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Rival Atlas - Treezy's excessively detailed review

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Rival Atlas - Treezy's excessively detailed review
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Veteran Member

Joined: 03 Nov 2016
Posts: 298
Fav. Blaster: Doomlands Desolator
Location: Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Post Rival Atlas - Treezy's excessively detailed review  Reply with quote
I like shotgun style blasters. Iíd go as far as to say theyíre possibly my favourite style of blasters to play with. Theyíre not the most war practical of blasters, but who cares when theyíre so much fun?!

I wasnít all that fussed on the Rival range when I started getting into Nerf, particularly as there didnít seem to be much UK-based interest in them: all the reviews and mod guides I found on YouTube were from American Nerfers, and even then the verdict was still out on the Rival stuff Ė it was good in theory, but flawed in many places, and was costly.

But when I spotted a Rival Atlas, brand new but without box, on Facebook Marketplace for a mere £15 just down the road, I couldnít help myself.

First impressions were that itís a big blaster [Iíll try adding photos later this week]. I mean, for a pump action blaster that fires two rounds in line, rather than parallel (like the Roughcut), or in a cluster (like the Sledgefire), itís got a lot of bulk to it. Itís quite slim in profile, but thereís a lot of plastic there to hold. If you like blasters big and tangible, then youíll like it: if you want something a bit lighter and tactile, look elsewhere. The hand grip is large and comfortable to hold, and the priming handle is a joy to use as itís huge and easy to get your whole hand on it. Itís a horizontal fore grip, so fans of vertical fore grips arenít going to be pleased.

Feature wise, itís got a cool little trigger lock (more on that later), a single pop up iron sight/targeting ring at the front, a Rival tactical rail on top (not compatible with normal Nerf accessories Ė boo!) and a single sling mount at the rear. The sling mount is sturdy, but not the most spacious of mounts to get trigger clips through: I ended up running two elastic hairbands through it and clipping onto these instead. The problem with only a rear mount is that when coupled with a long blaster, it hangs very low on your body if you donít shorten your sling up loads. The drawback is that if using a cross body sling shortened so it doesnít hang low, you donít have much give in the sling to carry the blaster and aim.

The trigger lock is a really nice idea. Itís ambidextrous to use with thumb and forefinger, with a very firm ďclickĒ into each position. The issue I have with such a feature is that itís hard to remember what position is locked/unlocked. The trigger is pretty stiff when the blaster is primed, and the firing mechanism on mine had a problem with sticking (more on that later), so itís tricky to gauge if the trigger is locked without firing a shot: if the firing mechanism is stuck then you have to bugger about with the lock to ascertain if youíve accidentally locked it or if it is actually stuck Ė not what you want mid war. The lock is also positioned pretty close to the trigger and subsequently the top of your hand, so thereís a chance those with big hands may knock the lock either way while moving the blaster around. Personally I feel itíd make a bit more sense to move it forward/up a little more so itís not so much in the way of your hand. Yes itíll make it a touch harder to reach, but youíre unlikely to need to rapidly cycle between locked and unlocked in a game scenario.

The 12 round mag is easy to load with HIR balls, and it holds rounds in place nicely when not in a blaster, so youíre unlikely to have any pop out if carrying spare mags. Getting the balls out by hand can be a bit of a struggle, particularly the last round.

Loading a mag into the blaster is not a fun experience. The inside of the mag channel on the top of the blaster has little tabs that are supposed to correspond with tabs on the side of the mag. Iíve no idea what these tabs are supposed to do, but it means itís nigh on impossible to just push a mag straight along the mag channel. Instead you have to insert the mag at about a 45 degree angle, then lie it down and slide the last inch forward.

Likewise, the mag removal process is equally convoluted; if not more so because of the poor mag release design. Thereís two catches either side of the rear of the blaster which need to be slid forward simultaneously to allow the mag to slide out backwards. Thatís not easy to do with one hand: using two fingers to push two tabs backwards while using a third finger or palm of your hand to slid the mag backwards. It takes a bit of practice to do swiftly, but even when youíve got it mastered youíre still hampered by having to slide the mag back an inch or two, then extract it at an angle to stop the tabs fouling the mag.

I have been informed that the tabs within the mag well can be filed off, enabling mags to be slid in and out with a bit more ease. Unfortunately the mag retention is at the rear of the mag, not the front/midpoint, so youíre stuck using 12 round mags with this blaster Ė though I donít know why anyone would want to run the shorter 8 round mag with this blaster.

