How Old Do You Have To Be To Buy An Airsoft Gun?
Do you remember your first airsoft gun?
I remember mine, and I have to admit that it was a lot of fun running around, trying to shoot my friends in the but (when our parents weren’t looking)! Don’t get me wrong, we all did this sort of stupid things as kids. Luckily, no one got hurt and I found my passion for mil-sim games and had the chance to make some wonderful friends.
Now, as you hopefully can imagine, I was around 11-years old and my airsoft gun was low FPS (as it was the case for all my friends). So how come that some brats could play make-believe war, running around with guns spitting plastic BBs?
As it turns out, most countries don’t have restrictions regarding the age of the user. As long as the buyer is an adult, he/she can do as they please with it once it’s in their possession. Still, the rules differ from country to country, so it’s best to do a bit of research before making a purchase.
Regulations in the UK and the US
In both the UK and the US, you have to be 18 years of age to buy an airsoft gun. However, it is legal for an adult to buy an airsoft gun and allow someone underage to use it. They can also offer it as a gift, without any legal repercussions.
However, in the UK, this only applies to airsoft guns that are not a realistic imitation of a real-steel firearm. These are brightly colored airsoft guns or transparent ones, that follow specific regulations regarding size and FPS.
Since October 2007, if you want to buy a realistic imitation (usually black or metallic design), you have to be 18 and meet one of the following conditions:
- You are registered and have a membership with a properly organized and insured airsoft site
- You are an active UKARA member
- You are a member of a properly insured historical re-enactment group or society
- You work with a video production company or acting on behalf of a museum
- You are performing your Crown duties (only for Crown servants)
On the other hand, in the US, federal law requires that airsoft guns (regardless of color, size, or type) have a minimum 6mm wide blaze orange tip (which is illegal to remove). Since, in the US, people can carry actual guns in public, the orange tip is critical for safety reasons.
However, there are US states (such as California) that don’t allow any guns (real or toy) to be brandished in public. Also, in New York City, it’s best to avoid using any type of gun, even it’s just a toy – the local regulations require the user to have a license for “any pistol or rifle or similar instrument in which the propelling force is a spring or air” they possess.
As a rule of thumb, make sure you don’t display your airsoft weapon in public places (such as parks, malls, stores). Unless you are on an airsoft field, in your backyard, or in an isolated area where no one can get hurt by BBs, there is no reason to whip out that bad boy.
Countries with Strict Regulations
I think we can all agree that the UK and the US regulations are a bit relaxed when it comes to the age one can use an airsoft weapon. On the other hand, there are countries like Switzerland, Sweden, or Australia where both the buyer and the user have to be 18 years of age.
Some regions allow 16-year-old users, with the condition that an adult supervisor is present at all times. It also helps if you have a license to shoot and use firearms (for users under 18 and 16+).
Countries that Ban Airsoft Guns
Believe it or not, there are countries that ban the use of airsoft guns on their territory. Right now, such countries are Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Korea.
Also, Canada doesn’t allow the importation of replica airsoft guns on its territory. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t purchase and use an airsoft gun that is not a replica of a real steel gun in Canada.
In addition, Tasmania (a region of Australia) considers both airsoft and paintball to be “war games”. As a result, both sports are banned from the region.
When played fair and with the right protection gear, airsoft is an extremely exciting and fun game. It allows players to develop all sorts of skills and relax (especially if the game is played outside), but it’s also about creating strong bonds with people who enjoy the same stuff as you.
Still, given the fact that airsoft guns can be powerful and improper game etiquette can lead to injuries, proper regulations are necessary. Overall, most countries see airsoft as a game and only restrict the maximum power of an airsoft gun (usually measured in the energy it can develop) and its aspect.
As such, airsoft guns for regular use must look more like toys (right colors, orange tip, flashy markings) and less like real steel guns. Realistic replicas can also be used, but only on highly-regulated airsoft fields and/or in organized events.
So, before you decide to join the global airsoft community, make sure it is legal for you to purchase and use such a product.