Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: ZombieStrike Elite Dart (30rds/Case)

This is Nerf's matching recolor of the Elite dart for the recently released zombie-themed ZombieStrike product line.

Purchased on October 5, 2013 from the Butler Plaza Target in Gainesville, FL, USA. List price was $9.99, I believe I got these for 9.49 or something.

As is evident from the decal, in the US and Canada these are exclusively distributed by Target along with the rest of the ZS line.

As is expected for Elites, the darts are packed in a rigid plastic blisterpack with 2 form-fitting insert trays. Much superior to bags when it comes to protecting the product on the shelf. Buying a case with crushed foam in it sucks.

The foam on these is printed with a single color design that includes a Nerf logo and the ZS "Z-crosshair" badge. Nerf seems to be all about pretty darts nowadays... at least here it's nothing disagreeable and at no extra cost versus standard Elites.

A 15 round sample was examined and subjected to a 160+ shot chrono session. This serves both as a verification of ballistic performance and consistency in a variety of launcher types, and as an aging and short-term durability test. This was overall passed with flying colors; no "duds" were discovered and no darts ceased to be reusable with optimum performance for any reason during the test (which included high-performance flywheels and a 150fps springer).

Quality control seems to be excellent, with the exception of 3 observed minor foam consistency problems in the 15 round sample; two darts had out of round foams, and one had an undersize foam. Unlike some older K and J code standard Elites, there is little glue spillage around the tip. The tips appear to be installed on-axis and straight and are themselves consistent in their dimensions. This is likely associated with the observed success in using these darts in longer barrels, a common problem area for rubber tipped darts. As a sidenote on use of longer barrels with elites, tight barrel fits must be avoided regardless of spring gun parameters and optimal fit; here the test NF was equipped with a Blue Line CPVC barrel.

The tip code is J-dot. The tip construction appears to be standard. Like other J-code Elites, these tips have a white core and a colored dome. The foam is standard J-code foam (which should be familiar on elites, and is more or less identical to other foams available on elite darts including K-code and W-code) except in green color.

There is one observed difference with these tips from earlier J-code standard (orange/on blue foam) Elite tips, though, and that is the surface finish and level of tack. Early elite tips were notorious for sticking to magazine bodies and feed system parts resulting in jams.

Oops. This malfunction is typical of early Elite Standards from the 2012 era, which all had very tacky tip compounds and overhanging dried contact cement around the tip. This still may be the case with K and J code...
The ZS dart tips, however, are much slicker. Loading an 18-round magazine without any care to setting the rounds back from the front surface did not result in any feed trouble.

Overall, I would rate these highly recommended. In terms of consistency and durability, they are as good as it gets with the Elite type darts, and performance is nominal. While not available in 75-round cases, in 30-round packs they have the same price point as standard elites, yet are a brighter, more visible color (which assists in recovery to keep costs low), better long barrel compatibility, and better reliability in all the popular stock class guns. And they are zombie-themed for the HvZ crowd. What's not to like?

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