Best Nerf guns 2023: 9 soft dart toys for hours of backyard fun

From one-on-one battles to team competitions, these are the best Nerf guns out there in 2022

Best nerf guns
(Image credit: Future)

No matter how old you are, there's nothing like the adrenaline rush you get from holding the best Nerf gun. Even if you didn't grow up playing with action figures or toy weapons, arming yourself with one of these foam pellet firearms will free your inner child.

Nerf guns are usually suitable for indoor and outdoor use. So yes, you can have the real-life Call of Duty family fun, while getting your teenager away from their console and outside for some fresh air (and a change of scenery).

To get the most bang for your buck, we've rallied the troops to try some of the weapons in question. We'll ensure you're fit to fight by delivering on all the specifications including size, weight, shooting range, recommended age, and how easy it is to reload your ammunition.

So whether you're a 'newb' to the arsenal of Nerf guns out there or a veteran who has one or more guns on your radar to buy this holiday season,  look at our buying guide as a head-to-head battle of all the Non-Expanding Recreational Foam guns on the market to see which one suits your gaming style. 

And for even more outdoor fun for the kids, check out our guide to the best trampolines to take your backyard activities to the next level. 

Have fun with the best Nerf guns for 2023

Why you can trust Gardeningetc Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster

(Image credit: Nerf)

1. Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster

The best Nerf gun for quick drawing and fast-firing

Specifications

Size: 18.8x32.4x7cm
Weight: 454g
Recommended age: 8+
Batteries required?: No

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to load
+
Holds up to 6 darts
+
Fires up to 90ft
+
Good color range
+
Accurate aiming

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be stiff to pull back and reload

The Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster is a relatively lightweight, compact Nerf gun, making it easy to wield, even for younger children. 

Design features 
With onboard bullet storage and an easy to pull trigger, this small gun is easy to handle and it doesn't require batteries to work. It comes with six bullets included, though it's worth buying plenty of spares as its impressive firing range can make for fair few lost ones. Reviewers have said it's powerful, fast and a good price – we couldn't agree more.

Firing range
Its rotating barrel holds six darts, all of which can be fired up to 90ft away. You can either fire them one at a time or use the Slam Fire function to fire them in super-quick succession. 

Nerf N-Strike Jolt Blaster

(Image credit: Nerf)

2. Nerf N-Strike Elite Jolt Blaster

The best small Nerf gun

Specifications

Size: 16.8x15.8x2.8 cm
Weight: 122g
Recommended age: 3+
Batteries required?: No

Reasons to buy

+
Pocket size
+
Suitable for young kids
+
Reasonably priced
+
Low impact
+
One-handed operation possible

Reasons to avoid

-
Range not as impressive as other models
-
Single shot only
-
Not great for Nerf wars

Proof, if ever it was needed, that bigger is not always better — we give you the Nerf N-Strike Elite Jolt Blaster. Great for smaller kids who can't yet hold a larger Nerf gun, but still want to join in on the fun.

Design features
With its small size comes a lack of bullet storage – only one can sit inside the gun at any one time. Though the fact it is small means it's easier to store away (it fits in a pocket), and easier for them to operate. And it's quick to reload – you can do this one-handed too.

Color choice
It comes with two Elite darts and is also available in green and orange. 

Best for Nerf wars: Nerf Ultra One Motorised Blaster

(Image credit: Nerf)

3. Nerf Ultra One Motorised Blaster

The best for Nerf wars

Specifications

Size: H33, W60.96, D8.09cm
Weight: 1.81kg
Recommended age: 8+
Batteries required?: 4 x C

Reasons to buy

+
Onboard dart storage
+
Can be used indoors and out
+
Comes with 25 Nerf Ultra darts
+
Darts can fly up to 120 feet away

Reasons to avoid

-
Works only with Nerf Ultra darts
-
Eyeware not included
-
Expensive

The Nerf Ultra One Motorised Blaster is the king of all Nerf guns. Not only is it motorized, but it can hold a whopping 25 darts at once making it great for use in Nerf wars.

Design features
With a high capacity dart drum that can hold 25 Nerf Ultra darts at once, this Nerf gun allows you to fire and reload fast. Not just that, but it only holds Nerf Ultra darts – the furthest flying Nerf darts ever as they can land up to 36 meters away once fired. Though it should be noted that it's motorized, so it needs batteries to work, and it comes at a high price tag – as expected.

Firing range
As mentioned above, the Nerf Ultra One can only hold Nerf Ultra darts. These darts can fly up to 36 meters away, to take your Nerf games to the next level.

