A question that comes up a lot is “what are the best NERF guns?” Well the answer is…. it depends!
A hardcore NERF warrior is going to want something very different to someone that just wants to plink around in the back garden shooting targets and a teenager/adult is going to want something very different to a toddler.
Below are our top picks of the best NERF guns available in the various categories:
Where we have them, we have linked out to our full reviews of these blasters, you can also go straight to Amazon by clicking on the yellow button.
If you do click through to Amazon, we may get a small commission (this is how we keep the site running!) but this will not affect the price you pay.
BEST NERF GUN OF 2020 : NERF RIVAL NEMESIS
This NERF gun is an absolute beast! It is fully automatic and fires at over 100 FPS with Rival High Impact ammo and manages to hold over 100 of those little suckers.
This is impressive, but it is the overall form and function of the Rival Nemesis that sees it pick up our choice for the best automatic NERF gun, best of the Rival range as well as our best overall prize too!
If that was not enough, this gun also comes with a monstrous 100 round capacity, courtesy of a gravity-fed hopper. This hopper is what gives the Nemesis the edge over the NERF Rival Khaos, and while the Prometheus also features a hopper (twice the size!) the way you have to hold and fire it is simply not as good
The firing mechanism is a motorized belt that the ammo drops on to, this feeds it into the chamber that allows it to shoot at such a phenomenal rate. This does mean that you occasionally need to shake it to get the ammo to drop through to the belt, but this is very easy to do even when firing.
It is available in red or blue, or if you don’t care, just see which is the cheapest at the time you buy and get that
Although some of the other NERF Rival blasters have now surpassed the Nemesis in terms of power and accuracy, the way it all works together as a package means this is still the best. This is our pick of the NERF blasters – it is just about perfect!
Super fun, the Nemesis is not only the best blaster in the NERF Rival range, but it is also the best NERF machine gun and, in fact, simply the best-unmodified blaster, full stop!
Read my full review of the NERF Rival Nemesis here.
Best Elite Machine Gun: NERF ELITE RAPIDSTRIKE
The best automatic NERF guns are populated by the Rival range. However, these are not suitable for younger NERFers (and some people just don’t want the extra power…or live in Australia where they are illegal!!)
So if you are looking for an N-Strike Elite machine gun, then the Rapidstrike is the blaster I would go for.
This was the first full-auto electric NERF gun of note. It featured good ergonomics, was magazine-fed and was pretty reliable for a fly-wheeler.
It is showing its age in some ways and to get the best out of it needs modification – stronger motors and a battery pack make it an awesome blaster. It is still a very good one out of the box though.
Yes, the Hyperfire (see my review here) has come along which has a better rate of fire and more accuracy (although nothing with standard Elite darts is anything like accurate!) but I find it jams too often as the conveyor belt system doesn’t seem to like older darts (and darts get old very fast!
Additionally, the design of the grip makes it uncomfortable for me to use, but if you have smaller hands, you may not find this such an issue.
So the Rapidstrike is the best full auto N-Strike Elite blaster, especially when modified.
Read my full review on the N-Strike Elite RapidStrike here.
Best NERF Machine Gun: NERF RIVAL NEMESIS
It might be getting a bit boring, but the NERF Rival Nemesis also picks up the title of the best Machine Gun too.
I was tempted to give this one to the Prometheus, as it is set-up as a heavy machine gun. However, much as I love the rate of fire and power (it is intoxicating!) I just don’t like the way you have to hold it to fire.
This is very easy, as we have mentioned elsewhere, our favorite Nerf blaster is the NERF Rival Nemesis, so if you can afford it, get it!
Check out my full run-down of the best NERF machine guns here.
Best Spring Powered Blaster : NERF RIVAL ARTEMIS
Another top pick from the NERF Rival range, this compact little nerfgun also fires the foam hi-impact ammo. However this gun is spring powered, so no need for any batteries.
It holds an impressive 30 rounds in a surprisingly compact package. The loading mechanism is really clever, allowing you to drop ammo in to partially reload, while still keeping some ready to go if you get attacked actually making it more practical than many magazine-fed blasters.
