Review: Nerf N-Strike Elite Rhino-Fire
A beast I've had my eye on for a while, the Rhino-fire (sometimes referred to just as the Rhinofire) is Hasbro's current top of the line blaster (at least price wise). While it's been available for a while now, its cost has been rather prohibitive. Luckily, Target have regular sales, plus the habit of overstocking their higher end Nerf gear, so I was able to finally pick one up at half price.
Packing dual 25-dart magazines (and coming with 50 Elite darts) the Rhino-fire tops out all other Nerf blasters in capacity. It's the Elite upgrade to the old Vulcan, even the tripod attachment is identical (unfortunately). As with the Vulcan, the blaster won't actually balance just on the tripod (the joint is too weak), even though, weight-wise, the legs are quite strong enough to support it. Still, if you're going to use this as an emplacement blaster, the tripod isn't completed useless.
The Rhino-fire runs off six D sized batteries, and is probably going to be the only device in your house that does! In my case I didn't have any available, and generally use Trustfires anyway, so I popped in four of these plus a couple of dummy batteries as spacers. Given that this was providing 13-14 volts, I was expecting a pretty impressive rate of fire and range. My expectations were not met. It seems that driving the mechanics barrel "decoration" (the ends of the barrels alternate in and out on each shot) takes a fair chunk of power. I'm going to look at modding this to either completely disconnect this mechanism, or possibly pop in a small on/off switch to enable if needed, then we'll see how it performs.
Weight-wise, this blaster is easy enough to use two-handed for me, though again a kid under 12 or so would probably struggle a fraction. Build quality seems good; unlike some reviewers I saw no sign of an issues with the included 25-dart drum magazines, the appear identical to the Rampage version as far as I can tell. Battery life I can't say much about due to my use of Trustfires, but D batteries hold a fair bit of juice, so my bet would be you could get a lot of shots off before having battery issues. That said, as with all battery powered Nerf blasters, you'll need a screwdriver to switch batteries, and I wouldn't want to be trying it in a the middle of noisy battlefield.
One extra note, that I think only applies to the grey trigger version: other reviews I've seen describe a two stage trigger, where half pushing down the trigger starts the flywheels spinning. This allows the flywheels to be at full speed before the first shot is fired. Unfortunately, my Rhino-fire doesn't appear to have this feature, and I suspect it's specific to all grey trigger Nerf blasters. The only other blaster I'm aware of with a similar two stage trigger is the Roughcut. In that case a half pull of the trigger is supposed to fire a single dart, while a full pull fires both. Now my orange trigger Roughcut works exactly this way, while both my grey trigger versions (one a Whiteout version, so a different batch) always fires both barrels. If you're reading this and have access to a Rhino-fire or Roughcut, I'd be really curious if you could post a comment with your experience with the two stage trigger! Unfortunately, lack of a two-stage trigger means that the first dart out of the Rhino-fire is pretty much wasted (goes 50-60% of distance of the other darts).
That all said, being able to hold down the trigger and send 50 darts streaming down at your target in the space of ten seconds or so is a pretty fun experience! This isn't one of Hasbro's better value blasters; the Rapidstrike remains the top automatic, and the Stryfe the top flywheel generally, but if you're able to pick one up on sale, you won't be dissapointed!