As I mentioned in a few reviews last year, Dollar Tree is the perfect place to go to find toys for the summer months. It’s often a win-win situation: Kids play with most things only a handful of times at most before losing interest in them, and that’s about how long most of their toys last. If it breaks and they’re still interested, then you can buy them a better one from somewhere else. Think of it as a trial run, of sorts.
We just had one of our first truly summery days here in Ohio, and that meant it was time to stock up on things for the hot months ahead. We bought a pool, we bought a sprinkler, and I went to Dollar Tree to see what other fun things I could find to complement those purchases.
And what screams “summer” more than water guns?
As far as I could tell, Dollar Tree has three varieties of water gun; I just went ahead and took one of each. It’s not a water gun fight if the whole family can’t get involved!
Like most things in Dollar Tree, these clearly aren’t built to last. The plastic is light and feels very cheap…one drop on the hard ground and these are probably done for. But since our backyard is mostly grass, that doesn’t bother me all that much. Since all three have their own quirks and characteristics, I’ll do a brief rundown of each one individually. (Note that each may be available in different colors, so refer to the picture for the body style.)
Yellow and Purple Single Tank: This futuristic-looking blaster features a single refill tank that screws off and on for easy refilling, a la Super Soakers from the ‘90s. The tank was easy to remove and reinstall. There might have been some slight leakage when squirting, but not enough to cause any issues. However, there is one curious manufacturing “defect” that’s actually beneficial: You really don’t even need the tank.
I don’t understand how or why. My wife and I were emptying out the water at the end of the day so that it didn’t get gross from sitting in there. I took out the tank to expedite the process, and started squirting it…and continued to squirt it. The water kept coming. I actually counted and got 83 (yes, eighty three) squirts without the tank. It must suck the water from the tank and into the body. Either way, it’s pretty cool and can be useful for surprise attacks. (I can’t be a threat because I’ve unloaded my tank. See?”)
Green and Yellow Blaster: This one features the more traditional “unscrew top and hold under water to refill” style. If you need to reload on the fly, this is probably the one for you, as it requires no extra tanks or additional parts.
This one featured the “strongest” water stream, although as you will see below, none of them are particularly powerful. It also feels the lightest when refilled, making it easier to carry (and conceal, should the situation require it). The drawback is that it doesn’t hold as much water as the others. It’s also the only one that leaks every time the trigger is pulled. Despite that, this was my personal favorite of the bunch.
Red and Blue Double Barrel: On paper, this one sounds like a winner, as it’s the only double-barreled option of the bunch. More output automatically means a better gun, right? Not so fast: This one features a whopping three tanks. Why three are necessary for a two-barrel gun is unclear, as two of them clearly lead to the same nozzle. And the small size of each tank – paired up with their close proximity to one another – makes it rather difficult to refill for adult hands. At the same time, younger kids might struggle with having to screw and re-screw in three tanks.
It’s easily the most frustrating to reload, but the tradeoff is more “power”.
It’s actually kind of neat that all three have their own strengths and weaknesses, making water battles feel balanced. The double barrel obviously outputs twice as much water, but takes twice as long to reload. The single tank refills fairly quickly, but also works without the tank once refilled, making it good for surprise attacks. And the old-fashioned screw top refiller doesn’t seem to hold as much water, but it’s otherwise the most practical.
You know, one improvement dollar store products have made strides in over the years is quality. I’ve harped on, even in a previous paragraph, about how many Dollar Tree products are of fairly low quality. But those statements are generally compared to similar products from brands that often cost twice as much (or more). Compared to the same products twenty years ago, there’s been a huge increase in overall quality. Buying three water guns in the ‘90s from a dollar store would virtually guarantee at least one of them would have a massive leak, or a busted trigger, or some other manufacturing defect.
Yeah, one of them leak, but only when the trigger is pulled. And it’s not so bad that it’s rendered unusable; it just means maybe a couple more trips to the refill station. Ideally, there wouldn’t be any such issues, but hey, you get what you pay for. And in the realm of paying a little over a dollar for water guns, these are still pretty hard to beat.
The streams of water here are pretty weak, but that’s to be expected; nothing about these scream “power”. Otherwise, performance is actually fairly impressive: Each of these guns reaches somewhere around the twenty feet mark, give or take a couple. That gives enough range to have competitive gun battles. Plus, the feeble water streams make it perfect for younger kids and adults who aren’t looking to get completely soaked. (After all, isn’t that what pools and sprinklers are for?)
As long as you know the limits of what you’re getting in advance, these are pretty decent water guns. They probably won’t be around for more than a season (if they even make it that far), but they’re cheap enough to be replaced without breaking the bank. Recommended.
Overall: 6/10. These are pretty fantastic water guns for the price. As always, longevity is an issue – one already leaks when the trigger is pulled – but at $1.25 each, you can afford to stock up some backups and still save loads of money over more well-known brands. Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses, making battles feel balanced. For example, the triple tank takes forever to refill, but is the only double barreled one of the bunch. The water pressure on all three are weak, but that makes it ideal for family-friendly battles, where no one wants to get soaked. Even the range – twenty or so feet – is enough to reach enemies without having to get super close. These are well worth the $1.25 price tag, and are loads better than some $3 guns we got from elsewhere (:coughcough:Menards::endcough::).