After having 2 girls I was excited to get a boy . . . cute little blue and red outfits, balls, trucks . . . . and wait, guns? Who knew that little boys are so drawn to guns? And who knew that my sweet, little, dressed in pink girls would love dart guns so much?
I don’t know if you have ever had the chance to be in a dart gun war with your kids, but I am telling you that it is fun! I highly recommend trying it. Or it is just as exciting to see who can hit the target the most. Blaster guns are just fun!
Are Nerf guns or their alternatives expensive?
If you have already looked at Nerf guns, don’t let the price deter you. There are a lot of great, affordable alternatives. While the ‘Nerf’ brand is about as recognized as Lego, Hot Wheels, and Barbie, there are a lot other non-Nerf guns out there. And a lot of them are just as good and for a better price. And who wants to pay more than they have to? You will have just as much fun pinging your kids with foam ammo fired from any name brand guns!
It’s a good idea to have an idea of what you are looking for before you shop. A Nerf war might not be what you are looking for – maybe it’s more of a sneak attack 0r maybe it will be used for target shooting. Whatever your reason, here are some of the things to think about before you buy.
10 Great Alternate Blaster Guns
|Pros / Cons
| Go Sports Blaster
|Banvih Blaster Guns
|POKONBOY Blaster Guns
|USA Toyz Astroshot Gyro Glow
|Automatic Power Popper
|SnowCinda Dart Blaster
|Holiky Automatic Toy Gun
|Dinosaur Blaster Gun
|X TOYZ Automatic Toy Gun
|X TOYZ Blast Popper
1. GoSports Foam Fire Blaster
I love that this comes with 2 blasters (much more fun to play with someone!) and 40 foam balls (20 green and 20 orange)! And it’s a good option for younger kids; a 3-year-old could use this one. These blasters work on air pressure. You fill the balls at the top and then slide the tubes back and forth until one clogs the end and the pressure pushes it out. The foam balls are soft enough that they don’t hurt at all.
One of the best things about this is that there are 2 different colors of balls. Kids love to make up games to see who is better at shooting at targets or into baskets. The balls are pretty light so make sure the cans are empty. And I highly recommend to get an extra pack of balls. Trust me, the kids will want them.
- 2 blasters
- Doesn’t look like a gun
- Breakable if dropped
2. Banvih Blaster Guns
This is a great option if you are looking for 2 guns. This pack comes with the 2 blasters, 60 darts, and 2 wrist bands that store the bullets. It is easy enough for a 5-year-old to load the darts, pull back, and shoot (of course with such young kids we recommend adult supervision). You can load 3 darts into the gun, which is a great feature to have if you are needing to fire quickly.
The wrist bands that come with the Blaster Guns are great! This brings an element of coolness to the game. Your kids will love the easy access they have to darts–none of that “Time out! I need more darts” right off the bat. The darts are soft and go pretty far, about 40 feet.
I also am a big fan of the darts . . . because they are universal! They literally can be used in any dart gun and any dart can be used in these. It saves the hassle of trying to sort which darts go with which guns.
I always appreciate it when a company offers 100% satisfaction. This company stands behind their product and promises to contact you within 24 hours. I think it says a lot about a product.
- 2 blasters
- 60 darts
- Darts go 40 feet
- Can only load 3 darts at a time
3. POKONBOY Blaster Guns
These POKONBOY Blaster Guns are recommended for kids 5 and older. However, 4-year-olds (at least those with older siblings are playing with Nerf guns and really, really want to play too) will be able to play with these. These guns are easy to shoot, just load and pull back.
The package comes with 2 guns, 60 universal darts, and 2 wristbands (really, I can’t say enough about the wrist bands some dart guns have!). The guns themselves are light but durable, making them easy to carry. The darts are soft and harmless (of course, don’t shoot at someone’s eyes – that could really hurt!) but will fly about 40 feet. I love these little guys; they are perfect for a sneak attack.
- 2 blasters
- Wristband to store darts
- Easy loading
- Only holds 1 dart at a time
4. USA Toyz Astroshot Gyro Glow
This is one of the coolest guns! It glows in the dark! It has moving obstacles! It has music! This game set has it all. If you are looking for a target shooting game, look no further.