It features slam-fire, with a great trigger action, so you can spew those Rival rounds out at a pretty impressive rate when needed too. This makes it a NERF gun with balls in more ways than one!!
All in all, this is a really impressive little blaster that packs a remarkably big punch for its size….I love it! This is a near-perfect spring-powered blaster.
Read my full review of the NERF Rival Artemis here.
Check out my full run-down of the best spring powered NERF guns here.
Best Elite Dart Firing Springer : NERF N-STRIKE ELITE ALPHA TROOPER
I make no excuses – I have several of these and I love them!
It is spring powered, so quiet, reliable and magazine-fed, so you can increase the ammo capacity easily, with great ergonomics and smooth trigger action.
Battery-powered flywheels throwing out five rounds per second, but they make a lot of noise. So for the old school hunter-killer missions, this is still my blaster of choice.
Robust, comfortable and with the ability to add much bigger magazines and stocks this is the epitome of old school NERF sophistication. It cannot keep up with NERF rapid fire guns, but with the ability to slam fire so you can fire a lot of foam quickly if things get tight.
An oldie but a goodie this is still the blaster I take out more often than not, especially if playing a limited ammo game.
Read my full review of the Elite N-Strike Alpha Trooper here.
Best Semi-Auto NERF Blaster: NERF N-STRIKE ELITE STRYFE
This NERF N-Strike gun is an oldie but still one of the best! The Stryfe is one of the mainstays of the NERF world. It was one of the first flywheel blasters and one of the first NERF gun to feature a magazine.
It was immediately successful and for good reason – it was and is an awesome blaster!
It is a motorized gun that fires foam Elite darts and requires AAA batteries and is semi-automatic. It needs batteries to power the flywheels, so you have a little button to spin these up. Once it is spinning, you just pull the trigger and a dart flies off, pull it again and another goes – no need to pull any priming handles!
This means it will fire a dart with each pull of the trigger, unlike the full-auto blasters that will start firing when you pull the trigger and stop when you release the trigger or run out of ammo!
It takes pretty much any size mag so you can load it up with anything from a 6 round mag and keep it for backup or add a stock and 18 round mags and turn it into a great primary blaster.
The Stryfe just does what you want of a semi-auto blaster, but what makes this a great buy is the range of modification kits you can get – nothing comes close!
Read my full review of the N-Strike Elite Stryfe here.
Check out my full run-down of the best semi-auto NERF guns here.
Best NERF Pistol: Rival Kronos
Now, we love the Rival range here, but there was no good pistol. Then came the Kronos…
The Kronos is small enough to holster, carries 5 NERF Rival high-impact foam rounds internally and still shoots with Rival accuracy and most of the power…and it lived up to all our hopes!
This is not one for younger kids, as The Rival series is aimed at 14+, but for us adults (notionally at least!) this has claimed the accolade of best NERF pistol.
Read my full review of the NERF Rival Kronos here.
Check out my full run-down of the best NERF Pistols here.
Best Elite Dart Firing Pistol: ZOMBIE STRIKE HAMMERSHOT
I love the Hammershot! It is my fave member of the Zombie Strike line. It is essentially a revolver style NERF blaster with 5 shots in the cylinder.
So while the Hammershot may look like a bad buy compared to the Disruptor, as it only carries five rounds compared to the Disruptor’s six and has no slamfire, it does have a very nice trick up its sleeve.
What makes this blaster cool is that most NERF guns need to be primed with your spare hand. However, the priming mechanism for the Hammershot can be operated one-handed! With a bit of practice, you can even fan-fire it gun-slinger style, which is a lot of fun!
This makes it an excellent secondary blaster, so you can scavenge for more ammo or hold the flag in “Capture The Flag” while still being able to defend yourself.
You can load it from the front, which means you can partially load it when you are in a rush. This, along with its size, makes it an ideal secondary blaster.
Read my full review on the Zombie Strike Hammershot here.
Best Small NERF Gun : N-Strike Elite Triad EX-3
Now don’t be put off by its diminutive size, the Triad EX-3 will hold 3 rounds that are front-loaded and packs a surprisingly big punch for such a small blaster.
