional stefans to be used and now allow slugs or some safer alternative. The projectiles mentioned in this thread would at the very least need to be padded somehow.

The sport already has a generally negative connotation with press and parents. Even a heavily modified or homemade blaster still fires a projectile that is mostly soft FBR. If a passerby was to stop you and ask what you were doing while using this type of ammunition, you could no longer truthfully say that your "toy" launches harmless Non-Expanding Recreation Foam at other human beings. If we can't call it a NERF blaster to the general public, who is already largely ignorant of how harmless our sport is, perhaps we should continue the current trend of erring on the side of caution with our ammunition.
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#10 Langley

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 10:07 PM

Philosophically, I'd have to agree with Dan, but it seems a bit early to get into a discussion about that, not knowing whether these are even really practical. I would love to see these tested with hoppers. It would be great to have a more consistent supply of dart making material, assuming these are manufactured to much more precise specifications than FBR.

Edit:

The sport already has a generally negative connotation with press and parents. Even a heavily modified or homemade blaster still fires a projectile that is mostly soft FBR. If a passerby was to stop you and ask what you were doing while using this type of ammunition, you could no longer truthfully say that your "toy" launches harmless Non-Expanding Recreation Foam at other human beings. If we can't call it a NERF blaster to the general public, who is already largely ignorant of how harmless our sport is, perhaps we should continue the current trend of erring on the side of caution with our ammunition.


We fire metal washers and slingshot ammo at each other out of improvised homemade rifles. At this point, the foam on the back is almost an afterthought. I don't think anyone is going to be swayed one way or the other by the foam.
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#11 SurelyYouCantBeSerious

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 10:28 PM

The darts seem like they are made out of cheap plastic. Is it solid stuff or is it flimsy?

Edited by SurelyYouCantBeSerious, 06 November 2011 - 10:29 PM.

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#12 Darksircam

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 11:13 PM

From the philosophical standpoint, yes. I would be iffy about using these in any war where we would risk publicity. I only use gumdrop heads and marshmallows when on school campus, and using these would not be good.

Main problem here is weight. Kind of iffy on the weight for these, given that my megas are probably lighter than these. Anyone know the weight for a normal dart? I'm guessing my megas are at least 1.5 grams, 2 #8 washers.

Also, mega stefans seem a lot less prone to breakage compared to micros, so I wouldn't see this catching on significantly. We'd be moving toward a "dart-shooting homemade airgun" game instead of actually being a variation on Nerf.

Thus said, I do want some to try out, with some camping pad on the tip for safety's sake. They should be more visible than normal stefans due to the color - do they all come in red as well as white, or is it just the 28 gauge ones?
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#13 Ozymandias

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 12:15 AM

Megas (and Mongos, to a lesser extent) can get comparative ranges, you just have to give them a bit of the ol' ultraviolence, droog.

A shift to homemade airguns is unlikely; ROF is too low.
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#14 nerfnut23

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 02:02 AM

I think that the .410 wads would fit typical brass nicely, and may not need any real modification to the blasters- put some FBR in teh shot cup to keep it somewhat solid for shooting, perhaps... I'll see if I can get hold of some .410 cups.
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#15 pinhead52

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 10:42 AM

I've had this on my mind at work, and I've come to a few conclusions. The first is that they seem to be sturdier ammo than Stefans, and just as reliable as stock micros. Pending some actual tests and numbers, they can at the very least provide us with a standard for blaster quality. As it stands, posted ranges are based on personal trust as well as dart quality, so if we standardized a universal dart of superior quality, we would at least have a "nominal" range for tested blasters.

On the down side, I personally am so afraid of getting into trouble that I don't even use Stefans most times. I Nerf in public buildings or in crowded parks, and I keep my modded blasters even as close to looking stock as possible to prevent from drawing attention. And, since now my choices of venue are all on or close to military bases, most bystanders would recognize something this close to actual ammo, that puts them completely out for me. I think some of the newer members should go out and google some of the bad press that Nerf has gotten over the years before using these in public, but that's just general advice to anyone starting out in the hobby.

I am still very curious to see them compared to other dart types, though. Regardless of if they become the new ammo standard, they are still a refreshing idea. As a man of science I refuse to discount them before a thorough investigation.
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#16 Langley

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 11:11 AM

Alright, I know everyone's chomping at the bit to get into a philosophical discussion about ammo, and as much fun as it was the last time we all posted our totally subjective opinions about dart construction, why don't we stay on the technical side here. We don't even really know what we've got yet. If anyone wants to do some more testing with these, offer any information about where to get them, how to make them into darts, or any other first-hand experience, go for it.
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#17 taerKitty

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 01:32 PM

I'm glad this topic wasn't shut down like Talio did a previous one about bio-degradable ammo, with the comment about if it's not shooting foam, it's not Nerf.

