Nerf Gun Review: Zombie Strike Series “SledgeFire”

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2014
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Nerf SledgeFire

Our second Nerf gun review is the Zombie Strike series SledgeFire.

This may very well be the most comprehensive post about this gun on the internet to date, including not only a review of the gun itself but also an example of how to mod yours should you so desire.

Design

First of all, this is a massively large gun (about 42 cm without the shoulder stock part), you can attach a strap if you’re a bit handy of course, but unless you find a way to transport it, it may become a bit bothersome if you have to hold it all day. That said: the look is awesome so you shouldn’t let the size stop you!

There is definitely no uniform colouration to the Zombie Strike series. Where the HammerShot (read our review of that here) is mainly orange, the SledgeFire is an almost azure shade of blue, which is different for Nerf (which generally favours dark blues when using that colour) coupled with orange, light and dark grey. It’s modelled after a shotgun, complete with shouldering section that is also an ammo holder and break barrel.

I didn’t like the shoulder stock at all, so I screwed it loose on mine, which was just a matter of taking out 4 screws, lifting it open, taking that part out and screwing it back shut. It has to be said that it does leave an opening in the handle, which should be easy enough to fill up with a variety of hobby materials, but I’ve chosen to leave it as is in case I ever want to reattach the piece I took out. I did place a piece of electrical tape over the opening to keep the dust out.

Like the HammerShot it comes with a couple of cardboard zombie themed stencils: the outline of the SledgeFire, a gnarled zombie hand, a staggering zombie, the Nerf logo and the Zombie Strike logo.

Stencils that came with the SledgeFire

Of course looking like a shotgun isn’t enough and other than the unique look, the way it loads and fires is it’s other distinguishing feature. Which brings us to the next point.

Firing the SledgeFire

Included with the blaster are 9 Zombie Strike darts (which are basically different coloured Elite darts) and three shells.

This photo shows the ammo and shells. On the left, an upside down shell and in the middle one the right way up.

SledgeFire ammo

You put 3 darts in each shell, pushing them in as far as you can. This is essential, else you’ll misfire.

For those that left the shoulder stock on, you can house your shells in there. Which is a nice detail. For others that took it off like I did, well make sure to put your shells somewhere you can’t loose them.

Not loosing them is essential in any case, as you absolutely need them to fire the blaster and whilst a zombie strike ammo pack of 30 darts is available, the shells are only included with the SledgeFire.

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Please note that you don’t need to buy Zombie Strike darts, any kind of Elite darts will work. As long as you get Elite darts and haven’t lost your shells you’re good to go.

Hopefully Nerf will sell them in the future, but at this point they don’t.

To fire simply cock back the hammer, click (“break”) open the barrel, put the filled up shell in, click it back closed, aim and pull the trigger.

Well I say aim, by aim I mean: point in the general direction of the target because this is a scattershot blaster. Basically when you pull the trigger it’ll eject all three darts in the shell simultaneously. You’re likely to hit something with this three dart scatter fire, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying that you can actually properly aim.

Of course whilst all of this has it’s charm, it doesn’t make it the most practical blaster out there in a proper game.

If you want to see a film of a SledgeFire in action, just go to Youtube and do a search, there’s lots of them out there.

A clever thing about this blaster is that after you’ve fired, it won’t expel the shell, so you don’t have to worry about it falling out and getting lost that way. To get it out, simply open the barrel, it’ll pop up and you’ll be able to lift it out without problems.

It’s very practical that way but of course does absolutely nothing for the loading speed, quite on the contrary. If you put them correctly into the shoulder stock for storage, they won’t fall out either, which is an extra bonus.

I agree with pretty much every other Nerf reviewer out there: the SledgeFire is pretty useless in an actual Nerfwar or Humans vs Zombies game because it just can’t be loaded fast enough. Whilst the break barrel mechanism is easy to use, the gun doesn’t load fast enough to be practical in a game where time may very well be of the essence.

I do, however, disagree that it’s not worth the money. Aesthetically this is an absolutely awesome gun, and the look alone makes it worth the price in my opinion. For (photo) prop purposes alone it’s worth owning. If you’re into that kind of thing of course.

