20 August 2013

REVIEW: Nerf Rapidstrike CS-18

Strike now while the flywheel's hot.

War is ablaze on the quaint little streets of England. Divisions are drawn between neighbours, friends and even family. Nobody goes untouched by war's savage fingers and chaos is rife in what was once a peaceful land.

The combatants are both young and old, male and female, and as battle rages the only sounds are those of yelps of pain and calls of "Anyone got any AA batteries?" That is because at last the Nerf Rapidstrike CS-18 blaster has landed; rapid strike by name, rapid strike by nature. We got hands on.

We love our Nerf here at The Test Pit, and very often a skirmish will break out that only ends when all involved are out of foam darts and covered in tiny bruises. The only thing we've ever wished for in terms of improvement to the blasters is for them to be able to shoot our fellow colleagues at a far higher rate. It seems we now have that in the Rapidstrike CS-18.

Flywheel powered (which means it runs off batteries and not a cranked-back spring as with the Retaliator) the Rapidstrike is capable of firing 3.2 darts every second. How it fires 0.2 of a dart we don't know, but the key thing to note is that this is the closest thing to a machine gun that Nerf have ever built. But rate of fire isn't the only impressive thing about this blaster.

Straight out of the box the blaster requires no assembly and looks a lot like the pulse rifles from the film Aliens. This, as any sci fi geek would attest to, is a very good thing. The Rapidstrike is also reassuringly heavy, especially after the four C-sized batteries are installed into the front grip. The size and weight of the thing make us wonder how younger Nerf fans will cope, particularly if any add-ons are used. Speaking of which, accessories were clearly on the designer's mind as there are five (5!) tactical rails, as well as a barrel that can be added to.

The stock is adjustable and extends out quite a bit; another indicator that Nerf clearly had adults in mind with this blaster. As for the ammo, you get 18 Elite darts included as well as a completely transparent clip to load them all into. We really like the new style clip, as it means you can keep track of your ammo supply from any angle.

Trigger and flywheel button on right,
 ammo clip release on the left

Trigger happy

Firing the Rapidstrike CS-18 is as simple as holding down the small flywheel trigger below the main trigger guard to get the gun a-spinning, then pulling on the trigger itself. As the Rapidstrike is fully automatic you can hold down the trigger and the darts will keep shooting - but not for long. We found that the ammo ran dry after about five seconds of constant shooting. Impressive, but you might want to invest in a few more clips if you're going into battle.

In terms of range the Rapidstrike CS-18 sells itself as being able to reach up to 75 feet. In practice (both indoors and out) we found most of our shots fell a little short of this distance. We discovered that many of the darts seemed to corkscrew out of the barrel; the tail end of the projectile spinning in wider circles than the heavier rubber end.

As this was our first go on a flywheel-powered Nerf blaster we weren't sure if this was common, but it definitely seemed to be effecting the range. After hitting the Nerf forums we discovered that firing in short bursts (holding down the trigger only long enough to release three or so darts) the corkscrewing stopped and the distance improved. Apparently shooting constantly can slow the flywheel down therefore reducing the speed by which it releases darts. There, now you know.

A quick mod: barrel from the Retaliator
We were also thankful for that customisable barrel. After adding the barrel from the Retaliator (which is really a very good pistol masquerading as a rifle) we found that overall accuracy improved quite significantly. This is not to say that the Rapidstrike shot wild with every dart, just that, as with the Retaliator, a longer barrel seemed to help.

A bulky blaster that ticks all the right boxes, we love the feel of the Rapidstrike CS-18 and also that incredible rate of fire. Although it will never be a sniping gun with range having been sacrificed for speed, this has to be the benchmark from which all future Nerf flywheel blasters will be measured. Top marks, gentlemen.

Around £35

Visit www.hasbro.com/nerf

Stock tucked in: nice and compact

A pretty decent sight. Our neighbours are doomed.

© The Test Pit

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