Yes, airsoft can hurt. But depending on your pain threshold, adrenaline levels, protective gear and experience, the pain of being shot by an airsoft gun can get easier.
Remember, one player’s idea of pain might be different from yours. The actual feeling of an airsoft shot will be determined by your own pain level.
In this article, we'll aim to answer all of the common questions about how much airsoft hurts, the potential dangers of airsoft and how you can best protect yourself.
Being shot in airsoft can feel like a rubber band hitting the skin, a bee sting or a pinch. If you play airsoft in warmer conditions, you’re likely to have more skin exposed.
This will result in a much sharper sting.
If, however, your operator outfit covers the fleshy parts of your body, it’ll feel less like a sting and more like a poke.
It’s also possible that you won’t notice the hit.
Depending on the distance the BB has travelled, the weight of the BB and which part of your gear it hits.
For example, being hit on the back of your plate carrier from 60 meters on a .20 BB won’t hurt at all. In fact, from this distance, the sound will be more telling than pain.
Remember: game days should be enjoyable and fun. Like most outdoor activities or sports, there's a high chance of a bit of pain. Don't let this put you off. Push through and you'll love the game of airsoft!
The most common answer is either thighs, face or, fingers. Based on our 10 years of experience in the field, we've listed the most painful hits we've ever taken.
Area of the body
Back of legs
Back of arms
Fingers, knuckles and hands
Tops of legs (thighs)
Essentially any part of your body which exposes soft tissue or where your bones are more accessible will hurt more.
As long as you wear the proper protection and safety equipment, you can avoid being shot in most of the high-pain areas.
Personal opinions aside, there are several common reasons why being shot by a BB could hurt more. Remember, not every airsoft site will have the same range of game types. It's important not to worry too much and try to enjoy yourself.
The distance of the shot can determine the impact of the BB. For high-powered airsoft rifles, a distance of 10 or 20 metres will still leave a mark and sting. But at point-blank range of below 5 metres will leave a welt in your skin and potentially cause minor bleeding.
The higher the FPS rates, the harder the BB will hit you. At the start of every game, a marshal will Chrono each weapon to make sure each airsoft gun fires beneath the limit. Most sites will have FPS limits that restrict 'hot guns' from being used.
Below we've listed the pain rating based on a BB weight of 0.25g at an average distance of 10 meters (32 feet) using a standard airsoft rifle.
The weight of the BB will affect flight, impact, and accuracy. Different types of guns may use a range of BB weights. For example, sniper rifles use heavier weights because they're shooting from long distances.
It means the kinetic energy of that shot can still be as impactful from 50 or 60 metres.
We've broken down the most common weights based on airsoft sites in the UK.
Unfortunately, even with all other safety measures in place, some airsoft players take it a step too far. Overkill refers to being shot in unnecessarily high volumes. This often happens at sites that allow for fully-automatic airsoft matches.
Overkill can be the result of:
Whilst this is uncommon and is often dealt with by field staff, it's something to be aware of. Being shot from close range can cause injury. Resulting in a zero-tolerance policy across most sites in the UK.
Note: not only will overkill hurt other players, but it can also cause arguments during the game. Airsoft is a sport for everyone to enjoy. Our recommendation to you is don't be that person.
Failing to wear the correct protection could leave your body and skin exposed to injury. However, this is your choice. The only mandatory requirement is eye protection for adults over 18. For players 16 or younger, a full-face mask is a must.
We recommend you protect yourself with:
Aside from wearing the correct clothing and safety gear, there are a number of additional factors you can consider.
Airsoft can be dangerous but it relies on player and site safety. Airsoft sites across the UK have mandatory requirements for insurance purposes. Such as protective gear, insurance waivers and FPS limits.
It’s also important to remember that airsoft is often played on derelict sites (abandoned buildings and disused army bases) which can often have hazards. However, airsoft marshalls will inspect the game site and announce any concerns during the safety briefing.
Here is a list of the most common risks and dangers found on the airsoft field:
These types of hazards are where self-inflicted injuries happen.
Being aware and cautious of your surroundings is going to help you stay uninjured. It's likely a trip hazard or a slip will cause more damage than being hit during the game.
Paintball guns fire different types of ammunition. Paintballs are heavier than airsoft bullets.
Both the airsoft community and the paintball community will have different opinions. What we do know is that:
We encourage you to make this decision yourself.
You cannot be killed by an airsoft gun. Unlike real firearms, airsoft ammunition will only pierce the skin and, depending on the area of your body, become lodged. It will not cause large entry or exit wounds. The worst types of injuries you'll have will be minor.
As of December 2021, there have been no recorded deaths caused by airsoft guns.
We hope this answers some of your questions. If you're a beginner just getting into this sport, please don't worry about the pain!
One thing you shouldn't do is watch videos on YouTube about airsoft injuries. This has never helped anyone.
Airsoft is a physical sport that offers an adrenaline rush you won't find in other outdoor games or sports. The pain is a very small element of the day. Both adults and children alike realise that it isn't a dangerous game!