So, what is a primary blaster? In the most basic terms, this is the NERF gun that your entire loadout is going to revolve around.
There are a few other things to consider, such as the game rules and the role you are going to be playing, but we will be explaining the role of a primary blaster below.
How Do You Choose your Nerf Primary?
Typically, the best way to choose your NERF primary is by asking yourself these 2 key questions:
- Does the blaster have a good supply of ammo?
- Is it quick and easy to reload?
These questions will help determine how effective your primary NERF gun will be, for example, during a NERF war. Usually, this means that most primary blasters are magazine-fed, although some may use drums.
Having said that, depending on the rules of the NERF war you are playing, or the environment, you can make an argument for pretty much any blaster being your primary, but we will assume you are playing one of the more mainstream NERF wars games.
Once you have taken care of the general requirements, like ammo count, there are essentially three categories of primary weapons – spring powered, semi automatic and machine gun (fully automatic).
If you’re after advice on a specific type of NERF gun, feel free to head over to what we think are the best spring powered NERF guns, best semi-automatic blasters and the best NERF machine guns. The NERF guns we have reviewed on these three pages are slightly different to the ones below, which are, in my humble opinion, slightly more suited to a having the role as your primary NERF gun in your loadout.
So, if you’re sticking with us, let’s look next at what factors you should consider when choosing your primary.
What and where are you are going to play?
The game rules and the location are two key points that will determine where you start with your loadout. So start by asking yourself some basic questions like:
- What game are you playing: HVZ, capture the flag or good ‘ole dart war?
- Are there restrictions on the kit you can use?
- Are there bonuses for certain things, such as: MEGA darts take two lives or rockets three?
- Are there lots of blind corners and cover or is it mostly open?
- Is the playing area large, are you going to be running a lot?
- What ammo is being used predominantly by you and your opponents?
Since your loadout will always start with your nerf primary, the answers to these questions will weigh heavily on your choices. And whilst almost all primary guns are magazine fed, keep in mind that if you are playing in an arena where you have to scavenge alot, magazines are not always the way to go.
What are your strengths and how do you like to play?
There is no point leaving someone on guard duty that gets itchy feet and runs off, just as there is no point sending someone with a twisted ankle off on scouting duty. So the next things to consider are your personal preferences, and the role you are likely to play (and enjoy playing):
- Do you enjoy running around and being on the move?
- Is your accuracy good?
- Do you like to be quiet and stealthy or in full-on attack mode?
There will be many more things to consider, but everything is going to vary when it comes to choosing your primary blaster.
We will deal with the autos and semi-autos later, but let’s start with the springers.
The Best Spring Powered NERF guns to use as your Primary
If you can only have one blaster and you like the stealth and reliability of a spring-powered blaster, you will need one that is slam-fire capable, with good ammo supply, good range, and accuracy. For that reason, I have put the Alpha Trooper and Rampage at the top as these both perform that duty well, which you choose is as much down to personal taste as anything else.
If you are a fan of the Rival range (and why wouldn’t you be?) then the Artemis is essentially the Rival range’s equivalent of the Rampage, but with a slightly different loading mechanism.
Below we take a more in depth look into each of them plus a couple of other springers that would make a good primary:
Elite XD Alpha Trooper
The Elite Alpha Trooper is one of my go-to blasters. It is well-engineered, runs on standard magazines, light and comfortable to hold and very reliable.
The priming handle is on the barrel, which I find easier to use than the Rampage’s handle. If you do add a more powerful spring this can be slightly harder to prime but should be fine for anyone but fairly young kids.
I also prefer magazines to drums as I can carry these more easily. So while I can only get 18 rounds compared to the Rampage’s drum’s 25, I can carry many more magazines without restricting my movement.
Ditch the useless stock and 6 round magazines for some 18s and this is a classic blaster and one that you really should have in your collection. Perfect for the stealthy, fast-moving scout and with some modifications, snipers too.
Read my full review of the Elite XD Alpha Trooper here.
N-Strike Elite Rampage
The N-Strike Elite Rampage is a great blaster. It shares very similar internals to the EAT so it shares many of the same characteristics. It also comes with a really smooth 25 dart drum which is sideloaded. So why do I prefer the Alpha Trooper?
Well I personally find the priming handle-less good as my hand always feels like it is in the wrong position – I seem to have to lower it each time I prime, distracting my shooting.
