Friday, March 26, 2010

Nerf Magstrike Mod - Air Compressor System!

The Nerf Magstrike has proven to be a popular high RoF blaster amongst Nerf players. It has a comfortable form factor, uses a clip-based ammo system, is powered by compressed air and can fire in both full-auto and burst-fire.

But even though its air bladder can be modded to hold more air volume to fire more clips at a time, there is still a limit to that function, not to mention all the physical effort required to manually pump it up!

The solution = Air Compressor Mod!

Disclaimer: Modify at your own risk. Modifications may wear out or damage your blaster. Please be careful when using hobby tools!

Lets begin...

Air Compressor Mod

Step 1: Obtain Pressure-rated Air Hoses, Air Hose Couplers and Tire Valves. In the photo below, i've displayed the various components that can be used.

Tire valves can be sourced from car workshops or garages.

The transparent pressure-rated air hoses are 6mm OD / 4mm ID in dimension, exact match for the original Magstrike air hoses.

I usually use 2 types of air hose couplers for my mods, the transparent ones are nylon barbed tee or splicer air hose couplers, these will require additional clamping or epoxy glue to secure them to the air hoses.

The black-coloured air hose couplers are special tee or splicer air hose couplers that feature a quick-release system. Just insert the air hose in to engage the automatic internal clamp and air seal. To detach, just press the blue plastic collar to release it.

Pressure-rated air hoses and couplers can be sourced from pneumatic equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

In this mod, i'll be using the quick-release air hose couplers so that the system can be modular.

Step 2: Obtain a Portable Car Tire Air Compressor, a 12V Sealed Rechargable Battery, a 12V Plug Adaptor and a set of Electrical Cables.

Portable car tire air compressors can be sourced from car workshops or garages.

The 12V sealed rechargable battery, 12V plug adaptor and electrical cables can be sourced from electronics or hardware stores.

Step 3: Open up the Magstrike. Make sure it is a fully working unit without any air leaks.

DO NOT remove or plug the over-pressure valve (OPV).

If the OPV has been disabled, DO NOT perform this mod until its enabled or properly repaired.

When the Magstrike is connected to an air compressor, the OPV will act as a constant safe-guard to prevent over inflation (and resulting rupturing) of the air bladder system by releasing excess air pressure, it has to be functioning properly to avoid damage to the blaster (or user).

Step 4: Cut the air hose between the air pump and air bladder system. Remove the original air pump.

Step 5: Connect the air hose and quick-release splicer air hose coupler.

Step 6: Attach the air hose to the tire valve using 2-part epoxy glue, make sure the glue fills all the gaps but yet does not seep into the connection to ensure an unrestricted air-flow.

In my example, i used a smaller section of air hose connected to the tire valve, for modular design, and connected it to another quick-release splicer air hose coupler.

Connect the tire valve to the air compressor, which is in turn linked up to the 12V battery.

Test it out to check that everything is working properly, the air bladder should fill up and stay filled for an extended period of time, any decrease in pressure will indicate a leak somewhere in the system.

For those interested to know, the air compressor i use has an in-built pressure gauge, so i can track that the air bladder at full air volume (without the white retaining shell and after the OPV activates) is operating at around 50-60 PSI.

Alternative Step: The air compressor system can also retain the original air pump. Just use a tee air pressure hose coupler instead to connect the air bladder, air pump and tire valve.

Note that with this alternative method, due to the limited space between the air bladder and air pump, the air pump may require some additional adjustments in positioning within the casing, including some trimming of the casing to create an exit opening for the tire valve.

Step 7: Assemble the Magstrike casing... and its done!

Add-on Step: To fully automate the air compressor system, install an automatic "cut-off" switch to the air compressor's electrical circuit.

I used a "push-to-off" switch which can be sourced from electrical parts supply stores. When the air bladder fills up and expands to a certain size, its OPV plastic assembly will press onto the switch, thereby switching off the air compressor. When the Magstrike is fired and the air bladder decreases in size, the switch will then be released and the air compressor will resume pumping air. This system regulates the air compressor to automatically pump air only when required.

Ammo Clip Management

With all that continuous supply of air pressure, the Magstrike will now need ALOT of clips.

Magstrike clips are much larger than N-Strike clips though... so how to carry them efficiently?

To solve that issue, i customised an Ammo Clip Belt System which consists of a thick nylon tactical belt with adjustable "dump" pouches that fit the Magstrike clips.

Harness System

I'm not keen on the idea of tethering cables or hoses from waist pouches or backpacks to blasters, i've found that method ungainly and too restrictive. Loose cables tend to get tangled up easily, especially when quick response and fast movement is required during games.

