Does Airsoft Hurt? (And How to Reduce the Pain)

Worried about whether airsoft will hurt? Wondering how likely it is to be injured while playing airsoft?

We get it–no one wants to get hurt playing a sport, and you might have heard varying accounts of just how painful airsoft can be. 

The Orange Tip Tactical team is here to set the record straight, so keep reading.

Proper protection is important to prevent injuries while playing airsoft.
Proper protection is important to prevent injuries while playing airsoft.

Does Airsoft Hurt?

In short, yes–but it’s not that bad. The amount of pain you may feel will depend on a lot of factors, such as your pain tolerance, distance, clothing, the weight of the BB, the power of the airsoft gun, and more. The first thing to remember is that pain is subjective–what we call a 3/10, you might call a 6 or a 7/10. Or vice versa. You know your own pain tolerance, so plan accordingly.

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A shot to the fingers is especially painful, so many palyer opt for armored gloves.

We’d also like to point out that getting shot in the back is going to hurt a whole lot less than getting shot in the knuckles. Sensitive parts, such as your hands, face, and throat, should be protected to prevent injury.

What Does Getting Hit with an Airsoft Gun Feel Like?

It depends a lot on your protection and pain tolerance, but you will feel the hit. It might feel like a pinch or a bee sting, particularly on bare skin or through thin clothing. It might feel more like a poke if you’re shot through clothing or armor.

What Factors Make Airsoft Painful?

Like we mentioned, there’s a lot of factors that can affect the experience of being shot. Your personal pain tolerance and the location of the shot count a lot, but so does what you’re being shot with and from how far away you’re being shot from.

Protecting your face can prevent a lot of pain.
Protecting your face can prevent a lot of pain.

FPS Rate

Most airsoft guns clock somewhere between 200 and 400 FPS, or feet per second. That means that a BB will travel up to 400 feet in a single second. Obviously, the faster the BB, the harder it will hit and the more it will sting.

Range

The closer you are to the shooter, the harder the impact will be. A shot at point-blank range may even cause minor bleeding, while shots at a distance may not even sting.

Weight of the BB

There are a variety of weights that BBs come in, and the weight of the BB will affect the force of the impact.

The impact force of BBs is measured in Joules, which is a measure of kinetic energy. The more kinetic energy, the more ouch–or even damage.

Airsoft BBs
Airsoft BBs come in different weights and sizes, which affects the way they feel.

For instance, an airsoft gun with a velocity of 370 FPS will fire a .20g BB that hits at 1.27 Joules–in the acceptable range for most U.S. airsoft matches. That same gun firing a .40g BB will hit at 2.86 Joules, which is a dangerous amount of kinetic energy and not acceptable in matches.

Clothing and Protection

There’s a pretty pig difference between a BB striking bare skin and a BB striking soft armor. You may hardly feel a shot to an armored body part, but you’ll definitely notice the sting on bare skin. Some protection, like eye or face protection, is required to play. Other protection, like body armor, groin protection, ear protection, and hand protection, is optional, but definitely recommended.

Protective gear does a lot to dull the sting of airsoft BBs.

Trips and Falls

Let’s be honest–the majority of injuries in airsoft come from players bumping into things, tripping, falling, twisting ankles, and other injuries caused by moving around the field. Protect your knees and hands with pants and gloves, warm up before hitting the field, and look where you’re going.

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Falling during a match is easier than you think!

Can Airsoft Cause Permanent Injuries or Kill You?

Airsoft, like other physical sports, can cause injury. Minor injuries that quickly fade are a part of airsoft gameplay, but what about more serious injuries? Can an airsoft gun be fatal?

Injuries can and do happen, generally because safety equipment wasn’t worn effectively. If you’re wondering why field staff and event organizers are so strict on eye protection, it’s because eye injuries are one of the more serious and more easily occurring injuries in airsoft.

So, wear your eye-pro.

It’s also possible for airsoft BBs to break the skin, damage teeth, and cause soft tissue or bone damage. Serious damage is pretty rare, and usually is due to using metal BBs instead of plastic, fired from a 400-500 FPS gun at a close distance. 

Airsoft BBs can leave some pretty nasty welts behind!
Airsoft BBs can leave some pretty nasty welts behind!

Airsoft guns are not deadly, but they can easily be mixed up with airguns or BB guns, which can be. BB guns fire rounds at much higher velocities (1,200+ FPS) and use metal BBs. Airsoft guns and BB guns work similarly, so be sure you know what you are purchasing, especially if buying online!

How to Make Airsoft Less Painful

Hobbies should be fun, and if playing airsoft is more painful than fun, you should change that. While you can’t do much about the guns and behaviors of others, you can protect yourself better.

Invest in Protective Gear

Eye protection is a must, but whether you’re using goggles or a face mask is up to you. A full face mask, neck guard, plate carriers or soft body armor, a cup, padded gloves, ear protection, and other pieces of gear all can go a long way towards making your game more comfortable. You’ll still feel the hits, but it’ll take some of the sting out of it.

At the bare minimum, you need eye protection. But some extra padding never hurts, either!
At the bare minimum, you need eye protection. But some extra padding never hurts, either!

Be a Good Player

Now, we don’t mean that getting good at the game will make it hurt less. Being a good player means playing with respect for your fellow players and trying to avoid injuring them.

  • Never shoot from a distance of less than 10 feet–just tell the other player you’ve hit them. 
  • Try to aim for body shots, and avoid shooting opponents in the face, head, or hands, if possible.
  • Switch to semi-auto, rather than blasting someone with a bunch of automatic BB fire.
  • Don’t take shots that you know will be too painful–it’s just a game.

Parting Shots

Playing airsoft can sting, but don’t let it deter you from trying out this awesome sport. We’re pretty sure you’re going to find out that a few welts and bruises are worth all the fun.

Got any tips for new players looking to join airsoft? Share them in the comments below! Don’t forget to follow Orange Tip Tactical on Facebook.

Milo Harrison

Milo's a desert rat by birth and grew up in the shadow of Nellis AFB. He first discovered paintball in high school, but quickly switched to the world of airsoft when he found out how much less it stung. He still loves a pickup game in the backyard, but these days, you'll usually find him at airsoft LARP events.

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