Getting started with modding your Nerf Gun can be confusing. I know. I felt it too.
I am sure you must’ve wanted to mod your Nerf sometime or the other, and when you look for help, you come across just fragments on the internet. But you don’t have to look any further.
In this extensive guide, I’ll run you through everything you need and might have to do to customize your Nerf to your liking.
Fair warning – I cannot cover every Nerf in existence. So, don’t be disheartened if I don’t talk about your favorite model specifically. However, I’ve tried to cover as many techniques and tools you might need to modify your gun.
How will that help you? Well, modifying a Nerf is reasonably straightforward. Yes, believe me. Once you know how your Nerf operates and which parts to be extra careful with, you’ll be good to go.
With that out of the way, let’s get started!
What You Should Know Before Customizing Your Nerf Gun
During my research, I came across several repeated questions and doubts that the community has. I will try to address them to help clear up the confusion.
One of the questions on the list is – ‘What exactly is modding?’ The answer is that whenever you modify, change, or re-paint your Nerf blaster or darts from their original state, it is modding. I think you can now understand where the word ‘modding’ comes from now. If not, it is derived from the word ‘modify.’
Hasbro (Nef’s parent company) has kind of a mixed stance on modding. And this is where the next common question among the Nerf community stems from – ‘Is it illegal to mod a Nerf?’
Let me start by saying a stern “No.” It is not illegal to customize your Nerf in any state or country. You can do whatever you please with it. (It is unlawful to paint the muzzle any other color than red or orange in some states. Do check your local laws to be sure.)
Then where does that doubt come from? Why are so many people confused?
It is because of all the warnings Hasbro places on the boxes of the guns themselves. It is almost as if Hasbro doesn’t want you to mod the Nerfs. On the other hand, Hasbro also seems to show their support to famous modders. The creators’ mixed stance is confusing to many people, but it makes sense if you look at it from their lens.
How? Well, Hasbro wants you to have the best time possible with their products while minimizing any mishaps. Hence, they place all the warnings so that you’d be careful. But at the same time, people who know what they are doing and get famous by showcasing their work help the company’s marketing. It helps them get noticed more and sell more units. It’s all business.
What can you do with your Nerf Gun?
Over the years, we’ve seen some unique mods in the community. Some paint their blaster, and others enhance the accuracy or mod the darts. What that tells you is this – you have many options when looking to customize your Nerf blaster.
Let’s go over some types of modifications.
If you’ve wanted to enhance the accuracy of your Nerf blaster or its power, rate of fire, then you should be looking to modify the blaster itself.
Blaster modification is when you change the internal parts, add or replace some parts of your blaster. If you look at some of the mods out there, you’ll quickly realize how much you can do with your Nerf.
Take, for example, this mod by LordDraconial for the Nerf Cycloneshock. He explains in-depth how he went about the mod and shows you his process. I found it quite interesting because of what he could achieve with a cylinder overhaul and a couple of upgrades.
With this mod, he was able to fire the elite rounds with some serious power. In his video, he was able to send the rounds flying over 100 feet. Imagine the kind of unfair advantage it gives you in your next Nerf Pistol War round!
I am sure this does not require a long explanation. Dart modification is when you add or remove parts from the darts. Usually, this process is done to increase the speed, power, and range.
Many modders have also created their own darts, which is possible with some select materials. Often, modders will use foam, silicone casting to create custom nerf darts.
Over the years, many interesting Dart mods have come up in the nerf community. Some that fared really well, some that failed miserably. For example, you can refer to this video from the YouTubers ‘EvanAndKatelyn’, where they try to make custom Nerf darts. It can serve as an excellent introduction to what tools, materials are generally used in these mods.
By far the most common and aesthetic modification you can do to your Nerf blaster. I think it is pretty apparent what entails in a paint modification. But just to make things very clear, when you give your Nerf blaster a new look using paint. This process generally doesn’t involve any change to the blaster’s function.
What you must know is that some types of paint jobs are outlawed. Why? Because some paint jobs can be hyper-realistic, making it very hard to distinguish between a real firearm and a Nerf blaster.
Some states require you to adhere to specific rules like leaving the muzzle to be bright orange or red.
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How To Start Modding?
Let’s get to real stuff now, shall we? Below you will find the most common tools and materials you will require when customizing your Nerf gun. Make sure to bookmark this page to keep this list handy.
