There are two questions I always get asked whenever people find out about this Nerf stuff we do: “Is there a Nerf grenade?” and “Is there a Nerf sniper rifle?” Neither product, technically speaking, exists.

As for the first question, I don’t really know why such a thing hasn’t been produced (apart from useless foam balls shaped like grenades). My assumption has been that it would simply be too costly to manufacture. You may have seen the ThinkGeek “Nerf Nuke” video on YouTube. That’s kind of the logical endpoint for a Nerf grenade, but it hasn’t been officially released and not even the modding community has taken on the challenge of building it, to my knowledge.

Nerf-Longstrike-CS-6

Nerf Longstrike CS-6

Regarding the Nerf sniper rifle, that one seems like more of a no-brainer. I mean, just take existing Nerf blaster mechanics and slap it into a sniper rifle-looking shell right? Well, yes, Hasbro has already released a couple such designs. The most famous being the Nerf LongStrike, but the LongShot and Centurion both evoke sniper rifle aesthetics. But here’s the problem: It’s ONLY aesthetics. Performance is a whole other matter.* 

There are two performance factors that all sniper rifles must excel at in order to be considered “sniper” rifles: Range and accuracy. Simply put, in Nerf, there are natural barriers that prevent either attribute from being maxed out. Accuracy is the most crucial. Nerf Elite darts – currently the standard, and highest quality official dart you can purchase – have relatively terrible flight characteristics. At a distance of about 50 feet (roughly the range of most modern, off the shelf Nerf blasters), you’re looking at a spread of 10 feet or more. Hardly “sniper” level accuracy. And range is purposefully limited by the manufacturer due to toy safety regulations. The Elite and Rival lines have seemingly hit the glass ceiling of legal muzzle velocity for toys marked 8 & up and 14 & up, respectively. Modders have, of course, discovered many ways to break through this barrier, but the darts themselves bring you back to square one. They only get more inaccurate the faster they fly.

So this begs the question: if all Nerf blasters generally hit the same ranges, and all Nerf darts get the same accuracy, what’s the point of having a long, unwieldy rifle when a submachine gun will get you the same performance in a smaller package, plus rapid fire? That’s the simple, and discouraging answer to the Nerf sniper rifle question.

But there’s hope…

With the right resources and the courage to take a screwdriver to your Nerf guns, there are a number of ways to build a fairly functional, powerful Nerf sniper rifle. First, you need to address the dart dilemma. Forget about official Nerf darts. You need something with more weight and/or better foam density. Strangely enough, Buzz Bee toys, perennial purveyor of cheap, Wal-Mart brand knock offs, has upped their blaster game substantially in the past year, and are now producing darts and magazines that are fully cross-compatible with Nerf products. Their Ultra Suction Darts have a better weight balance and are generally more accurate than Nerf. They’re a good alternative in a pinch. However, the best and most cost-effective alternative dart comes from China, of all places. So named by the Nerf community, “Koosh darts” can be purchased in a 200 pack on eBay for about 20 bucks shipped (there are many different sellers; the exact listing linked seems to be the most reliable). These are compatible with all Nerf blasters that fire Elites, and will noticeably improve your accuracy. It’s still not ideal, but as foam darts go, you can’t get much better.

With the accuracy problem (sort of) out of the way, all that’s left is to put together a powerful, single shot blaster with the right sniper rifle feel. Slap a stronger spring into the rifle of your choice, attach a stock and appropriately long barrel extension and you’re there (see my article about the basics of modification if you’re new to it). You can even add a non-functional, useless scope if you want to complete the look. Personally, my Nerf sniper rifle is a spring modded Retaliator with its own stock and the barrel extension from a LongStrike, but one could also take the complete LongStrike shell and outfit it with the internal mechanics of the superior Retaliator. Though this process requires some more advanced plastic modification and can be tricky to pull off.

And that’s the long, more encouraging answer to the question. Good luck and happy shooting.

My pump grip Retaliator with Longstrike barrel

My pump grip Retaliator with Longstrike barrel

*Unmodified, the LongStrike CS-6 is ironically one of the weakest Nerf blasters released in the past 10 years.