Thursday, 26 June 2014

Review: Nerf Mega Magnus (22m grey trigger)

Today's review, the Nerf (N-Strike Elite) Mega Magnus.

The Magnus is just the second blaster in the Mega line, yet the Mega line has already had a heap of press. Originally with claimed 100ft ranges and the longest blaster ever, the Centurion, the Mega line had a lot of people excited, only to shatter most people's dreams when people actually got a hold of the Centurion. Flimsy and squishy darts, hopeless accuracy, constant jamming and dart shredding, and with no consistency whatsoever, the Centurion was possibly the biggest modern Nerf failure ever. The Magnus has a lot to prove then, so how does it fare?
First up, Magnus in the box. Pretty ordinary open box.

Out of the box, pretty ordinary as well.

First off, the Magnus sports a red with white/orange/grey accent paintjob, which is the new Mega paintjob. In comparison to the Elite stuff, which (until the new wave gets fully released) is blue with the same accents. The only other blasters to have a red painjob are the extremely rare Red/Crimson Strike series blasters, released in 2009 for one day. As such, tacticooling with Mega blasters is going to be a bit of a pain since basically no red attachments are readily available.

I personally think the Magnus looks awesome. Few other blasters are so ostentatiously big, yet can still be (barely) considered pistol sized. Also I love red.
The Magnus has just one tac rail, on the bottom. Because of the Magnus' design though, I can only find one Nerf made attachment that is potentially any use:
There are a few Nerf made tac rail lights around, but the Recon one is the only one I have, and so is the one pictured. Shields impede the reloading of the inbuilt mag (more on that below) or are just awkwardly shaped, while sights are pointless and the foregrips don't really help considering this is a slide action blaster.

Here's the Magnus compared to some other pistol sized blasters.

Compared to other Elite pistol blasters, the Magnus is really quite bulky. Though the Magnus isn't significantly longer or higher compared to say the Sweet Revenge/Hammershot or Maverick, the body of the Magnus is significantly wider (ignoring turret bulge), and its slide even wider still. The Magnus also has a huge underbarrel rectangular construction that adds significant bulk. All these large features add up to give the Magnus a handcannon feel when you hold it. This is bolstered by the Magnus' use of Nerf's new Elite Mega Darts.

Ironically, despite the Magnus' body being so large, the handle is actually quite small. Not quite small enough to be outright uncomfortable, but it feels odd when the body is so ridiculously fat.
To better illustrate what I mean, here's the Magnus handle (top right) compared to a Stryfe's (top left) and a Retaliator's (bottom right).

The Magnus has a slightly different grip design to the Elite blasters. Also note the single sling point at the bottom of the handle, as with a lot of blasters these days.

Before I get into how the Magnus functions, let's look at the new Mega darts first.

Mega darts are a new ammo type created specifically for the Mega subline, so as to provide increased safety compared to Elites. They are significantly larger than Elites, so much so that an Elite will fit tightly within a Mega dart. The increased dart head surface area allows a higher velocity before the force becomes 'dangerous' (which is how safety of toy firearms is often measured, though I've heard that projectile kinetic energy is also regulated).

My Megas have an 'E' code, though this picture doesn't really show it.

Compared to Elite dart tips, Mega dart tips are super squishy.

These new Mega darts are unrelated to the original vintage Mega darts, and the two are not interchangeable.
One main extra feature of these Mega darts is the fact that they are designed to whistle, much like the older Sonic Micros/Whistlers. In a similar fashion to the aforementioned darts, the Mega darts have two rectangular holes cut into the tip (on opposite sides).

Like Sonic Micros/Whistlers, the whistling of Mega darts is not totally consistent, and often requires a couple metres of flight before the whistling begins. At very close ranges (<3m) the whistling does not seem to occur at all for any of my darts. Beyond that range however whistling does often occur. About half of the time the whistle is loud and prominent. A further quarter whistles quietly as if dampened or muffled. The rest of the shots don't whistle at all.

Like Elites, the head of the Mega dart is not larger than the foam of the dart, so as to allow clip (mag) compatability.

One of the main issues with Megas is its construction. For Elites and all its cousins the foam thickness is about two thirds of that of the hole through the centre of the foam rod. This results in a sort of stiff dart that will hold its shape when lightly squished.
For Mega darts though, the hole through the foam is a similar diametre to that of an entire Elite dart, while the foam is only as thick as Elite foam. This results in a much more squishy dart. Though it hasn't caused me much trouble yet, this fragility is supposedly one of the reasons that the Failturion chomps through darts and jams so easily.
It is possible to insert an Elite into a Mega dart to make it more solid, however people have reported that you lose range from doing this.

