Does Airsoft Hurt? Read our Top Tips
Given that people will be shooting at you with projectiles, it’s only natural to wonder about the pain and whether it’s worth it. Moreover, if you ever played paintball and got hit (especially up close), you kind of have an idea of what it feels like to be shot.
Now, both paintball and airsoft weapons used in the field fire at basically the same speed (about 350 FPS). However, there is a clear difference between the projectiles used in paintball and the ones used in airsoft (aka BBs). Paintball projectiles are bigger and heavier than BBs and develop more energy when they leave the barrel of the gun.
If it were to compare the two, a standard BB projectile weighs 0.2g and develops 1 joule of energy while a paintball projectile weighs 3g and develops 15 joules. Extrapolating from these data, it’s easy to imagine that a BB will hurt less than a paintball projectile.
Still, this doesn’t mean there won’t be some pain, especially if you don’t use proper protective gear. Moreover, there are several types of BBs designed with different materials and in different weights, which means different levels of transferred energy.
What Does It Feel Like?
In plain terms, it feels like someone flicks you really hard. Still, most of the energy is absorbed by clothing (especially if you wear something thick) and protective gear. Also, keep in mind that the pain is different depending on where you get hit and the distance between you and the shooter.
For instance, if a BB hits you in the ear (cartilage area), neck (especially at the base), inside the arms or legs, the ribs, fingers, and/or crotch area the pain will be stronger. Basically, the areas that are not protected by fat or muscle tissue are most vulnerable.
Now, if you don’t wear a mask or goggles, you run the risk of getting hit in the eye or teeth, which is not something you want to happen! A well-shot BB has the power to chip your tooth and do a lot of damage to the soft tissue of the eye (even blind you), which is why these areas must be covered at all times.
Also, if the shooter is far away, the BB will lose most of its energy by the time of impact. This is why, you don’t shoot when in close proximity (the Bang Rule) and always, always, always wear protective gear!
Does it Break the Skin?
If the BB hits you in full force (the shooter has a powerful weapon that goes over the 350 FPS standard) and it manages to reach a sensitive area, then you’ll probably get an open wound. Still, the area won’t be too large, and the bleeding should stop quickly without any need for medical intervention.
However, powerful weapons (400 – 500+ FPS) in combination with copper coated steel BBs (instead of the plastic ones) can and will pierce the skin and even damage some fragile bones.
Keep in mind: While an airsoft gun doesn’t have the power to deliver a fatal blow, if you’re caught under heavy fire from several directions, the risk of pain and damage is increased.
Level of pain depending on FPS (without protective gear or combat clothing):
- 100-200 FPS: a bit of a poke;
- 200-250 FPS from 60 feet: a small sting;
- 250-300 FPS with a .20g BB: if the shooter is at about 60 feet, the BB will leave a welt and you’ll feel pain;
- 300-350 FPS within 50 feet: pain is definitely strong and there will be a welt;
- 350-400 FPS: it hurts from a distance that’s greater than 35 feet, and if it’s closer, it will leave a golf ball size welt;
- 400-500 FPS: if shot from under 50 feet the pain is brutal, and the BB will break the skin and even cause damage to the tissue and small bones underneath.
- 500+ FPS: this shot can pierce the skin even through a protective suit and it causes serious pain and damage.
In most cases, if you don’t wear protection, a 300 FPS airsoft gun will pierce the skin. That’s why, in indoor gaming, the limit is set at 350 FPS and 400 FPS for outdoor settings. Airsoft guns that are more powerful than this are not allowed in games and should not be used against human opponents.
How to Avoid the Pain
How would you like to go into the office or at school, Monday morning, with a huge bruise on your face or a chipped tooth?
I imagine that most of you wouldn’t like this scenario, especially since it can be easily avoided. Furthermore, legit airsoft fields don’t allow players to enter the game without basic protection, which is goggles and mask (full face or partial).
The danger increases when you organize a game between friends and there’s no one to enforce the rule of protective gear on the field. Still, you should be aware of the dangers of airsoft and how the proper gear can help reduce them to a minimum.
Here’s how gear can help:
- Helmet – this one covers the head (top and back of the head) and protects you from any BBs that come from the back. You can also use the helmet to attach accessories such as a frontal light or video camera.
- Mask – masks can be full-face or partial (check our guide here for more details) and protect the eyes, teeth, ears, and the skin of the face. However, if you choose to get a partial design, the ears, back of the head, and some skin area will remain exposed.
- Goggles – if you won’t wear anything else, you must wear high-quality goggles! The eyes are the most sensitive body part and the ones where a rogue BB can do the most damage so don’t ignore this protective item.
- Gloves – there are some amazing tactical gloves you can use to protect your fingers and still get good dexterity when handling the gun. The fingers and joints are incredibly painful even if the BB doesn’t come at high speed, so why not look cool and save yourself some unnecessary pain?
- Vests – the chest and back areas are also sensitive, and you can get a bruise or two even when wearing thick clothing. But if you get a tactical vest with or without a chest plate, you’ll get protection and extra storage space for magazines, sidearms, and more.
- Boots – the ankle can also be a sensitive area when it comes to flying BBs, but the boots become extremely efficient when you’re playing outdoors in rainy or cold weather. I recommend tactical boots since these are designed to stay with you through thick and thin.
As long as you are in the airsoft field or playing a game with your friends, there will always be the risk of a rogue BB! However, if you take all the necessary precautions, the pain won’t be too strong, and you will be able to laugh it off.
Furthermore, a horrible shot that left you with a welt can be a fantastic bonding opportunity with members of your team, since everyone has a fun story on this topic.