General Materials Required To Customize A Nerf Gun
No matter what kind of modification you’re trying to do, there’s a specific set of materials you will need. Of course, there will be some materials that are specific to what you’re trying to accomplish. I will try to cover them as much as possible in this list. Read on.4
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- Sandpaper – You will absolutely need sandpaper if you’re planning to spray your Nerf or smoothen out some crooked or pointy plastic edges. Get different 100-grit to start with and keep 220-grit or 320-grit handy to smoothen things out after spraying.
- Hot Glue Gun – I guess you have a Hot Glue Gun already lying around in your storeroom or garage. If you’ve ever done any furniture repairing, you have it. Hot Glue Gun is ideal for Nerf Gun customization. It provides a reliable adhesive for your modifications and dries quicker than most other alternatives.
And yes, do not forget to have some extra Hot Glue Sticks, just in case. What’s a gun without its ammunition?
- Epoxy – Another adhesive that you might require is epoxy. It is much stronger than Hot Glue, but that comes with its own disadvantage. Epoxy can take anywhere between 24 to 48 hours to dry up and become hardened completely. But it is what you will require if you’re trying to bond parts together or even fill up the gaps.
Extra Tip – Always sand and clean every piece. Let it dry completely. And only then apply epoxy to achieve the best adhesion possible.
- Plumber’s Goop – Yet another adhesive that you need to keep handy. I know you might be wondering why on Earth do we need so many adhesives in the first place? Well, not every adhesive was built the same, and neither can they be used the same. Plumber’s goop is used when you need to adhere two pieces, and a little epoxy won’t finish the job. This is where you apply a layer of goop, allow it to cure before putting it together.
Like epoxy, Plumber’s goop also takes about 24-72 hours to set under normal conditions completely.
- Spray Paint – Of course, you’d need some spray paint to make your Nerf look the best in your next Humans vs. Zombies war game. Plan out the colors, the design you’re aiming for, and get the required amount before working on your blaster.
- Paint – If spray paint isn’t for you, get an airbrush and some regular paint for the job.
Tools You Need
Now that you know all the materials, let’s talk about the tools I recommend you keep at an arm’s length.
- Screwdrivers – Preferably, a kit with a set of bits is what you need. Why? Because there is no fixed size when it comes to the screws used on the Nerf guns.
The type of bits you need will depend on which gun you have. You will have to figure out the type and the size you will require. Also, note that there’s a chance that you would find multiple screw types in one Nerf Gun. Going through the Nerfhaven forums can give you more specific information about your blaster, which can help you prepare better.
As an expert tip, I’ll advise you to keep something to hold the screws or use magnets to sort them properly. This will help you remember which screw goes where and save a lot of trouble! You can also click pictures to be absolutely sure.
- A Rotary Tool – The most popular and widely found have to be ‘Dremel’ brand tools. They are a household name, and you probably already have heard about them. These will come in handy every time you have to do some cuts or grinding. They can also help you in sanding, drilling work.
Don’t be shy to pick up the best rotary tool you can, as these often last for years, if not decades. You’ll thank yourself for investing the extra bucks for all the additional features.
- Pipe Cutters – I think this one’s pretty obvious. You need it precisely for what the name says. PVC pipe cutters, brass pipe cutters are some of the tools you might need. Comes in handy for the barrel replacements especially. Get good quality cutters for consistent, quick, and clean cuts.
- Hacksaw – You’ll need saws when cutting plastic or metal barrels. Mind well, hacksaws, coping saws, or a PVC saw will work in most cases, but they all tend to leave jagged edges. You’ll need to do some extra sanding after working with a saw.
In most cases, you can do the hacksaw’s job with Pipe Cutters (which is what I prefer). Depending on your use case, you can decide what is best for you.
- Needle Nose Pliers – Pretty sure you have this in the toolbox. If not, get it. You’ll need these to remove a couple of components once you’ve opened up your Nerf. They allow you to have a solid grip, which otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
- Electrical Tape – The black electrical tape is very commonly used in mods. You’ll need it if you’re working with electronics or exposed wiring. If you’re heading out to buy it, ask for the best tape. Low-quality electrical tapes tend to create a mess and leave a mess, especially when around heat.
- Duct Tape – Many people prefer duct tape over electrical tape for various reasons. But apart from its regular use, duct tape can also be used to some really mind-blowing DIY stuff. People have reported and made guides about how you can use duct tape to make ammo holders, blaster holsters, clip holders, etc. Insane stuff, right?
- Rulers – For accurate measurements, obviously. You don’t want to take chances with making inaccurate cuts and lines. Keep some rulers handy. You’ll thank yourself later.
