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Best Nerf Guns for 3, 4, 5, and 6-Year-Olds


At my house, we have a particular love for Nerf guns. As a child, my husband and his siblings used to get a cheap Nerf shooter as the final Christmas present. Everyone would open their uniform presents at the same time and then run around and shoot each other amidst the chaos of new presents and shredded wrapping paper.

I have always loved that tradition and, when we started our own family, I wanted to carry it forward. Now that we have two boys and several years of Nerf experience under our belts, I have some strong opinions about Nerf guns. In my opinion, the best overall Nerf gun that is appropriate for every age is the Nerf Fire Strike Elite. Here’s a guide to the best Nerf guns for 3, 4, 5, and 6-year olds. Also, keep reading to find out which Nerf gun I’d pick for myself.

Image of the Nerf N Strike Elite Firestrike Blaster

The Top Nerf GunsWhy It's BestMom Rating
Hasbro Nerf N-Strike NanoFire 3-year-olds, small hands can pull back slider, dart holder♥♥♥♥♥
NERF N-Strike GlowShot Blaster4-year-olds, smaller, fits in pocket, regular or suction darts♥♥♥♥♥
NERF Nerf N-Strike Elite DualStrike Blaster5-year-olds, darts make whistle sound, can load 5 darts at a time, 2 dart sizes, slightly more challenging to use♥♥♥♥
NERF Zombie Strike Crossfire Bow Blaster6-year-olds, sites for aiming, crossbow style,♥♥♥♥♥
Hasbro NERF Zombie Strike Alternator BlasterGreat for adults and kids alike, fun design shoots 1, 2 or 3 bullets♥♥♥♥♥

What I Won’t Recommend

You’ll notice as you read through that I haven’t recommended any of the larger Nerf guns with clips. This is because I have personally removed so many shredded Nerf bits from fancy-looking guns that I will never buy (or give) any of those again. The level of frustration over a jam and the technical difficulty to clear the jam have always outweighed any benefits of rapid-fire action.

Another reason why I don’t like to have the larger guns is because I don’t like to store them. Right now, almost all of our Nerf guns and Nerf bullets fit into a cheap plastic hamper that sits in the corner of my son’s room. The only guns that don’t fit are the large, bulky Nerf guns that have clips.

Although storage of these Nerf guns shouldn’t seem like a big issue, having just two bulky guns takes up a lot of space. Inevitably, this space is on the floor somewhere, and I’m not a fan of stuff all over the floor. So, be aware that all of my recommendations in this article are for smaller Nerf guns.

Best Nerf Gun Overall

Image of the Nerf N Strike Elite Firestrike Blaster

Whether you’re shopping for a little one or yourself, you’re going to like the Nerf Fire Strike Elite. It’s the first Nerf gun we got, and now we own three of them.

Features

  • This comfortable grip fits hands of different sizes.
  • Single-action shooting means that you won’t have to clear jams.
  • A laser helps you aim for your target.
  • Two storage slots below your shooter means that you can carry three Nerf bullets at a time.
  • Although this model comes with regular Nerf bullets, it can also shoot the Nerf suction cup bullets.

Technical Information

  • Product Dimensions:  2.4 x 9.4 x 5.6 inches
  • Item Weight:  5.6 ounces
  • Manufacturer Recommended Age:  12 months and up
  • Batteries Needed:  2 AAs
  • Are Batteries Provided?:  No

Possible Issues

  • You might have issues with other Nerf bullets staying loaded. (We haven’t, though.)
  • After some unsupervised use, you may find that your child has somehow gotten the cocking mechanism off the track. It can be fixed, though. You may have to open up your gun to get it completely fixed, though.
  • Nerf doesn’t normally make weak guns, so make sure that no one gets shot in the face or at close range because it can hurt.

Best Nerf Gun for a 3-Year-Old

Nerf N-Strike NanoFire  (blue)

My 3-year-old’s favorite Nerf gun is the Nerf N-Strike NanoFire. He can easily work the gun by himself, and he loves that it’s just his size.

Features

  • This Nerf gun is comfortable for hands of various sizes.
  • Young children can pull back the slide at the bottom to operate the gun.
  • This small-but-mighty shooter also offers storage for 2 bullets above the barrel.
  • Although this model comes with regular Nerf bullets, it can also shoot the Nerf suction cup bullets.

Technical Information

  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5.8 x 6.5 inches
  • Item Weight:  3.04 ounces
  • Manufacturer Recommended Age:  8 years and up
  • Batteries Needed:  No
  • Are Batteries Provided?:  N/A

Possible Issues

  • Only shoots one bullet at a time.
  • The small size is cool, but not as exciting for little guys that want big fire power.
  • The shooter may misfire or jam.
  • Make sure that no one gets shot in the face or at close range because it can hurt.
  • Your child may not be able to pull the slide hard enough to actually cock the gun.

