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.

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The Blaster In Question #0034: Firestrike

FIRESTRIKE

N-STRIKE ELITE

Do you ever find one of those movies where you have to watch it over and over in order to really understand everything, but on that last watch, it all clicks and you have an a-ha moment?  Well, that’s pretty much the Nerf community and the Firestrike in a nutshell.  If you were under the impression that this was just an Elite reskin of the Nite Finder, allow me to explode your brain patterns.  On to the review!

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Firestrike was released in 2013 as part of the N-Strike Elite series.  Being one of the earlier releases in the line, it was more of an update to an existing blaster than a wholly new idea, that blaster being the N-Strike Nite Finder EX-3.  All of the functionality of the Nite Finder was preserved, using the same single shot muzzle-loading design and even keeping the “laser” sight and dart storage under the barrel.  Overall, the Firestrike is significantly more compact than its predecessor, most of the bulk being trimmed off the grip and under-barrel area.  The feature that stumped almost everyone for quite a while was the peculiar shape of the butt of the pistol grip.  There’s just this weird spike sticking down from the bottom and no one I know could say for certain why it was there.  As I recall, it took someone finding the actual design documents for the blaster to realize that the spike is to help dual-wield Firestrikes.  Every so often, those brainy types over at Nerf come up with some elaborate system to add a feature to a blaster and everyone gets mad hype about it.  This time they put a peg on the grip so you can prime the blaster with another blaster and everyone got mad hype, well after the release of the blaster itself.  I suppose it may have gotten a little blown out of proportion but I think people were just excited by a reason to buy a second Firestrike and for good reason.  Everything about the blaster works well.  It’s small size and relatively few moving parts make it feel sturdy in the hand, though I can see the small grips being an issue for some people.  As with the Nite Finder before it, the plunger rod sticks out the back of the blaster quite a ways when primed.  I’m not a fan of this from a purely visual perspective but it’s definitely simple and effective.  There’s an attachment rail on the top of the blaster, but I don’t know why you would want to put a scope on the Firestrike since it has a built in “laser” sight.  Sure it’s just an LED and is too dim to use outdoors or in a brightly lit room but it works as well as can be expected and performs admirably as an ominous signal to your younger siblings of what is pointed right at them.  The light requires 2 AAA batteries to work but it has no real bearing on the function of the blaster itself.  In keeping with Nite Finder tradition, the Firestrike actually packs quite a punch for its size, shooting a little farther and harder than some of the larger blasters out there.  The Firestrike comes packaged with 3 Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Up until very recently, I only had one Firestrike in my entire collection, even knowing about the potential for dual-wielding.  I just happened upon a handful of older Nerf blasters at a local thrift store while browsing with my boy Ethan.  For $2, it’s almost not even a question if it’s worth buying, though I could easily have justified paying more.

 

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 #0011: Crossbolt

CROSSBOLT

N-STRIKE ELITE

I’ve mentioned before that the vast majority of the bow and crossbow type Nerf blasters fall under the Rebelle series.  Every so often, however, one of the other lines will get a bow of some sort, and that is the case for this week’s blaster, the Crossbolt.  This blaster in particular also fits into the category of blasters that I greatly enjoy but is fairly widely disliked by other Nerfers.  I can maybe understand some of the more common complaints, but not enough for it to ruin the blaster for me.  I’ll get to that in a little bit.  Let’s take a look at the blaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Crossbolt was released in 2015 as part of the N-Strike Elite series.  It is a magazine-fed, elastic powered crossbow type blaster, which makes it very unique among Elite blasters as there are no other crossbows or “stringer” blasters in the line.  Additionally, it is one of the only two blasters to feature a bullpup configuration (firing mechanism behind the trigger) along with the Rayven.  Aside from this, the blaster is entirely original.  The main 3 of the aforementioned complaints about the Crossbolt focus around the ergonomics of the blaster.  The first issue concerns the bow arms protruding into the path one’s hand might take traveling from a forward grip to the priming slide at the top of the blaster.  While this is admittedly a hurdle few other blasters have, a simple twist of the firing-hand wrist solves the problem quite nicely.  This is also achieved without any of the straight up goofy flailing and fumbling I’ve seen some people do while trying to illustrate that plastic is solid and hands can’t go through it.  The second issue it the magazine release.  This, I can understand a little more because it is true that the placement and style of the magazine release make it fairly easy to accidentally bump the mag so that it falls out of the blaster.  I’ve even found that the release button doesn’t necessarily need to be pressed to cause the magazine to come loose.  The conclusion I came to was that the back of the blaster is not, in fact, a stock and that the blaster is not intended to be shouldered, a theory i felt was supported by how hard it is to line up the sights if it’s shouldered.  Could Nerf have designed it better to avoid this problem?  Yes, but it’s really the kind of problem you learn to avoid pretty quickly, so it’s still not a deal breaker.  Lastly, a lot of grown-up Nerfers like myself (but not including myself in this instance) complained that the dimensions of the thumb-hole grip were cramped and left parts of the blaster digging into their hands and/or wrists.  This, I absolutely don’t get.  Maybe I have weirdly perfect Crossbolt hands.  Either way, I’ve had zero problems with the grip and actually find it quite comfortable for such a compact blaster.  As I said, the Crossbolt features some fairly basic sights along the top as well as not one, but two jam access doors due to the slightly more complex internal structure of the blaster.  There is also an attachment rail on the underside of the barrel for accessories.  As with other stringer blasters, firing the Crossbolt is very quiet compared to an air plunger blaster, although priming each shot does make a good bit of noise as there are plenty of catches and latches along the stroke.  The string in the Crossbolt seems to have a noticeable amount more tension than with other stringer blasters and this definitely shows in performance as darts fly far and fast, hitting with good, solid impact, making this more of an outdoor blaster.  The Crossbolt comes packaged with a 12-round magazine and 12 Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I felt it was important to highlight the fact that this is a really fun, unique blaster because I remember, after it came out, seeing reviews with goofballs smacking their hands into the bow arms intentionally in an attempt to make their point like a cheesy infomercial.  I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite blaster, but it is entertaining in its own right, and entirely undeserving of the bad wrap it’s gotten over the years.