Understand The Types Of Nerf Guns
Before we get into all the technical stuff, I want you to understand and have clear concepts about the different types of Nerf blasters available in the market. Knowing this, you can plan out your modification better and grab the right tools and materials.
I have listed the two most common types below, along with some popular mods that are usually done to them. Go through them and try to figure out where your Nerf fits in and what modifications you can do.
This classification is based on how you prime the gun.
The first type is the spring blaster, which uses an actual spring to fire the gun. What does that mean? In basic terms, the Nerf plunger gets pushed forward and backward with the use of a spring.
Many modders will replace the springs in the nerf blaster with a stronger one. Using a much bigger or tougher spring allows the Nerf to shoot with more power and speed. And isn’t that precisely what we are looking for?
When you open up a bunch of Nerfs, you’ll notice that every spring is unique. That is because they were made precisely for that model. So, if you were looking to switch up the springs between models, I have bad news for you. It is not going to work.
The materials used to make the springs is usually an alloy of iron/carbon or iron/chromium/nickel. These alloys are known to be highly rust-resistant, which means that they’ll last you for years without getting weak.
One of the most common modifications done on a spring Nerf blaster is adding another spring on top of the existing one. This makes it produce twice the power when shooting Nerf darts.
Of course, there are several other modifications that you can do, such as spring heating, spring stretching, spring replacements, etc. We will go over each type of modification in the next section of this article.
The next common type of gun is the air-powered mechanism. This system does precisely what the name suggests. It is entirely reliant on leveraging air pressure through air tanks or air bladders.
The most significant advantage of using large amounts of compressed air to launch darts is that they travel a long distance. Such blasters also shoot faster than something like a battery-operated blaster. Take, for example, the Magstrike AS-10. It can shoot up to ten darts per second without jamming.
[Insert image of the spring in a nerf here.]
Don’t be swayed by the power and fire-rate of the air-powered guns, though. These can be rendered useless quite quickly if the air tank is damaged accidentally. If you were to leak some air out of it, you’d notice a decrease in range and fire rate.
Another thing to watch out for in air-powered guns is their time-to-prime. What that means is that you need to pump these blasters, prime them for shooting at the rates I told you about earlier. Take, for example, the Titan AS-V.1 – a large gun that fired Mega Missiles. But it took 20 pumps to get it ready for action. Now that can be a significant setback in action!
Why should you know all of this information? So that it becomes easier to understand what people are trying to modify in these blasters and their reasons for it. I hope so far it has been quite clear to understand. If not, take it easy and give it another read.
Modifying Spring Guns
Time to go through the most popular types of modifications for Spring Nerf Guns in brief.
Do you want to shoot with more power and speed without much hassle? This is what you do.
Go for spring compression. What is that? Spring compression is when you introduce some extra objects behind the spring to compress it from behind. This makes the spring release with much more speed, causing the plunger to fire faster.
Be careful not to place too many objects behind the spring; otherwise, you risk getting the plunger off-track. Remember, the spring has a limit to how much it can compress while still functioning optimally.
It is effortless to do on a Nerf with a reverse plunger due to parts’ placement. A direct plunger system will not be as easy to work with. And even if you figure out a way to deal with it, the result will be underwhelming as the gun won’t prime all the way.
In this method, you’ll add a supplementary spring to the blaster. This is one of the most effective ways to increase the speed of the release and the power. That is what makes it popular too.
Adding a spring will be simple enough and will not involve much hard work. However, this is not possible with all the blasters in the market. Some of them do not have enough room to function correctly with another spring. Your gun may not fire at all. So, be careful and assess your situation accurately.
Say, if the existing spring in your Nerf blaster was to be replaced with a bigger, stronger spring, wouldn’t it increase the power with which it currently fires? Of course, it will. And that is why you change the spring and replace it with a new one.
While it sounds simple, there are always possibilities of things going south. You cannot add random replacements. Sometimes, the surrounding plastics can break. The gun’s structure itself has its limits to what it can handle.
Enough about Nerf Spring mods. Let’s go to barrel replacements next!
Understanding Barrel Replacements
This is the area most Nerf modders tinker around. Even newbie modders show a substantial interest in replacing the barrels of their Nerf guns. It is a sure-fire way of making a Nerf gun fire farther, i.e., increase its range. It may seem not very easy at first as it is not as simple as compressing a spring. But I’ll tell you this; it gets easier.
The materials you are most likely going to use to customize a Nerf gun’s barrel are already mentioned above. What we’ll talk about in this section are the barrel material and its quirks.
Most commonly, a replacement barrel for a Nerf is made of –
Let’s talk about each barrel material individually.
