The 10 Best Nerf Guns
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in December of 2016. When you're a kid, few activities are as exciting as playing with Nerf guns. Our selections offer plenty of cool features, like rapid-fire magazines and high-speed rounds, so your little ones will stay entertained for hours on end. They come in an incredible range of colors and shapes, and many are quite affordable, too, so you don't have to worry about breaking the bank. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 29, 2020:
We ended up giving our list a total overhaul this time around, due mostly to the abundance of new high-quality Nerf guns that have been released in recent years. While many of the options on our previous list are still viable choices for the right user, we had to make room for all of these new exciting models.
The largest development in Nerf as of late is the release of the Elite 2.0 series, a direct successor to the Elite lineup that featured many of the most popular guns Nerf has ever made. Out of these new releases we decided to feature the Phoenix CS-6, Turbine CS-18, and Echo CS-10, which are direct rereleases of the Stryfe, Rapidstrike CS-18, and Delta Trooper respectively. These models are great all around picks, as they use the most common variety of Nerf dart and are backwards compatible with a ton of N-Strike magazines, stocks, barrels, and rail attachments that have been released over the past several years. If you're looking for the first thing most people picture when they think of a Nerf gun, these are the best choices for you. Selecting between them is quite easy, as each utilizes a distinct firing system. The Turbine CS-18 is fully automatic, the Phoenix CS-6 is semi automatic, and the Echo CS-10 is a springer, which means that one shot can be fired for each pull of the priming handle on its top. While it may at first seem like a fully- or semi-automatic blaster would always be better, consider that a spring-based mechanism never needs charging or battery replacement, and rapid shooting can still be achieved by holding down the trigger and rapidly cycling the slide. While these new equivalents offer great performance and affordable prices, the minority of users dead set on modifying their selection may want to go with their predecessors, since they aren't glued shut and can be opened with the removal of a few screws.
Besides Elite 2.0 the most recent development for Nerf is the Rival line, a totally distinct series that fire small yellow balls rather than darts. This variety of blaster has exploded since its release due to being generally superior to dart guns when it comes to firing velocity, distance, and accuracy. That being said, this superiority also results in a noticeably more significant impact on your target, so it may not be the ideal choice for very young users. Those interested in customization and looks should also keep in mind that hardly any accessories have been released for this series up until now, so typical Nerf N-Strike dart guns are still king when it comes to customizing your gun's configuration. The Perses MXIX-5000 is one of the best all around Rival blasters on the market right now. It's compact and easy to maneuver with, offers a great rate of fire, and features a hopper that's easy to reload. However, if you find the 50-ball capacity of the Perses MXIX-5000 limiting, and don't mind some extra bulk, then check out the Prometheus MXVII-20K. This heavy-duty selection features a massive hopper that can hold over 200 balls at once, so it's an absolutely devastating weapon for any Nerf battle.
For those who are not yet sure of their enthusiasm for Nerf, the Zombie Strike Hammershot and the Kronos XVIII-500 are two solid choices. Both of these pistols are affordable and will help you or your child determine how worthwhile the Elite or Rival series really are. Conveniently, these blasters pair excellently with a larger primary weapon as a backup or sidearm, so even if you end up buying a more expensive model later on these will still be a valuable part of your arsenal.
If while going through our list you find that a particular Nerf series is appealing to you, consider checking out our dedicated articles on the best Rival blasters, Elite blasters, and even the best options for adults specifically.
April 27, 2019:
When it comes to choosing a Nerf gun, there are many features to consider. Here, you'll find models large and small to suit kids of different ages and sizes. There are quite a few magazine styles to choose from, too, and even a laser tag option for those families that don't care to deal with projectiles flying around the house.
The Zombie Strike Sledge Fire has been removed from the list due to fulfillment issues, and the Rival Khaos got the boot after repeated complaints about a frustrating loading process. The Elite Rough Cut was replaced with an updated version, which boasts an improved design and enhanced firing power. To provide shoppers with a particularly rugged option, the Ripchain Combat was added to the list and awarded the top spot.
It should be noted that many of these toys are intended for specific age groups, so it’s important to look at each individual product’s age recommendation. Additionally, kids of all ages should be supervised while playing with Nerf guns, and they should also be advised about how to use these toys safely.
Out Of Darts This online store is run by a miniscule team, but it has cemented itself as one of the best sources for Nerf related parts and accessories. Their offerings include things such as 3D printed Nerf-compatible guns, extended hoppers for your Rival blaster, and springs and motors that allow you to take the performance of your gun even further. Some items may take a while to ship due to their small size, but as one of the most trusted names in the foam-flinging world their products are definitely reliable and worthwhile. outofdarts.com
A Brief History Of Nerf
The second company, Parker Brothers, didn't like the game Guyer pitched, either.