So i customised an Air Compressor System Harness to mount the entire system onto the Magstrike itself. Therefore, a Magstrike with the air compressor system can now become a completely stand-alone unit, which offers the best combination of flexibility and mobility.

Overall, the entire air compressor system (incl. battery) adds around 1.3kg to the Magstrike. It is abit heavier to carry, but i managed to adjust the weight distribution for equal weight balance between both harness pouches, so the blaster can still be held and fired comfortably.

Ready to go!

Test Fire & Demo Video

Yeah, i know... the air compressor is quite a noisy piece of equipment! :)


  1. How in the world did you get 8 magstrike clips?

  2. Chriz,

    Simple, just get more Magstrikes and purchase more spare clips from other nerfers. :)

  3. How much did the system cost all when you finished?

  4. And can you post some links of were you got some stuff like the same type of air compressor cause i can't find any good ones i trust

  5. Jon,

    You can check out the individual costings of the components i used for this mod over at the NerfSG or NerfHaven forum. I posted up the parts list and costings on my Magstrike mod guide threads there.

    Portable car tire air compressors are commonly found at most car workshops or car accessory shops. Just pop by any such shops around your area, they usually have many different models to choose from.

  6. Hey i know this is not about this gun, its for the vulcan i bought and ammo box and i waz wondering if u can combine the belt holder and the amoo box to hold 100belt

  7. Paolo,

    Sure, you can customize the ammo box (or any suitable plastic box) to hold as many ammo belts that you design it for. Just a matter of tweaking and adjusting it to work properly with your Vulcan.

  8. Would this be allowed in wars? I qould consider it cheating...

  9. htrfghg,

    Yup, Magstrikes with this mod will definitely give their users a great advantage in Nerf games.

    It'll be up to inventive game organisers to set special rules or limitations for players who are using such modded blasters.

    Special rules can maintain game balance and create lots of new game scenario ideas too.

    For example, air compressor Magstrike players could be allocated to a smaller team (ie. outnumbered 3 to 1), so that the players in the larger team can split into strike groups and use team tactics to take on the Magstrike users.

    Another example, air compressor Magstrike players could be limited to only walk (not run) so they'll be more vulnerable to shots and wouldn't be able to over-run objectives so quickly.

    Lots more special rules can be created, just try out different ideas. :)

  10. Hi,

    I was wondering if we can our own air bladder because I was thinking of making a homemade nerf using the magstrike air bladder system.

  11. Jeff-Jeff,

    Its possible, you'll just need to find a similiar (or better) thick rubber compound tubing that can hold air under pressure properly.

    Source around and see if you can find any suitable materials that can match the right qualities required for an air bladder.

  12. hi, is it possible to do this mod for the rapid fire 20? could you do a write up for that please?

  13. airconpuffycloud,

    Yes, its possible to do this mod on the Nerf Rapid Fire 20 (RF20) too.

    The same methods apply as the RF20's internal air bladder design is the same as the Magstrike.

    Simply remove the pump and connect the air bladder to the air compressor using pressure hoses and couplers.

    Imho, the main limitation in doing such a mod on a RF20 is that since it doesn't use a clip-based ammo system, users still have to manually reload all 20 darts once they have all been fired (unless the user is able to remove a few turrets from other RF20 units and mod a "quick release" turret system).

  14. I bought a magstrike with the intent of doing this modification. after opening it up i realized the one i had was different from yours, apparently the N-Strike version of the magstrike has no tube connecting the pump and the bladder. the pump is connected directly to the plastic holding the bladder. thinking nothing of it i cut the pump and the pump casing off. . . i then realized i couldn't simply connect the two tubes because there was no tube, instead of connecting it i created a small opening (where the hose was supposed to be) with a drill and then glued a tube over that hole. im still fiddling with how to power the air compresser more effiecently because 12 v batteries are expensive, but for now i need to know how to fix the leak. . what glue should i use? gorrilla glue wouldnt work right?

    1. Connect 4 AA batteries in series connection. That will give you a 12v battery.
      Ex. ---AA-AA-AA-AA--->
      -+ -+ -+ -+
      ----->(direction of positive current flow)

    2. Anonymous,

      Alkaline AA batteries are 1.5V each, therefore 4 x AA batteries only add up to 6V... not 12V.

      You'll need 8 x AA to get 12V. :)

  15. camdude,

    That's interesting... i have also worked on the yellow N-Strike Magstrikes too and the ones i had still have a short length of tubing connecting the pump to the air bladder. That tube is usually covered by a metal wire coil for support. Maybe yours was a unique unit or perhaps an even newer version.

