Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hailfire: Crunching Numbers

Last night I finally decided to pick up the Elite Hailfire, the flagship of the N-Strike Elite lineup.  It's been out for a little while and I didn't really have an interest in it.  However, the completionist in me wanted to finish my Elite collection, so I picked it up to see what all the fuss was about.

Ever since I opened the box and started messing around with different loadouts in the Hailfire's 8-clip rotating loading system, I've been experimenting with combinations of various clip sizes that have really shown me how versatile this blaster can be.  This is certainly a fun blaster for folks who enjoy tinkering with the multitude of clip sizes Nerf has made over the past few years.  While the blaster is not free of flaws that keep it from really being "The Pinnacle of Nerf Innovation", there is much potential in this blaster to meet the needs of many.

First, let's crunch some numbers.

If you can manage to get your hands on 8 of the 18 Dart Clips, you've got the highest capacity Nerf blaster... ever.  144 rounds is unfathomable in the Nerf world.  You'd need to link 6 Vulcan chains to beat that kind of firepower which, in my experience, is just a horrible idea anyways since the Vulcan's chain loading cog isn't very strong and struggles even with just my 75 round chain.  While 144 darts at your disposal may sound like fun, there are a few setbacks to consider.
Straight clips are definitely the way to go with the Hailfire

  1. Hailfire is Semi Auto... which means you have to pull that trigger 144 times.  Doing it all in one run is going to give you arthritis
  2. Having all of those clips installed in the Hailfire makes it clunky and cumbersome to wield
  3. Good luck finding 144 darts when you're done spamming the battlefield!
On the other hand, going with 8 of the 6 round clips, as suggested by the way Hasbro has been marketing the Hailfire with it's "Hailfire Upgrade Kit", isn't too bad.  Rounding ammo out at 48 darts, it's still got the highest capacity of any other dart blaster.  Only problem is the reloading interval is a lot closer now.  With the 6 dart clips, you're having to spend a lot of time with the clunky clip rotation mechanism, which has it's own set of problems.  

The rotating clip system in this blaster, while Innovative, isn't very reliable.  Even with the standard 4 clips loaded that it comes with (6 dart clips), it has issues with improper rotation.  The mechanism is like that of the rotating turret seen in the Maverick, Hyperfire, and Spectre, and since it's dealing with MUCH more weight and momentum, the rotating problems that those blasters sometimes had is magnified.  The problem is mainly present when you're either A: trying to switch through clips quickly or B: if you're using higher capacity magazines and drums.  The higher weight of these larger capacity clips like the 18 round clip or the 35 round Drum means that they have more momentum when they're spinning around the Hailfire's rotating clip system.  It sometimes ends up re-loading the empty clip you just finished using if you're not careful with it.  This is a problem that could plague you in the heat of the game, which is when you need your blaster to be very reliable.

I've used this method before, but I definitely suggest using "marked" darts to signal when you need to reload clips, especially when using higher capacity clips.  Put an orange streamline or white glow streamline at the bottom of the clip's capacity so that you know when to reload.  You can also use the clear cover on top of the blaster to let you know when you're spent on ammo.  I would not suggest using the 18 round Firefly Tech clip with Elite Darts loaded into it for the simple fact that the clip is gray and it's tough to see when you're out of ammo if you want to look through the clear panel on top.  

To be most effective with the Hailfire, you need to decide what role you want to play in the game.  Maxing out the Hailfire with 8 of the 18 round Clips is not always the best way to go.  If you want to go into combat and be versatile, it's probably best to go with a lighter setup.  If you want to sit back and take a gunner's position with long intervals between reloading, you might want to camp with 4 of the 35 round Drums loaded in it (if you can manage to GET 4 of those).  Perhaps you want to mix your loadout with a combination of sizes.  

Good luck with trying to use accessories on this fella.  The grip on top pretty much negates the use of any aiming device and the rail in front is so tiny that it can really only use the Retaliator's foregrip or the Stampede's Bipod.  They're really just there to make it look "Tacti-cool".  I have, however, managed to use the Lightningstorm shield on the front pretty well, so if you've got that Super Soaker, you could go with that option.

I've got more tests planned for the Hailfire, so keep it here!


  1. I hope they do something like this again except with most of the flaws fixed. And maybe automatic?
    Superfire anyone?

  2. Correction: The Spectre has a unique rotation mechanism not used in any other blaster. That is why it does not misfire due to misalignment (but still misfires due to the turret seal.

  3. Maybe stock up on 12 clips?
    Or maybe 4 18s and 4 6s?

  4. Glue the clip carousel rotation mechanism together (the gears that rotate on one another). I believe it will stop the loading problem; it works on other blasters with rotation mechanisms similar to this.

  5. My research states that this Blaster is the best of them all

    1. I'd imagine you've never actually used a Hailfire. Though I'm curious what "research" you did to come to this conclusion, as most Nerf fans wouldn't agree.