Warm weather is almost here! As kids get ready to ditch their tablets in favor of some old school outdoor fun, it’s time to amp up the artillery for water war season.
We blew through gallons of water to find the absolute best in aquatic artillery innovation. We can say, without question, that the X-Shot Water Warfare Epic Fast Fill by Zuru(available at Amazon for $14.99) can’t be beat. Its fast-fill technology puts kids at the top of their water combat game. For smaller kids that struggle with the 34-ounce water capacity of the X-Shot Water Warfare Epic Fast Fill, the Nerf Super Soaker DinoSquad Dino-Soak Water Blaster (available at Target) ran a close second.
While the X-Shot and the Dino-Soak took top honors, there were some pretty close contenders. Most models we tried offered cool features like double-barreled drenching or sustained spraying—so we have lots to say about each toy.
Here are the best water guns we tested, ranked in order:
Zuru X-Shot Water Warfare Epic Fast Fill
Nerf Super Soaker DinoSquad Dino-Soak
Nerf Super Soaker Twin Tide
Nerf Super Soaker XP100-AP
Zuru X-Shot Water Warfare Fast Fill
Team Magnus Incog
Zuru X-Shot Fast Fill (2-Pack)
Joyin Sloosh Spritz Aqua Phaser (3-Pack)
Max Liquidator Original Water Blaster (6-Pack)
1500CC Super Squirt Gun (2-Pack)
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This water gun seriously drenched the competition during testing. This is a feature-packed soaker, with excellent range, and it comes at a great price.
If you’ve ever been frustrated with the time it takes to refill an empty soaker while the water bubbles over and your opponents attack you, the Zuru X-Shot line of soakers will offer a whole lot of gratification during your next water war. The ingenious design of this line has a flip-open back that reveals a nearly 3-inch opening that can be refilled in seconds. This feature works particularly well if you’re having a soak-off near a pool of any size, or are utilizing a refill bucket.
Once closed, the seal is tight and leak-free—making all of the X-Shots the most leak-proof of all the water guns we tried. While the leak-proof seal was impressive, it did come with some challenges. Kids initially found it difficult to open the back of the blaster. However, if you make it a two-handed job (one hand presses the release while the other flips open the back), it’s completely doable for kids, though probably most ideal for children 8 and older who have a little bit of hand strength.
The fast-fill technology made this a favorite, but it wasn’t the only thing that set this soaker apart. Its 30-ounce capacity allowed for sustained soaking and reduced the number of times that players needed to stop to reload. It also has excellent pump action and its drench range was the best of the bunch: It propelled streams of water for more than the 30-feet we measured out for testing, clearing the roof of our garage. We also love that this soaker has a rotating face that allows you to change stream density. This not only allows kids to mix things up, it has a “spray” option, which came in handy when water play included a sensitive 3-year-old that stopped having fun when she felt like the streams of other soakers felt too aggressive.
The only complaint we got from kids was that this soaker can feel heavy and unwieldy for the smaller testers, but if you have a child age 8 or older—or if you’re the one you’re shopping for—this water blaster can’t be beat.
Rapid fill back
Front dial allows for four different water streams
For smaller kids, the Nerf Super Soaker DinoSquad Dino-Soak packs a ton of power in a relatively small package. What impressed us most was the soaker’s ability to be manageable enough for kids as young as 3 years old, yet powerful enough that you may want to steal it from your kid on occasion.
This blaster immediately stole the show by our dinosaur-obsessed testers for its cool design while, at the same time, eliciting skepticism from the adults. We adults, however, ate our words. This is a surprisingly powerful soaker that completely kept pace with competing models that are geared towards older kids. The Dino-Soak effectively shot streams of water slightly over 25 feet, making it a formidable piece of artillery. It was also surprisingly lightweight for the 24 ounces of water it holds, so younger kids really felt like they were at the top of their blaster game.
What truly set it apart, however, beyond the obviously cool design, was the action. This had the smoothest and easiest pump action of all the soakers we tried. This made it a soaker that was easier for kids to use without getting fatigued—and it also made for a pretty good time when adults took it to the battleground.
There are hundreds of soaker guns on the market. We selected our pool from top sellers with the best reviews, then we pitted them against each other. We had testers ranging from age 3 to mid-40s, and tested for ease of use, fun factor, water capacity, and distance of shooting streams.
Hi, I'm Janelle Randazza, the parenting writer here at Reviewed. I also happen to love a good water war and have been shooting soaker guns since the early 1990s. While I’m not sure there is any sort of certification for expertise in water combat, I’d probably consider myself an expert on all things Super Soaker and beyond.
I’ve tested toys and products for Reviewed for over two years and love to nerd out on the nuances of each product. My lab assistant for testing was 7-year-old Henry. We recruited as many friends (kids and adults) as we could to test the soakers on numerous occasions. (As you can imagine, this wasn’t much of a challenge.)
We determined weight, action, size, soaking power, and firing patterns to be the most important features to look for when buying a soaker. We also looked for soakers that allowed kids to hit the targets with precision and accuracy.
First and foremost, we looked for playability. We tested each gun to make sure they held us much water as they claimed and we tested distance and the velocity of water streams for each.
We filled each soaker with water and food coloring and measured a distance of 25 feet. Considering we were testing mostly for kids in the 4-to-10 age range, this seemed like a reasonable distance to expect a soaker to shoot while still maintaining full force in its water stream.
We also tested the ease of which each soaker could be refilled. We first asked each child to refill the blasters without assistance. If it was too difficult for a child of the manufacturer's recommended age to figure out without help, we docked the soaker in our scoring.