    Anyways, to power your 12V air compressor, you could also try a series of off-the-shelf batteries or R/C car batteries, see if you can get a set customised or matched to 13V-15V, allowing extra voltage to sustain the compressor pump speed.

    If you are detecting air leaks or need to seal any connections, you can try using strong 2-part epoxy glue, they're good gap fillers, cures solid and forms an air tight seal.

  16. can't find the magstrike in Singapore. Anyone has an idea where to find it??

  17. ManuLM,

    Magstrikes are currently not avaliable at local stores.

    You can order them from but you'll have to ship them in using a 3rd party shipper (ie. vPost, Borderlinx, OneNow or Tarazz).

    Alternatively, you can also just check the NerfSG forum, there are local members there selling Magstrikes in the trading section too.

  18. Great Mod.

    Are you able to do this to any nerf guns and have true single shot semi-automatic fire? Also are you able to use a traditional compressed air tank as a reservoir and therefore only need to fill it and not have a continue compressor running (just like a paintball gun)?

  19. T Funk,

    Well, the Magstrike already has a full-auto firing piston system, so the air compressor mod is simply to replace its manual pump and automate its air bladder refilling process.

    Other Nerf blasters will need alot more extensive modding to replicate the firing piston system, or perhaps you can try transplanting the Magstrike's system over to them.

    Its possible to use a compressed air tank to supply air to the Magstrike's firing piston, but if the compressed air is at high pressure, you will need ensure that there is a proper regulator to control the air pressure going into the system, or else the firing piston may get damaged in the process.

  20. Great Mod - I have purchased all the components and I am ready to go... how do you wire the Push To Off switch? Does it need to splice into the Car Adapter Converter? Can you show further diagrams of how to properly wire the push to off switch?

  21. Thomas R.,

    The "push-to-off" switch is simply added to the existing circuit.

    Just take one end of a wire from the battery and one end of a wire from the portable air compressor and connect them to the "push-to-off" switch.

  22. Nice Lols... Where buy magstrike? Amazon? XD and will any tire air compressor worK?

  23. gavin Lim Kang Jie,,

    Yes, you can order Magstrikes from Amazon, but they only ship to USA addresses, so you'll need to use a 3rd-party shipper to ship them from USA to SG seperately.

    Alternatively, check at the NerfSG forum ( trading section, there are usually local members with Magstrikes for sale there.

    Any portable car tire air compresser that has an output valve that can connect to car tire valves can work with this mod.

  24. Really nice mod. But I don't really want to have to lug around an air compressor. Instead, would it still work if I connected a bike pump to the tire valve instead of a compressor?

  25. MonkOfTheIrish,

    Well, connecting a bike pump to the tire valve is pretty much similar to using the original stock pump. You'll still need to manually pump in air every 1-2 clips.

    I guess the only difference is if you use a bike pump with larger air pump capacity, it'll probably just take less pumps to fill up the Magstrike's air bladder.

  26. Ok thanks a lot! I was thinking of sanding down the OP valve (because I'm not using a compressor) and installing a bike pump with larger air pump capacity, as well as dual-action so it pumps air even when pulling the pump, therefore potentially cutting pump time in half.

  27. nerf team,

    Its possible, but note that the Titan doesn't have an active over pressure value to vent out the excess air pressure, so it can be dangerous to hook it up to an unregulated air compressor. If its air tank is over pressurized, it may explode.

    You will need to install a proper over pressure value system or use an air compressor that can regulate its pressure output.

  28. I'm trying to replicate this on an AS-20 using Li-ion batteries and a Slime COMP 04 compressor (12V/15A) and I'm finding that the lithium batteries don't have the oomph to meet the current requirements - it appears that you're using a small lead acid battery - how much current does it put out? Did you have similar current problems at all?

  29. toastyjosty,

    Are the Li-Ion batteries you are using protected versions? If so, it means their discharge rate is limited and that could be the reason why they can't output enough amp current to power your air compressor.

    I have tested with unprotected Li-Ion rechargeable batteries before and they were able to power my portable air compressor.

  30. you could always put an on/off switch in the guns handle, and also put the light on a switch also so you can also turn it on and off, but don't put the cut-off or switch in the battery's line so that it only turns off the the compressor and leave the light if you need it, then you have complete control and can turn it off if a prob arises in it and also a in-line fuse will help to protect it. you also have a way if ever you need to turn it off in a flash, then you can.
    For overpressure protection you should go to a compressor store and they can get safety valves to protect against different pressures.

