Nerf blaster modding: these aren’t just for kids!

Posted: May 12, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

As a few of you know I work at a great software company, that understands the need for their people to have an outlet for their creativity.  It’s a very comfortable, laid back place to work, and they believe that having fun goes hand in hand with getting good work out of people.  One of those creative outlets are the Nerf blasters that we all have under our desks, in drawers, or leaning up in the corners close at hand.  Consequently, when you give ‘kids’s toys’ to a bunch of creative, problem solving, and otherwise devious adults, you wind up with them having the desire to make it better, shoot further, faster, and with more sting.  Some guys just stretch springs, drill out air restrictors, or in the case of the battery operated units, more volts.  For me it was all or nothing with my Nerf Longstrike, so I went to Orange Mod Works and purchased the massacre mod kit for my upgrades.

I thought I would do a write up about this, sort of a two-fold blog post.  One, to do a review of the Orange Mod Works kit, and two, to give more information on modding this blaster that was sadly lacking from other sites.  There are good places to look for mods to these things, don’t get me wrong, but I learned some things doing this that they didn’t cover.  So to start, you are going to need a few things:

  • A hammer
  • Phillips screwdriver, #1, narrow shaft
  • Two wood shims
  • Flat piece of metal (we used a hair barrette)
  • Second pair of hands
  • Black electrical tape

There’s the blaster, with the massacre kit laid out.  Now, my first gripe with Orange Modworks, is their assumption that you know what all of this is called, and their ‘installation instructions’.  See that little black business card-sized piece of paper?  That’s the installation instructions.  They really left much to be desired.  Anyway, most of this you can identify by looking at the existing parts when you open it up, but a couple parts are hidden and/or not even mentioned in the installation instructions.  What I mean, specifically, are the two springs, and the pin in the center of the picture there, near the trigger catch (the metal arch looking thing).  The pin, is what holds the bolt into the bolt sled.  Didn’t notice that until I looked at the internals three times.  That pin is not mentioned at all in the instructions, though if you watch their video online you will see it.  Also, one of those springs is easy to find.  It goes on top of the trigger catch.  The other is hidden.  Again, if you watch the video on their site (I highly recommend) you will see it.  If you look at the back of the bolt sled (lower left hand corner, rectangle object) you will see a small rectangular hole on the right.  There is a part that goes there, that you have to remove from the original unit.  The second spring goes in there.  Again, not mentioned in the instructions.

So, that’s the parts laid out.  Everything goes in the blaster, don’t make the same mistake I did at first and assume, because a couple parts aren’t mentioned (pin and second spring) that they go to a different blaster, and/or not needed in this one.  Again, I can’t say this enough (because their instructions don’t say it at all) watch the short video on their site for this product, it will help a lot.

OK, so first thing you do is remove the charging handle.  Every site says that, but none of them tell you how difficult this can be, and how much you can damage your blaster if you do it wrong.  Some say pry it with a screwdriver, or hammer, etc.  I would recommend NOT doing any of that.

CAUTION!  Removing this part can permanently change the way it fits the blaster, you may need to make further compensation to get it back the way it was.

Sorry, don’t panic, but I feel this is something that needs to be covered.  It isn’t covered anywhere else, and when I found out I was a little irritated.  See, Nerf makes these things with the intention of them staying in one piece for a long time.  I have to give them props for quality.  Downside, they are not meant to be taken apart, and doing so can and will break some parts, if your Longstrike is like mine.  This is the first case of that, the charging handle.  Mine was secured in there by plastic prongs clipping into a groove in the metal rod.  Pulling them out broke off little chips of the plastic, forever making the knob of the charging handle loose (it fell off twice before I decided to do something about it).  We’ll get to handling that later, but just be aware of the potential issue.

Now, to removing those big orange knobs.  I did this by taking two wood shims and inserting them between the knob and blaster, from opposite directions (wish I had the foresight to take a picture of this!).  Basically this gives even pressure to the knob so you don’t bend the rod, pry against the plastic, or otherwise damage anything.  I then tapped the shims alternately with a hammer until the knob popped off.  No prying, no cracked plastic, no damage or scratches to the blaster from the hammer or a screwdriver.

Once you have the charging handle separated, set it aside, and get to pulling the screws.  Now, another word of caution that was not covered on other sites that I saw, and thankfully something I noticed before I got all the screws out.  They aren’t all the same size!  On this unit anyway.  I had four different sizes of screws.  Initially I was going to put the screws into a bowl so I didn’t lose them, but had to resort to laying them out on the table, roughly in the locations they were in, in the blaster.  Got them out?  Great.  Next comes the easy part…if your blaster isn’t like mine.  I hear that the older blasters did not do this, but mine had a part inside, that was glued to the body of the blaster itself.  It took me quite some time to gently pry the two halves of the blaster apart.  You need to be careful at this point, I could tell the glue was stronger than the plastic, which shows by the bits of plastic that broke off on the inside.  Thankfully nothing major, and it went back together fine, but I could easily have broken the body of the blaster and made the whole project a waste if I had not been careful.  Once you are done you should be here.