It comes with 2 gun blasters, 2 rotating target obstacles, 14 knock down targets, 24 darts, and 2 dart holders. Here is the basic run down. Players load their gun with 1 dart at a time, cock, aim, try to get past the rotating obstacles, and knock down all of the targets.
There is a 12-dart clip that attaches to the blaster so you can reload darts pretty fast. Lots of fun to play solo or see who is fastest. Play to the sound of galactic music . . . or not. There are so many ways to play with this!
- Glows in the dark
- 2 blasters
- 24 darts
- Target shooting game
- Requires batteries
5. Automatic Power Popper
The name of this toy gun says it all . . . it’s a Popper! It is easy to use, just load, pump, and shoot. The only thing is the quicker you pump, the faster and further the balls shoot. This Power Popper comes with 12 foam balls, which are soft and can shoot up to 20 feet. Since it is easy to load and shoot, a young kid use it. It’s a great activity for inside on a rainy day or outside on a nice one.
The Popper was developed by Hog Wild Toys, which is an interesting company. They are not into competitive games, their products are geared toward older kids (8+) and into adults.
- Shoots 12 balls with one loading
- Not too powerful
- Ideal for indoor play
- Cats and dogs tend to chase the balls (is this really a con???)
6. SnowCinda Dart Blaster
This is a great option for older kids. Get this. It has 3 shooting modes. There is a single shot, 3 bursts, and multiple bursts. The trigger is pressed just once for each of these modes. It has great accuracy and it can shoot up to 35 feet.
Oh, and did I mention it comes with 100 darts? Wow! 50 of them have suction cups and are 50 normal ones. The darts are soft but pack a little bit of a punch, so be sure not to aim above the neck! They also stick well to smooth surfaces.
This a great toy gun to have in a Nerf war because it has a removable bullet clip that holds 12 darts, allowing you to reload pretty fast. It comes with a rechargeable battery, which takes 3-4 hours to charge so make sure to give it time. Each charge will last about 6 hours of play. It does make a humming sound when you are using it, but the laughter and screams will drown out that noise easily. A very cool gun!
- 3 auto shooting modes
- 100 darts
- USB rechargeable battery
- 12 dart magazine
- Can jam easily
- Can be Loud
7. Holiky Automatic Toy Gun
This gun has 3 different modes: single shot, 3 bursts, and multiple bursts. The continuous shooting saves time and allows for more shooting fun. It is a fast-firing, easy to reload blaster that is great for speed and mobility. But it is also a great long distance shooter, which is something fun to show off while dominating friends and family in a Capture the Flag game.
It is really easy to use. Just load the darts into the barrels (12 at one time) and then insert the barrels into the blaster. Then pull the trigger.
This off-brand Nerf gun has a removable stock that helps steady the shot. It comes with 100 bullets! They are soft and harmless. And they have a suction cup that sticks quite well on any smooth surface.
This is one of the few dart guns that has a very detailed manual, which is very helpful in learning all the secrets of the toy. It runs on a reusable battery and has a USB for charging it. The battery lasts for a long time, which is good because that means more playing time.
- 3 shooting modes
- 10 darts
- Continuous shooting
- 12 dart barrel
- Rechargeable Battery
- Motor noise
8. Dinosaur Blaster Gun
This Nerf gun knock-off would be a big hit with kids who are 3 – 6 years old. For one, it’s a dinosaur and the only thing better than shooting a dart gun at this age is shooting a dart gun that looks like a dinosaur. The grips are meant for small hands and so are easy to hold and simple to use, just pull back the slide on the bottom.
It comes with a set of 2 cool dinosaurs, a T-rex and a Triceratop. The 20 darts are made of a soft foam so no one gets hurt. The darts are loaded into the mouth and shot out the mouth. Is it just me or is that too cute? This toy is sure to spark the imagination and spark hours of play.
- Dinosaur theme
- Set of 2
- 20 darts
- Can be difficult for young kids to reload
9. X TOYZ Automatic Toy Gun
This blaster comes with 6 kinds of assembly accessories and includes a sight, which really helps in aiming for a target. The accessories are easy to put on and to take off, which makes it feel like a new toy. It comes with 30 soft darts made of foam so no one will get hurt. The magazine clip holds 10 darts. When you fire those 10 darts they will go whizzing by at lighting speed.
