Late last year I was gifted the then yet to be released in Australia Nerf Hailfire by the Canberra and Southern NSW Dart Tag group and Hasbro Australia and decided to make a three part review of it. The first was on the performance of the stock blaster, the second on how to modify it, and the third on how it performed in game. We’ve already covered off the first two and given that I don’t yet have an internet connection in the new house as yet and am writing this on my phone, today seemed like the perfect time to post my final reflection piece on the flagship of the new elite line up.
Merry Christmas all! This is a little bit of a recap of something I attempted to post a few weeks ago. I’d written the post, scheduled it, then WordPress decided to make it disappear. Sad Face.
Oh well, lets try again shall we. This post will form part two of our three part series on the new Nerf Hailfire. The first looked at reviewing it in its stock form, today’s will cover off some mods to improve it, then in the third we’ll take a look at how those mods worked in game. The main issues I had with the blaster during its first test were to do with the clip advancement. Particularly when loaded with heavier clips, say 18’s, the rotator sometimes simply wouldn’t advance. I’m really not a fan of things not working they way they should so this had to be rectified. The solution for this came from our friends over at S.O.F.T (for which you can check out their original video on the subject here). While we’re fixing the clip advancer, we’ll also up the voltage to increase range and make it easier to reload on the fly.
Enough talking about it, let’s get to it!
Dremel with cutting and grinding attachments
3x Trustfire batteries
1x Dummy AA
As always, we’ll kick off with the blaster in question. Start by removing all of the screws from the shell. If you’ve still got the clip advancement handles on, there’s two screws on the inside of each handle. Remove them then pry the handles free.
In the shell itself there are three different sized screws.
The short one came from here.
The three medium length ones came from here.
The rest are all the standard length Nerf screw.
As always, take a moment at this point to have a good look around the blaster and try to get an understanding of the internals.
Happy? Good, lets continue.
Remove the jam door.
Then the trigger; it’s held in by one black screw.
Then the dart pusher bar.
Move to the front and remove the clip advancement handle bar.
Then remove the motor assembly.
It’s held in by one screw here.
You can then access this bar. Remove it and the rest of the clip advancement assembly.
It’s held together by this screw; remove it.
Right, now the real work begins.
On the bottom of the mag well there’s one centre screw, remove it.
And the turret and magwell will cove free.
We’ll start with the turret.
It should come apart into three pieces.
Remove the screw in the clutch assembly.
It will separate. The point of this component is to act as a slip clutch; we don’t want that.
Instead we’re going to glue it together. Be careful not to get any glue in the advancement track (the toothed bit in the middle here) as it might interfere with the advancement rod.
The next issue is this gap here. The bottom part of the turret is too long, which allows for unnecessary movement between the magwell and the shell; we don’t want that. What we’re going to do is shorten the turret so the magwell butts up hard against the shell.
We need to remove 3~4mm from the bottom of the turret but very much treat this as a trial and error game. Cut a little, reassemble, check clearances.
Reassembly goes in this order…
Once it’s back together we can check clearances. The photo below shows you what we’re aiming for; no more gap. Again, cut a little, reassemble, check clearances until you get this. You will not get it right on your first try.
Once you’ve achieved that we can actually start putting the blaster back together.
The advancement rod goes this way.
Place the whole assembly back in the blaster.
Reattach the spring.
Replace the motors and screw.
Then the priming handle.
Then the pusher bar.
Then the trigger.
Then the jam door.
Replace the shell and we’re essentially done.
To make it easier to reload on the run I also decided to ditch the wings.
Finally the voltage increase. Nothing special here, just replaced the standard AA batteries with higher voltage Trustfires. I tried combinations of 2, 3 and 4 (roughly 8, 12 and 16 volts respectively) and found that I preferred 12v. It sure does shoot further at 16v, but the accuracy is incredibly decreased.
Stock (6v): 7-8m
12v: 11-22m, most within 12-13m
16v: 15-32m, most within 19-23m
Before we go any further in to this week’s post, my first real review might I add, I’ve got to give a big shout out to Hasbro Australia and the Canberra and Southern NSW Dart Tag association for providing me with the blaster you’ll see in a moment. Yes that’s right folks, Hasbro Australia has followed in the footsteps of Hasbro US and is actively supporting its local fan base by suppling those who do good for the community with blasters for testing and review purposes. Thanks guys!
So then, on to our first real review. This review will be split over three parts; my assessment of the stock blaster, the mods we can do to improve it, and an assessment of the modded blaster.
Sidenote: Please forgive the lack of quality photos this week. My camera is currently in China with my Mum… Phone ahoy!
The Hailfire smaller than I imagined. The logical side of me is trying to tell myself that this is a good thing, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed at the same time. It’s by no means flimsy or dainty, I’m particularly impressed by the sturdiness of the advancing handle while we’re on the topic, but it just doesn’t seem as impressive or intimidating as the pre-release marketing spiel made it out to be.
The outer covers, or wings I guess, are just weird; I don’t like them. They look ugly, make the blaster bigger and more clumsy, and make reloading on the fly significantly harder. They survived about 15 minutes on the blaster before they came off and went in the garage.
The handle and acceleration trigger are quite comfortable and the main trigger feels nice and mechanical, very satisfying but not too hard. Even though I know I’m supposed to be holding the blaster by the advancing handle but I keep finding myself wanting to hold it under the muzzle at the front tactical rail. I’m sure I’ll get used to this the more I use it, but for the moment it just doesn’t seem quite right. When my hand has found its way to the advancing handle however, the motion feels surprisingly good. I was worried about the handle being really flimsy when the first leaked photos of the Hailfire appeared way back when. Kudos to Nerf for that.
The Hailfire fires way further than expected. I know I shouldn’t be surprised by this since I was surprised by range of both the Barricade and Rayven when I first used them, but I guess I just unintentionally downplay flywheel blasters before remembering that the current range are actually not totally terrible. With Elite darts I was getting 7-8m parallel to the ground and 14-15m angled. I know that isn’t going to amaze anyone, particular the more modding-inclined readers, but I still found it better than expected. Also this should be pretty easy to fix with a few Trustfires.
My first real problem however came once I started loading more clips into the blaster. The clip advancement mechanism worked fine with eight 6 clips, but failed pretty spectacularly with eight 18 clips; there’s just too much weight. It tries to advance as it should but either gets sort of half way then either flops back or just stalls there more often than not. With just four 18 clips it worked more often than not but still failed to advance far more than I’m happy with. Simply put, I think it’s too high a risk of the clips not advancing to justify using it regularly just yet, but something that I hope I can rectify.
Reloading of the clips to the left of the main body was possible once the outer covers were removed, (very useful) but way harder than it should have been. The small round piece at the side that holds the shoulder strap mounting point still manages to get in the way. Something will be done about this once I get around to modding.
I think the Hailfire has a lot of potential, it’s just not quite there yet. Over the next little while I will…
A) Be playing around with the voltage to find the optimal performance.
B) See if I can’t improve the reliability of the advancing clip well.
C) Remove the shoulder strap mount to allow for easier reloading on the go.
My standard weapon of choice at the moment is my minimised Stampede with two 18 clips taped together, each facing the opposite direction. The reason for this is that it gives a good mix of range and rate of fire, empty/partially full clips can be reloaded on the go, and it’s very reliable. I’m pretty confident that the Hailfire, once properly modded of course, will be able to match the range and rate of fire, still be able to be reloaded on the go *and* hold more darts. Provided I can get the reliability where I need it to be, this might just turn out to be my new ‘go to blaster’. Keep an eye out for stage two of this review soon enough where I’ll cover off some of the mods attempted.