Some toys are meant to be wielded by adults. Take Nerf blasters, for example, which have seen a resurgence in recent years. Grown men are gradually immersing themselves back into the hobby and making hands-on modifications that level up the range and speed of the toys’ darts. These folks have been bringing their creations to 500-person Nerf games hosted in cities across the country.
If you’ve always wanted to mod your 1990s-era Lock ‘n’ Load or SuperMAXX 3000, do it today. While Nerf modding may be an intimidating craft for newbies, we sat down with the surgeon general of Nerf modifications, Luke Goodman, to learn the basics of modding a Nerf blaster and step-by-step instructions for a beginner-friendly mod: the Hammershot. You may also check out our list of the best Nerf guns for adults.
The Surgeon General of Nerf Mods
Goodman is a former filmmaker who took a hairpin career turn away from cinematography. Today, the 33-year-old runs an online shop and Nerf modification YouTube Channel called Out of Darts. Goodman also wrote the first-ever bible of Nerf mods, The Nerf Blaster Modification Guide: The Unofficial Handbook for Making Your Foam Arsenal Even More Awesome, released by Voyageur Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group.
Growing up with a love of paintball, Goodman found out the hidden wonders of the Nerf world as an adult while playing with his cousins’ new Nerf blasters. He went on YouTube to find a good model to buy for himself and unearthed a growing community of people modifying and playing. After tinkering, a trait he acquired from his engineer father, with a few Nerf models, Goodman came up with a few novel modifications like an air blaster that holds 1,200 rounds and shoots 15 rounds a second. He became the go-to source for all Nerf mod inspiration, suggestions, and — after selling his 15-gallon home-brewing set for a 3D printer — even the parts themselves. Between his YouTube channel, shop, and book, Goodman has facilitated an easy (and safe) entry into starting Nerf modification.
Why You Should Get Into NERF Mods
“There’s nothing better than taking something into your own hands and improving it — taking something old and making it new,” Goodman tells The Manual. “For both kids and adults, getting them off video games, working with their hands, and interacting with the community can happen through Nerf.”
“There’s nothing better than taking something into your own hands and improving it.”
Plus, Goodman says, you’ll find a Nerf community anywhere you go.
“Every college campus has a Nerf group and the games are getting bigger and bigger, with something like 300 people gathering in California to play recently, and over 800 in Ohio. A record-setting Nerf game in Texas brought together 2,289 players in 2016 … and that engagement isn’t slowing down, especially with the popularity of Humans vs. Zombies, an interactive, real-world Nerf game that takes place across entire cities where you pretend you’re surviving the apocalypse.” (Nerf games operate under the honor system since there’s no marking left by the foam darts.)
How to Mod a Nerf Gun
Buying Goodman’s book is the simplest way to begin Nerf mods. The NERF Blaster Modification Guide walks you through terminology, how blasters work, various types of mods, all the tools you’ll need, and five real step-by-step modifications.
The most attention-catching, albeit difficult, Nerf mods are “Electric.” Beginners should start with a “Springer” mod, the most common upgrade. According to Goodman, the blaster is opened and the plunger tube is removed.
“The easiest mod to get wrong is an Electric mod because you can burn out components,” Goodman says. “For Springers, you can also commonly put too much spring in if you get too greedy and the plastic will break.”
Goodman gives us an exclusive step-by-step springer modification for the Nerf Hammershot ($29) below, which you won’t find in his book.
NERF Hammershot Mod
Goodman calls the Hammershot “one of the best entry-level Springers and a great, relatively simple blaster.” The five-shot front-loader can be operated with one hand and is insanely popular at the higher Nerf level as a sidearm in Humans vs. Zombies. Here’s how to make it badass.
- Stock Hammershot: 55 fps (feet per second)
- After the upgrade: 70 fps; range increase by 20 feet
- #0 screwdriver
- Small flathead screwdriver
- Upgrade spring for the Hammershot (just buy online because going to a local hardware store for Nerf is almost impossible)
- Optional Super Lube or white lithium grease/silicon lubricant to lubricate the O-ring
Remove all 12 shell screws and set them aside in the shape of the blaster to remember where each goes. Or leave the screws in the shell that you remove and set aside.
Remove the firing mechanism.
Carefully pry the two tabs to remove the orange cap. Pry back the two tabs carefully to get access to the AR (air restrictor).
Remove this small orange tab (the Air restrictor) and small spring. Discard these two pieces. Removing this will allow more airflow to the dart to take advantage of the upgraded spring. After removing this, you’ll want to avoid dry firing (firing without a dart). Remove the spring and AR, then close the cap back up.
Reinstall the orange cap.
Unscrew the three black screws.
Pull out the hammer mechanism and plunger.
Lubricate the plunger tube with Super Lube or silicon grease.
Reinsert the plunger tube and replace the white plate. Replace the three screws.
Flip the plunger/trigger assembly over to confirm your spring is still in place. If not, replace it as pictured.
Install the upgraded spring.
Replace the trigger mechanism back into the shell.
Replace the left shell and tighten all the screws.
Congrats! You’ve finished. Load the blaster and test fire!