Most modders naturally find stock Nerf foam darts inaccurate and inconsistent. They are basically not designed with the proper weight balance required for straight and consistent dart flight when used in blasters that have been modified for more power.
To improve accuracy and range, there many methods to custom make foam darts, either from foam backer rod (FBR) or converting existing foam darts into customized versions.
The main feature in most customized foam darts is a heavier tip, this additional weight in front of the foam dart helps increase performance . But having too much or too little tip weight can also have adverse effects too, it all depends on the power of the blasters they are used in. Thats where proper calibration comes in.
In this guide, i will cover one of the conversion and calibration methods that has been popular with modders at the NerfSG forum. This method is based of the "Sabot" design by SixShot.
It is one of the more effective techniques of adding more weight to the foam dart tip, yet allowing calibration for different blaster power and still ensuring that all the materials used are of a safe nature (ie. no metal or hard plastic/resin parts).
Note that the outer diameter (OD) and length of foam darts that users choose will determine the specific dimensions of breeches and barrels that are suitable for them.
For example, wider OD foam darts that fit well into 9/16" brass barrels will be too tight for 17/32" brass barrels, which would cause chambering issues. Whereas narrower OD foam darts that fit well into 17/32" brass barrels will be too loose in 9/16" brass barrels, resulting in air leaks around the foam dart as its fired, which reduces power and range. So its all a matter of testing to find the right combination.
For my own custom calibrated foam darts, i prefer to use either 3rd-party SDL brand foam darts or custom FBR which have slightly wider foam bodies. Their "fatter" OD creates a much better air seal when chambered in both normal stock breeches and brass breeches which use 9/16" brass barrels, offering optimum overall performance in those particular barrel and breech dimensions.
The choice of foam dart type and brand is up to the user's preference, so there is no "best" foam dart, just the most suitable and customized for the user's application.
Here is an example of how Custom Calibrated Foam Darts can be made...
Step 1: Remove the original tips from the foam darts.
Get soft eraser stick refills (commonly found at most stores) and cut them into the desired lengths.
In this example, i cut them into 4 different lengths (5mm, 10mm, 15mm and 20mm) to create 4 different calibrated foam darts with varying tip weights.
The longer the eraser stick refill, the heavier the tip weight. So its up to users to find the best length (and consequently weight) combination to suit their particular modded blasters .
I would recommend making a "calibration" set as shown below for initial testing.
Step 2: Slot the cut lengths of eraser stick refills into the foam dart tips.
Use general-purpose glue or "contact cement" glue to permanently attach them into the foam darts. Make sure the glue is completely dry and the dart tips are secure before firing the foam darts.
In the photo below, the numbers on the tips indicate the eraser stick refill lengths used within each foam dart, these are an example of a "calibration" set used for testing the suitable tip weights for various modded blasters.
It is common for users to have seperate batches of different tip weighted foam darts allocated to each of their different modified blasters. Do remember to indicate the tip weights somewhere on the foam darts, so they don't get mixed up.
Step 3: Safety and further customization.
As custom calibrated foam darts are commonly used in more powerful modified blasters, the impact of hits will naturally be harder and the chances of welts or bruises occurring would also be higher, therefore it is important to cushion the impact of the dart tips.
To reduce the foam dart impact during Nerf games (while still maintaining accuracy and range), i attach 12mm diameter soft foam padding to the tips of all my customized foam darts. These soft foam padded tips help to prevent welts or bruises occurring even if accidentally fired at close range.
The soft foam padding also keeps the dart tips intact over multiple shots, reducing the heavy wear and tear that usually occurs with constant Nerf game usage.
In addition, i also wrap a layer of tape just behind the tip of each customized foam dart, this helps to reinforce the tip as well as to slightly narrow the front section to aid in smoother dart chambering within modified breeches.
This is just one example, there are many other methods to customize your foam darts, try them out and find the most suitable techniques for your usage... and make sure you have the safety aspect in mind too!
Enjoy better calibrated accuracy and range from your modified blasters! :)