Advice About Buying Water Guns
Written by DX
Last updated on 2007-10-03
As you might have seen by the pricing, water guns are not just children's toys. They have real collectible value. Like with any other collectible item, there are some dirty tricks you should watch out for:
Watch out for "Mint", "Like New", "Excellent", and especially "Good Working Condition" or "In Great Shape". There is a standardized grading system for water guns that defines what a term like "Mint Condition" actually entails. Very few sellers use this formal grading system because very few know about it or would want to lessen the value of their guns. Water guns in lower grades are worth considerably less. You know a seller is reputable if they have the guts to post the actual formal grade of a soaker in less-than-desirable condition. Lack of a detailed grade description usually means that the seller is using their own, which cannot be verified as accurate or true. This is an example of a "real" condition from the formal grading:
"EXCELLENT: This gun has been used, but has been properly cared for to preserve its value. There may be some contact marks, especially on the reservoir (when applicable) and pressure chamber (when applicable), however, they do not detract from the overall appeal of the soaker. There may be slight traces of wear on the bottom of the trigger grip, strap areas (when applicable), and pump shaft. The screws may be slightly off-color, but should show no sign of rust or other decay. The nozzle(s), trigger, and pump should function like new."
Very, very few soakers are truly "rare". Most stock CPS water guns such as the 2100, 4100, 2500, 2000, etc. pop up on Ebay constantly. They are only rare in the sense that none are produced today or stocked in stores. Legit rare guns like the XP 300, XP 250, CPS 2100 MK1, CPS 2700 MK3, CPS 4100 MK1, etc. are virtually unobtainable and may be represented by a single known soaker.
Many water guns come in several versions. They range from slightly different to very different, both externally and internally. The original version is called the mark 1 if known. Some guns have quite a few marks, such as the CPS 2100, 1200, 1000, 2500, etc. MK1 is usually the most desirable mark, but this is not always the case (CPS 2000 Mk1s are powerful but vulnerable to rubber bladder ruptures). Marks may drastically affect value, as in the case of the highly undesirable CPS 2100 MK2 and infamously weak triggered CPS 4100 MK2. Always check the mark of a gun before bidding on it, and/or ask the seller if you aren't sure from the pictures. The vast majority of sellers don't know the mark of the gun they are selling. You can usually place more confidence and trust in the few who do.
ID numbers are actually NOT unique to each soaker. It is possible and has been proven that two soakers can have the same ID. An example is 9797-0. These are not serial numbers and have no value beyond stating the factory of release and year of production.
Water guns that function perfectly do not leak and can not leak. Leaking = water gun automatically in BROKEN condition, regardless of what its normal working condition would be. The problem is often minor, but usually requires opening of the gun to fix. Most guns do shed a couple drops from the nozzle tip after firing, especially the CPS 2500, this is normal and not considered true leakage.
Many water guns originally come with straps, backpacks, QFDs, and/or outer nozzle covers. The Monster XL comes with bipods. Lack of such items affects value. Numerous dishonest sellers don't include a strap even if they haven't lost it. If a particular soaker definitely was released with a strap, beware if the seller says they "lost" it. Likewise, some sellers put out a backpack soaker such as the CPS 3000, but don't include the backpack or put out a QFD-only soaker such as the Splashzooka and then don't include the QFD valve. It is a tradition to remove outer nozzle covers after modifying a gun. In those cases, the lack of a nozzle cover may be normal.
Educate yourself as to the differences between a genuine Super Soaker and a cheap fake. Technically, a knock-off is not a counterfeit or fake unless claimed to be genuine. Such claims are illegal and those auctions should be reported. There is one knock-off called the "Super Shooter 2000" that actually performs pretty well, but it is a rare exception to the rule that knock-offs perform terribly in comparison to the soakers they were crafted in the image of.
Many sellers cite stats, review text, and/or pictures from iSoaker.com, a well-known water gun review site. This is perfectly legal if credit is given properly. Otherwise, the use is illegal and should be reported. The most authoritative sellers write their own reviews and descriptions from their own experience! If outside stats and reviews are cited, you are not getting as useful information, as that gun is not the one in the auction and may perform differently!
I've sold one water gun on Ebay so far (a CPS 2700 MK1 of Excellent Grade) and someone copied text from that auction for their own. Just one gun and I'm already being copied! This is considered stealing and is worth reporting. Do not buy from sellers who copy other sellers. Sellers who disclaim that their descriptions are 100% original are the most authoritative and trustworthy. They know enough about what they are selling that copying is not necessary!
Many ranges are purposely exaggerated. The benchmark CPS 2000 MK1 shoots about 49-50ft. Only modified and homemade water guns are capable of passing this mark. Some of the older XP and Classic guns may have "50ft" printed on their boxes, but they don't actually achieve that range. The powerful SS 300/XP 300 is an exception. Stream Machines do not achieve the ranges printed on their boxes either, usually "70ft". The ranges of all piston guns vary based on the user.
1x output = 30mL/second. Keep sellers honest by asking them to personally measure the output(s) of the nozzle(s). In some cases, the printed output on the nozzle does not match the actual output. Many soakers do not have the outputs marked on the nozzles at all. If personally tested outputs are listed, compare them against other reviews for accuracy. The physical size of a nozzle does not indicate its output. Also keep in mind that output is affected by the type of shot time calculated. 1 Second burst is different than interval output.
False Shot Times
Estimated shot times are not accurate. Only accept personally timed and calibrated shot times, as personal timing alone might also be off.
Guns to Avoid
Do not buy a used CPS 4100 MK2 unless the trigger has been preemptively reinforced or repaired. Do not buy a CPS 1200 MK2 or 4, CPS 2100 MK2, or XP 310 MK2 if you plan on power-modding them. Take caution when buying a used CPS 2500 or CPS 2000 of any mark, as the triggers are fairly weak and may be close to breaking.