While Buzz Bee’s Ultra Tek line was mostly entirely new blasters, it did have a re-release in the form of the Sidewinder. Besides some new aesthetics, the Sidewinder is (as far as I’m aware) unchanged from its old form. Does it belong alongside Buzz Bee’s excellent clip (mag) system blasters?
Disclosure: The Sidewinder was sent to me by Buzz Bee for review, so thanks to them for that contribution. As usual, note that their contribution will not bias this review in any way.
The Sidewinder Blaster:
The Sidewinder is a rather odd design. It takes the carry handle and handguard from the M4/M16 style, yet has odd handle placement at the far extremes and has no stock. Buzz Bee is starting to add functionally-unnecessary shell details, which is an improvement over their old blasters, but they’re still far behind Nerf in terms of sophistication.
The main handle is rather small and oddly shaped, but still reasonably comfortable to grip. I suspect if you have large hands you might find the handle too small. There is one big problem with the Sidewinder though, and that is the trigger, or rather the lack thereof. While there is a trigger piece, it does nothing. Which leads to some major issues, which I’ll look at later on.
The Sidewinder has a fairly standard pump action. The vertical grip of the pump is very similar to the main handle and similarly reasonably comfortable to hold. Again if you have larger hands then you may find it too small.
The left side has a small jam door that opens a small aperture exposing a small gap between the drum well and the barrel. I haven’t needed to use it yet, though I suspect given its pump-to-fire nature, a short stroke could result in a jam for which this jam door is useful to fix.
The Sidewinder takes its drum on the right hand side, and to fit it, the blaster has a giant slot carved out of its side. It’s very strange, and almost looks a little weak because of how much was carved out.
The plunger outlet uses the same foam ring found on a lot of other Buzz Bee blasters, and achieves quite a good seal on the drum. The friciton nub works well enough, the drum doesn’t tend to rotate on its own and takes a fair bit of force to turn.
The Sidewinder uses two identical drum holders to hold the drum in place. They clip in place in one direction only, and are relatively easy to attach and detach.
Here it is next to an EAT. While only a little bit longer, the Sidewinder does feel a lot more unbalanced, with the handles at the extremes, no stock and the massive side drum.
The Sidewinder uses a unique 30 dart drum to hold all its darts, giving it one of the highest non-clip/mag blaster capacities out there. Unlike Nerf’s clip system drums, this drum has an individual barrel for each dart, and as such the 30 dart drum is actually larger than Nerf’s 35 dart drum.
The drum holders slot easily into the central holes in the drum, with a very loose fit. This allows the drum to rotate relatively easily, while still staying in place.
One particular issue with the drum is that in each barrel, there’s an unusual dart peg design that I’ll call a dart cone. Instead of the traditional Buzz Bee dart peg design, this drum has a significantly wider truncated cone that is extremely tight on the rear of darts. I found that loading darts into the drum would noticeably widen the rear of the hole running through the dart. Additionally, darts required quite significant amounts of force to fully load into the barrels, resulting in the darts getting significantly squished up just on loading. This is a potential major wear issue, as it significantly degrades the darts that are loaded in, certainly much more so than regular use.
Once the drum is loaded up and the drum holders are slotted onto the drum, it’s simply a case of lining up the drum holders and pushing them onto the Sidewinder.
So here’s the full Sidewinder package. It’s a very strange piece, part of it is trying to be an M4/M16, while the pump action and swept back handle suggest a shotgun, and then there’s the giant drum sticking out the side. It is somewhat unbalanced, and is als
Being that the Sidewinder is pump-to-fire, its firing cycle is very basic. The backwards stroke will fire the dart in firing position, while the forward stroke will rotate the next dart into position. The drum rotates counter-clockwise from the user’s perspective, so new darts are loaded from the top.
Removing the drum is relatively simple. The drum holders can be released from the blaster by pinching the release buttons on either side, then just pulling the drum holder off. This must be done to both drum holders and the same time. Once the drum holders are off, the drum is free to be removed. This ease of removal means that you could potentially quick-reload by having spare loaded drums, but this is not particularly practical. The drum switching process is much more complex than a clip/mag system, and the drums are absolutely massive, making them a pain to carry. Furthermore, the drums would only be available from buying additional Sidewinders.
Range is completely variable, dependent on how hard you pump. This does have one benefit, being that the Sidewinder is capable of impressive stock ranges. At max power I was able to get off 15+ metre shots at roughly flat. Since the blaster is pump to fire, I can’t guarantee that those shots were properly flat, but they were fairly close. Max power shots also tend to just fly all over the place, with no accuracy at all. Which leads nicely into the next category.
Accuracy is naturally horrendous. The faster and harder you pump it, the less stable it becomes, and so the larger your spray will be. Even if you slow down your ROF, the lack of a stock makes it very difficult to keep the Sidewinder in place for a stable shot. If the Sidewinder weren’t so unstable, it would likely have surprisingly good accuracy by virtue of its Ultra Tek darts.
Rate of Fire is its redeeming feature, the Sidewinder is capable of 5+ darts per second if you pump fast enough. As mentioned before, increasing your ROF will inherently decrease your accuracy, so for actual use, max ROF is not something you’d use often.
The Sidewinder best serves as a scavenger blaster or a clip/magless suppressive fire blaster. The exposed drum coupled with its massive 30 dart capacity allows reloading on-the-fly, and provides a massive capacity far beyond most other scavenging blasters. Loading darts into the barrels is harder than for regular blasters due to the barrel/dart peg design, but brute force gets around that. Additionally, since you can reload the drum while it’s still in the blaster, you’re always ready to fire.
The huge capacity coupled with its rate of fire gives the Sidewinder quite impressive suppressive fire ability. Though it does feel rather clunky compared to clip/mag system blasters, from my use it is still quite reliable for constantly pumping out darts.
The Sidewinder’s advantages are all against fellow non-clip/mag system blasters, because clip/mag system blasters can have a comparable capacity, with much better accuracy and consistency. I certainly would not recommend the Sidewinder if going up against clip/mag system blasters.
Value and Summary:
The Sidewinder retails for 20USD, which is an absurdly low cost for its capacity. 20USD gets you a retail price Stryfe, two Strongarms or a Flipfury/Cycloneshock. While it may not be very sophisticated, user friendly or easy to use, it’s hard to argue with the price. If you’re going for high capacity without a clip/mag, this is one of your better options. The lack of trigger and difficulty of loading darts are massive issues though. Those alone prevent me from properly recommending the Sidewinder, as they make usage so much harder.
Unless you’re willing to put in an immense amount of work, none. The lack of trigger means there’s also no spring or catch system. There’s no inherent way to increase power within the blaster. I don’t think it would be worth it to rig up a trigger either, might as well just run an Elite Alpha Trooper/Rampage/Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster with a drum.
As usual, thanks again to Buzz Bee for sending the Sidewinder to me for review.
A link to the review on my own blog: link