Basic Blaster Tuning Vol. I Springers

Your typical NERF blaster is quite a piece of mechanical engineering. Using basic laws of physics, it propels darts across your living room with considerable speed. Considering the usual wear and tear as a necessary part of normal blaster operation, one should occasionally open up their blaster and see what’s going on inside. In the following  posts for the next three weeks, I will be covering a basic guide to tuning your blaster. Do note that I will not be covering any modifications, just a basic tune up and maintenance guide.

In this tutorial, I will be covering springer blasters, like the Retaliator, Alpha Trooper CS-12 and Hammershot. Although their designs vary, their basic operating principles are the same.


First up, you should be aware of basic blaster mechanics. Springers have a very gradual learning curve, so familiarizing yourself with the internal components will be all that you will need to work on it.

Nerf N-Strike Elite Retaliator Internals - 01

Retaliator internals (image courtesy-ModWorks)

Primary components of the blaster(in this case, a Retaliator), include a breech to chamber the dart, a plunger to accumulate the air, and a plunger rod to push the air with the help of a spring, firing the dart. Priming the slide back opens the breech, letting another dart in, and the cycle continues. The catch at the back of the plunger works in association with the spring to release the plunger rod when the user wants to.

Take a good look at the internals. Take the main spring out to prevent the parts from flying out. See how the trigger works, how the locks engage(you can remove them if you want to, just take out the white bits and the springs accompanying them). Pull the bolt sled back and see how the catch engages. Once you have a fair idea of how the parts move and what are the main points of contact, you are ready for the next step.


Nerf Elite Retaliator Mod - 02

See the rubber O-ring at the end of the breech? It maintains an air seal for perfect air delivery to the dart. Also, this O-ring is most susceptible to dirt accumulation, and over the time, friction increases on it’s surface, due to which it may fall off into the plunger tube, drastically decreasing the ranges. To prevent this, lubricate the O-ring with lithium or silicon grease after cleaning off the dirt. Also, use a cotton swab to clean the inner surface of the plunger tube. The primary O-ring on the plunger rod is not much affected by dirt, but its recommended to lubricate it too.

After doing this, reassemble the internals and put grease on main contact points and moving plastic components to reduce friction.This includes the bolt sled, trigger assembly and the catch. Reassemble the blaster and test-fire it a couple of times. Although there won’t be a change in performance, you will notice that the blaster primes and fires much more smoothly and efficiently than before. The breech chambers more smoothly, decreasing the number of misfires and jams.

In the case of a Hammershot, which does not use a clip system, just lubricate the moving parts. The Hammershot is quite an efficient factory made blaster which won’t require maintenance for quite some time. Otherwise, follow the same procedure for  the Alpha Trooper CS-12 and the Rampage.


Although no range increase is achieved with this tutorial, I have heard about a lot of games that run only stock-class blasters, thus having a blaster in first class stock condition in that scenario proves valuable. Next week, I will be covering basic tune-ups for flywheel blasters, and finally a conclusive tutorial of how to get your deteriorating darts back in their best shape. Till then, happy nerfing!


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