The Blaster In Question #0063: Tri-Break

BlasterInQuestion1

TRI-BREAK

N-STRIKE ELITE (MEGA)

tribreak1Since its inception, the MEGA series of Nerf blasters has lent itself well to oversized, chunky blasters.  Sure, there are some actual size constraints given the dimensions of the ammunition, but most MEGA blasters go well beyond what is necessary as far as the size of the actual blaster.  The pistols in the line, especially, seem to have steadily gotten bigger and bigger relative to their ammo capacity.  Today, I’ll be looking at perhaps the biggest 3-shot pistol in my Nerf arsenal, the MEGA Tri-Break.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

tribreak2The MEGA Tri-Break was released in 2018, unsurprisingly as part of the MEGA subset of the N-Strike Elite line.  It uses a pretty standard 3-round smart AR system with a jolt-style priming bar in the grip.  That’s right, for all its bulk and flare, it’s a jolt (triad) reskin.  It does go a little beyond just a basic reskin by the use of its primary gimmick, that being the pseudo break-action… thing it has.  In the trigger well, there is a button on the forward end that, when pressed, releases the front half of the blaster, allowing it to pivot down like a break-action shotgun, or Hellboy’s Samaritan.  This gives you access to the barrels in order to load the blaster, but the overall implementation of this feature raises some design questions.  First off, it’s interesting to note that the front end of the Tri-Break is a purely cosmetic piece.  It contains none of the mechanism required to operate the blaster.  As such, being as short as it is, you can actually load the blaster reasonably easily without breaking it open.  Second, the catch that holds the front end locked in the closed position is located right at the pivot.  tribreak3Given the size of the blaster, particularly in the vertical direction, this means there is a lot of mechanical advantage when any force is applied to the upper forward section of the faux barrels.  You know, right where the accessory rail is, right where you might be inclined to add extra weight.  Now, I’ve seen other reviews of this blaster where the front end drops down after even firing the blaster, and I will say, I’ve not had that issue, but I do still agree that the catch mechanism feels pretty weak.  On the more functional side, the blaster has decent ergonomics and feels good in the hand.  It might feel a little more imposing if I had more confidence in the barrel catch, but if you can play it off well, it’ll still make quite the impression on any younger siblings who find themselves staring down the barrel.  The priming stroke is surprisingly long for this style of plunger tube, but I’m hardly complaining because that extra air flow means the darts hit with the expected oomf you’d want from a MEGA blaster. The MEGA Tri-Break comes packaged with 3 MEGA darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I think Nerf likes to tease me on purpose.  They must know I have a thing for break-action blasters after hearing me go on and on about the Sledgefire and the Barrel Break.  When I first heard about this blaster, I thought, just for a second, that this was going to be just as fun if not more so than those two.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, I do, quite a bit, actually.  But in this case, the inclusion of the break-action seems questionable and just pure gimmick whereas it was integral, new, and fun on the Sledgefire and Barrel Break.

The Blaster In Question #0036: Twinshock

TWINSHOCK

N-STRIKE ELITE (MEGA)

There’s one thing blasters from the MEGA series all have in common and that’s being rather large. Being rather large and red. Yes. They all share relative largeness, redness, and radical devotion to the pope. Wait, hang on… scratch that last one. Large and red are still valid, though, and they certainly apply to this weeks blaster, the Twinshock. I guess I should tell you about it, then. Yeah alright, here goes.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Twinshock was released in 2017 as part of the MEGA series of blasters. If you’ve read my review on the Roughcut 2×4, you should have a good idea of how this blaster works, because it’s functionally identical, just with 10 barrels instead of 8. In summary, it’s loaded from the muzzle, holds 10 rounds and for every rack of the priming handle, the staged trigger allows you to fire 2 darts either successively or simultaneously. Given the increased size of the projectile, it’s understandable that the power of the blaster has been accordingly bumped up. The Roughcut took advantage of a gear system to assist in priming two plungers with one motion. This gave it a slightly longer priming stroke than most other blasters. This is doubly true for the Twinshock which has an enormous stroke length but with comparatively low resistance, so there’s the trade-off. Now, I think it’s worth bringing up that the Twinshock, much in the same way as the Alien Menace Ravager before it, has a buttery smooth prime. It’s hard to describe how nice of a priming stroke it has so if you want to know what I’m talking about, you’ll just have to buy one and see, but it’s pretty great, so maybe do that. The exterior of the Twinshock is completely original and features two attachment rails on the top of the blaster. As mentioned before, it feels pretty hefty in hand and has some substantial bulk to it. The only real issue with that is that it is rather top heavy so make sure you have strong wrists if you’re planning on holding this blaster for a long time. I also wish it had a stock, or at least an attachment point for one, but I wish for a lot of things. The performance with the Twinshock is admirable. In line with other MEGA blasters, it hits hard and shoots far with the added perk of whistling darts that really frighten younger siblings when they hear them flying past their head. The capacity for double-tapping or shotgunning 2 darts is really what sets the Twinshock apart. The Twinshock comes packaged with 10 MEGA darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m being fully serious about how great priming this blaster feels. If you don’t feel like buying one of these for yourself to experience it, find a friend who will and borrow theirs. Even if you’re some kind of weirdo who isn’t sold on that premise alone, its use as a weapon against younger siblings also cannot be understated.

