Does Airsoft Hurt?

Airsoft Domain: Airsoft Riffles

Maybe it’s your first Airsoft game.  You’ve got your gear, picked out an awesome replica weapon.  You’re anxiously ready to storm the battlefield looking to hunt down your first kill.  Or perhaps you are sitting on your couch merely considering getting into the Airsoft sport.  Whether you are stepping on the field for the first time, or you are just pondering, the question may have popped into your mind, “does Airsoft hurt?”. During a battle, you can be sure that other Airsoft players will try to take a shot at you.  When this happens, what follows next may be the confirmation of a hit.  That hit will come from one (or more) Airsoft BB’s.  Airsoft BB’s are small plastic balls 6mm in size of varying weights, that go whizzing through the air on their way to a target.  So, Does Airsoft Hurt?

The quick answer is, It all Depends. I realize this answer is not as simple as yes or no.  This is in part to there being more factors to consider.  In order to get a clear idea of whether Airsoft hurts or not, let’s explore the factors that have an influence.  Keep in mind that although we will break each one down one by one, they are factors that will often work together.

Pain Level is a Relative Measure

Let’s talk pain.  It’s worth noting that pain sensitivity and tolerances measure differently from person to person.  What one person may find “slightly annoying” in terms of pain, another may find it to be “agonizing”.   Granted this is an extreme example of the difference. There are additional factors such as gender, age, even stress levels that play a role in how sensitive you may be to pain.  When the human body experiences injury, it responds by releasing natural painkillers called beta-endorphins throughout the body.  These natural opioids dull the senses.  Studies have shown that between genders, this release of beta-endorphins has been less in woman than in men. Regardless, gender is only one factor.  Pain is relative, which in an of itself has its own set of factors.  So, in regards to Airsoft, what feels like a little pinch to you may feel like a bee sting to another.

It’s All About Location

Location, Location, Location.  Just as in real estate, it’s all about location.  The amount of pain you may feel will depend upon where you are struck by the BB.  The softer tissues of the human body would be more susceptible to injury-causing pain.  To say, if you were so unlucky enough to take a hit in your earlobe, it would be more painful than being hit in your arm.  This is because the earlobe is softer tissue with little else beneath the skin. Whereas your arm will have fat and muscle acting as padding beneath the flesh.  Also, the more sensitive the location, the more pain you will feel. Other sensitive areas that may be more painful than others include:

  • Fingers and Knuckles
  • Face
  • Neck
  • Ribs
  • Groin

These areas tend to be more painful when hit because these areas have less padding (muscle and or fat beneath the tissue) to absorb the impact.  It goes without saying but, some areas by default are more sensitive to BB impacts.  Areas such as the groin.  Good news is that with proper protective wear, you can minimize the impact when taking hits to these areas.

Factor In Distance, Velocity, and Weight

The measurements of Distance, Velocity, and Weight are factors that work together.  Feet (or meters) is the unit of measure used to describe the Distance from the Airsoft shooter to the target. Feet per Second (or Meters per Second) is the unit of measure used to depict the velocity or power of an Airsoft weapon. The weight of an Airsoft BB measured in grams.  Let’s assume you are hit by a .20g BB from a 300 FPS rated Airsoft weapon at a distance of 10 feet.  It will hurt more from 10 feet than from getting shot by the same Airsoft weapon at a distance of 80 feet.  This is because the BB loses momentum traveling at the same velocity over a larger distance.  The result is the amount of impact is less.

Wear Protective Gear

Protective gear is essentially the one item that can drastically change the effects that an Airsoft BB will have once it hits its target.  The great thing is this is something you can control.  While you may not be able to control the velocity of the weapon is shooting at you, you certainly can wear gear that covers your exposed skin to reduce the impact.   When you are hit on bare skin, it is going to feel worse than getting hit while wearing clothing and gear.  Not all gear may be required. It is required to wear eye protection in most fields. It is the best practice even when not required.  Personally, I cannot attest to what it would feel like to be hit in the eye.  I can imagine that it is highly painful given the nature of the eye being composed of soft tissue.  If you have ever been accidentally getting poked in the eye, you probably know that it can hurt for a period of time. Here is a list of some recommended protective gear that can be used to lessen the effects of an Airsoft BB impact:

  • Protective Eyewear or Full-Face Mask
  • Helmet or Head Gear
  • Gloves
  • Lightweight Jacket
  • Pants
  • Closed Shoes (It should go without saying, but, I have seen people play in shorts and flip-flops)

The above-listed items will provide ample coverage from most hits right off the shelf.  Select gear that is relative to your threshold for pain.  If you have no issue taking Airsoft BB’s to the arms, you may choose to forego a lightweight jacket.

What It Feels Like

Airsoft BB’s at close range can feel like a bee sting while hits made from a distance may feel like nothing more than a slight pinch which quickly goes away.  Weapons with lower feet per second velocities can feel like a nothing at all.  Getting hit is part of the sport.  Once you get into Airsoft you will become used to most hits and may not even feel some of them.  Good practices on the battlefield will also help prevent many potentially painful hits.


Airsoft is an exciting, adrenaline-filled sport allowing you to get on the battlefield and knock off the opposing team.  After you walk off the field you are off to your next meeting, appointment, activity, etc.  At some point you’ve pondered, “Does Airsoft Hurt”. It really all boils down to some factors that will vary case by case.  The factor of pain is relative. It varies from person to person.  What may be a tickle to some may be agonizing to another.  It may not be possible to control some of the factors.  Putting aside all of the above factors, it really is not bad at all in my opinion. It can range from a momentary pinch that is just as quickly forgotten to a lingering bee sting.  The good news is that you can protect yourself with protective wear and minimize the impact thus reducing any discomfort.  Should you find yourself with welts from a game, check out another post I wrote on how to treat Airsoft welts quickly, located here.

See you out on the battlefield!

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