Can Airsoft Guns Be Used For Self Defense?

Airsoft gun replicas are typically great for plinking, target practice, and simulated combat games.  Airsoft’s versatility has led to replica guns being used in a variety of other applications.  To name a few, some Independent filmmakers have picked up on using Airsoft replicas as movie props. Airsoft guns as movie props are safer and require less red tape to clear prior to the start of filming.

Some DIY laser tag enthusiasts have taken to Airsoft as a way to encase their laser game system components inside of replica guns.  This provides them with a level of realism like no other.  With all the various ways to use an Airsoft replica, you may have considered Airsoft guns as an alternative for personal protection. Can Airsoft guns be used for self-defense?

You should NEVER use an Airsoft gun for Self-defense.  You risk putting yourself in harm’s way by pulling an Airsoft gun. While Airsoft guns resemble real guns, they are not designed to function like real guns and therefore are useless when a situation escalates.

Here are a couple reasons that some people attempt to rationalize why using an Airsoft weapon may seem like a good idea.  These reasons fall short of rational.

In this article we will discuss:

It Looks Like a Real Gun…

And a fake high-end wristwatch may look like the real deal, but sadly, it is not.  Most Airsoft guns are made to look like their real counterparts (minus the required orange blaze tip).  However, when it comes down to it, how it looks is only an illusion.  Attempting to avert a potentially life-threatening situation by brandishing what “looks like” a real gun, would not only be risky and dangerous but a very foolish undertaking indeed.  Most situations that require self-defense escalate quickly.  Making the decision to pull out an Airsoft gun is a huge gamble.  You may get lucky and scare off the perpetrator, allowing you to escape unharmed.  On the other side of the coin, you may find yourself staring down the business end of a real gun when someone calls your bluff.  Is your life worth the gamble?

Airsoft Guns Can Injure an Attacker

No doubt, there exists the possibility that Airsoft guns can cause injuries.  There are reported cases of Airsoft guns causing injury.  Being hit in the eye would have some effect.  This could possibly slow down an attacker or stop an attack long enough for you to get away.  However, in an attack, things can escalate quickly. If you chose to pull an Airsoft gun, your best bet would be to shoot the attacker in the eyes multiple times.  You would have to act quickly and be accurate.  What if you miss?  What if you hit the attacker in the eyes and he/she were still able to come after you? Incapacitation of an attacker is not guaranteed and you may not get away. You may end up angering them and they pull a real gun on you. Worse case scenario, they shoot.  Epic fail!

Other Things to Consider

Don’t Bring a Knife to Gun Fight

When you intend to carry a gun for self-defense, you should carry a real gun. You wouldn’t consider defending yourself with a toy cap gun, so why would you consider using a replica gun against someone who may pull a real weapon?   There is no alternative for a real gun.

The Use of Deadly Force

Consider that the act of self-defense comes with the possibility of having to use deadly force.  Airsoft replica guns are just not designed for the execution of deadly force in a situation requiring it. The term “Manstopper” is a term that is used in reference to a firearms ability to reliably “stop” a man.  To put this into perspective, the 357 Magnum has a reputation of being a “Manstopper” firearm.  To give you a better idea of how an Airsoft gun compares to a real gun, we can look at the kinetic energy of the projectile.  The kinetic energy of a projectile leaving the muzzle of a gun can be used as a rough indicator of the destructive potential of a projectile.  Kinetic energy is measured in Joules.  The kinetic energy of a 357 Magnum is approximately 846 Joules.  An Airsoft weapon shooting a .45g BB at 600 FPS has a kinetic energy of 7.53 Joules.  It is very clear that an Airsoft gun would be incapable of deadly force.

You Don’t Pull a Gun Unless You Intend to Use It

As part of Defensive gun training, it is taught that you should never pull your gun as a threat. If you are going to pull your gun, you should be prepared to use your gun.  The situation may require the use of deadly force, and as such you need to be sure that the gun you pull is up to the task.  You can pull an Airsoft gun, but that’s as far as it would go.  You would be better off wielding some other potentially lethal item as a weapon such as a knife or a baseball bat over pulling an Airsoft gun.  An Airsoft gun would only be a threat and a weak one at that. The most dangerous part of pulling a fake gun on someone is that they may have a real gun and no idea that your gun is fake.

Two Types of Criminals

People who commit crimes often fall into one of two categories.

  1. They commit crimes with violent intent.
  2. They commit crimes non-violent intent.

Criminals who commit crimes with violent intentions will be the first to attack.  If armed, they will shoot. Violent criminals won’t give you the chance to defend yourself.  Violent criminals take what they want. They are more likely to harm you rather than to move on after the crime has been committed. Non-violent criminals such as criminals who commit theft crimes, will likely not shoot you.  This category of criminal only wants what they came for and after they get it, they typically move on. If they do shoot you it is usually by accident or an act of desperation.  Either criminal type may deviate from this. Pulling what appears to be a real gun will increase the likelihood that a criminal will shoot at you.

Using a Gun is Not a Guarantee

Nothing in life is guaranteed.  There have been many reported cases where real firearms have not gotten the job done.  Real guns in some cases, have only injured and have not immediately put down a perpetrator. Assailants have been shot only to survive and get away.  Some criminals live, some die shortly after, but they don’t go down.  With this in mind, the usage of an Airsoft gun would be useless.  It’s possible that shooting an attacker with an Airsoft gun would anger them potentially increasing the odds of making the situation deadly.


The use of an Airsoft gun for self-defense is as foolish as it is useless.  Airsoft guns have the realism of their real counterparts, but they lack the functionality of real firearms.  Using an Airsoft gun as a visual threat opens you up to a more dangerous situation if a perpetrator calls your bluff. While Airsoft guns can cause injury, they do not have enough stopping power.  An Airsoft BB leaving the gun does not have the amount of kinetic energy needed to stop or incapacitate a human attacker (or stop some animal attacks).  At best you could injure the attacker and make a quick getaway.  At worst, you would anger the attacker and who would potentially try to kill you.  Using an Airsoft gun to defend yourself is a huge gamble. Airsoft guns should not be used for self-defense.

See you out on the battlefield!