Friday, October 25, 2013

Nerf "Elite" Reflex review

One of the old mini N-strike blasters that carried over into the new elite colour scheme is the Nerf Reflex,and these have recently popped up here in target stores in Australia, so I thought I'd pick one up and give it a shot.

At $8, this unit sits at the same price point as the Nerf Triad. They essentially fill similar roles, but the Triad and Reflex have a few different features from each other. First off, the Reflex is kind of like a really small and simple recon pistol. It features a top tactical rail and slide cocking mechanism, striking blue, white and orange colour scheme and sling loop on the handle. Unfortunately, the handle is very small. I couldn't find a way to hold this blaster comfortably. It's also only a single shot blaster with no extra dart storage, but is packaged with 3 elite darts. It does look rad in elite colours, and it's size is perfect to carry around in your pocket. But then again, a Triad or Jolt also fits in your pocket...

Designed for people with 2 fingers and a thumb.

Performance of this blaster was something that really disappointed me. There has been no change to the internals when carried over to the elite range from the original N-strike line. So it still barely fires a dart more than 25 feet, and is unreliable. I found I had to squash the dart in to the barrel a little to make sure it fired properly The reason for this is that the reverse plunger system inside is actually tiny. At first it looks like a sizable reverse plunger system, then you look at where the catch is and figure out that if that's the length of the draw, then the actual plunger tube is only half of what you see. The back half is only to guide the spring and to function as a priming indicator out the back of the blaster. Needless to say, modifying this unit is a waste of time. For the sake of trialing the theory, I removed the air restrictor and improved the seal on mine. I didn't get any extra range, but I was able to fire any Nerf dart.

See that plunger tube? only half of that is actually plunger tube.

Overall, the elite Reflex is still a Reflex, just with new colours. Since the Reflex's first release, a number of other small blasters have hit the scene which really out do this Blaster in every way, like the Firestrike of Triad. I would avoid this blaster unless you're like me and are collecting the entire blue elite range.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Spudfiles gets a facelift!

Long running potato cannon forum Spudfiles has recieved a major overhaul and now includes a Nerf showcase, and discussion section. I was lucky enough to kick off the Nerf showcase with the Remedy Metal Longshot #2.

Spudfiles was my first port of call while I was learning to build potato cannons and is probably the richest source of information on available for that type of thing. The community there is supportive of progress and a few individuals are constantly pushing the envelope for what can be done to shoot various projectiles using air or combustion power (or in the case of mad scientists, both). Safety is also strong message pushed by spudfiles community which is really great, senior forum members often steer less clued-up users in the right direction so that everyone can enjoy spudding without any worries.

If you're in to potato cannons, air guns, or Nerf basters, do check out the newly refreshed Spudfiles and join the community. I have been a part of the forum since before I even touched a Nerf gun, and I think it will be interesting seeing the hardcore spudders' input in to the Nerf sections, perhaps we will see some direction of progression that no one has ever tried before?

Edit: Posting this at 2am? Yes, that is correct. I finished work an hour ago. This is one of the reasons why I don't post regularly.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Nerf Rapidstrike review

Nerf's releases lately have been pretty average in my opinion, incredibly poor reviews of the Nerf Centurion and lackluster Zombiestrike range have put me off buying the Rapidstrike for some time for fear of disappointment, but I picked up one from Target for $69 (full price). Luckily with that price, I was still far from disappointed with this blaster.

The Rapidstrike is the latest release in the N-Strike Elite range and is this year's flagship for that range. It is a fully automatic flywheel blaster, probably targeting the replacement of the Stampede, which was Nerf's massive release a few years ago being the first fully automatic n-strike mag fed blaster. To me, yes it does replace the beloved stampede but it is a different blaster altogether rather than a revamp.