The man who created Twister had an idea.
Fresh off the success of his balance-based game in 1967, American inventor Reyn Guyer wanted to create a new hobby that would take America by storm, and he knew the one thing that Americans couldn't get enough of: cavemen.
He was tinkering with an idea that would allow children to pretend to be their ancestors, complete with foam rocks with which to decorate their caves. One day Guyer noticed his employees were having more fun tossing the rocks around than playing the game as intended, and ever the opportunist, Guyer took the idea and ran with it, creating a new game which involved throwing the foam rocks over a net.
Unfortunately, the first company he ran to — Milton Bradley, who had produced Twister — wasn't interested. The second company, Parker Brothers, didn't like the game Guyer pitched, either.
But they were in love with those foam balls.
You see, one of the most common struggles in life is between parents and kids. Kids want to throw balls inside the house, and parents don't want to have to replace every breakable item they own. But a foam ball...now there was an idea.
Marketed as "the world's first indoor ball," the Nerf (or "non-expanding recreational foam") ball was an immediate hit. Parker Brothers asked Guyer to develop more Nerf toys, and he obliged, creating footballs, billiards games, and even a Nerf air hockey game.
Perhaps his biggest stroke of genius would come in 1991, however, when he created the Nerf Bow & Arrow. Finally, kids could shoot projectiles at each other without fear of putting someone's eye out. An unqualified success, the bow and arrow kit led to a wide array of Nerf gun toys, and kids today can boast more firepower than many small nations.
There's no telling where the company will take its foam invention next, but one thing's for certain: when a Nerf war breaks out, if you're not armed, you're fair game.
Caring For Your Nerf Arsenal
While Nerf guns are undoubtedly fun, it can be frustrating to discover you have to cut a battle short because you've run out of ammo, or the bullets that you can find are bent, broken, and won't shoot straight. That's why it's so essential to take care of your arsenal, so that the fun never has to stop.
Just like with a real gun, you're going to want to keep the moving parts of your Nerf blaster well-lubricated.
Just like with a real gun, you're going to want to keep the moving parts of your Nerf blaster well-lubricated. Take time out every two or three months to give any moving parts some TLC, so that they'll continue to stay moving for the foreseeable future. The best Nerf lube is silicone grease, which can be found in your local hardware store. Don't use WD-40, cooking oil, or any personal lubricants, as they'll just damage the plastic.
Also, if you have an air blaster, keep one pump of air in it when not in use. This will keep dust from getting inside and gumming up the works, as well as ensure that you're always prepared to counter any ambushes from foam-based terrorist cells. Go ahead and dust it regularly as well, because the last thing you need is a speck causing a misfire when you've got your little brother dead-to-rights.
Of course, you'll want to collect and store all of your spent rounds after the smoke has cleared. This keeps them from getting trampled and mangled underfoot, and also means your dad won't yell at you if he finds them all over the house (and I don't care if you're 45 years old — dads will always yell about Nerf darts lying around).
If the ammo is already bent and misshapen, you might be able to salvage it using boiling water. Take some tongs and dip the bullets into the water, being careful not to touch the pan. Dunk them for one or two seconds, then remove and place them somewhere they can expand as they dry. Voilà — good as new!
Tactics And Strategies For Dominating Your Next Nerf War
I'm going to tell you something that might seem a little extreme, but it's true: anyone who says that a Nerf war isn't a life-or-death situation is your enemy, and should be treated as such.
Ok, maybe I take Nerf wars a little too seriously, but the fact remains that if you find yourself in a foam shootout, you're going to want to win, and with the strategies I'm about to share with you, your enemies won't stand a chance.
It's how the pros do it, and it's how you should do it, too.
The biggest mistake most newbies make is trying to be a hero. No, it doesn't hurt when you get shot with a Nerf gun — but it means you lost, which should hurt far worse. Don't be too proud to take cover behind a couch, or on the other side of the bed, or behind Mom while she's cooking (no one ever has the guts to shoot Mom). Then, when the time is right, pop out of cover, take your shot, and hide again. It's how the pros do it, and it's how you should do it, too.
Also, firing blind is a rookie mistake. Don't shoot unless you can see what you're aiming at, and are reasonably confident you can hit it. Because remember, what happens if you miss in a Nerf war? That's right — you just gave your opponent more ammunition, and in Nerf shootouts, whoever has the most bullets will likely win. That's why you always want to have a backup piece as well.
Finally, teamwork is essential to victory. Getting your opponent in a crossfire is a nearly unbeatable strategy. When they have to worry about fire from all angles, they can't think straight, and they won't be able to shoot straight, either.
And remember, the best teammate is a double agent...and no one ever suspects Mom.