A question about airsoft guns

I’m not trying to be a pot-stirrer here, but am seeking general opinions. My son is 13 and made his Christmas wish list yesterday. Most of the things are either video game related, or gun related. He wants something called an airsoft gun, which I understand will be used at local recreational hobby place… basically a bunch of guys go out and shoot paintballs or use airsoft guns. The object is to be the last man standing.

Personally, I object to guns. I don’t want my kid to hurt himself or others. Realistically, I know that these guns are fairly safe when used under the right circumstances, with eye protection, etc. He’s a very level headed kid and responsible. He has also wanted to be a police officer since the second grade.

Asking random people on a message board has the advantage of letting me hear opinions that wouldn’t have occured to me otherwise.

So… fire away.:wink:

Airsofting is mainly about having more realistic appearing guns. In terms of “last man standing” paintballing makes it decidedly more easy to determine who has been hit. I know a few airsoft enthusiasts and they’ve paid what I consider ridiculous amounts of money for what are basically toy guns.

Airsoft guns are basically BB guns that shoot out plastic BB’s. That doesn’t mean though that they shouldn’t be considered dangerous. The same precautions you take with BB guns should be taken with Airsoft guns. Plus they freakin’ hurt when you get hit by one.

An Airsoft for a 13 year old isn’t bad at all. I started buying them for my son when he was twelve but then again he was already used to firing real guns. Basically he shoots them at cans that he sets up on the fence in the back yard. It is a great training aid for marksmanship and firearm handling in general.

As for the costs, yeah some guys spend more than what real guns cost to get realistic looking weapons. But you can get good ones starting at $15 and up in places like Wal-Mart or sporting goods stores. Just be prepared to start finding those damn plastic BB’s all over the house everytime you clean up.

I always wanted a BB gun when I was a young teenager, but my Dad wouldn’t let me get one. “You’ll get blinded…”, he told me. I, however, knew better and saved up and bought one anyway.

The very first shot I took with it (indoors) bounced about three times off various objects directly into my eye. Thankfully it didn’t do any serious damage but needless to say I was a little more careful after that, and learned that perhaps my Dad did know best after all…

This just came up, a coworker just asked for time off because his son just got an airsoft pellet stuck in his ear. His son is 12 and got it stuck while shooting with his friends who all apparently play war all the time.

My roommate had one in college and they were fun to shoot at random people walking by or raiding other people’s apartments. Unless you shot someone in the eye they’re pretty safe but still sting. The pellets get everywhere; two years after that roommate moved out I was still finding the stupid pellets.

I think you’re being foolish in this regard, but it’s your perogative and I respect that. Buy him a facemask instead: hopefully it will help instil in him the culture of ‘safety first’.

One of my sons asked for and got one. Yeah, it was so they could run around and shoot each other. But, it has come in handy for chasing woodpeckers off the house, and deer from the garden.

A few years back some friends and I got into airsoft a bit. There’s a pretty wide range in price, quality, and power. Most of our starting stuff was cheap, spring-powered junk that broke quickly (typically the guns you find at Big 5 or Wal-Mart). Then we moved up to the electric- and gas-powered models. Those were much more reliable and let us join up with a local group which organized bigger wargames and such.

Most of the electric guns we bought were made by a company called Tokyo Marui. TM was good quality - of five or six guns only one had a serious malfunction, and that was after a lot of use. The gas-powered sidearms we used were made by another company - I think it was called KSC. Those all operated smoothly.

The local group we played with required anybody under 18 to wear a full-face mask. Most of the adults only wore shooting/safety glasses or goggles. A balaclava will protect the rest of your face (and ears) from stray BBs, though they can become uncomfortably warm during extended games.

I’m not a big fan of them, but then, I used to shoot rifles competitively, and the lack of accuracy and range that airsoft guns had was (to me) appalling. I’ve tried them a few times, mostly due to a co-worker at a past job who was into them in a big way. They’re not for me, but they are for some.

On the plus side, they seem to be a pleasant hobby for those who like them. My co-worker was a pretty competitive guy, and played in a league of some sort, but I could see where even a non-competitive type could have fun playing weekend warrior. The guns themselves are fairly harmless, though I wouldn’t want to stand directly in front of one; those things would sting. Ten to fifteen feet away though, and I think you’d be okay–you’d feel the pellet, but there would be no injury. Of course, you do need to take proper safety precautions, such as safety glasses; and being well-clothed would be a good idea too.

On the minus side, they seemed to be all-consuming. My co-worker’s conversation on breaks and at lunch was limited to airsoft guns, airsoft games, airsoft teams, and airsoft supplies. He looked down his nose at paintballers, mainly because paintball guns weren’t like real guns, and airsoft guns at least could be made to look like real firearms. Naturally, not all airsoft enthusiasts would be like this and the plural of “anecdote” is never “data,” but I’ve never met anybody so consumed by a hobby. At any rate, I’d suggest making sure your son maintains an interest in other hobbies and pastimes as well.

Hope this is the kind of input you were looking for.

Thanks everyone for the feedback - this is just what I was looking for. I know what you mean about hobbies making someone one-dimensional - it can be very irritating.

