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"Optimal" 4B Barrel Length and Pain

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#1 Curly

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 07:22 PM

Optimal is a terrible word for it, but after MIG saying his 4B hit 150' with domes I felt it necessary that I test my 4B for both my own benefit and the safety of others. It was windy today, but I had my brothers outside tell me when the wind temporarily dissipated before firing. To minimize wind I measured 35' down my hall and fired out the door. I will not be testing in this position again due to the large metal pole diagonally blocking my view 50' away. While many shots hit it, the ones that didn't still traveled flat due to the diagonal of the pole.

I took 4 shots(except for the time I took 5 by accident) and averaged them with 12", 14", 16", and 18" barrels. I used Slingshot weighted dome darts with FA24 beige foam it PETG. It has a snug fit, great for both airguns and springers. The blanks are 1.25" long, and they are marked with Sharpie rings and were replaced when the rings began to fade to prevent wear and fit change.

The 12" barrel was from a hopper but there is no feeding tab so it's essentially a 12" speedloader. The 14" was a speedloader, nothing fancy here. The 16" and 18" barrels were lengths of PETG that I put in a short 17/32" nub to seal the breech. Blowing down the breech didn't cause a leak, so besides the 1/2" wide 3/4" long brass tube there is no deadspace like the other two barrels.

My Blaster and barrels are as follows:
Posted Image

I bought the 4B tank off BuffDaddy and it had no pump. After getting a shell from Pearson and a trigger from BuzzBee customer support, the shown Titan pump was added. The OPV kicks in at 30PSI(give or take) and so does the stock pump. If you don't believe me wait until you see ranges, which are just like 4B ones. The 18" barrel isn't present because it was cut to down to used as the 16" barrel.

My brothers stood at the end of the tape measure and took note of exactly where the dart landed, so dart skip is not part of the results. Any shots that either hit something or had very poor flight paths were ignored and retested.

Overall this test had many minor variables and should have been conducted inside but meh, the results seem to support my prior knowledge. Such prior knowledge being that DeadDumpster says his 4B shoots about as far but more accurately with a 14" as opposed to a 12", and that NerfHunter uses a 16" barrel for civil war due to the power.

My results were as follows:

Posted Image

The results were about what I expected, and like DD and Hunter say, the 14" and 16" are brutally accurate. Judging by the results the "optimal" barrel for me is about 15.5", and people using similar setups can probably be confident using that. However, a very important part of barrel choice is power. Slingshot domes are the most brutal darts I know of, and are banned unconditionally in many wars. In Canada they are a common choice, due to the low cost and easy centering in the dart for superior accuracy.

Naturally, no 4B test would be complete without testing the safety of the blaster. Unfortunately, penetration tests aren't very precise and can be misleading, so that leaves human trials as the only option I know of. I fired a shot out of each barrel at my shin from about 3" away through my jeans. The order of wounds from left to right is as follows: 16", 14", and 12"

Posted Image

While there was a clear mark left, I would think it would be gone by the evening and the minor broken skin would heal quickly. BUT I'm not testing the most common scenario, they don't test crash cars going 20km/h, they send them into concrete at 130km/h. Here is the 130km/h test, in the opposite order as before:

Posted Image

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Keep in mind this is THE worst case scenario from a 4B and Slingshots (besides getting shot in the genitals and such) and most either using slugs or something less powerful than a 4B. Those that use 4Bs typically hang farther back and are painless at range, although surprising somebody with a 4B can produce this rarely. In my experience with 4Bs and Slingshots the shown damage only happens >15', but it's still possible in a war scenario. I am incredibly happy my 3K that I had clocking in at 140' broke before I could hit anybody <80' away, I'll definitely put an OPV or something into it when I fix it.

The pain of all of the wounds subsided very quickly, it felt like a deep sting and it quickly became more of a somewhat sore wound. Keep in mind my feeling in this test is three time what would normally happen, and the hits to my covered leg are basically painless. I bandaged all the wounds simply not to get a little blood on my pants, if I was in shorts at a war I would have left it alone.

Overall this brings some attention to the need to regulate and test blasters and darts in ways not based on range, as it's very different from person to person. For instance, the reason I did these tests was to prove/disprove MIG's 150' 4B range claim. I don't think he's bullshitting, but judging by the place he tested his HyperMaxx 1500 there is a fair bit of dart skip that he alone cannot account for. The best way to get accurate results is to have somebody off to the side see where the dart lands.

In conclusion: TEST YO SHIT PEOPLE! Not just with range but with bare skin tests like I did. You should also compare it to a 4B or whatever is one of the most powerful blasters allowed at the war, and with the most damaging dart allowed. In my personal opinion if slingshots and 4Bs are common at the war and few are strongly opposed to them then they're fine by me. I'll continue to use them (although perhaps with a hopper to slightly reduce the power) unless they are prohibited at the war I'm at. The decision is mostly ethical.

