Rating: ★★★★½

For the longest time now, if a group of kids wanted to play a game with guns in their backyard the choices of what to use were somewhat limited.  There are B.B. guns, but you’re not supposed to shoot them at people; there’s paintball guns, but in a backyard situation they’re hardly optimal (unless your backyard consists of a few acres of woods) – or there were Nerf (and other dart) guns.  Nerf has been the king of the backyard battleground because of the innovations they’ve shown in the past, and no one has had the chutzpah to challenge them.

Until now.

Enter The Maya Group with their new line of Xploderz guns.  What the Xploderz guns use for ammo in the really revolutionary thing they bring to the table.  The problem with Nerf-style guns, is that unless you’re playing in a totally “sterile” (an arena with white walls and floors) environment, the darts can be a real pain to find.  Usually gaming sessions end up with at least one dart per gun MIA, and the reloading times end up causing an unnatural break in the action.  Xploderz uses water-infused pellets, for ammo that is one-time use.   They call it “H2-Grow”, and in reality the pellets do grow as they absorb water (although the process takes a few hours).  The pellets don’t really absorb enough water to get you wet however, so don’t think this will also work for a squirt gun battle.

You load one of the guns by attaching a clip full of “wet ballz”.  The clip is gravity fed, and when you pull back the plunger, a vacuum piston inside pulls one of the “wet ballz” into the chamber.  That’s one thing I didn’t particularly like on the XRanger 2000, is that you had to pull the knob to reload it after every shot, and where it’s positioned (in front of the trigger) makes it a bit awkward.   The Maya Group claims that the XRanger 2000 can shot up to 85 feet, and in my testing I was able to hit that mark pretty consistently.  I definitely was out ranging my son when he tried to shoot me with his Stampede.

The XRanger 2000 is surprisingly comfortable to use even though it’s fairly large (just a bit bigger than the Nerf Stampede), and it’s pretty light as well (no batteries).  While the gun doesn’t have the power to make the “wet ballz” explode one hundred percent of the time, they don’t hurt when you get hit by one.  Generally though, if the target is within 40 or so feet the ball will explode – power just drops off too much at more distance.

The XRanger 2000 retails for $39.99, and comes with the gun, 2000 dry “wet ballz” (oxymoron?), a removable butt-stock, and a fold a way bipod.  As long as you don’t mind buying new ammo after you run dry (a 500 round pack runs between $5.00 and $5.99 depending on where you shop), the XRanger 2000 is a great gun to add to any collection.  While it may not be ideal for CQB matches, you’ll be able to outdistance your friends in a wide-open setting.

I give the XRanger 2000 from The Maya Group a rating of 4 and a half stars out of 5

You can buy the XRanger 2000 at Amazon for $39.99.