15 Best New Nerf Guns in 2017 for Your Kid’s Action-Packed Life

Different toys have come and gone, but the toy gun is a perennial favorite. And while there are a lot of toy companies that churn out toy guns, few if any come close to the excitement that the best Nerf guns provide. Through the years, Nerf has manufactured several toy guns, so deciding which one is the best for your kid will be difficult.

Of course anytime anyone talks about toy guns, the question of whether they’re just harmless fun or make kids more aggressive will come up. The debate has been going on for a while, but as I will show here, pretend play with guns actually improve a child’s social skills and cognitive functions. There is also no evidence to suggest playing with toy guns lead to aggression.

We’ll look into that issue later, but for now let’s focus on these guns. Nerf has manufactured a lot of these, but I have narrowed the list down and picked the following. I have played with a lot of toy guns before so I can tell what works and what doesn’t, and the 15 toy guns below should appeal to boys and girls alike.

New Nerf Guns - Best Models Available Right Now

1. N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster

Suitable For: Kids at Least 8 Years Old

The pistol-like Strongarm Blaster has a revolving cylinder that contains Elite darts to shoot the enemy. When fired, the soft tipped darts can travel up to 90 feet. Press and hold the trigger to fire several darts, great for rapid fire action. To reload you just open the cylinder.

What's Great About It: The Blaster comes in different colors, and the rapid fire mechanism is well implemented. While kids are having fun, the child’s reflexes are enhanced as they have to be quick on the trigger. With this weapon, your kid will never be lacking in firepower.

2. Zombie Strike FlipFury Blaster

Suitable For: Kids at Least 8 Years Old

The FlipFury Blaster is equipped with a two cylinder and a rapid fire system, just what a kid needs to battle hordes of zombies. The double cylinders rotate, and each cylinder can shoot up to half a dozen Zombie Strike soft tipped darts. The double barrel approach means it’s going to take a while before you child runs out of darts. But if they do, a quick flip of the cylinder and they can reload.

What's Great About It: The double cylinder is definitely its best feature. It gives your child more darts to shoot, reduces reloading time and just looks cool. The Blaster is particularly good for close zombie combat, making play more enjoyable. This will also improve your child’s cognitive skills and functions.

3. Modulus Tri-Strike

Suitable For: Kids at Least 8 Years Old

Take the basic M4 carbine, give it a dash of color and futuristic design, and you get the Tri-Strike. Living up to its name, kids can use the Tri-Strike in three ways: as the Mega dart blaster, launch missiles or as an Elite dart blaster. Its versatility means children can pretend play in different ways.

Kids need various kinds of weapons to deal with an assortment of threats, including zombies, aliens and other kids. With the Tri-Strike, they can take on the enemy regardless of their form.

What's Great About It: This is a 3-1 toy gun, and that alone increases its playability. Pretend play is all about creativity and the Tri-Strike doesn’t disappoint. Nerf also has upgrade kits for even greater firepower.

​4. Zombie Strike Hammershot Blaster

Suitable For: Kids at Least 8 Years Old

You may call it an oversized pistol or a shotgun, it doesn’t matter as this toy gun means business. Its cylinder carries five Zombie Strike darts, and you can fire the darts one a time or one after the other in rapid action mode. Another thing about the Hammershot it has a well-designed handle, and it evokes the vintage look of classic handguns.

What's Great About It: Kids are going to like this oversized gun and its rapid fire mode makes for very exciting gameplay. If your child is into post-apocalyptic play, they’re going to like the Hammershot. It is easy to use and by the looks alone, will give the enemy the shivers.

​5. N-Strike Mega Series RotoFury Blaster

Suitable For: Kids at Least 8 Years Old

The RotoFury Blaster is a cross between a long gun and a grenade launcher. It has a long barrel and a streamlined cylinder, giving it an imposing appearance. Even though the cylinder looks smaller compared to other guns, it fits 10 darts. Kids can shoot down the enemy one by one or take them down in succession with the Slam Fire action. And yes, its whistling sound after firing is really cool.

