Nerf Rival vs. Nerf Gel Blasters: Which Ones Win?

Nerf Rival vs. Nerf Gel Blasters

Nerf Rival vs. Nerf Gel Blasters: Which Ones Win?

Key Points

  • The Nerf Rival and Nerf Gel blaster series are part of Hasbro’s Nerf blaster line, but they have different playstyles and capabilities.
  • The Nerf Rival is a high-performance blaster with longer range, increased ammo, fire rate, and punch, while the Nerf Gelfire blasters use water-soaked gel rounds that burst on impact.
  • The biggest difference between the two blasters is the ammo, with the Nerf Rival using foam darts or pellets and the Nerf Gelfire using gel pellets that burst on impact.
  • The Nerf Rival is more accurate and has a larger product lineup, while the Nerf Gelfire blasters hit harder and are recommended for outdoor battles.

The Nerf Rival and Nerf Gel blaster series are part of Hasbro’s Nerf blaster line. However, while they look pretty similar, they suit different playstyles and have unique capabilities.

In essence, the Nerf Rival is a high-performance version of the classic Nerf blaster, featuring a longer range and increased ammo, fire rate, and punch. Meanwhile, the Nerf Gelfire blasters’ main feature is that they use water-soaked gel rounds. They are single-use and burst on impact, but they don’t harm the environment.

The Nerf Rival series was created to fill the demand for high-performing hard-hitting Nerf blasters. As a result, these products have monopolized that market since their release in 2015.

On the other hand, the Nerf Gelfire blasters were latecomers in the gel blaster scene, and haven’t been able to make a big difference. However, both of these blasters are worth an in-depth comparison, and this article will do just that.

Nerf Rival vs. Nerf Gel Blasters: Side-by-Side Comparison

Nerf RivalNerf Gelfire
First Announced20152022
Round TypeFoam darts or pelletsWater-absorbing gel pellets
Ammo CapacityUp to 200 roundsUp to 800 pellets
Estimated Range100 feetOver 100 feet
Average Fire Rate8 rounds per second10 rounds per second
Average Round Speed100 feet per second130 feet per second
Battery-poweredDepends on the modelYes
Recommended PlaygroundIndoors and outdoorsOutdoors
Product LineupMore than 15 models3 models

Nerf Rival vs. Nerf Gel Blasters: What’s the Difference?

The Nerf Rival and the Nerf Gelfire blasters have similar specifications and looks, but they are suited for different uses. While Hasbro sells both under the Nerf line, a Gelfire blaster isn’t technically a Nerf blaster, so you shouldn’t expect it to feel like one.


The biggest difference between a Nerf Rival and a Nerf Gelfire blaster is the ammo. A Nerf Rival uses high-impact foam darts or pellets exclusive for Rival products. On the other hand, the Nerf Gelfire blasters use gel pellets.

These grow in size as you soak them in water, similar to the Orbeez. Here lies the greatest downside of a Gelfire blaster: the gel pellets burst on impact and aren’t reusable.

Hasbro and other companies make up for that by offering blasters that carry over 500 pellets and packets of 5,000 rounds. Meanwhile, an average Nerf Rival blaster carries less than 100 foam rounds.

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Nevertheless, with a Nerf Rival, you wouldn’t need to purchase rounds very frequently — just enough to replenish the ones lost, if any. And if you have a Nerf Gelfire blaster instead, you’d need to purchase several packs of gel rounds after each battle.

Also, you can’t just use a gel round out of the box. First, you need to soak it in water. As the absorption process takes a while, you need to plan ahead so the rounds are ready by the time you need them.

On the flip side, the soaked rounds can last several days before disintegrating. Still, don’t wait too long or they’ll become unusable.


The Nerf Gelfire blasters can carry many more rounds than a Nerf Rival, so a fully automatic blaster can act as a machine gun. Of course, it can get jammed, but, in principle, the idea is sound! If you wanted the same capability on a Nerf Rival, you’d need to rely on a proper Rival machine gun carrying 200 rounds.

However, the Nerf Rival is more accurate, especially the blasters of the Nerf Rival Edge series. With longer barrels and almost weightless rounds, they can outmatch any Nerf Gelfire blaster.

Playing Style

While both blaster types are similar in most respects, the Gelfire blasters can hit a little harder. This is due to the slightly higher mass of the gel pellets and the more powerful motor that fires them.

Because of that, Hasbro recommends the Nerf Gelfire blasters for outdoor battles, where the higher distances make use of the blasters’ increased power and range.

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Players like the gel pellets because the experience is closer to airsoft and paintball, especially due to the pellets bursting on impact. Also, they are biodegradable, so they don’t hurt the environment.

As a result, they are excellent to use in more natural settings, because that way cleanup wouldn’t be necessary. 