This inexpensive Nerf gun is powered by batteries (4 AA) but boy, those darts fly up to 66 feet! If you only want to fire one dart at a time, you hold down the acceleration button and pull the trigger, as simple as that. The butt of the gun is moveable or you can remove it completely.
A pretty cool feature of this gun is that the parts are compatible with other Nerf guns so you can customize it to your needs. If you already have several dart guns this is a great option because of this feature. This is the perfect choice for a 10-year-old.
- 10 dart- capacity clip
- Great accessories
- Uses AA batteries
- Need to unscrew the battery door
10. X TOYZ Blast Popper
This comes with 2 air shooting guns, 24 soft foam balls (12 orange and 12 blue), and 6 targets. There is no need for batteries because you actually pump the gun and when the air builds up out pops a ball out. You can fire one or load the gun up with all 12 for some rapid fire.
The targets can be used to build an obstacle course around your house (maybe even add some targets of your own . . . boxes, cutouts, etc.). Set a timer to see who is the fastest with the most accurate shots–so much better than screen time!
I love that these are easy for younger kids to use. It’s easy to load the balls into the gun, and it doesn’t take a lot of power to pump the gun and shoot. Kids also love the targets because it helps with coordination and they really are competing against themselves. But maybe most of all, I love that the balls are so easy to find and collect.
- 2 guns
- 2 colors of balls
- No batteries
- Good for target practicing
- Not very strong
Things to Consider When Buying a Nerf Gun:
Age. This is the single most important consideration. While most dart guns will suggest a general age range (4 and up or 8 and up), some will require a little more help for younger kids. And while older kids might be more into target shooting or war game, younger kids might need more supervision. The most fun activities and games are those where no tears are shed.
Size/weight. It might seem obvious that a lighter gun is easier for a smaller kids, but your teenager might want a lighter option as well so that he can run with it.
Dart capacity. Guns that come with 1 dart capacity would be great for target shooting or for a little one, but you would want one with more darts if you were playing a game.
Rate of fire. Some dart guns fire in rapid succession which is great is your shooting multiple targets or playing a game.
Onboard storage. The last thing you will want to do (or have time to do) is stop and reload the darts if you are in the middle of a game.
Ease of loading. If you have little ones, try to get one that he can load by himself. Trust me, you don’t want to be loading and reloading a dart gun!
Number of darts. There is only 1 thing to remember here and that is you can NEVER have too many darts! Really, where do they all go? Seriously, though, a dart gun that uses universal darts is a smart buy because then you can use any dart.
Why I like blaster guns
One of the things I like most about Nerf guns is the chance it gives to get all of the family moving. I don’t know about you, but we sit in front of screens too much at my house. This is a fun activity that is hard to say no to . . . even for those who love their gaming.
It seems like I went from running to keep up with a 2 year-old to prodding the same kid to turn off the TV! The CDC actually recommends 3-5 year-olds to be physically active throughout the day because it helps in their development. They also recommend that 6-17 year-olds participate in 1 hour of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity every day.
I know this can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Start by taking just small steps like giving gifts that encourages activity – like dart guns! The next step is to ask if you can join in a game; your positive example will make a difference.
Of course there are other things you can do like parks and walks, but you already know what your kids would like. Maybe you are looking for something new (which is why you are reading this article!) and if you are . . . seriously, dart guns are fun for kids and adults.
There is a lot of discussion about letting kids play with toy guns and I certainly understand the hesitancy. My personal view is that the benefits outweigh the risks. I think it is a great opportunity to talk about guns and gun safety with your kids. I also think it is a great way to spend some fun time together, which can strengthen relationships with not only parents but also siblings.
And honestly, I also think it is a fun way to encourage activity. Kids love seeing their parents try to not get hit by darts! Some of my favorite memories are family activities where we laugh and play together, and that includes family football and soccer games, board games, dart gun fights and contests, and capture the flag. And then the games they play with friends . . . just so much fun!