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Nerf Gun Barrel Mod: CPVC, PETG, or Brass?

So you want to mod the barrel on your Nerf gun so it will shoot farther? That’s understandable. Chances are you’ve looked around and to much demise, have no idea what type of material you should use for the barrel. Don’t fret, I’ve been where you are, and was clueless as to how to go about doing it. After sifting through NerfHaven (past all the hate and troll posts) I managed to get a good grasp of how this is done, and to save you the hassle of visiting NerfHaven, here is what you need to know about the different barrel materials.

But First, Why Even Mod The Barrel?

The major reason why nerfers mod the barrel is to increase shooting distance. The standard barrel that comes with most Nerf blasters, including N-Strike Nerf guns, is considerably larger than the dart, which doesn’t allow much air pressure to build up. By decreasing the ID (inner diameter) of the barrel to a size that is closer to the OD (outer diameter) of your darts, there will be less room around the dart for air to pass, allowing more pressure to build up behind the dart.
nerf barrel mod

What’s the Trick to Getting The Most Range?

It’s important to know that you will not get maximum range if the dart fits too loosely or too tightly in your barrel. For maximum range you generally want the dart to go into the barrel without having to twist or wedge it in. A dart should fit in snug enough that it doesn’t fall out when the barrel is held vertically, but comes out with a decent puff of air.

To test a barrel you can perform what is called a drop test. Hold the barrel vertically and insert a dart. If the dart falls through then the barrel is too big. If it fits in easily without twisting then proceed to blowing into the barrel with a small burst of air. If it comes out then you have a winner!

Breakdown of CPVC, PETG, & Brass

The three most commonly used materials for a barrel mod are CPVC, PETG, and Brass tubing.

CPVC as a Nerf Gun Barrel

CPVC nerfCPVC stands for Chlorinated Poly Vinyl Chloride. Basically, all you need to know is that it is just an acronym that tells the buyer the chemical compatibility of the piping.

Many people use CPVC because it’s cheap, and available in sizes that will fit a Nerf dart. You can often find 5/8 inch CPVC piping for $1.50 per 10 feet, which is more than enough for 10+ Nerf guns.
CPVC nerf barrel

Brass as a Nerf Gun Barrel

brass nerfBrass is also used because of its availability in small sizes. Another big reason to use brass is because of its polishing abilities. It can be polished to a finer tolerance, meaning that there will be less friction on darts that pass through it.

Many nerfers buy polished brass tubing for that reason. However, the only drawback to using polished brass is the price, which can be in the upwards of $10 per foot of tubing. Of all the options, Brass makes the most sense if you are looking for serious performance. If you do go with Brass, the size you should use is 17/32, which fits streamline darts. The drawback to using brass is epoxy glue doesn’t stick to it as well, and its also tougher to cut.
Brass nerf barrel

PETG as a Nerf Gun Barrel

PETG nerf barrelWhy is PETG used? Because it’s clear, and looks cool on a Nerf gun. It is also available in small sizes.
If you want a barrel that outperforms the stock barrel on your Nerf gun, yet also something that looks cool, then PETG is a good choice. Aside from looking cool, it also is easier to cut, easier to glue, and light enough to use on a Nerf gun with an auto-rotating barrel without hindering performance. You can find this stuff for $3.66 for 6 feet.
PETG nerf barrel

So, Which Should You Use?

I and many other Nerfers swear by brass, it works phenomenally, and can add 15 feet in range to a stock Nerf gun. Do some other mods and you can easily get TWICE that! However, while we do love brass, there are some benefits of getting the other two. Here is a quick summary of the benefits of each of the above materials:

  • If your on a budget, CPVC can’t be beat!
  • If you want performance, Brass is best!
  • If you need something light, PETG is perfect!

Get Started! Here’s Some 17/32 Brass For Sale

Since you’ll probably be buying some Brass of your own to mod your Nerf gun’s barrel, here’s a fantastic deal on 3 feet of17/32 brass tubes.
In most places brass tubing can cost $10 per foot, but with the deal below you can get 3 feet for $7.89, which works to be just $2.63 per foot! Pretty flippin good deal if you ask me 🙂

  • Updated July 24, 2016
  • Mods
Spencerak - January 19, 2012

You have missed some advantages in you list do I shall state them here and you have also gotten a few details mixed up:

Barrel material depends on your blaster,
If you are using an air powered blaster, you want a looser dart fit, petg works fenominally for this, and CPVC works fenominally for spring powered blaster due to its tighter fit on darts. Brass is great because you can match the size to your foam for a “fine tuned” barrel fit. Short guide to barrel fit at the bottom of the post.