Also, while I appreciate the extra few rounds in the Rampage’s drum, I have yet to find a way to easily carry them. This makes it less good for more mobile troops, although you can, of course, use standard magazines with the rampage.
Finally, there has been a lot of reports on Amazon of Rampages jamming up, often after only a few uses.
So while the Rampage has a lot to recommend it, I still find myself picking up my Alpha Trooper. An excellent springer, that has pretty much all the attributes you need for a primary. Highly recommended.
NERF Rival Artemis XVII-3000
OK so I thought I had better put a Rival blaster in here because the accuracy and power are just awesome! However, you may be wondering why I have chosen the Artemis over the Apollo as that is magazine fed?
The reason is that this thing packs 30 rounds in the hopper. If you need to reload fast, you just open the top and throw a few rounds in. There is no pulling out magazines and having to carefully reload while your heart-rate is racing.
This is not perfect though as it has a similar priming style to the Rampage, I would prefer the priming to be done more like an Alpha Trooper as I find it much better.
But this blaster offers the typical Rival performance of 100fps muzzle velocity and much better grouping and accuracy, which makes it a good choice for a primary or even a bulky secondary. Overall, this primary blaster is really powerful and accurate with a decent rate of fire, this is by far my favorite springer in the Rival range.
Read my full review of the NERF Rival Artemis XVII-3000 here.
NERF Doomlands Lawbringer
The Doomlands Lawbringer is a little bit of a leftfield choice – firstly, it is not Elite and secondly, no magazine…so what gives?
To the first point, the Doomlands range are essentially Elite spec, so you get the same level of performance. Now the lack of magazines – the cylinder holds 12 rounds, which is great for a cylinder, but it has another advantage too.
If you have a magazine, to reload you have to release it, take it out, feed the darts in, then push the mag back in before you can fire again.
With the Lawbringer you can shove darts straight in, while still having the ability to fire the darts you have in there. Along with this, the priming mechanism can be operated one-handed.
So you can be picking up darts or holding the flag in a game of capture the flag with one hand while still being able to protect yourself.
Finally, being cylinder fed, it is more reliable than any of the magazine-fed blasters as there is less to go wrong.
All round I think this is a great alternative choice as a spring-fired primary and great for those scrappy NERF wars where you have limited ammo or a tight playing environment. An off the wall, but surprisingly effective NERF primary when used in the right conditions.
Read my full review of the Doomlands Lawbringer here.
Nerf Zombie Strike Longshot
The longshot is one that I have included for what it can do, rather than what it does out of the box.
Out of the box, the priming mechanism is cumbersome and the ranges nothing to write home about. However, these blasters are awesome when modified.
The chamber is huge, allowing you to upgrade the power massively, making them great for sniping.
You can also change the priming mechanism so it is closer in style to the Alpha Trooper which makes it far easier to keep your eyes on the target.
So while this is not a great choice in its original form, it can become awesome with the help of a mod kit or two.
The Best Semi-Auto NERF Guns to use as your Primary
A semi automatic NERF gun leaves the world of mechanical engineering and moves into the world of electrical engineering. Instead of a spring, these blasters use electrically powered flywheels to fling the darts out. These are battery powered and have a second trigger to spin up the flywheel.
This means they require a moment or two to spin up before you can fire, they also make more noise than a springer. On the plus side you can keep pulling the trigger and foam darts keep coming, (until the magazine runs dry!) so there’s no need to re-prime. This is also why most semi auto guns use a magazine!
The first thing that needs answering is why on earth would you choose a semi auto over full auto as your primary blaster?
Coop772 has created an awesome video that explains it all in detail here:
Semi automatic NERF blasters are popular and fairly reliable, but I would always ensure you have a spring-powered secondary with you, just in case they jam.
In the list below I have included the Stryfe, an obvious choice, but it is an excellent workhorse. You will probably find most people saying that every other gun on the list is basically a Stryfe re-skin..and they’re not wrong, NERF got the Stryfe just right, hence why the mechanics on the rest are pretty similar.
This does not mean your only choice is a Stryfe, it means that it makes a great blaster to mod, but if you do not want to do that, it does come out of the box in a solid state, and is already a good, basic blaster.
Saying that, there are many other scenarios that would call for a different semi automatic primary:
N-Strike Elite Stryfe
The N-Strike Elite Stryfe has been around for many moons now. It forms the basis of so many other blasters, both stock and modified and there is a reason – because it is a great blaster!
