Thursday, 4 February 2021

Review: Adventure Force Aeon Pro

The Adventure Force Aeon Pro is part of Dart Zone's line aimed more towards hobbyists, packing much higher power and half-length dart usage/compatibility. Naturally, it still seems to be only available in North America, however Blastertech imports and sells them locally. I bought one from them during their Australia Day (Jan 26) sale.

Funnily enough, this is actually my first real foray into half-length darts.

The Box

The Aeon Pro's box is nothing that special, has all the usual advertising, feature callouts and all that.

Inside the box, everything is mounted on another cardboard tray. Again, pretty standard fare.

Aeon Pro Blaster

The Aeon Pro is a fairly hefty pistol-type blaster. It has had a lot of effort put into design, with a plethora of smaller shell details, which help to give the look of a high quality, high tier blaster. It has a short Picatinny rail up front on the top of the barrel, and a set of very crude, built-in iron sights.
When handling the Aeon Pro, it is immediately obvious that it has been designed for real hobby use by teens and adults. The main handle is very large and quite comfortable, with ample spare space with my hand on it. The slide is also quite large and very grippable, though I find the rear surfaces to be a tad sharp for my liking. The fore end is nothing special, mainly there to accomodate the magwell and barrel, but has still nonetheless had some design effort put in.
Something I would like to note here is that the Aeon Pro is possibly the most solid out-of-box retail blaster I've had the pleasure of owning. It feels very higher quality, higher even than Nerf's best offerings.
Like with pretty much every other retail blaster, the Aeon Pro has several safety locks. The trigger locks unless the slide is fully forward, and the slide locks forward after priming and chambering. Notably, it also has a trigger locking safety button just above the trigger. Pushing in the left side locks the trigger, pushing in the right side unlocks it.
The Aeon Pro's operation cycle is just like that of any conventional mag-fed springer. Pulling the slide back opens the breech, allowing removal and insertion of a mag. Pushing it forward again chambers a dart for firing, and locks the mag in place.
A lever mag release as is standard nowadays is located below the trigger, in front of the handle. It is relatively easy to actuate with your main hand, though is slightly harder to reach with your off hand when gripping the mag.
As with the majority of modern blasters, the Aeon Pro has a slide release button, located just behind the slide. This allows you to pull the slide back even when the blaster is primed. This allows for jam clearing and such, but also allows for multi-dart-loading.

Unlike most off-the-shelf blasters, but akin to most hobby-grade blasters, the Aeon Pro uses a proper sealed breech and an actual full-length barrel. This sort of setup requires more power to work properly than typical off-the-shelf blasters, but has a far higher performance ceiling.

One of the Aeon Pro's features as part of the Dart Zone Pro line is its compatability with both half-length and full-length darts and dart mags. To accomodate this, the Aeon Pro's slide travel has a short length of complete slack, which does not compress its spring.

Muzzle Brake

The included muzzle brake piece is purely cosmetic. It has no effect on functionality or performance. It friction-fits into the muzzle of the Aeon Pro.

Half-Length Pro Darts

One of the major developments of the Dart Zone Pro line is the retailing and use of half-length darts. These darts use a roughly 31mm long foam body, with a fairly soft and compressible rubber head. In my testing, I've found them to be very accurate and consistent, at least when fired from the Aeon Pro.

I can't really say much in terms of longevity. I've only really had the chance to use the Aeon Pro casually indoors, and the darts have held up just fine so far. How well they fare in an actual event, particularly outdoors, I don't know.

12-Dart Half-Length Mag

Naturally to accomodate half-length darts, the Dart Zone Pro blasters also use half-length mags, the first of its kind to be sold in regular retail stores. Nothing particularly special about the one included with the Aeon Pro, it holds and feeds 12 darts just fine.

Half-Length Mag Adapter

The Aeon Pro is sized to fit full-length dart mags, so this half-length mag adapter is necessary to allow use of half-length mags. The adapter slides comfortably into the Aeon Pro's magwell, though unfortunately I can't test it with any other blasters.

Notably, this adapter has two mag locking nubs instead of just one. The top one is used to secure the Dart Zone half-length mags, and I believe the bottom one allows compatability with third-party mags like Worker's Talons - though I can't personally confirm. The mag release lever will retract both nubs.

