How to Paint a Nerf Gun

Nerf guns look pretty good out of the box, but if you really want a gun that rocks, paint it. Here is a step-by-step guide to disassembling, painting and reassembling your Nerf N-Strike Maverick.

How to Paint a Nerf Gun

Why disassemble? Well, there are lots of little bits (and big bits) that are inside but show on the outside. The bullet cylinder is the biggest example. To get the cylinder one color and the rest of the gun another you have two options: paint very carefully, or take the gun apart.

What you will need:

  • A Philips head screwdriver (X-shaped) that has a long narrow shaft that will fit inside the screw slots;
  • Some different colors of spray paint;
  • Spray paint primer;
  • Newspaper;

Most spray paint will stick well to primer and the primer will stick well to plastic, so as long as you buy both you can get any kind of spray paint.

Nerf Gun with Spray Paint

Now you’re ready to start. The cocking mechanism on the top back of the gun has three small black screws holding it together. Unscrew these and put them carefully in a jar. Carefully remove the cocking mechanism. It will be a bit hard to pull apart, but there’s nothing left holding it together but friction.

Now, unscrew the 8 long black screws on the body of the gun and open it up (placing your screws in your jar, of course). Behold the cool array of springs and pistons inside your soon to be modified Nerf gun. Ooooh! Pretty!

Inside a Nerf Gun

Unscrew the 5 little silver screws and place them in the jar. You can now remove all the little bits and put them in the jar. Keep the trigger out.

While you’re removing bits, take a close look at the piston (top left attached to the big spring). Notice how its inner tube is pressed up against the barrel of the gun. If you don’t put it back together that way it ain’t gonna work.

You might notice there are three screws in the end of the barrel where the bullets go. Don’t remove these. Well, you can but it doesn’t do much for you.

Nerf Gun Components

Now spray paint the various bits the colors you want. We put down a coat of primer first, then let it set overnight (way too long but we had school the next day), then spray painted one color, let it dry, then the other color.

Note: spray paint drips and splatters if you put it on too thick. Apply thin coats, holding the can a foot or so back from the gun and moving it back and forth all the time. Don’t worry about getting everything in the first pas and if you want to do a good job, apply two thin coats. It takes a little longer but the gun comes out looking way better.

Once it all dried from the last coat, we started reassembling the gun. This is where it got tricky.

Replace the black tab used to reload the barrel and the spring that goes on top of it. Attach the orange T-shaped piece to the inside of the gun as well as the connected circular pieces. These will connect the trigger to the center of the barrel and turn the barrel between shots. Leave the right side of the circular bits tilted up a bit. Plug the barrel into the end of the circular bits and slide it into the gun. It’s a bit of a tight fight but it came out of there so it will go back in.

Nerf PistonNow insert the piston with its big spring. Be sure that the end of the inner tube of the piston hangs over the yellow plastic lip on the gun casing and that it is pressed up against the barrel. The piston works by shoving air rapidly into the small holes in the barrel when the trigger releases the large spring, so if there is a gap the air will just blow out inside the gun and the bullets won’t fire.

Slip the trigger back in place and attach the spring to the end of it underneath. Hold the whole mechanism in place and pull the trigger a dozen times or so to make sure the barrel turns. If it doesn’t you probably have paint on the inside edges that’s causing too much friction. Get some light sandpaper and sand this off. We had to reassemble the gun a few times before we figured this out.

Almost done!

If it works, re-screw all the silver screws and insert the tip of the barrel. Slide the sight into the cocking mechanism along with the tiny spring that goes below it. Attach one half of the cocking mechanism to the back side of the gun and slide the metal rod through the narrow long spring above the piston.

Attach the outer shell of the gun and screw in the 8 long black screws. Replace the second half of the cocking mechanism and re-screw the 3 small black screws to hold it together.

Gold Nerf GunLoad your gun and shoot your friends.

Doesn’t work? Well, it didn’t for us on the first try either. Open her up and check the bits. Make sure everything that moves smoothly, that there isn’t paint on anything stopping it from turning and that the piston is touching the barrel.

Black & Silver Nerf GunThis is a great project. It doesn’t take long but it does span a few days. If you want the best possible looking gun, take your time and apply 2-3 thin coats of paint.