The Best Nerf Guns

We put 20 of the best Nerf guns to the test. Our goal: Find out which ones are the most accurate and easiest to master. After hours of target practice, we found seven blasters that were easy to shoot and reload every time. The choice comes down to your priorities in battle: stealth, firepower, and weapon style.

The 7 Best Nerf Guns

Best for
Accuracy and Stealth
Zombie Strike Sidestrike Blaster
Zombie Strike
Great for one-shot domination and standoff gun slinging, and perfect for players who strategize with stealth and accuracy.
Pros
Accurate
Useful extra features
Discreet
Cons
Single-dart capacity

Why we chose it

Accurate

The Zombie Strike Sidestrike Blaster was the most accurate gun we tested. Typically, the sights on Nerf blasters mostly operate as decoration, but on the Sidestrike, it actually improves aim. A tilt of the head and lining up of the orange plastic ensures that you’ll hit your target.

Testers also agreed that this blaster was the easiest to master — we consistently nailed our targets after just one or two shots. On top of that, the blaster is made with a direct plunger, an internal tube that launches the dart with a force of air built up in priming. This is the most powerful type of internal firing system, which helped the darts hit their target each time.

Sidestrike-for-Nerf-Gun

Useful extra features

Easy aim and a one-handed draw aren’t the only things that made this blaster the easiest for testers to master; it’s also the only one to come with a holster. You can hook the plastic holster on any belt or waistband, and the gun slides in and out quickly — like sliding a pen into its cap.

Discreet

The Sidestrike is so compact that you can toss it into a backpack or leave it clipped to your belt with its holster. Its inconspicuous loading system also makes it extra sneaky in battle: Because the dart disappears into the gun when you insert it, your foes won’t be able to tell if the blaster is loaded. Plus, younger kids won't struggle to hold or prime this blaster, either, thanks to its small, ergonomic shape.

Points to consider

Single-dart capacity

The Sidestrike is a single-loading spring blaster, which means you’ll have to reload between each kill shot and then prime the blaster by pulling back on the top. The Sidestrike does offer storage for six additional darts on both the blaster and its holster, but it took us an average of five seconds between each shot to reload, prime, and fire. The Hyperfire, by comparison, will have shot nearly all 25 of its darts in that time. This makes the Sidestrike a tool for a calculated shot but pretty useless in a quick ambush.

Best for
Firepower
N-Strike Elite Hyperfire Blaster
N-Strike Elite HyperFire
Ambush targets in a 25-dart firestorm with this fully automatic blaster.
Pros
Fast
Fully automatic
Easy to use
Cons
Low accuracy
Relatively heavy

Why we chose it

Fast

The HyperFire is one of the fastest dart blasters out there. A battery-powered conveyor belt feeds darts between two flywheels that shoot out darts in rapid succession — about five darts per second, to be exact — so it rains 25 darts on your enemies in no time.

Hyperfire-for-Nerf-Gun

Fully automatic

Because this machine gun is battery-powered, you don’t have to prime or pull the trigger for each dart. The shooter is in control of the firing rate, but the blaster does all of the hard work. That makes this blaster great for anyone newer to Nerfing who wants to come out of the gate with serious firepower.

Easy to use

Since it’s automatic, the HyperFire is generally simple to operate. But with how fast this gun is, you’ll run out of 25 darts quickly. Luckily, reloading is easy, too: To release the dart drum, you push a small button opposite the trigger. This placement means that you can use your trigger hand to release and reload. The drum will instantly drop free, and it has a twisting lever that you pull to load without any forceful springs pushing your darts back out.

Points to consider

Low accuracy

The HyperFire fell short in our accuracy tests; we struggled to hit our smaller targets when we slowed down our firing rate. This may not matter as much to those new to Nerfing — after all, you have 25 chances to hit your target — but anyone looking for more accuracy may be better served by a smaller blaster.

Relatively heavy

Its four D batteries bring this machine gun to eight pounds. So while its ease of use makes this a tempting gift for young Nerfers, Amazon reviewers note that children around five or younger may struggle to lift it.

Best for
Versatility
N-Strike Elite Dualstrike Blaster
N-Strike Elite DualStrike
A happy medium between the Sidestrike and HyperFire
Pros
Versatile
Discreet
Powerful
Cons
Not as accurate

Why we chose it

Versatile

Typically, smaller blasters keep it simple with one type of ammo, but the DualStrike allows you to shoot larger “mega darts” in addition to traditional ones. You simply flip a selector notch on the side of the gun to designate which type of ammo you want to engage. That selector notch moves the air power to the correct chamber.

This versatility also gives you an advantage in battle: If you’re Nerfing with others who use Mega darts, you can easily scavenge the battlefield for ammo.

Dualstrike-for-Nerf-Gun

Discreet

While it’s a bit bigger than the Zombie Sidestrike, you can still shoot the DualStrike one-handed, and its larger size allows it to hold up to six darts at a time. That’s not quite the firestorm that the HyperFire provides but makes it more useful in an ambush than the Sidestrike.

