Anyway. Many of you have seen images of or heard of this gun:
|Image Credit: Nerf Modders Welcome/Facebook|
This is an Xplorer XEliminator, which has picked up the NIC shorthand "Xe".
A very limited production piece, with only 10 confirmed to exist, and a price tag of over $1000, US. Yeah. THAT thing.
It's a pump-action, mag-fed springer intended for NIC use, and it chronos supposedly around 250 fps.
Take a moment to note that 250 fps is not that strange for spring-piston NIC guns shooting 0.9g darts as tested, and that pump-action springers themselves are status quo, and so is a degree of endurance and reload speed consistent with magazines. Furthermore I see no evidence that, given the ballistics of the projectiles involved, there could be any massive gain in accuracy or consistency. I don't see any features to that effect.
That is all I will say in that regard, though. That has been done already.
Instead I will get to how the Xe is designed.
|Image credit: NMW|
Take a very close look. It looks familiar, doesn't it?
But why is that?
Right off the bat, is resembles a breeched and pump-gripped Longshot, mechanically and even aesthetically. I made a "blender" comment on reddit about the originality of the Xe. But forget originality, it's not everything. Effective design is worth a lot more than originality and the best developments in every field are always mashups and evolutions.
No, my serious beef with this design is how it mimics the most arbitrary and problematic aspects of prior commercial Nerf guns.
Look at how complex the internal design of the receiver is.
Do each of those features need to be there? The carefully braced and stiffened, skeletonized, super thin, intricate structures everywhere, as if to minimize material use? All the unused internal volume? Screws going into these wispy little bosses standing on their own in a cavity? Why is it clamshell at all? Why is the grip integral? Why are the handguards integral?
At first I was thinking the receiver was a cast resin part, as Xplorer seems to love this prop-style methodology combined with some unidentified high-spec resin that makes strong parts... Granted many of the points raised above would STILL apply (such as those of the monolithic clamshell versus smaller, more manageable, cheaper parts that are more efficient and simpler). Also it looks extremely un-castable - but just looking at the internal-complexity issue, maybe, just maybe, it was cast and that design was to minimize material use, and there was no real cost tradeoff, the thought went...
This comment killed that thought, and returned my thinking to its original direction:
Okay, now it doesn't make ANY sense.
This is an exploded AR15.
If you are doubting, go pull apart a Retal. Note that most of the relevant bits of a modern firearm action are there in some form, aside from the basic differences between the functionality of a firearm, and that of a spring-piston airgun.
|Image credit: cncguns.com|
|Image credit: cncguns.com|
The difference is clear between how the AR approaches the task of supporting and mounting all of its internal components, and how the Xe did it. It is also clear how the Xe methodology is more complex and more challenging to construct.
So that is one of my overall thoughts: We need to get the idea of a "SHELL" out of our heads and think outside the box.
Now, it is clear why the clamshell approach is appealing to the toy-grade manufacturers. They are injection-molding parts primarily from ABS. If the grip, receiver, shrouds, shells and other myriad externals can all be converted into a single clamshell set, that is only ONE set of dies and ONE machine cycle to accomplish all that. If they can use complicated structural designs inside to lightweight the part, save material and make weaker cheaper materials work, the tradeoff of having to design and fabricate molds for all that intricate internal crap pays off - because it's only molds!
But if you are going to take a "shell" design with every single stationary external bit integrated, and MILL IT FROM BAR STOCK? Holy hell!
Think about that pistol grip alone. Think of how much bigger the piece of material had to be to accomodate that. Think of how much PVC was turned into chips! All those little webs and holes and pockets in there... imagine this thing half-done on the CNC mill, and a little tiny endmill meandering around in there for hours and hours and hours to generate all that stuff! And they could have at least left it solid inside and saved the time! Most of that detail inside is nonfunctional and just makes it weaker! Why?
Had this been a monolithic-receiver design, I bet with the cost savings they could have upgraded the material to aluminum and eliminated all major plastics from the design... A more fitting spec for a thousand, dollar, mother, fragging, nerf gun!
Even disregarding the fact that with the price of the Xe one could buy a Longshot, upgrade parts, AND A SERVICEABLE CAR... I would not have bought this thing even if I was a lottery winner! Why the hell is a thousand dollar gun PLASTIC?
Come on, Xplorer. You can do better than that.
And don't forget the trigger guard.