What's Great About It: Whether your kid is shooting down zombies or fighting off an alien invasion, the RotoFury Blaster is just what they need. Bright and colorful, it enhances their reflexes, focus and dexterity. For close encounters and long distance fights, this is a great gun and will give them the firepower they need.

​6. N-Strike Elite Rough Cut 2×4 Blaster

Suitable For: Kids at Least 8 Years Old

If your kid needs a powerful toy gun, the 2×4 Blaster is the answer. This double barrel weapon fires a total of eight darts. Pull the trigger and this will blast the darts up to 75 feet. The distance is greater compared to other toy guns, making this a good choice for long range pretend play battles.

Because the Blaster is a double barreled gun, it fires two darts simultaneously, producing greater impact. But if that’s not enough, they can switch to Slam Fire mode and shoot those darts in succession.

What's Great About It: The 2×4 Blaster is a great toy gun, and the double barrel approach adds a lot in terms of impact. If your kid likes to shoot a lot of darts, then they’re going to enjoy the 2×4 Blaster.

7. Zombie Strike Sledgefire Blaster

Suitable For: Kids at Least 8 Years Old

The Sledgefire Blaster is the weapon of choice when it comes to zapping zombies. Stylish and comfortable to use, it is capable of shooting three Zombie Strike darts simultaneously. It is also equipped with a cartridge holder for quick loading. With its unique look and power, no zombie is safe.

What's Great About It: The Sledgefire Blaster is a colorful and fun toy gun. No doubt the highlight for kids will be its ability to fire three darts. When there is more than one zombie coming after them, then they’re going to like the Sledgefire as it enhances their cognitive skills. Their socializing should improve too as other kids will want to take a look at this gun.

​8. N-Strike Elite Stryfe Blaster

Suitable For: Kids at Least 6 Years Old

The Stryfe Blaster is a cool looking toy gun that eliminates the need for dart reloading. The Stryfe is equipped with a magazine clip which feeds 10 darts in its chamber. The Stryfe can shoot up to 75 feet away, making it ideal for long range shooting as well as close quarter play.

Apart from the chamber, the Stryfe comes with the Nerf Tactical Rail System which allows your kid to attach several attachments, making the blaster more powerful. The Stryfe Acceleration Trigger lets you fire like a semi-automatic, great for intense playing.

What's Great About It: The customizability is the biggest attraction of the Stryfe, at it lets your kid play in different ways. Bottom line: the Stryfe gives your child the perfect opportunity to play out their fantasies and take out zombies and aliens.

​9. N-Strike Elite Retaliator

Suitable For: Kids at Least 6 Years Old

The Retaliator is like a souped-up AK 47, but it’s more colorful and designed for kids. Cool design aside, the Retaliator’s components can be removed or interchanged to give it different setups and looks. Special missions require different approaches, so it’s good to know you can attach or remove the assault grip, barrel and stock. No doubt about it, the Retaliator is the weapon of choice for an all out assault.

What's Great About It: Being able to configure its appearance is the best thing about the Retaliator. For kids it means greater flexibility and customization, but more than that it unleashes their creativity whenever they adjust the weapon. The more they tinker with the weapon, their imagination is stimulated. All of this leads to better cognitive functions.

​10. Zombie Strike Doominator Blaster

Suitable For: Kids at Least 8 Years Old

Inspired by the Mikor MGL, the aptly named Doominator spells doom for any zombie that stands in your kid’s way. Equipped with four rotating dart cylinders, each one holds half a dozen Zombie Strike Darts. That is 24 darts, double the capacity of other zombie guns.

The Doominator is a lot of fun to play with, and a kid can quickly slide the assault handle by the barrel. With this approach, expect more accurate results when shooting those zombies. Packed with lots of darts and battle ready green color, the Doominator means business.

What's Great About It: The 24 dart capacity is the biggest attraction here and deservedly so. The weapon is a lot of fun and stimulates a child’s mind during play. Playing with the Doominator also boosts their psychomotor and cognitive development.

​11. N-Strike Mega Centurion

Suitable For: Kids at Least 6 Years Old

Its sleek design is inspired by real sniper firearms, but is colorful design makes it clear the Mega Centurion is for kids. The easily accessible magazine clip holds up to half a dozen Mega darts. Pull the trigger on the Mega Centurion fires the darts up to a hundred feet out. Just like a real sniper, it comes with a tripod for more accurate shooting.

