Introduction: Broken X-Shot Excel Hawkeye Modification

About: On my way to being a dumpwood craftsman.

My son has an X-Shot Excel Hawkeye foam dart gun. One of the features of the dart gun is the crack-barrel loading; not something often seen on these dart guns. In essence, a couple of small plastic domes set back to back with a spring between sit in a harness on the gun. A hinge holds the barrel to the gun on the bottom side and these domes fit into sockets on the top side. Thus, it just takes a little force to crack open the barrel, load a dart, and snap it back together. The gun is a pump-action with the pump grip on the barrel so it can only be cocked while the barrel is closed.

But what if the little opposed domes locking mechanism breaks and super glue doesn't work? No one wants to run around with their barrel hanging down!

So let's modify it to use without the barrel!


X-Shot Excel Hawkeye rifle with broken barrel lock

Small Phillips screwdriver

Scrap piece of wood roughly 8 inches long

Drill and woodworking tools

Thin wire

Pin vise and small bits

Small file

Small pliers

Step 1: Taking the Gun Apart

Locate the eleven screws that hold the gun together using the small Phillips screwdriver. The half should come right off maybe with a jiggle or two.

Remove the stock and the spring-loaded lever that makes it jump for effect when the trigger is pulled. Slide the barrel off its hinge. Remove the gun-side plunger and spring from under the air chamber (optional).

Step 2: Measure Draw Length

Now we want to measure the draw length of the air plunger. We are going to fashion a pull-back rod like some of the other foam dart guns use. Align the notch in the air plunger shaft with the spring loaded wedge that holds it in ready position. Measure from the contact edge of the wedge and notch to the back end of the shaft. Make note of the measurement.

Not pictured: Measure and note the width and height of the stock where it enters the back of the gun.

Step 3: Making the Pull-back Rod

Cut a piece of scrap wood to size:

From a piece of scrap wood, cut a piece about 8" long* with the same width and height as the stock at the point it enters the gun.

Shape one end of the new piece to fit into the contour of the back edge of the plunger shaft.

With the contoured edge of the pull-back rod butted against the plunger shaft, mark where the guide post near the back of the gun will be on the wood. Make another mark toward the front of the gun at the draw length distance away from the first guide post mark and the same distance between top and bottom of the pull-back rod. Using a drill bit slightly wider than the guide post, drill a hole at each mark. Try and keep it perpendicular to the sides (use a drill press if you got it). Using your preferred method, cut out the material between the two holes maintaining the width of the holes.

Notice that on the other side of the gun, there is a receiver hole for the guide post. The wall around this hole makes it wider than the guide post. Therefore, we must cut out the guide hole on the pull-back rod wide enough and deep enough to accommodate the added bulk.

Cut or carve a chunk out of the front of the pull-back rod to match the width of the plunger shaft.

*I say 8", but you can make it any length as long as there is enough to take hold of at the back of the gun when butted up against the plunger shaft.

Step 4: Attaching the Pull-back Rod

Using a tiny bit on the pin vise drill two holes in the plunger shaft and two in the pull-back rod (as shown). Try to line up the holes. Using a file corner, file little notches into the sides of the plunger shaft and pull-back rod; we want the notches to be where the wire will lay and we need them deep enough that the wire will not stick out and impede the motion of these pieces.

Attach the two pieces using the wire by threading it through the holes and twisting the ends with small pliers. Stuff the twisted ends into the recesses of the plunger shaft.

Step 5: Finishing Up

Assemble the now attached pieces back into the gun. Place the removed half of the gun back together without screwing it into place. Holding the gun together with one hand, test the pull-back action and the firing action to make sure they work smoothly. Test firing action with a dart loaded as the gun may seem not to fire correctly (it may seem to catch on something part-way through its return to fired state). If needed, sand/plane/carve wooden rod until pulling back feels smooth and the dart flies when fired. Once we are satisfied that the gun works, put it together with the screws in place.

This is just my very simple proof of concept fix. I'm thinking about what I can do on the exposed wood to have a better grip. Perhaps some rounded notches or something.

Note: Sometimes the gun pushes darts partway out. I thought I'd have to figure out how to fix that too, but my son says it just happens sometimes and just use a different dart. I guess it's a subject for another Instructible if I do decide to look into it.