Nerf Gun History: Who Invented Them? What Are the Models?

Featured image of teenager playing with nerf gun

Toys for kids come in many shapes and can serve as tools for so many pretend play games. However, one toy became widely popular among kids and adults and it’s called Nerf gun. This pistol-like toy that shoots foam darts has provided people of all ages with so much fun in the last couple of decades, but who invented Nerf guns? In order to answer that question, let’s dig deep into the Nerf history.

Nerf Gun History

Nerf gun history started in the late 1960s when Reyn Guyer, an American inventor came up with foam balls. The first foam ball was invented by him in 1969 and that’s when the first Nerf Ball was introduced. This invention succeeded fast because kids could now play safely. However, only after about 20 years, the first Nerf Gun was invented. The first model to come was a Nerf Blaster that could fire one ball every 2 seconds. 

Currently, Nerf guns are owned by Hasbro and most of these toys are a variety of foam-based weaponry. However, since Nerf Guns were invented during the 70s, all the products often feature bright neon colors and soft textures, which have practically become the trademark color for these toys. During the 90s, the slogan was “It’s Nerf or Nothing!” and Nerf Guns are a real success among kids and adults of all ages.

Image of soldiers teaching children to shoot nerf guns

Nerf Gun Models

Since Nerf Guns and water guns loved by many kids have many shapes, sizes, and purposes, today we have a wide variety of Nerf gun models. 

Nerf Sports

The Nerf Sports line has a wide range of foam balls that look like the real balls used in sports. They are designed with different features and colors. What is more, some of them have some great features, like the Nerf Sports’ Vortex sub-line, that can shoot the foam balls in the manner of torpedoes and the American Ketchum grenade, which allows them to fly greater distances. 

Nerf Blasters

Nerf Blasters are the most popular toy of the Nerf family. These are plastic guns that shoot foam darts that have Velcro at the top so it can stick to Nerf vests. Some of the darts can whistle in flight or they come in a variety of colors, including color swap, camouflage, and glow in the dark. What is more, this model also has tactical rails that can fit different attachments. 


Vortex was released in September 2011 by Hasbro. This model fires small green, orange or white glow-in-the-dark discs that are made of soft plastic, wrapped in foam. These were re-released in May 2018, with upgraded colors – green and blue in order to match the new color schemes of vigilon, praxis, and pyragon. What is more, these have a firing range of up to 60 feet. 

Zombie Strike

This model was unveiled in 2013 and it was geared for fans of Humans vs. Zombies games. 


The Nerf Modulus blaster includes many accessories and kits. These blasters are usually white, grey and green. 


There are Nerf gun models that are designed for female demographic and it’s the Rebelle model. These are colored in sporting pink, teal and purple colors. 


Nitro Nerf gun models were released in 2017. These are designed to fire foam cars into obstacles or stunt ramps. 


The Rival model fires small foam balls and they are referred to as “High Impact Rounds”, but they are also called “Rival Balls”.  These are targeted towards an older target market and they come in three colors – white, red and blue. Also, these are engineered to fire further and more precisely than other blasters. There is also a subseries called Phantom Corps, first released in 2017. These include removable colored banners with blasters so you can use them to switch teams without having to buy new blasters. 

Alpha Strike

The Alpha Strike series was introduced in August 2019. And these models are priced lower than the N-Strike Elite line. 


Ultra was released in September 2019 and these fire a new dart design marketed as “THE FARTHEST FLYING DART. EVER. UP TO 120 FT.” These are constructed from lightweight foam, notably different than the traditional darts because they have a closed-cell foam. This design allows fins to be molded into the rear of the darts allowing to fly further. However, these new darts cannot be fired from any other Nerf gun models, and they cannot fire any other dart than their own. 

Nerf N-Force

This special line of Nerf gun models consists of foam swords and melee weapons. You can fit the swords into the back sheath of the tactical west and bandolier kit. What is more, in 2011, Hasbro released a special edition of N-Force weapons in order to promote the Marvel movie, Thor. This line consists of Thor’s Hammer, Thor’s Sword and Odin’s Sword. In 2013, they released a Snake Eyes Blade of Justice for the movie G.I. Joe: Retaliation. 

Super Soaker

The Super Soaker line was originally owned by Larami. These are a line of very popular water guns. Super Soakers are water guns loved by many kids and adults and now Hasbro has released a line of Nerf guns called Super Soaker blasters. 

Lazer Tag

Everyone knows about laser tag and its toy line from the mid-80s, and currently, they are a part of the Nerf Banner. The newest generation of Lazer Tag blasters can be attached to iPhones and iPod Touch units for better playability. 

Nerf Dog

Nerf Dog was released in June 2013 and these are the Nerf-inspired canine retrieving toys. The darts are made of rubber, plastic, and nylon. This line of products includes a long-distance ball thrower that can propel a toy up to 250 feet and the ball is extra tough and up to three times as strong as traditional dog toys.

Nerf guns have been with us for decades. From the traditional Nerf guns to the Nerf Dog designed to play with your dog and have a good time. There are dozens of models and they are all fun and can fit into many different imaginary playtimes for your kids and even adults. So, It’s Nerf or Nothing!

Author: Catherine Evans
Author: Catherine Evans

Catherine is a writer from Canada who simply loves toys, collectibles and superhero figurines. Writing is her passion, but she also loves reading, enjoying her “me time” and finding new ways to improve her work and ways to entertain the readers.

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