In the modern era of school shootings and police violence, any purchase of something with the word “gun” in the name — even if it’s a Nerf gun — would make anyone uneasy, let alone parents. But foam projectiles aren’t bullets (thank go), toy weapons are just toys, and Nerf guns are technically called Nerf blasters. Therefore, the best Nerf gun ever — ahem, the best Nerf blaster ever — is a key ingredient in the kind of foam-flying, relatively nonviolent skirmish that happy childhoods are made of. When it comes to rainy days or multi-generational conflict, few toys can act, paradoxically enough, as a peacemaker.
Over the past 30-odd years, Nerf has expanded one of its most popular categories with a broad selection of products. And that can make finding the right blaster for you and your child a chore. Some hold two darts and are powered by an inch-long spring; others hold dozens and are powered by massive batteries. There are Nerf rifles, Nerf shotguns, manual Nerf blasters, automatic Nerf blasters, and even Nerf blasters made to look like nail guns. There’s no one best Nerf gun. Rather, there’s the best Nerf gun for you and your kid.
If it’s a kid who likes to take their time and employ patience, a tripod-enabled sniper-style blaster might be a good pick. If they’re drawn to high-energy havoc and fog-of-war decision-making, a light, quick-firing option will do the trick. If they like variety, consider one that can be customized for different firing styles, whether that’s ambush or in the role of the hunter. There may not be a single best Nerf blaster, but there are blasters that excel in certain areas, namely distance, speed, modularity, accuracy, and what we’re calling beefiness. There’s also, in our estimation, the best jack-of-all-trades. Here are our favorites for all types of Nerf fans.
With an 18-dart reserve, the CS-18 can lay down some serious foam fire. Its acceleration motor, which runs off four C-size batteries, moves through its capacity so quickly, the first dart is still in the air by the time the last is leaving the barrel. With a 75-foot max distance, your child can stay in the rear with the gear and still participate in the next assault.
You want a faster shot? Add some power. True, the Mega Motostryke will require you to have a handful of 1.5-volt batteries on hand (it chomps four at a time), but in exchange, this blaster will rip through its 10-dart clip in a hurry. When your child has the need to lay down suppressive fire, this should be the first the choice to do it.
'Modularity,' in its most technical sense, refers to a blaster's capability of Frankensteining accoutrements to its body. This blaster includes four rails specifically designed for this, allowing a customization over time or in regards to a planned battle. It also has removable stock and barrel extension. But the definition could also extend to its firing capabilities. With the flick of a top switch, you can go from single-fire to emptying the 10-dart magazine in a hurry.
Some people may define accuracy with a fine-art analogy: small brush strokes and working close. Well, we view the Nemesis in terms of a fence-painter — no matter how small the crevice, it's all getting covered. With its 100-round reservoir, which is fully motorized, it lays down a think blanket of foam, overwhelming everything in its path. How's that for accuracy?
There's a reason this hefty blaster, one of the strongest Nerf guns ever made, is recommended for ages 17 and up. It holds 200 dimpled rubber balls, and it can fire up to eight of them per second at a velocity of 100 feet per second, or damn fast. It's also huge, heavy enough to necessitate a shoulder strap and best held at the hip, Rambo-style.
Take the question out of who shot first with this blaster (because you did). It comes with 16 darts for its eight-dart-capacity magazine. You'll need the backup, since this model fires two darts at a time up to 85 feet. An accessory rail allows you to customize your foam flinger to the mission.
Best Blaster of the Future
Tipping its futuristic hand, the Ultra represents the next-gen of Nerft blasters. Two 10-dart clips cycle through two different types of foam ammo at an alarming rate. One is designed for distance, the other, for accuracy. Lay down fire, switch mags, and then go in for the coup de grace.
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