Friday, 4 September 2015

Review: Buzz Bee Ultra Master Tek/Snipe (15m Aus) + Internals

The largest of Buzz Bee's clip (mag) system Ultra Tek blasters (besides possibly the Auto/Brute which I don't have on hand), the Ultra Master Tek (UMT)/Snipe is a bolt action sniper rifle styled blaster, with a bolt design very similar to Buzz Bee's older Range Master. Does it compare to the RM's incredible power and accuracy?
EDIT 27/3/16: I have run into a huge problem with the UMT/Snipe regarding the bolt handle, which I've detailed later on.


Even with such a large blaster, the UMT uses Buzz Bee's standard open box. Note the 12 panes of instructions on the back, where Nerf would normally just put them on a piece of paper.
All the stuff in the box. Like the Range Master, the UMT comes with a detachable barrel and scope (both of which are practically pointless), but unlike the RM which came with a bipod, the UMT naturally comes with an 8 dart clip (mag) and 10 UT darts.
Fully assembled, really looks like a Range Master doesn't it?

Let's take a quick look at the barrel first up.
The UMT's barrel has a neat (but totally useless) muzzle brake design, but besides that is basically just a cylinder. It certainly lacks the sophistication of Nerf's variety of fancy and tacticool barrel extensions.
Again unlike Nerf's barrels, and again like the RM's barrel, the UMT's barrel is not rifled or fluted internally, it's just straight and smooth.
Unlike a number of Nerf's barrel extensions, the UMT's barrel is much, much wider than a dart, nearly 3x the diameter.
The UMT's barrel is a screw-on one, with the muzzle of the UMT having the reverse threads.
The barrel fits quite snugly on the UMT's muzzle, with the very end of the screwing action (to line up the muzzle brake design horizontally) being quite stiff. Over time if used it probably will slowly loosen, but for short bursts of action the barrel will probably stay on just fine.
Here's the UMT's barrel (below) against the RM's barrel (above). Besides the clear aesthetic differences, they're otherwise very similar in construction, both just giant cylinders with screw threads.
I believe the RM barrel is on the left here, but this just goes to show that the two are basically the same dimensions internally.

Let's take a quick look at the scope.
The scope is, as with all of Nerf's and Buzz Bee's scopes, just a hollow tube with some plastic non-magnifying lenses.
The tac rail clip used here is similar to Buzz Bee's past clips, and is quite different to Nerf's. The UMT's scope will not fit on Nerf's tac rails.
Looking into the scope.
The scope just fits on the tac rail on top of the UMT. It fits on reasonably tightly, tight enough to not fall off without a solid impact to the scope, but loose enough to be removed by hand relatively easily.
 
Here's the UMT and RM scopes together, and in hindsight I actually have no idea which scope is which.
The only difference I could see is that the UMT's scope has a single screw in the bottom, while the MR's has four.

At the end of the day the barrel and scope of the UMT are just for aesthetics more than anything. The scope naturally doesn't affect performance and since we're dealing with stock toys firing foam darts, isn't accurate or useful (now modded blasters, that's a different story). The barrel is much too wide to have any affect on the darts, unlike with some of Nerf's barrels which often do interfere with the darts.

The UMT is a rather oddly styled blaster. The handle is weirdly long and rectangular, and the stock looks like it was just thrown on at the end.
Like with most of the other UT blasters, the UMT feels more solid than previous Buzz Bee blasters, though still has a degree of creaking like with most of Buzz Bee's blasters.
A look down the top, there's some pieces that are trying to be iron sights but don't realy line up because of the tac rail in the way.
A closer look at the odd ridged muzzle. I feel like the ridges don't really fit with the overall aesthetic.
A closer look at the detail on the left side of the UMT, in contrast to the RM's pretty much totally flat left side. It would look even better with a little bit of paint, though naturally that would bump up costs.
The handle is a rather unusual piece. It's weirdly rectangular and excessively long to the point where it feels like Buzz Bee's designers got a little lazy and just went for overkill to be safe. Note the diamond pattern on the handle faces, which is a neat grip/detail feature.
Rather annoyingly, the UMT's stock is actually quite short, to the point where it's almost unshoulderable. Pretty annoying for a blaster that's meant to resemble a sniper rifle. I would have happily sacrificed handle size and side detail for stock length.
Closer look at the bolt, bolt handle and chamber. The UMT has the same style of bolt as the Range Master, but unlike the air tanked RM the UMT is a standard springer so a single cycle of the bolt is all that is necessary.
Using the UMT is much the same as any clip (mag) system blaster but slightly more convoluted thanks to the folding bolt handle.
Apologies for the blur, first up is to pull the bolt handle up.
Followed by pulling the bolt handle all the way back to prime the spring and open the breech.
Like with just about every other clip (mag) system springer, the clip (mag) is removable/insertable only when the breech is open.
Push the bolt handle to close the breech. At this point you can fire by pulling the trigger, however as the bolt handle is not locked in place the breech may not be held closed properly, which may cause misfires.
The bolt handle can be locked just by push it back down.

