Performance vs Potential: Modifying the Nerf N-Strike Sharpfire

I have observed a few complaints within the NIC (Nerf Internet Community) lately, concerning the recent apparent resurgence of the N-Strike line of blasters. While it is frustrating to see Hasbro back track after we were told that there would be no more new N-Strike blasters, it isn’t the first time Hasbro has failed to shoot straight with us. (Pun very much intended.) I too had become accustomed to “Elite” performance, even if it falls short of the claims. That said, as a “Modder,” I would argue that the out-of-the-box performance of a given blaster is less important than the modification potential of said blaster. I offer the following as evidence, anecdotal though it may be. I apologize in advance for the lack of hard scientific data, but as range tests results can easily be skewed and I have no access to a chronograph, I will simply offer my first hand observations.

Breach open side

Behold, the Nerf N-Strike Sharpfire, by all accounts, a mediocre out-of-the-box performer. However, as I stated in my review of this blaster, I hypothesize that it has great mod potential.

Slide Removal

Before I could disassemble the main shell, I had to remove the slide.

Breech

With the slide removed, the breach is more clearly understood. This blaster is essentially a scaled down version of the same direct plunger breech that you would find in a Longshot or a Retaliator.

Sharpfire Internals

Here’s a good look at the internals. The breach and plunger tube assembly is self contained. The rest of the stuff, from front to back is: a simplified dart tooth mechanism, the two pieces that make up the bolt lock, the trigger, the trigger catch, and, in the butt of the grip, the stock lock.

Breech and Plunger Tube Assembly

With a bit of persuasion the breech and plunger tube assembly came out. After carefully removing the four screws in the back…

Plunger Tube Disassembly

I was able to completely disassemble the plunger tube. Above you can see the barrel, plunger tube, floating plunger head, main spring and back plate. This floating plunger head design is an efficient use of space. Since it doesn’t need a plunger rod, the design also cuts down on weight, improving the overall efficiency of the plunger mechanism as well.

Air Restrictor

At the back of the barrel I found what I suspect is the primary reason for the blaster’s mediocre performance. This air restrictor design does not seem to allow for much air flow at all.

No Air Restrictor

A little work with my Dremel solved that problem.

Air Release Hole

In order to plug the air release hole in the side of the barrel, I cut a short piece of 17/32″ brass tubing.

Plugged

After cleaning up the cut and sanding the edges smooth, I simply rammed it down the barrel. This serves to plug the hole and improve the dart fit, all without the use of any adhesives. I then cleaned up the pieces and re-greased them before putting the blaster back together.

Sharpfire Reassembled

Here you can see the blaster mostly reassembled. You will notice that I left out the two lock pieces in front of the trigger. With these pieces removed, the blaster can now be safely de-primed. At this point all that was needed was a suitable spring replacement. I tried several before discovering that an Orange Mod Works 7kg Retaliator spring fit perfectly. Even with that kind of force, the prime is smooth, and the stock catch spring works well.

That was all this blaster needed to go from passable to impressive. This blaster makes me wish I had a Chrono. I’m pretty sure that it hits harder than my modified Sidestrike and my re-barreled Lock ‘N’ Load. This may very well be the most powerful single shot pistol in my collection.

With the success of these modifications, it makes me wonder. This blaster is a strange combination of excellent engineering and poor design. It has a minimized version of a tried an true breech system and an extremely efficient plunger assembly, but is hampered by an inefficient AR and a weak stock spring. Why didn’t Hasbro design this blaster with a more efficient AR and a standard Retaliator spring, then market it as an Elite blaster?

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15 responses to “Performance vs Potential: Modifying the Nerf N-Strike Sharpfire

    • Thank you. Actually, it may have been a 7kg spring. I got it as a promo with the Unleashed Solid Retaliator Stage 2 Kit when I pre-ordered it. Any Retaliator upgrade spring should fit.

      • I would recommend getting a Dremel. They are pretty affordable, and come in handy for all sorts of projects. I’ve seen some modders knock out an air restrictor with a hammer and a long screw driver, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It isn’t particularly safe, and it leaves a mess inside the barrel.

    • Unfortunately, I do not have a 5kg spring readily available for testing. However, I did a quick 6 shot test with the 7kg spring, and measured the results. The test was conducted outdoors in freezing temperatures, so the conditions were not ideal. That said all shots exceeded 45 feet with most falling around the 50 foot mark. The farthest shot was measured around 62 feet. All shots were level at shoulder height, as I am 5’10”, shoulder height for me is 4’8″. I would speculate that the 5kg spring would give you performance on par with the average Elite springer.

    • Due to the catch mechanism design, upgrading the spring will result in a heavier trigger pull. I haven’t found a way around that. However, a little silicone grease should help.

  1. I too did a brass mod to mine, unfortunately I think I used too long a barrel. I did a similar brass tube mod to my side strike which out performs my sharp. I may go pick up another and try again, as I really like the sharpfire.

  2. So I got some question, hope you don’t mind answering, is a CS6 recon spring and retaliator spring different? And the orange mod spring 7kg that you fit into the sharpfire, does it shows a significance increase ?

    • Nerf redesigned the internal workings of the Retaliator so that it would be more air efficient, and thus more powerful than the Recon. So, yes, the springs are different. A Recon spring will not fit in a Sharpfire. As for the 7kg spring that I used, it significantly increased the velocity of the darts. I don’t have the proper equipment to measure how much the velocity was increased, but it is a noticeable improvement.

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