Best Nerf guns 2021: obliterate friends and family in a barrage of foam

The best Nerf guns are perfect for blasting around the garden while kids are cooped up – and there are even Nerf Fortnite options

Best Nerf gun 2021
(Image credit: Nerf)

The best Nerf guns of 2021 are fast, furious and unbelievably fun. If you want the perfect gift for the Nerf lover in your live, you've come to the right place – especially now, when we're looking for ways for kids to have fun in the garden when the weather is right.

These glorious Nerf blasters come in all shapes and sizes, from the sublime to the extremely ridiculous, so there's the ideal pick for you.

Some require batteries for features such as semi-automatic fire, but those tend to be the more expensive and hefty models. For the simpler and cheaper models, there's no power needed at all – but they still fire great distances.

The sheer volume of Nerf weapons available has left many justifiably confused as to which blaster they should add to their arsenal, or trust their children with. This is where we step in: read on for our list of the best Nerf guns right now.

Don't forget to check out our list of the best water guns as well, and our guide to the best toys overall. And for the more indoors types, we've got the best board games and best Lego sets.

The best Nerf guns you can buy

Nerf Elite 2.0 Commander RD-6

(Image credit: Future)

1. Nerf Elite 2.0 Commander RD-6

The best Nerf gun overall – big range and a small price

Reasons to buy
+Impressive reach when you fire+Modular add-ons+No batteries required
Reasons to avoid
-Small magazine-Unstealthy priming for the shot

For balancing price and foam-shooting power, this can't be beaten. You need to prime your shots using a noisy mechanism that will make stealthing hard if you didn't do it in advance, but there's no argument with the results – this fires its six bullets over a great distance, with good accuracy.

You can can fire all six darts that it's loaded with in rapid succession, and really the only downside here is that limited magazine size. Pay more and you can fire more darts between reloads. Otherwise, there are no complaints here, and Nerf's modular system is supported, so you can add sights or a stock or other upgrades. It's just a huge amount of fun for a low cost, as we explain in our full Nerf Elite 2.0 Commander RD-6 review.

Nerf Elite 2.0 Shockwave RD-15

(Image credit: Future)

2. Nerf Elite 2.0 Shockwave RD-15

The best Nerf gun for bountiful blasting at a great price

Reasons to buy
+15-dart magazine+Modular expansion options+No batteries needed
Reasons to avoid
-Can jam when you really go for it

Want more firepower than our first pick? This is the obvious step up, using a similar battery-free firing system, but upping the ante with a 15-bullet drum. That's a lot of firing before you run out, and your opponents will feel the brunt of it. The whole thing is a bit bigger than the model above, but is still pretty handle-able for most kids.

It comes with 30 darts in total, so inevitably losing a few when you're raining them over someone else isn't too much of a worry. You can fire them one at a time, or get some good rapid-fire going – we did experience the darts catching when trying to shoot as fast as possible, though. It wasn't a deal breaker for us, though – we still enjoyed using this massively, as you can read in our full Nerf Elite 2.0 Shockwave RD-15 review.

Nerf Elite Retaliator

(Image credit: Nerf)

3. Nerf Elite Retaliator

A modular blaster that comes with tons of shooting potential

Reasons to buy
+Plus Pack comes with lots of darts+Four different configurations

This modular blaster can go from a single-handed Nerf pistol to a long-range two-handed weapon of foamy destruction once you add on the stock and barrel. It can fire darts up to 27 metres with impressive accuracy, and it shoots rapidly from a drum that contains 25 darts. Oh, and this special set comes with a second drum so you can continue firing right away (and it has 50 darts to fill them both, naturally).

You can buy the normal version from lots of stores, but the real bargain here is the Plus Pack, exclusive to John Lewis, which comes with bigger dart cartridges, and two of them… and it's reduced by a third to clear!

