Nerf blasters purchased from the store already resemble actual firearms, especially in silhouette, at a distance, or in low light. The Nerf Recon/Retaliator is one such blaster, and one of the most popular to modify into an imitation firearm, due to its’ close geometric resemblance to that of the military M4 carbine or popular civilian AR-15 carbine. The addition of an M16A2 carry handle or simulated carry handle on these toys contributes further to the outline of an actual weapon. Furthermore, tactical accoutrements such as slings, scopes, foregrips, and flashlights are not uncommon sights on todays’ Nerf blasters. These additions are largely innocuous, in that the underlying paint is still bright blue or orange or white, but do not help at distance or in low light conditions. Wars are often fought exclusively in the day, so this is not that big of an issue.
Figure 1: Nerf Retaliator modified to simulate M4 carbine 
The painting of one of these blasters is another story altogether. When the blues and greens and yellows are replaced with olive drab and desert brown and black, the appearance, as well as the law, swiftly changes on these blasters. What was clearly a toy can now be mistaken for a real steel firearm, even at relatively close distances. The same could be said of homemade blasters, which often can be mistaken for improvised firearms by jumpy bystanders with no knowledge of firearms or the strengths of common materials.
But U.S. federal regulations dictate that as long as the orange tip is preserved, the blaster is totally fine in the eyes of the law so long as certain markings are maintained, such as this one:
A blaze orange (Fed-Std-595B 12199) or orange color brighter than that specified by the Federal Standard color number, marking permanently affixed to the exterior surface of the barrel, covering the circumference of the barrel from the muzzle end for a depth of at least 6 millimeters.
So the argument can be made that if the orange tip is preserved, the blaster still falls within legal ground. While this may be true, the spirit of the game, and the perception of it to others changes dramatically. If brightly colored blasters or PVC homemade blasters are left in their original colors, or painted flamboyantly, a passerby to one of our wars will clearly see that these blasters do not pose a threat, and that the players are not looking to intimidate. Now if these blasters are painted black or desert brown, and a bystander sees one or more of these, there is an air of discomfort. To the ignorant, our harmless games begin to resemble para military exercises. Even if legal to the letter of the law, there is nothing stopping a bystander from calling the police, and having the players kicked out of the public playing area under some fabricated charge.
This is a major advantage that Nerf has to airsoft and paintball. The game can be played in a public park, without the investment of expensive equipment or specialized game fields. Even if the game itself is not to be regulated on a federal level, if local parks are made hostile to the wars that are often held there, we would need to relocate. It only takes one arrogant player to talk back to a passerby or one errant dart to hit a passing child to have us vilified. The culture of our game is dependent on the passivity of outsiders, and, as seen in broadcast media, our reputation has nowhere to go but down. If one catastrophe was to take place, our game may very well be regulated, and we don’t need to add any fuel to the fire by painting our blasters black.
Figure 2: Homemade Nerf pistol with clear plunger tube, and bright color 
Imagine if every game was required to be played in an airsoft arena. Months worth of notice would need to be given to arenas, and their schedule worked around. Every game would warrant additional payment to these fields or arenas on top of travel and potential lodging costs for those of us that drive long distances to Nerf. The spontaneous weekend war would cease to exist, and the few large scale wars we do have would be nearly impossible.
The moral of this article is to keep your blasters their stock colors, or paint them, “white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink, or bright purple” ; keep them looking like toys. Let’s continue to be those geeks at the park with those weird toys, and not earn ourselves the reputation of troublemakers. Stay safe, stay smart, and Nerf on.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor do I profess to have an expertise in the law in any way. I am in no way responsible for your actions. Please consult a lawyer before undertaking such endeavors. This article focuses on United States Federal Law, but the spirit of the argument may be extended to all principalities. For those in the U.S. I recommend glancing through the referenced material, particularly the first.
 “Part 272-Marking of Toy, Look-Alike and Imitation Firearms.” Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. 23 Jan 2013. U.S. Government Publishing Office. Web. 2 Jul 2015.
 “Penalties for entering into commerce of imitation firearms.” Legal Information Institute. 5 Nov 1988. Cornell University Law School. Web. 4 Jul 2015.
 srsim2. "Nerf Paintjobs." deviantart. Web. 5 Jul 2015.
 Lucian. "Homemades Picture Thread." Nerfhaven. 27 Oct 2013. IP.Board. Web. 5 Jul 2015.
Edited by Aeromech, 05 July 2015 - 02:02 PM.