Airsoft has many incorrect assumptions, beliefs and internet rumors. In this series we will explore some of the most common and most influential. Starting off, we have a notable and dangerous safety assumption about airsoft: that having an orange tip on your gun will keep police officers from mistaking an airsoft gun for a real firearm. It is a sad fact that people have lost their lives for carrying or playing with airsoft guns in public. We always make sure customers are informed to not brandish their guns in unsafe ways. Surprisingly often, we get a response like, “But it has an orange tip.”
According to United States Federal Law, “each [airsoft gun] shall have as an integral part, permanently affixed, a blaze orange plug inserted in the barrel.” The original purpose of the law was to help law enforcement officers to distinguish between real firearms, and “toy” guns. Like many laws, however, it does not take into account the reality of dealing with a potentially armed adversary in a fast-paced situation.
A study conducted by the FBI found that the individuals fired at the marked gun 95% of the time when forced to quickly identify a real firearm between marked and not marked guns. Another study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics quoted Police Officers saying that the requirement that orange tips be permanently affixed to airsoft guns as being “ineffective”, “ridiculous”, and that it “won’t make any difference.”
Officers have fractions of seconds to determine whether or not to employ deadly force when presented with what appears to be an armed threat. Especially one in low light conditions. In that period of time, it is highly doubtful that they can be reliably expected to spot the orange tip. Especially at the speed which “use of force” encounters occur. It is also not difficult to modify a real firearm to appear as an airsoft gun. There are well documented cases of criminals marking their guns to look like toys to fool law enforcement officers. It is typically police department protocol to treat anything that looks like a firearm as a firearm, until checked.
The Bottom Line.
Airsoft guns look like firearms. Airsoft guns have all of the distinguishing characteristics one would associate with a firearm. Most players will eventually remove the orange tips from their guns. The marking is legally required, so we don’t recommend this. However, even if you keep the orange tip on the gun, it will be mistaken as a firearm. Don’t take your airsoft gun out into public view, unless it is properly stowed inside of a gun bag.
Hello, inter-webs. Tyler, here, the Customer Service Manager at Airsoft GI. I’ve been playing airsoft for almost 15 years, and have been working in the industry for over 10 years.