Chances are that the first NERF gun you bought was a pistol. They are a great intro to the world of NERF blasters, but they also work well as a secondary (or backup) blaster in NERF wars. Some people even double-wield pistols in preference to a motorized blaster!
Small though they may be, they still possess the power to fire 100 feet, making them great secondary. From the little single-shot pistols through to the latest and greatest NERF pistols, these are our faves.
What are the best NERF Pistols or Backup Blasters?
The above list is arranged in order of our faves, but all of the pistols on this list are worth considering, depending on your needs.
Each review links through to more info on the individual nerf pistol, and just click the yellow box to go straight to Amazon.
Nerf Rival Kronos XVIII-500
The Rival Kronos first saw the light of day as a tie-in with the Deadpool movie franchise, but it has now been released in white, Rival Phantom Corps color scheme, which looks really cool!
Now, we love the Rival range here, but until the Kronos turned up, there was no good pistol. The motorized blasters like the Nemesis and springers like the Artemis have long been faves, but there was no good pistol.
The Apollo was too bulky to use as a secondary and that was about it, so we were left with having to use an Elite as a backup, which meant also having to carry different types of ammo.
Then came the Kronos, which 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!
The Rival NERF blasters are aimed at 14+ so they are made with larger grips and fire harder, and the Kronos is no different. This means it is not one for younger kids, but for us adults (notionally at least!) this has risen to the top of the pile as our pick of best NERF blasters.
The only thing it lacks it the ability to prime it one-handed, but its excellent form, firepower, and practicality is why it has managed to dislodge our long-term best pick, the Hammershot, as our best NERF pistol!
Read my full review of the NERF Rival Kronos XVIII-500 here.
Side note: I should also mention the Nerf Rival Heracles, which is essentially a Kronos with ammo storage…for a lot more money! I found the ammo storage got in the way of holstering so I would pick the Kronos.
Nerf Zombie Strike Hammershot
Until the Kronos loomed into view, the Zombie Strike Hammershot blaster was our go-to pistol and it is still the best of the Elite dart firing NERF blasters.
It is a revolver-style blaster that holds 5 N-Strike Elite darts, which is less than the Disruptor or Strongarm, but it has one very big advantage…you can prime it one-handed!
Instead of the priming handle, you get on most NERF blasters, it has a hammer much more similar to a real revolver. This allows you to cock it with your thumb, which is ideal when you need a spare hand.
So if you run out of ammo in your primary, you can reload with one hand while still being able to defend yourself, especially if you have a hopper-fed blaster like a Nemesis! It is also great for NERF war games like capture the flag, so you can hold the flag and continue to fire!
This does mean you lose the ability to slam fire but with a bit of practice you can fan fire and look much more like a cowboy too…so darn fun!
You load it by pushing darts in from the front, which makes it very quick to reload and you can partially load it if you don’t have much time.
The only downside is we don’t like the trigger action as much as the Disruptor, but otherwise the Zombie Strike Hammershot blaster’s combination of fun and the ability to act as a really useful back up means it is still very close to the best back up blaster.
Read my full review of the NERF Zombie Strike Hammershot here
Nerf N-Strike Elite Triad EX-3
The NERF Triad is a little pocket wonder and easily the best bang for your buck! This tiny little blaster holds three N-Strike Elite foam darts with the power to send them around 100 feet.
The Triad is incredibly easy to prime, you simply pull the lever back, aim and fire. If you do not have all three darts loaded, it figures out which to fire…magic! To load it up, you simply push the darts in from the front.
OK, the accuracy is not great, it does not have slam fire or a huge amount of ammo, but for such a tiny thing it is the best small backup weapon…or a backup backup weapon!
This is a great little blaster, especially for smaller kids as it is easy to prime and the trigger action is really good.
Nerf N-Strike Elite Disruptor
The NERF Disruptor is basically an evolution on the NERF N-Strike Elite Strongarm blaster…although you can still get both!
Many people saw this as NERF just trying to cut costs as the Disruptor does not have the very cool flip out revolving chamber as you would find in a real revolver. The Disruptor did away with this relatively complex mechanism, instead of allowing you to load it from the front.
However, by changing the design, NERF made the Disruptor much more practical for NERF wars as you could now reload much faster, which sees it best the Strongarm in the practicality stakes.
Both of these pistols hold 6 darts and while they do not offer the rate of fire of some battery-powered blasters, they do feature slam fire. Slam fire allows you to pump the priming handle while holding down the trigger and spraying foam remarkably quickly. They also both have an excellent trigger action and the power to fire a foam dart over 25 meters.
The Strongarm is still a great blaster, and if you want to look cool, the loading mechanism is great to show off. But if you want the best back up blaster with slam fire, the NERF N-Strike Elite Disruptor is the one for you
Read my full review of the N-Strike Elite Strongarm blaster here.
