Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Review: Buzz Bee Air Max 10

The Air Max 10 is one of the blasters in Buzz Bee's air powered Air Max line. As mentioned before, Nerf has largely abandoned any kind of air tank/bladder system. So how does the Air Max 10 stack up against the Elite blasters?

Like the other Air Max blasters, the AM10 was sent to me for review by Buzz Bee Toys, so many thanks to them for that. As usual, that will not affect the review in any way.

Also note that the AM blasters I received are those meant for US retail, other countries will receive weaker blasters to comply with EU safety restrictions.
 Here's the AM10 box, pretty standard open style Buzz Bee box.
For whatever reason my AM10 box had this on the back. I believe this could be because at the time it was sent, Buzz Bee had not yet created the blue AM10 image for the back.
Here's all the stuff you get, simplistic as usual from Buzz Bee. Just the AM10 and 10 Extreme darts.

The Air Max 10 is quite an unusual blaster compared to Nerf blasters. Unlike Nerf blasters there is no paint used. The details on the AM10 are either just molded details, orange plastic inserts or the lone sticker on the left side. The AM10 also doesn't have the same solid plastic feel to it that Nerf blasters have, it feels thinner and slightly weaker.
Also unlike Nerf blasters, the AM10 has a very distinct toy look and feel to it. While Nerf blasters are also toys, many of the blasters have real-life firearm analogues, and particularly much of the Elite line has a very distinct sharper, more milsim style design than the other lines or Buzz Bee blasters.
Thanks to its length, placement of the handle and large 10 dart turret, the AM10 is rather front heavy. While most Nerf blasters that are this long and front heavy have either a stock or some other weight support (e.g. tripod), the AM10 does not have a stock or the ability to attach one. This leads to the AM10 feeling quite unbalanced, at least to me.
Besides the housing for the turret, the AM10 is actually quite thin. The AM10 has no iron sights to speak of.
The AM10 is a fairly flat blaster ignoring the turret housing.
Up front, a close up of the turret and barrels. Note the dart pegs in the barrels.

The Air Max 10's cylinder rotates in the opposite direction to Nerf revolvers. From the front on point of view, it rotates clockwise, while Nerf revolvers rotate counter clockwise from the front.
The AM10 rotates on trigger pull, before firing. It fires the dart to the left of the top dart, after the rotation.

And so on.
I didn't take pictures of the full cycle because I got lazy, and because there's not much point.
The AM10's handle is decently sized, but not particularly large. It's smooth and fairly comfortable.
The trigger pull up until this point fully rotates the cylinder, but doesn't fire. This position is already about as far as most Nerf triggers go into the handle.
The trigger must be fully depressed to fire, going almost entirely into the handle. While the handle itself is not uncomfortable, I find having to depress the trigger this far rather uncomfortable. I usually have to push my trigger finger quite hard against the handle.
Unlike most other grips, the AM10 pump grip slopes down forwards, which causes your pump hand to angle downward much further than necessary, which is rather uncomfortable.

The pump track of the AM10 is quite long. It fills the small tank in 2 pumps, which is very fast for an air blaster.

And now of course, performance. Can the AM10 compete with Nerf's Elite blasters?
Range is pretty good. The AM10 hits 14-15m very consistently with the included Extreme darts. It's got a good amount of power, even in stock form.
Accuracy is also very impressive, partly thanks to the Extreme darts, which are extremely accurate. Every single shot travels incredibly straight. I tested accuracy on a window at about 10m range, and several of my shots bounced of darts that were already stuck to the window.
Rate of fire is where the AM10 begins to fall down. The AM10 requires 2 pumps to get to full power, which though it is very fast for an air pumped blaster, is still very slow compared to flywheelers and springers. I can get close to 1 dart per second with 2 pumps. 1 pump gives a much faster rate of fire (2+dps) but you do lose a lot of power.
This shot was made from 14m away. The dart stuck very well to the tablet, the AM10 really is that powerful.
Is the AM10 worth purchasing?
If you're after a powerful, accurate blaster then yes, definitely. The AM10 matches Elite-spec blasters for power, and outdoes all Nerf blasters that come with Elite style darts in accuracy, due to the Extreme darts.
If you're after a standard Nerf war primary, then perhaps not. While the range and accuracy are quite good, the range is not significantly better than Nerf's high-end Elite-spec blasters, and the AM10 relies on Extreme darts for accuracy, as Elite darts are horribly unstable. Additionally, the AM10 has a slower rate of fire than most primary style blasters (e.g. Stryfe, Retaliator), which if you're forced to use Elite darts becomes a big problem. Blasters such as the Stryfe can make up for the poor accuracy with rate of fire, however the AM10 is incapable of that as a pump action air blaster.
If you're looking for just a fun blaster then the AM10 is certainly an option. It has both the power and accuracy to make it a fun target shooting blaster, and is fairly easy to use as well. There's also just something about shooting suction darts at flat surfaces.

I'm not sure of the AM10's US retail price, but I do know they are fairly widely available. I haven't seen a single AM10 (or Air Max Buzz Bee blaster for that matter) in Australia, so I have nothing on Aussie price. As a Buzz Bee blaster I'd expect it to be fairly cheap, probably 15USD or less. If you're looking for something with decent power and accuracy, the AM10 is probably the most practical stock blaster that fits both categories well, but considering the proliferation of Nerf's clip (mag) system blasters, the AM10 is unlikely to be a practical choice for a war blaster. It's also (for me at least) a little uncomfortable to hold and use compared to most of Nerf's blasters, I just find Nerf blasters are better ergonomically designed.
I would recommend it if you're looking for something different, since it's not too expensive and does its job well.

Pros: Good amount of power, fantastic accuracy with Extreme darts, fast rate of fire for an air blaster
Cons: Slow rate of fire compared to springers and flywheelers, low capacity (considering the capacity of Nerf's clips [mags]), uncomfortable and unbalanced design

Power: 6.5/7
Accuracy: 5/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Usability: 3.5/5
Rate of Fire: 1.5/5
Overall: 3.73/5

Personal Rating: 4/5 - while not the most comfortable blaster out there, the AM10 has a lot of power and fantastic accuracy, making it fun for target shooting and casual use.

Once again, many thanks to Buzz Bee Toys for sending the AM10 along with the other Air Max blasters for review.

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