Nerf N-Strike Elite Rhino-Fire Blaster

(Image credit: Nerf)

4. Nerf N-Strike Elite Rhino-Fire Blaster

The best double barrel Nerf gun

Specifications

Size:: 14.9x85.9x40.3 cm
Weight: 3.4kg
Recommended age: 8+
Batteries required?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Tripod allows for steady shots
+
Holds up to 50 darts

Reasons to avoid

-
Six D batteries required
-
Takes a while to reload

This is definitely a Nerf gun that will draw looks of envy from friends far and wide. The Nerf N-Strike Elite Rhino-Fire Blaster comes complete with 50 darts.  

Design features
This design comes complete with a detachable tripod, allowing for accurate and steady firing from a stationary spot – when required. 

Firing range 
The twin barrels each hold 25 bullets (which come included) and the motorized blasting means you can engulf opponents up to 90ft away with a shower of darts in seconds – no escape from this one.

Nerf Super Soaker Soakzooka

(Image credit: Nerf)

5. Nerf Super Soaker Soakzooka Multicolour

The best Nerf water gun

Specifications

Size: 6.7x53.5x23.8 cm
Weight: 798g
Recommended age: 7+
Batteries required?: No

Reasons to buy

+
Good price
+
Holds lots of water
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't have all the bells and whistles of some of the other models 

A bullet-free Nerf gun this time – the Nerf Super Soaker Soakzooka Multicolour is the perfect way to get kids outside in the summer – just make sure you stay locked inside if you want to remain dry.

Design features
Forget the puny and weak water pistols of old, this is one serious soaker. The tank holds a whopping 1.6 liters of water and unleashes an awesome blast of water over its victims. 

Firing range
Simply move the handle back and forth to blast jets of water. Invest in a couple of these for soggy fun all summer long. 

Fortnite Nerf gun

(Image credit: Nerf)

6. Nerf Fortnite AR-L Elite Dart Blaster

The best motorized Nerf gun

Specifications

Size: H26 x W76.2 x D6.7cm
Weight: 1.4kg
Recommended age: 8+
Batteries required?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Capture the look from Fortnite
+
Motorized to fire darts faster

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy

For fans of Fortnite — this is the best Nerf gun for you. It replicates the looks and colors of the video game so your kids can feel like they are playing in real life.

Design features
The design is based on the popular video game, and the colors mimic that. There's a stock for when you really get into it and need to brace the gun against your shoulder.

Firing range
Because this Nerf gun is motorized the firing range is even further, you can power up the motor with the acceleration button and pull the trigger to shoot a dart. It comes with a 10-dart clip, plus 20 darts, so you have enough to fully load the clip and give you plenty of backup darts for reloading.

Nerf gun

(Image credit: Nerf)

7. Nerf N-Strike Mega Magnus

The best budget-friendly Nerf gun

Specifications

Size: H22.7x L34.5 x W6.6cm
Weight: 620g
Recommended age: 8+
Batteries required?: No

Reasons to buy

+
Great price
+
Easy to use
+
Compact

Reasons to avoid

-
Only three darts included

If you are after a simple but effective Nerf gun that's going to provide hours of fun but not break the bank, this is a great choice.

Design features
This Nerf gun is super lightweight and designed to be used with one hand so you can run around and not be weighed down. The look is slightly retro, and is really simple to use, just one click and the darts will go flying. 

Firing range
These lightweight darts fly up to 85 feet, which we think from a small toy is pretty epic. They have been redesigned too to be even bigger so they fly further. There is a built-in clip so you can reload quickly too.

Nerf Elite 2.0 Phoenix CS-6 Motorised Blaster

(Image credit: Argos)

8. Nerf Elite 2.0 Phoenix CS-6 Motorised Blaster

The best Nerf gun for quick firing

Specifications

Size: H31.8 x W40.6 x D6.7cm
Weight: 0.8kg
Recommended age: 3+
Batteries required?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Acceleration button for extra power
+
Fires six shots at a time
+
You can store 6 extra darts 

Reasons to avoid

-
Batteries required (not included)

This is a motorized Nerf gun so has even more power and can shoot darts even further. It also has space for six back up darts too, so games can last even longer without being interrupted.

Design features
The acceleration button is what makes this model such a great Nerf gun. You can use the motor to power the darts so they go even further. You can fire six shots in a row or, if you are being more tactical, one at a time. There's storage for six extra darts so you can reload quickly too.

Firing range
This Nerf gun fires up to 27 meters, so great for big outdoor games. You get 12 darts with the gun too, so plenty to ensure the game lasts for a whole afternoon. 

Best Nerf gun for pet owners: Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster Dog Toy

(Image credit: Nerf)

9. Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster Dog Toy

The best Nerf gun for pet owners

Specifications

Size: H43 x W23 x D10cm
Weight: 0.89kg
Recommended age: For adults
Batteries required?: No

Reasons to buy

+
One ball included
+
Also works with standard tennis balls
+
Hands-free

Reasons to avoid

-
Only for pet owners
-
No strap

Dog owner? Tired of throwing tennis balls (and not very far, too)? You need the Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster. This is how you play the ultimate game of fetch with your furry friend, without having to do too many steps, too. It also comes with one tennis ball included, and somewhere to store it on board. Or, if you go for the gift set, you'll get three squeak tennis balls in bold blue and orange colorways.

