Airsoft is a game played by people that use replica non-lethal guns to eliminate opponents or targets. The guns (called replicas) shoot 6mm plastic pellets at speeds 58 mph (94km/h). It is not known if there are any risks to health associated with Airsoft.
Currently, Airsoft is mainly popular in China, Austria and Japan, but it is growing in the United States every year.
When you pull the trigger an electrical current passes through two small metal plates which create a magnetic field. The electricity magnetizes the little metal plate inside of the chamber that releases the pellet out of its’ shell. When this happens other microelectronics within the gun divert the electrical pulse to a coil which in turn compresses air. This is called an “air amplifier”, and when this happens it creates pressure which propels the pellet out of the chamber like a jet engine would work (the little copper coils you see near the muzzle are amplifiers).
Airsoft guns can weigh anywhere between 1lb (0.5kg) – 4lbs (1.8kg), although most replicas average around 2lbs (1 kg). Even though some manufacturers claim their guns weight as heavy as 8lbs (3.6kg), they still aren’t heavy enough to cause any damage on impact, even at close range (~20 feet or 6 meters).
What is the difference between Airsoft and paintball?
The main difference is that airsoft guns shoot plastic pellets, whereas paintball guns shoot spherical gelatin capsules filled with a colored liquid. Paintballs are typically $25 to $30 for a box of 430 balls, whereas airsoft pellets are only $2 for two thousand. Although Airsoft pellets may sting less than paintballs (as they travel at lower speeds), one must be careful not to get hit anywhere near the eyes as even super soakers can cause eye damage if one is too close when you’re being shot at.
Airsoft guns can range from anything like pistols, sub-machine guns (SMGs), assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and even grenade launchers. Most airsoft weaponry replicates real guns but there are also some more exotic ones like Simonovs AK-47 (a semi-automatic Russian assault rifle), the UZI (an Israeli submachine gun) and even a Luger P08 (a German pistol).
Due to their very low cost and high availability of parts, any airsoft gun can be customized or upgraded with aftermarket parts available from most good Airsoft retailers. For example; you could upgrade your replica of an M4 Carbine into a computerized AEG that will give you a tactical advantage on the battlefield or just modify it so that it’s looks better than everyone else’s.
To date, Airsoft has a relatively clean safety record. However there are reports of some incidents including noise complaints from the neighbors, property damage caused by pellets flying through windows/walls and serious injury due to unsafe use of airsoft guns. Although Airsoft guns have been involved in many accidents, they have only ever contributed to less than 0.01% of all firearm related injuries recorded in the United States each year.
The most common type of accident with airsoft occurs when someone is shot directly or indirectly in the eye at close range or on purpose during games involving simulated military combat.
According to an article written by Jennifer Price for CNN Health & Wellness, results show that people who are hit directly in the eye are at risk of permanent damage such as blurred vision and blindness, whereas those who are struck indirectly in the eye only suffer from temporary blurriness.
Of course it is important to note that airsoft guns can be extremely dangerous if misused or mishandled. Always obey the rules and regulations set by your country’s governing body (i.e.: The ATF for USA and PASA for New Zealand) which will determine what age you have to be to purchase an airsoft gun and whether or not you need a license/permit. It is also important to realize that these replica weapons can cause serious injury if misused so always use them responsibly with consideration for people around you at all times.
Although airsoft guns are mostly used for sport/recreation purposes, they can hurt if one is shot at close range. However there is no need to be too scared of these replica weapons as the average Airsoft gun does not shoot very fast or far (~200fps) and most injuries that occur are negligible (e.g.: welts).
If you were to hold an Airsoft pellet in your hand, you would notice that all of the force behind it comes from its mass (which is very small) rather than its speed like with paintballs which more like small balls of liquid. The kinetic energy stored in some pellets can be as high as 0.8 Joules which is enough to penetrate the skin but only causes a small sting.
The main goal of airsoft is to simply have fun and improve our reflexes while playing against each other in game scenarios that correspond with the different weapon types (e.g.: SMG, sniper, shotgun). We all set out on the field having no intention of hurting anyone but by accident we can easily cause injury if one does not follow the rules or take precautions whilst playing.
Even though I personally believe airsoft can be safe when used responsibly, I recommend parents to always supervise their children when they are using their replica weapons especially for younger kids who tend to get carried away in games and aim at people’s heads which is obviously a major safety concern.
Being hit directly in the eye with an Airsoft pellet would not be a pleasant experience, however other than a few red spots and maybe some bruising you should be fine to continue play. However just realize that serious injury can occur if one gets hit in the eye at close range which is why it’s important to always wear safety glasses when playing Airsoft just in case something unexpected happens.
I remember one time I was shot directly in the face while wearing safety goggles during a game of airsoft and it left me with two tiny red marks where the pellet penetrated my skin but it did not cause any lasting discomfort or pain.
Although airsoft pellets usually do not penetrate much further than your top layer of epidermis, the resulting bruise would probably remain for a few days to 1 week after being hit.