Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Nerf Dart Tag Snapfire 8 Review

This is a review of Nerf's newest DT blaster, the semi auto Snapfire 8.

Initially the Snapfire 8 was spotted at a toy convention of some kind earlier in the year. It was first sighted in stores in Singapore in around May (possibly later), and only reached Australia around September. Unfortunately for USA Nerfers one of BasicNerf's Nerf contacts has confirmed that the Snapfire 8 will not be released in the US in 2012. I personally find this quite weird given Nerf's biggest audience is the US (I assume), although Singapore's Nerfers per square kilometre is probably the highest of all countries.

The Snapfire 8 caused a stir because it promised semi auto firing without the use of electronics, and the ability to alter ranges and rate of fire with the use of a knob. At first people were skeptical about ranges given its size, and many people were intrigued by the trigger system because it is segmented.

Out of the box the Snapfire 8 comes with itself, 8 of the new design DT darts, and of course an instruction manual. I felt it worthy pointing out that this instruction manual is even more bare than most because the Snapfire's operation is simple - rotate the knob to change between speed-power modes, pull the trigger to fire.


 On the right side of the shell we have the usual DT engravings, and the Nerf symbol on the handle.
On the left side of the shell we have more DT engravings and the speed/power markings on the handle.

The Snapfire, like the other 2011/2012 DT blasters has a very basic general shape, but as usual Nerf has added all sorts of details like the "8" engraving on the left shell, the DT target/crosshair symbol on the right shell, and an asymmetrical design.
The Snapfire takes cues from the Sharp Shot (in terms of size and weight) and the Swarmfire/Speedswarm (design, turret-plunger system). Of course, unlike the Sharp Shot it is a revolver instead of single shot, and unlike the Swarmfire/Speedswarm it is semi auto instead of full auto.
I personally find the Snapfire very comfortable to hold because the handle is quite large. It can account for large adult hands and smaller childish hands with relative ease.

The speed-power adjustment is easy to make by simply turning the knob clockwise (for speed) or counter clockwise (for power). The speed-power adjustment works by pre-tensioning the extension spring the Snapfire uses, instead of a compression spring most blasters use.
This is in full speed mode, when trigger pull is the easiest. Ranges in this mode are around 9-10m with pretty good accuracy.
 This is half way between speed and power modes. Ranges are around 10-11m. Trigger pull is about 30% harder and the Snapfire now makes a satisfying 'twang' noise upon firing, as Link on SOFT pointed out.
 This is full power mode. Ranges are 11-13m. Trigger pull is about 50% harder than speed, and the Snapfire makes a much heavier 'thunk' rather than a 'twang' noise upon firing.
 Looking down the barrel, something noone likes to see. In this pic you can see the central screw which holds the turret together and the barrel pegs which prevent the effective use of Streamlines. I say 'effective' because the Streamlines fire, but only about 4ft.
Close up of the trigger, uncompressed. The only part which does anything is the main part with the cutouts - the other 3 segments are merely to allow the trigger to compress completely as a full solid trigger would take up way too much internal space.
As you can see in this picture my index finger only just wraps around the trigger. Pocket of UT has had trouble doing so, and this inability to properly grip the trigger means the Snapfire is difficult to use. As such the Snapfire is only suited to older, larger Nerfers who can grip the trigger properly while younger, smaller Nerfers will have trouble.
Also a timely note is trigger pull strength. For those who have used other semi auto blasters before (e.g. Rayven) or airguns (e.g. Titan) will be already be used to difficult trigger pulls. The Snapfire is no different, except because of how long the trigger pull is it is the hardest of all trigger pulls. Again, larger, older Nerfers can lever against the trigger with their index finger, while smaller, younger Nerfers will have trouble pulling the trigger all the way.
As a result, the Snapfire is primarily aimed at teens and older persons who can use it effectively.
 Stage 1 of trigger pull. The spring is partially extended and the turret is partially rotated.
 Stage 2 of trigger pull. The turret is completely rotated and the spring is further extended.
 Stage 3 of trigger pull. The spring is fully extended and then released to fire the blaster with satisfying kinetic feedback.
Because of this multi-stage trigger pull, good trigger pull technique is key. If your trigger pull is too fast or too slow, you risk misifiring the Snapfire, resulting in reduced ranges or the dart not firing at all. As a result rate of fire is limited to how fast the Snapfire can cope, rather than how fast you can pull the trigger.

Unfortunately due to the design of the trigger pivoting around an axle, if you use your index finger as your trigger finger you often end up scraping your finger against the bottom of the trigger guard. A solution to this, again pointed out by Link of SOFT, is to use your middle finger. Not only are middle fingers usually longer than index fingers (allowing better grip on the trigger), but for some reason when using the Snapfire middle fingers scrape the trigger guard less than index fingers.
 Close up of the loaded turret. This picture really doesn't say much as I took it for fun :D
 As you can see here the Snapfire and Sharp Shot are extremely similar in size. It's almost as if Nerf's designers got some Speedswarm internals and downsized them until they fit in the Sharp Shot's shell. Evident here is also the Snapfire's lack of a sling point, which the Sharp Shot has at the bottom of its handle.
 On the other hand, here you can see how much fatter the Snapfire is compared to the Sharp Shot. This is merely to account for the turret. If not for the turret, the Snapfire would be about the same thickness as the Sharp Shot.
 Here the Snapfire is compared to Nerf's other semi auto revolver, the Barricade RV-10. As you can see the Snapfire is smaller and more compact, but this is primarily because the Barricade is flywheel powered and holds 10 darts, compared to the Snapfire's spring power and 8 darts. This is a great comparison of styles, however. N-Strike is more angular and realistic, while DT is more sleek and minimalist.
















The Snapfire 8 conveniently fits perfectly into the N-Strike Tac Vest's holster. This wouldn't work for the Elite vest, however, because the Elite vest uses a clip that threads through sling loops, and the Snapfire lacks said sling loops.


To sum up the Snapfire:
Ranges/Accuracy
-Speed mode: 9-10m/reasonable grouping
-Power mode: 11-13m/accuracy not great
For its size and purpose, these ranges are great.
ROF
-Speed mode: 2-3dps possible, but beyond that results in a sore finger and misfires
-Power mode: 1-2dps possible, beyond that is extremely physically taxing
Again, for its size and purpose these ROFs are pretty good.

My opinion? I love it. Its performance and ease of use, as well as the kinetic feedback from firing and the satisfying noises it makes has made me re-instate my faith in non-single shot sidearms.
It's currently available in Target for 19AUD, but I picked mine up for $15.20 (20% off). At $19 I think it's a tiny bit overpriced, but at $15.20 I reckon it's great value.
Seeing as no other Nerf blaster has the same abilities as the Snapfire, there's nothing I can really compare it to. It's a decent semi auto sidearm, but it is outranged by the newer generations of manual priming blasters (e.g. Elite Strongarm, ZS Hammershot).

Pros: Ranges are pretty good, speed/power modes are distinct and both are useful, small and relatively compact (good for holstering), semi auto nature is bearable if fingers are large enough
Cons: Misifiring inhibits rapid fire, trigger pull hard for smaller/weaker persons, no sling point, accuracy not great on power mode

Power: 4.5/7
Accuracy: 4/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Usefulness: 3/5
Rate of Fire: 3/5
Overall: 3.44/5

Personal Rating: 3/5 - one of the highest capacity pistol revolvers, however the trigger pull is quite uncomfortable and gets quite bad over time. Also somewhat fragile if the AR is removed.

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