BEST NERF GUNS | NOVEMBER 2017
Nerf guns have come a long way since they were introduced in 1989. There are now dozens of Nerf guns on the market and a wider range of Nerf customers than ever before, from parents buying Nerf guns for kids to teens and adults gearing up for intense skirmishes. We researched stealth shooters, fully-automatic blasters, and every Nerf gun in between to figure out which ones had the best range, power, and accuracy, whether we were just firing across the room or in the middle of a heated battle. Read more about our methodology.
Our favorite Nerf gun balances firepower and accuracy with an easy-to-load barrel and excellent dart capacity. We particularly liked the option to fire one dart at a time or all six darts at once, which lets you line up a single perfect shot or unload very quickly.Read full review.
Our budget pick is a pocket-sized blaster that packs a serious punch. This stealthy blaster can be easily stowed in a pocket for sneak attacks, and it’s very easy to operate. If you’re looking for power in a compact design, this should be your first choice.Read full review.
Nerf Guns BUYING GUIDE
Firing Power & Distance
Whether you’re competing in a fierce battle or just launching darts around the house, you’ll want a Nerf gun that can send darts flying straight and powerfully. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ll always want the strongest, most potent blaster: parents of younger kids, for example, may want a gun that doesn’t hit as hard to keep everyone safe.
Size & Capacity
There’s a lot of variety in Nerf gun designs, ranging from pocket-sized guns that hold a single dart to enormous turrets that can hold 25 darts in a single drum. Deciding on a size and capacity largely depends on how you plan to use your Nerf gun: a single-dart gun may not be ideal for a large-scale Nerf war, while a rapid-fire, heavyweight Nerf gun is probably not the best bet for office hijinks.
Firing modes are another important consideration when you’re choosing a Nerf gun. Do you take your time to line up the perfect shot, or unleash a flurry of darts on your opponents? Certain guns perform better as precision blasters, while others offer quick-fire modes that can send a handful of darts flying with a single action.
Ease of Loading
There’s nothing worse than finding yourself out of ammo and struggling to reload in the middle of a battle. You’ll want to find a Nerf gun that lets you quickly and easily refill ammo, whether it’s a single, front-loaded dart or a quick-loading barrel for a multi-shot blaster.
While the vast majority of Nerf guns currently on the market use similar darts, there is some variation among these designs that can cause misfires or jamming if you’re using incompatible ammunition. If you already have several Nerf guns from one product line (N-Strike or Zombie Strike, for example), your best bet may be another gun from the same family.
There’s a lot of variety when it comes to Nerf gun prices, from guns that cost less than $10 to large, complicated turret-style guns that can cost hundreds of dollars. These higher-end Nerf guns are definitely outliers, however, and most widely-available Nerf guns range in price from around $10 to $50 or $60. Generally, Nerf guns at the lower price range hold fewer darts and don’t have too many features. They also tend to have more limited firing ranges and don’t pack quite as much power. Once you get into the $20 to $40 range, you can expect some extra features like expanded ammunition and longer range, and even powered elements on a few models. In the middle range, there’s also a lot of variety when it comes to ammunition: you can find a lot of traditional dart blasters, but also models that launch foam missiles or balls. Models that cost more than $40 tend to offer high-capacity magazines and rapid-fire options, so you can quickly unleash several darts at once. Additionally, many of these Nerf guns incorporate batteries to provide extra firepower and flexibility.
FULL product reviews
We research hundreds of products in order to bring you a final, unbiased list of the very best. We also use a proprietary algorithm to score each product in terms of quality, value, and brand reputation. These subscores are then weighted to calculate our overall scores. Read more about how we calculate our scores.
The Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster is an excellent pick if you’re looking for a solid all-around blaster. It’s very powerful and accurate, and it holds six darts at a time, so you won’t run out of ammo at a crucial moment. One of the best features, however, is the easy-to-load barrel: it flips out for quick and easy loading, so you can get right back in the game.
Why We Recommend It
- Balanced power. The Strongarm Blaster is powerful, but not overpowered. It launches darts about 75 feet, although it works best at around 50 feet. At shorter ranges, it packs a punch, and can sometimes make surprisingly long-range shots.
- Easy to load. The Strongarm Blaster has a cylinder that pops out for easy loading (much like an old six shooter). This makes it really easy to load, while also providing the gun with a really fun design element.
- Two different firing modes. Another element that gives this blaster the feel of a six-shooter is the option to launch a hail of darts in quick succession. By holding the trigger and moving the rear handle back and forth, you can fire off all six rounds in a few seconds.
- Great size. The Elite Strongarm Blaster is a pretty ideal size if you’re looking for a sturdy but handy “go-to” blaster. It’s not overly large or cumbersome, but it does have significantly more power than most similarly-sized blasters.
