So I got an envelope in the mail yesterday with some red foam in it. Apparently USPS is now doing door to door overnight service in the greater LA area for the price of a first class stamp. Two 3.5" pieces of 1/2" red FBR sent by ShortShit for review purposes. I might as well state here that, while I know ShortShit from his (occasional) YANO attendance, I'm not in the business of shilling for people so I'm going to give you my straight take on this stuff.
The red FBR is lighter than usual and appears to have slightly larger 'cells' visible in the cut end. It is less resiliant than gray FBR and seems to be easier to straighten. Dart construction was a little more exciting than usual both because I only had two chances to get it right and because this foam requires a steadier hand with the knife and glue gun to avoid deforming the dart. I found the surface of the dart to be tougher than usual and ended up cutting it by inserting the tip of my knife blade first, then expanding the cut in either direction. Hot glue seems to adhere to this foam better than usual which should be nice for dart longevity.
At first glance the red FBR seemed exactly the same size as my loghelp foam but on closer examination it is very slightly (~1/64") smaller diameter. Combined with the slightly smoother surface the barrel fit characteristics are slightly looser than what I'm used to.
- 17/32" K&S brass: Not a smooth sliding fit, but can be simply pushed in rather than twisted in. Possible to blow a dart through a short length of tubing.
- 9/16" K&S brass: Slightly loose sliding fit. Dart falls down the tubing when held vertically.
- PETG: Perfect sliding fit. Dart does not fall down tubing when held vertically. Dart can be easily blown through tubing.
The shots with my Tiny Toon Adventures ruler are intended to show that the foam is really close to .5" diameter and the darts I made are 2.25". I've adjusted the levels somewhat in order to correct the color washout from my overly-close flash and render the colors as accurately as possible.
I tested the darts in three guns that should give a decent impression of the overall performance of the FBR. Some of my guns aren't at typical maintenance levels so overall ranges are slightly low but the dart comparison is still valid. I fired 4 shots with each FBR type from each gun for a total of 24 shots. All shots are fired level on a flat concrete walkway. Keep in mind that the differences in range between the two FBR types mostly fall within the margin of error of a 4-shot average so don't read too much into a one or two percent difference. Interestingly, while it's a little more fragile, the red FBR held up to the abuse better than my regular foam. At the end of testing, 100 foot shots onto concrete from a Max Shot blew the tips off two of my regular darts (not atypical) but the hot glue adhered better to the red FBR and they remained intact. The red FBR darts also enlarged to fill the barrel slightly more after the first shot or two, giving them a kind of custom fit. All darts are 2.25" and weighted with 1/4" steel shot.
Expand-a-Blast: 12" 9/16" K&S followed by 2" 19/32" K&S
Gray Average: 63.85'
Red Average: 63.96'
AT3000: 6" PETG
Gray Average: 75.44'
Red Average: 78.38'
Max Shot: 2" 17/32" K&S followed by 7" 9/16" K&S
Gray Average: 101.28'
Red Average: 103.67'
Observations and Analysis
The identical performance in my EaB was expected. Because the dart/barrel fit in that gun was already a slightly loose sliding fit and the air volume is so large, the minor size variation had no effect on performance. The roughly 4% increase in range on the at3k would probably have been more except that I've been stretching my gray FBR a little these days so that it has a better fit in PETG. The red FBR fits perfectly in PETG without stretching and makes a perfect choice for PETG use in pump guns. The difference between the Max Shot ranges is probably not statistically significant but what's interesting is how it got there. The red darts seemed to have a slightly lower barrel velocity, probably because the constriction in my Max Shot is set up for my slightly wider FBR. Once the darts were in the air however, the red FBR seemed to straighten out faster and have a 'cleaner' flight. Every time I fired a red dart from the MS it went slightly farther than I expected it to and continued a few feet past where my gray darts would start to drop rapidly. I expect this is because the lighter foam causes the dart to track straighter and have better aerodynamics. It would be interesting to see how the red darts perform in a MS or Xbow with a slightly tighter constriction - perhaps 1" of 1/2", 1" of 17/32, and 7" of 9/16".
- better fit for PETG use with pump guns
- hot glue adheres better
- lighter weight improves flight characteristics
- nice bright color
- lower elasticity makes dart construction harder
- may require barrel change for best performance in spring guns