Editor’s note: thanks to Hasbro for sending this as a free review sample!
A new year brings a new series of Rival blasters, this time boasting improved accuracy over the old. The flagship of this group, the Pathfinder, aims to be the Rival equivalent of the Alpha Trooper. However, among other things, magazine compatibility holds the blaster back from its true potential.
Pump Action, Magazine Fed
It’s been a hot minute since the last external magazine-fed Rival blaster (the Finisher). So seeing them return, and on a pump-action blaster to boot, is a welcome sight. The Pathfinder places the magazine in a forward position, giving the blaster a unique look. Insertion and removal can be done at any point (primed or otherwise), as the magazine sits under the breech (not overlapping it as a dart blaster would).
The blaster, in keeping with the accuracy theme, has adjustable iron sights, in case you feel like sniping your targets. At least, as close as you can get with foam ammo. Two dials work to raise/lower and shift the rear sight.
The blaster has one manual safety on the right side. The stock is adequate for children, but not so much for the 14+ age group that Rival is targeting. There are already aftermarket stock additions for sale online, and in using the blaster at a war, I felt the need to get one afterward. In addition, even with the ridges at the back, the stock tends to slide on your clothing.
The pump grip works great, although it could use a bit more real estate for those with longer fingers. Even so, it’s far from the worst grip in the world. The main grip, meanwhile, is decently comfortable. Not quite Kronos comfortable, but up there.
Magazine Compatibility Issues
As indicated in an earlier post, there’s a major issue with the Pathfinder. The magazine catch that holds it in place is designed only for newer magazines. In 2019, Nerf added plastic to one surface of the magazine to prevent compatibility with some Dart Zone blasters. Now, however, the Pathfinder cannot use older magazines, as they sit too low in the blaster! It wouldn’t be as bad if Rival magazines were readily available…but right now, they’re hard to find from big retailers. Assuming things stay as they are, Hasbro may have shot themselves in the foot with this one. You can fix the issue, either with 3d printed shims or your own homemade version. But consumers shouldn’t have to do this! This is a huge penalty in User Friendliness.
The Pathfinder exceeded packaging claims a little, averaging 92fps. The rate of fire, meanwhile, is two balls per second (if you push it). More than likely, you won’t be firing that fast, especially if you’re aiming.
Accuracy with the new rounds did seem slightly improved. However, at some point, I’ll need to set up an actual test for comparison. Until then, my evidence is strictly anecdotal. In addition, firing at targets at range will still be a challenge, especially outdoors with the wind. Rival balls float, and they’re pretty slow-moving by the time they get that far out.
For your viewing pleasure! The blaster comes apart easily for painting or other activities. However, take note that the guts do want to fly apart a bit. With the plunger spring having some compression already, you’d be wise to not leave the blaster sitting like this, only for something to bump it and knock things loose. You know, as my cat did.
I’m unsure if adding a stronger spring would end up being of any benefit. In any case, magazines are still the main concern.
The Pathfinder wants to be a fun addition to the collection. Not strictly necessary, of course, if you already have spring-powered Rival primaries. But not being able to use all the Rival magazines you’ve accumulated is disappointing, as is the relatively small size of the blaster and various parts. I’m sure there will still be people excited about the blaster; sadly, I find myself happy that I was sent a sample, instead of having to pay money for the Pathfinder.