Thursday, 17 September 2015

Review: Nerf Zombie Strike Slingfire (Aus grey trigger, black breech)

The Slingfire is ZS's first clip (mag) system blaster, and introduces a priming method new to Nerf (but not to the blaster world, Buzz Bee did it earlier). How does it stack up to Nerf's other clip (mag) system blasters?
As I bought my Slingfire second hand, I don't have the box for it.
Here's the stuff you get out of the box, the Slingfire itself, a 6 clip (mag) and 6 ZS darts.
All loaded up.

In keeping with the ZS style, the Slingfire has faux tape wrapped around the handle and fore end, and the stock has a wooden grain detail to it. I'm not a fan of the colour scheme but that's just me.
The Slingfire is a very thin blaster. It's a little odd, I would have liked a little more bulk. It doesn't really compromise the ergonomics though.
The barrel and fore end of the Slingfire is very short and stubby, as if someone just hacked off the rest of the barrel. Sure for stock blaster performance having a short barrel is better, but I think aesthetically it doesn't look right.
The fore end is not particularly nice to grip either. Being so short, I can barely fit my hand fully on it, and that requires digging my wrist slightly into the magwell.
Holding it a bit further back is more comfortable, but still not quite right since there's no magwell grip, just a flat right angle.

The jam door is a little unusual for a springer clip (mag) system blaster, as it's a hinged open one that can be opened at any time. No locks or anything, you can cycle the blaster with the jam door open. It does expose quite a large aperture which is nice.
The Slingfire has a single tac rail on top, pretty standard.
The Slingfire has 3 sling loops: two above the muzzle and one on the bottom of the stock. Also fairly ordinary.
Unlike most clip (mag) system blasters, the Slingfire has a "semi-pistol" or "non-pistol" grip (not exactly sure which of the two), being that its handle leads directly into the stock. As such it feels significantly compared to holding most other blasters, though not too dissimilar to a Longstrike.
The stock is a reasonable length. It's roughly comparable to the length of an extended Rapidstrike stock, measured from trigger to butt. The semi/non pistol grip does make the stock feel a little shorter, but otherwise the Slingfire is fairly comfortable to shoulder.
Closer shot of the handle being held by me. Naturally being a lever action blaster, your hand actually doesn't grip the handle too much. Nevertheless the handle is decently comfortable, though the comfort of the faux grip tape texture is questionable. I'm personally not a huge fan of it, but it does help the Slingfire fit into the ZS line.
The Slingfire's lever is a fairly small curved plastic loop. It's reasonably flexible and does visibly flex when moved side-to-side. However I haven't heard/read of anyone actually breaking the lever.
The lever is easily large enough for 3 regular sized fingers, and is fairly comfortable to actuate being that the plastic is smooth and softer than regular plastic.

Now we get on to operation of the Slingfire.
Beginning from unprimed, first you pull the lever out all the way, which opens the breech and primes the spring.
Notice that the lever extends out slightly further than vertical, which for me feels slightly unnatural. As such it is very easy to short stroke if you're not used to it. I short stroke the Slingfire a lot when rapid firing, even with the practice I've had though in fairness I haven't used it seriously.
Naturally with the lever out and the breech open, clips (mags) can be inserted/removed.
The magwell is pretty standard, and has the clip (mag) release found on most springer clip (mag) system blasters. Which is weird, considering the handle is nowhere near the magwell. As such the same technique of using your main hand trigger finger to release the clip (mag) is not as simple:
With the lever fully forward, I can only reach the clip (mag) release by holding the lever with my fourth finger, and can only just reach the clip (mag) release with my trigger finger.
It's much easier just to use your off hand to pull the clip (mag) release back while pulling down the clip (mag), however this action would have been much easier with a central lower clip (mag) release like that seen on the Stryfe. In fact, I do believe that an older prototype image of the slingfire did indeed have the Stryfe style clip (mag) release.
And then of course close the breech by pulling the lever back and the Slingfire is ready to fire.
The whole cycling action is much the same as the other clip (mag) system springers, with the exception of the prime stroke being a little longer and non-linear.

The Slingfire does have some special features though.
Being lever action, it is possible to fling the Slingfire forward and effectively flick prime it. Naturally this is only really possible with stock springs, since upgrade springs are generally too strong to compress with the flick action.
The Slingfire is also capable of being spin-primed. I don't have a video of it, but I'm sure you can find it easily on Youtube. The spin prime is made easier by the balance of the blaster with the lever out - although the lever does travel further forward than what feels natural, the centre of mass of the Slingfire is pretty much right above the end of the lever. This allows for near effortless spinning of the Slingfire around the bottom of the lever, which I do with my middle finger.

Here's the Slingfire next to an EAT with a fully extended Raider stock. Note how much further forward the Slingfire's magwell is.
Overall the Slingfire is a decently comfortable rifle-sized blaster, however there are some key areas which I think could have been significantly improved, namely the lever stroke and fore end.

And now performance. Is the ZS Slingfire competitive with its Elite clip (mag) system brethren?
Range is pretty average for a grey trigger Elite-era blaster, 10-11m with ZS darts. Not terrible, but only barely better than N-Strike.
Accuracy isn't great either. Like so many other Elite-era blasters the darts are likely to blame, they have a tendency to veer off or into the ground. For some reason the accuracy seems to come and go in bursts. I had 3 in a row fly relatively straight, then the next 4 or so veer around (usually into the doorframe), then the next few go relatively straight again. It's pretty inconsistent though which is annoying.
Rate of fire is decent. Not anywhere near slam-fire or the automatics, but still usable with practice. I'd say about 1.5dps is the best you can get before risking short primes. ROF is hindered slightly by the unusually long stroke.

Standard retail prices for the Slingfire hover around 40AUD, while sales can typically take it down to 30AUD, possibly even less if you're lucky and patient. It's not a great deal considering it only includes a measly 6 clip (mag), when most other blasters near its price range carry at least a 12 clip (mag), or extra accessories. However the Slingfire's big problem is that in and below its price range are other really good blasters like the Retaliator, Cycloneshock and Stryfe, many of which are practically superior to the Slingfire and/or better value for money.
Given its size, the Slingfire is really only usable as a rifle sized primary. It's fairly comfortable to shoulder and use, however compared to a lot of other blasters in this category (e.g. EAT, Retal) it's slower to prime and and slightly harder to switch clips (mags). Additionally the long lever prime leaves you slightly more susceptible to short strokes. As a rifle sized primary it does *work* if you use it right, but it doesn't work as well as a lot of other options out there.
If you're looking for a fun blaster the Slingfire is an option, but I would only recommend it if on sale. If not on sale, I can't recommend the Slingfire as it doesn't provide all that much for the price, and is certainly not an exceptional performing blaster. I wouldn't recommend the Slingfire as a primary.

Pros: well balanced for trick shots/primes, comfortable lever, decent stock length
Cons: awkwardly long prime, awkwardly short fore end, slower to prime than most other clip (mag) system springers

Power: 4.5/7
Accuracy: 3/5
Value for Money: 2.5/5
Usability: 3.5/5
Rate of Fire: 2.5/5
Overall: 2.94/5

Personal Rating: 2.5/5 - a fun trick prime blaster that does just well enough to be a backup/fun rifle primary, but it's not good enough to be a standout primary. Has a few ergonomic issues too (for me at least).

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