The Mega dart was one of the main points of criticism for many. For the past few years, Nerf has been pushing the universality of the Elite dart, and phasing out all the various N-Strike darts. Coming out with an entirely new ammo type which isn't compatible with any past blasters means that if you want to use Mega blasters in Nerf wars, you'll have to stock up an additional cache of Mega darts, alongside the Elite darts you've stockpiled in the past two years.
I can understand the safety aspect of having larger darts for safety with more power, and I also acknowledge that firing larger than usual ammo is fun (rockets are an absolute blast to use [no pun intended]), but this key feature immediately reduces the viability of Mega blasters in Nerf wars.

Operating the Magnus is different to other blasters. Unlike the inbuilt mag blasters of the DT line (Speedload 6, Quick 16) where you could load in darts whenever you wanted, to load darts into the Magnus you have to pull the slide back. Sadly the Magnus only has a 3 dart mag, which is extremely small when you look at the capacities offered by blasters like even just the EAT/Retaliator (12) all the way to say the Pyragon (40).

To expose the inbuilt mag loading slot, you have to pull the slide all the way back. Like the EAT/Rampage/Retaliator, the Magnus has a half-prime lock that prevents the slide from moving forward after it passes a certain point until the slide is moved all the way back. This opens up the inbuilt mag in the gap where the slide's gap normally is.

Loading in darts isn't normal fare either.  The slot for loading darts is marginally too short to be able to easily push the dart straight down.

Instead, you have to push the head of the dart in first...
...followed by the rear of the dart. You could push the rear in first and then the head, but I find this to be much harder than the method I described, because the rear of the dart is much softer and thus harder to push in. The dart's head makes the front of the dart more rigid than the rear.

Unlike loading a clip (mag) system clip (mag) in which you slide the dart in, this inbuilt mag forces you to squish the darts down to load them in. This loading method seems to have softened the Mega darts over time, as the darts are always being compressed when loaded. Though not much of a problem if you only casually use the Magnus, with frequent use I expect the darts to get significantly softer, making them harder to load, more jam prone, and get slightly worse ranges.

Once one dart is in, repeat for the rest, and close the slide. The opening and closing of the slide is the priming action of the blaster.
The closing of the slide chambers the next dart, and looks like this if no jams occur.

One strange issue I found was that before much use the right dart retention plate was stuck in its open position. This resulted in the darts moving ever so slightly to the right. While this didn't seem to make much of a difference when closing the slide, it annoyed me and seemed to clip the side of the dart. I haven't had any significant dart damage done yet though, which is good.

Unlike the smooth slides of say the Retaliator and Strongarm though, the Magnus' slide is actually quite rough. For whatever reason, it is possible to pull back the slide of my Magnus about 2cm, and have it stay there purely through friction. This makes priming feel rather weird, because I feel like I'm damaging something when I prime. I haven't seen any actual damage yet though.

Firing the Magnus feels very different to regular Elite darts. While most Elite springers fire with a muffled pop courtesy of their fairly weak springs and good air restrictors, the Magnus fires with quite a thunk. Though it is still muffled, the thunk is much louder and more violent than other Elite springers. It's nowhere near recoil inducing, but you can certainly feel the power of the Magnus, even in the grey trigger version.
The feeling of power is one of the features that makes the Magnus a fun blaster, and really adds to the handcannon feel.

One interesting feature is this button. When pressed by something thin (such as a paper clip or a pen), it releases the slide. What this does is allows you to pull the slide back when the Magnus is fully primed, when the slide is normally locked in the forward position. It's a feature that would be extremely useful during jams, since some jams could prevent you from pulling the slide back. It's also a feature that would have been appreciated on some of the older N-Strike clip (mag) fed blasters, since I've had jams that have locked up the blaster.

So now most importantly, does the Magnus live up to its Mega series claims?

Ranges are fairly impressive. Though it is quite inconsistent, most shots land between 13m and 16m flat, which for a downtuned grey trigger blaster is pretty good. That and the fact the Magnus is firing Mega darts gives it full power points. Can it get the claimed 22m range? At steep angles yes, probably.
As for accuracy though, oh boy. At 9m, I got maybe 2/3ds of the shots through the door. That is, a full door that easily fits even a large human. A door that most clip (mag) system blasters can get at least 2/3ds of their Streamlines through. At full range, accuracy is non-existent. I honestly don't know if the accuracy could be much worse.
Rate of fire is not outright bad, but certainly not very good. I can get a shot of maybe every 0.75 seconds safely. Besides the slide prime length being quite long, there's also a fair amount of resistance, much more than say a Retaliator slide. Additionally priming too fast gives a weird feeling of potentially jamming the Magnus, as well as damaging the Mega darts inside.

