There are now are many NERF guns for kids available, ranging from ages 3 and up (or 14 and up for the Rival Range). Amongst these gun ranges, there are several blasters that would be great for a toddler and/or small child.
Before we go any further, it’s important to address health and safety. While NERF guns are very safe and don’t really hurt, even when fired from close range (they are made from foam after all) they can be dangerous if they hit you in face and/or eyes. It’s a good idea to make sure your kids are not aiming fire above the neck, and to always wear safety glasses, especially when playing a NERF war.
So if you’re looking at getting a NERF gun or two for a toddler, which ones are the best?
What should you look for in a NERF Gun for a small child?
There are certain features to look for when choosing NERF guns for kids. Essentially they need to be small, lightweight, and easy to fire and reload. This means they’ll spend less time looking for help from parents, and more time NERFing with their friends and having fun.
In order to make our list of best NERF guns for toddlers, the blasters must meet the following criteria:
It must be small
A small child is not going to enjoy holding a large blaster. You want them to be able to play without struggling to load, hold or fire the toy. A large, bulky blaster is going to mean they need two hands to hold it, which will limit their freedom in the game, and at the very least, unable to properly defend themselves from friendly fire.
So for that reason, we are going to stick to NERF pistols.
It must be light
This goes hand in hand with the size issue – small children need something lightweight to ensure they can handle the toy without losing their balance.
For this reason, we are also ruling out battery powered blasters, as the additional weight of the batteries will make them far too heavy.
Simple to load
Toddlers need something simple and easy to use, so any magazine fed blasters, which are hard to refill, are not included in our list either.
Simple to prime
Most small children will not have the grip strength or coordination to prime (get ready to fire) NERF blasters with a slide. So we are going to narrow this list down to include only those that have an easy priming mechanism, preferably with a loop or handle they can easily grip.
Not too powerful
Powerful blasters are great when you get older, but they are harder to prime and also less forgiving when it comes to accidents. So we will generally be looking for the less powerful options.
So, now we have gone over the criteria you should look for when choosing a NERF gun for a toddler, we are now going to go through our top picks:
Nerf Captain Cassian Andor Blaster from Star Wars Rogue One
I find that just by mentioning that this blaster is from the Star Wars line, is enough for most kids to want it! Despite this, it is an ideal blaster for a toddler.
Firstly the Star Wars blasters are less powerful than the popular Elite range. These ones in particular are advertised as having a firing range of up to 22m, whereas the Elite are advertised as having a 30m range – making the Star Wars range considerably less powerful.
This blaster is also super easy to prime and load: to load you simply slide the dart into the barrel, then pull back the handle on the top to prime the blaster. The handle is easy to grab and pulls straight back, which is much easier for kids.
This blaster actually does use batteries, but only to make it light up and make classic Star Wars noises (which my friend’s son thought was, and I quote: ‘the best thing he had ever seen’, when I gave it to him!) so it can still be used without batteries.
The one (and possibly only) downside to this blaster is the Rogue One film is no longer showing in the multiplexes, so this gun is getting a little bit harder to find now, but if you can get your hands on one, it is a great blaster for little ones.
If you are having problems locating this one, the Poe Dameron blaster is very similar, although I personally prefer the way the Captain Cassian Andor blaster looks.
Nerf N-Strike BowStrike Blaster
The workings of the BowStrike are very similar to the GlowShot (see below) although there are a few subtle differences. Where the GlowShot has a gimmick of lighting up, the BowStrike features a sight box and bow arms that pop out when you prime – which make it look like a mini crossbow – and pop back when you fire.
These little gimmicks don’t actually do anything but look really cool and, unlike the GlowStrike, do not require batteries.
While the arms make this look like a crossbow, this blaster is front loaded by simply pushing the dart into the barrel. To prime it, you just pull back the lever at the rear, which has a nice loop making it very easy to grip, so even small kids shouldn’t have too much trouble.
The BowStrike is part of the Elite range, but where the large Elite blasters fire at around 70-75 FPS (feet per second) this one averages around 55 FPS. Although this is more than the Star Wars blaster above, it is much less powerful than the bigger guns in the Elite range. Please remember the earlier warning about not firing at people’s faces.
Overall this is a fun little blaster with a cool gimmick that should entertain the younger NERFer for hours.
Nerf N-Strike GlowShot Blaster
This little blaster has a lot going for it, but my favourite feature has to be that it glows!
