Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Review: Nerf Zombie Strike Sledgefire (grey trigger)

Now for a different Nerf line, here's a review of the Zombie Strike Sledgefire. Sorry it took so long to get this review done.

The Sledgefire was one of the two blasters in Zombie Strike's first wave back in late 2013. Like its partner the Hammershot, the Sledgefire is a completely new design rather than a modified version of an older blaster. Unlike every other Nerf blaster though, the Sledgefire uses shells to allow for fast reloading of multiple darts. This concept has been around for a while, primarily from Buzz Bee, but has had mixed opinions. Some like the novelty/realism factor of the shells, while others hated how they drastically increased reloading time. So how does the Sledgefire stack up as a shell using blaster?
Here's the Sledgefire in its new design open box. Past modern Nerf blasters of this size have all been in sealed boxes, while some of the upcoming blasters are intended to have open boxes. This open box idea is supposedly intended to let people know exactly what they're purchasing, which is a good idea. Unfortunately, having an open box means the blaster is exposed to more germs, dirt, etc, and is much more easily damaged or tampered with than a sealed box.

The Sledgefire box, which is the new Zombie Strike style of boxes. The only fully enclosed box I know of in the ZS line is the Crossfire Bow, and that's probably because the bow arms come detached.

Out of box, the stuff you get is fairly similar to a clip/mag system blaster, though obviously with shells instead of clips/mags. You do get 9 darts instead of the 8 pictured, I couldn't find my 9th when I was taking the pictures.

Here's the Sledgefire with all three shells in the stock.

Let's take a look at the Sledgefire's shells, Nerf's first venture into this territory. Buzz Bee has been making shell-using blasters for years, though they've primarily been shunned for the impracticality of shells increasing the time it takes to reload. They make for awesome props though.
The Sledgefire shells are a little longer than an Elite dart, but not by much.
The shells hold 3 darts each in a triangle pattern, that allows the darts to be as close as possible while still maintaining a short length of barrel. As you can see down the end, there are dart pegs, but no ARs.
Due to the design of the shells, the Sledgefire will only fire Elite and Elite dimension darts like Kooshes. Large head darts such as Whistlers and Suctions, and long stem darts such as Streamlines will not work, as they don't fit in far enough to engage the Sledgefire's ARs.
The shell has 3 air release holes, one for each barrel. I've covered them with sticky tape, however I haven't noticed a huge difference in performance.
Here's a shell loaded with 3 ZS darts. As you can clearly see, the entire dart fits inside the shell, with not a bit of the dart protruding out. This is the main cause of the Sledgefire's incompatability with fat head darts, which cannot fit far enough in.

So far the Sledgefire is the only blaster to use these 3 shot shells, however there have been rumours of a shell fed blaster coming in 2015. They work decently well, it's faster to remove an empty shell and put a loaded one in than load 3 darts individually, however sadly the Sledgefire only includes 3. There is a refill pack available Hasbro's online shop, however it only ships to North America.

Let's look at the Sledgefire itself.

The Sledgefire has a rather unusual paint scheme, which so far as I know is unique to it. The Sledgefire's main body colour is a light blue, with the usual greys and orange. In the first pictures we saw of the Sledgefire, the blue appeared to be an incredibly ostentatious flourescent blue. Thankfully it's not this shade of blue, being more of a candy blue sort of shade.
It differs from the Hammershot's orange with grey and orange, or the other ZS blasters with green with grey and orange, which I think is very unusual considering they all belong to the same line.

The general shape of the Sledgefire is more of a grenade launcher design than a shotgun, due to its single barrel break open action, but if you're looking for a hand cannon style, you can't go wrong here.
The Sledgefire is about the length of a Rapidstrike with the stock extended, so while it is still a fairly large blaster, it's not huge.
"Sledgefire" is written on both sides of the barrel. It's in raised plastic, like most names on Nerf blasters.
The main body of the Sledgefire, note the painted ZS logo, and the engraved tally marks above the trigger.
And the rear end of the Sledgefire, note the engraved "Zombie Strike" and the faux tape around the handle.
Down the top of the Sledgefire, it's actually quite thin.
The Sledgefire has a single tactical rail on top. It differens with the N-Strike style rails in that it has slots cut into it rather than the grooves seen on most N-Strike rails. This means that regular Slydev attachments will not work, but otherwise doesn't affect the way tactical rail attachments are mounted.
The Sledgefire is a break open shotgun blaster. The barrel is released using this switch, which is just above the handle.
If you have decently sized hands or fingers, you should be able to reach the barrel release switch with your thumb fairly easily. Smaller persons such as younger children may have trouble with it, though thanks to the box design you can try releasing the barrel while the Sledgefire is still in box in a store.
The handle is reasonably comfortable and is quite well sized, with my hand gripping it there's still plenty of space left.

