A few months ago, I got my hands on the Nerf N-Strike Raider CS-35 to review and use during an inter-office Nerf skirmish. I consider the Raider as one of the greatest blasters for Nerf wars given its weight, length, ammo capacity, quick firing rate, and the fact that batteries are unnecessary to achieve said firing rate due to slam-firing. The main criticisms were that the 35-round drum magazine was cumbersome to carry and tedious to reload. It seems Nerf addressed those criticisms and created a smaller drum magazine that was easier to carry but could still carry more foam darts than the average blaster. It is a pity that you have to buy an entire new slam-firing blaster to get improved magazine. And you can only get it at Target.
The Target exclusive Nerf N-Strike Alpha Trooper CS-18 shares the color scheme of the Nerf N-Strike line consisting primarily of yellow with accents of black, gray, and the law enforcement compliant orange barrel. The main body of the Alpha Trooper resembles the main body of the older Recon CS-6 blaster. Instead of a detachable barrel extension featured in the Recon CS-6, the extended barrel of the Alpha Trooper CS-18 is fixed onto the blaster. A gray slide under the barrel serves to load each foam dart for firing. The Alpha Trooper CS-18 features a tactical rail for N-Strike accessories, a place to clip carrying slings into, and the ability to attach stocks to the back of the blaster like the stock of the Recon CS-6 or Raider CS-35. Rounding out the features of the Alpha Trooper CS-18 package is one 18-round drum magazine and 18 foam Streamline darts to shoot.
The Alpha Trooper CS-18 is about the same length as the Raider CS-35 and both share the same features. After pulling the slide back, insert the loaded drum magazine-or any loaded Nerf N-Strike Streamline clip-into the designated area of the blaster, push the slide forward, aim, and pull the trigger. Like the Raider CS-35, the Alpha Trooper can achieve rapid fire via slam-firing. After loading the blaster, simply keep sliding the pump action under the barrel while keeping the trigger pulled. I average about 25 feet with the Alpha Trooper CS-18 with some accuracy.
Blaster-wise, the main difference between the Alpha Trooper CS-18 and the Raider CS-35 is the design of the pump action slides for slam firing. The Raider CS-35 is better at slam-firing while iron-sight aiming thanks to the handles. The round part at the end of the pump action in the Alpha Trooper CS-18 gets in the way when iron sight slam-firing. It is better slam-firing from the chest or hip.
Sharing the body of the Recon CS-6 and the functionality of the Raider CS-35, the Alpha Trooper CS-18 feels redundant as a Nerf blaster. Only the 18-round drum magazine makes it stand out on its own. It is a lot smaller and faster to load than the Raider CS-35’s 35-round magazine and the 18 rounds feels like a good number for slam-firing and reloading. I just assign that magazine to my Raider CS-35 and will reserve the 35-round drum for the Spectre, which is sure to blow through darts quickly. If only Nerf would sell that magazine individually so that I would not feel like I spent $19.99 just for it and got a less than stellar blaster free.
But if you are budget minded and want more guns, instead of spending $35 on one Raider CS-35, get two Alpha Trooper CS-18s for $5 more.