Design features
Not only is this Nerf gun easy to use – simply pop a tennis ball in and pull back the orange part of the gun, aim and fire – but it's hands-free, too. When your dog brings back the wet (and probably heavily chewed) ball, just place the barrel on the tennis ball and it will pick it up.

Firing range
This Nerf gun can fire a tennis ball up to 50 feet in the air – your pup will love this. It will give walkies and zoomies the wow-factor (and hopefully tire them out for the evening too!)

What is the best Nerf gun? 

Overall, we think the best Nerf gun to buy right now is the Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster (opens in new tab). Not only do you get a lot of gun for your money, but its impressive firing distance and sturdy appearance will appeal to children of all ages.

How to choose the best Nerf gun

Space considerations
Bear in mind the size of your home when it comes to choosing a Nerf gun, especially if you'll be letting them fire their new Nerf gun indoors as well as in the garden. It's not necessarily about what the darts hit, but both kids and adults can get excited, so ensure you do an informal risk assessment to remove precious vases, antiques, and any heirloom crockery from the play area. You also might want to crouch down into nooks and crannies so it might be worth buying a few table corner guards (available from Amazon (opens in new tab) to soften square corners on furniture.

Consider your backyard size, too. Whilst Nerf guns with long firing ranges might sound impressive, if you have a smaller garden it's likely you'll soon tire of knocking on your neighbor's front door to retrieve lost bullets. Though fencing can provide some sort of barrier from collateral damage, it goes without saying that you should be courteous to neighbors if you share an outdoor space.

Features
Before buying a Nerf gun do check what is included for the price you are paying – bullets, batteries, targets, etc., are sometimes all part of the package, whilst other times you will need to buy them separately. If you've invested in hundreds of bullets and don't fancy picking them up one by one — consider investing in a Nerf Elite Dart Rover, available from Amazon (opens in new tab). Much like a vacuum cleaner, this device captures your foam cartridges without the need to bend down to retrieve them.

Check how many batteries and what size are required before buying. Some models have upwards of six C or D batteries, which can prove very expensive to maintain.

Age, size, and weight
Think about both size and weight when choosing a Nerf gun – one with a recommended age of eight and over might very well be safe for an eight-year-old to use, but if it is very heavy or large it could be difficult for them to really make use of it in your garden play area. Finally, younger children tend to like Nerf guns that hold lots of foam bullets as they can find frequent reloading frustrating. 

Safety first
One of the most common concerns about Nerf guns is their safety. In short, they are relatively safe, however, there are of course precautions you should take when using them. For example, you should never look down the barrel of the gun, never shoot at the head or face, never modify darts or the blaster, and definitely consider investing in some safety goggles. And, though it might be tempting to buy cheaper accessories, Nerf darts have been tested to meet certain safety standards. Obviously, these are just pointers. For full advice, refer to the official safety guidance.

Do Nerf guns hurt?
Under normal circumstances, the standard Nerf darts should not cause injuries. With that in mind, though, you should always take precautions to avoid accidents. Before play, you may want to create some ground rules to avoid tears and tantrums from both kids and adults.

Alternatively, consider investing in a spec that uses Gelfire rounds like the NERF Pro Gelfire Mythic, available from Amazon (opens in new tab). These are hydrated super absorbent polymer rounds that look like the jelly boba you get in bubble tea — though non-toxic,  these are not edible!  One advantage is that these burst on impact so you don't have to reclaim your foam shots are firing.

What is the most powerful Nerf blaster?
Nerf guns vary in terms of how far they can shoot. Some reach up to 120 feet, like our most powerful choice, the Nerf Ultra One Motorised Blaster, available from Amazon (opens in new tab).

Are Nerf guns just for kids?

In short: not at all. Nerf guns very much started out as a toy, but due to their popularity with big kids too, the guns on offer have become bigger, bolder and more extreme. 

From small foam dart hand guns, to massive blasters that need two-hand control, and guns with tripod stabilisation, there are lots to choose from depending on who is playing with them. 

If you are a fan of paintball, a Nerf gun to use in the garden with your friends is a much cheaper and safer alternative, without bruising. And, Nerf gun game ideas aren't restricted to humans either – there are Nerf guns to fire tennis balls for our furry friends too.

How we chose these Nerf guns

To select the best Nerf guns on this list, we've analysed the specifications and compared attributes, including dimensions, weight, age suitability and whether the product comes with any darts or accessories. We've also taken into account customer reviews across multiple retailer websites to make our final selection. 

You can find out more about how we test products at Gardeningetc on our dedicated page.