Edited by Curly, 10 April 2012 - 08:44 PM.

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#2 CaliforniaPants

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 07:39 PM

Good job, you shot yourself in the leg.

Edited by CaliforniaPants, 10 April 2012 - 07:41 PM.

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#3 Buffdaddy

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 08:07 PM

Good job, you shot yourself in the leg.


Hey, kudos for him on actually doing pain/damage factor. Put up or shut up. Also, give me my goddamn Twinkies.
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#4 Langley

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 08:22 PM

In conclusion: TEST YO SHIT PEOPLE! Not just with range but with bare skin tests like I did. You should also compare it to a 4B or whatever is one of the most powerful blasters allowed at the war, and with the most damaging dart allowed.


So....was the verdict that this is an acceptable thing for a nerf gun to do to a person?
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#5 Curly

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 08:42 PM

So....was the verdict that this is an acceptable thing for a nerf gun to do to a person?

That's up to the war host and the general populous at the war. As you know many people think 4Bs or domes might as well be spears. I personally am on the fence, but think that investigating silicon darts and other methods that offer the craved power with less pain is a good idea. This has already happened, but in my case I'd like to see silicon be used like hotglue and non silicon-exclusive darts.

Angel's 14" or longer barrel rule for Massacre seemed inappropriate given what Dumpster said, so I figured I'd look into it. You can agree that accuracy being improved often results in improved range and pain, so that was a red flag to me. If Canadians were truly the only ones in the NIC that used domes I would have just messaged Angel or posted just on CanNerf. If barrels are restricted to more powerful ones at more tight-quarters wars that won't end well.

In short, if others use similar setups and most at the war aren't freaking out, go for it. It's an Ethics thing, I tried to be reasonably objective, but I'll add my view to the OP.

Good job, you shot yourself in the leg.

AND used a tape measure with help!

Hey, kudos for him on actually doing pain/damage factor. Put up or shut up. Also, give me my goddamn Twinkies.

Thanks for jumping in the line of fire for me. Ironically the pain/damage factor makes slingshots more likely to be banned in the future, allowing me to be a more successful bitch at wars.

Edited by Curly, 10 April 2012 - 08:48 PM.

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#6 Guitarzan

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 09:08 PM

So....was the verdict that this is an acceptable thing for a nerf gun to do to a person?

My first war was massacre 6, where there were numerous 4bs and almost 100% of the darts were 1/4" slingshot glue domes. I came home with numerous welts but I loved it! It adds a certain fear factor which drives people to not get shot
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#7 Phree Agent

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:39 PM

I realize this topic is simply a display of opinions and no real decisions will be made because of it, so I will also share my opinion: If I choose a hobby (such as modifying TOY guns), and it comes to a point where these said TOYS are drawing blood, I think it has become substantially less TOY-like. To me this hobby is novel because we are playing with childrens toys. The less toy-like these blasters/darts become, the less appealing it is to me. That being said, other people might play with nerf guns for different reasons; that's not my problem I guess.


I will say that I am thankful for the empirical data given here, hats off.
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#8 Buffdaddy

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:56 PM

Another note: 4B OPVs are notorious in the quality assurance department. I know my old style 4B that I've used and abused since Vengeance 1 can take 11-12 pumps before it finally kicks in, as opposed to the 9-10 I usually see. That can account for some range discrepancies between you and MIG.
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#9 Scooter1

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 11:16 PM

Great info! I personally think 4B's are a bit too powerful to be used with a single barrel. While people can take the pain just fine from hits in most areas of the body, when an accident happens and someone gets shot around the head from fairly close it usually puts them out for a round or two. I've seen this happen a couple times in SoCal. Plus if someone were to get shot in the temple it could be devastating (this happened at a scun war, then host decided to put restrictions on 4B's) . But of course if people aren't being douches, only shoot from a good distance and also use a sidearm when close, the danger is lessened.

Edited by Scooter1, 10 April 2012 - 11:18 PM.

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#10 Buffdaddy

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 11:22 PM

As of late, I've been using a hopper and 3/4" stefans in my 4B, and it still shoots nicely, if not with a more distinctive thud when it hits :D

Perhaps we could try stepping up to megas if we have a concern about the range? You'd have to make your own darts, since that's not standard; no communal dart bin for you.

EDIT: I'm just making a suggestion, that may not be immediately obvious, given that we use micros 99% of the time. Larger darts would certainly help alleviate concerns, assuming they have similar weight to them.

EDIT 2: That might actually be an interesting comparison, using all megas again for a war, after they've been out of fashion for so long. Limits us to guns we've couplered, since you need 1/2" PVC barrels and not smaller (like PETG), but it would be an interesting comparison in the age of "We build monsters".

