The world of NERF guns can be very confusing. There are hundreds of different blasters in all manner of shapes and sizes. To make things even more difficult, some guns are only compatible with certain darts whilst others can shoot more than one type! Our aim is to be your guide through the weird and wonderful world of blasters and help you find your perfect gun.
There are, currently, 14 different blaster variants, to keep things simple we are going to focus on the most popular 5; The N-Strike Elite, N-Strike Mega, Doomlands 2169, N-Strike Modulus and NERF Rival. We will go into detail on each range, providing an overview of the key features, specify the type of dart they use and point out our favourite blaster.
If you don’t fancy reading up on the different types of NERF blaster or just a little short on time, why not check out our roundup of the best NERF guns on the market or head over to our Top 10s section?
N-Strike Elite (Beginner’s)
We are going to kick off with N-Strike Elite range. As the successor to the original N-Strike series, Elite blasters have been going since 2012, making them some of the oldest blasters still in circulation. The core characteristic of N-Strike Elite guns is a fire distance of up to 75ft – a huge uplift from the original 35ft found on N-Strikes. The performance upgrade was thanks to the implementation of a “direct plunger” firing system which helps drive more power to the dart but enough about the technical details, let’s get on with the fun stuff.
The Elite series is typified by the distinctive blue/orange colour scheme which has become iconic for any fan of NERF. There are of course variations within the range but as a rule of thumb, if your blaster is primary blue or orange there is a high chance it is an N-Strike Elite.
For newbies the N-Strike Elite range is a perfect fit. N-Strike blasters offer the best range and functionality without adding any addition worries such as customization.
The Darts (Primarily Elite)
Elite blasters can fire a wide range of ammunition but we must be clear, they cannot fire Mega darts. Your safest bet is to pick up a pack of N-Strike Elite darts which are thinner than their MEGA cousins and specifically designed to be fired by Elite blasters. Though Elite darts should be your primary ammunition, the blasters are also compatible with Tag and Suction darts – not to mention a large range of themed darts.
The Blaster: N-Strike Elite Rough Cut
If you are looking for an easy to use, no nonsense blaster to get you going then we recommend you check out the N-Strike Elite Rough Cut.
The Rough Cut is a double barrelled blaster which fires two darts at a time and has a pump action priming mechanism. Once you are primed and ready, simply pull the trigger and unleash darts at an unsuspecting enemy.
The Rough Cut comes with 16 Elite darts and doesn’t require any batteries so you can start blasting as soon as you get it out the box. Enjoy!
MEGA Blasters (Beginner’s)
The NERF MEGA series is actually a sub-set of the N-Strike Elites. First launched in 2013, MEGA blasters are basically Elites on steroids!
Making use of specially designed MEGA darts, which are thicker than standard Elite ammunition, the range boasts a range of up to 100ft. To make things worse for your opponents, MEGA darts whistle (“scream”) as they fly through the air – so if getting hit by a high speed dart wasn’t bad enough, now your enemies will hear it coming.
The MEGA range is typified by a bold red colour scheme and whilst you may find some orange, white or black detail thrown in you can be confident that if its red blaster it is almost guaranteed to be a MEGA gun.
If you are looking for a gun with a little more punch than the Elite range then the MEGA series may be right up your street.
The Darts (Primarily Mega)
Guns in the MEGA range can fire standard Elite darts but we wouldn’t recommend it. MEGA blaster barrels are made a little bigger to accommodate for a larger dart size; smaller darts will fit but only a MEGA dart will be able to reach to 100ft range as advertised.
In order to get the best out of your gun you are best sticking with the slightly thicker and specially designed ammunition.
The Blaster: MEGA Cyclone Shot
The CycloneShock blaster is a lovely little gun. Featuring a 6 shot rotating barrel, the CycloneShock lets you take more darts onto the field than a standard front loaded blaster. Simply pull back the priming mechanism located at the top of the blaster and you are ready to blast.
The CycloneShock is simple and straightforward, including 6 MEGA darts in the box.
Doomlands 2169 (Intermediate)
The blasters in Doomlands 2169 series may not have the pedigree of Elite or MEGA guns but they are a lot of fun (and look damn cool to boot)! First launched 2015, Doomlands guns are typified by their bulkier design and inclusion of transparent windows which let you see the inner workings of your blaster.
All blasters in the Doomlands 2169 series have a post-apocalyptic theme, meaning they often look a little“ragged” but don’t let looks deceive you, these blasters pack a punch. It is easy to pick out a Doomlands blaster from the other series as they are almost entirely orange in colour and feature a distinctive transparent window allowing you to see the inner workings of the blaster! Even though Doomlands blasters may look a little intimidating, they are an absolute joy to use.
The Darts (Primarily Standard)
Doomlands blasers can be loaded with Elite darts, meaning you won’t have to go out and buy a load of new darts if you fancy adding one to your arsenal. So if you have a load of extra Elite ammunition lying about then you already have ammo for your Doomlands blaster!