Naturally, the included half-length mag is a good fit into the adapter. However, the dual locking nubs can be a slight annoyance. If pushed in lightly, the half-length mag can lock into the lower nub, which is of course the wrong position and will not feed any darts in at all. This can be mitigated by holding down the mag release lever while inserting the mag, or simply brute-forcing through and shoving the mag all the way in.

Of course, the adapter fits excellently in the Aeon Pro, slotting in smoothly and lining up the half-length mag well.


With all that out of the way, it is finally time for performance. How well does the Aeon Pro shoot darts?
Unfortunately, the rest of my Nerf equipment including my chrony are still back in my family home. The best I can do currently is test fire blasters down my 15m long corridor.
The Aeon Pro clears that distance effortlessly, with darts hitting my front door with a solid thwack and minimal projectile drop. Other reviewers have produced data suggesting muzzle velocities of around 140-145 FPS with the included darts, and I'd be very much inclined to believe that. The Aeon Pro packs one heck of a punch and I can see it easily reaching and exceeding the 125ft range claim on the box.
Accuracy with the included darts is excellent. In my 15m testing range, most darts fly dead straight. Hitting a stationary human-sized target at this range would be very easy. Unlike with most dart blasters, the (fairly crude) iron sights on the Aeon Pro are actually useful for lining up shots.
Rate of Fire is naturally its weakest aspect. Between a top mounted slide and a fairly stiff prime, I can only achieve around 2 darts-per-second at best, and much slower with any degree of actual aiming.
When firing the Aeon Pro, it is blatantly obvious that it is not intended for kids. The prime is quite tough, its firing noise is quite sharp and loud, and there is no AR to protect against dry-firing. It is worth noting however that if you plug the barrel with your finger, you can safely dry fire as the blaster's seal is excellent.

Game Utility

The Aeon Pro packs a lot of firepower with impressive accuracy, but fires relatively slowly. At least in terms of stock blasters, it outclasses pretty much everything else for firepower except other Dart Zone Pro offerings. As such, it works very well as a marksman-type blaster, for longer-range engagements that most blasters can't even reach.

Value and Summary

Unfortunately, the Aeon Pro is not sold in stores in Australia, so I acquired mine through Blastertech at a significant markup to cover shipping and logistics. In the USA, it retails for a measly 25USD, exclusive to Walmart due to the Adventure Force brand. For a solid, hobby-grade out-of-box, mag-fed blaster, this is an incredible deal. The Nerf Elite 2.0 counterpart, the Echo CS-10 (or any of its predecessors), is more expensive, much weaker, much less accurate, and requires much more to become a hobby-grade blaster.

If you are in the market for a solid out-of-box high-power blaster, and live in North America, I cannot recommend the Aeon Pro highly enough. Especially for the price, it is an exceptional blaster that is powerful, accurate, well built, reasonably comfortable, and works extremely well. Especially for a product from a (relatively) mainstream toy manufacturer, it is a great blaster and absolutely deserving of your attention.

Power: 7/7
Accuracy: 5/5
Rate of Fire: 2.5/5
Usability: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 5/5 (based on USA RRP)
Overall: 4.4/5
Personal Rating: 4.5/5 - This thing is awesome. Pretty much the only complaint I have is that the prime is not the easiest, but that's to be expected with this level of firepower. I would have liked a stock as well, but that's what the Nexus Pro is for.

Internals and Mod Potential

Before getting into the internals themselves, it is worth noting that the slide and handle both detach very easily, just by removing a few screws. The white pieces in the middle are also separate components that can be removed, as can the muzzle piece.
The Aeon Pro's internals are relatively simple. It has the usual fare of lock pieces, but otherwise is quite basic and would be quite familiar to many of you. Of note is that it uses a seemingly metal sealed barrel, a massive improvement over the more traditional plastic, unsealed breech.

I've been out of the game for a while so I can't say authoritatively what options there are for the Aeon Pro, but I imagine there are some good ones. A spring upgrade is always an option, and I expect extending the barrel would also help.

No comments:

Post a Comment