Powerful

In testing, the DualStrike was so forceful that a mega dart dented one of our plastic target cups. Not enough to leave a bruise, but enough to let the opposing team know that you mean business.

Points to consider

Not as accurate

The regular darts tend to be more accurate than the mega darts because they’re smaller and only have one hole in the dart. The heavier mega darts have two holes, which diverts air through the top and gives them a wonky trajectory. We still liked having the option of shooting either type of dart, but know that you may sacrifice some accuracy when you choose the larger one.


Best Bow Hybrid
Rebelle Combow
Rebelle
An accurate, imaginative blaster-bow combo.
Pros
Accurate
Versatile
A nice change of pace
Cons
Not as powerful

Why we chose it

Accurate

Of the three blaster-bow hybrids we tested, the Rebelle was easily our favorite for its easy aim and functional bow. Whether you’re using just the bow, the blaster, or both together, testers hit the target consistently.

Versatile

When connected, the Rebelle has a two-stage trigger: If you pull the trigger fully, it’ll release a dart from the bottom blaster and top bow. But if you pull the trigger halfway, just one dart will release from the bow portion. You can also slide the blaster and bow apart for two separate, fully functional blasters. The bow can be used as a literal bow; just pull the wire back and release to shoot. Testers loved having so many simple ways to switch up their strategy.

Rebelle-for-Nerf-Gun

A nice change of pace

We recommend the Rebelle to any imaginative players looking for a break from the combat-oriented world of Nerf. Whether you’re a Hunger Games fanatic or have always dreamed of being Legolas, the bow makes the battlefield a blank canvas for your imagination.

Points to consider

Not as powerful

As fun as it is to use, the Rebelle doesn’t pack the same kind of firepower as our more intense picks. An eight-dart ammo capacity, though, does give it a bit of an edge that you won’t find in one-dart handguns.


Best Backup Weapon
N-Strike Elite Jolt Blaster
N-Strike Elite Jolt
Too tiny to win a war, but effective enough to store for a surprise attack.
Pros
Super discreet
Easy to aim
Simple design
Cons
Single-dart capacity

Why we chose it

Super discreet

If you’re looking for a weapon to keep in your pocket for emergencies, the Jolt is your best bet. It’s no bigger than your palm — the ideal size if you want to conceal your Plan B until you’re in dire straits.

Easy to aim

This blaster works as an extension of your arm — giving the shooter direct control over its trajectory. It’s easy to aim and surprisingly powerful, too. Built with the same direct plunger as the Sidestrike, it gets a quick and forceful shove out of its one-inch barrel.

Jolt-for-Nerf-Gun

Simple design

This no-fuss pistol keeps things simple: no complex mechanisms, weighty components, or superfluous decoration here. Just load the dart, prime the plunger, and pull the trigger. It’s the kind of straightforward operation you need in a pinch.

Points to consider

Single-dart capacity

Part of the reason the Jolt is so discreet is its one-dart load capacity. Of course, our top pick for stealth and accuracy — Zombie Sidestrike — can also hold just one dart at a time. But while the Zombie Strike provides additional dart storage, the Jolt has none. That’s why testers recommend this as a backup gun, not your only weapon.


Best Automatic for Hardcore Competitors
Rival Nemesis MXVII-10K
Rival Nemesis
A ruthless automatic blaster that holds 100 foam balls.
Pros
Powerful
Easy to reload
Relatively quiet
Cons
Age restriction
Bulky

Why we chose it

Powerful

Any gun in the newer, high-velocity Rival series is going to be powerful, thanks to a tight coil called a torsion spring. The small foam balls they use blast out at an advertised 70 mph, leaving a noticeable sting. Of the whole Rival series, Nemesis has the most firepower because it has the highest capacity, holding a whopping 100 rounds.

Nemesis-for-Nerf-Gun

Easy to reload

Ammo is stored in a gravity-fed hopper (like a fish tank) and falls onto a conveyor belt that propels it out of the blaster. That style made it the easiest Nerf gun to reload: You just slide open a hatch on the top and dump the ammo in. As you’re shooting, the hopper resembles popcorn in a popcorn machine; occasionally we had to jostle the gun to get all of the ammo to fall into the belt. It didn’t happen enough to be called an inconvenience, and its easy reloading made up for any lost time.

Relatively quiet

Because the Nemesis is battery powered, you have to hold down a separate trigger to “rev” it. Other guns in the Rival line revved so loud it made us cringe. The Nemesis, by comparison, sounded more like a hair dryer, making it easier to sneak up on opponents.

Points to consider

Age restriction

The raw power of Rival blasters earns them an age restriction of 14 years old — these weapons are for more competitive, hardcore Nerfers only.

