Friday, September 20, 2013

Review and Chrono: JT Splatmaster Z90 Pistol

JT Splatmaster is a line of low-cost, .50 caliber spring-powered paintball markers that are very nerf-like in concept and parameters - and often directly nerf-ready without modding.

Such is the case with this Z90.





I picked this up after reading a review by Buffdaddy and seeing it on clearance at a local Walmart. I figured that it was a no-loss situation - at the very least, I get a Nitefinder-type nerf pistol with decent performance and a solid build.


And quite a solid build it has. Seriously, for a gun with an MSRP of 20 bucks, this thing is built like a tank. It should be an example to the whole nerf industry of how you start off a quality product from a solid physical foundation. The frame is molded ABS and of the clamshell design like most nerf-like products, but the wall thicknesses are much greater than Nerf's offerings and it feels like it could take serious punishment and not skip a beat.

Priming is accomplished by the T-handle on the rear, similar to a NF or other pullback springer. The difference here is that this is not a typical pullback - the plunger tube, not the plunger, is attached to that charging handle, and the entire PT reciprocates in order to cock the plunger. There is no return spring, so the handle must be pushed forward before firing. These are intended to shoot .50 caliber paint, which goes in a horizontal feed tube on top and is chambered by a simple breech system (whose parts count is astoundingly low) formed by the barrel throat, a small bolt attached to the front of the PT, and rails in the frame. The bolt seals to the barrel with a rubber gasket.

For nerf purposes, darts are muzzle-loaded. It may be possible to add a box magazine to feed very short darts into the stock breech on a Z90.

I will eventually be investigating the use of spherical ammunition in nerf, such as .50 caliber Lazerballs, and these products are a prime candidate for a testbed since they are already designed to carry and feed such a projectile. The Z100 pistol is particularly appealing for this due to the slim holsterable mag-fed design.


The trigger and guard area are well proportioned and comfortable. There is a cross-bolt safety.


A tagger muzzle-loaded.

The stock barrel is a very nice part, with a glass-smooth finish all over, and is a cylindrical bore like most aftermarket nerf barrels (unlike the progressive bore of a stock nerf barrel). Fit is what I would classify as "medium spring"; many stock Nerf brand foams insert easily, perhaps a little too easily for optimum efficiency.



An Elite dart next to the stock barrel, showing that the length is near ideal for use with muzzle-loaded stock Nerf darts without incurring much additional dead volume, if any. (The bolt face extends just past the front of the square section of the frame).

There is room for a slight barrel improvement. There were signs (muzzle blast) of a need for slightly more length to get optimum efficiency with darts. If you were to shoot stefans, I would recommend a new barrel be installed to correct both fit and length, though for stock darts, the muzzle-loading length and easy-loading fit are exactly what is desired for practical use in a game.

Internals possibly coming soon, but here are the spoilers: the spring is heavily preloaded (a tactic to get the most from a small displacement and short barrel), the piston/spring arrangement are airsoft style with a shell-type piston and rear spring guide rather than a rod-type as in most nerf guns.

What am I missing?

OH YEAH, THE CHRONO DATA.

Here it is: JT Z90 Chronographed With Nerf Darts

It's a very, very consistent performer, but it's not that impressive at all in terms of velocities - it is right on par for any basic stock-class mod, such as an OMW spring equipped Retaliator or a common modded Stryfe. So if you were planning to buy one of these because you are a poor modder and wanted to gain an edge over your nerf tech friends by using this "paintball gun" in a nerf war, think again. Not that this isn't a nice nerf gun; it is - it's a ready-to-go moderately modded Nitefinder, more or less.

As you can see, I tried those problematic Buzzbee Extreme darts in the chrono session with this, with good results. This points to the correct way to utilize these darts being a cylindrical barrel (not a stock nerf barrel) and a relatively high peak chamber pressure - and then they are solid performers with, once more, excellent consistency.

FURTHER READING

Foam From Above reviews the Z100 Pistol and Z200 Shotgun

Foam From Above reviews the Z300 Sniper

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