April 10, 2015

Buzz Bee Auto Tek 20 Review and Basic Mod Guide

The Auto Tek 20 still hangs around on some store shelves, so I figured I'd grab one and do some experimentation. In practice, it feels like the love child of a Magstrike and Auto Tommy 20 - a two stage trigger operates the flywheels and pusher, while a ratcheting system raises the staggered clip as you fire more darts. It has a very satisfying sound. The same can't be said for the performance, even after some basic modding.

Out of the package, it's a simple blaster to understand. Three AA batteries (4.5V total) go in a compartment within the stock. A clip gets inserted into the bottom of the clip well, and pulling the trigger will (at half pull) fire up the flywheels and (pulled all the way) push the darts out for some foam flinging. It's best to hold the trigger halfway for a couple seconds so as to get the flywheels up to speed.

Due to the staggered nature of the clip, wider than normal flywheels are required. Unfortunately, that means more mass for the motors to spin. No wonder the box only makes 30' range claims. In addition, the gap measures ~0.54" - this was designed for Buzz Bee's suction cup darts, not any kind of streamline. This really limits your selection of ammo.

When you stare into the abyss...
Opened up, the Auto Tek 20 shows nothing new in terms of motorized blaster mechanics.

Performance was ok - darts were averaging 30' flat ranges, and 45' angled ranges in testing. Nothing to write home about.

With a 9V battery jury-rigged inside the battery tray, ranges increased to 65' angled, albeit with a LOT more noise. Even with higher voltages, this blaster can't even match your basic Stryfe or Rapidstrike for distance.
A random small spring bridges the gap between the positive terminal and its contact. A dummy battery sits in the third AA slot underneath.

 Should you desire to use streamline darts with this blaster, you'll need to remove some plastic. Elites are just a tad too long.
If they were only 1/16" shorter...
Remove the plastic wall at the front of the clip well in order to get enough space for the darts to move.
Just a bit of plastic surgery!
In addition, wrapping the middle of each flywheel with electrical tape (the 3/4" wide kind) is sufficient for gripping your Elites. Wrap evenly, and aim for a gap of about 0.43" between the wrapped flywheels for best results (with 9V, still the same 65' max ranges as before).

And now with the tape here, you can't use the original darts! How (not) convenient!
While the Auto Tek 20 is fun to use, it's nowhere near competitive with stock Nerf flywheel blasterseven when modded. The unique clip also means that unless you bought some more Auto Tek 20 blasters (unlikely), you'd need to reload the clip again and again, while your opponents swap clips and proceed to pelt you with darts. Just give this one a pass.

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