The Blaster In Question #0010: Stryfe

STRYFE

N-STRIKE ELITE

If you’re a regular Nerf-er, you probably looked at the title of this weeks review and thought “what could this chuckle-head possibly have to say about the Stryfe that hasn’t already been said?”  The answer is this: the Stryfe is vanilla ice cream.  Feel free to quote me on that. Lost?  That’s ok.  Stick around and I’ll explain it to you.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Stryfe was released in 2013 as part of the N-Strike Elite series, which is Nerf’s core product line.  It is an electronic, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, flywheel blaster, much like the Rayven before it.  Really the only functional difference between the Stryfe and the Rayven is the position of the magazine.  Now, allow me to explain the vanilla ice cream.  The Stryfe is really nothing new (especially at time of writing this).  It doesn’t offer any huge breakthroughs in dart blaster tech.  Out of the box, it’s not a game-changer by any stretch of the imagination.  In this sense, it’s kind of plain, vanilla, if you will.  Now, this is not to say it’s bad either.  Vanilla is still a tasty flavor, and as such, the Stryfe is a perfectly fine blaster.  The grip is comfortable in-hand, magazines can be changed out quickly and easily and it only takes a couple seconds to rev up before firing.  Once revved up, darts fly pretty well and hit with some considerable force, just so long as it has fresh batteries.  Simple and mostly functional, but it doesn’t stand out in any real way, in fact, without some light modification, there’s a mechanical lock that prevents the trigger from being pulled if there isn’t a dart loaded and this lock doesn’t always work correctly.  The result can be a fully loaded blaster that refuses to fire, but this starts to get into where the Stryfe really shines.  I would say, tasty as it is, relatively few people eat vanilla ice cream entirely on its own.  This applies to the Stryfe as well.  While the blaster is serviceable out-of-the-box, the potential for modification is monumental and allows just about anyone to get in on it.  The Stryfe features one attachment rail on the top of the blaster and one on the underside of the barrel.  Additionally, the muzzle sports a barrel attachment lug, and there’s a connector to attach a stock as well.  When it was released, there were a handful or so attachments that could be fitted to the Stryfe and that number has increased many fold thanks, in no small part, to the launch of the Modulus line.  Throw some sprinkles on that ice cream.  Of course, these are all external modifications only and don’t really add to the basic performance of the Stryfe, but what if you’re looking for a more serious upgrade?  If you fancy yourself handy with a soldering iron, there’s no shortage of tutorials out there on how to rewire a Stryfe to increase voltage, swap out switches, use rechargeable LiPo batteries and so on.  Now you’re looking at a decent little sundae with hot fudge or whipped cream or whatever, but there’s even more than that.  Thanks to companies like Worker and a slew of others, there is a growing market for 3rd party modification kits, many of which are geared specifically for the Stryfe and they can get pretty in depth.  If you’re looking to dress a Stryfe up like real-steel firearm or replace the flywheels to rifle the darts as you fire them, there are kits for just about anything.  Now you’ve gone and stuck a brownie in with the ice cream.  A regular, unmodified Stryfe requires 4 AA batteries and comes packaged with a 6-round magazine and 6 Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After all that talking-up of the potential modification options for the Stryfe, it may be a little surprising to know that I’ve only ever modified them to the point of removing that irritating lock.  Maybe if I had more free time and money to spend on kits, I might have gotten more involved, but given the assortment of stuff available, I think it is more a question of when I get into more serious mods rather that if.  And for the record, I totally eat vanilla by itself.