Nerf Nitro Motofury Rapid Rally

4. Nerf Nitro Motofury Rapid Rally

Table and floor based chaos with this car spewing system

Reasons to buy
+A genuinely innovative new way to play+Expandable with other sets in the range
Reasons to avoid
-Not suitable for all floor surfaces

There are a number of sets in the new Nitro range; they must have named the Nitro Motofury Rapid Rally though whilst the over-enthusiastic Nerf naming team were on an away day. Aimed at extending the appeal of the brand, this new foam-car-launching-system uses the motorised air-chamber to hurl out the cars at a decent speed from the blasters ramp. The cars are equipped with more sturdy and speed worthy plastic wheels and so achieve decent distances - wood and lino is best, short office style carpet is fine, anything else will chafe the low-clearance chassis slowing it significantly. This top-of-the range Nerf gun set comes with nine cars, ramps and a bunch of obstacles for you to line-up and smash up, there are smaller sets in the series with shrunken down blasters and a few different accessories including the rings of fire. Introduce household items to extend your targets further upwards for more satisfying collapses.

Nerf Accustrike Falconfire

5. Nerf Accustrike Falconfire

Phil ”The Power” Taylor's choice of Nerf gun blaster

Reasons to buy
+Increased accuracy+Simple design
Reasons to avoid
-Slow to load

The more sniper like look of the Accustrike range is no mistake, as it has been developed for those on your crack squad who like to sit in secret and take pin-point pot shots at opponents fairing far too well in the field. If not for this reason then you should own an Accustrike FalconFire Nerf gun, as, with a modicum of practice, you should well be able to win target based bets as the darts are most certainly superior. Designers spent over two years on the dart design and, as a direct result, they’re better balanced with a redesign that gives improved airflow and aerodynamics. The result = increased accuracy.

Nerf Fortnite TS Blaster

(Image credit: Nerf)

6. Nerf Fortnite TS Blaster

Because you can't go wrong with Fortnite (or Mega-sized darts)

Reasons to buy
+Extremely popular brand…+Chunky Mega darts are great fun

If you're trying to tear kids away from playing Fortnite on their screens, why not try… Fortnite! But in real life. This blaster doesn't take the standard small Nerf darts – it takes the beefier Mega darts, giving it more impact (and making it easier to hit things). The styling and design are great for that cartoony action look.

Nerf Zombie Outbreaker Bow

7. Nerf Zombie Outbreaker Bow

When the walking dead do appear, wave this Nerf gun at them

Reasons to buy
+Quirky styling+Reliable rotating blast action
Reasons to avoid
-Ergonomically average

The faux bandaging, plier-shaped handle and the goalkeeper hues combine to create a cracking looking blaster here. The Zombie Outbreaker Bow is a five-barrel rotating action number, powered manually by pulling back on the scissor-styled handles on top. Added quirk comes in the form of the bow appearing to unleash the darts each time, this isn’t the case though and you can take this piece off. If it is a cylinder style action you’re after, then the Nerf Strongarm (see below) has a superior action, but brand awareness amongst zombies of this particular range of Nerf gun blasters might be less likely to take you seriously if you’re not brandishing one in these colours.

Nerf Mastodon

8. Nerf Mastodon

Intimidating and battery powered, this is a serious piece of kit

Reasons to buy
+Battery powered+Fast fire rate
Reasons to avoid
-Needs six D batteries, which adds to the expense

Scoring highly on the intimidation scale a foam dart needn't be fired before the opposition has second thoughts. Staring down the barrel of the Mastodon you're stuck with the sheer size of it, and at that point possibly wondering why you are looking down the business end. It is one of the first automatic blasters that fires off the Mega darts, it does so at an impressive speed driven by the addition, at your expense, of six D batteries – it doesn't seem battery technology has lent itself to drum rotating blasters. A price cannot be placed on the child-like grin induced upon unleashing the 24 dart drum and enjoying the whistle they make as they head to your intended target.

Nerf Rhino-Fire

9. Nerf Rhino-Fire

Massive fire power and a floor mount for accuracy too

Reasons to buy
+Huge 50-dart capacity+Sturdy and accurate when mounted
Reasons to avoid
-Big and expensive

We very much would've liked to be in the meeting where they named this number, we're thinking it was late Friday afternoon, sun shining outside, two execs at Hasbro shouted a couple of random words – done deal, packaging sent to printers and its pub o' clock. This double-barrel blaster can be floor/desk mounted for accuracy or stick the stock into your side and walk directly towards your target with swagger. Both intimidating and impressive the Rhino Fire achieves decent distances, the downside of this is picking up the contents of both 25 dart barrels you've expended. When it comes to shelf candy, the Rhino-Fire is one of the best Nerf guns out there. It's a decent enough looker to keep out on show.

