Airsoft guns originated in the 1970’s-1980’s in Japan when owning firearms was considered illegal. They are primarily a prop gun made to simulate the real thing and were primarily used for target practice then. Airsoft guns use non-metallic pellets, usually plastic, for ammunition.
Today, airsoft guns are being used in strategic military-like games played by people from all walks of life and all ages. Their popularity is partially because they are full scale replicas of real world weapons.
The advantage to airsoft guns is that there is no area of the United States where owning one is illegal although some states require them to have an orange tip as a way of distinguishing them from actual guns.
Other states may require you to have a license for your airsoft gun or may have restrictions on the sale and distribution of airsoft guns. Airsoft guns are becoming more popular than paintball guns due to the fact that the safety equipment needed is less expensive.
An airsoft gun is not considered to be lethal. It can therefore be used legally by most people for not only for strategic games, role playing, and target practice but also for self-defense. When compared to firearms, airsoft guns are lighter to carry, they make less noise when shooting, and ammo is inexpensive and accessible.
Keep in mind that an airsoft gun will not kill or even maim your target. Airsoft guns should primarily be used to distract an intruder or attacking animal with pain, allowing you to either get away or move in closer to conduct a more lethal attack.
Gas Airsoft Guns
Gas powered airsoft guns make use of HFC22 gas canisters which come packaged similar to the ammo in real gun magazines. Insert the canister into the gun clip and load your pellets.
The gas is compressed in the canister so that when the trigger is pulled the gas expels from the canister and powers the pellet. High quality airsoft guns can fire as rapidly as you can pull the trigger and pellets can travel up to several hundred feet per second.
Electric Airsoft Guns
Electric airsoft guns are easy to use, generally well manufactured and primarily made in Japan. Electric airsoft guns include a motor that discharges the pellets very effectively. They are battery powered with batteries that can recharged and re-used and are generally more popular than spring operated of gas powered guns.
Spring Operated Airsoft Guns
Spring operated airsoft guns work precisely as expected, through cranking of a spring mechanism that results in compressed air that in turn propels the pellets when the trigger is pulled.
The spring mechanism itself varies depending on the type of gun used. Pistol replicas require repeated pulling back on the hammer to “load” the air, revolver style guns use a slide lever, whereas rifle replicas use bolts and levers.
Standard Safety Tips for Airsoft Guns
- Do not point your airsoft gun at any person not wearing safety gear.
- Immediately drop your gun at the direction of a police officer, do not attempt to “show” them that it’s not a real gun.
- Always wear proper safety equipment including helmet, gloves, protective eye wear, and chest protection.
- Keep your finger off the trigger unless you are ready to fire.
- Store your gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
- Understand that your airsoft gun could easily be mistaken for a real firearm—take precautions.
- Ensure that everyone within view of your playing area knows that you are engaging in play and not using actual firearms.
- Never conduct airsoft games in an area where you do not have the owner’s permission or where laws prohibit such activity.
- Do not use, carry, or display your airsoft gun in a public environment such as a park, school, or large event.
Make sure that you are fully aware of and understand the regulations for airsoft guns in your area.
France does not require orange tips on airsoft guns but open carry or even transporting firearm replicas, such as airsoft guns, in public areas is prohibited. Those under 18 cannot purchase airsoft guns over 0.08 in power. Any airsoft gun with a power of over 2 joules is subject to the same weapons law as actual firearms.
Germany considers airsoft guns with less than 0.5 joules power as toys and they are legal for any person. Airsoft guns with power between 0.5 and 7.5 joules fall under the same restrictions as air rifles, must be specially marked with “F in a pentagon”, and are illegal for anyone under 18 to use or purchase. Carrying of airsoft guns must be in a closed case.
Australia has very strict regulations for airsoft guns according to the area you are in so make sure you do your research here to avoid getting into trouble. In most areas, guns capable of automatic fire and those resembling machine guns or sub-machine guns are prohibited.
United Kingdom has the strictest of regulations when it comes to airsoft guns. They must always be carried in secured cases which prevent the firing of the gun while it’s inside the case. Those over the age of 10 can own an airsoft gun but only if given as a gift or with parental consent.
Airsoft guns cannot be sold to those under the age of 18 and can only be sold to those who are registered airsoft “skirmishers”. Penalties for violations are severe so it’s crucial that you fully research the laws in your area.
United States legally allows airsoft guns for users of all ages, which is the least restrictive laws when compared to other major countries. Some local areas have imposed additional restrictions with respect to propulsion and compressed air. Individuals must be 18 or to purchase an airsoft gun over the counter in stores.
The orange tip is not required by federal law except during shipping and transport. Several states do require the orange tip or bright color over the grip and trigger guard to differentiate from a real firearm. New York City requires airsoft guns and toy guns to be manufactured using clear or brightly colored plastic and possession of any instrument that uses air or spring propulsion requires a license.
Some DIY Airsoft Gun Projects
Modify an existing toy gun like in this video:
Make a sniper/shotgun airsoft rifle as demonstrated in this video
This video shows you how to make your own airsoft machine gun from only 4 things: a soda bottle, automotive brake line, a quick release air compressor fitting and an air compressor blow gun.
As demonstrated in the video, this could certainly cause an intruder or attacker to hesitate long enough for you to get your family out of harm’s way and escape.
Here’s another rapid fire DIY airsoft gun:
Here’s a neat little demo on how to turn an ordinary pen into an airsoft gun made from a pen and the explosive component from a party popper. It won’t be lethal and isn’t very accurate but it could work as a distraction.
For the more serious airsoft gunners where budget is not an issue, you can get a custom airsoft kit like this one and assemble it yourself:
Regardless of whether you decide to purchase an airsoft gun or make one yourself, please ensure that you are careful to adhere to any laws that apply for your particular location.
If you plan to use an airsoft gun as part of your self-defense plan in a SHTF scenario, make sure you have practiced with it and are confident that it will be sufficient enough to distract your attacker so you can make your next move.
Do you already own an airsoft gun? Is it just for gaming or is it part of your plan for a SHTF or WROL situation?
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart.
For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of nine grandsons and one granddaughter, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.