Saturday, 18 May 2013

Nerf Elite Alpha Trooper CS-12 Review (20m grey trigger Aus)

The N-Strike Alpha Trooper CS-18 was an extremely popular blaster, combining the compact design of the Recon with the slam fire of a Raider. It won over many hearts, notably Urban Taggers and myself. Naturally then, you can imagine the reaction when pictures of the Elite Alpha Trooper surfaced. Even among the Rapidstrike and Mega Centurion rumours, the EAT has maintained some hype. Does it live up to its high expectations?
For reference, since the EAT has so many similarities to the Retaliator and Alpha Trooper, I've linked their reviews.

The box is practically identical to that of the AT, with the only changes being colour and the 20m sticker like thing. As far as I remember, even the description is the same.
Even the cardboard packing inside is practically the same as an AT.
The EAT comes with itself, a 12 dart clip (mag), 12 Elites and an instruction manual. Normal routine if you've gotten clip (mag) system blasters before.
For anyone who cares, the dart code is "T".


Out of box the EAT is very light and comfortable to hold, being identical in design to the AT. With the new Elite paintjob it does look cooler, but courtesy of the grey on the jam door and clip (mag) release buttons, there's not as much stand-out orange. I personally like the jam door, clip (mag) release and trigger orange because it's less dull and more vibrant, the way a Nerf blaster should be. Oh well, I have 4 ATs to cannibalise orange parts from :)

The EAT has the same tacticool as the AT - a top tac rail ideal for sights, and a stock attachment point. For the style of blaster the EAT is, that's really all you need.

The white stripe on the side, as with all other Elites, is prominent and looks really good. One interesting note is that it continues on the grip, but not along the barrel, so when primed and unprimed the stripe is broken, while when half primed (ie grip in backwards position) the stripe is complete. It's a little strange in my opinion, and I would have liked the white stripe to be right down the barrel.
 The EAT, like other Elites features faux rifling in the barrel. While it likely has no actual affect on the darts, it looks cool, so I'm glad they made this change.

Using the EAT is identical to that of an AT - pull the handle back, load in a clip (mag), push it forward and fire. Slam-fire of course works the same as an AT, hold the trigger down while pumping back and forth repeatedly.
Like the AT, the EAT pretty much never jams, partly due to good breech design, and partly due to Elite dart durability.
At first, priming the EAT was a little rough, as if there were a very weak lock in place holding the grip forward. A little force got past this roughness, and after a few shots the priming became very smooth, like an AT.
Priming single shots is extremely easy, and due to the smoothness of the pump slam fire is also reasonably easy.
Priming back the EAT is a little weird, due to the design of the dart tooth and boltsled. There is a small protrusion which keeps the boltsled forward, which allows for one handed single fire. With the AT, you had to physically hold the pump forward because the slam fire mech only activated when the pump was fully forward.

The orange stock attachment piece thingy has been seen on MLD to seem to start cracking after usage, and opening and closing. My EAT had its one extremely tightly fitted, but so far no cracks near the screw ports.

As with the ordinary AT, the EAT has a dart holder in the handle for that last resort shot. I've never actually used it, but for HvZ or other long games it might be useful.

The 12 dart clip (mag) included I really really really like due to its smallish size and reasonable capacity. I've copypasta-d the text I wrote for the Retal review, since the clips (mags) are identical.

Up next is the Retaliator's EAT's fantastic 12 dart clip (mag). When clip (mag) system was introduced, everyone complained that 6 shots were not enough. Some people (including me) made 'superclips' (mags) using 2 6 clips (mags), so as to make a clip (mag) with 12 or more dart capacity. Not long after, the Raider came out with its 35 drum. However, it was massive, heavy, bulky, and had a tendency to jam/misfeed. Finally Nerf released the 18 drum and clip (mag), which are great midsized clips (mags), but 18 clips (mags) are too long to fit in most magazine pouches, and 18 drums have the same problem due to them not being thin.

Finally Nerf has released a 12 clip (mag), and they've done it brilliantly. It doesn't fit more than 12 (it refuses to) despite there being space. This is good, because putting 19 darts in an 18 clip (mag) caused jams, and you don't want jamming when in a Nerf war.

The 12 clip (mag) strikes a balance between capacity, size and spring strength, allowing for easy and fast feeding without damaging darts, as well as allowing easy storage. Additionally, as it's part of the Elite lineup it features a half clear shell - perfect for checking ammo count. Sure, it's not full clear, but it still does its job well enough. In any case, having a half clear shell is really cool.