Pulling the release switch causes the barrel to unlock...
...allowing you to pull it open. The break-open action also serves to prime the blaster. Once in this position you can easily insert a loaded shell in. To fire, you simply need to close the barrel and fire. The trigger is locked throughout the break-open action, and only unlocks when the barrel is closed.
The barrel actually swings open further than the fully primed position. Pulling it to this position causes the loaded shell to partially eject, allowing you to remove it more easily.
When priming the Sledgefire naturally, you'll probably pull it down into the eject position without realising it, so you don't realy need to think about pulling the barrel down further to eject the shell.
The Sledgefire uses 3 individual ARs to be able to fire any number of darts. If you load in just one dart, it will fire that one dart. If you load in just two darts, it will fire those two darts.
In the break open position, there is ample space to load a new shell in. I've tried loading the Sledgefire in positions before the fully-primed position, and have failed each time. The prime is specifically calibrated to finish when the barrel reaches a position that you can easily load in a shell.
Loading a shell is easy, simple line it up with the hole in the barrel and push it in until it clicks. You can then proceed to close the barrel and fire.
When you break open the barrel after firing, and pull the barrel down all the way past the fully primed stage, the shell will partially pop out into this position, from which it is easy to grab the shell and remove it.
Because the shell ejection system is spring loaded, if you hold the Sledgefire sideways or upside down, you can make it eject the shell right out of the barrel, rather than partially eject.
Looking down the barrel when loaded, you can see the 3 loaded darts. Note the piece just above the 3 darts, this is the piece that ejects the shell.
And when fired, note the 3 dart pegs of the shell.

When you close the barrel, the loaded shell seals with the 3 AR system. A small rubber outline around the ARs helps to seal the shell with the plunger system properly.
The Sledgefire's built in stock has slots in which it can hold the 3 included shells. I personally find the stock a little short, though it's not as short as the Retaliator stock.
They're quite secure in the upright position thanks to some tabs inside each slot, however they do stick out quite a lot. This position makes it easy to load each shell with darts.
The shells do fit in upside down, however they don't lock into place, as the tabs are designed to lock the shells in the upright position.
Looking through the slots, you can see some of the tabs.

So how does the Sledgefire perform?
Ranges aren't very good. The Sledgefire punches its three darts out to about 9m (30') which is pretty bad by today's standards, and average even by N-Strike standards. This would normally get it a terrible rating the the power category, except for the fact that the Sledgefire fires all three of its darts to this range, not just one. This gives the Sledgefire a much more respectable power score.
Putting only two darts into the shells instead of 3 gets you slightly better ranges, but the range difference is minor (about a metre at best) and you'd be much better off with the extra shot from loading 3 darts.
Loading only a single dart does get a bit more range, reaching the 12m (40') mark. However, the consistency of shots is very bad, with some shots firing shorter than with 3 darts loaded. Accuracy was also severely lacking with these shots, so if you want to fire single darts from the Sledgefire, my suggestion is to get a shell purpose made for firing single shots, or mod the Sledgefire.
Accuracy naturally isn't very good considering the Sledgefire fires 3 Elite style darts through a wide barrel. Spread at full range is usually about 1.5-2m wide. But hey, you don't get a Sledgefire for the accuracy do you?
Rate of fire is a rather odd one. Because the Sledgefire is a single shot style blaster, you fire out the darts, break open the barrel, switch the shell to a filled one and close the barrel. This makes for a fairly slow reloading process. However the Sledgefire doesn't fail miserably in this area simply because when you reload, you reload 3 darts at once, instead of one at a time. Switching shells takes about 4 seconds, so overall the Sledgefire's ROF is around 0.75dps - not as bad as it seems.

