Our hobby’s growth has been fueled by foam blaster shops and brands like OutofDarts, FoamBlast, ContainmentCrew, Foamfreaks, and Worker. These shops have made the hobby infinitely more accessible, and have allowed high-powered blasters to proliferate. As the hobby progresses towards high-performance blasters, these blasters demand darts of equal performance. Half-length darts are nothing new to our hobby and have been around for years, but they are still less common in comparison to full-length darts.
When half-length darts are mentioned, people imagine cracked glasses, darts that punch through cardboard, and welts that last for weeks. This misconception about the dangers of half-lengths originates in old, and outdated information. Half-length darts are the perfect match for high-velocity blasters. The shorter length makes their trajectory more consistent and stable while their heavier dart heads make them significantly more accurate. Back in the NerfHaven era, half-lengths were Stefans and Southeast Slugs. Both were made from foam backer rod, tipped with a metal weight (BB’s or washers), and occasionally, some sort of padding.
These darts were cheap and accurate, but every single dart was handmade, often by its user. These darts are now thoroughly obsolete - in fact, they are almost universally banned, as their metal weights are dangerous to Nerfers and groundskeepers alike. When a modern Nerfer talks about half-length darts, they’re not speaking about Stefans and Slugs - they are talking about mass-produced versions, available fully-assembled for pennies per piece. From this point on, when talking about half-lengths I am referring to the safe-to-use, rubber headed half-length darts like Worker Darts.
Nerf events are beginning to allow half-lengths during game play. However, there are still some events that ban half-lengths even though they are very comparable when it comes to potential danger with the new updated half-length designs. Endwar, the largest event of our hobby, previously restricted the use of half-length darts, but they now allows the use of store bought half-length darts as well as cut down full-length darts. With more people using high performing blasters, half-length darts have become much more popular and have become a large majority of darts that people own.
The most common half-length darts are the Worker Darts made by Worker. They have compressible heads and perform very well over long range and accuracy. Worker has released their Gen3 Worker Darts which have proved to perform incredibly well with very good adhesive keeping the dart head connected to the foam. Due to many shops like OutofDarts, Foamblast, and Monkeemods, access to bulk amounts of half-lengths have been much easier to come by which has drastically increased their popularity. With the announcement of Dartzone Pro, they will be releasing their own half-length darts and magazines. AdventureForce has also put out full-length waffle darts that can be cut down to half-length sized which have become a community favorite for flywheels. Half-length darts are easy to get and well worth the price.
If someone is interested in our hobby and want to play with high performing blasters, I highly recommend investing into half-length darts and magazines. With the direction that the hobby is moving, the majority of the community will be using half-length darts with the exception of flywheel users with their 18, 22, and 40 round magazines. Even if new players start playing at lower fps games, if they want to increase FPS and get involved in competitive games they already have all the darts and magazines. It is way easier to tune blasters down to play at lower fps, then having to buy new magazines and darts to play at a competitive level.
I put up a questionnaire on my Instagram page (FoamShepherd) and found that the main reasons that Nerfers did not use half-lengths is due to cost and blaster modding knowledge. With all the drop in kits that have been made easily available, getting into half-length darts is pretty easy and honestly does not take a lot of skill to modify. For example, a Retaliator only requires a simple breech swap to use half-length darts and that can be done by purchasing a kit from our many shops. Using a 7kg spring in a Retaliator with a full-length breech can get about 95 FPS average, where a sealed half-length breach can get about 130 FPS. There are many kits that accommodate for the use of half-lengths and the conversion is inexpensive. The ‘Talon’ and ‘Katana’ magazine size has led to some amazing custom blasters like the MHP15 and the Woozi, two extraordinary blasters and the Woozi being my personal favorite. If people are interested in modifying their blasters, buying a half-length kit is the most cost-effective way to provide a boost in performance.
With factory made half-length darts being just as safe as Nerf darts, they are still banned across many events and clubs. Most events and clubs are worried about kids getting hurt, but half-lengths do not hurt more than Nerf darts. It's time that half-lengths become normalized in our everyday Nerf wars. An FPS cap or an engagement restriction is a much more effective way to ensure the safety of players, regardless of dart length. I also find that introducing players to half-lengths is a good way toward shifting into higher FPS games.
To those who are sticking to their full-lengths, there is no problem with that. We still have plenty of Nerfers who use full-lengths in high FPS wars, especially the flywheel players who love their Worker 22s. It really comes down to personal preference and there is no problem with that! I hope that after reading this, other clubs and events will allow half-length darts. I know many Nerfers would be ecstatic to have half-length darts become universally accepted in all clubs and events!