The simple front-loading mechanism hides some cleverness behind the scenes that allows it to figure out which of the barrels are loaded so if you have a dart in there, it will never fire an empty chamber when you pull the trigger.
No, it does not have some of the features like slam fire or single-handed operation, but it’s simplicity and small size make it a great intro into the world of NERF and I still carry one around as a backup in my NERF wars
Smallest NERF Gun: N-Strike Elite Jolt
If you want the very smallest blaster, then look no further than the Jolt. This little thing can easily be hidden in a pocket or sock and will still fire a dart 20m.
It is front-loaded, then simply pull the priming handle and fire, blasters do not get any simpler than this!
However, unless the size is a major issue, then the extra buck or two for the Triad is well worth spending for the extra shots.
Best NERF Mega Blaster: Nerf N-Strike Mega Mega Mastodon
The Mastodon is, quite simply, nuts! This Mega NERF gun features an enormous drum with 36 Mega darts and full-auto capability.
The Mega darts are not favorites of mine, but when you load 24 of them into this monster and start popping them off at 3 per second, it all makes sense!
Now before I start, the Mastodon is heavy and not cheap to run as it needs six D batteries, which it goes through fast. Unlike the newer Rival blasters which offer rechargeable packs, you cannot officially get them for this (although there are aftermarket kits)
But leaving such practical considerations aside, hearing the hearty “thwack” of these oversized darts smacking against their target is so satisfying and in full-auto….oh yes!!
Most Fun : Nerf Zombie Strike Flip Fury
Now, this is a pistol designed to start a conversation! You cannot really use the Flip Fury as a backup as it is pretty large, but it is excellent as a blaster in its own right and its party piece flipping drums is worth the price alone!
The Flip Fury is essentially a Strongarm/Disruptor with two ammo drums; the top drum fires, leaving you the ability to load the lower one from the front. Once you run out of ammo in the top drum, you simply pull the lever just under the trigger guard and it flips around and you have another 6 rounds to fire…excellent!
It also features slam fire, and with double the amount of ammo of the other blasters here, it can really throw a hail of foam at your targets!
The one big downside is its bulk, which makes it hard to use as a secondary blaster, but if you are looking for an awesome pistol, this one packs a massive bang for the buck and is thoroughly recommended!
Also Damn good fun: Nerf Doomlands 2169 Lawbringer
The Doomlands 2169 range is Nerf’s post-apocalyptic range, with slightly Mad Max-esque styling they seem to add a bit of a price premium over similar blasters in other ranges.
This means that most of the time I don’t really pay them much attention, but the Lawbringer is just different enough to make it worth the money.
Essentially this is a bigger version of the Hammershot, with a stock and a drum that holds twelve rounds. However, in use, the single-handed cocking action and extra ammo make this a really pleasing combo – I must confess to liking this blaster far more than I should!
If you can stretch to buying two, then dual-wielding is a real option and boy do you look bad-ass (or at least I thought I did….!)
Add to this the clear sections so you can see the mechanism in action and you have a very cool blaster
Read my full review of the Doomlands Lawbringer here.
Remember when we said that the answer to “what are the best NERF guns?” is, “it depends!”? Well, the reason depends on what you want your blaster for.
Your role is usually driven by the type of NERFer you are. Without being too technical if you are going to get stuck into a NERF war you’ll need to understand your role, strategy, and tactics. However, you may simply want something to shoot targets or mess around with at school or in the office.
If you play in any NERF wars you will be part of a team and your role will determine what sort of blaster you need – oh and to distinguish NERF guns from real firearms, most people use the term “blaster” and “dart” for bullet regardless of the shape.
In NERF wars many players will carry more than one NERF gun; the main one, usually termed a “Primary” and a “Secondary”, usually smaller and used as a back-up or for a specific purpose. Some even carry a “Tertiary”, usually a small, single-shot pistol, for that last gasp.
So we have gone through these blasters and picked them according to these needs…and some that are just darned fun!