Author’s note: I received a free sample for review from Dart Zone, and also had the chance to handle the Mk1.2 early at an exclusive party for Foam Pro Tour players, guests, and other qualified individuals. Thanks for the sample and the hands-on time!
It was supposed to be a massive upgrade. More power, a sealed breech, and a new design scheme to match the Mk3. There’s a folding stock as well as a focus on short darts. There’s even a lower price compared to its predecessors. For all the improvements, though, the Mk1.2 is, in its current form, somehow a downgrade, with integral flaws in the design. Until things improve, there are better blasters to use.
Weird Flex, But Okay
Let’s get this one out of the way first: this thing bends. The natural usage case (force to shoulder quickly, prime) actually results in the blaster bending downward on the priming action. For there to *not* be shell-bending action, you have to have the stock support lined up with your shoulder, and pull down the main grip with your dominant hand while forcing up a bit with the priming handle. Which no one running and shooting in a blaster war is ever going to do consistently.
On this subject, the shell bends down, but the most flex is at the joint with the stock. While there are some humorous takes on this, the forces involved just with regular use (and no mods) can lead to poor outcomes.
Shell flexing aside, the Mk1.2 is actually very nice to look at and hold! When the Mk3 was released, it moved away from the more utilitarian design of the Mk1. With the new DZP releases, we’re seeing updates to the rest of the line to match.
For the Mk1.2, that means more angles and non-red pieces breaking up the design. It makes for a much more pleasant design than the Mk1, in my opinion.
Even more notable is compressing the spring over the entire priming distance; the slack seen in previous Pro blasters is gone!
Other important changes include combining the retention pins of the takedown assembly into one piece (easy assembly, and no more rattling metal!) and the addition of an N-strike stock attachment point. The included stock fits on here and has a buffer tube for further stock mounting options. It seems great as an idea, but with how much the stock point bends…I’m not sold on the stock yet, and I leave the stock as far forward as possible. Let’s leave it at that.
The quick takedown feature does make jams easier to fix when they occur – more on that later.
The rubberized handles are nice, but the rubber pieces themselves are loose-fitting, and it’s a minor annoyance when regular blaster use leads to an off-normal grip that feels weird.
There are iron sight attachments (with some adjustment included), and they work decently well for aiming the blaster.
The Dart Zone Pro comes with 30 Bamboo 2.0 darts, which it fires at a stunning average of 214fps. With other current short darts (ranging from Worker 3.0 to Dart Zone Max), it was a still-respectable 193fps average.
One thing I did note was better accuracy from other darts than the Bamboo 2.0s that were included. The new darts weigh in at only 0.7g, meaning there’s less mass to push when firing the blaster. This explains the initial fps numbers for Bamboo 2.0s quite easily. The light weight also explains the apparent accuracy difference at distance – the new darts are simply less stable than the original. By virtue of more mass, the regular darts might have a lower fps, but through stability and inertia stay airborne over a longer distance.
Even with other darts, though, you could still see some initial fishtailing. There’s some serious power here, and perhaps it’s not being completely harnessed.
If you want to change your firing velocity, removing the stock cap and a few screws gives access to the main spring. A second (weaker) spring is included in the packaging, and it reduces dart velocities to under 110fps (how far under depends on dart type).
…but Poor Performance?
Finally, a major issue: ammo feeding problems became apparent at the Dart Zone Pro Tournament Finals last weekend. Due to the need to rapidly fire darts, fast priming actions resulted in multiple misfeeding issues and jams. It was discovered a few days beforehand to have a good fix (removing part of one plastic rib in the shell), but that fix was obviously not implemented prior to the competition. Afterward, it seems obvious – the breech-mounted dart guide can potentially hit that rib and cause the blaster to not feed darts correctly. And I’m sure the shell-bending associated with priming doesn’t help matters.
If you go slow on your shots, this issue is unlikely to appear. Even then, I had at least one loading issue per magazine. Rapid-fire just makes the issue more likely to raise its ugly head. While modders can of course fix this issue, the issue shouldn’t be there in the first place, especially for the general consumer.
EDIT: There was also another issue: the dart guide has enough downward force to cause issues with darts being pressed into the magazine instead of the breech. This results in folded darts and jammed blasters. I, for one, had to remove my dart guide completely. I am unsure of whether current models on sale are fixed or not.
I’ll just plug in a video of me using the blaster recently.
It’s a shame the Mk1.2 has issues because there’s a ton of potential inside! Just make sure to remove the main grip first, and unclip the black piece above it.
Earlier Dart Zone springers have featured a priming mechanism with slack to accommodate the use of full-length darts; as a result, the air volumes being compressed are ultimately limited. In the Mk1.2, though, there’s not only a removal of priming slack, but the plunger tube itself is massive at 36mm ID! All that volume, a metal catch, and decent spring support means there’s likely still more power to harness, should you choose to do so. Honestly, a longer barrel would be a good thing to start with.
The priming lock sits at the back of the plunge tube. If needed, you can engage it via a button on the top tactical rail.
The Dart Zone Pro Mk1 (and 1.1) were a solid start to the line. Dart Zone aimed high with the Mk1.2, and while some changes were good (increased power, better takedown mechanism, etc.), new problems popped up. Granted, some of the problems can be fixed (or at least mitigated) at home. But consumers shouldn’t have to fix a product to unlock its full functionality.
Is the Mk1.2 worth having in the collection? Maybe. I’ve enjoyed using mine, and it’s easy just having a blaster that falls under the fps cap at some local wars. But $120? Only if you’re excited about the blaster. Otherwise, I’d rather wait for a sale and/or later production models that have been fixed prior to shipping.