This stubby blaster was released in early 2017 and is the first in the rival line to feature slam-fire
As with all the NERF Rival blasters, it fires the spherical Rival rounds, terms high impact rounds by NERF, rather than the more familiar Elite Darts.
Like all Rival blasters it comes in 2 colors, red or blue, so take your pick (or see which one is cheaper and buy that!)
So, let’s see how slam-fire and Rival high impact rounds go together, shall we?
- High Capacity – 30 rounds held in the built in magazines
- Slam-Fire capable for those times you need to throw a lot of foam
- Small and light making it easy to carry around and even usable as a secondary
- Can be partially reloaded, useful in NERF wars when you just need something to fire
- No stock or ability to add one
- Lower muzzle velocities than some other Rival blasters (still far above Elite though)
- Can be fiddly to reload
- Only one tactical rail
- Can misfire when slam firing
- Uses the spherical NERF Rival High Impact Rounds, so not compatible with NERF Elite darts
- Rotating barrel reloading mechanism – maybe a bit complicated, but looks really cool
- Larger grip, that works well for adults and children
- While power is down compared to some Rival blasters, it still has the consistency and accuracy
- 30 rounds and slam-fire is always going to be fun!
- No batteries required
Rival power and accuracy in a compact, lightweight body with 30 rounds of ammo and slam fire capability, the Artemis has very quickly become one of my top blasters.
NERF Rival Artemis Review
While I liked the first Rival spring powered blaster, The Apollo, I found it was limited by a lack of slam fire and the position of the priming handle. So, I was really intrigued when I first saw The Artemis. It looks to have solved both of those issues in an unusual way, so could this replace the Alpha Trooper as my spring powered primary NERF gun of choice?
Named after the Goddess of the Hunt, The Artemis has an impressive 30 round capacity, but it does not come with magazines. How will this affect loading and will it make it a no-go for serious game-play?
It also uses a unique rotating barrel firing mechanism. Is this actually a good solution or simply a gimmick that breaks down when things get tough?
Finally, I like the stock on springers like my Alpha Trooper, so will the lack of ability to add a stock be a no-no?
With that in mind, lets see what the Artemis bring to the Rival party?
Unboxing & Getting Started
Once you get the box opened and the cables off, you will find
- One Artemis blaster
- and 31 (yes, 31 in mine, aren’t I lucky!) Rival high impact ammo balls
- and yes, the manual!
There is no need for any batteries or even magazines, so this is one of the easiest blasters to get started with.
Design & Ergonomics
The first thing that strikes you is that this is a very compact blaster for something that holds 30 rounds.
They have done this by using a similar design to the Rival Zeus’s inline magazine, but merged 3 of them together. The difference is that in the Zeus you can remove the magazine, but it is only 10 rounds.
By making it fixed, the Artemis has managed to fit 30 rounds in the small body. This does make loading a little different, but I will get onto that in the loading and firing section.
Looking at the top, there is a short Nerf Rival rail. This will, kind of, fit the Elite accessories, but they will require some er persuading! I am not a big one for adding sights or flashlights, but if this is an issue for you, you may find that this being the only rail is a negative.
When you pick it up it the standard Rival grip is comfortable for an adult but it’s not alienating to a kid. I have no idea why NERF don’t make more grips like these on the N-Strike ranges, but I guess Hasbro don’t want the grown-ups to steal all their kids blasters!
Next to the trigger is a little button NERF call the lock, but everyone else calls a safety. This, of course, allows you to disable the blaster so you don’t shoot anyone on accident.
On the left side of the blaster there’s a priming indicator. The indicator is up when you are primed and down when you are not rather than the bright orange or gray you get on most of the N-Strike blasters.
The priming indicator does not indicate whether you have any ammo though, simply that you are primed, so no ammo, no dart, regardless of what the indicator says! Also you cannot prime twice, so it is not entirely useful.
On the subject of useful, this blaster has sling mounts! I have no idea why so few of the Rival range have these, the Apollo would have made an excellent secondary if you could suitable stow it during the game for example.
Luckily NERF have decided to add them to this blaster, which means you can easily sling this blaster and it is perfectly balanced for one point sling or you can use a 2-point sling if you prefer it slung level. This makes the Artemis easy to sling and use as an awesome secondary.
While adding sling points has addressed one of the Rival range’s big annoyances for me, it has not in another; stocks. I find it easier to hold, fire and prime a blaster at my shoulder, which is why I like to have a stock.
I know the Rival range is being marketed as a different thing to the Elite N-Strike ranges and this is designed as a compact blaster. But the reality is, stocks are there for a reason and I do feel the ability to add a stock is a missed opportunity.
The clear tubes in the rear are where the ammo is stored. These are not removable magazines like the Zeus or Apollo, they are integrated into the blaster.
