The X-Shot line of high-value dart blasters from ZURU Toys keeps getting better and better. Once known mostly for their competitive price points, the newest models in the X-Shot line have been given considerable styling upgrades, better quality plastics, and some even feature removable dart magazines (or "clips"). Of this latter group, the X-Shot Excel Hurricane featured here is a very solid entrant--one of the most respectable X-Shot models to-date, in fact.
But here's the rub: its new, removable clip system is not cross-compatible with Nerf clips. That's a huge deal, considering X-Shot doesn't have nearly the popularity of Nerf, and X-Shot clip blaster models are relatively few in number. In fact, even models from competing value blaster brands like Buzz Bee have figured out that clip cross-compatibility with Nerf is crucial--unless you are Mattel or Hasbro (two of the world's three largest toymakers), you can't afford to go it alone with this one. And frankly, requiring users to purchase additional X-Shot clips to complete their game time load-out lowers the value equation of the brand considerably, which negates one of the reasons you might consider it in the first place. So if you consider the Hurricane's lack of Nerf clip compatibility a deal-breaker, you should stop reading now. Because the Hurricane blaster itself is surprisingly appealing, which makes the clip issue all the more unfortunate.
Aesthetics and Design
Right out of the gate, the X-Shot Excel Hurricane impresses with a vibrant design that is nearly on-par with Nerf N-Strike models from only a few years ago. The blaster body is a mix of a sharp-looking, translucent blue plastic and solid yellow and orange elements that would be right at home on a Nerf product.
The chunky, chiseled shapes are a welcome relief from the thin, toy-like designs of X-Shot models from years past, and the detailing, modeling, and textures are a far cry from some of the other value-based models from Buzz Bee and Prime Time Toys. And that beauty is more than skin-deep: all of the plastic parts feel solid and sturdy (at least on the outside). The only real cosmetic let-down is the continued use of stickers versus painted elements which, on our test model at least, were already starting to peel off. That, and details like a tactical rail and safety switch that were both completely (and confusingly) non-functional. Otherwise, the Hurricane is very handsome--one of the best-looking and best-feeling X-Shot models to-date. Kudos to the current X-Shot design team.
To its credit, the X-Shot Excel Hurricane clip blaster isn't all about good looks. With a measured dart velocity averaging 67 feet-per-second, it's a hair more powerful than the 66 feet-per-second average of the Nerf Modulus Recon MKII--a similarly-sized, clip-based blaster recently released by Hasbro (though it should be noted that other, spring-based Nerf blasters are capable of velocities well into the 70 FPS region).
And interestingly enough, the Hurricane is also one of the most consistent blasters we've ever measured, with a dart velocity low of 66 FPS, and a high of just 68 FPS--that's only a 2 FPS spread over our entire series of test shots! For reference, most Nerf products have a spread of at least 4 or 5 FPS, if not more.
Unfortunately, the Hurricane's consistent power delivery is let down a bit by their Excel darts, which only weigh about 0.85g (vs. Nerf Elite's 1.00g average), making them incredibly unstable during flight. The upside to the low mass is impressive range--the Hurricane is promoted as firing up to 55 feet, but far greater distances are possible with an arc (just don't expect any semblance of accuracy at that range). It should also be noted that Excel darts are 0.20" shorter than Nerf Elite darts, which allows them to be used with Nerf products, but the slightly too long Nerf darts can't be used with X-Shot blasters.
This further incompatibility with Nerf essential forces a Hurricane buyer to invest in an X-Shot based ecosystem.
Use and Ergonomics
As with its performance, the Excel Hurricane is a mixed bag when it comes to actual use. The blaster must be primed to load or unload a clip (meaning, if you don't want to store your blaster fully cocked, but you like to keep the ammo clip attached, you'll always have at least one extra laying around). And we were also a bit disappointed to discover the Hurricane isn't capable of slam firing, so a full trigger pull and release is required for each shot--no keeping the trigger down while slamming the priming sled back-and-forth. Fortunately, things look a bit better ones those issues are forgotten. The Hurricane has a very handy left/right clip release button, and the overall feel is one of quality. With a comfy handle and a size that is neither too big nor too small, we found the Hurricane to feel "just right" almost immediately.
The ZURU Toys X-Shot Excel Hurricane Clip Blaster is a tough one to judge. It has a LOT going for it, including a great-looking design, solid performance, nice ergonomics, a clip-based dart loading system, and a competitive price-point consistent with other X-Shot models. However, the lack of clip compatibility with Nerf was a huge mistake, since it renders the Hurricane a stand-alone proposition, reducing its overall value considerably. We explored this issue with ZURU, and are pleased to report that newly-designed clip-based X-Shot models in the future will be Nerf compatible. That's great news for the future, of course (and a smart business decision by ZURU), but it's too little, too late for the Hurricane. As it is, the Hurricane is a very nice blaster that would be even nicer if it didn't exist in a world where compatibility with the market leader was a virtual must-have.
Excellent styling, with good surface detailing and high-quality plastics (some are even see-through--very cool!)
Performance potential is on-par with Nerf (minus slam-fire)
Very good feel and ergonomics
X-Shot Clip System magazines are not yet cross-compatible with Nerf Clip System magazines
Cannot use Nerf Elite darts, even though X-Shot darts can be used in Nerf products
X-Shot Excel Darts are lighter and even more unstable than Nerf Elite darts
Use of stickers mars what is otherwise a very appealing aesthetic