Even though we are the dog days of summer as we are, most people are still probably spending as much time outside as possible (#thanksquarantine). That’s not a bad thing, though, if you’ve cultivated your outdoor space to be a getaway from the drudgery of life these days.
Even if you don’t have a backyard oasis and only have basically anything short of hoarder-level stuffed apartment, we suggest turning it into a NERF zone. Just like when we were kids battling the neighborhood kids for NERF supremacy, that feeling is just the same now that we’re all adults. What better way to settle quarantine disputes than with a good old fashioned showdown at the Apartment Hallway Corral?
We’ve rounded up the best NERF guns ever, starting with the most expensive options on the market and working our way down to the discontinued models that are still excellent but may take a little searching to get your hands on.
After you’re done picking out your blaster, you’re going to want to check out the best LEGO sets for adults.
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 Rival Nemesis
Don’t let product images fool you because the Rival Nemesis is a burly blaster. We love that it requires zero assembly out of the box and is built for adults, more or less, meaning the handle is larger for grown-up hands and made to be ambidextrous (there’s a safety on both sides). Fully-automatic and battery-powered, the Rival Nemesis fires 100 rounds at 100 feet per second. So yeah, it’s powerful. But it’s noisy too, so don’t bring it on stealth missions.
NERF N-Strike Elite Infinus
This was the first Elite blaster (remember what we learned about “No-Strike Elite” above) to use speed-load technology. On top of the 30-dart drum that comes with the Infinus, you can shove any and all Elite N-Strike darts into the top funnel and they automatically load into the clip. This is a brilliant function because it means you never have to pause to manually reload. Plus, the Infinus is on the lighter side and easy to maneuver if you’re playing with NERF IRL.
NERF Modulus Ghost Ops Evader
I want this blaster now, 1) because the shell is transparent so 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, theDoomlands 2169 Lawbringer is super easy to understand operationally but gives off a futuristic, doomsday, cowboy image that is daunting to anyone 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, in which case we’d rather use the Doomlands Vagabond, but if you’re going for looks alone or using a NERF to decorate your mantle, the Lawbringer is wily.
NERF Doomlands 2169 Vagabond Blaster
Read the instructions because 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 like The Man With No Name. If you want rapid-fire, 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 still shoots Elite darts so your distance will be anywhere between 70-90 feet.
NERF Zombie Strike Dreadbolt
NERF’s new-ish Zombie Strike line features this neon crossbow, which is perfect for the slow, steady warrior who isn’t trigger happy but takes time with his shot. Crank down the handle to prime the blaster and insert the arrow (make sure it’s straight). Fire the arrow. Prime. Insert the second arrow. Fire. Yes, the rate-of-fire is leisurely but the Dreadbolt is satisfying to shoot.
NERF Zombie Strike Hammershot Blaster
The Hammershot is a quick-draw, five-dart blaster that can be easily modified (here’s a guide) to shoot farther, faster, and harder. This is your go-to, one-hander revolver. It’s trustworthy, smooth, and easy to maneuver.
The first blaster that shot darts and therefore started the dart range, the Sharpshooter is the favorite NERF blaster of Luke Goodman, the godfather of NERF modifications. Aesthetically, the Sharpshooter looks like the James Bond gun from Thunderball, except it has neon flashes on the dart holder, vintage Mega Darts, and a neon-pink priming handle. This 1992-1993 release has since been discontinued, but you can find models on second-hand marketplaces.
NERF Big Bad Bow
Crossbows have been a staple in the NERF armory since the ’90s and none stand out quite like the Big Bad Bow. This giant throwback was designed after a real compound bow is over 2-feet tall. The rocket-sized foam launch arrow fires via trigger and reaches more than 40 feet. We’re less concerned with precision as we are about looks and nostalgic feels with the Big Bad Bow. This is another discontinued product, but you can find used options online from retailers like Amazon.
NERF N-Strike 3-in-1 Unity Power System
As the name says, the 3-in-1 Unity Power System is three (incredibly sought-after) blasters that can be combined to form one ultimate master blaster. Released in 2003, this was the first N-Strike blaster and signaled a big aesthetic shift as blasters begin to look militant. However, the Unity Power System is a bit ridiculous looking and a handful to hold. You’ve got long-range power in the top Titan blaster with a 12-inch-long foam Mega Missile dart, shotgun power with the semi-automatic Hornet at the bottom, and a side pistol because, why not? Again, you can find “collectible” models via Amazon.
NERF N-Strike Longstrike CS-6 Dart Blaster
Discontinued by NERF and almost impossible to find in original packaging, Amazon sells the monster N-Strike Longstrike CS-6 for a heavy $500-plus. It works a lot like a bolt-action firearm and comes with a sniper scope and removable longshot front gun (which doesn’t actually help the blaster perform better but, hey, bigger = cooler). Pull out the bipod for stable sniper shots. Consider this the macho equivalent to the Terminator 2 gun.
NERF Vortex Nitron
The acceleration trigger on the Vortex Nitron creates a firestorm of discs at extreme range, so the next time your co-workers eat your yogurt again, you can show ’em you mean business. The trigger power means you want to be hyper-precise about where you’re firing, hence the Centerfire Tech electronic scope with pulsing targeting lights to lock in your aim. This bad boy is fully automatic.
Article originally published December 5, 2018. Last updated March 2019 to reflect changes in prices.
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