The Nerf N-Strike Elite Stryfe is one of the – if not the best-selling Nerf-brand blaster ever, and it’s easy to see why. It is a well-built, compact, and modular mag-fed flywheeler with plenty of room for customization. Ten years later, it remains on Amazon.com, and we continue to sell many parts and kits for the Stryfe on the shop. Looking back, the N-Strike and N-Strike Elite lines drew many people into the hobby. When magazines, darts, stocks, and rails became standardized in 2003, it was the first time people could pick up a blaster and reasonably expect some cross-compatibility with their friends' blasters. In 2005 Goucher hosted their first Humans versus Zombies, which has become a mainstay event that’s held across the country. And clubs started playing in public parks with blaster-based variants of games of times long since.
Notably, Out of Darts wouldn’t exist without the Stryfe. Luke’s cousin owned one when they first came out, which started the channel and, eventually, the business. This Stryfe is still one of the most popular blasters out there. There are hundreds of components and kits that you can get for it. A large percentage of our shop is based around this platform, and it has just been a tried-and-true classic.
Just a quick disclaimer, as the video said before this, the Stryfe X was not only given to Out of Darts for free to review but Luke was also sponsored as part of the Nerf Stryfe X release. We never alter our opinions to benefit a brand we are working with. Still, it’s essential to be transparent about any potential biases.
Included in the Box
- A pair of Z87 eye protection
- A USB-A to USB-C 2.0 charging cable
- A 15-round Nerf Pro half-length magazine,
- 30 Nerf Pro Accustrike Half-Length Darts.
- A 3s (11.1v) LiPo Battery
- An instruction booklet
Blaster Overview: Tip to Tail
Up front, there's no N-Strike barrel lug (miss you, Coop), so there is no current way to attach any existing cosmetic kits that use that joint. Still, cosmetic kits for the Stryfe always leaned more mil-sim than we would like, and they also hindered performance, so I wouldn’t necessarily count them as a downside. Since the internal barrel is not faux-rifled like the original, we can assume that the missing barrel lug is a conscious choice to keep performance and accuracy as advertised. Remember Hanlon’s razor, y’all!
Below the barrel, there’s a tactical rail. It seems to be the same width and style as rails seen on Rival, Hyper, and GelFire blasters, but the spacing between the teeth is wider. We don’t have confirmation, but given that we might be able to secure attachments to the rail more easily with this spacing, I cannot imagine that something isn’t coming that utilizes this new standard, especially since this isn’t the only place where Nerf has tweaked the tolerances of their previous standards on this blaster.
With other offerings on the market using the Picatinny standard for years, I can see why some people see this as an immediate failure on Nerf’s part. However, I’m reserving judgment until we have adapted the rail for ourselves, but I can say, “At least it isn’t N-Strike.”
The expanded motor cover is the first difference you can spot side-by-side with the original Stryfe. Stamped with the Stryfe X logo, the motor cover leans into the asymmetric look that hobbyists have known for years. The cage inside has been completely redesigned, and it looks strikingly similar to Phil Sweeting’s OFP cages from long times’ since. With the extra space provided by the shell, it uses 30,000+ RPM, 180-sized motors for better performance and heat-shedding, and the wheels an all-new pair of glass-filled nylon injection molded wheels, which is a first to our knowledge.
At first glance, the magwell doesn’t look like it was redesigned; it has the same sizeable blocky appearance as the original. But on closer inspection, you can see the differences. The magwell has been moved forward to accommodate a short dart mag as close to the flywheels as possible. The release, similarly, has been redesigned. It’s a paddle instead of a button. Depending on your preferences, this can be much more comfortable for you, but in stock form, it can only be reached with your off-hand (the hand reloading and not firing). Not the end of the world, but we’ll certainly be doing some work to improve that.
Like its predecessor, the magwell itself is not flared. Like a skinny breech in springers, the hobby has largely set a new minimum standard for injection-molded blasters in the last year or so, and I also feel it's missing here. I can understand why they didn't flare the magwell, as there would be extra tooling costs for the mold, but I would urge them to consider it in their next offering.
Another great thing about the magwell is the lack of a safety lock present in Nerf full-length blasters. We don’t know if the smaller magwell or the advertised age range of 14+ allowed the engineers to omit the momentary switch, but you don’t need to have a magazine inserted into the blaster to rev. In gameplay, you can pre-rev your blaster while reloading, making response time much quicker. That said, the spin-up time compared to a stock OG Stryfe is not something you need to worry about in gameplay, but we’ll get to that later.
