Before we had kids, we decided they wouldn’t play with toy guns. However, they were exposed to toy guns early on by their cousins and that was the end of that. Our son would use whatever toy he had and pretend it was a gun. One of his first gifts was a toy gun from an aunt and uncle. You know the type I’m talking about–the obnoxiously loud flashing gun. It’s the kind of toy you would never get for your own child, but you get satisfaction giving to someone else’s kid and knowing they will drive their parents crazy with it.
After that delightful experience we broke down and bought a Nerf gun. It’s much less annoying and can actually be fun for parents to play with their kids. Now that our kids are getting older, we like toys that get them off electronic devices and give them some good exercise. Our kids love to pick up Nerf guns or Super Soakers and chase each other and their friends around with them. Studies show 3 out of 4 kids ages 5 to 10 do not get enough exercise. Playing with Nerf guns is a fun and easy way to get kids moving. If you are looking for a blaster for your child, here are some things you might want to keep in mind.
How to Choose a Nerf Gun for Toddlers to Kids Ages 5 or 6
- Weight. Lightweight Nerf guns are easier for small kids to handle. Young children may have a difficult time carrying the heavier automatic options.
- Ease of loading. Guns that are easy to load are ideal. If your kids can’t load it, then you have to do it.
- Aftermarket or genuine Nerf bullets. Aftermarket darts are cheaper but often times have heavier and harder tips. This is fun for adults as it helps them go farther, but they’re probably not the best for a toddler or young child.
- Dart quantity. Buy extra darts. Our kids tend to lose, chew on, or find some way of destroying them regularly.
- Theme. Kids love themed dart guns. Some of the more popular themed options are Fortnite, Overwatch, Marvel, and Star Wars.
- Price. Everything has a budget. Some of these Nerf Guns are as inexpensive as $5 and some can be hundreds of dollars.
17 Good Budget Nerf Guns for Young Kids in 2021
|Model||Pros / Cons|
|Nerf Strongarm Blaster|
|Nerf MicroShot Blaster|
|N-Strike Elite SurgeFire|
|Fortnite TS-1 Blaster|
|Nerf Fortnite Sp-L|
|Web Shots Spiderbolt|
|NERF Fortnite AR-L |
|Nerf StratoBow Bow|
|Nerf Elite Jolt Blaster|
| Infinus Motorized Blaster|
|Nerf Triad Ex-3 Blaster|
|Longstrike Nerf Modulus|
|Nerf Rival Helios|
|Nerf Rebelle Red Blaster|
|Nerf D.Va Rival Blaster||Pros:|
1. N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster
In terms of accuracy and power, it’s pretty good as well. I wouldn’t put it as accurate as some of the options below; however, it’s still really good. For power, the darts go up to 90 feet. This is a great blaster for a 5-year-old.
For kids, this is a great one. My toddler can load it and fire without a problem. I also love the 3 new color options. Personally I prefer the clear one, but my daughter prefers the purple. Both boys and girls alike can find a Nerf gun they want.
Overall, the Strongarm Blaster is a good option for kids and nearly as cheap as any of the other options below, which is definitely a plus for our big family.
2. Nerf MicroShot Blaster
The Nerf MicroShot is our recommended choice for the best Nerf Blaster for a toddler to a 4-year-old. This gun has so many new styles that no matter what character or movie your child likes, there a is a blaster your child will love. I’m a little partial to the Star Wars guns, but my 9-year-old son prefers the new Fortnite and Marvel MicroShot guns.
These guns are really easy to load and have a simple trigger mechanism that allows kids to run around and chase each other. MicroShot comes in over 10 different styles. Fortnite varieties were first available in 2019 and since then many more have been added. Most kids will prefer to have another Nerf blaster as their main gun, but the MicroShot makes a great backup. This is also stores well in a belt or a tactical vest.
These blasters fire just one dart at a time and use the elite darts, or in other words fires a basic shot. They weigh less than half a pound each so even a toddler can use it.
3. N-Strike Elite SurgeFire
The great part about quickfire is that even when your opponent is dodging you can actively move the darts. On the other hand, rapid fire isn’t always the greatest thing for little kids. When they’re done firing they’ll be chasing you down to either fill it back up or taking a long time doing it themselves.