- Uncomfortable grip. While it’s clearly intended as a one-handed blaster, the Strongarm can get a little bit uncomfortable after a long day of shooting. You can hold it with two hands to mitigate this somewhat, but the main issue seems to be that the gun has a wider grip.
- Accuracy drops over long distances. You can sometimes get extremely long-range shots off with the Strongarm blaster (up to 90 feet), but they’re not likely to hit what you’re aiming for. The accuracy drops off pretty sharply over 40-50 feet.
For a pocket-sized blaster, the Nerf N-Strike Jolt Blaster is surprisingly potent. It’s easy to operate and has fantastic aim and power. We really like how easy it is to conceal, which is great if you’re hoping to surprise someone with a shot. It only holds a single dart at a time, which makes it less than ideal for a full-scale Nerf battle, but it does make a handy addition to your arsenal.
Why We Recommend It
- Surprisingly powerful. For a tiny blaster, the Jolt has some serious power. At close range, this blaster sends darts flying with a really high level of accuracy. You’ll only get one shot at a time, but the Jolt will make sure that shot connects with your target.
- Easy to operate. Because it only holds a single dart at a time, the Jolt Blaster is very easy to operate. Just load a dart in the front of the blaster, pull the handle to cock it, and it’s ready to send that dart flying.
- Pocket-sized. If you’re looking for a blaster that’s easy to stow in a bag or pocket and carry around, the Jolt is great. It’s not so tiny that it’s difficult for larger hands to operate, but it is very concealable for sneak attacks.
- Limited capacity. The Jolt Blaster only holds a single dart at a time, which means you’ll need to re-load after every shot. It also doesn’t have any storage for an extra dart, which would help mitigate the limited ammunition.
- Hard to prime. The hammer of the Jolt Blaster can be a little difficult to cock, which can be an issue for younger kids. You really need to pull back hard to get the gun ready to fire.
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Best Nerf Gun for Small Kids
For younger kids, a simple Nerf gun is usually the best bet. For the most part, the best Nerf guns for small kids are low-capacity, holding only one or two darts at a time. They also will have lower power levels, so you don’t have to worry about kids hitting each other too hard. Since they don’t hold as many darts and don’t have tons of features, many of these Nerf guns are relatively lightweight, making them easy for younger kids to carry.
For smaller kids, the Nerf Zombie Strike Doublestrike Blaster is an excellent addition to a Nerf arsenal. It’s powerful, but not too powerful, and has a unique double-barrel design that lets you choose between launching one or two darts. It’s a front-loading blaster, which makes it very easy to operate, and has a bright, fun design that younger kids will love.
Why We Recommend It
- Double barrel design. The Zombie Strike Doublestrike Blaster has a great double-barrel design, with two chambers stacked on top of each other. You can load either one individually, or put a dart in each and fire them one after the other.
- Great accuracy. The Doublestrike Blaster has really great accuracy, especially in the 15 to 20-foot range. It will definitely shoot further than that, but it’s really well-suited to close-range firing.
- Easy to operate. Because it’s a front-loading blaster, the Doublestrike is very easy to load and operate. The hammer is spring-loaded, so it’s very quick to load and prime this gun to get back in the action.
- Limited ammo. The Doublestrike only holds two darts at a time, so you’ll definitely need to reload fairly often. This is especially true if you’re shooting two darts at a time.
- Pinching hammer. Since it has a spring-loaded firing mechanism, the hammer can pinch fingers if you’re not careful. This can be an issue for smaller kids as they learn how to operate the Doublestrike Blaster but can be avoided once they know how it works.
The Nerf N-Strike BowStrike Blaster has a really fun crossbow-style design, with bow arms that extend when the gun is ready to fire and fold in when you take a shot. It’s not the most powerful Nerf gun on the market, but it’s easy for young kids to use and the fun design really sets it apart from other blasters.
Why We Recommend It
- Bow-arm design. The design of this blaster is one of its biggest selling points: when the blaster is cocked, the bow arms extend from the sides, and when the trigger is pulled, they snap back. While this doesn’t have much of a practical use, it does make the blaster look very cool.
- Easy to load and fire. The BowStrike Blaster is another front-loading Nerf gun, which makes it easy to load and keeps it from jamming up. It also has an easy-to-use hammer: just pull back the lever and it’s ready to fire.
- Durable build. The BowStrike Blaster can take a lot of abuse, which is ideal for younger kids who may be rougher with their toys. It easily withstands drops and impact, so you won’t have to worry about replacing the blaster after a day of hard play.
- Not very powerful. The BowStrike Blaster isn’t nearly as powerful as many of the other Nerf guns we tested, but some parents may not mind this so much if they’re buying it for younger kids.
- Can be difficult to cock. For a gun that seems designed for smaller kids, the BowStrike blaster can be a little bit difficult to prime. You may need to help small kids pull back the hammer to get the blaster ready to fire.
