There’s nothing more fun than an impromptu Nerf war! Shooting your friends without lethally injuring them will always be enjoyable, but which Nerf guns are best for foam firefights?
Nerf Guns: What’s Not to Love?
A lot of factors affect the way a Nerf gun handles during a fight. Here are some things you have to consider before you choose your weapon:
- Capacity: In a Nerf war, you want as much ammo as possible. Smaller guns generally only hold between three and six darts, meaning you have to carry extras and reload them one by one. Bigger guns allow you to use a magazine you can prefill for faster reloading.
- Ammunition: There are many kinds of Nerf rounds: darts, large missiles, foam balls, etc. There are also different variations of those rounds, like elite and suction darts, or whistlers. Each type of ammunition has unique properties that affect speed, range, and accuracy.
- Speed: How fast your gun fires, reloads, and fires again will determine your fighting style. If you use a slower, single-shot gun, you’ll likely spend more time behind cover trying to avoid precisely aimed shots, since you won’t be able to launch any suppressive fire. However, if you have a fully-automatic Nerf gun, you can move out in the open more easily and pressure opponents to stay covered.
- Priming method: One of the biggest factors that affects how fast your gun can shoot is the priming method. Nerf has guns that use slides, hammer action, bolt action, battery-powered primers, and other creative methods to prepare the next round to fire. The way a gun reloads affects not only the speed with which you can reload but also how frequently the gun jams.
- Range and accuracy: Your gun needs to shoot accurately at a long-range to win a Nerf war. The closer you are to your opponent, the more likely you are to be shot. The farther your gun can shoot accurately, the better your chance of not getting hit by stray darts. Accuracy is incredibly important to the overall experience of the game. Nothing is more frustrating than shooting right at someone only to watch the dart fly whichever direction it wants.
10th Place: N-Strike Elite Triad EX-3
This little peashooter might look tiny, but it packs a crazy punch. The N-Strike Elite Triad EX-3 comes with three Elite darts loaded in its three barrels. The barrels fire one at a time, starting from the bottom to the top left, and then to the top right.
To cock the gun, you pull the handle at the bottom until you hear a click. It’s a slower way to prime, but what it lacks in speed, it makes up for in distance. It can fire darts up to 90 feet—quite a distance for something that fits in the palm of your hand.
9th Place: Rival Artemis XVII-3000
The Rival Artemis XVII-3000 is the sawed-off shotgun of high-impact round Nerf guns. The round foam balls look innocent, but, as the name implies, they can leave a nice sting. These rounds are meant to pack a punch. They fire at 100 feet per second and are like a cross between Nerf darts and paintballs.
The Artemis has three rotating barrels. They alternate after each shot and hold up to 30, high-impact rounds. You reload manually, round by round, into each of the three barrels. This gun uses pump action to prime the rounds—just hold the front grip, pull it back, and then pump it forward. It only takes a second, so you’ll go through rounds quickly during intense sessions.
NERF Rival Artemis XVII-3000 Blue
The Rival Artemis XVII-3000 is a cross between a Nerf shotgun and a paintball gun. It has a large capacity of high-impact rounds, making it perfect for long battles.
8th Place: Zombie Strike Nailbiter
The Zombie Strike Nailbiter is one of Nerf’s more interesting toy guns. It’s from the company’s zombie apocalypse-themed line, and it’s shaped like a nail gun, which automatically makes you the coolest person on the battlefield.
The best thing about this gun is its eight-dart, self-indexing magazine clip, and the combination priming and firing mechanism. After you fire each round, the clip moves upward out of a hole on top of the gun and prepares the next dart to fire. The trigger operates the priming mechanism, which automatically fires the round when it’s ready without batteries. Both of these things work seamlessly together and allow you to empty an entire mag in a few seconds just by squeezing the trigger.
7th Place: Modulus Tri-Strike
The Modulus Tri-Strike has a little bit of everything in it. It uses a combination of add-on accessories to create one insane Nerf amalgamation. The base is a standard Elite dart blaster with a 10-dart clip. It uses bolt-action priming, so it’s more of a slower rifle than a quick-shot weapon.
Then there’s the Modulus MEGA dart barrel extension that holds four MEGA darts. MEGA darts are thicker than elite darts, so they have a harder impact but don’t fire as far. To fire this part of the gun, you push forward and slam back the gray slide under the attachment.