Unfortunately, because the 12 clip (mag) is part of the Elite lineup you can't use the Flip Clip (Mag) connector on it, although IMO 12 clips (mags) are too long for the flip clip (mag) to be effective, so it's not an issue. I do like the new styling though.

Compared to the AT, the EAT has 6 less darts in capacity, because the AT has an 18 dart drum. I personally don't feel this is too much of a loss, although statistically it is significant. From my experience AT 18 drums tend to weaken over time, and as drums have inherent higher chance for misfeeding and jamming. Straight clips (mags) like the 12 clip (mag) do not have as high a chance for misfeeding and jamming, which IMO makes them better.
The jam door, like the AT, is a slide back jam door which doesn't expose a whole lot of the magwell area, but the EAT doesn't really jam so the jam door is merely a formality.

There are two sling loops - the arbitrary handle loop and the loop on the priming grip. I personally don't find it uncomfortable though others have complained about it.

As you can see here, my hands are quite comfortable holding the EAT. This is due to my extensive use of the AT, which I also found comfortable. The sling point on the pump may make it uncomfortable for some, and the pump is also quite short. For large adults or even just large kids the EAT may be a little uncomfortable to use.

And now some pics comparing the EAT and the AT, just for comparative purposes.

So we've determined that the EAT works just as well as an ordinary AT, it comes with the same awesome clip (mag) from the Retaliator, and it sports the same awesome direct plunger as the Retaliator/Rampage.
How does the EAT stack up in performance then?

Ranges for the EAT aren't fantastic. It's a downtuned 20m Aus version, so ranges are going to be better for you US, SG and other non-stupid countries who don't think Nerf blasters are harmful. FYI Australian toy gun laws are extremely strict, hence the really stupid detuning of blasters and delay of other blasters like the Xploderz.
Ranges are around 11-12m very consistently. This is practically identical to that of the AT, but the AT's ranges were more inconsistent, sometimes being only 9m and sometimes going beyond 13m.
Accuracy is fantastic. Thanks partly to the barrel and also partly to the Elite darts, you can actually aim at something and know that it will most likely get hit.
ROF is as you'd expect from an AT design, 5dps isn't hard with the slam fire, and thanks to the super weak spring in the EAT slam fire isn't too taxing either.

So in summary, is the EAT all it's been hyped up to be? Not quite, at least for us Aus fans. Because of the stupid detuning of blasters, our Elite blasters are not significantly more powerful than N-Strike blasters. For those of you in countries who are sensible enough to allow the 75ft versions in though, BasicNerf has reported that 75ft EATs have quite a good amount of power, so for the 75ft EATs they are what they've been hyped up to be.
An EAT will cost you at most $29 AUD from Target, the same as an AT. If you're looking for a clip (mag) system blaster, and are a modder, the EAT is fantastic. If you're not a modder, consider the EAT, but keep an eye out for the 75ft version if possible, because the 20m Aus versions just don't cut it. At $30 the EAT is decent value considering what you get and what it does, but a little more power would make it heaps better.

Pros: Has all the pros of the AT (ease of use, range, ROF due to slam fire, general awesomeness, tacticool), with the following differences: 12 dart clip (mag) is better IMO than 18 dart drum due to less jam rates and superior feeding, superior accuracy to AT, range *should be* superior to AT
Cons: 6 less dart capacity than AT, 20m EATs are weaker than 75ft versions

Power: 5.5/7
Accuracy: 4/5
Value for Money: 4.5/5
Usability: 4.5/5
Rate of Fire: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.29/5

Personal Rating: 5/5 - It's an Alpha Trooper with Elite colouring and internals. I love Alphas so I love the EAT.

I am aware of the strange picture sizes for the portrait orientated photos, I will look into it and try and solve the problem. Pictures now fixed!


  1. If i remember right, MLDs stock attachment point was cracking because it had been improperly reinstalled after he took it apart to show the internals, but i could be wrong

  2. Hello.

    I'm totally new at nerf, just looking to pick up one or two for the heck of it. Was just wondering, I've already got a strongarm, and distance / power wise am I right to assume that this will be exactly the same (i.e no more powerful)?


    1. Hypothetically, and based on average range tests, yes. The EAT and Strongarm should be roughly equal in stock range because they're advertised as Elites with 20m/75ft range. Chances are they'll have differing ranges due to various factors like darts, weather conditions and unit differences, but on the whole they should be roughly equal.

    2. Nerf CommenTATER27 October 2017 at 10:04

      I don't know if it is just me, but my EAT hit 75 feet with an off-brand elite, and 79 with an on brand elite (Angled)(AR was removed)

      My stock Strongarm achieved 50-60 feet (Angled), so I would say EAT's are probably more powerful, cause even with an air restrictor in, it probably would be the same.