The magwell brings up an interesting point if they’ve gone half-length only, what sort of mag standard did they use? You’ll be happy to know that while Nerf does not encourage using non-Hasbro-manufactured magazines, the magwell and catch are both Standard Talon geometry. Worker Straight-10s, straight 15s, and curved-18s are fully-compatible. It even seems that the pusher was molded in a way that accounts for our preferred style of feed lips featured on the Tachi and Koda mags we sell.
The included magazine (and subsequent pairs of magazines for $9.99) is a great value offering, especially for beginners who don’t have a kit. There are some compatibility issues with other blasters due to an additional lip halfway down the mag. However, they still work in many dedicated half-length blasters with a standard talon magwell. The build quality is on par or better than some Talon clones, but they probably wouldn’t survive mag-flipping or drops higher than your torso. They’re no Koda mag, after all.
The included Pro Accustrike Half-lengths are of decent quality. The foam is firm, and the head retention is on par or better. With our S-tier gen3+ HE darts from Worker. With how high-crush the flywheels are, these wide-headed darts perform about 20% hotter than the gen3+, though they are more likely to increase wear on your motors doing so. We wouldn’t recommend the “half-u-strikes” for micro-wheel blasters like the Nightingale, but otherwise, they’re perfectly fine. At $17.99 for a 120-pack (8 mags worth; 14 cents/dart), they’re not the cheapest but also not the most expensive. Given the quality, we expect these darts to be somewhat popular, especially for those that swear by wide-headed darts.
For the nerds: These darts are 0.95-0.96 grams (compared to standard gen3+’s 1.0 grams) with a 38mm length more comparable to Dart Zone and X-Shot’s darts. The hole in the back does seem to be slightly larger than others, but the foam density being what it is, and the fact these wouldn’t work well in springers anyway, make this less of an issue to be concerned with.
In our opinion, the battery is another apparent nod to the hobby, as it looks like the large extended battery door we carry to house LiPos in the OG Stryfe’s battery compartment. It’s an 11.1-volt nominal (3s) LiPo battery with protection and charging circuitry built-in. This means you don’t have to worry about installing a LiPo alarm to monitor for low-voltage or baby the battery while charging. Just plug the included USB-C cable into a standard USB-A power adapter or outlet, and the battery takes care of the LiPo balance and state of charge, turning itself off when fully charged.
It has been confirmed that they aren’t currently considering selling the battery separately, which is a bummer. However, it did charge relatively quickly, and I didn’t have to worry about the battery running low with the moderate amount of play I got out of it.
To reiterate, many might bemoan the absence of an XT-60 connector for a bog-standard LiPo, but for beginners and the opportunity of the hobby going more mainstream, this is a victory. LiPo safety is a formidable barrier to entry for many, and having the same technology rolled into a safer package removes that barrier, making it more accessible to the masses.
The battery release on the blaster is familiar. It appears to be a mirror-image version of the Nerf Rival Perses' battery release– the last significant time they used a rechargeable battery for a foam blaster. Super easy to drop in and swap. There’s no play in this; this is well-engineered; it just feels great. I feel like I can hold the whole blaster by that battery.
The rev trigger is larger but not as comically large as some other flywheelers on the market. This is much more comfortable to use for extended periods without the middle finger slipping off, cramping, or getting pinched between the shell. Notably, the rev trigger also has a safety lock attached to it. Rather than relying on the rev trigger to be the “safety,” the engineers decided to add further protection. While many hobby veterans tend to avoid using safeties or rip them out entirely, it’s a welcome feature for beginners. Additionally, it’s out of the way and doesn’t jimmy itself into the safe position in normal play.
The main firing trigger has a different feel than the original Stryfe; it is a bit heavier, and we discovered why. The pusher is geared with a rack and pinion style action, giving mechanical advantage to move the pusher farther toward the flywheels about 8-10mm more than the original Stryfe did. Naturally, this gives the half-length darts firmer contact with the flywheels, resulting in a cleaner, snappier trigger feel. We’ve seen similar things in the DZP MK-3 put with a combination magwell that hampered its effectiveness.