Finally, we tested for weight and ease of carry. We did weigh each of the soakers after they were filled, but we looked at this objectively as well observing the kids and determining how long a child could use a soaker—particularly the heavier ones—before they decided it was too heavy to keep using them.
What You Should Know About Buying a Water Gun
How much water capacity you need will largely depend on who your child is playing with. If you get a multipack of low water capacity soakers, it’s not such an issue since the playing field will be leveled. If you’re purchasing a soaker to bring to parties and play with kids with varying soaker models, we recommend a water capacity of 24 to 35 ounces. Kids will need a minimum of 24 ounces to stay in the game, but anything with about 35 ounces is generally too heavy for kids to manage while running around.
Weight of the Soaker
If the weight of a soaker is too heavy, kids (and adults) will get fatigued by playing. If you want a soaker that’s over our recommended 35-ounce capacity we encourage you to look for ones with alternative handle options to accommodate the weight.
Likewise, a soaker that’s too large for the child you are buying for will prove unwieldy. Since soaker battles aren’t the kind of activity you play when standing still, any soaker you buy should be at a scale your child can easily manage.
Many soakers put added tension at the pumps to enhance a soaker’s drenching capabilities. While this is generally a great thing, a worn out pump arm is a buzzkill on the battlefield. We recommend you look for a soaker that has an action that your child can manage during long durations of play.
Other Water Guns We Tested
Nerf Super Soaker Twin Tide
This was another incredibly impressive soaker by Nerf. The Nerf Super Soaker Twin Tide tied for second place with the Dino-Soak in the competition. It surprised us in that it felt relatively lightweight, yet it holds up to 33 ounces of water—more than most of the competition. We were, quite frankly, surprised when we weighed this one: Because of the compact and slightly stocky design, it never felt unwieldy to use, even for younger kids.
This soaker has an extra-wide mouth so it fills far more quickly than most. We never felt frustrated by the fill time and we also felt like this one may even be preferable when filling directly from a garden hose.
This soaker is double-barreled and shoots two simultaneous streams of water at the same time—making for some pretty substantial soaking action that kids loved.
There’s a reason why this soaker is a classic. Based on the original soaker model that was developed in the early 1990s, this soaker packs a powerful punch and is a blast to use.
This soaker functions differently than the rest in that you pump to fill a reservoir and then pull a trigger to release a powerful and sustained stream of water. It also holds an impressive 44 ounces of water, making for fewer refills.
This was a thrillingly powerful soaker and a favorite of some of our testers, but where it fell short was during refills. Kids got pummeled by their opponents during the process and, for the younger kids, it was a bit complicated to reassemble. If this were a test for adults, it’s possible this soaker would have taken top prize, but for the 4-to-7 set there were frustrations. Kids 8 and older, however, had a blast with this classic model.
Like the X-Shot Epic Fast Fill, this soaker has the flip-back fast-fill feature that allows kids to refill their water guns within seconds. This blaster comes in with a 24-ounce capacity and doesn’t have the dial feature that allows kids to choose their water stream. While some may prefer this pared-down version, it was too similar to the Epic, so it really just felt like it’s living in the shadow of a much cooler model. That's not to say it's a bad water gun (it's actually pretty great), it just pales in comparison to the Epic Fast Fill.
And now for something completely different. What everyone liked most about this soaker was you didn’t realize it was a soaker until it was too late. Named the “Incog,” this soaker looks more like a briefcase for an international spy. The compact size made it easy to hold, the action was great, and—holding an impressive 40 ounces—it still remained lightweight and delivered great drenching power.
Where it fell short was during filling. The screw top cap didn’t always recap easily—particularly when kids were being targeted during refills. This caused some frustration, some leakage, and maybe one temper tantrum. Overall this is still a fun soaker and we loved the element of surprise, but this is better for older kids.
We’d be lying if we said these weren’t fun to play with. If you’re going into a small scale, hand held, water gun fight, your foes don’t stand a chance. Like the other X-Shots, these pistols have the fast-fill option. Unlike them, however, the reservoir opens with a really fun flip button. In the end, however, they really are just water pistols and couldn’t stand up to the fun of soaker models.
If you are buying for a family outing or want to buy a few soakers for a party, the value of this three-pack can’t be beat. The value, however, was the only thing we really liked about these. Since they only hold 15 ounces of water, kids ran out of water almost as fast as they could refill it. Refilling was slow, and there were no fun features to make these stand out. The price point is terrific, but it’s definitely not a “you get what you pay for” situation. Since most of the soakers we tested (and loved) came in at $15 or less, this may be a situation where a little splurge is worth it.
At $17 for six soakers, these are an excellent choice for your next pool party. Even though they look like something that rolled out of Elmo’s toy box, we were actually blown away at just how far the soaking stream reached with these. At a 30-foot distance, these were a blast to unleash on unsuspecting victims who underestimated their power. That being said, they only hold about 3 ounces, so they need to be refilled for every shot. These are a fun choice for little kids in a kiddie pool, when you don’t want anyone accidentally bonking each other with the hard plastic of other soakers, and when you have water to refill at the ready. Our 3-year-old tester loved these, but kids 5 and above were ready to move on to soakers with more exciting features.
We initially loved the idea of this two-pack. They held an amazing 50 ounces of water and, like the X-Shot Epic, had an adjustable water stream dial. We also like the choice of handles that allow users to adjust how they held it to maximize their endurance in long water fights. In the end, however, we were pretty underwhelmed. Even though these blasters held an exceptional amount of water, the stream didn’t go as far as competitors. While 27 feet isn’t anything to frown at in most situations, this soaker was competing against similar products that shot 30 to 35 feet.
None of the kids were particularly wowed by these blasters and, considering these come in at about $14 a piece, there would be no real motivation for us to buy these on our own after testing them.
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