NERF Zombie Strike Flipfury
The NERF Flipfury sneaks in here simply because it is so much fun! On a practical note, it is way too large to holster and while having two drums of ammo to fire is great, reloading them is not fast.
So it is not the greatest for NERF wars, but it is great for showing off to your mates and the action to flip between the cylinders never ceases to make me smile!
There is a cutaway at the bottom, so you load the bottom cylinder. Once loaded, you pull the second trigger and it flips round to take the place of the top cylinder so you can reload that (the darts are only fired from the top cylinder)
The Flipfury’s flip action is really smooth and never messed up on me – which is good give its name! It is not motorized, so no batteries are needed, the mechanism is purely mechanical, which makes it even more amazing.
It also features slam fire and has a good trigger action, so all the mechanicals are top-notch and the form factor definitely makes this the best fun.
NERF Mega Cycloneshock
The NERF N-Strike Mega Cyclone shock is part of the Mega range, which means that, like the Rival Kronos, it does not fire the usual N-Strike Elite darts. Instead it fires the much larger Mega darts…which explains the name natch!
The larger NERF N-Strike Mega darts the Cycloneshock uses mean that this is a large blaster, which is great for us with adult hands, but it may be a little large for younger kids.
Aside from that, the way it works is very similar to the NERF Disruptor even though it looks similar to the Strongarm. You load it from the front (the cylinder does not snap out) and the priming handle is mounted on the top.
It is also capable of slam fire, which can be quite a sight with the huge Mega darts flying around!
Like the Rival Kronos above, there is not much competition for back up blasters in the Mega range, but this is the best secondary blaster in the range.
We don’t rate it higher than this as you can get the same features with the Disruptor and using the N-Strike Elite darts are much cheaper. But if you want a Mega blaster (some variations of NERF Wars give extra points for Mega round for example) then this is the best pick.
NERF N-Strike Elite Jolt
I have included the NERF Jolt simply because, this, the smallest NERF blaster, packs such a punch for a tiny little thing and has become a legend in the NERF world. Pretty much any new single-shot blaster from NERF is met with a barrage of “this is just a re-skinned Jolt!”
This is about as simple as it gets, needing no batteries, you just put a foam dart in from the front, pull back the handle, point, and shoot. The lightweight and ease of loading and priming makes these a great first NERF gun for smaller kids too.
In short, if you need a small back up NERF weapon, the Jolt is a great choice.
What Makes a Good Secondary or Backup NERF Gun?
Imagine the scenario, your primary has jammed or run out of ammo and a villain is approaching…you need to get a shot off fast! Any flywheel blaster that needs batteries is going to need a few moments to spin up and make noise…not good!
Now I am going to make a differentiation between a secondary and a back up blaster here. To me a secondary is one that can be used aggressively – ie it has some ammo store and can fire fast and hard.
A back up is something smaller, that can be tucked into your boot or belt just in case all else fails.
So a good backup or secondary needs to be ready at a moments notice, which means that it will not be battery powered, but be spring powered so you can have it primed and loaded.
They also ideally need to use the same ammo as your primary or you will find yourself having to split your ammo supply between two types, which restricts your options.
Another requirement is that they are small enough and shaped so they can easily be holstered. You really do not want something that swings around on a lanyard if you are going to be moving around.
Finally, while accuracy is not going to be your primary concern, you do not want something that is only going to fire a few feet or you will never be able to get close enough to your opponent to tag them.
No batteries, compact and lethal, there are some great secondary blasters in the NERF world right now!
If you use the Rival range, there is really no option other than the NERF Rival Kronos, but don’t be fooled – it is a truly excellent blaster! Accurate, powerful and works well, making it our pick as the best overall as well as the best secondary Rival blaster.
If you want to use Mega darts, your options are slightly less limited than those using Rival ammo, but there is still a clear winner in the Cycloneshock. This is basically the Mega-Disruptor, which is no bad thing and makes it our pick as the best secondary blaster in the Mega range.
Where things get interesting is in the N-Strike Elite range. Here we have gone with the Hammershot as the best secondary firing N-Strike Elite darts due to the ability to fire it one-handed, which is so useful for a backup blaster. If this is not important to you, then the additional dart capacity and Slamfire capability of the Disruptor could tip the balance that way.
This leaves us with the Triad and Jolt, which pack a lot into a very small package. Either of these can easily be tucked into a sock or back pocket as a backup to your secondary. The Triad must take the prize of best small backup blaster due to its 3 dart capacity.
Finally, we could not mention the awesome Flipfury. No, it is not practical for NERF wars, but it easily takes the prize for the best fun (although a fan firing a Hammershot is also amazingly satisfying!)
So there you have it, our rundown of the latest and greatest NERF pistols. I hope you enjoyed it!
Check out my other reviews for more NERFing fun: