I’ve never given much thought to choosing water guns based on performance metrics. Otherwise I might be inspired by who looks the best or which advertiser catches my eye more often (looking at you Nerf). After my experience testing these water guns, I can assure you that there are huge differences in performance as well as best use cases.
Some of these models are great for swimming pools. Or beaches. Or yards. None of this is a huge surprise. However, what I have learned is that some of them specifically it is not intended for some of the listed use cases. Imagine my surprise when I showed up to a fancy water gun fight in the pool (that’s a thing, right?) with my new $174 water gun. Then I grumble all day because I can’t even take that thing into the pool!
Or maybe I chase my dogs around the yard, unleash a moisture apocalypse on them, but have to run back to the sink afterwards each individual shot!!!
Well, don’t worry about getting caught in these dire circumstances. I’m here to walk you through the best and worst water guns for your situation. Go!
The Super Soaker brand has long been synonymous with summer, water guns and super soaking. One important factor in staying in battle longer is how much water you can carry without needing a refill. The Hydra tops our list with a capacity of 2.1 liters (just over half a gallon), which is a third of a liter more than the second-place, also-branded Super Soaker, and a full liter more than the largest capacity no. Super Soaker.
If you’re determined, you can empty this capacity in less than 20 seconds, resulting in the second-highest soak factor (CNET’s comparison water gun metric—essentially milliliters per second of water ejection) of 107.11 mL/s. Again, third place is also held by the Super Soaker, and more than twice the soak factor of the next non-Super Soaker unit. You will hear about the above soaking factor separately.
This is a larger product, and is about 6.5 pounds fully loaded. Fun for most people, but might be too much for little warriors.
Yes, it’s a water gun. Yes, it costs $174. It’s hard to fully justify this $200 water cannon behavior, but it’s cool, so I can’t stay mad for long.
First, understand that this battery operated water gun has two different shooting modes. There’s the normal single shot (you get 22 on a full tank) and there’s the PowerShot. By holding down the trigger, the gun is loaded and sets off a larger, more powerful explosion.
In our tests, we found that the PowerShot took water about 11% farther, at about 34 feet 7 inches, compared to a single shot at 30 feet 10 inches. Only the TEMI water gun was able to overcome the single-shot distance, but the Spyra is the long-distance winner with its PowerShot mode.
First, I bought them by accident. I think meant to buy them, but I misunderstood what they were, and I’m glad I did.
The packaging and “ages 3 and up” markings for very simple plastic guns indicate that they are indeed aimed at a younger audience. But boy, did they completely subvert our testing expectations.
As runners-up in almost every category they didn’t win outright, the TEMI 2-pack performed impressively. You’ll hear more about the specifics of testing this gun later, but just know that for $26 you’re getting not one, but two impressively performing pieces of plastic should be enough to justify the title of best value.
This category almost has two winners, but I gave up on the TEMI water gun because while it’s great for pools, it’s pretty requires pool to be used. The X-shot gun, like most water guns, can be loaded and the battle can be moved anywhere. Try that with TEMI and you’ll be reduced to one shot capacity.
You’ll get one of the best non-Super Soaker water capacities, and even with constant fire, you’ll drench your opponents for about 45 seconds. The downside is that each explosion doesn’t carry that much water, and it’s a pretty short trip.
However, this gun boasts a one second recharge time, so you’ll likely outlast your opponents for as long as you can stay in the fight. This is what makes the X-shot a great option especially for pool/body of water use.
Pools are a great place for water gun fights. But honestly, it’s the same everywhere else if you ask me. I chose the Spyra Two for this category because I actually feel like it has a few disadvantages if you’re in a pool or other large body of water. Because of the battery and other internal electronics, the Spyra Two is specifically non-submersible – just submerge the nozzle part under water to fill it. But, if you’ve even been in a water gun fight in a pool – it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll end up underwater at some point. Not a happy ending for a nearly $200 water gun.
However, if you have strategically placed water buckets, the Spyra Two would be an incredible asset in a backyard fight. You’re also gifted with a halo-style LED tactical display that keeps you informed of your ammo situation, so you can plan your plots around that. Add the advantage of the PowerShot aspect and the Spyra Two, available in red or blue, is the best tactical water gun in the yard.
You can read more about this metric in our How we test section below, but this is basically an indicator of how quickly you can absolutely sink someone or something.
We take the amount of water that the product can hold and divide it by the time it takes for that water capacity to be exhausted. Our soak factor is measured in milliliters per second. And if you want to sink someone quickly, TEMI is there.
