Nerf blasters* have been a favorite toy since their introduction in the late 1980s. Once simple toys, these machines have evolved into manual as well as battery-operated, accessory-laden, belt and clip-fed behemoths*. Communities have grown around painting* and/or modifying ("modding") these blasters to shoot further or more accurately*, and it is now possible to purchase aftermarket internal parts as well*.
The Nerf blaster lineup provides a variety of firing mechanisms, each presenting different characteristics for rate of fire, accuracy, distance, and modding potential. For example, the older Longshot* used a "direct" plunger system which provided greater ranges than the "reverse" plunger found on recent blasters. Battery-operated flywheel-based blasters such as the Rayven* provide for high rates of fire, but may suffer in accuracy and distance (unless modified by increasing the voltage used).
Presumably in an effort to please the more serious Nerfing community, Nerf has introduced a line of blasters labeled the "N-Strike Elite" series*, which returns to the direct-plunger system and includes a new dart type (colored blue, unlike previous orange and white darts), sporting an advertised range of 75 feet. While several have speculated that the new dart design contributes to the increased ranges and anecdotal evidence supports this, it is difficult to find a true difference between the new and old dart types. Further, while many reviews of nerf blasters and modifications test range and accuracy, these tests frequently lack scientific rigor.
This study attempts to address these shortfalls by comparing both dart accuracy and range across modified and unmodified blasters. While the new Elite blasters have not yet been released in stores accessible to the authors of this work, we have secured an accessory pack of Elite darts for comparison to older dart types (orange and white). Further, we compare accuracy and distance for four firing/blaster types in a 3x4 design.