Friday, October 10, 2014

[Review] The Clipfire - not bad

The Clipfire is a serviciable single-shot blaster. Although the stock range is sub-par, some easy modifications can dramatically improve its performance. A modified Clipfire can reliably hit a human-sized target at a greater range than a Nerf blaster due to the greater inherent accuracy of BoomCo darts.


When folded, a Clipfire is smaller than a Farshot, and a little larger than a Jolt or Triad - though it may be easier to slip into a pocket or pouch, depending on the shape of your pocket. When unfolded, a Clipfire is smaller than a Farshot, and larger than a Jolt or Triad. Unfolding a Clipfire one-handed is possible, but awkward. In any case, a Clipfire cannot be unfolded as quickly or easily as a holstered or pocketed blaster can be drawn.

The dart holder on the top of a Clipfire is a convenient feature. Darts do not fall out of this holder easily. Darts that are inserted backwards certainly will not fall out, though this makes the darts slightly harder to draw. For comparison, a Jolt has no dart storage (aside from the barrel), and a Farshot can store two darts in the handle.

Darts may be stored in a Clipfire's barrel indefinitely with no risk of performance loss due to compressed foam. Thus, Clipfires are suitable for storage while loaded.


The blaster primes easily. Inserting a finger through the loop and pulling (as one might do with a Firestrike) will sometimes pop it open, so I recommend gripping the base of the loop instead.

The grip is large and comfortable.

The trigger pull is uncomfortably heavy; heavy enough to make accurate shots with one hand difficult. This is a result of a flaw in the design of the catch. The catchpeice is small and shaped in such a way that the force of the plunger head has significant leverage compared to the normal force from the sides of the catchpeice's track, resulting in excessive friction. It may be possible to ameliorate this problem somewhat with lubrication, but I couldn't test this as I don't have any lubricants on hand.

The dart holder makes a good iron sight. The small circle with a notch in the top, combined with a small post behind and a tall post in front of it, allows for accurate aim with precise control of the angle of the blaster. My only complaints about this sight are that the small size of the circle makes the blaster feel as though it should be more accurate than it really is, and, of course, that the dart holder cannot be used as a sight while there is a dart in it.


BoomCo darts are inherently much more accurate than Nerf darts. Nerf darts swerve in the air to a frustrating degree; BoomCo darts do not.

Due the the low power of a stock Clipfire, the blaster must be angled to take full advantage of this accuracy against distant targets. Fortunately, the sights of a Clipfire makes this easy. Unfortunately, the launch velocity varies from shot to shot, so a shot at the same angle could just as easily hit your target or sail over their head. As a result, the range at which a stock Clipfire could reliably hit a human-sized target is not much greater than that of a single-shot Nerf blaster.

A Clipfire with air efficiency improvement modifications has performance roughly similar to that of a stock Farshot. I think that a stock Farshot is superior, though - but it's hard to tell whether this is due to user error as the Farshot and Clipfire have different grips, trigger weights, and sight pictures.


Disassembling and reassembling a Clipfire is tricky, but not impossibly so, and it becomes easier with a little practice. The tip of the barrel shroud is glued on, holding both halves of the shell together at the front. The shell is flexible enough that it can still be split open wide enough to allow access to the internals, but not easily. Reassembling the blaster with the aforementioned glue intact is tricky, especially if you want to retain use of the dart lock - but, fortunately, this is a lock that you will probably want to remove (more on this later).

Boiling water does not destroy this glue. It will warp the plastic shell of a Clipfire, and has done so despite my best attempts to only immerse the tip of the blaster. The unsteady surface of boiling water and rising steam may both be to blame, or it could be the case that I immersed more than I intended. In any case, I do not recommend using boiling water as it simply does not work on this glue. (Given the shell-coloured overflow visible on the inside of the barrel shroud at the tip, I suspect solvent welding.)

Simply cutting off the tip does work, though a Clipfire with the barrel shroud thus mutilated looks ugly IMHO.

There is scarcely any room for a spring addition inside this blaster. It looks like there is plenty of room for a second spring outside of the first, but at full draw, the spring fits entirely inside the plunger head and the plunger head almost touches the back of the tube (much like that of a Jolt), leaving no room for another spring. Rubber bands or extension springs could be added to the outside of the blaster just as easily as with a Firestrike, and of course a spring replacement is always an option of you can find a suitable spring.

Like many BoomCo blasters, and unlike any Nerf blaster, there is a lock which locks the trigger unless there is a dart present in the barrel (the "dart lock"). Removing this lock allows the hole at the base of the barrel to be sealed, which greatly improves air efficiency. The resulting performance gain is considerable. Unless you think that you might otherwise accidentally dry-fire this blaster a lot, there is no good reason to retain this lock.

An internals guide and basic modification guide should be done soon can be found here.


Size comparison of a Clipfire (top left), Jolt (top right), and Farshot (bottom)
Another size comparison, this time with a folded Clipfire
Sight picture, low angle
Sight picture, medium angle
Sight picture, high angle


If you are lucky enough to work in an environment where you could use a Nerf EDC (in case, say, a battle breaks out while you are away from your desk), and you want a single-shot blaster that you can leave loaded and dangling from a belt loop, a Clipfire will serve you well. If left stock, the accurate range is similar to that of a stock Nerf blaster, and the maximum reach is lesser. Basic modifications which require no special materials can significantly improve performance. A modified Clipfire can reliably hit a human-sized target at a greater range than a Nerf blaster.

A Clipfire could be as serviceable as any other single-shot pistol for use in HvZ. However, a Clipfire's main strengths - the ability to be stored loaded and clipped to a belt loop or backpack over a long period - are unlikely to be relevant in HvZ, and other small pistols have advantages which are relevant, such as a higher rate of fire (Triad), a slimmer profile (Jolt), and ammo compatibility with scavenged ammo and/or the other blasters that you are likely to use (any Nerf), or better range (Farshot).

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