It's never too late to be a kid. Sure, technically it is, but that's your adult brain at work. With the right state of imagination and a few helpful tools, you can relive your youth.
A great way to do so is by way of our favorite kind of weapon: the fake one. Nerf guns have ruled the category for generations, with their signature soft ammo and inventive designs. Best, they don't hurt anybody involved in a shootout. They'll take you straight back to the playground, with the sound of an ice cream truck and the distance and laughter all around. It's a healthy kind of battle, one that involves lots of exercise and carefree joy. Best, you're also an adult, so if you feel like having a beer or staying out a little later when the battle is over, you can.
Choices, choices, choices. There are many Nerf guns out there. And because we're not talking about a simple water fight here, it pays to be a little more tactical. Are you battling it out inside or out? Is this a daytime feud or one spilling into the wee hours of the night? These are the questions you should be asking as you contemplate a winning Nerf weapon.
Here are the best Nerf guns that will help you defeat even the most formidable of foes on your make-believe battlefield.
Megalodon Nerf N-Strike Blaster
Best rapid-fire blaster
You may have a sniper in your squad, but how about a machine gunner? Be ready to be the squad’s indomitable machine gunner with the Megalodon Blaster. Its drum can hold a whopping 20 whistler darts. That is more than enough to power through your battles. To use the Megalodon, press and hold the trigger and crank the handle forward and back to release all 20 darts, which make a whistling sound as they zip their way toward your foes. You also can release one dart at a time if you don’t want to fire everything at once. Strategy is key in battle, after all.
Nerf N-Strike Elite Trilogy DS-15 Blaster
Ready to level up your Nerf warfare? Bring the N-Strike Elite Trilogy DS-15 Blaster with you. It can fire three darts from each shell to make your foes cower in fear. The DS-15 Blaster’s stock can hold five shells, which eject from the gun after they have been emptied, allowing you to chamber another round faster and keep your laser-like focus during the match.
Nerf Elite 2-in-1 Demolisher
Best from a distance
Annihilate your enemies and destroy their defenses with the high-impact Nerf Elite 2-in-1 Demolisher, a motorized Nerf gun that can fire 10 darts or two missiles at 90 feet away for all-out action. If you want to use darts as your primary ammunition, place the rounds in the banana clip, fire up the motor by squeezing the acceleration trigger, and pull the trigger to fire at your opponents. For missiles, insert a missile into the launcher barrel, slide the pump handle, and pull the trigger to send your opponents scurrying for cover. The 2-in-1 Demolisher comes with detachable storage space for your missiles.
Nerf N Strike Elite Strongarm
Best reloading capacity
Overwhelm your enemies with foamed ammunition at 90 feet away with the Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm, which includes six darts for continuous firing. This model includes a rotating barrel that you can flip for hassle-free reloading. The N-Strike Elite Strongarm is the ideal Nerf gun for users who want to attack from afar or those who are new to Nerf warfare.
Nerf Zombie Strike Flipfury Blaster
“Reloading! Cover me!” you yell to your friend as you desperately chamber another round in your Nerf gun. Reloading can be a hassle sometimes, so we suggest getting the Nerf Zombie Strike Flipfury Blaster for more efficient shooting, as you can fire 12 darts in succession. The two flipping dart drums hold six darts each. Once you’ve used up the first drum, pull the secondary trigger to swap out for the second drum. Then you’re all set to save humankind from hordes of zombies.
Nerf Fortnite RL Blaster
Best rocket blaster
We recommend equipping the RL Blaster if you’re a Fortnite fan who wants to unleash devastating barrages of foam rockets at sturdy forts and helpless foes. Fortunately, you don’t need batteries to operate the gun. All you have to do is load a foam rocket, prime the gun, and pull the trigger to show your opponents who’s boss. The Fortnite RL Blaster comes bundled with two genuine Nerf rockets and a handy storage stock in case you run out of ammunition in the middle of a battle.
Nerf N-Strike Elite Rhino-Fire Blaster
One of the best modern Nerf models, the N-Strike Elite Rhino-Fire Blaster is an intense double-barrel blaster with a removable tripod that hits from a whopping 90 feet (or longer if you modify it). FYI: If your Nerf is prefaced with “N-Strike Elite,” that means the gun is a tactical dart blaster that comes with customizable accessories and is more badass than standard “N-Strike” blasters. These ain’t your 1990s Seth Green Slingshots to “hit on babes” with. (More on the Slingshots in a bit.)
Nerf Modulus Ghost Ops Evader
Best for night battles
We want this blaster now because 1) the shell is transparent, meaning you can see the skeleton of the semi-automatic mechanism, 2) there’s an LED light activation button for night missions, and 3) the customization is nearly endless with 1,000 combinations possible through Ghost Ops series accessories, including barrel upgrades and reflective targeting. The 12-dart load isn’t massive, but with rapid-fire capabilities, 12 shots are all you should need to peg your roommate on his way to the toilet.