[Include photos of each material – either modified guns or just the material itself]
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Brass For Nerf Barrel – Best For Performance
The best material that can help us modders achieve the outcome we want is brass, period. And it’s not just me who says that! You’ll find thousands of modders swearing by 17/32” brass for what it delivers.
What makes brass best for Nerf barrels? A lot of reasons but mainly the possibility of adding up to 15 feet to your nerf blaster’s range! Brass achieves this by producing little friction on the darts as they pass through. Of course, you’ll have to polish it thoroughly. Also, brass is readily available in the sizes we require it to be, so that’s no issue at all.
But all is not perfect with brass. It is tougher to cut, and epoxy doesn’t stick very well to it. Another barrier can be its price in comparison with the other materials on this list.
CPVC For Nerf Barrel – Best For Your Wallet
CPVC or Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride is another material you can use for your barrel replacements. CPVC finds itself popular among modders because of its price and ease of use. You can cut through it effortlessly.
As CPVC is a prevalent material even outside the Nerf world, it is readily available in various sizes. Most probably, you’ll be needing the ½” CPVC barrels for your Nerf customizations. Many modders ‘couple’ it with another barrel. Couplers will allow you to replace the stock barrel for faster loading times.
PETG For Nerf Barrel
Polyethylene terephthalate, more commonly named PETG, is a polymer known for its high strength and ductility. It is a flexible material and very lightweight. So, if not adding substantial weight to your Nerf blaster is your objective, PETG is the barrel material you need.
You will not only appreciate its ease-of-use but also how it looks. Availability is generally not an issue, but some modders have complained about it nonetheless.
PETG is cheaper than brass and preferred by a lot of people for Nerf barrel replacements. But what you should look out for is that it can easily bend when working with it. Yes, PETG’s flexibility can also work as a weakness for it.
Bottomline – Brass remains my preferred choice for the performance upgrade it offers. But when I want something lightweight, I go with PETG. Remember to customize according to your needs. You can even use two materials together.
Let’s Talk About Air Restrictors or Air Limiters
Air restrictors are the saviors of your plunger when you dry fire them. You can expect some serious internal damage without them, as there is nothing left between the plunger and the bolt.
So, why do people remove their Air restrictors or Air limiters? The answer is short – to increase the range.
By their inherent function, air restrictors cut off airflow when the dart is not in the barrel. When removed, it offers the blaster no airflow resistance.
Removing the restrictor isn’t an easy task all the time, though. Some blasters are made such that you’d have to use a power tool and drill it out. Very few models like the Maverick REV-6 and Hyperfire allow you to simply use a screwdriver to be done with the job.
Spring guns can possess both air restrictors and air limiters simultaneously. You’ll have to remove both. In the case of pump guns, you are likely to find only one of the two.
BONUS: Flywheel Style and Battery-Powered Nerf Gun Modifications
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Flywheel blasters are almost always fully or semi-automatic. They employ a pusher mechanism that delivers the darts to a flywheel cage when firing. The Ripsaw was the first Nerf blaster to feature such a mechanism.
Now, what can you modify in these blasters? Most modders will look to increase the fire-rate and take it to the next level. This is done through a process called overvolting. To increase the fire rate of an electric Nerf blaster, you need to increase its power supply. How do you do that? By increasing the batteries!
But is that all? No, obviously. We won’t be called modders if we don’t tinker around more, haha! You can also rewire and reduce the resistance in the circuit, bypass locks or just make it more simplified to achieve greater efficiency and hence, greater power.
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Is Nerf Customization Worth It?
If you ask me to answer that, it will be a “HECK YEAH!” every time. The feeling of having created something unique, made by your own two hands, is indescribable.
Now, you may say that you aren’t really creating when you ‘mod’ a nerf blaster. But think about this. The blaster you just modified, there’s nothing like it in the entire world. (Unless you’ve copied someone’s idea completely.)
Nerf modification has always been a satisfying process for me, whenever it has gone right. Yes, I have destroyed some blasters in my experiments, but I don’t regret it. I learned things and techniques I would not have otherwise. So, it is a win in my book, even though I was left with one less working blaster.
Also, it has helped me in the Nerf Wars, I must say. Having the coolest looking gun is a big confidence boost. The speed & power modifications really prove to be the difference.
If you’re someone who doesn’t participate in Nerf Wars, I still feel it will be worth the effort for you. You’ll get to experiment, explore your creativity and get a good piece for your collection to show-off later. I think that’s a good enough reason to jump on the modification train.