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Can Airsoft replicas kill someone? [Educational Resource]


When our awaited day of airsoft skirmish finally arrives, we travel out there with one mindset only – I am going to “kill” a bunch of enemies and win! It is obvious that this is a figure of speech. But can an airsoft replica really kill someone? I am going to dive right in and give you all key information to understand the potential harm your airsoft equipment can cause!

In short terms: no, airsoft replicas do not carry enough energy to kill a human. However, shooting at humans from close proximity without appropriate protection can result in serious injury from a chipped tooth to blinding. Generally, one’s skin is tough enough to deflect BBs at range but from a point blank or close distance, a BB will be able to penetrate skin.  Therefore, you are most likely to get bruises and red spots, but you don’t have to worry about being killed when getting shot at during an airsoft skirmish. On the other hand, airsoft replicas can lethally or severely injure small animals of the size of birds or mice from close range.

Read More: If we have satisfied your curiosity so far, why not see how much airsoft actually hurts in our other article!

Let’s talk about Joule energy - What is it?

Joule is an energy measure that measures the forces applied by an object hitting another object. The factors that define the joule energy are speed, weight and size of the moving object. When it comes to airsoft, we are legally limited to 1.13j for the most part, unless you’re using a sniper rifle or a semi-automatic DMR, then that limit can go as high as 2.3j. 

This is very low compared to real cartridges or even air rifles which are usually between 8 and 16 joules. Air rifles with bigger .22 ammo which shoot as powerful as 16j can pierce skin through to vital organs from very close range.

This is due to the small diameter (5.6mm) and high speed (600+fps) of heavy steel ammo (0.95g). If you are currently looking to buy an airsoft replica,  please make sure to double check before purchasing, as some countries call airsoft replicas “airguns” instead of airsoft.

The chart below shows different ammos compared, pay attention to the energy increase:

As you can see, the light-weight airsoft BBs play a big factor in the smaller energy compared to paintball or live ammunition. It also means that BBs don’t cut through air well which translates to a lot of energy lost over distance before they hit their target.

Read More: If you are considering playing airsoft, or might have just started, then we recommend checking our ‘Top 5 tips for beginners’ which covers the basics of the sport! 

Pushing replicas beyond limits and law

The big question a lot of people ask is whether it is possible to modify an airsoft replica to be able to kill. The answer here is debatable because many people modify their replicas to be more powerful. Sure, you can push your airsoft toy to more than 800 FPS (feet per second) but the question is does that make it an airsoft replica anymore? I have heard of HPA replicas pushing 800fps on 0.48-gram BBs which is equal to more than 1200fps on 0.2 bbs or 14j in energy.

To put it in perspective, according to law in UK (Firearms Act 1968, section 57a) an airsoft replica is only regarded as an airsoft replica if it shoots plastic projectiles of spherical diameter of up to 8mm and 1.3j in automatic fire or 2.5j for semi automatic. Otherwise it is classed as a firearm and therefore illegal.

Could that be lethal? The answer is still no. As dangerous as 14j sounds, it is still less powerful than air rifles, mainly due to airsoft ammo being bigger in diameter and of course plastic, therefore having lesser penetration capability. Overall, it could never do any damage to human bone structure or internal organs.

Read More: Since we are on the topic of airsoft replicas; simply – ‘Top 5 Starter Airsoft Replicas’ in which we recommend the best value for money replicas for beginners!

Is airsoft dangerous?

There are numerous risks associated with playing airsoft, although they are all common similar to any other outdoor activities. Different sites vary from the type of field from slippery and uneven surfaces, which can result in twisted or broken bones, to dark hallways which can result in tripping hazards. 

The priority for airsoft marshals is to make the game field  as safe of an environment as possible for everybody. Therefore, good airsoft clubs will identify all the risks and make players aware of them before the game. 

Therefore, it is important to obey the rules as breaking them can backfire on everyone. No pun intended. You want to climb on a tree to get a better view of the enemy? Sounds good, but if you fall, you can get seriously hurt so why take that risk? My advice is to always approach situations like this with care and ability to assess the risk involved. 

While most sites have someone with first aid training on site, in many cases there is a significant lack of equipment to help or transport someone who has had an injury. I have seen sites where the woods terrain is so rough, a first aider would not be able to get himself to their position, even on a quad bike or such. 

Naturally, I am exaggerating what could happen during a game, but it is necessary to point out that potentially the biggest threat to your health during a game is you and your actions.

Common injuries during airsoft replica use can include:

  • Scratches and cuts due to sharp edges especially with metal construction replicas. You can also get your skin painfully pinched as some replicas have rapidly moving external parts.
  • Bruises due to some replicas being simply heavy. Dropping a LMG replica which weighs more than 8kg can become a very memorable moment. I have dropped my own heavy RIF on a sling, causing it to hit my knee… multiple times.
  • When using a modified replica over the legal power limit, the likelihood of face protection failing drastically increases. That means BBs could shatter to pieces against a mesh mash or could break through goggles which will cause serious injury.
  • HPA replicas usually mean carrying a pressurised tank with yourself which could potentially explode if one puts oil in the fill nipple – do not do that.
  • Dropping your RiF and breaking it apart could be classed as a mental injury to the owner.

Pest control

As straightforward as using airsoft replicas for pest control might seem, I would strongly advise against using them for that purpose. If it is a must, especially in farmlands, air rifles are a better option as they’re more deadly against vermin (such as rats).

Whereas airsoft rifles can only injure such animals resulting in them needlessly suffering. In our opinion, contacting a specialist is the most humane and effective way of dealing with the said issues.

Other Issues regarding Realistic Airsoft Replicas

In certain countries, wielding an airsoft replica can pose a threat or intimidate other civilians  or even worse – someone who is wielding the real deal. As you can imagine, this could potentially result with you getting arrested or getting shot.  Please don’t prank people – it won’t end well for anyone!

On top of that, displaying replicas or shooting them in public or around people such as: motorists, industrial workers performing potentially dangerous tasks or operating heavy machinery could cause an accident. There is absolutely no reason for you to use or display your airsoft replica outside of your own private space or in designated airsoft clubs. 

Read More: If you want to make sure that you are legally covered in the UK in regards to owning a replica, please do a further reading by clicking here on how to obtain a UKARA.


Hopefully this article will help you face your airsoft enemies without fear! We’ve covered all the dangers that airsoft replicas can possess and how they can be prevented. Our sport can be dangerous and you can most certainly cause injury to yourself as much as others, but, if you assess the risks and prepare accordingly, you will have an enjoyable and safe experience.  If there is anything that you feel we missed, please let us know.

Written by Wojtek Lawer


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