Still, my kids scream in excitement every time they pull the trigger on the SurgeFire. Unloading 15 darts in such a short time period is always a ton of fun. The SurgeFire is one of the lighter guns that Nerf makes that fires this many bullets at a time. This blaster gun is great for an 8-year-old and will make an excellent Christmas or birthday present.
4. Fortnite TS-1 Blaster & Llama Targets
The Nerf Fortnite TS-1 Blaster is another perfect Fortnite Nerf gun for your tweens to love. The TS-1 came out in 2019. It is easy to fire by simply moving the pump action back and forth. This blaster is part of the mega family of Nerf guns, firing the larger whistling Mega Nerf bullets. It can shoot farther than many other Nerf guns.
This gun comes with a moderate amount of Nerf darts and you can fire 4 darts in a row by using the hand pump. Like many of the Fortnite guns, the best part of the gun is the fact that the gun looks so authentic. Your kids will love going around shooting each other with a gun that looks like it is straight out of the video game.
This gun has a great balance of functioning well while still holding the almost cartoonish look the video game guns have. With some great red, orange, black, and white colors your son or daughter will love to get their hands on this one. One downside of this Nerf gun is it can be difficult to clear jams. Overall, this gun is a lot of fun and your kids will love it!
5. Fortnite Sp-L Elite Dart Blaster
If your kids are like mine they love the blaster game Fortnite. This Sp-L blaster inspired by the game would be loved by your 6-year-old. I absolutely love the silencer and look and feel of this Nerf gun and so will your kid. Your kids will love how light and easy this gun is to use.
The barrel on the Sp-L is detachable and can even be put on other Nerf guns. To load the gun simply place three Nerf Elite carts in the cartridge from above. The blaster can shoot slightly longer distances if the barrel is attached, but your younger kids may prefer the ease of using the Fortnite Sp-L without it.
6 darts are included with this gun. Others may have more ammo, but this gun is a lot of fun to use. With the internal clip, 3 darts can be fired one after the other. In order to fire more you will just need to load the gun again. Your kids will love to play Fortnite in real life with this great looking gun that is sure to make any kid excited.
6. Spider-Man Web Shots Spiderbolt
Kids everywhere love Peter Parker, and they love Spider-Man even more. With this fun Spider-Man inspired web blaster your kids can have hours of enjoyment. Who hasn’t wanted to whip your wrist around and fire super spidey webs out of your fingers?
This crossbow gun won’t let you fire webs, but with its classic blue and red color and bow shape, it will provide your little one tons of fun taking down bad guys as your neighborhood Spider-Man. Spider-Man fanatics will love this blaster.
The Spiderbolt comes with 3 Nerf darts. It has an easy to use firing mechanism; even young kids can pull back the handle and push the Spiderbolt to fire a web Nerf bullet. This gun is recommended for kids ages 5 years old and older, but I think a 3-year-old could press the firing button on this gun. For a little more fun, this gun is compatible with web shots gear allowing you to add some spidey flare to your Nerf gun.
7. Chewbacca Blaster
Raaaawwwwwgggg, I can distinctly hear Chewbacca’s growl as he fires upon enemies in the Star Wars Movie Series. This blaster brings to life a combination of an old Star Wars character and brand new Nerf technology with a little flair. This gun is brand new for 2020. The Chewbacca blaster is similar to some of the other blasters Nerf has made, with a pump action and a long barrel.
This new blaster has what Nerf calls Glowstrike Technology. It combines glow and the dark Nerf darts with laser lights. Just to make things more exciting, this gun has some great sound effects, too. With a great looking futuristic scope and a sleek look your child is going to love chasing their friends around with this gun.
The Chewbacca blasster can fire two bullets at a time up to 70 feet. While this gun won’t blow you away with the accuracy and effectiveness, the fun factor makes it a must for Star Wars fans.
8. Fortnite AR-L Elite Dart Blaster
This yellow, orange, and grey gun is modeled after the Fortnite Scar. This is your opportunity to run around with this gun that is just awesome looking. Your 7 or 8-year-old is truly going to jump for joy if they pull this Nerf gun out of a package for their birthday.