It’s a very easy to use blaster, it’s just very slow to load and the lack of extra shells is a definite downside as that only contributes to it’s uselessness as game weapon. There’s only so much the awesome look can compensate for.

Range wise it’s the same as all other Elite guns and it uses the same basic Elite darts. It’s not compatible with whistler darts or suction cup darts. I only own these three types so I couldn’t say whether or not it works with other darts.

Price wise it is on the more expensive side. As far as I’m aware at this point it has only gotten a proper release in the US via Target for $27,99. You can of course get it via places like various countries’ Amazon stores and ebay, occassionally even in a supermarket outside of the US, but prices vary from reasonable to extortionate.

Nerf - Zombie Strike - Sledgefire

Modding the SledgeFire

In spite of the size of the gun, it’s actually easy to mod, just long winded because of the many different parts and bits that are hard to reach. Considering that it doesn’t have a revolving barrel, you don’t have to completely take it apart to mod it.

You do, however, need to make sure that after you spray painted on the base coat you manually apply a second coat of base just to make sure you have everything covered as there are many small details all over the gun that make it hard (not to say nigh impossible) to completely cover it by spray.

Due to the difficult to reach parts and amount of detailing I’m not sure I would advise this as a good starting gun when you’re just beginning to mod. Smaller guns with less details are generally a good place to start. Unless of course you have prior miniature painting experience, because let’s face it: painting a gun of this size or painting a tank, the tank will have been a harder job. If you’re good at painting miniatures, I’m pretty sure of that.

How I modded my SledgeFire

As always I only did an external mod, so I never actually opened up the gun and can’t tell you anything about the internals.

But the good people of My Last Dart did open one up, so just click on their post for photos of how the internals look.

Obviously, you should always remove your ammo before you even start modding, regardless of which Nerf gun you’re tackling.

I forwent sanding it down because I long since discovered that a layer of good basecoat for wargame miniature paint does the trick well enough.

After base coating was completely, I used model/war game acrylics for the rest and sealed it with spray on varnish.

This is a run-down of the paints I used and on which part(s) of the gun:

On the entire gun:
Citadel Chaos Black (spray on basecoat)
Vallejo black surface primer 70.602 (basecoat)
Vallejo black 70.950
Citadel Warlock Bronze (basecoat) 21-31

On the barrel:
A rough drybrush with Vallejo Hammered Copper 72059

On the main body:
A drybrush layer with DecoArt Brilliant Gold 620
And another drybrush layer with Vallejo Smoke 70.939
This may sound like a weird combo seeing that Smoke looks a lot like wood stain, but when drybrushed over darker golds, it gives them a sort of coppery sheen which creates a really nice effect. At least I think so 🙂

The largest plate detail:
A thin layer of drybrush with Citadel Tin Blitz (discontinued colour) 61-58
By the way, whatever Games Workshop (GW) staff tries to tell you, Warlock Bronze is NOT tin Blitz. Warlock Bronze is what they replaced Tin Blitz with, but they are NOT the same colour.
I drybrushed Tin Blitz over Warlock Bronze and trust you me, two different shades entirely (which is also clear by simply putting a pot of each next to each other).
I’m only saying this because in 2 different GW stores they’ve tried to pull that one over me and I’m fairly sure they’ll try to pull it over on others too.

On the smaller details I did a very rough drybrush of Citadel Dwarf Bronze 61-60 (which is actually a shade of copper, not bronze, go figure).

For various little detailing differences I used sporadic little spots of Vallejo Rust -069- (from their Air metallic range, but you don’t need air brushing supplies to use this paint, which is awesome. You do however, need a good basecoat, else it won’t take, so use it only over a layer or paint that is not from the airbrush range).

For the fake reptile skin detail on the handle:
Two base layers of Citadel Dark Angels Green 61-38
A soft drybrush with Citadel Goblin Green
A ever lighter drybrush with Vallejo lime green 70827
A very light and sporadic drybrush with a mix of Vallejo lime green and Citadel Bleached Bone.

For the fake leather/cloth detail on the handle:
A two layer coat of Vallejo Charred Brown 72045
A drybrush of Citadel Bestial Brown.