The Blaster In Question #0013: Dual-Strike

DUAL-STRIKE

N-STRIKE ELITE

Variety is the spice of life or something.  It keeps things interesting.  But what if you’re in the middle of a foam conflict and you find yourself thinking, “Something new and/or exciting better happen right now or I’m gonna lose it”?  The answer is simple.  Use the selector switch.  What does that mean?  Well, I’ll tell you.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Nerf Dual-Strike was released in 2016 as part of the N-Strike Elite series.  The mechanics present in the Dual-Strike are mostly reused with one big exception that I will get into later.  The blaster fires from one of two sets of three barrels linked via a smart AR system.  The interesting part is that one set of barrels fires standard Elite darts while the other fires Mega dartsOn top of that, you can manually control which type of ammo you want to use via the previously mentioned selector switch on the right side of the blaster.  The switch is quite clearly labeled so you know which setting it’s on.  It’s actually pretty impressive that the switch works as well as it does since it’s not uncommon for more complex smart AR setups to want to eject darts prematurely if there’s even the slightest increase in air pressure.  Since I’ve had the DS, I haven’t experienced any air interference from one barrel group to the other, so kudos to Nerf on the engineering behind that.  Now on the other hand, I do have a few mostly subjective complaints about the exterior of the blaster.  I’m not a fan of the style of priming handle on the DS.  I realize it’s simple and just works, but I really don’t like how it sticks way out the back of the blaster when it’s primed.  There are other Nerf blasters that use this same method of priming and I don’t like it on any of them either, all the way back to the Nitefinder.  I just wish there had been a more elegant solution because I know it’s possible.  Also, while the grip is mostly fine, the notch just below the trigger where your middle finger is supposed to sit is way too narrow for my hand, so instead of my finger getting a secure, comfortable hold on the blaster, I have one finger sitting on a random raised edge.  It would have been better if this had either been moved down slightly or just removed entirely.  Again, mostly just my personal preferences, but I figure you must at least slightly value my opinions since you’re most of the way through this post, and if you are, I appreciate that.  There’s also a single attachment rail on the top of the blaster.  As far as functionality is concerned, at it’s most basic, the DS is a more complicated than usual 6-shot pistol which is pretty oddly proportioned to boot.   The Elite darts fly reasonably far and hit as hard as you’d expect a blaster in the Elite series to hit.  The Mega darts, however, don’t have the power behind them that they would have in a dedicated Mega blaster, so shots leave just a little to be desired.  Overall, I’d say the DS is best suited to indoor use for those times when you can’t decide just how mean you want to be to your younger siblings.  The Dual-Strike comes packaged with 3 Elite darts and 3 Mega darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Dual-Strike is one of those kind of hard to place blasters.  It felt more like a proof of concept rather than a product made to fill a niche in the market.  That being said, it’s plenty of fun for just messing around.  I just see the idea behind it having more potential than the final product we got in the end.  Add that to all this switch and DS talk and I feel like I’m writing up a Nintendo press release.

The Blaster In Question #0005: Magnus

MAGNUS

N-STRIKE ELITE (MEGA)

That ain’t no dart, this is a dart.  Ah, yes, the Mega series, Nerf’s go at the “bigger is better” trope.  The line started back in 2013 with the equally giant Centurion.  After that, the next obvious step was something a little on the smaller side, while still using the bigger Mega darts.  Give it a year, and thats when we were given today’s blaster, the Magnus.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Magnus was released in 2014 as the second blaster in the Mega series.  At the time of its release, it was entirely original.  Since then, the internal magazine and general operation have been reused in a couple of the licensed Star Wars blasters albeit chambered for the standard sized Elite darts.  This style of magazine works much in the same way as the Speedload 6 or Quick 16 from the Dart Tag line in that it is not removable and loads from the top, but does this while being in line with the center go the blaster and without all those extra dart pushing parts.  Given the size of the darts relative to the blaster, the Magnus only holds 3 rounds, which some might argue is too few to be worth the complexity of the design but I don’t have a problem with it.  You may have noticed that I have 2 of this particular blaster and that is for a couple reasons, but more one than the other.  Primarily, my first Magnus, the red one, is busted.  I’m not sure exactly the reason but 75% of shots fall limply out of the barrel rather than flying at my siblings like I intend.  This gave me reason enough to seek out a replacement, and what better than the ToysRUs exclusive “Sonic Ice” version.  The color doesn’t affect the performance assuming you’re comparing fully functional blasters.  One thing I found surprising about the Magnus was the grip.  It has a nice texture to it that does indeed add some traction, but it’s also fairly slim, especially for a Mega blaster.  It doesn’t ruin the blaster or anything, it just struck me as an odd balance of proportions.  The Magnus features some very rudimentary, although still appreciated, sights on the top of the blaster and an attachment rail on the underside.  In line with the rest of the Mega series, the Magnus packs a decent punch, hitting noticeably harder than many Elite blasters and with larger, heavier darts to boot.  As such, the Magnus is probably better suited for outdoor play.  Shooting from farther away also lets potential targets hear the darts coming at them as Mega darts whistle when fired.  The Magnus comes packaged with 3 Mega darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My initial Magnus came about from a combination of odd circumstances all overlapping.  The first and foremost being that there was a current Nerf blaster that I did not yet own.  The second is my aunt knowing that I wanted it, and third, knowing exactly which blaster it was.  Put all that together and you get the only Nerf blaster I’ve received for Christmas in the last decade.  It was really a shame to find out that mine wasn’t working properly, but my recent birthday was enough to convince me to get a replacement.  And who knows, maybe with a little more tinkering, I can get the original up and running.