You can however get yourself some special Doomlands themed darts if you want to add a bit of pageantry to your game. Like the other blaster series, MEGA darts are not compatible with Doomlands so please don’t try and stuff the slightly wider darts down the barrel as it may cause a jam.
The Blaster: Doomlands 2169 Persuader
The Persuader is one of our favourite blasters here at NERF Reviews. Featuring three vertically aligned, front loaded barrels, the Persuader is super easy to use and lets you bring some considerable firepower onto the field. What makes the Persuader stand out from the rest though is inclusion of a thumb controlled cocking mechanism, this means that with some practice you can actually dual-wield this bad boy! A seriously fun blaster and defiantly one to add to any aspiring blaster’s arsenal.
NERF N-Strike Modulus (Advanced)
Launched in 2015, the NERF N-Strike Modulus range is the epitome of N-Strike technology. Focusing on customization and optimized design, the Modulus range are for the more technical fan. That being said, like all guns, the Modulus series can be fired by an absolute beginner – it is the customization options that requires a bit of knowledge.
There are literally 1000s of different variations when it comes to the Modulus range. Thanks to the inclusion of NERF rail technology, you can easily snap on and snap off a myriad of different accessories: stocks, barrels and in some cases additional guns! Many of the accessories or “Modules” are purely aesthetic (such as the targeting scope) but things like the shoulder stock or blaster shield can really help improve your game. If you are looking for a full run down of the different types of Modules then we would recommend checking out our dedicated page NERF Modulus Upgrades.
In terms of styling, the stock Modulus blaster looks a lot like the guns found in the Elite series but the added option of customization takes these blasters to the next level. Modulus guns are built to be performance machines and therefore the actual aesthetic design can sometimes feel a little stark but when you are dominating your enemies on the blasting field – who cares?
The Darts (Varied)
When it comes to darts, the Modulus series throws typical rules out the window. For example, the stock blasters all make use of standard Elite ammo but snap on a missile launcher and you are ready to use NERF missiles! Our recommendation on this front is to really read the blaster type/attachment details; for example if you get a MEGA barrel extension then you to pick up some MEGA darts to ensure your blaster fires at full capacity.
The Blaster: Modulus Tri-Strike
We have already pointed out that the blasters in the Modulus series are a little more advanced than your standard gun, but don’t let the complexity and cutomization scare you – these blasters are great fun to use.
TheModulus Tri-Strike is NERF gun Chimera. Think Elite darts are a little boring? Don’t like the styling of Doomlands? Why not have a NERF gun which fires Elite, MEGA and Missile ammunition?! The Tri-Strike is a literal walking arsenal with tons of customization opportunities.
The stock blaster is actually a relatively simply Elite with a 10 dart clip and side mounted cocking mechanism. Things get a little more technical when you start adding on the included Modulus upgrades though. For examples, attach the barrel extension and you have yourself a 4 shot, pump-action MEGA blaster! Not enough? Then whack on the shoulder stock Missile launcher and now you can bombard your enemies! Combine all three attachments and you have NERFageddon on your hands.
NERF Rival Series (Competitive)
Another 2015 launch, NERF Rival blaster have been around for a few years but Hasbro is constantly making tweaks and adding new guns so don’t worry, you haven’t missed the boat just yet.
The Rival series was created with competitive Nerfing in mind – each blaster (with the exception of “Phantom Corps”) comes in either Red or Blue, so when picking out your first Rival blaster make sure you pick the right team! These blasters are designed for blasting fans 14 years and up and that increase in age recommendation is for some very good reasons.
First off, blasters in the Rival range do away with standard NERF darts and instead use “High Impact Rounds” – these rounds are spherical and specially designed for maximum velocity. The new round type combined with specially engineered innards means these blasters can fire rounds at 100fps!
Due to the increased firepower and focus on competitive play, every blaster in the Rival series includes a mechanical safety which needs to be disengaged before firing. As these are such high powered blasters, please make sure you get yourself kitted out with a pair of safety google or NERF face mask.
The Darts (High Impact Rounds Only)
To avoid any disappointed please (please, please) make sure you are stocked up on Rival High Impact Rounds. Unlike traditional foam darts, Rival blaster can only fire High Impact rounds and you won’t be able to make use of any Elite, Mega or special ammunition you have stocked up on over the years.
The Blaster: NERF Rival Takedown XX-800
If you are a serious Nerfer we strongly recommend checking out the Rival series. The high velocity and team based combat is a lot of fun – ideal for anyone looking to step their game up a little.
When it comes to your starter blaster, the NERF Rival Takedown XX-800. The Takedown is a manual, breech loaded blaster with inbuilt 8 round capacity. There are certainly more advanced Rival guns out there but if you are looking to get started you won’t go wrong wit the Takedown due to it’s ease of use and relatively low asking price.
If you are looking for a bit more detail or a full run down of the Rival Series, head over to your Rival reviews page.