This gun not only looks great but has some great automatic rifle features. Some of the best features are the fact that the gun can fire 10 straight shots without reloading. The AR-7 requires 4 AA batteries in order for it to fire. You can start the automatic fun by pressing the accelerated to fire up the motor on the auto fire.
Although this gun is fun, it requires all the parts to be properly inserted. I’d recommend this gun for your older kids. It weighs a little more than others and is a little difficult to move. The orange door on the side of this gun must be shut and clip fully inserted in order for the motor to work. This is probably the most common concern on the gun, but it is not obvious when troubleshooting.
9. N-Strike StratoBow Bow
Plus this design is a bow which many smaller kids really like.
In terms of power, this one goes about 65 feet per second on average. That’s not quite as powerful as the 70 feet per second that most of the elite line does, but still good enough to shoot pretty well. The power difference might even be a plus for some.
Overall, this is a great little bow and one of the bow types I’d recommend.
10. N-Strike Elite Jolt Blaster
You’ll notice in the picture that there are two jolts. The less colorful option is the older one but is often available for less money. The newer option does look more substantial with its larger plastic barrel and colors; however, performance is pretty much the same. The difference between the two is around $2. So, you’ll have to decide whether you think it’s worth it or not. Clear green and clear orange options are also available for the Jolt Blaster.
11. Infinus Elite Toy Motorized Blaster
The Infinus Nerf N-Strike Elite Motorized Blaster is a larger gun that comes with a 30 dart drum that can be emptied within seconds. It’s a little bit heavier than other options I’ve included here, but it’s easy to fill up and super easy to shoot as it runs on batteries. As it is heavy, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than 6.
Whether or not you want to deal with batteries is up to you. However, for my little kids, it makes it easier to shoot as they don’t have to pull the trigger. The auto-loading feature is amazingly easy–just stick the dart in the hopper and it auto-loads.
Overall, the Infinus N-Strike Elite Motorized Blaster is one of my favorite motorized Nerf guns. It’s a bit costlier than other options on this list, but it’s more substantial as well.
12. N-Strike Elite Triad Ex-3 Blaster
Don’t let its size fool you–the Elite Triad EX-3 is powerful, easy-to-load, and very capable of firing a lot of darts each minute. Even though it’s almost as compact as the Jolt, the Ex-3 has 3 bullets rather than one. The gun needs to be cocked each time you fire, even if all three darts are loaded. Still, it’s great as your retaliation weapon.
Like any of the Nerf guns, you need to be a bit careful with this one as the darts can go up to 90 feet at up to 72 feet per second! They can hurt small children if they’re less than 10 feet away so be sure to set some ground rules and supervise your children while using it. If your child is constantly shooting her siblings, I suggest setting up a target on the wall. Otherwise, you’ll certainly have some crying from younger siblings.
You may notice in the picture of the two different designs. The right one is the original while the Elite version is the newer model. Like the Jolt, there’s no difference other than the colors. So, go with whatever is cheaper or has the color scheme that you prefer.
13. Modulus Tri-Strike
If you’re a bit more serious about your Nerf gun collecting or you simply want a gun that shoots a few different types of darts, I really like the Nerf Modulus Tri-Strike. It shoots 3 different types of darts which is fun as you change from trigger to trigger.
The gun itself is easy to modify with a variety of other Nerf parts or simply the included parts.
The core blaster is a lot like the old Longstrike from back in the day. Darts are placed in a magazine and stuck darts can be removed from the access door above. However, this gun doesn’t get jammed often. It is definitely easier to avoid jams if you only use darts that are not damaged or bent.
As this model is a bit more complicated, here’s some more information about exactly what you’re getting. For the main blaster, it goes pretty fast at around 65 feet per second. The mega blaster is, admittedly slow but still fun.
14. Longstrike Nerf Modulus
The Longstrike Nerf Modulus has a unique design that has a pop up site and extendable bipod. This is a lot of fun for your 10 or 11-year-old, but might be a little complicated for really young kids.