Nerf Rival Zeus MVS-1200

10. Nerf Rival Zeus MVS-1200

Big range and a round range of close to 60mph makes the Zeus a sharpshooters dream

Reasons to buy
+60 mph round speed+Trick shot friendly
Reasons to avoid
-12 rounds only

The latest adaptation of their projectiles come in the form of these spherical numbers for the new range of fully-automatic blasters in the Rival range. At first glance the colours and design of this new range point at a more grown-up approach and with a travel time of over 60 mph these balls mean business. Distance-wise, 75-80ft every time. The standard blaster comes with a 12 ball barrel, you can, and should buy both extra barrels and plenty of extra balls. In addition to exceptional accuracy in battle shape of the ammo lets you mess about with trick shots against walls and ceilings to reach your target.

Nerf TriStrike

11. Nerf TriStrike

An incredibly customisable weapon

Reasons to buy
+1,000 different loadout combinations
Reasons to avoid
-30-feet max range

The latest arrival on the Nerf scene is an extension to the Modulus category. Multiple tactical rails and accessory sets you can mix and match these blasters into over 1,000 different combinations. This model is able to blast regular Nerf projectiles plus the MEGA ones and also the missile variant, which, with some practice can travel around 30 feet – And your intended target will feel it.

Nerf Zombie Slingfire

12. Nerf Zombie Slingfire

A memorable design with novel loading mechanism

Reasons to buy
+Cowboy underlever loading mechanism
Reasons to avoid
-Six-dart capacity

Released about the same time as series two of the Walking Dead, just before its started to get really dull, yes, just then, the Zombie range of blasters was largely average – with this Nerf gun, the Slingfire, a standout success. It may only have a six-dart capacity magazine but it it the way you flick down the lever to load up your air power that impresses. A modicum of practice and you'll be able to perform this one-handed, and then for hours you'll be doing little else.

Nerf Strongarm

13. Nerf Strongarm

Simply put, one of the best manual Nerf guns on the market

Reasons to buy
+Excellent accuracy+Cheap
Reasons to avoid
-Six rounds is all you get

It is easy to arm up the air chamber at the rear in super-quick succession on the Strongarm, an often overlooked Nerf gun. This is a superb six-dart shooter that is about one of the best in the manual line-up and unleashes with excellent accuracy and achieves impressive distances. An absolute must have in any Nerf arsenal as a back-up blaster for cover. There are also tactical rails atop this one should you decide to accessories with other elements.

Nerf Jolt

14. Nerf Jolt

A Nerf gun that punches well above its weight

Reasons to buy
+Quick to fire+Small and concealable
Reasons to avoid
-Single shot only

This deceptive single-shot, manual-powered blaster is one that you really shouldn't travel anywhere without. A superb quick-fix for when you eye a target on your daily grind for a pot shot and one that can be secreted about your person easily when your opponents are acquiring your arsenal, your last-chance-at-the-saloon-shooter. For a blaster that punches above its weight for both distance and power this one is unsurpassed.

Nerf N-Strike Elite Hyperfire

15. Nerf N-Strike Elite Hyperfire

Simply put, the world's fastest Nerf gun

Reasons to buy
+Fires 5 darts per second+Looks dynamite
Reasons to avoid
-You run dry quick-Not cheap

Looking for the world's fastest manufacturer produced foam dart firing machine? Then the best Nerf gun you can buy is the Hyperfire. Unleashing five darts per second from its 25 dart chamber it'll not take any Carol Vorderman scale academics to figure out you'll be spending plenty of time on the Nerf trail picking up so ensure you've a back-up stash. The deluge of darts it rains upon your target is rapid enough to send them into a mild confusion for a while affording you some extra time to reload.