What's Great About It: What I like about the Mega Centurion is that it gives your kid the chance to play as a marksman. You can use it for an all-out assault sure, but if your kid wants to be more discreet when taking down zombies, the Mega Centurion is a good choice. This is the weapon for aspiring snipers.

12. N-Strike Elite Triad EX-3 Blaster

Suitable For: Kids at Least 8 Years Old

The EX-3 Blaster is for those kids who prefer a small weapon while taking out the enemy. Molded after 9 mm guns, the EX-3 Blaster blasts three darts. Unlike other weapons, the EX-3 comes with special smart technology, enabling kids to quickly learn which of the barrels has darts. Once you fire the EX-3 Blaster, the dart will fly up to 75 feet.

What's Great About It: The EX-3 Blaster is smaller than other guns, but that’s one of the things that make it attractive for kids. It is small enough to fit in a child’s hand, and it’s ideal for secret missions that require more stealth than firepower. Because it has a limited number of darts, a child must be creative.

​13. N-Strike Elite Rampage Blaster

Suitable For: Kids at Least 8 Years Old

The Rampage Blaster is well-named as it’s the kind of gun kids need when there are waves and waves of enemies. Style wise the gun is reminiscent of the machine guns used in the 1920s, but this is more colorful.

Built for difficult missions, the Rampage Blaster carries up to 25 Elite darts, ensuring your child has enough ammo. The gun fires each dart up to 75 feet away. If your kid is suddenly faced with a lot of enemies, just turn on the Slam Fire mode and shoot those darts one after the other.

What's Great About It: Aside from the features I have already mentioned here, I also have to add that you can expand the Rampage’s features with the Clip System blasters. Whether you expand it or not, there’s more than enough here to satisfy a child’s need for powerful zombie stopping gun.

​14. Rival Apollo XV-700

Suitable For: Kids at Least 14 Years Old

The XV-700 takes a different approach compared to the other Nerf guns. Rather than usual darts, the gun fires seven yellow balls. These may look like small tennis balls from afar, but they carry a lot of force. Built for competition, the XV-700 has a velocity of 100 feet per second or 30 m per second.

This only goes to show that the XV-700 is a serious weapon for head to head battles among older kids. The XV-700 even has a more powerful version, the MXV-1200, but as it is, the XV-700 is powerful enough.

What's Great About It: The XV-700 is very customizable, and it packs the power that you’d expect from a quality Nerf gun. If you have an older child / young teen, the XV-700 will build up their confidence, hand eye coordination and cognitive skills.

​15. N-Strike Elite Rhino Fire Blaster

Suitable For: Kids at Least 8 Years Old

What child doesn’t dream of having a machine gun to shoot the bad guys? Well, the Fire Blaster is a kid’s dream come true. It looks impressive and certainly is with its double drums / cylinders, each with a capacity of 25 Elite darts. That is a total of 50 darts that your child can use to fight off whatever threat is at hand.

Once your kid presses the trigger, the Fire Blaster goes off and shoots the enemy. If surrounded by enemy forces, turn on the Slam Fire mode and the gun will keep firing. Clearly this is the kind of weapon your kid will use for important missions.

What's Great About It: For sheer firepower the Fire Blaster is just hard to beat. There’s nothing quite like seeing those Elite Darts fire one after the other. When it comes to fun and action, the Fire Blaster is the kind of toy gun that will unleash a child’s creativity and imagination.

Our Criteria for Picking the Top Nerf Guns

Deciding which of the many Nerf guns to include in this list wasn’t easy. To find the best ones, I made the decision based on the following guidelines.

  • Design: I only picked the guns that looked good. As the reviews show Nerf guns here are modeled after real firearms, adding to the realism while still being safe and kid friendly.
  • Durability: all the toy guns in reviewed her are built to last.
  • Benefits: Nerf guns are for fun, but they’re more than that. All the toy guns here also improve a child’s cognitive functions, social skills, psychomotor functions and problem solving. As they play with these weapons, their imagination and creativity are unleashed as well.
  • Ease of Use: this one doesn’t need a long explanation, as all of these toy guns are easy to fire and reload.
  • Versatility: I only chose those that allow kids to play in different ways, i.e. multiple shooting modes.
  • Feedback: all 15 Nerf guns here have received positive reviews.