While it's (always) up to the war organizer what is or isn't allowed, I'm all for looking at new designs, even if they end up being dead ends (such as my Wadcutters and nuthead darts.) If we don't try, we'll never know.

That said, this looks promising on so many different levels. I'd love to see what some of the resident mad scientists (I'm looking at you, Shmmee!) can come up based on this platform.

Seeing as Langley has already graced this thread with his wisdom, I hope this means this thread will remain unlocked and the home of much discussion.

===

Onto the topic.

Per this page 3/4" Sched 80 PVC is 0.742" ID.

Per this chart 12 Gauge is 0.7294" ID. This leaves appx 0.0006" for shell walls. That seems a bit thin. Can you take a set of calipers to the wad so we can be sure?

1/2" Sched 40 PVC is 0.622" ID. It looks like 20 Gauge is 0.6152". These may work for those who already have 1/2" PVC couplers on their blasters. The same link has them for $10.00 for 500, or $0.02 each.

It appears we have nothing that fits CPVC very well. The smallest common shotgun bore is the 0.410, which is too small. The next size up is 32 Gauge, which is 0.526".

The problem may be that these don't compress well, so we may not have good barrel-dart seals.

Lastly, I'm trying to keep my darts to 1g, and less than 1.5g. These look like they have a bit too much mass. Still, for any 'whack-ammo' round, such as if you give bonus points for DTC, these may be viable.

===

Oh, and for fuck's sake, don't suggest "let's angle the tails so we get spin stabilization" -

1. It won't help ranges. Rifling (and spin), when done right, will help accuracy, but at cost of air resistance which translates to lower ranges.

2. If you get even one fin off-angle, you'll likely make it more inaccurate than a Streamline.

===

Edit: Langley - once I get some free time, I'll be sure to give these a try. Maybe a local gun store will have smaller bags for less (not that $10 is that much.) I'm sure they'll think I'm nuts if I bust out some pipe and start testing fit. (Either that, or they'll call the BATF because they'll think I'm trying to make a fully non-metallic weapon such as In the Line of Fire. If you don't hear from me for a few weeks, I'm likely in an undisclosed location...)

Edited by taerKitty, 07 November 2011 - 01:35 PM.

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#18 Langley

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 02:20 PM

Seeing as Langley has already graced this thread with his wisdom, I hope this means this thread will remain unlocked and the home of much discussion.


Anyone else on the admin team is absolutely free to close this thread without any worry of stepping on my toes. I'm just the IT guy. The fact that I posted without closing the thread isn't a license to go nuts. The point of my previous post was that this shouldn't turn into a debate over whether this would be 'real nerf' or if it would be safe/fun/okay to use them at nerf wars, when we don't really know anything about them yet. Speculation and armchair engineering should really be off the table as well, for the same reasons that threads about unreleased nerf blasters tend to get closed. I think the exact words I used were "first-hand experience".
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#19 PVC Arsenal 17

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 03:12 PM

Edit: Langley - once I get some free time, I'll be sure to give these a try. Maybe a local gun store will have smaller bags for less (not that $10 is that much.) I'm sure they'll think I'm nuts if I bust out some pipe and start testing fit. (Either that, or they'll call the BATF because they'll think I'm trying to make a fully non-metallic weapon such as In the Line of Fire. If you don't hear from me for a few weeks, I'm likely in an undisclosed location...)


That's precisely what I did this weekend.

Before anyone gets their hopes up about these I suggest waiting for more substantial tests. The preliminary tests were promising but there is still much to consider. I have numerous test beds with which to evaluate these using different weights, pressures, and barrel lengths. I don't yet know how deformed, bent, etc. they can become without losing accuracy and that is also a big concern.

The trouble for me is that I don't get home from college very often anymore but this Wednesday it's possible.
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#20 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 03:14 PM

Doesn't look like any brass tubing comes in an appropriate size either... that's frustrating. There must be something out there which works.