Edited by Buffdaddy, 11 April 2012 - 12:03 AM.

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#11 Ivan S

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 12:27 AM

I'm kind of confused by the numbers. How is it that 4Bs are infamous for being so powerful, but can barely break 100ft?

Edited by Ivan S, 11 April 2012 - 02:30 AM.

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#12 Xellah

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 04:29 AM

How is it that 4Bs are infamous for being so powerful, but can barely break 100ft


It could be because of a poor dart/barrel fit. More likely though, it could be that he actually measured his ranges and that they're true, flat ranges. It's nice to see real ranges for a change.

I realize this topic is simply a display of opinions and no real decisions will be made because of it, so I will also share my opinion: If I choose a hobby (such as modifying TOY guns), and it comes to a point where these said TOYS are drawing blood, I think it has become substantially less TOY-like. To me this hobby is novel because we are playing with childrens toys. The less toy-like these blasters/darts become, the less appealing it is to me. That being said, other people might play with nerf guns for different reasons; that's not my problem I guess.


That is a compelling point, Phree. But the NIC has come a long way in the homemades department. Homemades are undoubtly superior to most toy blasters, even modded, due to their almost unlimited amount of customization, durability and performance. They're commonplace, and they aren't exactly toys anymore. The argument that we play with toys doesn't quite ring true anymore in a community that mostly build their own blasters.

I like Buff's idea. Alternative ammo is pretty cool and worthy of further study.
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#13 MattTheSasquatch

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 06:36 AM

I agree with Buff, maybe alternative ammo is the way to go for the much high powered blasters. I will be making another homemade this summer, but that will probably be it for homemades for me. I still love the look and feel of the toy blasters. Even now with all of the new OMW stuff being released, maybe even stock rounds could come back. Yes streamlines are unpredictable, but wouldn't it be a lot more challenging, and possibly fun, to hit someone with a streamline over a stefan not knowing where the streamline is going to hit? Maybe I am wrong, but doesn't it seem like these blasters, more so the homemades, are starting to get to the power of some of the airsoft pistols?
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#14 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:26 AM

I'm kind of confused by the numbers. How is it that 4Bs are infamous for being so powerful, but can barely break 100ft?


My guess is that he's *actually* holding the gun level. I recently did a bunch of range/velocity tests with my SM1500, and was very surprised at how low the ranges where when you actually make sure your barrel is perfectly level. I think most people unconsciously tilt their blasters a few degrees, and that makes a big difference in ranges.

Edited by Daniel Beaver, 11 April 2012 - 07:27 AM.

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#15 Siarnaq

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:30 AM

Maybe I am wrong, but doesn't it seem like these blasters, more so the homemades, are starting to get to the power of some of the airsoft pistols?


Actually, if I remember right, our blasters are way more powerful than most airsoft guns, but our ammo is less efficient.

Edited by Siarnaq, 11 April 2012 - 07:31 AM.

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#16 Curly

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 12:08 PM

Thanks for the feedback guys! I suppose I should clear up a few things. My dart fit is not in question, like I said it's pretty much perfect and the darts seal well. The reason my ranges aren't as far as many expect despite my "bruiser" darts is because they're actually legit. When testing ranges on your own you are forced to have dart skip as part of your ranges. My two assistants were about 20' to the side of the tape, so they saw exactly where the dart lands but I can't from my distance.

I sighted down the side of the barrel for this test rather than down the blaster and barrel. This made my shots quite level but horizontally inaccurate. In a war scenario I would sight sight differently and have a longer range, but that depends on the person and blaster. Accurate range tests require the abnormal posture.

On the topic of alternate ammo, it's certainly plausible. My 4B fires taggers from 1/2"PVC very well, and it should be fairly accurate due to the weight. Megas are a pain to make, but if it is less dangerous then go right ahead. A much easier solution is porting the last inch of the barrel until ranges and power are acceptable.

As far as 4b pump differences, I think it has more to do with the O-ring and lube than the OPV. OPVs are fairly uniform but seals as large as the 4B pump can differ a bit. Provided there is some seal the peak pressure at the tank should be the same across the board. I can't say for certain that my 4B's pump is actually 30PSI or that the stock pump is also 30PSI. I read on a couple posts here that the pumps were 30PSI, and considering they shoot missiles I don't think the designers were too picky on the PSI.

Airsoft guns are MUCH more effective and efficient due to the thin projectiles. If you look at the internals of spring pistols they have a plunger(often called piston) that works just like spring nerf blasters, but it has a lowerer volume yet it makes better use of it.

Edited by Curly, 11 April 2012 - 12:22 PM.

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#17 Ozymandias

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 05:50 PM

Actually, if I remember right, our blasters are way more powerful than most airsoft guns, but our ammo is less efficient.


Depends on what metric you use.

I believe a nitefinder converted to shoot pellets is not allowed in airsoft because the muzzle velocity exceeds the limit for most fields.

