35 MPH NERF Darts!

Did you know the muzzle velocity of a NERF dart out of a toy gun? Neither did [MJHanagan] until he did all sorts of measurement. And now we all know: between 35 and 40 miles per hour (around 60 km/h).

foo_thumbnailFirst, he prototyped a single beam-break detector (shown above) and then expanded his build to two in order to get velocity info. A Propeller microcontroller took care of measuring the timing. Then came the gratuitous statistics. He took six different darts and shot them each 21 times, recording the timings. Dart #3 was the winner, but they all had similar average speeds. You’re not going to win the office NERF war by cherry-picking darts.

Anyway, [MJ] and his son had a good time testing them out, and he thinks this might make a good kids’ intro to science and statistics. We think that’s a great idea. You won’t be surprised that we’ve covered NERF chronographs before, but this implementation is definitely the scienciest!

Thanks [drudrudru] for the tip!

15 thoughts on “35 MPH NERF Darts!

  1. Back in the day, when I used to play paintball on a serious basis, optical timers were standard kit at competitions to ensure guns didn’t exceed permitted muzzle velocity limits (about 200mph). I’m surprised that NERF guns are actually that slow.

  2. What an excellent opportunity to teach some phsyics. A car and a nerf bullet are traveling at 35mph in a vacuum. They both hit you but only one kills you.

  3. Funny that the unit of measure in the article was mph; most if not all the chronometers on the market read in fps(feet per second). My google fu returns approximately 58fps if we’re being generous.

  4. I once measured the muzzle velocity of one of my modded nerf guns (orangemodworks upgrade), and it was ~75fps, or around 50mph. It could shoot a maximum of about 100 feet, but on average around 60 feet. At point-blank it stung, but wouldn’t break skin. Muzzle velocity on a nerf gun is kind of pointless, because the darts are so light.

    1. As someone with one of the full-replacement OMW kits, muzzle velocity does indeed matter due to the ballistic behavior of the darts–push them too fast and they don’t go where you’re pointing it at all due to fishtailing.

        1. That’s why there are designs to shoot like fifteen darts at once out of that. And half the time they still end up fishtailing so hard they only make it ten feet.

    2. You’re never going to break skin, but there’s some pretty extensive research into nerf ballistics by very bored physics students. Turns out about 120fps is the magic spot- any faster and the darts start pinwheeling.

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