Saturday, 28 February 2015

Review: BoomCo Railstinger + Internals

This is my first foray into BoomCo blasters, as they use an ammo type incompatible with the standard foam darts available today.
The BoomCo Railstinger is a unique blaster in that it attaches to tac rails, which is why I chose to buy it. I purchased it during my recent trip to Canada (along with a lot of other cool things), and haven't yet seen them in Australia (as of publishing this post).

The Railstinger comes in a small open style box typical of BoomCo, but more sophisticated and seemingly tougher than Nerf style open boxes. Besides the blaster it shows the two darts and the target in the back.
The back of the dart has the same text in many different languages, so while the box looks full of text it actually doesn't say much.
The side box art of the railstinger, suitably adorned with a bee/wasp type insect.
Out of the box, you get the Railstinger, 2 BoomCo darts, a BoomCo target and an instruction manual (not pictured).
All loaded up.

Since this is my first BoomCo review, let's look at the the BoomCo "Smart Stick" darts first.
BoomCo darts are significantly different to standard Nerf darts (represented here by a Koosh). While they are around the same length as an Elite, BoomCo darts are significantly thinner than Nerf darts, being around 1cm wide, where Nerf darts are usually around 1.3cm wide.
BoomCo darts are also significantly heavier than a Nerf Elite dart. An average Elite dart weighs just over 1 gram, while BoomCo darts weigh just under 1.5 grams.
BoomCo darts are in fact not made of foam, and are instead have a rigid plastic tube for a body. As a result, while the dart is overall thinner than a Nerf dart, because the walls of the body are so thin the inner hole is actually wider.
BoomCo darts have a special tip chemically designed to stick only to BoomCo targets, and nothing else. As such while it is advertised as a sticky tip, it doesn't actually feel sticky. The tip is soft and squishy, though you can still feel hits quite easily as it doesn't compress too much.
Note also the ribs just below the tip. In the Railstinger they have no effect, however I believe some of the other BoomCo blasters do use the ribs.
I've also heard reports that the BoomCo darts also stick to photo paper, but besides that and the provided targets, the dart tips do collect a little dust and dirt over time. Thankfully, the tips can be cleaned simply by running them under water and cleaning off the dust with fingers, or by using tape to remove the dust.

Let's take a look at the included target as well.
The BoomCo target at first glance appears to be just a glorified cardboard printout, however closer examination shows that it has a surface not unlike that of photo paper - smooth and yet very slightly sticky to the fingers.
When BoomCo darts hit a solid object, the tip compresses slightly and spreads outwards. On most objects the dart simply bounces off, however with the BoomCo targets the dart head sticks.
The adhesion between the tip and target is very strong, especially for the first few uses. The dart will not fall off just by shaking the target, nor will it fall off from flicking the dart without extreme force. The best method for removing darts is to pull them sideways as pictured (pulling it straight up will produce no results), and even half removed the darts have enough adhesion to stay on the target.
I am really quite impressed how well BoomCo darts stick to the provided targets.
We'll be looking at the performance of BoomCo darts later.
Now let's look at the Railstinger itself.

The Railstinger is a rather oddly designed blaster, with a small priming handle block, a strange blue block below that, and most importantly no trigger.

The Railstinger is a fairly standard single shot, a single barrel with an obligatory dart peg and a single dart holder.
The dart holder's retention method is very effective and goes beyond just the friction of the dart holder ring. The small protrusion behind the dart holder goes inside the dart and applies extra friction to the dart. As a result shaking the Railstinger will not dislodge the dart, and the only way to remove it is to pull it out.

The Railstinger is primed by pulling the priming slide backwards, like any ordinary blaster. The draw is fairly short, being a little shorter than a Pink Crush's, but longer than a Jolt's. The spring is fairly strong, much like a Jolt's.
The lack of a trigger forces the Railstinger to have an unconventional firing method. Instead of being just a pull-and-release blaster, the Railstinger fires when the slide is pulled to the end of its travel, like a Strongarm in slamfire mode. This gives it more consistency than a pull-and-release or a manual plunger, however it still has less control than a blaster with a conventional trigger.
Unlike most non-clip (mag)-system slide primed blasters, the priming slide is not spring loaded, and so after firing the priming slide must be manually returned to rest position. I personally enjoy doing a wrist flick to return it to position, as the slide locks back on to the plunger rod when returned.
Considering the limitations of the Railstinger's design, this is probably the best it could be.
The Railstinger isn't some random name the BoomCo designers thought of. Thanks to the reverse tactical rail in the bottom of the handle piece, the Railstinger can attach to any of the BoomCo blasters that have tactical rails. Conveniently, BoomCo tactical rails have very similar dimensions to Nerf tactical rails, and so BoomCo attachments fit on Nerf tactical rails.

As seen here, the Railstinger can fit on a variety of Nerf tactical rails. It fits fairly tightly on Nerf rails, and is quite easy to fire when attached. However as you can see from these pictures, the Railstinger sits quite far forward from its mounting position, and as a result often looks a little awkward and out of place. This could be as a result of attaching it to Nerf tac rails, which are likely placed differently to BoomCo tac rails.
There is a reason for the Railstinger's awkward attaching however.

As displayed here, the reverse tactical rail block folds down by simply pulling it down to create a handle, making the Railstinger into a single shot blaster instead of just being an attachment. The handle locks into place when folded down.
Naturally due to the blocky design of the reverse tac rail, the Railstinger is rather uncomfortable to hold, and still looks a little awkwardly designed. It's still reasonably comfortable to prime and fire, though the lack of a trigger does cost you a little aiming ability.