Of course, that's neither here nor there, since comparing Nerf to airsoft is like comparing star wars to star trek while at a strip club: a poor use of time.

If the power of a 4B is really a make-or-break issue, an organizer could just mandate that they have a McMaster OPRV.

Edit: I think suction darts have a bit better fit then taggers in pvc, but I could be mistaken. Depends on the batch.

Edited by Ozymandias, 11 April 2012 - 05:51 PM.

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#18 Buffdaddy

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 05:57 PM

Edit: I think suction darts have a bit better fit then taggers in pvc, but I could be mistaken. Depends on the batch.


I was just going to buy 5/8" foam....
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#19 hamoidar

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:42 PM

our ammo is less efficient.

Not really. The reason our blasters do not get the ranges of airsoft guns, is because our ammunition weighs 20 times as much as your average airsoft pellet. Not so much that it is less efficient. Some well made darts are extremely aerodynamic, but in order to get airsoft ranges, they would have to be fired with a very large amount of power.
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#20 Buffdaddy

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:58 PM

Not really. The reason our blasters do not get the ranges of airsoft guns, is because our ammunition weighs 20 times as much as your average airsoft pellet. Not so much that it is less efficient. Some well made darts are extremely aerodynamic, but in order to get airsoft ranges, they would have to be fired with a very large amount of power.



If we're doing efficiency, you have to do the ratio of PT volume to range and weight, and compare.
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#21 Zorns Lemma

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:12 PM

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#22 Matches

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 10:44 PM

If I were to host a war, I would enforce a rule that would prevent people from firing any singled air gun--plugged OPV or not, 4B or not--at anyone within a certain number of feet, probably 60-80. And unless I'm hugely mistaken, that's the point of air guns: their RoF is almost always too low to be of any practical use inside 50 or 60 feet, given all the high RoF springers everyone loves--unless you retreat wildly after every shot. The problem with rules, though, is that many people are moronic and/or forgetful, thus rendering implementation difficult.

But in theory, if you could enforce such a rule, wouldn't your concerns about excessive pressure be resolved?
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#23 Remag

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 09:14 PM

Curious, when I was messing around with my Berserker's 4B I used about 3 feet of PVC pipe that was to be the blowgun attachment and rear loaded a suction dart and when I fired it there was the "smoke" due to the high to low pressure change. Did you see this in any of your tests. I never shot myself with it though, mostly because I couldn't angle it correctly, but I must say that it felt cool to have that little bit of "smoke" coming out the barrel.
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#24 KaneTheMediocre

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 11:43 AM

If I were to host a war, I would enforce a rule that would prevent people from firing any singled air gun--plugged OPV or not, 4B or not--at anyone within a certain number of feet, probably 60-80.


No you wouldn't. You would state the rule in the warpost, and then people would either willfully ignore it or completely fail to understand how far 60-80 feet actually is. This still doesn't do anything to cover the possibility that someone runs in front of the shooter shortly before the person shoots.

And unless I'm hugely mistaken, that's the point of air guns: their RoF is almost always too low to be of any practical use inside 50 or 60 feet, given all the high RoF springers everyone loves--unless you retreat wildly after every shot. The problem with rules, though, is that many people are moronic and/or forgetful, thus rendering implementation difficult.

But in theory, if you could enforce such a rule, wouldn't your concerns about excessive pressure be resolved?


You could be right about the point of air guns, I never really understood it. My theory has always been that they are primarily used by people who don't like exercise. Or perhaps it's the lack of plunger recoil. That said, a hoppered 4b is comparable in refire rate to a singled nitefinder, and both can be used at close range when the occasion calls for it. So although they are inferior to springers, they are certainly not devoid of practical use at close range.

Perhaps a more reasonable way to restrict high-powered blasters without altogether banning them would be a minimum firing angle of 45 degrees. This would prevent a standard hopper from working, although I'm sure I could make an alternative, but more importantly it would prevent them from being used as anything other than artillery, and ensure that they strike their target without much more speed than the terminal velocity of the projectile.

Of course, none of this should be construed as an excuse to use unpadded ammo at a nerf war. Padding things so that they don't hurt people is, and always has been, the essence of nerf.
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#25 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 11:59 AM

I agree with your post except:

My theory has always been that they are primarily used by people who don't like exercise. Or perhaps it's the lack of plunger recoil.

Airguns are used because they are generally more powerful than springers, and because it is easier to "get the most out of them" with relatively minimal modding and maintenance.

Also:

That said, a hoppered 4b is comparable in refire rate to a singled nitefinder, and both can be used at close range when the occasion calls for it.

That's true, but the insane power of a 4B means that it is much easier to hit people are close range, so it is still a superior option.

Edited by Daniel Beaver, 23 April 2012 - 12:02 PM.

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