Do you want to become a “Nerf Sniper?” Do you have the proper blaster and the proper gear for the job? It sounds ridiculous; foam darts have never been known to be the most accurate ammo type. However, recent advancements in the foam-flinging hobby have made it so that the idea of a “Nerf Sniper” is a little less of a contradiction.
Choosing your blaster
Obtaining a blaster that can hit farther ranges, like a sniper, is easy, especially nowadays. You can buy a “Pro-Series” blaster, build a community-designed blaster, or modify a stock-class blaster by swapping springs or motors. While springers have been known to be the best for range and accuracy, new developments have made “accurate flywheeler” closer to reality (more on that later).
For the beginner, however, I would recommend a springer that can perform between 150 and 200 FPS. Some popular options include the Seagull, Talon Claw, Lynx, X-Shot Pro Longshot, and Dart Zone Max Stryker. To complete your loadout, Worker Gen3+ HE short darts and Worker Talon magazines are the best for almost every performance-level blaster.
Introduction to Rifling Attachments
Now that you’ve got your blaster, darts, and mags, you’re more than halfway there. The most vital part is accuracy. There's no point to a sniper loadout if you’re not hitting your target. So, accuracy is the topic of the rest of this blog, and the only way to hit where you want is with a rifling attachment.
Like throwing a football and real-steel ballistics, if you give a foam dart spin when fired out of a blaster, the spin stabilizes the dart and allows it to fly straighter than it would without the spin. In the hobby, this is usually achieved by installing rifling attachments. There are three main types of rifling attachments: SCARs, PCARs, and BCARs. All rifling attachments sit at the end of your blaster barrel, and something in them interacts with the dart and adds a certain degree of twist to spin the dart when it leaves the barrel. The greater the angle the rifling attachment is set, the more significant the impact on turning the dart (at the expense of performance).
To my knowledge, SCARs were the first kind of rifling attachment in the hobby. They were made with string – or, more accurately, monofilament fishing line, and weaved through notches in a barrel material that could fit around the muzzle of a spring-powered blaster. As the first-ever rifling attachment in the hobby, SCARs work exceptionally well. But there are a few problems with them, which newer rifling attachment designs have improved on.
SCAR Problem #1: Limited Production
Because of their construction, SCAR barrels are almost always handmade, making them slow to produce and easy to introduce errors. Especially in the early days, stringing a good SCAR barrel was a skilled craft people would pay to be custom-made, and they couldn't necessarily be swapped to a different blaster.
Enter 3D printing. Printed / Plastic SCARs, or PCARs, function much the same way as SCARs but with 3D-printed grooves instead of strings to guide the dart to spin. Printed Rifling attachments can be made using standard FDM/FFF 3D printing, but they also can be produced using SLA resin to ensure that the layer lines are smooth enough to guide the dart without too much drag. In fact, PCARs improve over time as the layer lines get smoother with repeated use.
Monkee Mods was one of the first shops to have a PCAR available a few years back, and many community members followed suit with their own designs, like Frantz Foam Works’ Accusabers, Thanh’s Pentavictus PCARs for the Nexus Pro, and Sillybutts’ "Silly Spigot SCAR". While they never quite reached the popularity of their string-based cousins, PCARs have been used extensively by community members and work very well.
Similar to PCARs (but kind of in a category of their own), Worker produces an injection-molded SCAR to include with many of their newer springer blasters, like the Worker Seagull and Worker Harrier. From personal experience, these rifling attachments are a great basic option. Not only do they perform pretty well, but surprisingly, they can hold an excellent air seal with just a friction fit on the barrel. Luke showcased this in his review of the Worker Harrier last year:
SCAR Problem #2: Friction
By the constant contact with the dart, both string-based and printed rifling attachments produced extra friction on the dart, slowing it down as it passed through and decreasing the blaster’s overall performance. Traditionally, this was something that players and designers were aware of, and they would tune their blasters to compensate so that, with the SCAR barrel, it would perform similarly.
SCARs (and to a lesser extent PCARs) were used heavily as the only type of rifling barrel from 2017 until 2022, when a new solution was found that allowed it to keep more of its forward momentum.
Bearing SCARs, or BCARs, became the next stage in the evolution of rifling attachments. By swapping out the fishing line or printed grooves for a series of flanged ball bearings, only a tiny proportion of the surface area of the bearings come into contact with the dart, and the darts roll through the bearings with little-to-no drag. Having less drag on the dart as it passes through allows blasters to perform at their best without tuning the spring and barrel. And because of their design, darts also tend to come out of the blaster more stable, allowing for more accurate shots. Since BCARs became more readily available, many hobbyists have switched to them -- myself included.
Since switching from a SCAR to a BCAR, I’ve seen a noticeable improvement in both accuracy and performance. I’ve been using CrimsonContraptions’ BCAR Mk-2 on my Lynx and their earlier version, the Mk-1, on my Talon Claw, and they’ve performed wonderfully. Out of Darts also has a great selection of BCARs for whatever blaster you have, including Eli Wu's Andromeda BCAR Kit. Since switching to a BCAR, I rarely find my darts fishtailing or swerving off course. Even with a bad dart, the range might drop, but the dart still shoots where I’m aiming.
The Future of Rifling Attachments
Before the inception of BCARs, there were no rifling attachments for flywheel blasters. Because of the turbulence generated from the flywheels and the drag created from the fishing line or printed grooves, SCARs and PCARs tended to make accuracy worse and not better; darts would either get stuck in the SCAR barrel or their performance would drop horrendously.
However, there have been some recent developments. Since bearings have such little drag on the darts, some community members have had some luck using BCARs with flywheel blasters. Earlier in 2023, some foam-flingers from Singapore tested Gavin Fuzzy’s SBF with a BCAR installed, and they made bold claims about their results. Additionally, one of the players at my local club, Builder_BB, was testing a Banned Blasters Gryphon with a six-bearing BCAR and was able to hit an 8-inch diameter target from 30 feet away with great success.
Prior to these recent advancements, the only accepted way to tune the accuracy of flywheelers was with straight, balanced flywheels, straight-grooved or smooth barrels, and by using the right darts for the entire system. Now that BCARs can work with flywheelers, they can potentially be more accurate than ever before. And while they still might not be able to match the range of a Springer, a flywheeler’s higher rate of fire makes that sacrifice more acceptable.
But which rifling attachment should you buy?
The most common question Out of Darts gets about rifling attachments is, “What SCAR/BCAR works best for [insert blaster name here]?” The unfortunate answer is: “It depends.” While some hobbyists swear by one rifling attachment over another, there isn’t an easy way to generalize what angle or number of strings, grooves, or bearings work with what blaster. As OOD noted in their blog post about testing blaster performance, accuracy is still an elusive statistic in our hobby that can’t be easily repeatable. The best thing, though, is that most SCARs, PCARs, and BCARs range between $10-$30 each, which makes experimenting with two or three different rifling attachments very accessible.
• • •
After all is said and done, one of the great things about the Nerf hobby is that there aren't any 100% “sniper” blasters that dominate play in games, and while getting a high-quality blaster will help somewhat, it isn't the end of the story. Everyone is in the same bucket, trying to make their blaster as accurate as possible with what's available to them. With an appropriate loadout, and a little bit of work, virtually anyone can be a "Nerf sniper." - OnlyFoamDarts