If you took a look at Nerf's 2012 blaster lineup and felt it was a step back from last year's bold new disc-based Vortex guns, I'm right there with you. Hasbro's back to redeem itself before the summer is over with the Vortex Pyragon — a pump-action blaster that's capable of firing 40 discs in succession from its drum. Get ready for disc-ageddon!
Ditching the lime green, the Pyragon has an orange, white and gray paint job that's more in line with a Super Soaker blaster.
Enough about looks. How does the Pyragon shoot? One word: beautifully. For example, one of the best things to do is fire discs at other surfaces and watch them bounce and deflect to your target. It's especially satisfying when you shoot discs at a room corner and they end up nailing a target you can't even see.
Despite the fact that the Pyragon has a 40-disc drum and is pump-powered, it's not particularly heavy, which is a huge plus. It has two modes, a single shot per pump, and a "Slam Fire" mode that lets you shoot a stream of discs by repeatedly pumping while holding down the trigger (a very handy feature for when you need to go Rambo in a Nerf battle). If we were to ask for any change, it'd be to have a battery-powered option. Sometimes rapid fire is just better when you don't need to keep pumping your arm over and over — more satisfying, too.
There's a welcome slider switch on the side for unjamming stuck discs, and support for a shoulder stock to be snapped on (sold separately). In our testing, we didn't get a single jam, which definitely makes the Pyragon feel like a better product than last year's Vortex blasters, which were more than happy to lock up on us.
Like all Nerf guns, the fun is sort of over when you're out of ammo. We can't imagine anyone strapping additional drums loaded with discs to a tactical vest or belt, either, because they're kind of bulky. Thankfully, the Pyragon can also take Vortex disc magazine clips from other blasters like the Praxis and Nitron.
For $40, the Pyragon is a blast (pardon the pun) to shoot with and easily the best Nerf gun (disc or dart-based) from Hasbro's 2012 lineup. Sure, the discs aren't as precise as darts, but what it lacks in accuracy, it makes up in grace while in the air and forces you to think creatively about how to position your shots.
All photos taken by Raymond Wong for DVICE