At this point, take pictures, especially close-ups of the trigger area.  There are a lot of parts and springs there and as you can see, a lot of parts just fall out.  You can also see the screws, loosely laid out like they are when they go back in the blaster.  I didn’t take enough pictures sadly.

I put some markers in here, for some important notes.  First, there at #1, is where the barrel was glued to the body on the inside.  If you look close you can see the little bits of blue plastic that broke off when I finally got this apart.  I wound up prying from the inside, with a screw driver through the magazine hole, wedged between the barrel and body.  Again, be careful as I noticed small stress marks on the body of the blaster when I did this.  It takes quite a lot of force to break that apart.

Once you are at this stage you can easily see where all the parts go except for the spring and pin I mentioned earlier.  Look for them now.  Take a good look at how things are mounted, the spring retention cup (#3) has to go in a certain way, as does the bolt slide, and the bolt.  Your new parts will match up pretty much exactly like this.  Even the trigger catch (#2) has to go in a certain way so look at it closely.  That is not why I marked these parts though, I marked them because special consideration needs to be taken when working with these two.

First off, the retention cup, #3 (yes I know, 2 should be next, bear with me), can be very dangerous if you do what I did.  I unscrewed it first, while all other parts were still in the blaster.  Once I had those screws loose, that thing came out of there like a rocket and hit the far wall.  I imagine it could have hurt quite a bit if someone had been in its path.  Watch out for that.

Now, you should have all the parts out by now, match up the old parts to the new ones to see what needs to come out, and how to put the new ones together.  The video online helps to see how to put the guts together.  This is where an extra set of hands are useful.  (thanks to my lovely wife for the assist here)  Get all these parts back in place just like they came out.  Make sure everything that might have fallen out is back in place.  That spring, #2, is where the flat metal, and an assistant are good.  The new spring has a lot more power than the stock one, and it won’t stay in that groove on its own.  First time I tried to fit this together that spring came out and shot across the kitchen.  Thank goodness I saw where it went.  We wound up having my wife press down on the spring with a hair barrette, which was strong enough to hold the spring in the groove, and flat enough that I could put the two halves of the blaster together while it held the spring.  It took a little wiggling, but I managed to get the two halves together and get a few screws in before she pulled the metal out that held the spring.  Finish putting the screws in, DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN, no I didn’t break anything but I’ve dealt with plastic before like this and you will either strip the screws out or crack the plastic.

Finally we are back to the charging handle.  I noticed, after I put them back together the handle was loose, and it did fall off a couple of times.  I found you pretty much have two options here.  You can epoxy the rod into the handle, which is a permanent solution that I didn’t want to lock myself into, or you can use electrical tape on the end of the rod (thanks to my coworker Joel for that suggestion).  Just a couple wraps of the rubbery tape will give the rod enough friction, and girth, to fit back into the knob and keep it secure.  You will need to put the tape on after you put the rod through the bolt slide.  Now you are ready to test fire.

ANOTHER CAUTION!  From this point on you MUST charge the blaster with two hands. 

You will notice right away that the draw of the charging handle is much tighter, but as long as you put everything back together right it should be a smooth slide back to lock and forward to load.  If you try to charge it with one hand you will feel the rod twist a little, which is bad for the internals and will cause them to break down.  I did notice that I had to be a little forceful with the forward slide, make sure it’s all the way forward or it won’t fire.  You will also notice that the trigger pull is a little bit tighter.  That is due to the metal trigger catch and stronger spring.  Because of the power of the spring, and the strength of the internals it is recommended you do not dry-fire your blaster after you mod it.

When you test fire, be careful what you shoot at.  The darts will come out of the blaster much faster and with more force.  I did see higher performance, but it’s hard to tell from test shots.  I see more speed, and more force, and increased distance, but streamline darts are unpredictable.  Some go straight as an arrow, and others drop like a rock or fly off to the side.  I was able to fire a very straight, accurate dart more than 40 ft. and I am now able to hit one of my coworkers that sits clear across the office area without needing to point the barrel at the ceiling.  So, I would say overall it was money well-spent.  I am happy with the results.

As for the kit, I am very pleased with the kit itself.  The packaging was good, shipping was fast, and no hassles on the website to place the order.  The parts were well made, and you could feel the quality.  Much better than the stock parts (which I kept just in case).  My only gripe were the instructions, or lack thereof.  I understand that it’s a very simple mod, and if you have done it once there is no need to see it again so to speak, but for the first time modder they don’t supply a lot of the way of help.  When combined with the online video it helps, but I didn’t remember the video until after I had done the mod.  The only real change I would make is more instructions, maybe some pictures, and at the very least mention the video on the paperwork.

Hope you enjoy your modded Longstrike as much as I do.

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