To load up these internal magazines, you slide back the cover, which exposes the little opening in the magazine so you can actually load it. It also compresses the spring so when you’re loading in the balls it’s not under spring compression. This allows you to drop in your ammo without needing to fiddle around and force them in.
There are three separate loading holes because these are three (sort of) independent magazines. I found it was best to load one in each repeatedly rather than put all the rounds into one before moving on to the next due to the way the loading mechanism works (we will go into this later).
The loading tube features a sort of a one-way entrance – or easy in, not so easy out entrance. This ensures that if you tip the blaster over you are not going to see 29 (it always happens then) balls rolling off under the couch.
This does make it difficult to unload the blaster if you don’t want to shoot out all of the ammo, but hey, more excuses to shoot stuff are always good!
Slide the cover back, release the safety lock thing and you are ready to prime your weapon.
The priming handle is chunky and the priming action is very smooth too. The trigger pull is also positive and has a nice feel. When you pull the priming handle back and then push it forward again, it primes the spring and you are ready to fire.
I still don’t like the downward handle that this and the Rampage use, I much prefer the priming handle grip on the Elite Alpha Trooper. However since this does not come with a stock point, it probably makes some sense to have the handle this shape, but it is something I would look to change.
At the front is the cool rotating barrel thing, which rotates the four barrels every time you prime it. This is not just for the looks, it is how it is pulling the ammo out of the magazines.
So when you prime it the barrels rotate like a Ferris wheel and the spring loaded magazines push the rounds forward from the magazines. Initially, it will feed on the right magazine until this is depleted. Once it has emptied the right, it moves to the center and then the left.
If you are empty and load just one magazine it dry fire the first few rounds as the Ferris wheel will be empty. So if you only have time to load say six rounds, put two into each magazine and you’ll be able to fire six consecutive rounds without dry-firing.
As a bonus, if you still have rounds in the Ferris wheel mechanism, you can still shoot while loading – three extra rounds to defend yourself is great!
It is a really clever mechanism. Is it over-complicated? Probably, there are easier ways to do what they’re trying to do, but it’s super cool and fun to watch as this video shows
Rate of Fire
Next let’s look at the Artemis other trick, slam fire! By holding the trigger, and pumping the priming handle you can throw a lot of foam at high speed.
This works really well in confined spaces. You don’t need to aim, just slam fire and the speed and ricochets of the Rival ammo takes out your opponents before they have the chance to move.
So yeah slam firing 30 rounds or Rival ammo only takes about ten seconds and is as much fun as you thought!
One problem with the slam fire is caused by a relatively common problem with locks on NERF blasters.
There are locks to prevent you double priming as we mentioned before. Usually, these work well, but when you are going full tilt with slam fire you can feel them drag.
This is not too bad, but once in a while, I found myself dry-fire and then have two rounds pop out a prime or two later.
I think that the locks must catch it slightly and the round does not get fired, then gets squished up with a second round as it goes round and so you get a double shot later.
This was only when I was going nuts with slam fire, which is most jams and malfunctions occur but I did not get any actual jams, just this, which is not too bad when you consider the amount of grief I was giving it!
Power and Accuracy
One disappointment firing the Artemis is that while the muzzle velocities are still much better that the N-Strike ranges, they are down on the speeds I got with the Apollo by about 10 FPS (I averaged a little over 90 FPS)
Since this blaster seems to be aimed at fairly close combat, this is not too much of an issue and the consistency of the high impact round ammo is still there, so you are still going to hit a ton more than you are with any N-Strike blaster.
I was a little disappointed by the Zeus and Atlas. They both had their good points, but only the Apollo (mainly because it is such good value for money) and the Khaos left me with an idea of how good the Rival range could be.
I was half expecting the Artemis to also fall foul of gimmicks over function with its spinning barrels and fixed magazines, but having used it for a little while I can safely say, I love it!
While complicated the revolving barrels work pretty well, with only minor hiccups when you really go to town with the slam fire.
The fixed magazine is actually really well thought out too. Yes, you cannot swap it out in the way you can with a mag fed blaster, but I rarely found this an issue.
It has enough ammo that you are unlikely to run out in a single melee and it is easier to reload than it is to reload a magazine (especially the one like the Khaos!) as you can top it up from a dump pouch pretty fast while in cover. Plus you can still leave a few shots in the chamber so you are not entirely defenseless.
Since I love to be on the move, this makes it an excellent blaster for my style of play as it is small, light, can be slung and does not have any of the noise or delay before firing of flywheel blasters.
Added to this the rival high impact ammo’s accuracy and higher muzzle velocities and you have a little blaster that packs a very big punch – highly recommended and features as one of my Best NERF guns.