While it wasn't supposed to be out this early, Kmart (who already jumped the gun on the Tek Recon release) has placed the Huntsman 50 on shelves, making this the first new Lanard blaster in quite a while (Air Zone versions have appeared at Toys R Us, but those were all repaints of existing blasters). Naturally, seeing how no one else seems to have it, I bought it and took it home for review. Read on!
$30 gets you what appears to be an offbrand Longstrike. Although this one has the classic bolt action priming mechanism, and a removable stock as well as front barrel.
The darts that come with the blaster are red with hollow plastic tips. They're actually the same size as Elite darts, albeit a bit thinner. Quality control seems a bit haphazard in that regard - not all the darts would even stay in the dartholders on the stock, and testing them in actual Nerf blasters showed that some darts weren't even thick enough to put friction on the walls of the barrel - the AR springs would push them back. Luckily, Elites DO WORK in this blaster.
The magazine holds six darts, and is easily removed by pressing the red button in front of the mag well. Notice how the darts are held down by a small retaining piece, as compared to N-Strike magazines.
The reason for this odd magazine feature? Well, there's only about 1.5" total draw, less than the length of a dart.
The plunger tube is about an inch wide, with a direct plunger. Note, though, that the plunger rod is hollow, thus making for unneeded dead space. I'd suggest stuffing a foam blank or two in there for an easy mod. The spring is stiff for its size, and likely does not need replacement (unless you want to work on the catch mechanism and make a larger headache).
Notice the spring in that slot in the above picture? The barrel rides along that piece, and actually dips down to pick up a dart from the magazine, then returns to the top when you finish the priming motion. The grey lever on the left not only pushes the barrel down, but also back. A separate gear system pushed the dart back into the barrel in the down position. It's a complex system that works, but is a pain in the ass to document without pieces flying everywhere.
The end result is a blaster that forgoes air restrictors for a very short barrel, perhaps an inch long at most.
Range tests? Testing out of the box beside a Retaliator, each with their own darts, the Huntsman 50 fell five feet short of the Elite blaster's max range (performance was roughly the same when held parallel to the ground). It should also be noted that the Huntsman did in fact reach similar ranges when using Elite darts. So the weakness seems to be in the low quality darts, rather than the blaster.
By the way, I found an easy way to do direct dart comparisons!
Overall, I find the Huntsman 50 to be at least worth a look. Looks aside (and it would be a perfect prop), the blaster functions well, even with the short barrel and dart issues. If all else fails and this blaster isn't mod friendly, however, there is still hope. The barrel extension is nearly 1.5" wide, and is very smooth. It would theoretically be very easy to make a homemade plunger system with a slightly cupped rubber washer for the plunger head, and lots of draw - although the catch would need to be replaced as well. If anything, you'd have a really cool looking blaster!
Bottom line: I give this blaster a 7/10, as far as stock blasters are concerned. It's certainly not the best, but it's very fun to use.