For capacity, the Longstrike contains 3 clips of 6 elite darts that can be reloaded quickly into the clip.
Overall, this one is fun but not quite as reliable as some of the more basic guns. If you get it, it’s more for the novelty of being able to mount your gun. For distance, it goes up to 80 feet. If you get this gun, also be sure to purchase the 18 round dart clip for even more rounds. The Longstrike can be a lot of fun, but definitely isn’t the cheapest blaster out there.
15. Rival Helios XVIII
Admittedly, the Helios is a bit difficult to prime before you shoot. However, it’s a lot faster than your regular velocity, at around 100 feet per second. So, you’re hitting your opponent faster than they can hit you.
The balls for the Helios are a bit more expensive than your standard elite dart and the gun is a little bit harder to load, but it’s still a lot of fun for kids.
Fun Nerf Guns for Girls
Who says toy guns are just for boys? Girls can have a great time shooting as well. Nerf has recently come out with quite a few fun options for girls too! Here are two of our favorite Nerf guns for girls.
16. Rebelle Rapid Red Blaster
It comes with 6 standard darts and 6 message darts which you can write and use a decoder to send a secret message.
I’d like to say that this gun is as efficient as the standard options, but it’s not quite there. That being said it’s still very good and my daughter loves it because of the colors.
17. Overwatch D.Va Rival Blaster
Pew-Pew-Pew. Overwatch’s officer D.Va is on the loose. Fans of Overwatch can rejoice with the release of this Nerf Gun. This signature piece from Blizzard’s game Overwatch can now be purchased. With great purple flair, D.Va fans are going to be satisfied with the look of this Nerf blaster. This gun won’t make you a Nerf sniper, but is definitely a fun gun to add to your arsenal.
This Rival style gun shoots the round bullet style that hits harder than standard Nerf guns. If you are giving this to a 4-year-old I would definitely recommend some safety glasses.
With only 3 shots ,this gun is more style than function. If you are looking for a fun blaster for your daughter this works, but it definitely is not competition ready.
What is the Advantage of a Brand Name Nerf Gun Over Off-Brands?
There are many advantages of a Nerf branded gun versus an off-brand that include:
- Eye safety. Nerf goes through a lot of product testing to make sure the toys your kids play with are not only fun, but safe as well. Many of the off brand foam guns have bullets that are harder.
- Consistency. One of the biggest complaints about off brand foam blasters is the consistency of product to product. This is not the case with all brands, but with Nerf, one gun to the next will be very consistent.
- Chemical safety. The plastic Nerf uses for their guns is very safe for children and has been safely tested and meets rigid product safety requirements.
- Quality. Nerf has a strong name for quality. The product will last most likely even if your kids do not take great care of it.
Should I Buy My Children Nerf Guns?
Buying Nerf guns is definitely a personal preference. I know some parents are not fond of letting their kids play with shooting toys with the concern it might make them fond of violence later in life. For us Nerf guns are fun and a great way for kids to get out and move and get away from their electronic devices. It is also a good way for kids to get some frustration out without having anything get damaged.
Which Nerf Gun is the best value?
The Strongarm blaster is the best value. It is accurate, inexpensive, and fun to shoot.
Summary and Recommendations
If you’ve never purchased a Nerf gun before or don’t do it regularly, it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting into. For simplicity’s sake, I’d first recommend you go with a Nerf gun from the Elite series. All of these guns use the same darts interchangeably. Then when you have your Nerf wars, you can just trade them out.
Here are few of the options I’d personally go with if you’re buying for a young kid or toddler. The great news is 2020 has brought some fun new options, including blasters from the very popular video game series Fortnite, Nerf guns from Marvel, and Nerf guns from the video game Overwatch. We’ve updated our favorite Nerf guns based on these great new options.
Overall, you need to use your judgment to determine which Nerf gun would be good for your young children. Some of the Mega Nerf or Rival options above might be age appropriate for your child at 5 or 6 but not for another child. That being said, Nerf wars are a fun family activity when everyone, including your small kids, can participate. Looking for a Nerf Super Soaker? Read our review on the Most Powerful Super Soakers.