October 1, 2014

Air Hogs Sharpshooter Long Shot Review

After a bit of a hiatus hitting the books at college, I'm back with more reviews! We'll start with a toy that's somewhat of a novelty - the Air Hogs Sharpshooter Long Shot. For those who don't know, Air Hogs is a brand dedicated to R/C vehicles, aerial toys, and the like. In this case, the ~$40 Sharpshooter Long Shot is an R/C helicopter that can shoot foam darts on command.

The box claims 20' ranges (although the method Air Hogs used to test that for a flying toy is unknown) and is meant for indoor use. So it's unlikely to be useful at a war anytime soon, unless you can get someone to approve it for an awful blaster round in a large enclosed space or a day without wind. It's still plenty of fun, though!
The commercial for the Sharpshooter Long Shot will give you a pretty good view of the entire helicopter.

Out of the box, the R/C helicopter is small, coming in at under a foot in length. It's like other small R/C helis - it uses counter-rotating blades for stability, and an infrared control unit for command input. This is part of the reason why the toy is meant only for indoors - aside from wind issues, being in sunlight screws with the signal going to the heli, making it frustrating to use. Or, rather, attempt to use.

The twin blasters, it turns out, are actual plunger tubes! These have some up/down movement for launching the darts at a higher angle, so you can set the blasters' pitch before the flight. You cannot fire the darts unless the toy is in operation, whether in the air or just spinning the blades on the ground too slowly for takeoff. So with practice, using this as a portable turret is certainly possible.

You just pull the plungers back until the catches engage, and then load the darts in front. Since the heli is only powering the catch for removal, NOT the priming, I imagine you could fiddle with stronger springs or even a larger plunger tube. Remember, though, that this is a small toy and can't carry very much additional weight. So modding potential is EXTREMELY limited.

The controller serves as both the charging station and the command input, fully charging the toy in 10-15 minutes, giving it a flight time of just a few minutes. Pretty standard as far as miniature R/C helis go. In addition to basic flight controls and a trim dial for stabilizing the heli, there are two triggers at the shoulders of the unit, one for each dart blaster. That way, you can fire one at a time, or two if you so wish.

Range testing consisted of keeping the heli at roughly shoulder height. With the blasters firing parallel to the ground, the 20' range claim was accurate, and at the highest angle setting darts went as far as 30'. This occurred with the included darts, with Nerf Elite streamlines, and with Buzz Bee suction tip darts. It should also be noted that there is roughly a second of lag time between pressing a trigger and a dart firing. Presumably, you have to wait for a tiny motor to retract the catch piece.

As you can tell in the following video, there's a reason you don't use this outside on a windy day. At least the plastic is sturdy enough to handle crashing so much. Like any R/C toy of this type, practice makes perfect. Don't expect to be hitting targets accurately overnight.

My verdict? The Sharpshooter Long Shot is surprisingly entertaining, and I've already put in close to two hours of total flight time (charge, play, repeat...) both indoors and out. In ideal conditions, the heli is responsive up to 50' away, and with practice and patience can be easily managed. Mastery takes longer, but you'll still be having fun at that point. The darts fire harder and farther than expected, and over time you will be able to better hit targets.

There are some downsides, though. The trim function is a pain to use, as it seems your heli will rotate during flight regardless of the setting. You can get it close enough, though, that you can use the left/right stick to compensate. In addition, there are many times when the heli keels over on takeoff because the stabilizer bar is hitting the bottom set of blades. I'm not sure why it does this, or if it's just me having this problem.

Even so, if you're willing to ignore the blaster function completely until you can competently control the heli, then you'll have lots of fun hitting targets and divebombing people nearby. Cubicle Warfare, anybody?


  1. honestly I think for a more practical version you need a quad copper with either a speedswarm or rapidstrike mounted underneath

    1. You do realize how insanely heavy that would be for an R/C vehicle to carry, right?

  2. Yeah, there's two really heavy blasters, with the prop wash from four blades to help accuracy!
    Good review. Try checking the tail is perpendicular to the tail boom, that helps your trim. Also add some nose weight if you want to get more forward motion.