 

The Blaster In Question #0007: Roughcut 2×4

ROUGHCUT 2X4

N-STRIKE ELITE

Shotguns are kind of a weird area for Nerf.  There are plenty of blasters available that do a decent job replicating the look and feel of a shotgun, but it’s a rarer thing to find one that actually functions like one i.e. actually firing a spread of darts.  One of the more successful implementations of this feature came to us in the form of the Roughcut 2×4.  While the name evokes a plank of wood, the actual blaster is a lot more interesting, unless you’re one of those lumber fanatics, in which case, no judgement, more power to you.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Roughcut 2×4 was released in 2013 as one of the first original blasters in the N-Strike Elite line.  It was also one of 2 blasters in the very short-lived Multi-Shot Madness collection alongside the Diatron from the disk-based Vortex series.  Mechanically, the blaster borrows heavily from the Barrel Break IX-2, featuring 2 separate plunger systems side by side.  If your trigger finger is very precise, this setup allows the user to fire either one barrel at a time or both at once.  Even the grips of both blasters are severely inclined, almost parallel with the barrels.  The main difference is that the Roughcut opted for a more straightforward front loading design with 8 barrels arranged in 2 columns of 4 (hence the name) as opposed to the Barrel Break’s weird breach-loading action and only 2 barrels.  Additionally, the Roughcut is pump-operated, so successive shots can be fired off much faster.  Aside from the aforementioned grip, the blaster is pretty run-of-the-mill in terms of how it feels.  Everything that’s supposed to move moves well, and everything that isn’t feels sturdy.  The Roughcut features some sights, although they do strike me as a little more of an after-the-fact addition than on a lot of other blasters.  There’s also a rail along the top of the blaster for attachments.  Being part of the core N-Strike Elite series, performance is strong.  Darts fly a good distance and land with a solid impact.  Decent range paired with a fairly compact form-factor and the ability to shotgun darts makes the Roughcut great for either ranged outdoor battles or just to keep handy for close encounters.  Just try not to hit anything fragile like your mom’s china or someone’s face.  The Roughcut 2×4 comes packaged with 8 Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Man, do I love shotguns.  Practically every shotgun-type blaster that Nerf has released in the last 15 years has been a favorite of mine.  The Hornet AS-6 was great apart from its cumbersome cocking and pumping mechanism.  The Barrel Break IX-2 was great apart from its awkward slide and break breach mechanism.  The Sledgefire was great apart from its finicky— you see the pattern.  To be fair, when working with Nerf darts, making an actual shotgun that works well in all aspects is difficult and things can get complicated very quickly.  Just goes to show that, in the case of the Roughcut, simplicity pays off

The Blaster in Question #0002: Disruptor

DISRUPTOR

N-STRIKE ELITE

I don’t know what I expected when I heard the name of an upcoming Nerf blaster was the Disruptor. What I definitely did not expect was a revision of the classic 6-shot revolver, a staple in the average toy blaster arsenal, but that’s exactly what we got. It’s not uncommon for Nerf to reuse designs and make a few tweaks here and there (jolt reskins, anbody?), so if you’re a fan of the Maverick or the Strongarm, then you’ll be fine with Disruptor, I guess. So let’s take a look at it.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Disruptor was released in January of 2017 as part of the core N-Strike Elite line. It measures 12 1/2 inches long, 6 inches tall, and 2 1/2 inches wide. As I mentioned earlier, the blaster works in much the same way as the Strongarm, the other elite series revolver, with one main difference. The Disrtuptor’s rotating cylinder does not pop out the side of the blaster. Instead, the front of the blaster has been redesigned to be more open, allowing easier access to the cylinder for reloading. While it does make the overall blaster smaller and somewhat more solid than the Strongarm, it does sacrifice the ability to spin the cylinder by hand, Russian roulette style. It sits comfortably in the hand, although it does feel like the upper part of the grip, near the trigger, is a little wider than at the bottom. It’s not a big deal but it might make the blaster a bit more prone to slipping out of your hand if you’re a crazy person who plays Nerf in a rainstorm or something. Along the top of the blaster are a set of sights which almost certainly don’t help with aiming but are appreciated nonetheless, and an attachment rail for accessories. If you’ve read my review of the Falconfire, you’ll know that standard Nerf Elite darts are plagued by inaccuracy and that’s true of the darts packed with the Disruptor as well. The blaster shoots pretty hard, as to be expected with the Elite series, suitable for indoor and outdoor play. As with most revolvers, reliability isn’t much of a concern as jams are rare even when using slam fire. I suspect the design of the grip and the priming slide are intended to facilitate dual weilding, similar to the Firestrike, but I can’t easily test this as I only have the one blaster for now. The Disruptor comes packaged with 6 Elite darts and instructions.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I purchased the Disruptor from Target on the same visit to Ethan when I got the Falconfire. Initially I hadn’t planned on getting it but after spending enough time setting up the BIQ, I figured I should get more material to review while I was there. Never mind the fact that the action figure guy and the Nerf guy tend to wind up buying toys when we hang out. As far as the blaster goes, if you’re not a completionist Nerf collector and you already have the Strongarm, you can probably give this one a pass. On the other hand, if your arsenal is missing a trusty sidearm, this is a good candidate.