(My pots of Bleached Bone, Bestial Brown and Goblin Green predate the Citadel using correspondent numbers with the names, I’m sure the newer versions do have them, but seeing I don’t actually replace paint ‘till I’ve nearly ran out I can’t tell you right now).

I took out some time over several days for this project, because paint, even acrylics, does need ample time to really dry well. That and my home is sadly limited when it comes to daylight hours to paint in.

And here’s some photos of the modding process 🙂

Some steps are missing, because I took a photo every morning of the project before I started painting.

Step 1: the Slegefire with the shoulder stock removed, ready to get sprayed and painted black!

Photo of the day: 4.11.2013 (day 308)

Step 2: completely base coated black. The areas the spray couldn’t reached were done manually.

Photo of the day: 5.11.2013 (day 309)

Step 3: the barrel and all other parts that would become metallic were given a coat of Warlock Bronze.

Photo of the day: 6.11.2013 (day 310)

Step 4: the metalics drybrushing has been done, as well as the base layer of green for the fake lizard skin.

nearly done

Step 5: the finished gun before drybrushing.
Just a tip: if you, like me, use a rather glossy varnish, it’s probably best to avoids inks and washes. The varnish will bring out much the same effect anyway (as you’ll be able to see in the next step photo), plus adding gloss to something that’s already semi glossy may just be too much of a good thing.

Photo of the day: 9.11.2013 (day 313)

Step 6: all done!
It does look a lot nicer in real life, but I just couldn’t find a good natural light spot to photograph it in alas! It’s more like a glossier version of the previous photo in reality ^^

Photo of the day: 10.11.2013 (day 314)

If you’re going to mod and carry this as a prop, I would advise making some sort of holster, because else it’ll just get cumbersome to hold all day. It’s surprisingly light for a gun of it’s size, its not much heavier than a Maverick I think, whilst the Maverick is rather a smaller gun (even though it’s by no means a small gun).

See here our size comparison photo. The gun on the bottom is the SledgeFire. The top row are, left to right, a Maverick, a HammerShot, the black one is a Triad in the process of being modded and the smallest one is a Jolt.

size comparison

Our ratings:
Range: excellent
Design (purely looks wise): excellent
Modding possibilities: excellent
Easy to load: absolutely
Loading speed: slow, far too slow for an actual game, unless everyone is armed with a SledgeFire this gun is not recommended.
Ammo capacity: 3 darts per shell
Fires: Elite darts and Elite darts only.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a gun to casually shoot some darts with that’s easy to use and looks awesome, then the SledgeFire is something to consider. If you’re someone that participates in Nerf wars and/or games of Humans vs Zombies and want a gun for that purpose, the SledgeFire definitely isn’t the best choice. I’d go as far as say it’s pretty useless for that purpose because of the slow speed, scattershot feature and little ammo per turn. It’s the kind of gun you buy for the look really. But look wise, it’s pretty awesome in my book!

2 COMMENTS

  1. I’d just like to point out that if the gun is turned to the side (not even necessarily a full 90 degrees) when you crack open the breech after firing that the shell *WILL* pop out entirely, rather than needing to pull it out by hand. This dramatically increases your reload speed, although it comes with the risk of losing the shells. (My SledgeFire is used in office warfare, so the shells skitter across my desk and hit my cubicle wall, no risk of loss present.) You can also close the breech with an upward swing of the blaster, and feel like an action movie star, while also increasing your reload speed slightly. I can certainly fire my 9 darts faster than any other pump-action gun in the office can fire the same number, although it does take longer to reload after emptying my shells than something like the Triad, for example. That said, it’s faster to reload the shells than even a 6-dart clip; a grip of 3 darts can easily be pushed into the shell simultaneously with a little practice.

    I wish Nerf would sell shells separately, simply so I could have more on-hand. Even just one additional shell would be convenient, since I could store one in the barrel and three in the stock. (SlyDev.com.au also makes a rail attachment which holds a shell, and it wouldn’t get in the way of an iron-sight since the SF doesn’t have one nor does it need one.)

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