Today I ran some more stuff over the clock.
First up: the Splatmaster Z90 got retested with Elites loaded all the way to the breech end of the barrel.
In the previous test of the Z90, all darts were loaded with the tip flush with the muzzle to produce a fair comparison with Sonics and Elites. I figured I would give it another go with Elites pushed back about 3/4" farther. Honestly, I didn't know what would happen to velocity and consistency, but I'm glad I tested that! It turns out that dead volume has a massive effect on these small-displacement springers and the 3/4" of pushback is worth 10-20 fps! Now we are pulling over 120fps with elites. Not shabby, and more in the same league as a good NF now.
Second, the RapidPistol got its test, finally.
Note a few things.
One, I have standardized the chrono data spreadsheet format, added some basic statistics (standard deviation, min/max and extreme spread) to make consistency and practical performance more apparent and foolproof than just the mean and the list of shots, and get more in line with how Foamdata Services and the like are reporting data. I also standardized the sample size for a normal test to 16 shots and will try to avoid throwing a random few rounds over the chrono and calling that a real test. It's not large enough for over the top statistical analysis, but it communicates quite well how the gun behaves and is enough certainty for what we are doing here.
Two, for flywheel guns, I have began recording the pack voltages at the beginning and end of each test. Fully charging the pack before a session does not remove the change in voltage during discharge, which is not negligible during a 100+ round chrono session, so this is better quantified in case some use or relation of that voltage data comes up that could call into question the integrity of the chrono data. Also, the energy consumption of a gun becomes apparent when the resting voltage of a Li-ion pack is monitored, and this will be useful as a rough estimate of battery life.
Three, new darts were tested against equivalents that have been in service for a decent time and would still be considered fit for use by my standards of the past. This was in response to this post by infamous and azrael at BNBS. While I have long known about significant negative effects on ballistic performance as darts age, accumulate normal wear and damage, lose the original foam dimensions and stiffness and gain defects, I honestly never knew how bad it was, and I have never bothered to test it. Infamous had posted some chrono numbers from a stock Retaliator that didn't seem to make sense, and I had commented something about that on reddit... but on further investigation they encountered a massive discrepancy in velocity between used and unfired darts.
Thus, I will be investigating foam degradation further. Here, I have completed the flywheel portion with this RapidPistol with shocking results - brand new darts, through flywheels, produce SIGNIFICANTLY more velocity than darts that have been mildly degraded and would still have been judged not just usable, but equivalent to new dart performance, in the past by visual and fit inspection!
Furthermore, I caught a flywheel-related wear mechanism that I don't think has ever been noticed before - when fired from some types of flywheel guns, the flywheel slip as the dart is grabbed results in wear of the foam near the front end of the dart behind the tip.
Such wear can eventually cause flat spots or a uniform reduction of
diameter, visible as a "blunting" of the sharp cut edge of the foam, and
this has a SERIOUS velocity effect. Several unexplainable low-velocity
shots occurred which led to this finding (and were discarded after
finding the anomalous darts, pending a test of exclusively worn darts
culled from my dart supply to quantify the effect of this wear).
I also completed a "stockish" springer test with an AR'd Strongarm. There is a definite difference between new darts and used darts, even those that seem perfectly fine to any practical inspection! Seriously, if you are in some kind of competitive environment, ALWAYS RUN NEW DARTS! It's not a small edge you gain, it's massive. Trust me, I have the most stringent standards for darts during HvZ season of practically anyone and THAT is my baseline to which I compare new darts in these tests so if you simply cull worn-out darts YOU ARE NOT IMMUNE TO DART WEAR. ALWAYS USE BRAND NEW DARTS WHEN IT MATTERS! Also, these T-code Elites have uniformly had unreal performance. That warrants yet more testing. Perhaps code shopping is about to get reignited!
Still to come are a "pro stock" test with a heavily sprung Retal and Triad, and a test with pneumatic and spring guns with cylindrical barrels - convenient at the moment are my trusty SSPB attachment and my Z90 Splatmaster. In addition, I will be performing an aging test, involving the repeated firing and handling of said darts in a manner consistent with use, so as to create some kind of understanding of service life.