Bulky

This gun requires 6 D batteries and weighs in at eight pounds. Given its age restriction, that won’t be cumbersome enough to keep serious Nerfers away from this powerhouse, but it’s hard not to notice its heft.


Best Manual for Hardcore Competitors
Rival Artemis XVII-3000
Rival Artemis
A lighter, cheaper powerhouse with pump-action priming.
Pros
Powerful
Relatively lightweight
Accurate
Cons
Inconvenient loading
Age restriction

Why we chose it

Powerful

Like the others in the Rival line, the Artemis shoots those foam balls out fast because of its torsion spring. Even though it’s not automatic, it’s still capable of reaching that 70 mph speed.

Relatively lightweight

The Artemis holds 30 rounds and doesn’t require batteries (unlike the others in the Rival line), making it five pounds lighter and much cheaper than our automatic pick, Nemesis.

Accurate

Testers likened blasting targets with Artemis to launching a bazooka or a powerful t-shirt gun with precision. Those foam balls are less wind-resistant, so they careen directly toward your target — testers were literally uttering “Whoa” as they knocked down cups.

Artemis-for-Nerf-Gun

Points to consider

Inconvenient loading

The Artemis’ magazines are integrated horizontally into the top of the blaster, and you load by sliding a hatch open on the top and popping balls into those magazines individually. While not as inconvenient as the Rival Khaos, which had an entirely separate magazine to load, testers agreed that this was time-consuming. And, since it’s manual, you’ll have to pump up the power yourself using a sliding handle under the blaster.

Age restriction

Like all Rivals, the manufacturer puts an age restriction on this powerful blaster: If you’re a Nerfer under 14, you’ll have to wait. Consider it less of a classic Nerf gun and more of a safer alternative to an airsoft or BB gun.

How to Find the Right Nerf Gun for You

Choose your battle strategy

Before you decide on your weapon, you need to picture yourself in battle and assess your needs.

If you’re a Nerfer who likes to sneak up on unsuspecting enemies, you’ll be on the hunt for a blaster that’s easily hidden, quiet, and accurate: a pistol or a handgun. If you’re all about firepower, you’ll care more about high capacity and velocity than accuracy or stealth: think a machine gun.

If you can’t decide, go for a rifle or a shotgun. These guns tend to get experimental with priming and loading styles, though, so there may be a tougher learning curve.

And take your experience level into account

The Rival series of high-powered weapons takes Nerfing to another level. Only intense, experienced Nerfers should consider adding a Rival series gun to their lineup, but any of our other picks are easy to use for beginners and pros alike.

Don’t be fooled by gimmicky aesthetics

Nerf expert Frank Cooper told us that “it's best to avoid the gimmicky features that only look cool on TV commercials or on the blaster's box art but ultimately make using the product unpleasant or difficult to use in reality.” We found this to be true of several blasters we tested, including the Zombie Strike Brainsaw Blaster — the design forces the darts to shoot from the far sides of the blaster, making it impossible to aim.

Brainsaw for Nerf Gun

The Zombie Strike Brainsaw Blaster’s cool design makes shooting harder.

Skip non-Nerf brands

“Nerf-brand products come with a level of refinement not often found in off-brand options,” said Cooper. “To a casual player, this refinement may go unnoticed, but the seasoned Nerfer can absolutely feel the difference when operating a Nerf-brand blaster compared to any alternative.” Simply put, your money is best spent on Nerf.

Nerf Gun FAQ

Why does my Nerf gun keep jamming?

Cooper told us that jamming often happens when you’re using old, beat-up darts. In our testing, darts only jammed when we improperly loaded the blaster.

Can I "modify" my Nerf gun?

Searching YouTube for “Nerf mod” unearths a whole community that’s made a hobby of Frankensteining Nerf products. These enthusiasts significantly alter their blasters to optimize their function and exceed age restriction technology.

Are Nerf guns safe?

The original design concept for Nerf guns was meant to make an active toy that was harmless enough for the indoors. That said, there’s still a potential danger if you’re shot in the eye. That risk is increased, however, when the guns are modified or when purchasing off-brand (and cheaper) darts that tend to be firmer. Take the natural precautions: Adhere to age restrictions and ensure that children are using them at a safe distance, with no headshots, and in a space without breakable objects.

The Best Nerf Guns: Summed Up

Best for
Price
Age restriction
Automatic
Zombie Strike Sidestrike Blaster
Accuracy and stealth
$21.90
8+
N-Strike Elite HyperFire Blaster
Firepower
$49.99
8+
N-Strike Elite DualStrike Blaster
Versatility
$19.99
8+
Rebelle Combow
Bow hybrid option
$20.46
8+
N-Strike Elite Jolt Blaster
Backup
$8.95
8+
Rival Nemesis MXVII-10K
Hardcore competitors (automatic)
$78.99
14+
Rival Artemis XVII-3000
Hardcore competitors (manual)
$43.50
14+