Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Review: Buzz Bee Extreme Air Max 1

While Nerf has seemngly forsaken the air tank/bladder in favour of the springer and flywheeler, Buzz Bee is here to save the day with their Air Max line of air tanked dart blasters. The smallest of these is the Air Max 1, formerly known as the Panther.
Once again, many thanks to Buzz Bee Toys for sending the Air Max blasters to me for review! These are US release blasters, I believe most of the world gets weaker blasters, and from what I've been told Australia isn't getting a regular retail release of Air Max blasters at all.

The AM1 comes in an open blister style packaging on a single piece of cardboard, very exposed. This has been Buzz Bee's packaging style for a number of years now for all of their blasters, and Nerf has only just started introducing it to their larger blasters.

Unlike the other Air Max blasters, the AM1 has a range claim of a mere 45 feet.
Just two cable ties to remove and the AM1 comes out easily. The darts are in a basic blister package.
 Out of the box, the AM1 and its six Extreme darts.

Let's take a quick look at the Extreme darts, because they're very different compared to any of Nerf's Micro sized darts.
 As clearly apparent, the Extreme dart is a significant amount shorter than an Elite dart. It also uses a black foam unlike that of Nerf foam.
The black Extreme foam is much, much more rigid than Nerf's Elite dart foam. It's also slightly thicker, which causes it to fit quite tight in Nerf's blasters. Buzz Bee blasters use a different barrel design to Nerf's. Instead of having an air restrictor and air coming out from behind the barrel, Buzz Bee blasters use a thick dart peg, from which air is released out through small vents. This causes Buzz Bee blasters to severely damage or weaken Nerf darts when firing, and often causes darts to split down the middle. However, because Buzz Bee's foam is so much more dense and rigid than Nerf's, it takes no noticeable damage even from repeated firing.
However, the thicker foam of Buzz Bee darts also causes a reduction in range when used in Nerf blasters.
As blatantly obvious, the Extreme darts are tipped with suction caps, letting them stick to most flat surfaces when fired at them. The Extreme darts are not as "sticky" as Nerf's old suction darts, and they do not stick for as long or as well as said Nerf darts. The Extreme dart heads are also rather inconsistent, with some being slightly deformed, and some being stickier than others.

Just a couple of looks at the AM1 design. It's very different to Nerf's modern militaristic style Elite line, despite the same colour scheme. The AM1 is a lot more curved and a lot smoother, though it lacks a lot of the details that Nerf made blasters have, like small paint applications. Instead, Buzz Bee have decided to use a single awful sticker for their detailing. While I do like Nerf's Elite paintscheme, the AM1 to me just isn't a good looking blaster. It's too thin, and the curves to me are weirdly designed.
An Extreme dart loaded into the barrel, as with most other blasters it loads right up to the tip.
The handle of the AM1 is atrociously small. I'm struggling to keep my fourth finger on the handle, and usually I just use my middle finger as my trigger finger just so I can grip the AM1 with my whole hand.
The trigger is also badly designed. If pulled sharply, unless your trigger finger is small enough to stay inside the trigger's curve, your finger gets spiked by the bottom part of the trigger. Though not exactly sharp, it's still quite painful to push against in a sharp trigger pull.

Unlike just about all of Nerf's current offerings, Buzz Bee's Air Max blasters are all air tanked blasters.

The pump handle is also atrociously and ridiculously small, and very close to the barrel. I usually grip it with just two or three fingers so as to not bump my hand into the barrel. The pump draw length isn't too bad for a blaster of this size, and it only takes 2-3 pumps to fill the tank and activate the OPRV.
  The tank in the AM1 is the new style small tank.
Here's the AM1 compared to some other single shots, the Pink Crush and the Triad. As clearly evident, the AM1 lacks the sort of details that make Nerf blasters distinctly superior aesthetically.
So how does the AM1 perform?
The AM1 takes a mere 2 pumps to be full. Using the included Extreme darts, it gets ranges of about 12m flat. Not the best range out there, but it still contends with grey trigger Elite blasters.
Accuracy though is incredible. Using the included Extreme darts, I'm seeing grouping of about 30cm on the ground at maximum range. The Extreme darts are incredibly and ridiculously consistent. While the AM1 has no sights to speak of, it's still quite easy to hit a relatively small target at a 10m range with Extreme darts because of how accurate and stable they are.
Rate of fire, naturally, is horrible. Along with being a single shot blaster, you also have to pump several times rather than complete a single priming action as with springer single shots.1 dart every 3 seconds is probably the best you'll get.

I've deducted several marks from the Usability rating due to the discomfort from holding and handling the AM1. It's certainly not designed with teenagers/adults in mind, and size wise really only suits children.

The AM1 also suffers from the issue of feeling cheaper than Nerf blasters. Though by no means flimsy and fragile, the AM1 is still lighter and thinner than Nerf blasters, and lacks the quality feel that most Nerf blasters have. It is still fairly solid, just not as much as Nerf blasters.

So should you go out and get an Air Max 1? Well, while it doesn't quite match orange trigger Elite blasters in range, it does outdo all currently available Nerf blasters in accuracy. So if you absolutely must have pinpoint accuracy from your single shot pistol, then the AM1 is probably your best option unless Nitefinders or similar are still available (as they have suction darts, not Elites). In a Nerf war though you're probably better off with the slightly faster ROF of a Firestrike or Jolt, rather than the superior accuracy.

The AM1 is available in the US for around 5USD I believe, which is an absolute bargain. While perhaps not as high quality as Nerf blasters, the AM1 is still a decent performing and fun blaster. If you're looking for a fun and accurate single shot, or you're looking for a cheap air blaster to mod, do consider the AM1. If you're looking for a reliable and comfortable single shot backup for Nerf wars, then the AM1 isn't the first choice I'd recommend, though it still does perform well and does do well with some mods.

Pros: Accuracy is incredible, very slim, pumps up faster than most other air blasters, range is competitive with Aus spec Elites
Cons: Slower firing than spring powered single shots, range is inferior to other Air Max and US spec Elites, uncomfortable to hold and use, very small, stickers

Power: 5.5/7
Accuracy: 5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Usability: 3/5
Rate of Fire: 0.5/5
Overall: 3.49/5

Personal Rating: 3/5 - while the AM1 doesn't have the best range of Nerf pistols, it is by far the most accurate currently available single shot that I've used. That alone makes it qute fun to use. Unless you mod though spring powered single shots like the Firestrike are overall more practical.


  1. Replies
    1. Buzz Bee was kind enough to send it for review, along with the other air max blasters, because apparently they're too powerful to be sold in Australia.

    2. I am sadness... i cant even find them on eBay or amazon...

    3. I live in America and cannot find those.

  2. is it more powerful than our ones. is the elite line even worth getting

    1. Well considering you have no other alternatives for practical clip fed blasters, you kind of have to get Elite (or other Elite era) blasters to be competitve (very loosely speaking).
      It's about on par with grey trigger Elites.