First released in August 2012, the Retaliator has been popular with both casual NERFers and modders. The direct plunger firing mechanism is reliable, does not require batteries and is easy to modify with no fiddly electronics.
However, nothing stays the same and NERF looks like they are going to be phasing it out soon. So, should you be looking to buy one before they are gone forever?
- Ultra-reliable and easy to mofify firing mechanism
- Lightweight at just over 2 lbs
- Stock and barrel extention accessories
- Easy to mod
- Does not need batteries
- No slam fire, limiting it as a potential primary
- Lacking tactical rails
- No quite sure what it is for!
- Direct plunger firing mechanism is reliable and easy to modify
- Comes with several attachments and 12 round magazine
- Due to be replaced soon
It comes with a lot of cool add-ons and features the same internals as an Alpha Trooper but without slam fire.
So while this is a robust blaster, why you would get one of these over an Alpha Trooper?
NERF RapidStrike Review
The NERF Retaliator has been in the NERF range since 2012 with just an update to Elite XD internals in 2014. While still available it looks like NERF are going to be phasing it out in favor of the N-Strike Modulus Recon MKII.
It features a direct plunger firing mechanism, which is probably the simplest and most reliable. These internals are almost identical to the Elite Alpha Trooper, just without slam-fire and the pump-action prime.
These models have been around a while and have been hugely popular. This means you can get a lot of mod kits, which plays to one of the Retaliator’s greatest strengths – it is so easy to modify.
To increase the power you only really need to put in a bigger spring and they are very simple to fit. There are no fiddly electronics and batteries to install, you can pretty much do the basic mods with a screwdriver. This makes it a great place to start if you’ve never modded a blaster before.
Below is a little video by NERF showing off its capabilities…
Unboxing & Getting Started
The blaster itself is pretty compact, but it comes with a stock and barrel extension which, when fitted, make it look much larger. It also comes with a 12 dart magazine and 12 darts to put in it. Lastly, you will find the instructions!
There are no batteries needed with the Retaliator, you just prime it and fire.
Changing the magazine is done by holding down a release button and removing the magazine with your free hand. This button can be held down by either extending your middle finger on your trigger hand or reaching around with your free hand. Either way, it is easy and fast and pretty standard for NERF.
Design & Ergonomics
The Retaliator is compact, but longer once you extend the stock and longer still once you add the barrel extension. The stock is fixed and very stable, but I find it too short. I am over 6′ tall, so I asked some 13-year-old kids and they thought it was about right, but even some of them had outgrown it.
The Retaliator features a nice, comfortable grip and the excellent trigger feel you always get with direct plunger blasters. It also has sling mounting points on the butt of the grip.
With only one tactical rail on the body, it is a little lacking. However, if you attach the barrel extension, which also features a grip, there are more.
The priming handle is on top of the blaster, which is pretty common. The problem I found with this on the Retaliator is that you need to let go of the front handle to prime it. This means that if you are holding the front grip you have to let go, prime, then re-grip, before you can fire. That is just daft and makes the front grip pretty much redundant.
So unless you need the extra tactical rails, or like the way the barrel looks, there is little point in adding it.
The original paint-job was changed to the white, XD style in 2014. Most people prefer the older orange style. If you are one of these, it is worth keeping an eye out for second-hand as the performance is almost identical.
Loading & Firing
The Retaliator is a simple blaster to fire, you just pull back the priming handle, then squeeze the trigger to fire. This mechanism is also really reliable, even when feeding it worn darts, you rarely get a jam.
The big problem is that it does not have slam fire, which makes the rate of fire pretty slow and this is the major Achilles heel compared to the Alpha Trooper. Some people say that this allows you to regulate your rate of fire better. I would agree if we were talking auto vs semi-auto, but slam fire….seriously?
It comes with a 12 round magazine which is probably fine for this rate of fire, but you can fit the 18 dart magazines and drums if you like, but the rate of fire probably does not warrant it.
Out of the box we were getting pretty good muzzle velocities and ranges, but no more than you would expect of an Elite series blaster.
The accuracy for blasters is pretty much determined by the darts, except where they have rifling in the longer barrels. The Retaliator does not have this, so the type of dart (and its condition) are your limiting factors. In reality, at about 10m you can hit a human….some of the time!
The Retaliator’s muzzle velocity was pretty standard for Elite series blasters, with an average of just over 71 feet per second.
This means that if you angle the barrel up to give the darts a good arc, you can usually reach about 20m. If you fire it flat, the useful range is really only about 10m or 33ft, but this is perfectly acceptable as the Elite darts are not accurate at that range, so you probably don’t need more.
I have always found the Retaliator a bit of an odd blaster as it does not fill any real role.
The Alpha Trooper features the same firing mechanism, but with slam-fire and pump action. This means that you can use this as your primary blaster in wars that need reliability and stealth over some noisy full-auto mayhem.
So, for a similar price to the Retaliator you get a lot more with the Alpha Trooper and the same scope to increase the power. The fact that there are kits to give the Retaliator the same pump-action primer as the Alpha Trooper tells you all you need to know.