    3. Nerf CommenTATER27 October 2017 at 10:04

      Sorry, forgot to mention mine is US orange trigger.

  3. I'm also fairly new to Nerf, although I've modded a Maverick by compressing the spring, removing the ARs, and removing the nubs so the chamber (?) extends out all the way for better reloading. But I'm looking for something more and I'm trying to decide between the Alpha Trooper CS-12 and the Retaliator. And I'm kind of stuck on which to go with. I wondered what your opinion was in terms of stock performance, mod-ability, and your overall preference and why? If that's not too much to ask. Right now I'm looking for simple DIY mods, eventually I might get into spending extra $$ on after market parts. I'm also located in the US, so it's nice to hear there's something about our country that is less retarded than some other nations (re: toy gun guidelines... really?).

    Super appreciated, and thanks for the great reviews!

    1. Glad to see people enjoy my reviews :)

      I've written up an EAT vs Retal post here:
      Long story short, get the Retal if you want all the fancy accessories or a clip fed pistol, and get the EAT if you want ROF and comfort when priming.
      Stock performance Retaliator does better, at least in my experience with grey trigger Elites. I believe the 75ft versions are about equal though. Modability wise they're pretty much the same because they have the same plunger system, but with super strong springs you have to beware of the EAT's priming rod bending.

      Overall preference, I prefer the EAT because it's easier to prime and can get a faster ROF than the Retaliator. Just remember that I have heaps of clips and other accessories, so the Retaliator's accessories aren't a huge draw point for me.

      If you have more questions feel free to email me.

    2. Thanks, great comparison! Now to figure out where my values in a gun lie. That only leaves the variable of modability. I think I've read the internals of Retal and EAT are very similar. So, I'm guessing that even though EAT is new on the market, they're probably the same in what can be done with them from DIY and after market mods? Other than your comment about, "but with super strong springs you have to beware of the EAT's priming rod bending." Is that about right?
      Thanks again!

    3. Yeah, the EAT and Retal plungers are so similar equivalent mods will probably yield identical results. Having opened both myself, I can say this from experience.

  4. hi im new to nerf which is better EAT or Rampage

    1. I haven't personally used a Rampage, but I'd have to say that it'll depend on your preference.
      The major differences between the Rampage and EAT (ignoring their capacity because they're both clip system) are:
      Priming handle: EAT has shotgun grip, Rampage has foregrip
      Magwell: EAT has conventional vertical magwell, Rampage has horizontal magwell.
      My personal preference is the EAT is because of the shotgun grip and vertical magwell, but I know people who dislike the AT design.

  5. hi, Im new to nerf so would you say I get the AT or the EAT

    1. If you live somewhere that you can get a 75ft (orange trigger) EAT, I'd take that over a regular AT. If not, you'll have to weigh up the AT's extra capacity versus the EAT's better paint job, 12 dart clip and modding ability. My personal preference would be the EAT, but it's your choice.

  6. should I use the n-strike 18 dart drum or the elite 18 dart stick mag with my elite alpha trooper

    1. I'd recommend the stick mag. Stick mags feed much more reliably than drums do, and have a much lower jam/misfeed rate. Drums do have their advantages though, such as being more compact, ideal for close quarters, but IMO the lower misfeed rate of stick mags makes them superior to equivalent capacity drums.


    1. That depends on your playing style primarily and playing area secondary, assuming you have sufficient money for either, as well as batteries for the Rapidstrike (or sufficient money for the batteries).
      The Rapidstrike very much suits the spray and pray playing style, thanks to its full auto mechanism. It lacks accuracy and consistent range during rapid fire, and the ease of firing off single shots due to its flywheel mech. The Rapidstrike's included clip is also 6 larger than the EAT's clip.
      The EAT on the other hand has more consistent range and accuracy, and is much better at single shooting. It is a little harder to rapid fire as it uses slam fire rather than a full auto mech.
      Performance wise it's a choice between range and accuracy, and rapid fire and capacity with a sick shell.
      It's your choice at the end of the day. Pick the one you like most.

  8. What would happen if I bought an Elite Alpha Trooper from America and got it shipped to Australia?. No way am I buying one here if the range messed with.

    1. Well ignoring the fact that a lot of US Targets seem to be running low on EATs, what you'd get is a stock EAT that performs significantly better than our Aussie ones. In every other aspect besides power (spring) and orange bits, it would be pretty much identical to an Aussie EAT.

  9. The extra dart holder is actually to de-prime the eat after the clip is taken out. Just thought I should say that, since there isn't anyone mentioning it in the comments.