Although the TEMI boasts the smallest water capacity of all the units tested, you can empty that capacity in less than 2 seconds, resulting in a soak factor of just 300. The runner-up, the Super Soaker model, came in with a soak factor of just 107.
You’ll need to park in or near water to use them, but that makes them great for pools or a trip to the lake. If you’re building your combat arsenal with water weapons, think of this as a placeholder for maximum close-range carnage.
The KULARIWORLD blaster honestly did not perform well in our tests.
For starters, its stated capacity is 1,500mL. I found, however, that the actual capacity is about 30% less – about 1000 ml. It also came in dead last in our distance tests, barely going past 21 feet. But there is one aspect of this blaster that I quite enjoy.
The nozzle is a rotating disc that gives you four different spray configuration options. There is a single hole nozzle option that offers a standard water spray gun. You also have options with two and three holes that split the spray, and there’s a flat slot spray option for maximum absorption.
While this blaster wasn’t my favorite, I really like this feature and wish this type of feature was used more often in some of the larger players.
Other water guns we tested:
: Old school design stands the test of time. It didn’t do particularly well in our testing with the lowest absorption factor overall, but the pressure-firing design is fun, but may hold you back in a faster-paced skirmish with the available piston or automatic options.
: This was actually a great product, just not a category winner. The third largest soak factor, and was the only gun that actually shot further of his stated claims at 30 feet vs. 25.
: This gun had one of my favorite looks. It holds a lot of water because it’s basically all capacity and no lint. It doesn’t shoot very far compared to our other units tested, but it will keep you in the game for a while, taking about a minute and fifteen seconds to empty – even with constant shooting.
: With this year’s release of the Spyre Two, we also wanted to compare it to the previous model. In some ways this version may be more useful as it can be fully submerged without all those internal electronics, but in terms of performance, the new generation wins (except that the LX can dump its full load about 6 seconds faster for a higher soak factor). If you like the look but don’t want to drop $174 on the Spyra Two, the LX is more manageable at $89.
How we test water guns
The very nature of water makes some aspects of water gun testing a bit difficult, but I feel good about the process overall.
For starters, we need to know how much water these things hold. I do this by weight. Since one gram equals one milliliter of water, it is easy to measure the capacity using a scale. After subtracting the weight of the empty blaster, you can see exactly how the capacities shake out in the table below. The Nerf Super Soaker Hydra has the highest overall capacity, followed by its sibling the Super Soaker. The lowest capacity was definitely the TEMI blaster as it only stores water for one burst at a time.
Once the ammo is locked, I go through the process of firing each gun as fast as possible to find the shortest possible time to empty that ammo. I have help from someone with a timer, and sometimes I have to do it more than once. Sitting down and shooting a water gun for several hours straight is a lot more training than I expected.
You can see here that usually if it takes a long time (over 30 seconds) to empty a water gun, its overall soak factor (capacity divided by emptying time) is quite low. And, while the fastest drain time doesn’t always mean the biggest soak factor, that’s exactly what TEMI works for. With a moderate single shot capacity of just over 500mL, the 1.8 seconds it takes to empty gives it a massive soak factor of nearly 300.
Its Super Soaker siblings come in second and third with similar idle times, but the Hydra’s larger capacity gives it a better soak factor. The old-school Nerf XP50-AP and Team Magnus guns have medium capacity and low soak factors, but keep you in the fight much longer than their counterparts.
The only other measured test we do is for distance. This one is quite simple in design, but has a touch of abstraction.
Keeping the blaster at the same starting point, height, and angle, I let off a few blasts, usually five, until I’m sure I can’t draw any more water onto the outer concrete surface. Discolors well with water. I then measure from the starting point to the farthest edge of the marks on the water – not taking into account any stray individual drops.
Frequently Asked Questions About Water Guns
What is a water bullet?
Water gel/bullet guns or soft gel guns or soft gel guns fire small biodegradable polymer water beads. The beads start out small and dry, but before use, soak them in water to enlarge them so they can be inserted into the blasters.
Mainly – water gellets as they are called, they dissolve on impact, leaving only water as a residue.
How much does the most powerful water gun cost?
Currently, the Spyra Two is the most expensive water gun on the retail market at $174 (plus shipping).
Overall, the deals under $20 are cheaper water guns, $20 in the mid-range, and more expensive water guns starting at $30.
Which water gun has the longest range?
Most water cannons have a range of 30-50 feet, but in reality they rarely shoot beyond about 30 feet.
The Nerf Super Soaker Soakzooka measures about 30 feet, the TEMI Super Water-Blaster Squirt water gun comes in at 32 feet, and the Spyra Two in Power Shot mode measures about 34 feet.