Nerf Doomlands 2169 Lawbringer Blaster
With a 12-dart manual-load cylinder and standard spring trigger, the Doomlands 2169 Lawbringer Blaster is super easy to understand operationally, but it gives off a futuristic, doomsday, cowboy image that is daunting to any zombie on the other side of your barrel. As Devon Sawa says in the '90s Nerf commercials, “If you don’t have one, you’re just the target.” Shooting the Lawbringer is somewhat awkward, so we'd actually rather use the Doomlands Vagabond. But if you’re going for looks alone or using a Nerf to decorate your mantle, the Lawbringer is your huckleberry.
Nerf Doomlands 2169 Vagabond Blaster
Smoothest pump action
Read the instructions on this one—you don’t load darts through the front. Instead, slide your darts into the side cylinders and use the smooth pump-action primer to ready fire. The pump grip is big, as is the actual blaster grip, so you can fire with one hand. If you want rapid-fire mode, you’ll want to keep one hand on the pump and another on the trigger. Honestly, the Doomlands 2169 Vagabond looks more aggressive than it fires, but it still shoots Elite darts, so your distance will be anywhere between 70 and 90 feet.
Nerf Zombie Strike Hammershot Blaster
The Hammershot is a quick-draw, five-dart blaster that can be easily modified to shoot farther, faster, and harder. This is your go-to, one-handed revolver. It’s trustworthy, smooth, and easy to maneuver. You'll surely enjoy kicking undead butt all day with your friends as the Hammershot comes with different eye-catching designs to express your sense of style during the apocalypse (more like playtime).
Nerf Rival Knockout XX-100 Blaster
Best little blaster
Compact and powerful, the single-shot Nerf Rival Knockout XX-100 Blaster can fire darts at unsuspecting enemies at 85 feet per second, perfect for expert marksmen who love executing stealth kills at close quarters. Bundled with two Nerf Rival Rounds, the Knockout XX-100 Blaster also has easy-to-reach storage space for efficient reloading so you don’t have to worry about anyone exploiting this opportunity to defeat you. This Nerf gun is engineered with a trigger lock system to prevent you from accidentally firing a round.
Nerf Rival Prometheus
Best heavy firepower
Prometheus is the god of fire in Greek mythology. It's a fitting name for this blaster, as the Nerf Rival Prometheus can fire up to eight rounds per second at up to 100 feet per second. With a 200-round ammo hopper, you'd theoretically be able to hold the trigger for 25 straight seconds, probably laughing like a maniac the entire time. It's powered by a rechargeable 9.6V NiMh battery, so you don't have to worry about fiddling with single-use alkaline batteries.
Nerf Rival Kronos
Best outdoors blaster
The Nerf Kronos blaster has a spring-action cocking mechanism instead of anything that's battery powered. Since there aren't any electronics inside, you can venture outdoors with this blaster and not have to worry about it getting wet. Open the breech to load five rounds, then fling them at your opponents at up to 90 feet per second.
Nerf Rival Artemis
Best firing modes
The Artemis is a high-capacity blaster that holds 30 rounds of ammo. What's unique about it is the two firing modes: trigger mode and slam-fire mode. In trigger mode, pull the cocking slide to cock the gun, then pull the trigger to fire it. In slam-fire mode, the gun will fire every time the cocking slide is pulled. You'll get more accuracy in trigger mode but a higher firing rate in slam-fire. The easy-load magazine makes it quick and easy to reload for your next battle.
The Nerf blaster we know and love today actually went through a few iterations before reaching its iconic form. Here's the story:
1965: Parker Brothers, later acquired by Hasbro, released the first "nerf" product, which was a small squeaky polyurethane ball called "Nerf" designed for indoor play. The name "Nerf" was chosen for its lack of specific meaning, allowing creative marketing freedom.
1969: Parker Brothers introduces the "Blast-A-Ball," a plastic pistol that shot Nerf balls. This is considered the first Nerf blaster, but it was more of a novelty toy than the powerful blasters we have today.
1975: The real game changer arrived with the "Nerf's Bowgun," which launched Nerf balls farther and with more accuracy. This sparked the blaster evolution, leading to classics like the "Nerf Crossbow" and the iconic "N-Strike Blasters" of the 2000s.
So, while there wasn't one single inventor of Nerf guns, the credit goes to the team at Parker Brothers and later Hasbro for their continuous innovation and playful approach to indoor and outdoor play.
Feeling like a kid yet? You ought be. And if you still need some help, get one or two of these models in your hand, rally your fellow friends and foes, and get some play combat on the books. You may have grown up, but your inner child certainly has not.
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