These days it comes with 6 round mags, but junk these in favor of larger capacity ones, add a stock and you have a semi-auto primary that will do pretty much what you want of a semi-auto blaster.
Four AA batteries mean that even if you do not change it to some kind of rechargeable power, it is still not expensive to run and semi-auto will keep your ammo bill to a minimum too.
There is not a lot more to add, the remaining options are for those people that want something that you cannot get with a stock Stryfe. This is the go-to semi auto NERF blaster.
Read my full review of the Elite XD Stryfe here.
Nerf Doomlands Desolator
The Nerf Doomlands Desolator is the epitome of a Stryfe reskin – it even has the battery tray in the same place. However, they have added a stock (so you do not have to!) and they have upgraded the trigger action noticeably.
The Doomlands styling does make the grips a bit small and this means that people with larger hands will probably struggle with holding it comfortably. For everyone else, this reworking of the Stryfe could be ideal, especially if you like the newer styling.
Recommended if you like the idea of a Stryfe with a stock and a better trigger action. An excellent reskin of the Stryfe, as long as you have relatively small hands (ie you are not an adult like me!)
Nerf Elite 2-in-1 Demolisher
The Nerf Elite 2-in-1 Demolisher is another take on the Stryfe mechanicals, but this time, as well as adding a pretty good stock it also comes with a missile-firing attachment!
The missile is a nice touch, as it gives you something you can fire when you are reloading. It is especially good in games where you get different points for different ammo – some give double points for larger ammo like this or the MEGA, so this makes it an excellent choice for those games!
The front looks bulky but in reality, it is pretty comfortable and I also like the stock more than the Desolator’s, so I like it. You get a semi-auto with a single shot back-up and a nice stock – not a bad combo!
Nerf Elite Stockade
The Nerf Elite Stockade is slightly different in that it runs a revolver style cylinder rather than a magazine. This means that you can be reloading from the front and still able to defend yourself. This is something that is a big benefit in tighter NERF war areas or where you have to do a lot of scavenging for ammo.
I like this blaster and have used it without a stock as a secondary. Added to this is one of the best of the NERF stocks – it is well shaped, sturdy and lets you store 10 darts.
All in all the Stockade is a really good semi-auto blaster with good amounts of ammo on tap. While reloading a magazine is always going to be faster for a complete reload, the ability to quickly scavenge in tight spots is a real bonus. Good ammo store, front loading and with an excellent stock makes the Stockade a good potential choice.
Nerf Rival Zeus MXV-1200
The Zeus is a member of the NERF rival line, which fires small, balls of foam rather than darts. These are aimed at the 14+ age group so fire a bit harder and more accurately than their Elite cousins.
This blaster is the semi-auto one in the Rival line and while I like the power and the accuracy, and it fits me well, there are a few things I do not like.
The magazine is fiddly to load and only carries ten darts. These are not cheap to buy, and neither is the ammo, so carrying a decent amount of ammo is expensive.
The Artemis uses a hopper that you can just drop a few rounds in to, which means it is easier to load and does not need all those mags. The awesome new Nemesis uses a similar idea, so I am hoping NERF will produce a semi-auto Rival blaster that does this.
Until then this is what you have to use if you want to go Rival with a semi-auto… I didn’t bother as I found the Artemis much better as a primary. A few design flaws make this my least favorite Rival Blaster
Read my full review of the Zeus MKV-1200 here.
The Best Full-Auto NERF Guns to use as your Primary
Fully automatic NERF guns, otherwise known as NERF machine guns, is where things start to get really fun…and expensive! These blasters are all battery powered and will need a lot of ammo to keep up, especially as some chuck out darts at such a rate that they empty full magazines in seconds.
Click here to go straight to my dedicated page of the best NERF machine guns.
Since your NERF primary is what your entire loadout will revolve around, you need to think about your role and which gun will fit that role the best. Once you have chosen you primary, then you need to pick your secondary. The most important thing to consider when choosing your secondary NERF gun is: counter any weaknesses you might have with your primary.
So if you are a fast-moving scout or sniper, a flywheel is probably not what you want. Likewise, don’t try to defend the base as a last line of defence with a Lawbringer!
So do not think that getting the biggest, baddest gun is always the best choice….unless you go for the Nemesis, this is definitely the biggest and baddest NERF gun out there.