The action of the blaster is very much like its appearance: clunky and cumbersome, but ultimately fierce and intimidating. Iíd fired a load of rounds through it at home without much issue in use. The prime is pretty hard, and it makes a lot of clicking sounds as you do so. Thereís a ratchet mechanism inside that gives a staggered clicking sound (which is cool), but doesnít serve to actually hold the mechanism in place as you prime. Thereís a big clunk as the catch plate grabs the plunger, and then you have to push the fore grip all the way forward before firing. Again, thereís usually an audible clunk when everything is locked in place ready to fire. Thereís no slam fire mechanism on this, which is a huge shame as itíd be ideal on this sort of blaster.

Weíll get to firing in a minute, but first I want to cover the priming mechanism in a bit more detail. Internally the blaster is split into two levels: the upper mag level, and the lower firing level [Iíll try and get some photos up this week to highlight all of this]. As you pull the priming handle back you operate a gear train that pulls the plunger rod backwards, while simultaneously moving the breech forward into the front barrel. This allows a short clear tube to travel upwards from the bottom level to the top level on a little lift mechanism: opening a levered gate at the opening of the mag. The mag spring will push two rounds into this clear tube, and then as you move the prime handle forward, the clear tube descends, and the lever gate seals off the mag tube preventing more rounds coming through. As the clear tube gets to the bottom of the lift the breech slides back through it; chambering the two rounds with friction fit, and then sealing against the end of the plunger tube as the prime is fully returned to forward position. I did note that the gear teeth are quite deep, so shouldnít strip out too easily.

It all sounds terribly complicated, but after stripping it all apart, itís actually fairly simple in operation, and each operational part comes out easily as an individual unit. One of the cool things about this blaster is the jam door: you can keep it open at all times, and see how it all operates inside.

Pull the trigger and BANG! Yeah, this thing is loud! It almost sounds like thereís no AR in place, but having stripped the blaster thereís a fairly rudimentary AR system in place, but Iím not sure how much it actually does. Iíve left it in for now, but itíd be interesting to chrono it with and without it to see how much it affects performance. On an Elite dart blaster the AR rapidly slows the plunger noticeably and you get a ďpppfffttĒ sound when dry firing. On the Atlas the AR obviously restricts some airflow, but seemingly not much: you get a huge bang regardless of whether dry firing or with rounds chambered. I did say this blaster was intimidating, yeah?

How does it perform then? Well, when it works, it works well. I did try chronoing single rounds at BB5, but it was tricky to get it in the hole (ooh-err). The two rounds that did register were mid 80FPS, but the theory is that because the Atlas is designed to fire two rounds at once, the force is distributed between them, so the FPS for each of the two will be lower. Despite this theory, they both still seem to fly out faster than your 70FPS Elite dart standard, and I know there are several YouTube chrono results that demonstrate this too. Range is impressive, even when fired along a flat trajectory. The spread is very tight, unlike with Elite shotguns, so donít expect to be hitting multiple zombies at close range. Still, the ďdouble-tapĒ effect could come in useful in certain game types. Accuracy is incredible when compared to dart blasters. In a recent round of Defend the Core, I made every attacking shot fired a hit, even across the width of a sports hall.

But what happens when this blaster doesnít work? Well, not much; and thatís the problem. Unless the prime handle is all the way forward, it doesnít fire because of a trigger lock inside that prevents the trigger being pulled unless the handle is fully forward. The problem is this lock is very temperamental, so wonít always free the trigger even when the prime is fully forward. This requires some shaking and tapping of the blaster to free up fully, and because the primed trigger is so stiff, you canít actually tell if itís free without firing.

This happened a few times to me at BB5 at critical moments, so for now Iíve removed the trigger lock. This will mean that if Iím not careful the plunger can be released before the prime is all the way forward, but I donít see this creating any issues for potential damage. It will probably mean that when fully primed forward itíll breech two rounds, and then when you re-prime itíll chamber another 2 and possibly force the first 2 rounds out of the front of the barrel. Or it could give me a 4 round shot. Will have to try this week to see what happensÖ.

Other bad points are that if the breech is not fully seated back the air seal is crap, and two rounds will flop out and hit the ground about 15ft away when you pull the trigger. The massive bang when firing is caused by the back of the plunger rod hitting the outside of the back of the plunger tube. There is some very firm rubber in place here already, but I did try sliding a rubber o-ring over the rod to help create a damper. Unfortunately this means the plunger rod doesnít sit where it needs to on the back of the sled, and the bolt heads that pin the tube together foul the gear wheels. Thereís definitely some scope for dampening the loud bang with some padding, but the tolerances are very fine.

Oh, and the blaster has absolutely zero grease inside it. Not even a light spray of Teflon lube. Thatís probably one of the reasons it feels so nasty and noisy to prime. Having re-greased it all, it operates much smoother now. Oh, and the plunger o-ring sealing is non-existent, so youíll want to bulk that out with some PTFE and grease it up.

