Wednesday, 21 September 2016

USC Dart Review and Testing

Suction darts are an extremely popular and fun dart type, because of their exceptional accuracy and the sheer fun of sticking them to smooth, flat surfaces. Due to their large heads however, the traditional suction darts don't work in mag fed blasters, which dominate much of today's blaster range. Nerf released mag-compatible suction darts will smaller heads some time ago, however I've never seen them in Australia for a reasonable price. Third party mag-compatible suctions (dubbed "Universal Suction Clones") have also been available for quite a while, and I decided to get a bunch of them.

Just a quick note about packaging. The Koosh darts I buy from BW2012 are typically packaged in a cardboard box, which protects them quite well. These USCs were packaged simply in a black plastic bag, resulting in a lot of them becoming slightly squished and damaged, such as the above pack.
This is an example of one of the crushed darts. It is relatively easy to smoothen out and straight up most of the crushed darts, but this could have been easily avoided with a basic cardboard box.
Length wise, the USC is slightly shorter than an Elite by a few millimetres. The foam is reasonably stiff and seems decent, though I'm not at all an expert on dart foam.
The tip is a somewhat rigid rubber, far more rigid than Nerf's original suction darts but far softer than FVJ heads. It feels like the same material you find on dollar store toy suction cups.

Naturally, these USCs can stick to flat, smooth surfaces if they impact the surface hard enough on a roughly 90 degree angle. Due to the smaller, flatter, more rigid suction cup design, USCs are much more finicky about sticking to surfaces than Nerf's older suction darts. It takes a very straight shot to have any chance of sticking, and even then some of the darts may not even stick properly. It is very satisfying to get a shot that sticks well, but it is much more difficult to achieve than with Nerf's older suctions.
The tip attaching is not the most consistent. The dart on the left is a properly assembled USC, while the head of the dart on the right is protruding a little further than it should. This is not an isolated issue, as I have a not insignificant number of darts assembled this way, but I don't think it is a large enough portion to worry about. Especially considering the low price, the small number of poorly assembled darts can be replaced for very little.

USCs are a little heavier than typical Elite darts, close to Koosh dart weight.

As usual, I ran these darts through a variety of the blasters I own. I had enough darts that I was able to get some reasonable testing done without firing any dart more than once.


Rebelle Sweet Revenge (grey trigger)
Relevant Mods: AR removed, spring spacer, Jase3D 7 dart cylinder
Very good accuracy throughout, darts flew dead straight directly out of the blaster. Range was dropped noticeably, averaging about 12m roughly flat as opposed to about 14m with Kooshes or Elites.

Modulus Recon MkII (grey trigger)
Relevant Mods: None
Accuracy is exceptional, at ~8m there's almost no spread. Range is dropped from 9-11m roughly flat to about 8-9m, though it also becomes far more consistent.

Buzz Bee Sentinel (US spec)
Relevant Mods: None
Every dart followed a very straight path. Some darts did fly off at slightly off angles, but on the whole it was quite accurate. It did seem to lose some range compared to firing Elites or Kooshes. Maximum roughly flat range dropped below 15m, with maximum effective range probably around 11m.

Elite Retaliator
Relevant Mods: Upgrade spring (Black Tactical 8.5kg and Hobbymods 7kg)
Performed very similar to the US spec Sentinel, accuracy was excellent and the darts travelled very straight, but lost a fair bit of range. Close to 15m max range roughly flat, with effective range around 10-11m.

Elite Stryfe
Relevant Mods: Blade 180/-3240 motors, 2S LiPo, stock and Artifact (smooth) flywheels
Darts flew quite straight, as to be expected. Range was also dropped to around 15m at roughly flat. However the stock flywheels seemed to decelerate much more than when firing Elites or Kooshes. There were also a couple of shots that flopped out of the barrel, dropping well below the average range.

Elite Rapidstrike
Relevant Mods: MTB Hellcat motors, Worker flywheels, 19/32" brass guide, 3S LiPo
Flywheels didn't seem to decelerate as much as with the Stryfe. Seemed to get the same sort of accuracy, and slightly better range at around 16-17m roughly flat. Also didn't seem to have any of the flop shots that the Stryfe had.

N-Strike Longshot
Relevant Mods: Sleeper brass breech (17/32" barrel, 9/16" bolt), 14kg Hobbymods spring
When the darts fed correctly, they fired out very nicely. Very straight flight paths, though range was significantly reduced compared to FVJs. However, I had serious trouble getting darts to feed properly, as the suction cup would get stuck on the brass, preventing it from getting fired properly. This could be remedied by cutting down the suction cup a little, but that would be a ridiculously tedious task for a blaster I hardly ever use.

Overall, accuracy with USCs was exceptional, I believe on par with or even superior to FVJ5s. The suction cup head design really helps keep the darts stable, as does the weight distribution from not having a hollow head. The head design also makes them hit a little softer than FVJs. Range however was significantly compromised. I saw an approximate range loss of 15-25%, depending on the exact blaster, compared to using Kooshes (or FVJs in the case of the Longshot).

Personally I will probably maintain a set of 200-300 USCs for personal use/use with friends. The accuracy is really nice and suction darts are always fun to play with, but the significantly reduced range, especially compared to Kooshes out of a good flywheeler, is something that irks me a lot as I primarily run flywheelers.

This is the link I used.


  1. I've used the same blue USCs and found the slight reduction in length often prevents them being fed far enough into flywheels (modified stockade and rayven) or being picked up by a dart sled (crossbolt). However, I've a set of orange USCs that are exactly the same length as an elite dart, and which so far have never caused any jamming issues. So I'd suggest buying small amounts from a few other suppliers before committing to a purchase of 200-300.

    1. Ah that reminds me, I forgot to include the link I used. Yeah length can be a problem with cheap third party darts, though looking specifically for "7.2cm" does help.