Using the pistol is simple. You pull back on the ring on the end of the plunger until the catch wire hooks onto the plunger catch. Then simply push the telescoping part of the plunger back into the pistol. (With a non-telescoping plunger, the pistol would have to be longer and wouldn’t be as neat when cocked.) You’re ready to fire!
I’ve found that when fired over a range of 8–10 meters (26–33 feet), the darts are fairly accurate and travel fairly flat. At farther distances, you need to start lifting the barrel to get more of a lob trajectory on the darts.
What else could be done? You can paint the pistol any way you want, although I would stay away from black, so it isn’t mistaken for a real weapon. Most parts of the pistol can be modified to suit your own particular tastes. The grip can be changed, the barrel length modified. Adding a stronger main spring is probably the best way to increase the range. You could also add some kind of sights — perhaps even a laser sight from a cheap laser pointer, for that high-tech touch.
The next version I’m planning is a Nerf-firing replica of a “real” prop weapon. Perhaps a stormtrooper’s blaster from Star Wars or a pistol from Blake’s 7?
'''This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 29, pages 112-122.