Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Nerf Dart Tag Swarmfire (blue trigger) Review

Today I'll be reviewing a blaster which has been out for a while, the Nerf Dart Tag Swarmfire. This beast of a blaster is generally seen as the flagship of the Dart Tag line (2011 reboot), and it's definitely worthy of that title.

The Swarmfire comes with itself, its detachable stock, and 20 redesigned blue-tip white velcro orange body DT Whistler hybrids.

The Swarmfire was originally released with three other DT blasters (Quick 16, Speedload 6, Sharp Shot) to revitalise the DT line which had been stuck with Furyfires and Hyperfires for the past years. The new DT line introduced new concepts into DT - all new curved and sleek designs (previous DT was primarily angular) full auto (Swarmfire), all new in built mag mechs (Quick 16, Speedload 6), and no tac rails on any blasters, leading some people to cry 'fake' before official proof.

The Swarmfire is the 'big daddy' of the DT line, providing some battery operated full auto goodness. It requires 6 'C' sized batteries to operate, which provide a hefty weight. To counteract the ammo wastage of full auto-ness, the Swarmfire has a capacity of 20 darts, the highest of any DT blaster so far.

First order of business is the aesthetics of the Swarmfire. It somewhat resembles what you'd expect from a sci-fi weapon, like those from the newly released Planetside 2. I personally am impartial about the aesthetics - I don't really like it, but I don't hate it either.

As mentioned earlier, the stock does detach, although given the design of the Swarmfire, I personally think it was just to reduce packaging size. It does help in storage though.

The stock, as you can see, is very simple, with naught but a pair of linked buttons to release it from the blaster itself. Nothing really to speak of here, except the cheek rest on the top (the large yellow part).

Without the stock, the Swarmfire becomes a massive pistol, but as you can see it's really not meant to be a pistol.

It is probably a good time to note that the Swarmfire and Longstrike are rather similar in design. Both have swept back handles, both have stocks which come detached in box, and the stock are somewhat similar as well. The key difference in design (apart form the obvious N-Strike vs DT design and their different mechanisms etc) is that the Swarmfire's stock is removable, while the Longstrike's isn't.
The Swarmfire accepts 6 'C' batteries, as mentioned before, and they all fit into a battery tray beneath this nice grip.
Although it does look very nice, unfortunately the grip is merely plastic, and is only slightly grippier than the rest of the shell. Still, it's nice to know Nerf are trying to help.

Because the C batteries are inside the large front grip, the majority of the weight is there. This means that one-handed wielding of the Swarmfire (when the stock is removed) is a bad idea because the weight is quite far from the handle. On the other hand, holding the Swarmfire with a rifle works very well because one hand can hold the handle, while the other supports the entire blaster as well as holding up the weight of the batteries easily. This is good design on Nerf's part, as it allows less runaway weight (try flicking around a Stampede with 6 'D' batteries to see what I mean).

Nevertheless, the Swarmfire is quite weighty, and thus might not be good for long battles.

The Swarmfire is a simple fully automatic blaster, meaning you can hold down the trigger and just fire at will. This also means that the trigger pushes an electronic button, rather than actually participating in the firing mechanisms of most other blasters, and means the trigger pull resistance is pathetic. Unlike some other blasters, which can get hard to pull the trigger over time (e.g. Snapfire 8), pulling the Swarmfire is so easy you get tempted to just spray and pray at everything you see.

The Swarmfire has a simple on/off switch. Obviously 'on' means you can fire the blaster, and 'off' means you can't. I've got it in 'off' mode just for safety. This is not present on the Speedswarm, the pistol version of the Swarmfire, posing a potential safety hazard. Of course, if you're sensible it won't be a problem, but for smaller children it may pose a threat.

A shot of the overall body shape of the Swarmfire, you'll see that the front is very large and bulky, while the rear is much thinner. I personally don't like this, but each to his own, I'm not that fussy about it.

So performance time. How does the Swarmfire do on the battlefield?

We've already established that it can be a formidable opponent in my previous war review, but the specifics are as follows.
Take into account that this is the blue triggered Swarmfire with a more powerful spring, thus ranges are greater but ROF is lower than that of an orange triggered Swarmfire.

