Hands-on with Nerf's disc-shooting Vortex blasters

What happens when you invite a huge gang of reporters to a Nerf party at a warehouse and let them go wild with the newest Vortex Nerf guns?


Nerf's Vortex blasters shoot little green discs instead of cylindrical darts, but they're just as fun. Young kids, old grandpas, middle-aged reporters: no one was safe from a good discin'.

Read on for our hands-on with Nerf's newest disc-firing blasters.

1. Proton

The Proton is the single-shot pistol in the Vortex line. Pull out the disc-loading tray on the back, pop a Vortex disc in there, press the little red switch on the side to close the tray, aim and fire. The Proton may not impress at first, but it's versatility is an understatement. Reloading every shot manually is surprisingly satisfying when you see how accurate it shoots, even if it only holds one disc at a time.

To give you a comparison, we'd liken the Proton to shooting a slingshot — fast and effective. A Nerf rep also taught us the lightweight Proton's true power: dual-wielding. That's right, go out there with two at once, reloading them under your armpits. It sounds awkward — and does take a little practice — but it sure is fun.

Price: $10

2. Vigilon

Our least favorite of the Vortex blasters, the Vigilon is the five-disc version of the Proton that only costs an extra $6 to hold four additional discs at once. Although shooting with it felt precise, we ran into some snags. In the middle of heated shoot-outs, the discs kept getting jammed inside of the Vigilon's disc storage hatch. What's worse, the unjamming switch failed to unjam the discs. A general flimsiness with the hatch led to discs falling out at critical bulls-eye moments and prevented it from being useful.

It's not a terrible blaster and these flaws could be chalked up to them being abused by Nerf reps and trigger-happy reporters, but there we were, tossed into a Nerf arena with piles of these guns, and the Vigilon failed too many times for us to even consider picking it twice.

Price: $16

3. Nitron

The bulkiest Nerf blaster in the family, the Nitron is also the only battery-powered Vortex blaster at the moment. Spec-wise, the Nitron is every Rambo fan's dream: it holds 20 discs in a cylindrical mag (a second 20-disc mag that's sold separately can be stored on the stock), supports a scope and doesn't require any pumping action. It's definitely a beast when it comes to Nerf rampages, but it does have its shortcomings.

The Nitron requires six "C" batteries, which weigh it down significantly. We're not joking, the Nitron is one heavy blaster and you need to hold down a separate button beneath the trigger with your ring finger to turn on the motor, which just ends up cramping two fingers at once. Honestly, we liked the Dart Tag Swarmfire a lot more because it felt like the shots fired off were more continuous, even though it also takes six "C" batteries and shoots 20 darts, but that's just us. If you've already leaped into battery-powered Nerf guns and can't stand to go back to pumping, the Nitron is where it's at.

Price: $40

4. Praxis

The Praxis is the Nitron's little brother, minus the batteries and the weight. It still supports the scope (which doesn't improve aim by any means and is really just a flashy light) and a removable shoulder stock, but you'll be pumping this thing ten times over to unload a full 10-disc mag. For lighter movement, it's better to just drop the included shoulder stock and shoot without it.

Price: $25

Overall, the Vortex line of Nerf guns are a solid bunch. They're inexpensive (we remember saving all our pocket money to buy one a Nerf gun back in the day) and incredibly fun to play with, indoors or outdoors. The discs don't hurt, even with shots taken to the face, so we're inclined to say that the Vortex line has our approval.

The holidays come early this year — all of the Vortex blasters will be available on September 10.

Via Nerf

For the latest tech stories, follow us on Twitter at @dvice