Dart Shark ReviewDecember 29, 2018
I’m not usually one to review homemade, 3d printed, or aftermarket blasters and parts. Prior to this review, the only thing in that category was the Mega Caliburn (which is itself an amazing platform and lots of fun to use). But after seeing the Dart Shark surface, I had to get one for myself. Seeing as the creator of it wouldn’t be making and shipping them out until after the holidays, I went with the “buy the files for printing and source the parts myself” method.
In the end, is the Dart Shark absolutely necessary? No. But it’s so much fun to use, and so silly yet cleverly done. At the very least, it’s nice to see a standalone magazine-loading device in existence.
Who Needs the Infinus, Anyway?
The Nerf NStrike Elite Infinus has, in addition to the blaster, an automatic magazine loader. When you insert a dart, the blaster sucks in the dart, and a large plastic lever presses the dart down into the magazine.
The Dart Shark works on a similar principle, but in a smaller package that doesn’t need to be attached to a blaster. In this case, the plastic loading lever is the tongue of the shark, and it sits inside the lips of the inserted magazine.
You insert the dart, pushing the shark’s tongue back. Doing that triggers the motor to open and close the jaw. In that short time, the tongue snaps forward again, and presses the dart down into the magazine to load it.
The Dart Shark is meant to run off of three 14500 sized Lithium Ion batteries (I had LiFePO4 cells handy). In this case, the motor used has a relatively low current draw, so it doesn’t need a Lipo to run.
After fixing my printer and sourcing the hardware (screws, motor, switches, etc), it took a few days of printing and tweaking to make the Dart Shark. In the end, it worked as designed, loading darts into stick magazines and drums.
Does It Replace Manually Loading Magazines?
…no? It took me roughly the same amount of time to load a magazine by hand as it did with the Dart Shark. Instead of using one finger to press down the darts, the machine did that for me. In reality, it doesn’t make my life any easier (nor does it make it harder). It does seem to work with all clip-compatible darts, although in a few cases older darts with more flexible foam wanted to bend instead of pushing the “tongue” all the way back. After adjusting a few things, it seems there is a perfect length of elastic band you need to use for the “return spring” of the shark tongue. This helps alleviate those issues.
Maybe the Dart Shark makes it easier to load magazines for other people that don’t do it well under normal circumstances? I can’t be a good judge of that. In theory you could mount it somewhere to hold the magazine in place, and do it one-handed.
What I do know is that I love using the device. There’s a satisfaction in being able to make the entire thing yourself, printed parts and all, and then playing with it, even when you’re not actively loading a magazine. It sort of embodies what Nerfing is about for me: it’s completely silly, and I love it.
Besides, how can you not love something with teeth that eats darts?
In the end, the Dart Shark is simply fun. It doesn’t personally help me load my magazines any better, but I can’t stop playing with it.
If you’re interested in getting one (whether in one piece, a kit, or just the files), you can go to the AM34Designs Etsy page.