Steampunked Nerf Gun





Introduction: Steampunked Nerf Gun

Transform the Nerf N-Strike Night Finder into a steampunk gun with paint and a few buttons!

Step 1: Paint the Gun.

I first cleaned the gun with rubbing alcohol to remove any grease, dust, dirt, etc. Then I used a variety of sizes of paintbrushes (just the normal artist's brushes from Michael's or Aaron Brothers that come in a pack of five) to paint the gun. Use the fine tip brush to get the edges and little details like the nails. Work slowly.

I used the cheap acrylic craft paints from Michael's (Americana or Folk Art) that you can find on sale for $0.39 each. For the main body of the gun (yellow and gray parts on the original) I used the Raw Sienna color. The recessed and raised details are Pure Gold. You will probably need two coats to get the right coverage. For the "metal" pieces I painted them Slate Grey first, then used my fingers to rub/buff on some Metallic Silver to get the right look.

Step 2: Dirty It Up!

To get the antique, this-gun-has-been-through-a-lot look, I had to dirty it up with more paint. I thinned some black craft paint with water, then used my fingers to rub the mixture all over the gun. There's nothing scientific about this step; just rub all over and if it's too dark, wipe it with a damp paper towel before it dries. To get the authentic aged look, pay especial attention to the nooks and crannies that would normally collect dirt and be hard to clean: around the "nails" and in the grooves around the ridges.

You may need a couple of coats to get the right look. Just let it dry and look at it again after a break to see what it still needs.

Step 3: Decorate It!

To cover up the very un-steampunk giant "Nerf" logo, I looked through my button stash for giant buttons that still had the gold/brass steampunk aesthetic. If you don't have a button stash, look through the button aisle at a Jo-Ann Fabrics or any other well-stocked fabric store; they have so many choices for large gold buttons. You'll want ones that either have a flat back, or are made of plastic.

I chose these gold and crystal-esque buttons, but they had a buttonhole thing on the back that stuck out and prevented them from lying flat. Since they're plastic, I was able to use a hammer to smash the back a few times and then break off the sticky-out-y piece. Lay your button on a thick mat (I used my bath mat) before hammering!

I also felt that the bright gold color of the button wasn't quite appropriate for the antique look, so I colored over the edges with a black Sharpie.

Once the button backs were flattened and the front was "antiqued," I used hot glue to attach them over the logo.

I also found a couple other buttons to put in the grooves on either side to dress the gun up some more. I chose a wing for one side and a wood-looking button with a tiny crest for the other side. I attached them with more hot glue.

On the top of the gun, just for a little more visual interest, I attached the handle of a plastic paintbrush that I painted gold and a brass capnut.

Step 4: Make More!

This basic series of steps can be applied to any plastic gun. I used the same paints and similar embellishments on a tiny little water gun from the dollar store for a similar effect. Think about how you can incorporate the existing parts of the gun in your steampunk aesthetic; for example, I left a little bit of the neon green plastic showing here because it can function as a cool little vial of chemicals.



    • Water Contest

      Water Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Clocks Contest

      Clocks Contest

    28 Discussions

    Can't wait to do it myself

    This is an amazing job on every single detail and great instructions to make it

    Question: Do I need one of my cats to sternly watch me as I paint? Or is that optional?

    Really nice work. I love the paint job.

    Nice. .. I'll see if I can costamize a bigger gun than this!

    Very nice! Using buttons to cover up the logo is a nice touch. And, by the way, the sticky-outy thing on the button is called the shank.

    The orange tip is a safety feature, but I have wondered if distressing or dirtying it up like the rest of the gun would work.

    Thank you so much for sharing this brilliant tutorial! Just featured it on my blog as one of the best geeky DIY projects I have ever seen!

    That is a great design and will look good with my modification! Only thing is: That gun is the Nerf Nitefinder, not the name you listed above

    thanks for the tips. kmart had them on sale for $2 a piece. they completed my steampunk costume.


    ello chaps im 16 and im in the process of modding/steampunking my recon cs-6 now dont get too excited the only things ive done to it so far is taking out the trigger lock and mag lock and hot glued a twist dead bolt and a hindge to my gun but anywho my question is how can i paint my gun too look steam punked very cheaply oh also just fyi if you want a really grimy look ive found that using old somewhat melted electrical tape makes it loook really grimy if you put it on then take it off next day careful though kinda sticky

    My husband paints miniatures, and he's always painting right onto plastic. He might have a special primer that he uses to make the paints stick, but he's never had any problems with them coming off. Acrylic paint is basically tiny bits of plastic suspended in paint-stuff, so you'd figure that it would handle being put onto plastic pretty well.

    The nerf gun looks great. But the only thing I disapprove is the painting over the orage barrel. I think it is required by law that dart guns must have a orange tip if you bring them outside the home.

    4 replies

    I had no idea that that law existed! I've brought this to large events before and nobody ever said anything, nor did I see any modded Nerf guns that had retained their orange tips. I think this is pretty obviously not a real gun, but I guess that can be disputed. Can you link me to a site explaining this law?

    i don't know if that is the exact law. But we have a nerf gun event at my collage and i attended a safty meeting where a police officer explained that the tip can't be painted. I think this has more to do with police knowing that what your carrying is not a real gun. I see the reasoning with that when it comes to campus safety the events I went to, they have a weapons check and as long as something is peace-tied, or has no ammunition, or is obviously a toy, it's allowed. Maybe rules vary by location?

    If you go back and look at Step 1, I mentioned that I used the "Folk Art" or "Americana" brand of acrylic craft paint from Michael's or Joann's, both brands work just fine for this purpose. Just water down the generic black color for the dirt look.

    just an fyi, i am working on the nerf gun thing too and 60 grit sand paper will take off any unwanted logos (nerf) or lettering (do not point in anyone's eyes) lol, and 320 grit smooths it out again. :) I'm at the painting stage but i havent had time!! arg.

    1 reply

    and these are not specific. i basically bought very rough sand paper, and very fine sand paper. it doesnt matter exactly what number...