The blaster requires assembling before use. It is a fairly small yet squat and wide semi-automatic blaster that feels more weighted than other smaller flywheel blasters. The Hail-Fire has the highest advertised ammo capacity of any stock Nerf blaster: 144 darts.
The Hail-Fire, like other N-Strike Elite blasters, features a digital camouflage design etched into it. It features one medium sized tactical rail on top of the blaster and a very small one in front of the rotating ammo rack that is similar to the one on the Stampede ECS. The jam door is located at the top front of the blaster and is a clear slide. The orange battery door is located at the top back of the blaster. It is incompatible with shoulder stocks and barrel extensions.
The carry handle, called the “Advance Handle”, is located at the front of the blaster. The jam door must be closed for the Advance Handle to work. In order to advance to the next clip, push the handle forward and then pull the handle back. It is relatively difficult to advance fast, so it should be avoided unless when very necessary.
The Hail-Fire features two triggers, the top being the firing triggerand bottom being the acceleration trigger. There is no manual priming mechanism of any kind on the blaster.
The two semicircular pieces that cover the clip carousel must be assembled out of the box, but they can be removed after assembly (with some force). Without the large cover pieces, the blaster looks far less formidable, but clips do not have to be removed to load darts. This also allows the carousel to be rotated by hand.
Despite an advertised capacity of one hundred forty-four darts, the Hail-Fire only comes packaged with twenty-four; another four six-dart clips will give the blaster a stock capacity of forty-eight darts. This full stock capacity is achieved by purchasing the Hail-Fire Upgrade Kit, or purchasing a Hail-Fire value pack.
Because the Hail-Fire is compatible with other clips, using eight ten dart clips will give a maximum capacity of eighty darts, eight twelve dart clips will give a maximum of ninety-six darts, and eight eighteen dart clips will give the total maximum capacity of one hundred forty-four darts.
With the addition of the N-Strike Flip Clip, it is theoreticallypossible to have a total of two hundred eighty-eight darts darts using the N-Strike eighteen dart clips. The N-Strike Modulus Flip Clip would allow the Hail-Fire to hold up to one hundred ninety-two darts. All this being said, the Hail-Fire carousel has been reported by some as notoriously flimsy, and apparently does not advance well with a load much greater than originally prescribed.
Basic Nerf has confirmed the Hail-Fire can use eight Firefly Tech clips, four eighteen dart drums, or four thirty-five dart drums at once with no spacing issues.
It’s time to take your N-STRIKE battling to the next level with the HAIL-FIRE blaster! The HAIL-FIRE blaster’s unique rotating ammo rack gives it the highest capacity of any NERF blaster. The HAIL-FIRE blaster comes with 4 Quick Reload clips and 24 Elite Darts, but it can hold up to 4 more Quick Reload ammo clips and up to 144 darts! The blaster’s acceleration trigger powers up the motor for semi-auto blasting that lets you unleash a storm of revolutionary Elite Darts at your target. Fire at targets up to 75 feet away! The Quick Reload clips work with any Clip System blaster (sold separately) and the Elite Darts work with any Elite blaster and most original N-STRIKE blasters (sold separately). With 2 tactical rails that are compatible with most N-STRIKE accessories (sold separately) and an advance handle, this blaster gives you the ultimate in Elite customization and firepower!
It continues the trend of “flagship” Nerf blasters being released on September 9, which first started in 2009 with the Raider CS-35 under the N-Strike series. Unlike most other early blasters in the N-Strike Elite line, the Hail-Fire is not a successor to any previous N-Strike blaster.
The Hail-Fire was first discussed six days after the N-Strike Elite line was discovered in the form of a Hasbro press release on February 10, 2012. This mentioned “the most impressive blaster in the collection hitting shelves on 9.9.12”. That same day what would become the official title of the blaster was also known. Some fans initially believed that the Hail-Fire would be a re-released Longshot CS-6, in the veins of the Rampage, an updated Raider CS-35, and Retaliator, an updated Recon CS-6. This was later dismissed when part of the blaster was revealed in a preview video shown at the 2012 Toy Fair.
As the full shot of the Hail-Fire had, at the time, not been yet known, there had been speculation as to what it exactly looked like based upon available information at the time and the few given shots of the blaster itself, with some fans going far enough to recreate what they believed it to look like. A sizzle video with the full Elite line at the time was released on February 22, 2014 although it contained a silhouette shot of the Hail-Fire and not a full blaster shot. The sizzle video was shown at the 2012 Toy Fair, however audience members were not allowed to take photographs or videos of it.
Further concepts for the Hail-Fire began popping up during the timespan between the sizzle video and its accidental reveal.
 A German website accidentally leaked images of the three known N-Strike Elite blasters as well as the at-the-time untitled Stockade, seen for the first time, on April 5, 2012.
 It was then given an outright reveal on April 27, 2014.
 Official images were finally released sometime around May 30, 2012 from Nerf Nation. From there video demonstrations would be shown and other forms of information until it began appearing on store shelves, in some places earlier than others.
The Hail-Fire has been released with the following color schemes:
- N-Strike Elite (blue, white, black, gray, and orange)
- Sonic ICE (clear blue, white, black, gray, and orange)
Being a motorized flywheel blaster, the Hail-Fire can be subjected to voltage modification and motor replacement.
There is a Wal-Mart exclusive special value bonus pack features a Hail-Fire with a full set of forty-eight Elite Darts and eight clips which was discovered in September 2012.
Reloading and firing
To reload the Hail-Fire, first remove any empty clips by pulling them out. Load up to six Elite Darts into each of the packaged six dart clips. Load up to eight clips, with darts facing outwards, into the blaster.
Hold down the acceleration trigger to rev up the blaster and pull the firing trigger to fire a single dart. Once a clip is emptied, push forward on the Advance Handle to switch to the next clip to continue firing.
- The Hail-Fire can be loaded through the jam door; this is considerably more comfortable than with other blasters. This is due to the fact that its jam door is substantially larger than most other jam doors.
- The Hail-Fire is advertised as the “flagship” of the N-Strike Elite series.
- Prior to the Rival Prometheus, it had the highest advertised capacity of any stock Nerf blaster.
- The Hail-Fire is one of several clip system blasters that can’t use barrel extensions or shoulder stocks.
- A flash game was created to promote the release of the blaster called Hail-Fire Test Labs. In addition, the Hail-Fire is also a featured blaster in the Build-a-Blaster flash game.