And we keep getting flack from safety-minded air builders for allowing PVC tanks and fittings at all (from a conversation with Doom and torukmakto4 on Reddit the other week). They'd prefer all-metal rated fittings, and I can't fault that. It's just super expensive to do.
As a long-time PVC and air blaster tinkerer, I agree with them, all or mostly metal. Well, at least for designs intended to be built by the masses. People are weird and find all manner of ways to screw things up. They can't be trusted even with a fully step to step guide. Rated and even some types of unrated PVC are quite safe, but only if the user knows what they are doing and understands things like the impact of temperature upon the material.
The problem in wars to me isn't the technology, it's the user. You need a mature, experienced air blaster user who understands the relationship between power and pumps. As you increase the power and approach a certain threshold, you must flatline the number of pumps or decrease them, else, adding more power makes the blaster *less* effective. Above that threshold, more range and velocity gives you literally no advantage, while the increased pump count saddles you with disadvantages. It's the kind of situation where you'd trade 30ft of range for 1 less pump in a heartbeat. This is the kind of master user that I trust with homemade air in a war (the same goes for HPA). They know what they are doing with their construction methods, the pressure they are running, the band of values it will chrono at, etc. Ultimately, homemade air is about creativity and durability, not about power. The discontinued and breakage-prone 4B is not a long term viable platform vs homemades built to last.
I've found that air homemades are unpopular for several reasons, mostly involving blanket bans out of fear, and lack of understanding about how they work. You'd be surprised at how many people look at air and think magic, yet they are far simpler and easier to construct than springers.
My QEV arrived today, so it's time to start moving on that. Price is definitely a barrier to entry, but this valve was $22 and American-sourced, NPT, which is pretty decent. These things are probably not going to feel as nice as a 4B or anything with an injection-molded shell, but there's room to explore.
Note that at the power levels we usually play at, the actual material does not matter nearly as much as what its inner diameter is. Shop by fit, not by type. Don't think in terms of CPVC, brass, PETG, think in terms of .527, 17/32, medium wall, etc. Note that PVC and CVPC are not manufactured to a specific ID, they will vary. I have CPVC that is a fall-through fit for Elite darts. You can use this knowledge to your advantage when it comes to 1/2" PVC - if you find pipe with a wider ID, you can sheath other types of materials inside it and connect that to a 1/2" coupler directly. PVC sheathing is great for covering up exposed metal and running speedloaders.
I strongly recommend buying 3rd party China darts instead of using Elites in your BBB. It has too much power for Elites, they won't be stable. Have a look through the NH stock dart guide. Maybe try ACC, VTN, USC. They are also substantially cheaper, you can get a thousand darts for $30-40.
1. Instead of a Rapidstrike, buy 2 Stryfes. This lets 2 people use flywheels for the same price, and Stryfes are more versatile blasters.
2. Buy 2 Rampages or Retaliators off Ebay or somewhere other than retail. Again, you could get 2 of those secondhand for the price of 1 at retail.
3. Strongarms are popular, buy several.
4. Skip the Jolts and get Hammershots. The one-handed priming will allow people to dual wield and they are fun in general.
5. Skip the Magnus. You only get 3 dart capacity for that $14ish dollar price tag, and the darts are expensive.
6. Skip anything to do with the Modulus. Complete waste of money for this specific purpose. Instead, get several Buzz Bee Sentinels. Those will be the strongest blasters assuming everything is stock, and perhaps the most fun to use given the cowboy style lever action priming. They are compatible with Nerf brand magazines and drums.
7. Skip the elite darts. For one, elite darts suck, and two, they are expensive. Instead, buy darts secondhand off Ebay. If you have time to wait, get them from China for around $3-4 per 100. See the NH stock dart buying guide for the differences between darts and their advantages/disadvantages. If you don't have time to wait, still buy these types of darts, but make sure the seller is domestic. You'll pay more and they may be used, but you'll still get way more darts and better darts, for way less money, than buying elite packs. You'll want as many darts as possible, a couple hundred is not going to cut it. Factor darts into the budget last, after you've purchased the blasters. Whatever is leftover should go to darts.
8. Doesn't really matter what you get, as long as your sister will like it and have fun. See what her style is. That said, probably skip the string-powered bows.
9. Consider going on Ebay again, for extra magazines. 18 rd mags and 12 rd mags are good buys for around $5 each or less. Try to get them in bulk. The recommended blasters chew through darts and mags, so you'll want a lot of extras.
With those recommendations, you spend about $200 on about 15 blasters, and then have $100 left for darts and mags. If you have time to wait for China shipping, you could have 8+ mags and 2,000 darts.
The bottom line: Try not to spend more than $25 on any individual blaster, so you can maximize how many you have while still providing good ones, and buy way more darts than you think you'll need. Whatever budget is left should go to darts and mags.
^ Cover type definitely makes or breaks it. Some NJ wars are hosted at a site (Axel Ave) with an elementary school and light woods out front. While we usually just run NIC/DIY rounds in the area of trees, last year at "Gnomelessfest" we tried a few rounds of megas/pistols/awfuls/superstock mix around the school and it was a hit. Even though there were only like 2 portable classrooms and some dumpsters/posts/walls for cover, it was intense and players loved it.
Due to the introduction of newer dart styles like USCs, ACCs, Xplorer V*s and the whatnot, superstock is no longer limited to 120/150 FPS by physics. These generations of darts fly straight and stable at high velocities, are capable of being used at 200, 250, 300 FPS. In the future, I see superstock finally advancing into more of a gray zone between its current limits and NIC/DIY, Aeromech dubbed this "uberstock". Mag-fed springer homemades, semi-auto air, and flywheels with ever more powerful motors/batteries should replace the current dynamic.
120/150 FPS will always be a thing due to HvZ and more casual groups, but I foresee a split in the superstock community by those who wish to press on, and those who either can't or want to keep the status quo. In the meantime, China darts will keep improving, so innovation will come regardless. If future darts with NIC/DIY level performance are not picked up by superstock, they will be picked up by NIC/DIY and compete with or gradually displace slugs. Between buying 1,000 USCs for $33 shipped or making 1,000 #6 slugs, I'd much rather get the USCs.
So, I think superstock will come to or near NIC/DIY level, whether it be via the darts or the blasters. When thinking in future terms, superstock blasters should be competitive with NIC/DIY ones and players will have no problem mixing. When you only think about how things are today, of course there are challenges and limited utility of superstock blasters in NIC/DIY wars. It doesn't need to be that way, but innovation is not going to come to superstock quickly. Flywheels are entrenched, players are still using voberries and FVJs, people are still playing under obsolete assumptions about what their gear is capable of. It will take a long time to see this evolution through.