The gun comes with the Modulus Missile Launcher stock, so you can shoot one of Nerf’s huge missiles at your opponent. The stock compresses and primes the missile for launch. To do this, either push in with two hands or—to prime in intense situations without putting down the gun—slam the stock down into your shoulder.
All of these parts function independently or together. There are also other add-ons in the Modulus series you can interchange with parts on this gun to make it even more custom.
Nerf Modulus Tri-Strike
The Modulus Tri-Strike is a versatile gun that gives you three ammo options with which to barrage your opponent.
6th Place: Zombie Strike Hammershot
The Zombie Strike Hammershot is one of the best guns to duel-wield. Its hammer-action priming mechanism lets you cock and fire the gun with just one hand and makes you feel like you’re in a zombie western.
This revolver only holds five darts, though, so you have to choose carefully when to use them. Alternatively, you can go out with “all guns blazing” and slam the hammer down with one hand, while you fire with the other.
Nerf Zombie Strike Hammershot Blaster
The Zombie Strike Hammershot makes you feel like you’re preparing for a standoff at high noon. And the hammer action firing mechanism makes it easy to use one-handed.
5th Place: Rival Nemesis MXVII-10K
The Rival Nemesis MXVII-10K is a fully-automatic, high-impact Nerf gun that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Fully-automatic Nerf guns usually face one common problem: jamming. This gun uses the high-impact, ball-shaped rounds, which are much easier to feed into an automated firing mechanism and, consequently, less prone to jam.
The Nemesis holds up to 100 rounds in its hopper and is one of the easiest Nerf guns to reload. There’s a latch on top of the hopper, so you can quickly dump in multiple rounds at a time and fire them at 100 feet per second. It works just like a paintball gun.
The only downside is it takes six D batteries or one of Nerf’s Rival rechargeable battery packs to power the Rival Nemesis. It couldn’t be fully automatic without batteries, though.
4th Place: N-Strike Elite AccuStrike RaptorStrike
The N-Strike Elite AccuStrike RaptorStrike is the Nerf version of a bolt-action sniper rifle—do I need to say more? This gun is incredibly accurate and perfect for faraway attacks. The bipod allows you to get low to the ground and line up shots while remaining stabilized for better accuracy.
The bolt-action priming mechanism is fast, and it loads from one of the two six-dart magazines that come with the gun. There are two separate sights on top of the gun that line up to help you fire accurately from any distance.
3rd Place: Zombie Strike FlipFury
The Zombie Strike FlipFlury is another unique gun from the Zombie Strike series. It has two separate revolving six-shot barrels. After it rotates through all the rounds in one barrel, the barrel system rotates to align the other one, so you can fire from it. This gives you time to reload the bottom barrel while you fire from the one on top.
The priming mechanism allows you to fire with one hand, although you need both to rotate between barrels. This gun has two triggers—you pull the bottom one to prime and the top one to fire. If you hold the firing trigger down, it will slam fire every time you pull the priming trigger, and you can empty the magazine in seconds.
2nd Place: N-Strike Elite Delta Trooper
Second place on our list goes to the N-Strike Elite Delta Trooper. It comes with attachable stock and barrel extensions that turn it into a standard-issue Nerf rifle. The large magazine holds twelve elite darts, so you can keep the fight going without switching out mags every 30 seconds.
The priming mechanism is on top. You cock the slide back and forth to prime the weapon, and then press the standard trigger to fire. This makes it easy to shoot multiple rounds back-to-back.
The gun fires up to 90 feet, so you can cover the distance between you and your opponent with a precise shot.
1st Place: N-Strike Elite Strongarm
The N-Strike Elite Strongarm takes its place as the number one Nerf gun on our list. It’s the spiritual successor to Nerf’s famous Maverick gun but somehow manages to be even better. It’s more streamlined, less prone to jam, and fires up to 90 feet.
It holds its elite darts in a classic six-shot barrel. A release button on the side drops the barrel into an easier position so you can load it quickly. It’s incredibly easy to prime this gun—just pull the gray slide on the back and let go. If you hold the trigger down while you prime the gun, the darts slam fire as soon as priming completes, so you can empty the whole barrel in six fast motions.