Meanwhile, using a Nerf Rival would mean looking around the battlefield and picking up every single dart and pellet. As they are easy to get mixed up, it’s always a good idea to write your name on them.

Product Lineup

One of the biggest advantages of the Nerf Rival is the large number of blasters available. You can choose the equivalent of pistols, automatic rifles, sniper rifles, and even machine guns! Meanwhile, as the Nerf Gelfire blaster series is so new, there are only three models on offer.

They aren’t bad, but it’s disappointing considering that the gel blaster market is highly competitive. As a result, you’ll likely find better gel blasters than Hasbro’s offerings.

Still, it’s too early to disregard the Nerf Gelfire line completely. It’s still too new, and even the Nerf Rival blasters weren’t that good when they first came up. Surely, in a few years, it’ll become as good as the top blasters of the competition.

A Brief History of the Nerf Rival Series

Hasbro unveiled the first two products in the Rival series in the fall of 2015. The offerings were the Apollo XV-700 and the Zeus MXV-1200. Since then, the company has released at least one new product every year, including accessories and other related products.

Nerf vs. Airsoft
In the world of video games, to nerf means to reconfigure an existing character or weapon, making it weaker.

The line has been so successful that Hasbro has released some spin-offs within the series. For instance, there’s the Edge series for increased accuracy and the Curve Shot series for shooting in curved trajectories.

In terms of design, the Nerf Rival blasters have differed very little through the years and share the same design language. The biggest difference lies in the color scheme, but each Rival blaster is unmistakable.

The Nerf Gel Blaster Series: Hasbro’s Newest Blaster Family

Until July 2022, Hasbro’s Nerf product line had only focused on (wait for it) Nerf blasters. As a result, everyone was taken by surprise when the company unveiled the Nerf Pro Gelfire Mythic gel blaster.

Oddly, Hasbro didn’t create a different line for gel blasters and instead put it under the Nerf brand. However, this new interest in gel blasters wasn’t that surprising.

By the time of the announcement, the market was flooded with dozens of products of varying quality. Naturally, Hasbro wanted a piece of the action.

With only three products so far, the Nerf Gel blaster line is in its infancy. However, there’s much to look forward to, and Hasbro is unlikely to disappoint.

Nerf Rival vs. Nerf Gel Blasters: 5 Must-Know Facts

  1. The Nerf Rival uses foam rounds, while the Nerf Gelfire blasters use water-soaked gel pellets.
  2. The Nerf Rival blasters are more accurate but require picking up the rounds after a battle.
  3. The Nerf Gelfire blasters carry much more ammo than a Nerf Rival, but the pellets are single-use.
  4. The Nerf Gelfire blasters hit harder and have a higher range, so they are more suited for outdoor battles.
  5. There are Nerf Rival products for any playstyle, while the Nerf Gelfire line only has three offerings.

Nerf Rival vs. Nerf Gel Blasters: Which Ones Are Better? Which Ones Should You Use?

Ultimately, there’s enough space for both the Nerf Gelfire and the Nerf Rival. They are unique enough that it would be worthwhile to own both. Unfortunately, the Nerf Gelfire isn’t up to the Rival series regarding product variety, but that will change as Hasbro releases more products.

Furthermore, there are lots of gel blasters as good — or even better than — the Nerf Gelfire, so you could look into that, too. However, if you want to stay within the Nerf brand, you would be better off with a Nerf Rival.

They have been on the market for almost ten years, so the company had time to improve the products. Meanwhile, the Nerf Gelfire blasters are too new, so you might encounter some issues as the designs mature.

You should also consider the kind of battlefield on which you’ll combat. Nerf Rival blasters are better suited for indoor warfare, while Nerf Gelfire blasters are far more convenient outside.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What age is Nerf Rival for?

Due to the increased power, Hasbro recommends the Nerf Rival and the Nerf Gelfire blasters for ages 14 or older.

Do Nerf Gel blasters hurt?

Yes, but only enough to leave a little sting, akin to a very weak paintball or airsoft round. However, their impact force is significant, so you should avoid aiming at the eyes or the face.

Which series is better? Nerf Rival or Nerf Hyper?

If you only care about carrying more ammo, the Nerf Hyper is better. The Hyper rounds are smaller than the Rival ones, so a Hyper blaster would carry more rounds.

Is it illegal to use a gel blaster?

No, they are fully legal in the United States and most countries. However, Australia has raised concerns about their safety, and in some US counties, assault with a gel blaster is a criminal offense.

Does Nerf hurt more than airsoft?

No, but it depends a lot on the gun’s power, the firing distance, and the pellet. The more powerful Nerf blasters like the Rival series could even surpass a weak airsoft gun.

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