Yes, that’s right—this is a working Halo Needler. It shoots amazing darts that magically stick to targets, just like in the game. (No, they don’t explode.) It’s part of an entire line of new Halo dart guns produced by BOOMco. And I just tried them all.
Incidentally, BOOMco is the company that now makes the most badass dart gun you can buy.
These aren’t quite that badass. But they are from Halo!
In all, BOOMco will sell five offically-licensed Halo blasters this holiday season: the $40 Needler, the $20 Covenant Carbine, the $20 UNSC SMG,
the $13 UNSC M6 pistol, and the $13 Covenant Plasma Overcharge pistol.
Aside from the Needler, this means that Halo-inspired BOOMco games can be evenly divided into teams:
The UNSC SMG (above) and Covenant Carbine (below).
Each side has a single-shot pistol and a clip-fed miniature rifle that function identically. The alien Covenant weapons are the same brilliant blues and purples you’d expect from the game, while BOOMco has taken the liberty of giving the human Marines red weapons instead of the traditional muted military hues.
What’s missing is some kind of vest for players to wear—a vest covered in the whiteboard-esque material that BOOMco’s Smart Stick darts need in order to stick. I guess you can buy a pack of disposable Smart Stick targets for a few bucks and put a few on your T-shirt, but that could make for an expensive hobby.
So, how do they perform?
First up, the good news. Not only is the UNSC M6 one of the most infamous, iconic video game weapons ever made, it’s a fantastic toy too.
Both it and the internally-identical Covenant Plasma Overcharge Pistol are basically just reshelled versions of last year’s BOOMco Farshot. Which would be a ding if the Farshot wasn’t one of the best dart guns ever made. We named it The Best Pocket Gun in our guide to the best nerf guns, calling it “The Noisy Cricket of the toy blaster world.”
The M6 and Plasma Overcharge lose none of the Farshot’s incredible range and accuracy. They’re simply way easier to hold and aim, with bigger, more comfortable grips, and each of them can hold four extra shots instead of the two extras you got before.
One shot at a time. Cock, fire, reload, repeat.
And yet they won’t be replacing the Farshot as our pick for best pocket blaster... because they’re not easily pocketable anymore. Also, the extra darts on the side of the M6 can easily come out.
The Covenant Carbine and UNSC SMG are also identical internally, except this time you’re looking at a blaster that uses BOOMco clips so you can fire over and over without reloading. Each comes with a puny six-shot clip, but you can get 20-shot or 40-shot clips for pretty cheap these days.
The best part? You can actually reliably use those larger clips without jamming or skipping darts. An earlier BOOMco blaster, the Dynamag pistol, was notorious for letting the clip just slide through the vertical slot without firing properly, but BOOMco totally fixed that issue on both the Carbine and the SMG.
The worst part? They’re remarkably awkward to use. For one thing, the Carbine is tiny, way smaller than the one in the games. Compare with the one below:
The SMG’s size is far more accurate, to be sure, but both blasters have pretty small, uncomfortable handles for an adult.
Second, the SMG is most definitely not an SMG, because there’s no machine gun action to be had here. You prime these blasters like so:
Both the Carbine and SMG house six extra darts in the bottom.
Just imagine my second hand having to pull back that hidden charging handle for each and every shot.
All that said, these blaster are pretty quick, have decent range, and super accurate shots. Unlike most Nerf blasters, you can hit the same target with these BOOMco blasters again and again if you aim at the same place every time. If it was a little more ergonomic, I’d definitely take the Carbine into battle.
I don’t think I’d use the SMG, though. It feels a little cheap and hollow compared to the Covenant alternative.
Oh, did I forget to mention that the Needler glows?
Individual red LEDs sit beneath each of the special purple darts that come with the Needler. When you pull the trigger (or slam-fire the blaster) the needles will even blink out, one by one, just like in the game. It makes for a super awesome cosplay prop.
That’s about all the BOOMco Needler is good for, though, because this is pretty much the least ergonomic blaster in existence.
Just looking at this grip is making my palm hurt:
Eight shots, then yank out the top needles and stick them in the front for eight more.
And I should probably mention that the BOOMco Needler is also a reshell of an earlier blaster: the Twisted Spinner. A blaster that doesn’t have a legacy of excellence. A blaster that had trouble hitting the broad side of a barn because you fired it by quickly pulling two handles together.
Honestly, it’s pretty clever how BOOMco integrated the Spinner’s front handle into the Needler’s frame, not to mention adding a trigger so you can at least aim before you shoot. (You can also “slam-fire” if you want by pulling the handle back with the trigger held down.) But those things don’t change the blaster’s lackluster range or the fact that priming it with that front handle still pitches the nose of the blaster up into the air. It’s relatively heavy, too.
This is a collector’s item. A prop. Not something you take to a nerf war.
But honestly, that’s fine, because a Halo fan will definitely get $40 worth of prop out of the Needler. It’s still a life-size Halo Needler that can light up and shoot—even if it doesn’t shoot well.
All of the Halo blasters should be available next month, though you can already find the Covenant Carbine at Amazon. If you’re a Halo fan, I’d recommend at least picking up one of the pistols. At $13, they’re worth it.
Contact the author at @starfire2258.