Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review: Nerf N-Strike Hornet AS-6 (UPDATED)

Nerf Hornet AS-6. Bzzzz!
The Hornet is an air-powered semi-automatic blaster that has been around for several years; it was pre N-Strike until it became a part of the Unity Power System with the Titan + Scout. They're very much a love-it-or-hate-it blaster, and apparently there have been huge issues with them being defective out of the box. Being air powered, they can be pretty powerful and can offload 6 darts in one hit,which is impressive..if yours works. The thing is, this blaster is a lot more complicated than you'd think which is possibly why so many people think their blaster sucks. My old one actually..did suck, but I finally worked out WHY:)

Hornet AS-6 in Unity Power System colour scheme
The Nerf N-Strike Hornet AS-6  can come standalone (limited to Toys R Us) or with the Unity Power System- which was how I picked mine up.  It has been riddled with issues with reports of poor build quality which you can actually see when you hold it; unfortunately it doesn't feel nearly as sturdy as the more recent N-Strike blasters and out of the box there are visible plastic threads and scuffs. Being pre N-Strike, it doesn't feature any tactical rails nor has it ever sported the yellow and orange familiar colour schemes associated with current Nerf today.
6 shot fun- Hornet AS-6 compared to a Maverick REV-6. 
Although it is an air pressure blaster, the interesting thing though is the Hornet does not behave like the other AS series of blasters;  it has separate air tubes to each chamber.  To be honest, i'm thinking it's essentially a revamped Blastfire DX-500..only without the reliability!
Nerf Hornet's 6 chambers
The Hornet comes with 6 micro sucker darts that slide into individual chambers at the front of the blaster but can support all Nerf ammo. The blaster uses an air pump neck located underneath the dart chambers which requires you to pump at least 10-15 times to get things going. I've always been pretty conservative with how many pumps I do with the fear of bursting the air bladder, but apparently it's pretty robust so unless you're REALLY excessive , it'll be fine.

Hornet AS-6 with the reset primer extended. ???
The Hornet has a 'reset' primer on top of the blaster that needs to be pushed forward and back before you begin pumping the blaster. Throw away your blaster's packaging before reading the instructions and it's very likely you'll miss this important factor of using the Hornet.

The reset primer is made of a very low grade plastic and slides so awkwardly that you wonder WHY you have to do it in the first place and this is where the issues lie. The common mistake is this blaster works like a Magstrike- merely pump it up and let it fire, but it's a little more involved than that. Because each round's chamber is an individual tube, you need to 'reset' the blaster so it will fire from the first top chamber and work itself down. There's a lil indicator on the side of the slider that shows you which chamber is "active"- before you begin your foam onslaught you need to ensure the first hole towards the front of the blaster is highlighted. (I initially thought it was a "shots remaining: indicator and just ignored it..)
Chamber 3 is active- so chamber's 1 + 2 will now be ignored. Rude!
A common response to the jamming and misfires to the Hornet is to keep pumping the blaster. For me, the issue isn't with the pressurised air leaking; it's to do with the chambers failing to advance. Mine would get stuck on chamber 3 and won't advance, leaving the darts in chambers 3 4 5 and 6 sitting there. Interestingly enough, the chamber indicator DID advance when there's no air in the blaster, but once you've pumped it up, it sticks. Which was pretty useless.

The common scenario was I would  fire off chambers 1-2 and with much power.. then kept trying to shoot chamber 3 over and over which with each trigger squeeze released more air. In turn, once the air was all gone, THEN it advanced to chamber 4 and the subsequent dart dribbles out leaving me with foam dart impotency!!

The big buttons to squeeze on both sides of the Hornet.
That all being said, what if you've got one that works? When fully pumped up (jacked baby!), the Hornet is almost as powerful as a Magstrike, with some serious distances of around 15-20 metres. With the Unity Power System, a button on the top of the blaster allows it to be fired by the Titan when attached. It's also got a very cool button that squeezing it releases all darts at the same time (just like with the Blastfire DX-500)

I, like so many others have had mixed experiences with this blaster- when it works, it fires beautifully and can offloads 6 rounds in less than a second with power and accuracy..but when it doesn't work.. it's a piece of crap. It's very fiddly and unintuitive to use and personally I find any toy of this nature should not have this amount of operator error potential. My research into the Hornet suggests there are more faulty units than working units out there which is pretty sad; more so when it's accompanied with the Titan AS-1 and the Scout IX-3 in the Unity Power System.

I finally found a Hornet AS-6 that works, and I'm pretty happy with it NOW, but after so much history of problems and me thinking it was a piece of rubbish it's tainted what could have been a pretty cool blaster. Although one round less, I prefer the styling and build quality of the older Blastfire DX-500; it just hasn't let me down yet.  Unless you can purchase the Hornet from a store that has a great refund/exchange policy and/or will allow you to test it first, I'd definitely recommend against purchasing this as a gift for someone else because it will just lead to frustration and embarrassment. For 6 rounds, you're better off going with a tried and true Maverick:)

$39.95AUS from Toys R Us.

Usability: 4/10
Out of the box performance: 7/10 (when it works)
Cool factor: 5/10
Price point: 6/10 (with the Unity Power System at $69.95 AUS)


  1. Thanks for that :)
    My Hornet had real problems when I first purchased the Unity Power System. The Hornet stopped firing after 1 day.

    I bought a new Unity Power System and all three of the guns work better. However, i always have the problem that when I put darts into the Hornet the sometimes pop out, meaning that those bullets won't fire. I have now labelled darts that work with numbers corresponding to each slot.

    Any idea why most darts (whistlers, sucker and dart tag) pop out.

  2. Hi Luas,

    Do you mean pop out (with a pop) or just fall out? Do they pop out when you do anything (press the trigger, connect the blaster to the Titan etc) or randomly just "oh I dropped my foam!" :)

  3. I'm tempted to buy your broken hornet off you. How much would you want for it if I decided to buy it after christmas?

  4. Malee- Gah! I threw it out already! Not being the practical kinda guy, the gf doesn't believe in me hoarding broken blasters for parts ("what's the point, you won't be able to fix them anyway!")

  5. How do you reset the trigger on a Hornet AS-6? We had it fully pumped and slid open the top latch and closed it and the trigger is still not reset. The only way we can see to fire the Nerf is by the side buttons. Help

  6. I got a hornet with the u p system, and it worked after I read the manual and knew how to use it... That's interesting about the shot counter... I thought it was for looks. The hornet was my gun of choice until the trigger snapped somehow and I can't open it up, a few screws are jammed. When it works, it's awesome!

  7. my gun is a real piece of bull