One thing I'm concerned about is getting proper barrel friction for springs. Since these don't deform in the same way which foam does, you can't do the "tight fit" trick with springers. You really need that initial static friction to build up the pressure in the plunger tube. Since the ammo can't deform, we might have to flip our method: deformable barrel. I'm thinking you could probably accomplish that with an internal o-ring, or perhaps some sort of rubber fitting on the inside. The point being, we might need to change our assumptions about what is the "correct method" for accomplishing certain goals.


The sport already has a generally negative connotation with press and parents. Even a heavily modified or homemade blaster still fires a projectile that is mostly soft FBR. If a passerby was to stop you and ask what you were doing while using this type of ammunition, you could no longer truthfully say that your "toy" launches harmless Non-Expanding Recreation Foam at other human beings.

Back when we used hard-tipped stefans, I always got horrified reactions from parents. That stopped when we moved to slugs. The washer isn't readily visible, and so people just tend to think they are safe. Out of sight, out of mind. These wads look goofy and plastic-y enough that they just might pass the "concerned parent" test.
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#21 shmmee

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 03:18 PM

Silicone has been suggested as a filler/cap/weight, but my experience with Oogoo is suggesting additional engineering would be required. Getting any of that stuff to stay in place required a fibrous binder (felt) for glue to bond too. That required each head to be independently molded, cut out, and glued in place. At that point you might as well be gluing washers onto fbr.

I would love to be able to "pipe" oogoo into one of these caps like I was frosting a cake, but unless something was glued to the inside of the cup first, and pressure could be applied to force silicone into the fibers, I just don't see oogoo staying put.

I can see and appreciate the overall potential of these, but I think the end product needs to be as much or less work as a slug.

I think we may be better off with more traditional foams as padding on this one.

There is another downside that I see that hasn't been discussed yet: At the end of any war, there are going to be darts left on the field. FBR may not exactly be biodegradable, but it will at least go away over time. I would hate to leave a public field littered with plastic shot gun projectiles which would remain for months after a war.

Another thought: these are probably classified as firearm munitions. Should they be recognized while nerfing, their presence can be explained, and defended. Should they be recognized the days/weeks/ or even months after a war - local law enforcement could be involved and an investigation launched to figure out why their field is littered with fire arm munitions. Because actual firearm munitions were involved, such an investigation could actually end in jail time for the users/host/and maybe participants. Foam with a washer on the tip is easy to laugh off. Using even a relatively harmless component of something designed to kill...maybe not so much.

As intriguing as these are, as much potential as they hold, and even if they were found to outperform steffans in every category, I really think we should take a step back and examine the legalities and consequences of modifying actual firearm components before falling in love with them, or even experimenting with them.

Any gun loving ATF experts out there who care to comment? I don't think I would allow these at any of my wars until I knew it wouldn't end in me calling my wife to bail me out of jail.
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#22 PVC Arsenal 17

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 03:20 PM

One thing I'm concerned about is getting proper barrel friction for springs. Since these don't deform in the same way which foam does, you can't do the "tight fit" trick with springers. You really need that initial static friction to build up the pressure in the plunger tube. Since the ammo can't deform, we might have to flip our method: deformable barrel. I'm thinking you could probably accomplish that with an internal o-ring, or perhaps some sort of rubber fitting on the inside. The point being, we might need to change our assumptions about what is the "correct method" for accomplishing certain goals.


Keep in mind the petals will press outward against the barrel with backpressure. The effect won't be as great as with foam, but it's something. If necessary the petal section could be plugged with foam to encourage constant outward pressure. But that knocks the weight up some...
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#23 HasreadCoC

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 04:19 PM

I'm thinking that these, assuming that they perform well, are going to have the most potential on private property wars outdoor wars, or at outdoor locations where non-participent people won't be present. The other option is indoor wars where they can all be picked up.
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#24 taerKitty

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 06:33 PM

Okay, let's get to brass tacks. I'm willing to start a group buy of these from Cabby's, then send them off to interested parties for R&D. This way, we won't be talking out our posteriors about theory. Anyone interested? Price will be my cost ($0.02 each) + S&H.

I'm thinking of buying 20g for use in 1/2" PVC, because I don't have anything barreled in 3/4" PVC, or ending in a 3/4" coupler, but I'll buy a bag of 12g if we get enough people to take at least half the bag ($5 for 100) off my hands.
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#25 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 06:46 PM

taer:You should go ahead and do that, I'll buy 50 or so off you. The more samples we spread around, the more likely someone will come up with a workable solution. Even if these turn out to be unsuitable, I'll bet some innovation will happen with regards to handling rigid ammo.
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