So all things considered, should you get the Magnus?
If you're a die hard practicality fan, probably not. While it does have pretty good range (and is very easily moddable to greater ranges), the lack of accuracy makes its range pretty much worthless. Especially when you consider the Magnus uses Elite Mega darts, which are not the same as the vintage Mega darts, and are not a dart size seen anywhere else making dart pickup much harder, as well as the low capacity and comparitively large and bulky shell, the Magnus is really just a pain to lug around. You're much better off with a Hammershot/Sweet Revenge/Strongarm/etc for sidearms.
Do note however that some wars and gametypes do have special rules for large ammo types, such as one-shot-kill where 'regular' ammo (usually Elite sized darts, Stefans and Vortex discs) are multi-shot-kill, or large ammo destroys shields where shields are impervious to said regular ammo. In these cases, the Magnus would certainly be a much more war-worthy blaster. You'll have to weigh up your options yourselves though, as those are usually very specific to case-by-case.
if you're just looking for a fun blaster though, the Magnus is definitely an option. Though it lacks the accuracy that makes a good target practice blaster, like the Sledgefire it is just fun to use. There's something about firing a large ammo type that is just fun, and the Magnus provides that at a lower cost that a lot of other large ammo blasters.

Does the Magnus redeem the Mega line from the awful Failturion? In a way, yes.
The Magnus is one of those blasters that is just plain fun to use, and that is partly due to the novelty of its large ammo. And unlike the Failturion, it isn't jam happy or dart chewing. In this sense then, the Magnus does show that Mega blasters aren't total rubbish, and shows that Mega blasters can be fun.
However, at the same time, the Mega line is still not necessarily a viable series to use for Nerf wars. Unless rules are implemented to give extra power to Mega darts, the Mega blasters are outclassed by most Elite era blasters. Sure the extra bit of range is nice, but they have worse accuracy, and have a lower capacity and worse rate of fire compared to similar sized Elite era blasters. Not to mention the scarcity of Mega darts, in a time where the Elite dart is the norm.

The Magnus is available for 18AUD at BigW, 20AUD at Kmart, and 25AUD at Target. For the 18AUD I paid for it, the Magnus was a decent deal. Sure it's not quite deal of the century (like $10 EATs), but it's definitely not the worst value out there. I personally really enjoy using it simply because of the novelty of large ammo and the heavy thunk of the plunger, which you don't get from stock Elite blasters.

Pros: Range is pretty good, can reload on the go, inbuilt mag doesn't protrude at all, looks sick and feels empowering, handle is very comfortable, slide is very easy to grab
Cons: Low capacity, terrible accuracy, rate of fire isn't great, hugely bulky, ammo type different to the norm introduces all sorts of problems

Power: 7/7
Accuracy: 1.5/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5
Usability: 3.5/5
Rate of Fire: 2.5/5
Overall: 3.2/6

Personal Rating:  3.5/5 - sure it's not statistically a very good blaster, but it's a lot of fun and looks really cool. That in itself is worth considering.


  1. Interesting review. I have both the orange and grey trigger. The orange trigger is definitely better, accuracy has been pretty good with mine, to the extent of often taking it a fun sidearm for wars. With the Blasterparts spring in it's a 90fps beast, easily topping the centurion ranges.
    I know what you mean about the mechanism, the slide does feel odd at first, partly because of how far it has to move. I have not had a jam in mine, plus kids at my games haven't, they can usually wreck anything!

    1. Do you think it's the extra power that stabilises the Mega darts? And with that said, does the Blasterparts spring have superior accuracy to the grey trigger?

  2. UK NerfWar tested the accuracy with the BP spring just by target shooting and he reported it was very good. I get consistent tags at 30-40ft in games with the orange one, especially if people aren't looking, as the mega round is easy to dodge. I have not tested accuracy of the modded one, I only put it over the chrono. The orange trigger has about 15fps more velocity than the grey one.

    1. Probably is the extra power then, judging by stationary test shots I'm rpetty sure the grey trigger Magnus would struggle to get consistent tags at 30-40ft.
      Might have to upgrade the spring then. Cheers for the info.

  3. A follow up on the accuracy thing, I just bought a pack of new Mega darts that are slightly different to the ones I got with the Magnus. The new ones have tips that are slightly thinner than the foam, while the old ones had their tip go right up to the edge of the foam. Additionally the new tips seem slightly tougher, but that could just be me. Besides that there's no major difference I can see, but they make a world of difference.
    With these new darts I'm seeing a veer-off rate at 7m of below 20%, while with the old darts that veer rate was probably 50% or more.

    With these new darts I'm thoroughly impressed with the accuracy, power mods probably to come soon.