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Tonight I'm doing something a bit different. I'm looking at a custom project, and rather than do my usual straight up 'review', I'm doing it more as a feature. Why?
Well, to be honest, I wasn't quite sure how to do a regular review on these guys, since there's not really anything else quite like them for comparison.
Ryan Siller is producing customized versions of Nerf guns. He's working with the standard Maverick right now, doing it up with unique paint jobs and improved internals. By adding new springs, plastics, tubing, hot glue and other materials, he can upgrade the guns and bullets to provide a huge improvement in power and distance. Along with that, he can paint them in just about any scheme, and even produces models with removable cylinders!
There are literally hundreds of combinations of his changes that you can order, and I'm looking at three different versions tonight.
First up is the basic black gun seen in the photo below. This is actually one of the most basic paint jobs, although it takes about 10 hours of sanding to get any Maverick ready for painting. This basic black with a glossy finish is the most commonly ordered, and is the cheapest paint mod. However, the gun you're looking at here has the highest Power Mod adaption. This "Type II" adds a tremendous amount of oompf to every shot! Ryan says these can fire over 60 feet, and I can tell you that in my tests the ammo hit a target at 30 feet with real force.
The inside of the cylinder on this gun has smaller, tighter plastic inserts. These inserts create a tighter seal with the ammo, adding even more boost to the shot.
You'll notice that this gun also has a bit more weight to the front. In the photo of this gun resting on the red bench, it tilts all the way forward, resting completely on the bench. The other two guns tilt back, having less weight in the cylinder.
The second gun is the camo paint job. This gun has the standard power mod, but includes the swappable cylinder option. When you press the button on the side that normally allows the cylinder to swing out, on this gun it actually comes completely out! He includes a second cylinder, allowing you to have one loaded and ready to swap at a moments notice.
This gun was able to reach 30 - 35 feet easily enough, but didn't have the power of the black gun with the extra power mod. It's still quite a bit more powerful than a
regular Maverick though, and can use regular ammo if you prefer.
As I said, Ryan has tons of paint options, but I think my favorite is the 'steampunk' version. That's the third gun you see in the photos. Multiple paint colors are used to create the effect, and it's one of the more popular versions that Ryan sells.
Ryan also produces special ammo for these guns. These are shorter foam bullets with specially weighted ends. These weights are somewhat soft rounded caps. They aren't designed to shoot someone in the eye though, so take more precautions than you would with a normal Nerf bullet.
All the guns have improved power and distance. I was impressed by how smoothly the guns still operate, with no problems with the cylinder rotating or ammo getting
stuck. The mods improved on every aspect of the original.
Ryan sells this ammo in quantity, but as I said, you only have to use it if you've ordered the special power mod that includes the plastic tubing in the cylinders.
Otherwise, the regular Nerf ammo will still fit. However, you don't get the same kind of distance and power with the standard ammo as you do with Ryan's custom bullets.
I spent some time playing with these with my 8 year old son and daughter, and they loved it. The highest power mods were tough for them to cock, as the spring is much stronger, but the other two guns worked great for them.
The swappable cylinders also worked a lot better than I expected. Remember, these are originally $10 Nerf guns that are not intended for this kind of mod, and yet Ryan
engineered it to work smoothly with fairly tight tolerances.
I had never considered custom Nerf guns, and yet once I saw Ryan's work, it made complete sense. I've done some googling since then, and sure enough, custom Nerf work is very popular!
If that's you're kind of thing, then you should really check these out. They aren't cheap, as there is quite a bit of effort that goes into every one, and you can
expect to pay from $50 - $100, depending on the number and type of mods you request.
Ryan is also trying out new techniques and mods. He just started working with the clear plastic Mavericks, and he has a number of other cool paint options - like glow-in-the-dark, or a 'woodland' camo - and he's open to your suggestions as well.
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