Reloads are not easy, because the Swarmfire uses a turret instead of a mag system or the DT quick reload system, but because the turret is open you can reload while firing. Additionally, reloading 20 darts on the move is not easy, nor is it fun, but the advantage of being able to fire off all 20 darts with ease is a good one.

The Swarmfire hits a consistent 15m or so with DT darts, which is great. Apart from Elite and Vortex, this is one of the best ranges you can get. At heavy angles I suspect it will be capable of more than 20m.
Accuracy is decent, thanks to the DT darts, but a problem with accuracy could be the dart arrangement on the turret, which has an outer and inner section. This means shots alternate between outer and inner darts, and the rotational inertia of the turret may effect accuracy. Nevertheless, the accuracy is good enough with DT darts that you can hit medium sized targets at 12m+.

ROF of the Swarmfire is ok, but I personally think it's pretty bad. Including the initial rev-up time to get the motor going, the Swarmfire can spit out its 20 darts in 12 seconds. That's 5/3 dps ~1.7 dps. Most manual blasters can get at least 1.5dps, with a large number getting 2 or more dps. All the other full auto blasters (except possibly the Nitron) achieve at least 3dps or more.

In summary, the Swarmfire is a great blaster. It has a high capacity, high range and good accuracy, but the ROF is a little lacking. Its weight when loaded with batteries is quite high, and the use of C batteries means you have to shell out some fair cash to power the Swarmfire. You can pick up a Swarmfire for as cheap as $25, although with 6 C batteries it'll be more like $30-$35. I personally recommend it to people who want high capacity but also accuracy, but for those hunting a rapid fire blaster, look elsewhere.

The Swarmfire can hold its own against Aus spec Elites, both stock and modded. Its dart compatibility is a key advantage over most 'primary' sized Elite blasters (which are pretty much all clip [mag] system), which in turn gives it superior accuracy, although of course reloading is a lot slower.
High capacity, high range, decent accuracy, more weight balanced than Stampede or Vulcan (majority weight in secondary hand)
ROF lower than most other semi/full auto blasters, reloading is a pain

Power: 6.5/7
Accuracy: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Usability: 4/5
Rate of Fire: 2/5

Overall: 3.83/5

Personal Rating: 3.5/5 - although its stats are great, the ROF just doesn't cut it for me. That and the battery requirements. The stock feels a little short and flimsy for me as well.

Note that this review was done with a friend's blaster, and the batteries had been used before the ROF test, thus actual ROF may be a little higher with new C batteries. Additionally, an orange trigger Swarmfire has a weaker spring, thus has a lower range but higher ROF.


  1. well, u could do a voltage mod.... hint hint

  2. which is better, this or an eat, grey trigger. oh damn, imagine what a grey trigger swarmfire's range would be.

    Blue= above average
    Orange= average
    Grey=below average= swarmfire shooting 8m

    1. Well the EAT does have the advantage of speedier reloads, and a higher ROF if you put effort into it.
      Besides that though the Swarmfire is a lot better than the EAT. It has better range, accuracy and capacity.
      I personally would rather use an EAT, but the Swarmfire is definitely a good blaster.

    2. how does it have better range?
      elite is meant to be 'elite' with better plastic moulds and better ranges + smoother priming

    3. I think you've been misinformed with two of the three of those.
      Elite plastic is exactly the same as far as I can tell to N-Strike plastic.
      Regarding the smoother prime, if anything, the EAT prime is a little worse than the N-Strike AT's because of the dart tooth mech that holds the boltsled forward. It's a little rough and makes starting/ending the prime a little crunchy. The N-Strike AT did not have this problem, but of course they didn't always fire when one-hand fired due to the lack of said mech piece.
      Most N-Strike blasters had a fairly constant prime, while Elites have all sorts of bits and pieces that affect the prime at certain stages.

      Grey trigger EATs are awful in power. They get basically the same range as N-Strike Alphas at around 10ish metres. It's really sad.
      Blue trigger Swarmfires on the other hand get up to 15ish metres quite easily and consistently.

  3. so so your saying dart tag is better than elite... damn

    1. *Blue trigger Dart Tag (at least the Swarmfire and Sharp Shot) is superior to *most grey trigger Elite.