What is airsoft?

If you are new to the world of airsoft, you may be looking for details on how to get into the sport. In the following guide, we go into detail about all aspects of airsoft and what you should know before starting.


Believe it or not, airsoft actually originated in Japan around the early 70’s. This is when the photographer Ichiro Nagata, a keen shooting enthusiast, had the idea of creating a gun for recreational purposes that could not kill.  This was important as Japan had a very strict gun control policy in place, the gun had to comply with these rules.

These “guns” were then trademarked as a “soft air gun”. The term came from the type of propellant used to operate the gun and fire rounds. This was originally a compressed Freon-silicone oil mixture, but was later replaced with a propane-silicon oil mixture (also known as “green gas”).

These “soft air guns” were originally designed for the use of target shooting. But the sport started to evolve, as people realised that the low muzzle energy meant the plastic pellets could be shot at humans without injury.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s airsoft guns started to become known in the United Kingdom. They were marketed and sold in separate pieces, which meant they had to be assembled before capable of shooting.

The guns then became popular worldwide, after becoming widely available in Europe and America. The sport is now enjoyed by people of all ages in a recreational sense. And, after evolving so rapidly over the years, some military units in the United States now use airsoft guns on training exercises instead of live rounds.

playing airsoft hiding in grass

What is an airsoft gun?

An airsoft gun is used as part of a recreational sport and have a mechanism for shooting projectiles 6mm to 8mm in diameter. These are small plastic pellets that are non-lethal to humans.

There are many different variations of these guns, which we will go into more detail about below. But, there are many different models on the market – you can find handguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles and shotguns with a simple web search. These all come in a variation of prices dependant on brand name and quality.


These are lightweight and versatile, allowing you to manoeuvre easily in tight situations. The handgun sacrifices magazine capacity but allows you to have a convenient firearm, available at short notice.


The shotgun is a short range airsoft gun and can be loaded with cartridges that spray pellets when fired

Assault rifle

One of the most popular in the world of airsoft, with a high magazine capacity and fire rate – these are the perfect all rounders in a game of airsoft.

Sniper rifle

The sniper rifle is particularly useful if you prefer to play at range in stealth mode. These are capable of making long distance shots with the same power and avoids revealing your position.

Types of airsoft guns



A spring powered gun is a single shot unit that uses a compressed coil spring to power a piston air pump. When this is released upon pulling the trigger, it quickly pressurises the air within the cylinder to drive pellets down the barrel.

These spring-powered units are generally not as powerful as the gas-powered counterparts but more powerful than the battery powered ones.

Depending on the build and quality of the unit you buy, these can be picked up relatively inexpensively. Due to the nature of the guns, they are widely available at department stores and are extremely popular with beginners to the sport. Spring-powered guns are still a very common staple in people’s collection – from beginner to veteran alike. This is primarily due to the reliability, high accuracy and power as well as low noise emission and customisable nature.


Electrically powered airsoft guns generally use the same spring-loaded piston pump as discussed in spring-powered guns above. The only difference is that they use a rechargeable battery pack to power an internal motor.

These electric powered guns have risen in popularity due to their ease of use and reliability.

A general rule when choosing the right weapon for you is to check the battery on the guns. The higher the mAh rating indicates that the battery will last for longer. While, the higher the voltage means you will get a higher rate of fire.

You will be able to find a range of modifications online for these guns, making them highly customisable to your needs and in-game requirements.


These are generally the more high powered guns and have a completely different internal system to the electric and spring-powered counterparts.

The most common gun on the market is the gas blowback gun (GBB). These guns operate from an internal canister – usually stored in the magazine, which automatically loads and re-loads the next round.

Gas-powered guns come in both automatic and semi-automatic and are more common to see in pistols where electric constraints may be impractical to use.


Some players opt to upgrade or customise their airsoft gun from “standard”. Customisation helps to increase the performance of the weapon, but others like to upgrade the look of their unit from standard.

Typical modifications to weapons include scopes, grips, flashlights, red dot sights and silencers.

You can find all of these modifications widely online at a range of prices dependant on quality and brand.

Official field rules

  • Wear a mask at all times on the battlefield
  • No cheating
  • Do not move or tamper with any obstacles
  • Call your hits
  • No physical contact allowed
  • Do not point lasers above the neck
  • Referees have the final say
  • Keep weapons safe in designated areas

Of-course, these rules will vary dependant on the location and venues that you use. But as a general rule of thumb, these are common rules that should be followed for the safety of yourself and others.

man with airsoft shotgun


Thanks for taking the time to read the Okoca guide on ‘what is airsoft’, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment down below this post and we will reply as soon as we can.