How Pretend Play Benefits Kids

As I have mentioned earlier, the subject of toy guns is a controversial one, and every now and then the issue of whether they’re just toys or tools for violence will come up. There are parents who won’t let their kids play with guns, believing they are going to make the child more aggressive and prone to violence.

On the other hand there are those who say that pretend play with toy weapons is actually good for children. The argument is that these games stimulate the child’s imagination and creativity.

The idea of toy guns leading to violent behavior is widespread, but there is no scientific evidence to support this assertion. In fact, pretend play is good for kids as it builds up their confidence and imagination. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits that kids get when they play with toy guns.

When kids play with toy guns, they aren’t just shooting at each other. They are exercising their imagination, i.e. imagining they are shooting zombies, aliens and super villains. This is no different from adults who engage in RPG board games or video games.

Kids learn to think on their feet and strategize. They learn how to avoid getting hit by other players and also how to resolve problems. Kids also learn how to formulate scenarios in their mind and look for the best possible outcome. As they try and figure out the best way to succeed in the game, they develop critical thinking skills.

Rather than sit still, pretend play with guns encourages children to be more physically active. Kids also get to spend more time with other children. To put it another way, children who play with toy guns get to hone a lot of skills. And there is no link to prove that playing with toy guns affects their adult behavior in a negative way.

Safety Guidelines When Playing with Nerf Guns

Nerf guns are built with safety features so kids won’t get hurt playing. Read the user guide and follow all the safety precautions that are stated. In addition, you should remember the following.

  • Buy Only Kid Friendly Toy Guns: Nerf guns are brightly colored and no one will mistake them for the real thing. Safety factor aside, the fact that the guns don’t look real allows the child to use his/her imagination.
  • Talk to Your Child about the Purpose of Toy Guns: explain that Nerf toy guns are just that, toys. They must know these are only for play.
  • Let Them Play: as a parent you have to understand that kids playing guns is about letting them live out their fantasies and not about being violent.
  • Young kids who are playing with toys guns for the first time should be monitored. Don’t get in the way of playing – let the child explore – but do keep an eye on what they’re doing. Make sure they observe and follow the limits, i.e. can only play for a certain number of hours.
  • Keep Playing Time Under Control: this applies not just to guns but playing in general. Set the rules so your kid can only play after finishing their meals or doing their homework. Make sure your child understands and that not following the rules means they can’t play with their toy guns.
  • Play with Your Kid: Nerf guns may be marketed for kids, but even adults will find them a lot of fun. Go a few rounds with your kid or practice shooting with it. You can shoot anything from paper targets to jars, and it’s a great way to hone your skills if you shoot guns.
  • Use the Opportunity to Talk about Gun Safety: explain to the child the difference between toy and real guns. Explain that owning and using a real gun is dangerous and entails responsibilities. Children are smarter than we often give them credit for, and they won’t have trouble understanding what you’re trying to say.

Kids and Toy Guns – Good or Bad?

And this brings us to the matter of toy guns and whether they’re good for children or not. Just to set the record straight, I believe that parents have to be responsible and explain to their kids what toy guns are (which was explained in the section above). Even though they’re not real guns, parents should explain to kids that toy guns should only be used in pretend play.

So, do toy guns trigger or implant violent urges and tendencies in kids? Far from it: in fact there is no conclusive evidence linking the two together. There is no large scale study to prove violent adults acquired this behavior by playing with toy guns during childhood.

Many kids who played with toy guns have proven themselves outstanding members of the community. On the other hand, many people who have committed violent crimes never played with toy guns regularly.

This does not mean everyone who plays with toy guns will grow up to be law abiding citizens. And there will always be parents who are going to be wary of letting their kids play with toy guns. There is nothing wrong with that because they have the final say on the growth and development of their children. The point however, is that it’s incorrect to blame toy guns whenever there’s a shooting or violent crime committed.