By pressing down on the grey button just behind the handle, the handle becomes unlocked and it can be folded back up to attach the Railstinger to a tac rail.
The Railstinger does have one small issue as a blaster not present when used as an attachment. If you place your hand at the top of the handle, your top finger will likely touch the dart in the dart holder, and any movement from your top finger will likely dislodge the dart from the small nub at the back. While the dart holder ring does have enough friction to hold the dart even without the extra friciton from the nub, this minor design flaw is a little annoying and comes from the designers' desire to make the Railstinger as small as possible.

We now come to discussing the performance of the Railstinger. It has a box range claim of 15m where most BoomCo blasters advertise 18-20m, and it's quite a small blaster so I didn't expect much from it.
Range is decent, being on par with top-end N-Strike blasters at around 9-11m flat. It's a little harder to get a completely flat shot with the Railstinger as it fires by pulling the slide to the very back, but nevertheless I was able to get some decently flat shots from it. Some of the variance in range is due to the pull-to-fire mech, but on the whole it was pretty consistent, certainly more so than Nerf's recent blasters using Elite darts. The claimed range of 15m can be achieved when fired at an angle.
Accuracy is quite impressive, after years of putting up with Elite darts, Elite Mega darts and Streamlines. Even with the instability of the pull-to-fire firing mech, the spread at full range is 0.5m horizontally at most (ignoring bounce), and at 8-9m a hit on a human sized target is practically guaranteed.
Rate of fire naturally is slow as the Railstinger is a single shot (around 2 seconds), however as the priming slide is not spring loaded, ROF is slightly slower than a standard single shot like a Firestrike. The difference is minimal though.
The Railstinger is not a blaster that fills any practical need except for needing that emergency shot. As a result there is little reason to do the usual "should you buy this" section I normally do here. While the Railstinger is the only production blaster that attaches to tac rails, there are other options that can be easily modified for the job using adhesives or aftermarket parts (most notably the Jolt and Triad) and most match or exceed the Railstinger's abilities.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the Railstinger is the only current production blaster that is specifically designed to attach to tac rails, and so if you don't want to delve into modding or aftermarket parts, the Railstinger is your only production option for rail mounted backups.

The Railstinger cost me 10CAD, the same as the BoomCo Clipfire (also a single shot), and marginally more than a Triad (8CAD at Walmart). It's inexpensive and while it doesn't match the range of Elite blasters (especially orange trigger models), it has pretty good accuracy and is fun to attach and use on other blasters.
If you're looking for a bit of silly fun with tac rails then the Railstinger is a fun option, however if you're looking for a backup single shot, there are many other more suitable options, such as the Jolt and Triad. I personally have a decent amount of fun fooling around with the Railstinger.

Pros: Exceptional accuracy, easy to use and fire when mounted on a rail, fits fine on Nerf tac rails
Cons: Slightly lacking range, awkward and uncomfortable to use as a standalone blaster

Power: 4.5/7
Accuracy: 5/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Usability: 3/5
Rate of Fire: 1/5
Overall: 3.24/5

Personal Rating: 3/5 - while the lack of a trigger is a little annoying, the handle is rather uncomfortable and the blaster sticks out quite far forward when mounted on a tac rail, the Railstinger is the first blaster in recent times to attach to a tactical rail, and arguably the first blaster that does it effectively. Being a BoomCo blaster helps the accuracy too.

Let's take a look at the Railstinger's internals, since I haven't seen them anywhere else.
After removing all the screws (6 in the body, 1 in the priming slide, 2 in the handle), you'll have to contend with the glued on muzzle ring. With a bit of prying and pulling the glue will break. For those of you who have modded Nerf air blasters, breaking the glue is no different to breaking off the pump ring from blasters like the Magstrike.
Here are all the internals, fairly standard. Of note are the removable dart holder ring, the tactical rail lock inside the handle and the handle lock in the hinge area.
The handle lock is just a single spring loaded piece. Note the curved surfaces on the front side of the side nubs. These need to face upwards when inserted in the blaster to allow the handle to swing down.
A closer look at the catch system. The hook on the left pivots and is attached to the end of the plunger rod, while the middle piece attaches to the priming slide.
The middle piece acts as a moving catch and the end roller acts as the trigger.
When the priming slide is forward, the hook latches on to the moving catch, which pulls the priming rod back, priming the blaster. When the slide hits the back of its travel, the roller pushes the hook upwards, releasing it from the catch and allowing the plunger rod to fire forward, firing the blaster.
Here's the plunger system. We'll look at the plunger tube and barrel closer below, but I'll just quickly describe the parts of the plunger.
The head is a Jolt style head with a decently strong spring, needed to get any decent range from such a small plunger tube.
The rear black disc simply contains the spring.
And of course the hook at the end latches on to the catch to prime and fire the Railstinger.
The barrel/plunger tube piece is friction fitted and comes apart easily into 3 parts: the barrel, the dart peg and the plunger tube.
Inside the barrel you find a rubber ring that seals against BoomCo darts, much like the end of Nerf barrels seal against Nerf darts.
The dart peg also acts as a minor AR, as it has very small holes. However it isn't technically an AR as there's no spring loaded piece that completely blocks airflow if a dart is not loaded.
The dart peg can be left out of the plunger and barrel piece with no issues, and range is boosted 1-2m.
Here's the Railstinger next to the Jolt. They have similar plunger tubes, however while the Jolt has a 2.2cm long draw, the Railstinger has a 3.2cm long draw (measured with analog calipers, uncertainty 1mm). The Jolt's superior range is likely partly due to it using Elite darts, which are much lighter than BoomCo darts.

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