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Legal Issues with Airsoft Around the World

— April 21, 2021

If you are thinking of entering into airsoft games, first and foremost, you have to read about your local laws and rules.

Airsoft is a game in which the players get replicas of real guns, which are known as airsoft guns. In the game, the player has to shoot plastic BBs. Since airsoft involves guns that can seriously injure, they have to undergo lots of legal issues. Each country has made their own rules and regulations regarding the use and circulation of airsoft guns. In some places, such as Australia, it is completely banned whereas in places like Canada, airsoft guns have many restrictions. Most of the countries allow the use of airsoft guns with orange tips on. Depending up to the location, airsoft guns can be called as “soft air devices” or “air compressed toys”.

United states

You can play airsoft in majority of the countries in the world. Some countries have specific rules regarding airsoft like you have to stick to only certain muzzle speed. In some countries, it’s compulsory to place the orange muzzle tag in front of the gun. This is done in order to differentiate between real and replica guns. Except in some cities like Chicago and Detroit, airsoft guns can be used in whole US. In some states, such as New Mexico, New York, and New Jersey, you can use airsoft guns only in private areas with the permission of the owner and you cannot publicly demonstrate them.

United Kingdom

Image by Chris, via, CC BY-NC 2.0, no changes made.
Image by Chris, via, CC BY-NC 2.0, no changes made.

Some guns are put into the category of realistic imitation firearms or RIFs in United Kingdom. Under Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, you cannot sell, manufacture, or import these RIFs from and into United Kingdom. Once you are 18 years of age you can get an airsoft gun in United Kingdom. You cannot publicly demonstrate RIFs and it’s an offence. Majority of airsoft fields and sites are registered under United Kingdom Airsoft Retailer Association (UKARA).  IFs (Imitation Firearms, including ‘two tones’) are the alternative of RIFs which can be used in UK. These are RIFs with paint on their body which covers at least 51% of the product. Anyone who is 18 years of age can get an IF.


You don’t need a license and registration to own an airsoft gun which has minimum muzzle speed of nearby 111.6 m/s (366 ft/s) and maximum muzzle velocity of 152.4 m/s (500 ft/s). It will be treated as firearm if used to commit crime under criminal code. Proper documentation and license are needed if the airsoft gun has more muzzle speed as well as muzzle energy as mentioned. If the airsoft gun is made up of plastic and has muzzle speed of 152.4 m/s and shoots very light pellets, it will not be considered under the Canadian Firearms act.


Regardless of state in which you are living, you need an Australian Customs B709 Importation of Firearms – Police Confirmation and Certification For the import of airsoft guns. This form is available from the relevant state’s police department. In some states and territories of Australia, gel ball blasters can be used legally. Automatic guns and the guns that look like sub-machine guns or machine pistols are strictly prohibited in all states of Australia. Each state of Australia has its own set of rules and regulations regarding airsoft. In states like New South Wales, airsoft guns are completely restricted as they are considered as real firearms under the Firearms Act 1996. Under Victorian Legislation, no airsoft articles are allowed in Victoria. No import will be authorized in the state as stated by Victoria Police Licensing & Regulation Division (LRD). South Australia has divided the airsoft guns according to muzzle speeds. Guns which have muzzle velocity of less than 53 m/s (175 ft/s) are treated as “regulated imitation firearms” whereas guns which have higher velocity than this are treated as real firearms. You need the same license as required for “regulated imitations”. You won’t get any permits and authorization for imports of airsoft guns in Western Australia.


Federal Law on Firearms and Explosives doesn’t provide the regulations of airsoft gun in Mexico. Therefore, you can use airsoft guns and accessories in a legal way under the constitution in Mexico. There is the regulation of gas blowback guns and other guns that used compressed gas. You just need to get a small permit by Ministry of National Défense. You don’t need any permit in the import of spring powered guns such as bolt action replicas and AEGs. You don’t need any import permit from the Ministry of Défense in order to import AEGs and gas-powered guns but the importer must make sure that there is complete documentation and paperwork of technical specifications and characteristics of the replicas in hand so that in case if customs seize the replica you can present the documents to Customs authorities and they can release the replica from customs.


If the airsoft gun is not exceeding the limit of 3.5 J/cm² you can easily use the airsoft gun legally. Due to the problem of replica guns being converted into real firearms, there are legal requirements depending upon the model. The airsoft gun should be made up of low-melting point metals and non-ballistic plastic when it comes to structural components, and the mechanical components that will be used in the airsoft gun should be incompatible with real firearms. Japanese National Police Authority make use of litmus paper to check if the airsoft gun can be used to fire like real ammunition or not.

New Zealand

You can use single-shot and semi-automatic air-powered guns legally and possess them legally in New Zealand. You just make sure that you are 18 years or above to use airsoft gun or 16 years of age with a firearms license. If the person is under 18 years of age, they can use airsoft gun under proper supervision of someone who is 18 years or a firearms license holder. You can only use the airsoft gun for gaming purposes and it’s illegal to use the airsoft gun in public and you cannot threaten any citizen using airsoft guns, such as in pointing or brandishing.

Bottom line

If you are thinking of entering into airsoft games, first and foremost, you have to read about your local laws and rules. If you don’t do this, you might face trouble with your game.

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