    Electric: Where i work on cars, mainly in the electric area, so i know 12 volt systems
    Friend that works for compressor company

  31. andreblue,

    Those are good ideas, thanks for the tips. :)

  32. Hi SG Nerf, me again :)
    What current does your compressor draw from your battery? I now realise why my batteries have current limiters on them, and I was thinking rather than putting thicker wires in my batteries I could just use a more frugal compressor!

  33. toastyjosty,

    The portable car tire air compressor i use has a current draw of around 5-10A (depending on the air pressure being pumped).

  34. Wow it's a great air compressor though looks costly. I've just came across searching for a saylor beall.

  35. where did you get the fittings

  36. Noah Palladino,

    As mentioned in the guide:

    "Pressure-rated air hoses and couplers can be sourced from pneumatic equipment manufacturers and suppliers."

  37. hey sg. i was wanting to double up two titan tanks and install them into a longshot with a breech load. if i were to buy a portable air compressor(price isnt of concern) how long do you suppose would it take too reach 100 psi per tank?

    1. I built such a creature and i bought a small Slime tire pump compressor and it took an average of 5-7 seconds to get to 100psi. honestly its too powerful for regular stefans so i pump the tank to 50-70psi and i get scary ranges...

  38. crakdice,

    So far i've not tried out that particular setup with portable air compressor's before, though i think it'll take quite a while to get pumped up... i guess you'll just have to test it out and see how long it takes to fill up.

    Btw, do note that larger air tank volumes (like Titans) usually require much longer barrels (ie. 2-3ft length or even longer) to enable longer ranges. If the barrels used are not long enough, the extra air volume is wasted and the ranges wouldn't differ much from smaller air tank systems.

    Longer barrels do pose their own issues with practicality and usage in games too, from my own experience, its quite cumbersome to carry around blasters with 3ft barrels and keep them steady. So you'll have to test various setups and balance between performance vs usability. :)

  39. Hey SG, awesome mod!
    I saw his a while ago, and wanted to build my own.
    Can you tell me where you got the air compressor and the battery?

    1. Anonymous,

      I got my portable air compressor from car accessory shops (ie. Autobacs), and the 12V battery from battery supply shops (ie. Unicell at Sim Lim Sq) in Singapore.

  40. Hi SG,
    I am wondering, what the psi reading is on the compressor.

    1. Anonymous,

      The portable air compressor can go up to 150PSI, but as mentioned in my guide, the Magstrike operates at around 50-60PSI.

  41. Compressors with smaller tanks have to work harder to keep up with air demands, so be sure to match your air demands with the tank size. You’ll also need to decide if you would prefer a horizontal or vertical tank, and this has a lot to do with personal preference.

  42. Hey SGNerf.
    I have a problem. I've had my Magstrike for about a year, and recently the clip hasn't been advancing at all, no matter how many times I pump it. What's wrong, and how can I fix it?

    1. Toasty,

      Most likely the clip advancing "hammer" mechanism inside your Magstrike unit is broken or damaged, so either open it up to try and fix it... or just buy a new Magstrike.

  43. Okay, I fired it without the clip in and my finger on the wheel, and the piston advanced normally. It's almost seeming like the clip is jamming, as silly as that sounds.

  44. hey SGnerf, is this the switch you used?

    1. Angelo,

      Well, the switch that i use is a momentary push-to-off/press-to-on switch, also called a pressure switch. It turns off only when pressed and switches on when released (note that there are other types which do the opposite).

      I'm not sure if the switch in your posted link is the same or does the same thing, i guess you'll have to check with the seller to confirm it.

  45. Some compressors just wear out. You put a bazillion miles on them and their time is just simply up.

  46. Thanks for all the steps of modifying compressor.

  47. Due to the noise, the magstrike is not very good for stealth as the air compressor makes too much noise. maybe you should design a stealth version too

  48. I like the design, thanks for the information maybe i can use this compressor on my job.

  49. Wow, this has got to be the best use of an air compressor I have ever seen! I have had my fair share of Nerf wars growing up. This looks like it would be awesome to have some truly epic Nerf wars.

  50. I am going to new air compressor. This compressor is very noise, my wife angry about this. I want to buy compressor vary less than 60db. Do you have a lot of experience, give me your opinions?

    1. John,

      I've also been searching around for quieter air compressors, but so far haven't found them.

      If you do come across quiet ones, do post an update. :)

  51. This mod was awesome! I got to do it for a project in one of my high school classes last year, and it turned out great.

  52. I am using California Air Tools CAT-6310 .but it was old. so i want to buy new air compressor. please give me your advice?

  53. Thanks for sharing this post. I just buy a bravo electric air pump And the work very good.

  54. Thanks for sharing this great information. I really appreciate the way you have explained everything. Thanks a lot.