Berkut99’s Rayven CS-18 Review (Write Up)

Berkut99 from the Adult Fans of Nerf Forum posted his thoughts on the Rayven CS-18.

My local Target not only did an unexpected and welcome restock and remodel of their Nerf shelf (with the whole fancy Nerf-branded exterior paneling and all), but unexpectedly had the Rayven in stock. I of course immediately picked one up. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, and I figured I’d throw some first impressions out there.

I’ll be honest, I’m really not sure what Nerf has left in it; they raise the bar with each new release either in capability or innovation. I almost want to say that in many ways the Rayven is the ultimate Nerf blaster package. Now I say “package” because what the Rayven brings to the table is something that Nerf should have considered the minute the Longshot proved a success, but, interestingly, it probably required modern technology to catch up, or at least get cheaper: the Firefly Tech clip. I say catch up because of the LED’s that it utilizes as well as the very interesting and innovative glow-in-the-dark darts. Blue LED’s really took off when they became cheap to produce in the early 2000’s. But the ones in the clip are freakin’ tiny. I really question whether or not these actually would have existed in significant and cheap enough numbers to utilize in 2007 when the Longshot hit shelves. Figure, the Firefly REV-8 was still using a camera flash with stickers around the darts. This essentially solves all of Nerf’s dilemma’s with Nerf’s glow-in-the-dark feature.

The Rayven consists of two real parts, the blaster itself and the clip. This is the package. Because of the nature of the clip, it really constitutes review as a separate product.

You can read the rest here, or check below for the rest of it. Your choice really.

I’ll start with the Rayven itself: a fair few people who got their hands on this blaster have thrown the word “game-changer” around quite a bit. That does warrant skepticism; we’ve heard that with the Raider, the Stampede, the Barricade, and most recently with Vortex. But to be honest, if they did qualify as that, then why would we still be seeing a ton of Recons, Mavericks, and Alpha Troopers on the field? I think it has a lot to do with capability for cost; these are cheap and effective blasters, they’re the real game changers. So, when I look back at the Rayven, I really can’t say that it is a “game-changer” per se, but it performs so well that a shift in game tactics might be in order when one appears on the field. The Rayven manages to rectify and solve or at least attempt to solve each issue brought up with every electronic blaster before it. It almost completely supplants the Barricade as it is easy to rev-up with its front-mounted pressure trigger, it is easy to reload with enormous capacity thanks to its clip fed system, and its range is on par or greater while actually being lighter and quieter. Its even around the same size. It also manages to rectify issues with the Stampede, having a faster ROF, instant dart release, greater range, and of course being much lighter. Its customization capability is also excellent, featuring two tactical rails, top and side, as well as a barrel extention, which actually serves wonderfully with the Rayven. Because of the flywheel darts manage to stay fairly centered in the barrel, not causing a reduction in range. The Longstrike’s barrel actually improves the Rayven’s accuracy. At a range of 35 feet out of six shots using new darts, I managed a 50% hit rate against a target suspended up five feet. Its not exactly an N-Strike sniper rifle, but its appearance, range and accuracy are probably as close as were going to get for the time being. The blaster’s overall comfort is also surprising. I thought its stubbiness would be a downside, but its not that bad. It does make the 35-round drum tough to work with, but that doesn’t preclude it from doing so, and admittedly watching 35-rounds just fly through the air induces maniacal laughter toward the target. Drums can jam because of their feed mechanism, though. So despite recommending using the 18-round drum clip for both comfort and capacity, its possible to jam it easy. The advantage though is that the Rayven’s jam door is well placed, allowing a quick repair without having to remove the clip.

The clip is the icing on the cake for the Rayven package, as it manages to do what only the Nitefinder has succeeded in recently, and that is blend novelty with performance in a modern blaster. Except that it also manages to go one step further and allow you to apply that novelty to any blaster, just like the Tactical Light gave Nitefinder-like capability to anything with a tactical rail. Though not as strong a glow as the Firefly REV-8, the trade-off of not having stickers to apply and damage as well as a self-contained high capacity clip to swap to any blaster means the Firefly Tech clip is ultimately forgiven for this short fall for applying far more usefulness and modularity to the concept. The only downside other than the higher weight penalty and the battery requirement is that they didn’t give me more of them in the package. I’d love to have a set of three for my Stampede. Hallway battles will turn into an awesome light show.

So, what’s the biggest downside to the Rayven? Well, cost for one. But then again, it might be worth it. Its $29.99, which isn’t too bad, but the battery requirement of seven AA’s is really quite high, bringing up the cost closer to $40. Now only four batteries are required for the blaster itself, but honestly I think the clip is worth it. Ever since the Eagle Eye and the Secret Shot I’ve always looked to Nerf for a novelty factor, and it would be a shame not to enjoy that feature at least once for the show it gives. The cost was worth it to me cause I get use out of both the function and form of the Rayven. Competitive players, not so much. The other downside is twofold: its electric, with no manual backup, and that electric function comes at the cost of higher maintenance rates with battery life and replacements and a noisy flywheel. Now the flywheel is quieter than both the Barricade and the Nitron, despite the lighter shell of the Rayven. But some people just don’t like ’em, and I can respect that. Additionally, if you’re a fan of the manual blaster, it might be worth the slight decrease in range to just go with the Raider or Alpha Trooper to complete, and again, there’s nothing wrong with that. The beauty part about the clip of course is that if you still like that novetly but don’t want to sacrifice functionality, you can pick up the Rayven for the Firefly-tech clip and turn your blaster into a clip-fed Firefly. All at a very high cost of course, but the option exists.

Put simply, I love the Rayven. It delivers on both functionality and novelty, and its really quite fun to use. It has its little downsides, but overall it does a great job of innovating on the N-Strike like right when we weren’t sure what else they could make. It was well worth the money on my end. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone here.

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