Dart Zone Pro MK-3 Preview: Perhaps the Best Foam Blaster Nerf Ever Made

Earlier this year, we introduced you to the world of Nerf blasters so powerful they leave your childhood in the dust, designed by a community of manufacturers who no longer need the official Nerf brand to advance the state of the art. But manufacturers and fans are not the only ones driving the sport of foam throwing; there’s also Dart Zone, a toy maker whose 2020 Walmart exclusive $ 50 Nexus Pro and $ 25 Aeon Pro brought a never before seen level of range and precision to the blasters you could buy on the market.

For the last few days, I have been testing the brand’s new flagship blaster, the long-awaited $ 130 Dart Zone Pro MK-3, which is featured as the first fully automatic blaster designed for sport-level Nerf, accurately firing up to 150 feet per second. And while I’ll have to wait for the next Nerf local war Really tell you if you can compete (I have an important question), this company seems get the Nerf community in a way you’ve never seen before.

The MK-3 weighs nearly three pounds, including 15 long darts, eight AAs, and a pair of AAA’s in the red dot sight.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

While Hasbro tries to sell us a new rubber ball to get any kind of rank, the second attempt at this type of new ammunition in recent memory, the MK-3 manages to deliver modified blaster grade performance from the standard long and short darts the community has been using for years. That 150 feet per second promise is on the money – plug in eight regular AA batteries, and it’s almost as powerful (but quieter!) Than LiPo. Demolition Man I modified a few years ago. I can easily hit targets 80 feet away, dart after dart after dart, and fire up to 130 feet away when I tilt the MK-3 into the air.

But wonder of wonders, you don’t need use AA at all. A single Philips head screw is the only thing keeping you from lifting the entire battery tray where you will find a genuine XT-60 connector to plug in your own LiPo battery. Swap out for a two-cell (2S) 7.4V LiPo and you’ll get roughly the same performance while losing nearly half a pound of weight. Switch into a three-cell (3S) 11.1V LiPo, and your darts can instantly go 20 feet per second faster, plus I saw my fully automatic rate of fire jump from over three darts per second to over four darts per second. It also spins noticeably faster, which means you don’t need to hold the rev trigger that long before you can fire!

There is approximately 142mm x 61mm x 16mm of space for a LiPo, plus a cable channel; The 50x40mm value of that space is 25mm deep, if you have a small but thick battery.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

It’s the easiest mod ever, and it’s completely different to the way Hasbro, owner of the Nerf brand, operates. Nerf has disapproved of modding for years, presumably for safety reasons, and has even sealed its blasters with epoxy from time to time. And while Dart Zone creative director Bryan Sturtevant tells me his company isn’t exactly encouraging Let me modify this – “if you put the wrong LiPo in it, you can blow up the blaster” – the company is not even remotely concerned about three-cell battery packs. Specially chosen 36,000 RPM motors and heavy gauge wire are designed for 12 volts, LiPo tested and ready.

I am a little less sure of the health of your darts while using them. For the MK-3, Dart Zone uses jagged flywheels that seem to be lightly grinding each dart I fire at the end. I’ve been shooting magazine after magazine in my backyard and in a nearby park, and I’ve never seen so much foam on my barrel. Heck, I had a hard time measuring the speed of the darts with one of my ballistic chronographs because little specks of foam were shooting out at the end. Almost all of the darts I have fired show signs of wear, some are missing chunks of foam, and I have five completely broken darts because this blaster ripped off their tips. And that’s with AA, not with an improved LiPo battery.

Each of these darts wears down, if not bitten, near its tips.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

I don’t know if there is a defect or if, say, my steering wheels were misaligned at the factory, but the company says they have never seen this and will send me another unit. I personally would not buy one until this is resolved. Modern Nerf wars generally use a shared pool of community darts (so there are no discussions about who owns which ones) and the community tends to disapprove of the people who destroy them. Plus, each dart can easily cost 10 cents even if you buy it in bulk.

I hope the problem is a fluke, because this blaster works well with virtually every type of dart on the market, and in that I include Nerf’s woefully inaccurate Elite darts. While it is path Too powerful to fire Elite darts in its semi-auto mode, which fly wildly off target as they do in most high-powered blasters, the MK-3 loses enough speed in auto mode for the Elites to start working again. . This is a blaster where you can literally flip a switch to play a lower-risk game of Nerf with friends who don’t have a high-powered kit.

The MK-3 looks like a well-designed blaster in other respects as well. Each switch and lever has a satisfying and safe pull, there’s comfortable rubber on the four-position stock and pistol grip, and you’ll find two built-in front-grip positions and a bottom rail to add your own, all while still looking like a sci-fi toy instead of a gun, which I appreciate. It comes with two 15-round magazines for long and short darts, a short magazine adapter, and a removable red dot sight which looks great but sadly has no wind resistance adjustment and doesn’t line up with where my darts go.

The MK-3 is compatible with virtually all modern Nerf magazines, including the old 35-round drum and the new 29-round Tachi stick magazine. However, some report problems with Talons feeding.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Dart Zone says it has upgraded its green “bamboo” darts in conjunction with launching this blaster, moving to a lighter green that is easier to spot in grass. They are also adopting the narrower dart head which helped improve the range and accuracy of the black darts that Dart Zone sells at Walmart alongside their Nexus Pro blaster. I don’t have enough to test properly, but so far I prefer the performance of the black darts.

The Dart Zone Pro MK-3 should go on sale this Friday, October 1 at Target.com (not in retail stores), and Dart Zone estimates that it should arrive a week later in Amazon Canada. The company also plans to sell three packs of the new 15-round magazines for about $ 30 on its own website around Christmas.

After Nexus Pro, Aeon Pro, Conquest Pro, MK-3, and other ways that Dart Zone has undermined Hasbro how to build a better dart, I can’t wait to see what the company does next. So what, if anything, it takes for the official Nerf brand to react.

Update, 12:45 pm ET: Do you want to see it in motion? You can find video impressions of the new blaster (and footage of its internal parts) to No darts, Foamblast, Mr.Draconical and WalcomS7 in Youtube. Two of them noticed a problem with some Talon style magazines, but Foamblast found a possible solution.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

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