How Do Nerf Guns Work: A Simple Guide to The 4 Types of Blasters

Nerf guns are awesome. That’s a given. But the mechanics behind how they actually work is even more impressive.

In this straight-talking explanation, I’m going to talk you through the four main types of Nerf Guns and how they work.

Spring Loaded Blasters

These blasters contain a powerful spring that when pulled back (or cocked) compresses air into a plunger chamber. When you pull the trigger, the spring is released which pushes it forward. This in turn makes the chamber smaller, causing a sharp rise in pressure, and out fires the dart.spring loaded nerf gun

Flywheel Blasters

Very simple in concept, these blasters have two little wheels that rotate incredibly quickly. When the dart is loaded and the trigger is pulled, it travels through the wheels and is fired out at a high speed. All flywheel blasters are electronic and require batteries.

nerf gun flywheel system

String Blasters

Similar to a traditional bow and arrow, you pull back on the string until it is taut. Then when the trigger is pulled, it releases the string and propels the dart forward.

nerf n stike elite crossbolt

Air System Blasters

Finally we have air system blasters. These work by the user pumping air into the chamber which compresses it and creates a lot of pressure. You then simply pull the trigger to fire the dart. These are great for long distance, rapid fire, and by nature can’t jam.

As you can tell, the use of air pressure is crucial to mechanics of traditional blasters. Therefore the plunger is a key component of the gun. So let’s take a look at this in more detail…

There are two types of plungers, direct and reverse.

ner air system blaster

Direct Plungers

These are the most powerful and use either a rubber seal or an o-ring to stop any air escaping. Blasters with direct plungers such as the Longshot CS-6, are a favourite among the Nerf modding community. A bigger plunger or an improved seal can increase the air pressure, therefore the power of the gun.

nerf gun direct plunger

Reserve Plungers

This is a type of plunger used in the N-Strike range. It’s disliked by many in the community for not being as powerful as direct plungers, but great for parents who want something a bit tamer for their kids.

It works by moving backwards to create air pressure whilst simultaneously collecting the ammunition. However it also moves forward again as part of the same ‘move’ which causes some of the pressure to release, therefore losing some power.

nerf gun reverse plunger

So there you have it, the four main types of blasters and a bit more insight into how they Nerf guns work.