Like with the other clip (mag) fed UT blasters, the UMT accepts Nerf clips (mags). However it doesn't work with all of them. Here's some of the ones that do work without issue:
And here's the ones that don't work:

The problem with the UMT is that its magwell is slightly deeper than usual, as clearly evident with the picture of it loaded with a 6 clip (mag). As such the 25 and 35 drums cannot be inserted far enough in for the bolt to close properly. It can be brute forced but considering the extra strain you put on the bolt, I wouldn't recommend it.

Here's the UMT next to its predecessor, the Range Master. They're very similar in length and style, though the UMT has a sharper design, much like the N-Strike line, compared to the RM's very curvy design.
The scopes of the two are basically the same, and are mounted almost identically on small tac rails.

The barrels and muzzles are slightly different, the obvious key difference being the aesthetic designs of the barrels.
The two barrels are interchangeable without issue, as they use the same screw thread.
Here are the bare blasters against each other, note that the UMT's stock appears a little shorter than the RM's, and naturally the magwell of the UMT replaces the RM's bipod.
Performance time, can the Ultra Master Tek live up to the Range Master's legacy?
Range is a little disappointing, on par with all the other UT blasters at about 9-10m with UT darts. The barrel appears to have little effect on the range.
Accuracy is much the same as the other UT blasters, pretty good but still with a little deviation. Still a lot better than most Elite-era Nerf blasters.
Rate of fire is a little lacking naturally, thanks to its slower and slightly more clumsy bolt action. A little over 1dps is about the best you can get while still holding the UMT as intended, like a rifle.

EDIT 27/3/16:
The UMT/Snipe has a fatal weak point in the bolt system:

This bolt breakage is fatal, and as far as I can tell not effectively fixable. My breakage occured with 2 or 3 springs after not that much use, however I've seen it reported even with just stock (US spec) springs. Considering how it is a fundamental design flaw and not a lemon problem, I am forced to drastically reduce the Usability score. If you are at all interested in using the UMT/Snipe, I highly suggest reinforcing the whole bolt system, and practicing grabbing the bolt as close to the body as possible, thus reducing the stress put on the bolt.

The Ultra Master Tek/Snipe retails for about 20USD in the US I believe, which while still quite good is not quite on par with some of the other UT blasters. 20USD is the same price as a Stryfe or EAT when it was still available, so certainly still pretty good value compared to Nerf blasters. If it lands in Australia, I'd expect a price of around 30AUD.
Performance wise it doesn't offer anything beyond what the UT8/Champion can offer, which is half the price. However outside of range it does the sniper role extremely well - it looks the part and has the awesome bolt action which is unique to it and a select few other Buzz Bee blasters. If you're looking for something you can pretend is a sniper rifle, look no further than the UMT/Snipe. Obviously there are other options including a few from Nerf, but the UMT/Snipe is the only one with the rotating bolt handle prime, and is also cheaper than Nerf's options.
For practical use I'd say give the UMT/Snipe a pass. It doesn't perform any better than the UT8/Champion, has a slower prime and is twice the price. Sure it has a rifle style and in particular a stock (which the UT8/Champion lacks), but I find the stock to be too short to comfortably use. If you want a rifle style blaster I'd say look instead at some of Nerf's offerings as they typically have faster primes and better stock length (assuming you don't use a Retal stock).
Unlike the UT8/Champion I can't recommend this as a must buy, but it is a fun blaster and does take to spring upgrades reasonably well.

Pros: Awesome bolt action cycling method, nice handle texture
Cons: Bolt action is slow, stock is uncomfortably short, a little annoying to open up (see below), bolt fragility

Power: 4/7
Accuracy: 4.5/5
Usability: 0.5/5
Rate of Fire: 1.5/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall: 2.67/5

Personal Rating: 3/5 - the stock is rather short, which I find uncomfortable, and I'm just not a fan of the aesthetic overall. 1/5 - the bolt fragility is a deal breaker, especially considering it can happen even with stock springs.