Brass:
I recommend nesting brass inside 1/2 inch PVC to protect it from getting dented and bending, and to protect people from getting cut by it.
Advantages:
Sizes telescope together, allowing for airtight breeches to be easily made.
Can be purchased to suit the OD of your darts, 17/32 generally works well for springers, 9/16 generally works well in airguns with a 1/2 inch stub of 17/32 at the back to help hold the dart in the barrel, because as I said loose(but not too lose) fit for airguns, tight (but not too tight) for spring powered blasters.

Disadvantages:
Expensive
Can be somewhat heavy
Can be hard to find
Can bend If not Treated properly (see the video about uin13’s bbb w/ integrated AT2K)
Can have a sharp edges
Can get dented

1/2 inch CPVC:
Advantages:
Cheap
Great springer fit on darts
Easily made into a speed loader
Can hammer a piece of 1/2 inch PVC onto the end for PVC couplers
Durable
Readily available (most hardware stores should have it)

Disadvantages:
There isn’t really any thing to use to make a breech with it
No variety in sizes, other than between brands
Can occationally have too tight of a fit on darts
Not as attractive as shinny brass or clear petg
Likes terrible painted

PETG:
Advantages:
Light easy to cut
Very similar ID to 9/16 brass
Great for airguns
Clear so you can see your darts better
Fits well inside 1/2 PVC for breeches

Disadvantages:
Can be too loose on darts
Can be hard to find a useable size
Must be ordered online to find a useable size

Barrel fit:
When choosing you barrel material, you should make sure you have a good dart barrel fit, that means for springers you should have a just less than a twist fit and for airguns you should have a fairly loose fit like petg, the darts should be able to fall through, but slowly fall through and have a tight part at the beginning to hold the darts in the back of the barrel.
Petg or 9/16 brass with 1/2 inch of 17/32 brass in the back to hold darts works well for air guns
Cpvc and 17/32 brass works well for springers.

Other barrel materials may work for you, if you have perfect steel pipe or aluminum pipe that fits the needs for your darts use it, if you are unsure, low temp hot glue to attach it, because if you have to you can rip it off with hot glue.

    NerfGuns.net Admin - January 24, 2012

    thanks for the added info- you made some great points I never would have thought to make

Hagen - January 13, 2012

Thanks a bunch. I’ve been looking at prices for brass tubing tonite since I made this post. May have to try my hand at it sometime soon 🙂

Hagen - January 13, 2012

So what kind of tools are required for cutting brass, pvc and petg? I’ve just started the nerf modding recently, so my tools at this point are basically a dremel 3000, a air of pliers and some screwdrivers. Will the dremel be enough and if so, which cutting blades are recommended?

    NerfGuns.net Admin - January 13, 2012

    Can’t say what blade I used as I don’t have my dremel around right now. Brass and pvc are fairly weak, so any sharpened metal blade should work, one that is larger than the pipe is best, as you will get the cleanest cut that way. You can then smooth the edges with a file and some steel wool on the inside to smooth out the lip. I’ve put a rod on the end of a dremel, with steel wool on the end to polish the inside of the brass to smooth out the imperfections. You don’t want any bits poking up on the inside, and the steel wool does a great job at removing them.

Josh - January 9, 2012

I have BOW 1/2″ CPVC but my stefans fit to snugly in the barrel and have decreased my range a lot. just to let you know I use ClimaSheild 1/2″ foam backer rod for my stefans.

dallon - October 2, 2011

hey what size PETG should I buy if I want to shoot stock micros?

Naturalman_7 - August 5, 2011

@mason
The easiest way (that actually works) would be to just slide the new barrel into the old one and glue it in. Some sanding of the old barrel may be required.
@Jake
Stainless steel will work for barrel replacement. The three listed are just the most common. I’ve seen people who have used stainless steel just as effectively.

Just has a “heads up”, some organized Nerf wars may not allow exposed metal barrels (another pro of using CPVC or PETG) becaue of safety.

no one - July 30, 2011

yeah im pretty sure it works as long as the diameter size is compatible with the darts

Jake - July 13, 2011

Will stainless steel work??? Because i have a lot of stainless steel pipes lying around and some of them are the perfect size!! PLZ ANSWER

mason - April 14, 2011

Once we buy one of the three how exactly would you install it into your need gun, and by chance would you happen to know how to put a maverick’s chamber onto a night finder?

Declan - June 19, 2010

REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEALY helpful and informative, thanks

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