Before answering that question, it should be pointed out that child experts and toy manufacturers agree that boys are drawn to toy guns than girls. Parents don’t any statistics to know this is true. Everywhere you see boys playing with toy guns, action figures and the like with dolls. This isn’t always the case of course as there are some girls who like to play with toy guns.

So why do children like to play with toy guns? Researchers believe it could have something to do with our built in hunting genes, and they may be right. But whatever the reason may be, the evidence shows that toy guns are actually helpful.

Let us take a look at the evidence:

  • A study conducted by University of Case Western Reserve child psychologist Sandra Russ and Karla Fehr show that the more aggressive kids are in pretend play, the less aggression is displayed with other schoolchildren. The study suggests that playing with toy guns helps kids control their emotions and impulses.
  • Child experts Jennifer Hart and Michelle Tannock also conducted a study and state that make believe, role playing and fantasy play helps children develop social skills.
  • Child experts agree that play is important for children. It fosters physical growth and development. Through playing, kids learn to explore and interact with other people.

A Closer Look at the Benefits of Toy Guns

The benefits include physical growth and development, improved psychomotor skills and hand eye coordination. Their ability to interact and spatial intelligence also benefit from this. Let’s examine these benefits a little more closely.

  • Exercise: kids today spend hours sitting in front of the computer playing video games, and that’s not healthy. Toy guns encourage kids to go out and play with other kids, leading to greater physical activity and exercise.
  • Better Cognitive Skills: whether they’re playing a Jedi, G.I Joe or other characters, a child learns how to make use of their cognitive functions. Role playing means children try to imitate the actions and mannerisms of their favorite character, and this is good for personal development.
  • Becoming Creative: role playing also encourages kids to think on their own. They develop stories and scenarios. They also take their character persona into new directions. In terms of creativity, it is the same as when children paint or draw.
  • Better Interaction with Kids: rather than sit alone in their room playing video games, toy guns gives kids the opportunity to play with other children. Together they learn the value of cooperative play.
  • Learning to Communicate: kids become better at communicating. They also learn the value of listening to others. Whether they’re killing zombies or hunting down aliens, the scenarios will encourage them to listen and to engage other kids. They also learn how to formulate new concepts while playing.
  • Improved Concentration: kids have a short attention span, but toy guns have a way of keeping them interested. As their games progress, the child will add other elements to the game, new rules, characters, situations etc. This requires them to pay more attention
  • Improvising and Creating: toy guns come with a lot of accessories. They can also be configured in different ways, allowing for varied gameplay. Watch a bunch of kids play and you’ll be amazed at how they’re able to use various objects and props for their games.

The Toy Gun as a Tool for Child Development

Toy guns and child development seem like two phrases that don’t belong together. But as we have shown here, toys guns and imaginative play are instrumental in a child’s growth. Parents need to look beyond the “shooting” and focus on the benefits that they provide.

I have already pointed out the many benefits above, but your child stands to gain a lot more. If you’re a parent, it’s normal to be concerned about the possible side effects of letting a child play with toy weapons. But once you look into the facts, the evidence in its favor is strong.

Of all the benefits that toy guns bring, social and emotional development is the most surprising. A detailed assessment of the facts will show this should actually be expected.

Toy gun games revolve around the basic good guy vs. bad guy concept. One child plays hero and the other the villain. Before the game begins, the rules are laid down and play commences. It sounds simple and childlike enough, but a lot of things are actually happening.

Before and during the game, kids learn the value of camaraderie, discipline and teamwork. Contrary to what some believe, toy guns aren’t just about shooting zombies or aliens left and right. Kids’ games can quite complex and follow specific rules. What this means is kids learn how to control their aggression and emotions.

How does a toy gun help a child control their emotion? It has to do with the rules of the game. Kids know that to win the game, they must follow the guidelines. By simply playing the game, a child learns the value of self-discipline. This in a way explains the findings of child experts that toy guns teach children how to control aggression.

Experts have also pointed out that playing with toy guns stimulates processing of information in the brain. This is an integral part of a child’s development, and yes, playing with toy guns helps.