I think we’ll get him something in between the cheap stuff at Wal-Mart and the top of the line guns. And face protection. And Xanax for me so I quit worrying.

What can I say? I’m his mom and that’s what mothers do. I’ll try to restrain myself from saying ‘You’ll shoot your eye out, kid’.

I wanna jump in here and say two things:

One, there are good brands in the $99 range–Echo 1 comes to mind. Shopping online is your best bet.

What he probably wants is referred to as an AEG–automatic electric gun. They take an R/C car style battery and are “fully automatic” but tend to have a muzzle velocity of between 250 and 500 feet per second–that’s comparable to a rubber band snap at the low end, but even street clothes are sufficient defense against the high end.

I would highly recommend you get him some kind of face mask, as little as a ski mask/baklava (I use one of those middle-eastern headwrap scarves myself, a shemaugh, which I made from two appropriately-patterned quilting squares sewn together wrong side in, to give you an idea how little is needed)–just enough to keep head hits out of my ears and from breaking/bruising the skin. Get him a pair of good ballistic goggles, though–I use something like this except mine can swap the tinted and clear faceplates. Most airsoft/paintball places won’t let him out on the field without proper goggles.

And as scary as the guns often look, it is pretty safe–300 fps shots at full auto sounds dangerous, but the bbs are plastic, you need full-auto and 600-shot clips to get reliable hits as close as 100 feet, and really, 300fps is so slow you have time to see the incoming shots and dodge most of the time.

This can be a worry since the guns are pretty easy to get obsessed with tinkering with, true. Mostly I find the obsessive guys are the ones who spent $400+ on a Tokyo Mauri or other “name” brand gun and need to play enough to justify it. Me, I go out maybe four times a year with my $99 Echo 1, which I’ve maybe put $50 in upgrades and maintenance over two years.

Hmm, recreational (real) hand-gunner here…

If it were my son, (mine is 6 right now) I would rather see him get into paintball than airsoft, ironically because paintball acts more like the real thing, but look less like the real thing. Hear me out:

Because airsoft is less “dangerous” than paintball, I’m concerned that it is more likely to encourage lax attitudes towards eye safety in particular. Less so during the matches, but especially when fooling around afterwards or in the basement. Paintballs don’t just sting, they can hurt, enough to leave a nice bruise. You don’t fool around with a paintball gun in your basement. and you always make sure to wear your face mask. I think paintball guns will also be more likely to encourage the of the four rules of firearm safety:

-Alsway treat the gun as if it’s loaded
-Never point your gun at anything you don’t want to destroy (or make a mess on with a paintball)
-No finger on the trigger until the gun is on target.
-Make sure of your target an what’s in line with it.

From his perspective, paintballs behave ballistically more like real guns (longer range, greater velocity) and will force him to learn more correct tactics, as he will be more motivated not to get hit…

There is also one more risk, of the very low probability but very high impact kind. Airsoft guns look a LOT more like real guns than paintball guns. If he’s fooling around in the neighborhood with his friends., (not something you do with paintball, which is practiced on a specific facility) he is much more likely to generate 911 calls of “kids with guns” and find himself looking at the business end of a very real gun, hopefully in the hands of a police officer. God forfend a child with an airsoft gun point it at a civilian with a concealed carry permit.

If you do get him an airsoft, you should make sure that:

-the muzzle be coloured bright orange, and stays that way for ever.

-gun & goggles go together for ever. If he ditches the goggles, he looses the gun, ALL the TIME, especially showing it to someone, or when using it to knock down plastic army men in the basement.

-he never play with it and his friends where the public could misconstrue what’s going on.

-he should never, on penalty of losing it forever on first offense, point it at anyone who is not in the game. Seriously. That silly fat guy waiting for the bus could be legally carrying a real gun.

-teach him, and rehearse with him, how he should react if police officers approach him when he is playing with it: feet freeze (no running) - drop it right away, don’t put it down, just let it fall - hands open wide and held away from his body at waist level. If he does this before the officers draw their sidearms and order him to do this, they will feel safer, be in a better mood, and will be less likely to confiscate the airsoft.

But realistic looking toy guns and teenagers is a mix that makes me nervous, much more so than going to the range and shooting real ones under close supervision.

Just get him a real BB gun, and teach him to treat it like a REAL GUN (because it is). I won’t get my sons airsoft guns (although they have BB guns) because the toy-like nature of them IMO makes them very dangerous.

Plus real BB guns are much more accurate.

I think as long as you have a zero-tolerance face and ear protection policy, it should be fine safety-wise. Like, if you see him with his protection off once, or shooting around someone who’s not protected, the gun goes away for a month. Guns and gun-like things can be huge fun for boys as long as safety is a sacred rule.

And hopefully they’ll have enough room outside be able to play without terrorizing the neighborhood.

Maybe this is too obvious, but here goes, make sure he NEVER takes it to school so that he can go straight to the wossname place afterwards. A kid in our town did that and got caught and ended up in court even thought the gun was clear plastic with an orange tip. Some school districts/police departments take those things pretty seriously.

Except that the idea of airsoft is to play wargames with them and shoot your buddies. Can’t do that with BB guns.