Cool, so what's it got? This is a very well designed and well made blaster. It's the little things that make the Rapidstrike stand out completely. Around the grip area is designed to be functional and easy to use. There is the usual acceleration trigger as with all flywheel blasters these days, and directly forward is an ambidextrous mag release, allowing fast mag changes (which, as you'll find out later, will be used a lot!). At the base of the grip is a sling loop as well. The stock is retractable with a lever release on the rear of the stock. Also featured is an orange-clear jam door to let you quickly see what is going on in the case of  jam or misfire. The rapidstrike also comes with a clear 18-dart magazine. The front of the magwell has an angled grip for those that prefer that style of grip over a foregrip. Nerf has also been generous with Tactical rails too, one top handle rail, a top rail on the barrel as well, a rail on the left and right side of the barrel and an underbarrel rail as well. finally, it has a built in sight through the top handle with a front flip up sight and a barrel adapter. Just kidding, there's more. Two more sling loops are available to use on the rear of the top handle, and an integrated sling loop at the front of the barrel. Have I missed anything? Everything functions perfectly on this blaster, it's very solid feeling, and the stock sliding action is smooth. Pulling the trigger is much lighter than a semi automatic flywheel but still retains a certain amount of feel. When it fires, the internal dart pushing mechanism is smooth and never misses a beat. In terms of loadouts on this blaster, I highly recommend large capacity magazines or drums, and also having a method of carrying spare magazines or perhaps using 18 dart mags taped together. If you prefer a foregrip, the Retaliator's foregrip goes nicely for moving around but you can't go past the stampede grip for bunkering down and defending. The only thing that bothers me about the aesthetics of this blaster, is why they chose to paint an orange stripe on it instead of a white one like the rest of the line, and why there is STILL NO TOP RAIL ACCESSORY IN THE ELITE RANGE?!? Seriously, just release the damn elite pinpoint sight to everyone, Nerf.

Performance is where it shows that it is a different kind of blaster to what the Stampede was. While the stampede once modified could steadily chug out darts with decent range and relatively good accuracy, The Rapidstrike is evidently geared more towards maximising dart output in exchange for accuracy, especially after performing some basic voltage mods. It will empty an 18 dart magazine before you can even think about how many mags you have spare, but will not be a blaster to pick people off one dart at a time as it's spread is about as accurate as hip firing a slamfire blaster. However, this means that using short bursts of 3-4 darts is extremely effective for suppressing and area denial. Combine that with it's short length and light weight and it is also fantastic for rushing and attacking. No one in their right mind is going to try to attack a maniac with a Rapidstrike without being able to do so from as far away as possible. It's also very reliable. I have heard some reports of constant jamming, however the only times I encountered a jam was when I was using seriously mangled darts, and even then it would still manage to get them out the barrel most of the time. Other times consisted of a misfire, pulling the magazine out and the culprit dart just falling out, and putting the magazine back in and firing again straight away. Pulling the trigger is satisfying and the first time I emptied the magazine (about 30 seconds after I got it out of the box) I was left with a huge grin and started formulating plan on how to ambush the next person to step foot in my house.

Modifications are where this blaster can get pretty complex. Inside is a huge tangle of wires, circuit boards, switches, resistors and 3 motors. From what I can tell, the dart pusher operates on a form of logic gate to ensure it returns to it's retracted position. It seems the curcuit has an input from the trigger and also a switch under the pusher, which is released when the pusher returns. So for it to fire, the trigger must be depressed, for it to stop firing, the trigger must be released and the pusher must return back to release the pusher switch, in turn cutting the voltage to the pusher motor unless the trigger is still depressed. Furthermore, there is a thermistor on the trigger curcuit, and two resistors for each motor including the pusher motor. Once you've got your head around that, you can rewire the internals and load up the voltage and even go as far as replacing the motors and setting up individual power sources for the pusher and flywheel motors. This should net you something similar to what the mad scientists at Brisbane Nerf Group have come up with:

In all, this is one of the very best Nerf blasters I've owned. It's well designed, functions great, performs really well and is intimidating to come up against. I used my modified Rapidstrike for about 90% of the time at the 4th anniversary BNG war, and only stopped because I had no spare batteries. I absolutely love this thing. I definitely recommend this blaster over the Centurion. Since the orange stripe really comes down to a matter of opinion, I'll give this blaster the highest rating I've given any blaster on this blog, and that is a 10/10. I really can't properly fault this blaster on anything at all.