When we watch kids play with their Nerf gun, we just see them seemingly shooting at random. But something else is going on: when a child shoots at an imaginary target, he/she takes aim, gauges the distance and shoots. Their brain has to process this information. Their brain also processes the obstacles that must be overcome to hit the target, be wary of other shooters and so on.

These are complex situations that stimulate brain activity. All that strategic thinking is good for the brain and a child’s intellectual development. The benefits of physical play for the body are well known. However, make believe also stimulates their problem solving capabilities, improves critical thinking, reasoning and general thinking.

The act of shooting alone does a lot of good as well. Kids have to concentrate and aim, and in many cases they have to pick their spots and not just fire wildly. Aside from improving their ability to concentrate, shooting also increases their attention span.

Experts have also noted the following areas improve when kids play with toy guns.

  • Kids learn how to strategize: most kids’ games involve the use of secret codes so the enemy doesn’t find out about their plans. This sounds like something all kids do, but it is part of their strategic thinking. As they grow older, the skills they gained from strategizing can carry on.
  • Better Overall Health: watch how kids play with Nerf guns and you’ll see how active they are. Lots of running around, ducking for cover, jumping, crawling and trying to avoid obstacles. This is the kind of activity that builds muscles, increases stamina and flexibility.
  • Toy guns also encourage kids to play outdoors, which is always a good thing. It’s not good for kids – for anyone actually – to spend all their time in a room playing video games. Kids need to go outside, breathe some fresh air and enjoy the sun. The benefits won’t be apparent overnight, but give it a few weeks and you’ll see how stronger they become.
  • Another area where kids will benefit is improved reflexes. All that running, aiming and trying not to get hit improves their reaction time and perception.

Where to Buy

This is a matter of personal preference. Nerf guns are very popular so you’ll find them in toy stores, both online and brick and mortar. However, it is more convenient to buy online as they have a larger inventory. It’s also easier as you’re just a few points and clicks away.

Buy only from reputable retailers so you can return the product and get a refund if there’s a problem. If you want to see what other Nerf guns are available online, there is no shortage of stores that you can browse. Read the product description and also customer reviews to get an idea of what people think about them.

About Nerf

Nerf was founded in 1969, and it is now a subsidiary of Hasbro. It is the leading brand in toy weaponry with revenues of $400 million annually. While the company makes a lot of toys including basketballs and footballs, it is their foam based toy guns that have made the company a household name.

Back in 1969, Nerf developed their classic polyurethane foam ball, and it became a hit as it was light and bouncy, yet made of soft material that kept windows safe. As the years went by, Nerf would develop other products, including toy weaponry.

In 2013, the company launched the Nerf Rebelle line, toy weaponry aimed at girls. From manufacturing sports balls, Nerf has expanded operations and now makes some of the world’s most popular toy weaponry. Among their most popular products are:

  • Sports: Nerf makes several foam balls for football, basketball, volleyball, soccer and others.
  • Nerf Dog: the Nerf Dog line consists of several retrieval toys for dogs.
  • Super Soakers: these constitute the company’s water guns. Not surprisingly, these are among Nerf’s most popular products.
  • Blasters: these are the bestselling toy weapons from Nerf. The line includes the Zombie Strike, the Rebelle, Vortex, N-Strike and N-Strike Elite. These toy weapons have different features, but they do share some common characteristics such as suction tipped darts. Most of them also have a rapid fire mode.
  • N-Force: these consist of melee weapons, swords, katana and others. They even have Snake Eyes’ sword and Thor’s hammer.
  • Video Games: Nerf offers a wide range of video games like the Nerf N Strike. Their games are available in a variety of platforms and video consoles.
  • Lazer Tags: their Lazer Tags have been around since the 1980s, and they are as popular as ever.

Conclusion

Nerf has developed a solid reputation when it comes to making toy guns, and it is well deserved. Hopefully with this guide you’ll now have an easier time deciding which one to buy for your child.

    Sandra Cobain
     

    Mum of two. Child psychologist. Ardent admirer of art, crafts and cooking. She is the head of content for BestForTheKids. When she's not busy crafting posts & researching about compelling content ideas, she can be spotted playing outdoors with her two adorable children.

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