Alternative Option

Image of Nerf N-Strike Elite Quadrant

Another option I like for 3-year-olds is the Nerf N-Strike Elite Quadrant. It’s similar to the gun above, but it doesn’t have the dart storage under the barrel. Instead, it stores all 4 darts in the rotating drum and lets you fire them one after another. The firing mechanism is a pull-back lever, which is usually much easier for the littler guys than a sliding action Nerf gun. 

 

Best Nerf Gun for a 4-Year-Old

Image of the Nerf N-Strike GlowShot Blaster

Although I have the Nerf N-Strike GlowShot Blaster listed as the best Nerf gun for a 4-year-old, it’s really great for any age. This small pocket blaster allows for spontaneous sneak attacks.

Features

  • This single shooter lights up and glows.
  • It’s one of the smaller Nerf gun models. This means it can kind of fit in your pocket, which makes it great for sneak attacks.
  • This is a great entry-level Nerf gun that’s very easy for young users.
  • Although this model comes with regular Nerf bullets, it can also shoot the Nerf suction cup bullets.

Technical Information

  • Product Dimensions:  1.5 x 8.5 x 7.4 inches
  • Item Weight:  3.84 ounces
  • Manufacturer Recommended Age:  8 years and up
  • Batteries Needed:  2 AAAs
  • Are Batteries Provided?:  No

Possible Issues

  • As with many Nerf guns, there may be some issues with the slide or trigger over time.
  • Make sure that you don’t fire at close range or shoot the face. Nerf guns pack some power, so people could get hurt.

Alternative Option

Megalodon Nerf N-Strike Mega Toy Blaster with 20 Official Mega Whistler Darts Includes: Blaster, Drum, 20 Darts, & Instructions

My son loved the Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm. I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to operate the pop-out barrel and sliding firing action, but he actually surprised me with how easily he was able to pop it out, load it, and cock it. He also loved that it could fire 6 darts in a row, so he could run around without having to stop and reload. It gave him the feel of a big-kid gun or a big Nerf rifle without the added size. 

Super bonus: the Strongarm Nerf N-Strike Elite comes in purple so that your little girl can shoot in style, too! 

Best Nerf Gun for a 5-Year-Old

Image of the Nerf N-Strike Elite DualStrike Blaster

With two sizes of bullets and a top and bottom shooter toggle switch, the Nerf Dual-Strike Blaster is a little bit trickier than the previously mentioned models of Nerf guns.

Features

  • This Nerf gun fires one bullet at a time, but it holds 3 Elite bullets and 3 Mega Whistler bullets.
  • Use the toggle switch to change between the two different bullet styles.
  • The Mega Whistler darts “scream” through the air.
  • Although this model comes with regular Nerf bullets, it can also shoot the Nerf suction cup bullets.

Technical Information

  • Product Dimensions:  2.3 x 7.3 x 15.3 inches
  • Item Weight:  1.15 pounds
  • Manufacturer Recommended Age:  8 years and up
  • Batteries Needed:  No
  • Are Batteries Provided?:  N/A

Possible Issues

  • Your child may not be able to run the slide.
  • The bullets may sometimes fire two at a time with half the power.
  • Sometimes, the bullet may fire out with a weak power.
  • Make sure that you don’t fire at close range or shoot the face. Nerf guns pack some power, so people could get hurt.

Alternative Option

Megalodon Nerf N-Strike Mega Toy Blaster with 20 Official Mega Whistler Darts Includes: Blaster, Drum, 20 Darts, & Instructions

If your 5-year-old is hooked on the bigger and badder Mega Nerf darts, get them the Nerf N-Strike Megalodon blaster. It’s named after a giant species of pre-historic shark, so you know any little boy would love it right up front. But add in the 20 dart drum and the crank action, and your child will absolutely love the firepower this gun offers. Be warned though, the Mega darts hurt people and things!

Nerf guns are on every parent’s list of gift ideas for 5-year-old boys.

Best Nerf Gun for a 6-Year-Old

Image of the Nerf Zombie Strike Crossfire Bow Blaster

My 6-year-old’s favorite Nerf gun is the Nerf Zombie Strike Crossfire Bow Blaster. He likes the coolness of carrying a crossbow with the ease of using a Nerf gun.

Features

  • This is comfortable and easy to carry for small and large hands.
  • The slide is relatively easy to work.
  • It fires 4 shots.
  • Shooting a crossbow looks so much more impressive than a regular dart gun.
  • The crosshairs allow for you to aim at your target.
  • Although this model comes with regular Nerf bullets, it can also shoot the Nerf suction cup bullets.

Technical Information

  • Product Dimensions:  2.5 x 16.5 x 12 inches
  • Item Weight:  1.63 pounds
  • Manufacturer Recommended Age:  8 years and up
  • Batteries Needed:  No
  • Are Batteries Provided?:  N/A

Possible Issues

  • Because it’s a crossbow, there’s a possibility that the string may break.
  • The bullets may sometimes fire two at a time with half the power.
  • Sometimes, the bullet may fire out with a weak power.
  • Make sure that you don’t fire at close range or shoot the face. Nerf guns pack some power, so people could get hurt.