So, I appreciate that we said we wouldn’t include guns in this list that used batteries, but this one only uses 2 AAA batteries, which are small and light, and these are not required to fire it, they are only required to make it light up, so they are not needed to operate the gun.
It is also very easy for small hands to prime and load. The gun is front loaded with a single dart, and primed by pulling the loop at the back. The loop is easy to grip and pulls straight back with ease, keeping things super simple.
This blaster is part of the Elite range, but it fires in a similar way to the BowStrike. So while it fires a little harder than featured the Star Wars blaster, it is not so hard that it will cause any real problems.
So, what will your kids prefer? A blaster that glows in the dark, or one with pop out sight and arms? Or both?
Nerf N-Strike Elite Triad EX-3 Blaster
The NERF Triad one of my favorite NERF pistols. Closely related to the Jolt (see below) but it’s like having 3 Jolts in one, and usually for around the same price too!
While not as ridiculously light as the Jolt, it still only weighs around 5.5oz and is only slightly bigger than the Jolt at 7.1 x 6.8 x 2 inches. This makes it a great blaster for small hands.
Where the Triad scores points over the competition is its 3 barrels. Not only will this feature appeal to kids as they have 3x the power over an opponent with a single dart pistol, but it’s also no harder to load. To load the Triad, simply push a dart into each barrel, and each time you prime, it will fire the next available dart.
To prime, you pull down on the lever at the bottom of the grip. The positioning of the lever is slightly less easy to manoeuvre for smaller kids as it requires a little more strength than the previously mention pistols, but most kids should have no problem at all.
The packaging states that it is built to the Elite spec, and is capable of launching a dart up to 30m. However, the reality is that the velocity of the Triad is a lot less than its bigger brothers, the Elite blasters. Saying that, the Triad is powerful enough to be fun and with a bit of luck, can make 30m shots. It is not hard enough to hurt (another gentle reminder not to fire at the face) but does pack a bit more of a punch than the aforementioned Star Wars blaster.
The NERF Triad is one of my favorite backup weapons in a NERF war, it is small, compact, easy to use with 3x the amount of darts to play with in a single pistol. When it comes the suitability of being a plaything for a toddler, it is excellent fun and highly recommended.
Nerf N-Strike Elite Jolt Blaster
Here we have the Jolt. It is the smallest blaster NERF make, barely weighing more than 1.5oz and measuring just 1.3 x 5.4 x 5.4 inches. This makes it ideal for kids and the smallest of hands.
The Jolt loads super easily, simply push the dart into the barrel. It primes with a well-shaped pull handle on the bottom of the pistol grip.
This does not take too much force to prime, but as previously mentioned with the Triad, it does seem to be a trickier positioning of the lever, and some have found it harder to hold the grip and prime. The workaround they have found is to hold the barrel and pull.
While the Jolt is small, it is part of the Elite line, so can theoretically fire darts over 30m. However, in reality, it cannot muster the 70+ FPS velocities of the bigger Elite blasters. But, for such a small package it is a serious contender and I would highly recommend this little blaster for any kid.
Nerf N-Strike Elite Firestrike
The Firestrike is a little larger than the other blasters in this list, weighing in at 12oz and is about 10 inches in length, but it does have the rear pull priming lever, which is why I have chosen to feature it. This prime mechanism seems to be easier than some of the others, and therefore more suited to smaller, less able hands/
Loading is as simple as the other pistols featured here, simply front load the dart into the barrel and you are ready to go. It also has a couple of holes for you to store 2 more darts in the front, under the barrel. This is a great feature as it means you have that little bit more space in your pockets for more ammo.
This blaster also features a red laser sight, this does however require batteries which contributes to the overall weight. It will fire perfectly well without batteries, but it would be a shame to lose this pretty awesome feature!
The Firestrike is considered to be a proper Elite blaster, so it produces velocities nearer the 70FPS mark and reaches about 30m, which is further and harder than the others listed here. It is not so powerful it will cause harm (with our usual below the neck caveats) but this is a good intro to the larger Elite blasters out there.
Overall a really nice blaster, but possibly a little too big for smaller kids, but one they will grow into.
Toddlers and small children will find many of the big NERF guns tough to use, which is why we have chosen to feature these pistols specifically. Due to their lightweight, small and compact designs, they are by far the best NERF guns for kids available.
So if your kids are wanting a NERF gun but aren’t sure if they are big enough, or which one to go for, then rest assured that any one of the guns listed here will be a good introduction into the world of NERFing.