BARREL BREAK IX-2
After last week’s rather downer review, I need something to pick me back up. Bonus points if it restores my faith in the regular N-Strike series. What’s this? Oh, praise the gods, it’s the Barrel Break. Faith is restored, and by a shotgun no less. So what is this masterpiece of toy craftsmanship? Does it really make up for the SharpFire? Am I maybe over-hyping it a little? All these questions will be answered in due time.
THE BLASTER ITSELF
Ok, it’s probably due time now, so let me address your questions in no particular order; maybe a little, not really since the SharpFire came out afterward and it’s hard to make up for something that comes later, and this is the Barrel Break IX-2. That answer everything? Good, moving on. The Barrel Break IX-2 was released in 2010 as part of the N-Strike line. Its main draw was the unique and fairly unorthodox method of loading the blaster. By pressing the lever on either side of the blaster, you unlock the barrels which slide forward and then pivot downward like a break action shotgun. You then load the darts into the barrels, pivot them back into alignment and push them back into the body of the blaster. You then are able to fire either one dart at a time or both at once thanks to the 2 separate air chambers, much like the Roughcut that would come later. Where the Roughcut would use gears to assist priming both springs at once, the Barrel Break simply uses the mechanical advantage of the barrels acting as a long lever when pushed down to prime the plungers. The whole system may be a little complex, but back in my days of collegiate Humans Vs Zombies, this blaster was an easy choice for backup. The ability to fire two shots in rapid succession was a big help during the day, and its tolerance for all ammo types gave a decent advantage during missions when scrounging darts off the ground was commonplace. It should be noted that while clip system blasters obviously couldn’t use broad heads, there were more than a handful of non-clip blasters that wouldn’t reliably fire streamlines either. The Barrel Break uses all new sculpting and mechanics and has one attachment rail along the top of the blaster. It does show a few signs of its time such as the plastic being a little creakier than more recent blasters, but even so, the fun of the whole thing is hard to deny. Creaking aside, in hand the blaster feels pretty good. My only gripe in this area is that the front of the grip is a little narrow and can put just a little more pressure on my fingers than I’d like when holding it for a long time. The grip is severely angled which helps confirm that this is meant to be a trusty double-barrel more than anything. The angle does make aiming down sights a little awkward, but let’s be honest, this isn’t a blaster to be aimed. The performance is another way the Barrel Break shows its age. While it had pretty great out-of-the-box range and power when it was released, the standard has been moved up since then. It’ll still work fine as an indoor/sibling attack blaster, but I still think most of the enjoyment I get out of it is the satisfying mechanical feeling of reloading and that hasn’t changed a bit. The Barrel Break IX-2 comes packaged with 10 whistler darts and a clip-on dart holder that attaches to the rail. I still have it, at least, I still have all of its parts, but I may have taken it apart slightly so I could put it on a sleeve instead.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
That felt better. I know a lot of people will say that there are plenty of better choices out there for an HvZ blaster than the Barrel Break, and I might agree with them on some points but I stand by my choice. Even outside HvZ, I recognize that it’s a lot of steps to fire 2 darts, but you’ll definitely have fun doing it. In that sense, I don’t know that I can think of a better example of pure fun outweighing functionality in a Nerf blaster without getting into the Max Force line.