Toy guns for kids are a fraught issue for many parents, for good reason. The guns in question run the gamut from ever-popular Nerf guns, to laser tag guns, to water guns. And while pretend battles can be fun and a great way for kids to let off steam, there’s a fine line between running around and playing with big, bright, modular plastic guns that are oversized and look rather ridiculous, and the fetishization of gun culture that can result from giving kids pistols that look like the real thing.
The reason is fairly eye-opening: According to a 2018 study presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics, only 41 percent of children between ages 7 and 17 could tell the difference between toy and real guns, when photos were placed side by side.
So be smart. Talk to your kids about guns and the harm they can inflict and avoid buying any that look like they belong in Lone Survivor. Be honest about gun violence and this country’s obsession with gun culture. The toy weapons on our list let kids engage in pretend play, and still look like toys.
At long last, we have a Nerf Halo line. And it lives up to the hype. This particular motorized MA40 dart blaster is inspired by the one in Halo Infinite. You just hold down the acceleration button to power up the motor, and press the trigger to fire from the 10-dart clip. As with the best Nerf blasters, this is one you can customize: It comes with a rail riser that attaches to the tactical rail, for adding accessories.
This behemoth of a motorized blaster shoots darts a staggering 120 feet. It has a dart drum that holds up to 25 Nerf Ultra darts (note: It only works with those darts, which go further than original darts). Yes, you fire one dart at a time, but you can also blast all 25 before reloading.
This blaster, meant for younger kids, shoots soft power pods 12 feet. It's easy to load and easy to use, with a front-loading simple pull back mechanism.
When kids pull the trigger, this blaster farts. And farts some more. Yes, really. It's actually insanely fun.
When you're ready to upgrade the farting action: This toy blaster has three play modes, makes 20 different farting sounds, and emits a mist to really enhance the gassy experience.
The Water Sports stream machine gun disregards all the silly and potentially dangerous firearm silhouettes in exchange for pure water-projecting power. The 29-inch barrel acts as a launch ramp for a high-pressure water stream that can tag a fly from 70 feet. While it has to be reloaded after each pump-action projection, the benefit is that is chains your child to a large source of water, ensuring that as long as the battle rages, he or she won’t be straying far from the pool. The polymer shell is impregnated with its color, which ensures that it won’t chip or peel while handling bumps with ease.
The Nerf Lazer Tag Phoenix tagger gun is part of a complete system of blasters. Get more taggers, and you can battle more players. There are different settings, based on difficulty levels, and the guns have lights, sounds and vibrations, as well as a recoil when fired.
If you have spare rolls lying around, this blaster shoots toilet paper 50 feet and turns it into spit balls. Score.
This is a hefty beast of a Nerf blaster. As the first motorized blaster in the Mega line, the Mastodon fires a payload of 24 Mega Whistler darts from a rotating chamber via an electric motor powered by six (!) D batteries instead of the pump-action mechanisms of manual blasters.
Your kids will be dancing the Orange Justice when they get their hands on this Fornite blaster gun. The blaster has an internal clip with a three-dart capacity letting kids fire three darts in a row. It has a detachable barrel to customize for different ways to play, and doesn't need batteries. And it looks more like a lemon than an actual piece of firepower.
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