Alternative Option

NERF Modulus Motorized Toy Blaster with Drop Grip, Barrel Extension, 6-Dart Clip, 6 Official Darts for Kids, Teens, & Adults (Amazon Exclusive)

If your kiddo likes to build or take stuff apart, as most 6-year-olds do, then check out the Nerf Modulus Motorized Toy Blaster. You can add parts to this gun, like a drop grip, barrel extension, clip, and even a long range kit for further shooting. Your big kid can make the gun exactly what he or she wants it to be. Plus, with motorized rapid fire that shoots 6 darts in quick succession, and launches said darts to 90 feet, it’s best suited for older kids that can handle that kind of power. 

Best Nerf Gun for Adults

NERF Zombie Strike Alternator Blaster -- Fires 3 Ways -- Includes 12 Official Zombie Strike Elite Darts - for Kids, Teens, Adults

If you’re shopping for Nerf guns for your kids, you better prepare yourself. My personal favorite is the NERF Zombie Strike Alternator Blaster. Personally, I love that it fires 1, 2, or 3 bullets, because you never know how extreme the kids are gonna come at you! And while this isn’t the most advanced gun to use (which means the kids can take it from you and totally use it against you), it’s great for taking turns with because your kids are going to want to play with it, too.

Features

  • This gun is a single, double, and triple shooter.
  • Holds 6 Nerf darts at a time in each barrel.
  • Select barrel by moving the barrel itself with your hand.
  • Cool design looks like it was made from spare chainsaw parts and tools.
  • Can also fire Accustrike darts
  • Fires about 40 feet for triple darts, 80 feet for single dart

Technical Information

  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 14 x 8.7 inches
  • Item Weight:  15.5 ounces
  • Manufacturer Recommended Age:  8 years and up
  • Batteries Needed:  None
  • Are Batteries Provided?:  N/A

Possible Issues

  • Can’t aim very well with the double and triple barrels because your view gets blocked by the other barrels.
  • With the rotating barrel, you have the bigger possibility of jamming. 

Alternative Option

NERF Fortnite AR-L Elite Dart Blaster

It doesn’t matter if your kids (or you!) are Fortnite fans. Because if you are a grown-up, having a motorized blaster like the NERF Fortnite AR-L Elite Dart Blaster is super fun. With a motorized 10 dart clip and battery included, it takes all the hard work out of the equation and lets you sit back and blast your kiddos with sheer firepower and accurate aiming. No running required.

FAQ’s

How far does a young child’s Nerf gun shoot?

Most of the smaller Nerf guns have a range of at least 10 – 20 feet. Some of the larger single shooters can go up to 70 feet, while the rifle-style guns will usually fire up to 40 or 50 feet at most.

Can you play with a Nerf gun inside?

Why not?! The darts and guns aren’t strong enough to break windows or walls or anything. There is the possibility that a TV or knick knack could get broken, though. An empty bonus room or unfinished basement would be ideal for indoor Nerf play.

How much does a Nerf gun for a young child cost?

The most basic guns receive high customer ratings and cost less than $10. For a good-sized and reliable gun, expect to pay in the $20 to $30 range. 

How old should a child be to play with a Nerf gun?

Though many parents do opt to allow their younger children to use Nerf guns, most Nerf guns are officially rated for children of age 8 or more (some for kids age 14 or more). The key, if you allow your younger child to play with Nerf guns, is supervision.

Can a Nerf gun be dangerous?

Yes, injury is definitely possible.

Small parts or pieces of foam could be torn off, posing a choking hazard. That’s why these aren’t for kids under 3.

The other concern with Nerf darts is eye damage. Take one Nerf dart to the eyeball and in rare cases cause severe eye damage. That’s why it is recommended that eye protection be used.

Do girls like Nerf guns?

Yes. In fact, Nerf has a separate line called Nerf Rebelle that makes guns and bows (decorated in purple, blue, fuschia, pink, and gray) especially for girls.

 

Overall

Nerf guns are a fun way for families to bond. If you think that it will annoy you to be shot with Nerf bullets, be sure that you buy the best shooter for yourself. It’s also a good idea to buy a pack of extra Nerf bullets.

The standard Nerf bullets are great, but my family is partial to the Nerf bullets with suction cups. You should be able to buy foam bullets from other companies that aren’t Nerf. However, if you want to be sure that your bullets will work, I’d stick with Nerf. In my opinion, it’s worth the couple of extra dollars to ensure that your 200 bullets will work with your new gun.

Sarah Stockett
Sarah Stockett
After graduating from TCU with a degree in English, I took a break from writing. After accumulating some life experiences and children, I returned because I finally had something to say. I'm passionate about helping people be their best. Whether it's giving advice for success in parenting or information about how to improve your personal health, my top priority is to give you the best information possible.