Wess is a parent whose children have had a great time playing with Nerf guns.
What to Consider When Choosing a Nerf Gun for a Young Child
Finding the best Nerf gun for a small child isn't always an easy task, especially when your child is only 4 or 5 years old. Most of the Nerf guns available have age restrictions slightly higher than this, so it's not uncommon for parents to second-guess themselves at the point of purchase as to whether or not their child will be able to use the gun they've selected.
In light of this dilemma, I've compiled a list of top Nerf gun features that will result in your child having more fun with their new toy, without frustration. Even children as young as 3 years old can enjoy these toys.
I'm going to show you how to narrow down your selection by looking for specific features that are child friendly. Some of them are all too often overlooked by consumers in the buying process. My goal is to help you make the best possible choice so that your son or daughter can spend less time looking for help and more time having fun.
Size, weight, loading/reloading, and how the blaster primes (making it ready to fire) are the features we will focus on for the next few moments.
Let's get started.
Why the Size and Weight of the Toy Matter for a Toddler
When you look at the size and weight of a blaster, the first concern is safety, especially for a child as young as 3 years of age. You want them to be able to play freely without struggling to carry around their new toy. Large guns are bulky and usually require two hands. This will take away from your child's natural coordination and could cause them to fall more frequently.
Making safety our priority, I would recommend looking for a small pistol. This will alleviate size and weight issues altogether. A small pistol can be held in one hand while freeing up the child's other hand to help them maintain their balance. One-handed blasters are safer for very young children and won't feel awkward for them to play with. This style of a toy gun will allow them to run around naturally without hindering their movements.
As an added perk, you won't need to worry about this blaster going to waste when it's time for your child to upgrade to a bigger gun. Pistols are always nice to have around. Chances are they will keep it in their arsenal as a backup weapon when they're using their new blaster.
Example: The Jolt shown at the top of this article is a great example of what I'm talking about. It's small and weighs only 2.39 ounces.
Reloading Is an Important Feature That's Often Overlooked
While you're searching for that perfect toy, try to pay close attention to how the blaster is loaded/reloaded. Simple is better for a young child. You don't want something overly complicated. You want to avoid a situation where your child has to find help every time they want to reload their weapon.
Look for pistols that have the front load option. This feature allows them to load the darts right into the barrel of the gun. This process is much easier for small children because they don't have to struggle with a bulky magazine system or a drum. It's also easier for them to carry around a pocket full of darts instead of a bunch of magazines.
Example: Take a look at the Firestrike that's shown below. This is a great example of a blaster that has the front load option.
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Make Sure the Gun Is Easy to Operate
How the Nerf gun operates plays a critical role in whether or not your child will be able to play with their new toy by themselves. This is another key area where you're going to want to keep it simple.
The key feature you want to pay close attention to is how the gun is primed. Priming is how you activate the blaster to be fired. I have found through experience that priming handles that are located on the back of the gun or bottom of the handle are the easiest systems for small children to use. Kids are able to grip these handles easily and use the leverage of their entire upper body to pull on them.
Example: Take another look at the Firestrike image above. Notice how the blaster has a priming handle that's located on the back of the gun. This handle needs to be pulled away from the blaster in order to activate (prime) it.
Once the gun is primed, it is ready to fire. Most children have very little issue with blasters that operate like this, and it is a feature that I highly recommend as a top priority. Both my son and daughter used blasters similar to this when they were between 3 and 5 and never had any issues.
Features to Avoid
Just as there are features you want to look for, there are also some that you want to avoid. These are features that could be counterproductive to small children and could possible hinder their ability to play safely.
For example, if you do decide to purchase your child a larger blaster, try to avoid those that require batteries larger than AA. Batteries can weigh the toy down significantly and it's not usually something we usually consider while shopping.
You will also want to keep an eye out for pistols that come with the slide primer feature. The slider is normally located on the back of the gun, and it's designed to replicate the same action as a real handgun. These are hard for small children to grip and pull back, so operating the gun might become a problem.
The Nerf Maverick in the picture below is a perfect example of a pistol with a sliding primer.
My Recommendations by Age Group
Hopefully this article was informative and helps you shop with a bit more confidence. Regardless of what you choose, I'm sure your child is going to love their new toy.
Below I have listed some of my recommendations by age group.
Best Nerf Guns for Toddlers
The Jolt is one that we spoke about in the beginning of this article and is one that I would highly recommend. This compact blaster has all the features that we have discussed, making it one of my top picks for the toddlers.
Weight: 2.39 Ounces
Loading: Dart loaded into barrel—front load.
Operation: Priming handle located on the bottom of the blaster.
Price Range: $5.99 to $8.99
Nerf N-Strike Nanofire is another great option. It's a part of the Microshots family and has all the features we are looking for. It is lightweight, easy to operate, and simple to reload. As an added feature you can store two reload darts on the blaster. Sometimes it's these additional features that spark some excitement in your child.
Weight: 3.06 Ounces
Loading: Dart loaded into a barrel—front load.
Operation: Priming handle located on the bottom of the blaster.
Price Range: $9.99 to $11.99
Top Nerf Blasters for Children Aged 4 or 5
The Assembler Gear is a series of themed blasters that support the Marvel franchise, so if your child is a fan of the Avengers I would absolutely start here. The Iron Spider is not only popular but it has great customer reviews. These blasters are designed to be interchangeable. Creating a number of different looks for each gun.
Weight: 1.45 lbs
Loading: Dart loaded into the barrel—front load.
Operation: Priming handle located on the back of the blaster.
Price Range: $19.99 to $24.99
© 2014 Wess Pain
Isaac on January 25, 2019:
I really liked your video. Do you have any longer range nerf guns you recommend.