So should you get the Sledgefire or not?
If you're a Nerf war practicality purist, then no. The Sledgefire offers far worse practicality than just about every other blaster currently available. It lacks range and accuracy, and its use of shells coupled with its own large design makes the Sledgefire a pretty large and cumbersome burden. Sure the three dart burst could help you in some situations, but in almost all cases there's a superior blaster for that situation. And being so severely limited to just 3 shells which can only be sourced from Hasbro US (seriously, just release a proper retail package) forces you constantly reload your shells.
If you're a shotgun guy, then yes, obviously. The Sledgefire is one of Nerf's few blasters that works properly as a shotgun.
If you're looking for a fun, cool and silly blaster to just tool around with, the Sledgefire is definitely an option. No other blaster offers the same awesome break barrel shell fed true shotgun action, and the Sledgefire is just super fun to play with. Its high price does mean you make a fairly large monetary risk buying the Sledgefire however, as you can get blasters like the Firestrike and Triad which are also fun, but much, much cheaper.
The easiest test is to just look at it. If your insides scream "buy it!" like mine did, then clearly the Sledgefire is meant for you. If your insides say "...meh" or anything of the sort, then your money is probably better spent elsewhere.
The Sledgefire is available for around 40AUD at its cheapest outside of sales, from Target and BigW. During sales, prices can go down to ~30AUD at said stores. Is it worth the purchase? Well I personally think that the Sledgefire is a little expensive. Especially at its retail prices of 40AUD and 60+AUD elsewhere, there are much better purchases you could make. However, the Sledgefire is a very fun, unique and all round cool blaster, so I wouldn't call you a fool for getting one for 40AUD or less. I wouldn't get it for any more than 40AUD though.

Pros: Shells allow faster reloading of darts than individual dart loading, looks and feels awesome, loading system is quite intuitive and ridiculously fun
Cons: Incredibly impractical, only 3 shells and no easy/cheap way to source more outside of the US, range and accuracy are rather lacking, stock is a little too short for me

Power: 6.5/7
Accuracy: 2.5/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5
Usability: 4/5
Rate of Fire: 2/5
Overall: 3.33/5

Personal Rating: 4.5/5 - though it's totally impractical, it's just so much fun to let loose three rounds at a time. The reloading process is also awesome despite its impracticality.

10 comments:

  1. Good review.And, yeah... Sledgefire didn't made to be offensive type weapon anyway. I think it's best for defending. Would it be more spread if you fired it with bad darts?

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    1. The Sledgefire isn't really suited to Nerf war use at all, unless you play with rules that are three-shot-respawn or stun or whatever, or unless you modify it to shoot single darts properly.
      Interesting question you ask, bad darts would indeed be less stable than good darts, so that could very well increase the spread. Mind you, 3 darts isn't enough to take advantage of a good spread with.

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  2. I have a zombiestrike sledgefire (orange trigger) and I agree with you. When I fire it doesn't go very far.But you were wrong about the power it will actually hurt somebody if you get within 5 feet of another person but you have to aim correctly.So I give this nerf gun 3 and 1 half stars.

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    Replies
    1. Any Nerf blaster fired at someone's eye or other vulnerable parts will cause pain, regardless of whether it gets reasonable ranges or not. Heck, even a Tek 3, possibly the weakest dart blaster ever, or even an eraser will cause pain if it hits you in the eye.
      As with everything, using Nerf blasters requires some level of common sense, which is sadly lacking nowadays.

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  3. I kinda wanted the hard shell to be shot out

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    1. Yeah that would have made the Sledgefire more fun and tacticool, but then you run into the risk of the shell getting lost easily, or flying into something and breaking it. It's easy to implement yourself via modding, but I haven't bothered because I'm leaving mine as is.

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    2. I WANT TO KEEEEL MAH FRIENDS

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    3. Then you may want to seek out something besides a shell ejecting Sledgefire, like perhaps a psychiatrist?

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  4. Does it fire all 3 or fire 1 at a time

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