Stock Nerf Blaster Range Tests

Updated 2014/08/03 to include Pink Crush, Star Shot, and Doublestrike ranges.
Updated 2014/01/02 to include Sidestrike ranges.
Updated 2013/10/19 to include additional ranges for Heartbreaker Bow and some reformatting for improved readability.
Updated 2013/08/02 to include ranges for the Rapidstrike, Hammershot, Sledgefire, and Pololu motor modded Rayven.

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There’s a good bit of information on the web about the how far different Nerf blasters shoot foam darts, but I’ve never seen it compiled in one place in an easy to read format. Last Friday morning was a rare occasion for me when I was home from work getting my car repaired and it was a sunny, windless morning (the wind always blows by the beach). Therefore I decided to perform some range testing of my own with the blasters I have around the house. The data is presented below and is continually updated as I test new blasters.


All data was collected with Elite Streamline (blue) darts fired at shoulder level and level to the ground. Plots show the average range and one sigma standard deviation, in almost all cases for greater than or equal to 12 firings.  Batteries for all the flywheel blasters were in good condition and the flywheels were allowed to recover between firings. Some gross observations are:

  • The entire Elite range produces average distances of greater than 40 ft (12.2 m) (as expected).
  • Also, the Elite Rayven is clearly superior to the only non-Elite gun in the mix, the yellow Rayven.
  • If the standard deviation of the average range reflects the firing spread (i.e. range repeatability), then blasters with the longer barrels are more accurate (Rampage and Rayven).
  • The stock Firestrike is the range winner…
  • (2013/10/19) …and the Heartbreaker Bow, which has almost the same internals as the Firestrike, is not far behind.
  • (2013/08/02) The Zombie Strike Hammershot blaster holds its own against the other blasters, whereas Sledgefire performance out of the box is quite disappointing.
  • (2014/01/02) The Zombie Strike Sidestrike blaster ranges are a little disappointing considering that it could be an upgrade to the Firestrike – good thing the holster also holds a Firestrike.
  • In the flywheel blaster category, I was surprised that the Stockade performed on-par with the Stryfe, while my Elite Rayven out-performed them both.
  • While the Stryfe is generally considered the best stock flywheel blaster and I got some of the farthest ranges with it, the repeatability was low, perhaps due to the shorter barrel.
  • (2013/08/02) The new automatic blaster, the Rapidstrike, did not yield Elite ranges, but I was not using the brand new darts that came with the blaster (not that there should be any difference).
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Thoughts on the New Fall 2013 Nerf Blasters

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The new fall lineup of Nerf blasters is starting to appear in Target and ToysRUs Los Angeles area locations. What’s available is highly dependent on staff and store, but I’ve seen the Hammershot, Sledgefire, Rapidstrike, Centurion, Blazin Bow, Elite Barrel Break, Rebelle Crossbow, and Pink Crush on shelves now. I purchased and was most excited for the blasters shown in the picture above. In short, they are all fun, but I doubt I’ll be keeping all of them. Here are some brief thoughts on each blaster:

Elite Rapidstrike CS-18 – this is my first fully automatic Nerf gun. The auto-fire is a nice feature but constrained by small magazine sizes and limited ability to control the number of shots. Rate of fire and firing distance were not too impressive and the gun seems a little too sensitive to dart quality. Also, while beautiful, the blaster is big and heavy, so you’ll want some kind of shoulder strap if you’re going to lug it around a Nerf war. For me this is probably not a replacement for the Rayven and I’ll continue to hold out hope for a new belt-fed automatic. Elite Vulcan anyone?

Zombie Strike Hammershot – this is a fun blaster sidearm that is a substantial improvement over the Maverick and Strongarm. It has a compact, light-weight, rugged build that can be primed with one hand and shoots Elite distances. A single Hammershot is a worthy addition to run-and-gun style HvZ play – even two would be better.

Zombie Strike Sledgefire – the concept and role-playing fun factor for this blaster is incredibly high, but the actual utility in a Nerf war or HvZ match incredibly low. The gun takes forever load, only comes with 3 shells, and you can’t do a partial trigger pull to fire a single dart at a time (e.g. Roughcut), so you better hope those zombies are the slow moving type. That stated it is this same loading feature that also makes the Sledgefire so much fun. Your friends will enjoy playing with it, and I might consider keeping it around for the novelty factor alone, if only it wasn’t also so large (as big as the Rapidstrike).

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Elite Mega Centurion – Speaking of large, expensive blasters, I also picked up a Centurion. While I haven’t really tested it yet, it is clear this is meant for the outdoors. The one time I fired it outside I nearly lost my dart. Practically speaking the Centurion may be too large with too small a magazine for serious Nerf wars, but the blaster looks cool as hell and mods will probably help utility-wise. You can demo fire the blaster without installing the barrel or priming handles – for the former just wedge a small piece of foam into the locks that the barrel would engage, and for the later just don’t push the handles in all the way.

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I’ve updated my firing distance graphs with performance from some of these blasters – you can find that info in this post, Stock Nerf Blaster Range Tests.