Best Nerf Gun for Teens and Adults
For older users, a more powerful Nerf guns offer loads of features and ammunition types for large-scale, long-range Nerf battles. The vast majority of Nerf guns for teens and adults feature higher-capacity magazines, longer firing distances, and the option to fire one or multiple shots at once. There’s also a lot of variance in the type of ammunition these Nerf guns carry, from traditional darts to foam balls, which can significantly change the way they handle and fire.
The Nerf Rival Apollo XV-700 is a powerhouse, and a must-have for serious Nerf battles. It offers incredible range, powerful velocity, and ample ammunition so you won’t run out in the middle of a battle. It uses foam balls instead of darts, which really enhances the blaster’s overall power level, and is available in two colors to make it easy to divide players into opposing teams.
Why We Recommend It
- Powerful shot. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more powerful Nerf gun, especially at this price range. The Rival Apollo has a firing velocity of 100 feet-per-second, which far outclasses most other Nerf guns.
- Expandable ammo slot. The Rival Apollo starts off with a 7-ball clip, which ensures that you always have ammo when you need it. But it’s also easily expandable, and you can augment your capacity with a 12-ball clip to carry even more.
- Extremely accurate. Because it uses balls instead of darts, the Rival Apollo blaster has incredible accuracy, even at longer ranges. There’s less of a chance if your shots being carried off by the wind or dropping off before they hit their target.
- Pump slide placement. One major issue with this blaster is that the pump slide that primes the gun’s firing mechanism is somewhat poorly placed. It gets in the way of aiming, which can be a problem if you’re trying to line up a perfect shot.
- Prone to jamming. While it does fire quickly and accurately, the Apollo blaster’s speed can sometimes be its biggest weakness. It’s pretty prone to jamming, and repairing the jam requires you to completely dismantle the gun.
The Nerf Elite 2-in-1 Demolisher is a powerful and versatile blaster that fires two different types of ammunition. You can launch both regular-sized Nerf darts and larger missiles over long distances, with the option to launch both types of ammo at once to take out your opponents. While it does require batteries to operate, the Demolisher also lets you take accurate long-range shots and launch powerful missiles in the middle of a battle.
Why We Recommend It
- Two types of ammunition. The Demolisher uses both standard Nerf darts and oversized foam missiles, and both types of ammunition pack a punch. The option to fire either type of ammo or send both in one shot gives this blaster added versatility.
- Long range. Because it’s motorized, the Demolisher has really outstanding range when it comes to launching darts. The missile range isn’t as long, but you can take long shots with darts as you close with your target.
- High capacity. The Demolisher includes a detachable 10-dart banana clip, so you’ll always have plenty of ammo on hand. You can also buy additional banana clips to further enhance your ammunition capacity and go longer between reloads.
- Tends to jam. One major issue with the Demolisher is that it jams very easily. Since it’s a semi-automatic blaster, it tends to have feed issues between the clip and blaster that can slow you down.
- Loud motor. The Demolisher is definitely not a stealth blaster. The motor tends to run extremely loud, so you’ll be easy to find in the middle of a battle.
Best Rapid Fire Nerf Gun
If you’re looking for a powerful, high capacity Nerf gun, a rapid-fire model may be your best bet. These guns usually pack a ton of ammunition and can take a lot of shots in quick succession, so you won’t have to reload in the middle of a heated Nerf battle. Many of these Nerf guns are at the higher end of the price range, so they're not for everyone. Many of these models use battery power to fuel their rapid-fire capacity, but this does make them incredibly powerful.
The Nerf N-Strike Elite HyperFire Blaster is a truly impressive rapid-fire blaster, capable of firing off its full load of 25 darts in just a few seconds. It’s pretty large and cumbersome, but the ability to unload on your opponents while they’re stuck reloading makes it a powerful addition to your Nerf arsenal. It’s also very accurate, which is not usually the case for other rapid-fire models.
Why We Recommend It
- Large ammo drum. The ammo drum on the HyperFire Blaster holds 25 darts, which gives you a ton of ammo to defeat your opponents. It can also use other N-Strike clips if you want to further expand its capacity.
- Quick firing. This is by far the fastest-firing Nerf gun currently available. With fresh batteries, it can launch 5 darts per second, emptying the entire clip in just 5 seconds. You simply won’t find another blaster that launches that many darts so quickly.
- Great accuracy. For a rapid-fire model, the HyperFire is surprisingly accurate. Often, rapid-fire models suffer when it comes to distance or accuracy, but the HyperFire can reliably hit targets up to 90 feet away.
- Large and cumbersome. With all of its features, it’s not surprising that the HyperFire Blaster is pretty large and cumbersome. With its expanded capacity and motorized firing mechanism, this blaster may be just too heavy for younger users.
- Runs through batteries quickly. The HyperFire uses 4 D batteries to power its motor, and it runs through them very quickly (even when it’s not in use). By the end of a battle, it will definitely slow down and need a fresh set of batteries to reach its top speed.