But is it a good blaster I hear you cry? Well, probably not, all things considered. At its heart itís a great concept, and when it works it works well. However, it needs some work to get it into a reliably useable condition, and even then Iím left wondering how reliable it will be in performance. A 12 round mag is only actually 6 shots, and the cumbersome reloading further limits the war practicality of this blaster. The RRP is somewhere around £45-50, so thatís a lot of money to invest in something that isnít that good to go straight out of the box.

Do I like this blaster? Yes. Itís big, itís intimidating, it feels comfortable in my hands, and itís very silly. And when it works, it does work well. It also has some scope for some serious modding: double spring (Iíve already chucked a 2.5kg in there which is compressing the standard one rather than running inside it); single shot conversion (a bit fiddly and ugly looking, but improves ammo conservation); hopper fed mag conversion (I need this in my life). Iím still new to Nerf, so Iím finding my feet, what sort of stuff I like, and what my playing style is. This means Iím happy to experiment with stuff at this stage to find what works best for me. Iím hoping this isnít going to be like the Mega Centurion, where, after several evenings of fiddling to remove locks, AR, improve air flow etc. itís still not performing noticeably better.

But if it all works, Iím going to have a very hard hitting and accurate shotgun primary with a high round capacity, and massive intimidation factor. And itís red!

EDIT: As a few other reviewers have mentioned elsewhere on the interwebz, the priming handle does leave black plastic streaks on the underside of the blaster. It's not horrendous, but it does make the blaster appear a bit rough around the edges fairly quickly. While a thin layer of grease would help alleviate this issue, adding grease to the outside of any blaster is just going to result in picking up grit, hair, dust, and all manner of other debris.

EDIT: The Atlas doesn't come with a stock, and doesn't have any fitments for one either. While it's very much a "shoot from the hip" style blaster, I'm sure there would be some who would appreciate having a stock there. Though the flipside is that you'll quickly end up deafened by the massive noise created when the trigger is pulled!

So yeah, I like the Mega Centurion. A lot. Like, an unhealthy amount.

Last edited by Treezy on Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:46 pm View user's profile Send private message
Game Organiser

Joined: 25 Jan 2013
Posts: 868
Fav. Blaster: I wanna Nemesis!!
Location: Leeds

Post Reply with quote
That's what you call a most comprehensive review Smile

I like my red atlas too. I've found that old n strike springs fit over the spring that comes with the blaster so mine has a 5kg addition in it. I'm going to experiment with putting some compression on this as well at some point.

Even with that extra load the prime is still easy.

Getting the balls out by hand can be a bit of a struggle, particularly the last round.

f you want to empty a rival mag quickly rather than removing them by hand pull the little tab at the top forward Smile

single sling mount at the rear. The sling mount is sturdy, but not the most spacious of mounts to get trigger clips through

Nerf slings fit ok to the mount.

Last edited by old_man_nerf on Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
Tue Jan 17, 2017 4:27 pm View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Game Organiser

Joined: 03 Aug 2015
Posts: 530
Fav. Blaster: Hammershot
Location: Gillingham, Dorset

Post Reply with quote
Great review.

I really liked the look of this blaster. So I ordered one (.....ish....). But then I heard about the Artimus. I instantly felt like I had wasted my money.

However after having a look at Teezy's at the weekend and reading this review I feel it will still be a fun addition to the collection.

OMN thats good to hear that spring replacements aren't going to be hard to find.

Its all fun and games until someone loses an eye.....then its just a game, find the eye.

The Armourer

Random Foam Related Fun
Tue Jan 17, 2017 5:08 pm View user's profile Send private message
Senior Member

Joined: 16 Oct 2016
Posts: 417
Fav. Blaster: Rampage
Location: Derby

Post Reply with quote
Great review matey! The blaster isn't my cup of tea but the detail of your review is! Nice one!
Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:35 pm View user's profile Send private message
Nerf Hippy

Joined: 11 May 2016
Posts: 451
Fav. Blaster: Stryfe
Location: Telford

Post Reply with quote
I've considered carrying mine as a secondary on a sling on my back.  Mines blue too....
Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:07 pm View user's profile Send private message
Veteran Member

Joined: 03 Nov 2016
Posts: 298
Fav. Blaster: Doomlands Desolator
Location: Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Post Reply with quote
old_man_nerf wrote:
If you want to empty a rival mag quickly rather than removing them by hand pull the little tab at the top forward Smile

I did this. With a full mag. It released balls everywhere. The cat was much impressed.

So yeah, I like the Mega Centurion. A lot. Like, an unhealthy amount.
Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:23 pm View user's profile Send private message
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