Now for a quick disassembly run through, and a single internals pic. I didn't bother with more because the main mechanism is the same as the UT8/Champion and URT/Sentinel.
First up, you have to pry off the left side diamond pattern plate on the handle to get at two screws. A flathead screwdriver will do, just fit it underneath and pull up and it'll come out easily.
Note that the screws are on the left side of the shell.
Next you have to cut or otherwise separate/remove the muzzle.
Lastly, you have to cut/separate/remove the orange cap on the back. For me both the muzzle and back cap were glued on well so cutting was required. I would much prefer to be able to just pry them off harmlessly.
And here's an overall internals shot. It's basically the same as the UT8/Champion/URT/Sentinel besides obviously the bolt handle, so go to those reviews for a little more detail into the system. Note that the internals are mounted on the same side of the shell as the screws, so you'll probably have to remove all the screws first. Because the bolt handle fits through a slot in the right side of the shell, you may have to do a little bolt handle wiggling to get the shells fully separated.
Like the UT8 and URT, the UMT takes very well to spring upgrades. It can take a large variety of springs no problem, and can survive quite a fair bit of abuse.

20 comments:

  1. I recently bought a snipe and a 20 dart clip for it. I have an air warriors Hawk and I really like the new clip system. Do you know how I might go about converting my Hawk from the shell clip system to the ultra tek clip system?

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    1. It would take a significant amount of effort, since the Hawk is designed to use shells. First you would have to reshape the magwell for regular clips (mags), then you would also have to reconstruct the breech to chamber darts normally. It would be possible, certainly, but whether it's worth it is a different matter entirely.

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    2. Please, I have a question. Above the clip place, when you point to the top of the blaster and a little to the right, there is a small spring and seems to compress the plunger. Should I remove it?

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    3. That makes sure darts don't pop out the top of the clip, so I'd say leave it in.

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  2. Buzz Bee is coming out with a new walking dead line of blasters and they are coming out with a gun currently called the "Rifle" that is a lot like the hawk. I'll see if that is comparable. Thanks for the help. Also where is a good place to buy stuff for buzz bee? Blasterparts only had springs for the hawk and rapid tek, I also am trying to find scopes and barrels for my Snipe.
    Here is a link for the upcoming blasters-

    http://nerf.about.com/od/Value-Brand-Blasters/tp/Higher-Quality-Images-of-2016-Blasters-from-Buzz-Bee.htm

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    Replies
    1. Upgrade springs might be a bit hard to find for Buzz Bee stuff, but there is a fair bit of space in the plunger tubes of Ultra Tek things to experiment with various springs. As for scopes and barrels for your Snipe, unless you want to make them yourself, I don't think you'll have any luck since the Snipe shares its tac rail and screw threaded muzzle only with the Range Master, which has basically the same attachments.

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  3. I have been looking around, would it be easier to adapt the hawk to use a sidewinder drum? The bolt should be compatible with the drum. All I would have to do is make the drum fit and figure something out for auto rotate.

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    1. It would be very difficult considering the Sidewinder's drum doesn't need or use a breech, so you'd end up with a really strange amalgamation of firing mechs. To be honest, I have no idea why you'd want to try and merge the Hawk and the Sidewinder, they're two very different blsaters both internally and externally.

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  4. I'm trying to find the easiest way to make the hawk not use shells and not be a single fire. The Hawk in my opinion has the best feel to it. I don't care to much about using the sidewinder and buzz bee does not seem to be coming out with an ultra-tek resembling the Hawk. Do you have anything that could help?

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    Replies
    1. I honestly don't think I can be any help, what you want to do is far beyond anything I've attempted doing.

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  5. the most I've done is saw off my rangemaster stock and little off the front and buy the buzz bee 20 dart clip/mag for my Snipe. I am a big bolt-action fan and love the hawk size and handle but I think it would be to expensive and very difficult for me to convert my hawk, so I have chosen to stick to my Snipe. Also do you know of the smallest pistol that is Automatic and still holds clips(more importantly Drums). I was thinking the stryfe but I just don't know. Thank you for all your great reviews, I have looked at most of the Buzz Bee Ones and a few nerf.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah I was thinking a Snipe + large mag would probably do better than what you were suggesting. The Stryfe is definitely the smallest magfed auto (that I'm aware of), and if you get a full auto kit you can make it semi/full auto or select fire even.

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    2. Do you know what the biggest clip/mag or drum that the snipe can take without cutting. I've heard the 35dart drum will fit if you cut/trim the snipe. I have the 20 dart buzz bee clip now. I have heard of the 22 dart worker banana clip. Is there anything that holds more than 22 dart and is compatible with the snipe?

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    3. Well this exact post says that the Snipe won't take 25s and 25s without slight cutting, so the biggest that you can use normally would be a 22 Worker mag, assuming it fits of course.

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  6. Does it go back together well even though you have to cut parts of the shell?

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  7. what did you use to cut the parts of the shell?

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  8. What type of modified spring could I add in it to make it shoot the hardest when I strengthen the priming bolt ?

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    Replies
    1. I'm not sure, you'd have to ask around other Nerfing groups. I believe its plunger tube can fit a variety of spring sizes, which will help with variety.

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