The grip is so subtle that we barely noticed a difference until we held it. The original Stryfe grip was only comfortable for children since an adult-sized hand would extend past the grip and over the sling point. With the Stryfe X, the engineers did much the same thing the hobby did: fill out that dead space and extend the pattern to the entire length of the new grip. As obsessed as Luke is over grip design and ergonomics, this was a sigh of relief.
Finally, at the back, there’s an N-Strike stock point. Compared to other N-Strike Stock points, they’ve clearly tightened the tolerances, making it much more solid than previous offerings. However, stock compatibility doesn’t seem to be affected much; the block just leaves less room for wobble or play. There’s a distinct possibility that they will release a new stock for this blaster soon, and I would encourage them to do so. Offering a stock that matches the Stryfe X’s unique aesthetic (and perhaps leaves room for another mag would make this blaster a more complete package for competition, where accuracy and stability matter most.
Aesthetics and Ergonomics
Like its predecessor, the Stryfe X looks good for a flywheel blaster. Orange is an excellent color for their first release, both aesthetically and for compliance and extra visibility. Plus, it leans on the nostalgia of one of the original Stryfe colors, affectionately called “OJ” by the hobby. The cut of gray and white along the sides gives some dimension to the blaster while emphasizing the differences from the OG OJ Stryfe, like the rechargeable battery, extended flywheel cage, and longer grip.
The Stryfe has always been a bit lopsided, as it was necessary to house the flywheels. The Stryfe X is even more uneven, and that’s very much an acquired taste. However, that asymmetry doesn’t seem to affect the blaster’s handling. The Stryfe X is easy to wield, and the location of the battery above the grip makes it feel incredibly lightweight to whip around corners.
The build quality is a return to form, with 2010s-quality plastic, nice textures, and greebles throughout. There’s no flex or creaking as you’re using the blaster, and despite the noise coming from the flywheel cage, vibrations are well isolated from your dominant hand.
It’s important to mention that hobbyists Phil Sweeting and Nick Tino were directly involved in getting this to market. Both of these people were prevalent in the hobby, with Phil Sweeting being the guy who founded the Open Flywheel Project (OFP) and pioneered a lot of the flywheel geometry that the hobby and the Stryfe X take for granted.
Despite the box’s claims of 150 FPS, we found that to be a floor rather than a ceiling in our testing. With the included Accustrike half-lengths, we got an average in the mid-to-high 160s; with the narrow-headed Worker gen3+s, we were still averaging above 150. Because of that, it might be a bit hot for some super-stock games and would be disallowed at HvZs in its stock form.
The spin-up time, especially compared with OG Stryfe’s alkalines, is also improved with well under a second to get up to full revs before firing. Pre-revving may not be necessary, even though you can do it with this blaster!
Accuracy and range are both excellent. As a flywheeler, it may not compete with a sealed-breech springer, but it will hit where you’re aiming and pretty well too. The trigger is very snappy and responsive, something you can’t replicate with a geared electronic pusher.
With what limited gameplay we managed to get with this while under embargo, it was enjoyable to use. We didn’t experience a single jam or malfunction, and as a flywheeler, it really excelled in the warehouse as a CQB kind of blaster.
The sticker shock might turn some people away at $129.99 for the blaster, battery, mag, and double your darts (although it’s already down to $119.99). However, it is crucial to put it into some context. In 2019, the Nerf Rival Perses came out with a similar set of inclusions (including a rechargeable battery) for $100. Adjusting for inflation, $120 would be a fair price at launch. The DZP Mk-3 also launched around this price, and it required a ton of mods to get it to work better. Like what Luke said about the Mark-3, the price is equivalent to purchasing our 3s performance kit, a short dart pusher, mag, and mag adapter – to say nothing about buying an OG Stryfe, the tools to mod it, or any additional parts for your loadout. Going all-in, a Stryfe X, extra mags, and dart refill for under $200 would be a killer loadout for beginner hobbyists or as a loaner loadout for clubs and events to hand out to visitors. I could even see CQB-style venues renting these blasters out for competitions or parties where everyone has the same blaster. While the value proposition may not be there for someone that already has their loadout and mod workbench populated, the Stryfe X is still an enticing and competitive offering for virtually everyone else.
Time will tell what the future may bring now that three major blaster companies (and rumors surrounding the fourth) are offering half-length darts and blasters of varying different qualities and markets. Still, it can only go up with the most prominent brand hopping on board. - J Perry Heun