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Term currently used to identify a configuration of gun copies primarily manufactured in Asia. In the last two decades a new type of gun has appeared. The so-called Air Soft guns originally were designed to be a type of non-gun for customers whose local laws highly restricted or forbade the ownership of actual firearms. Generally, they are made in the styling (sometimes very exact styling) of well-known firearms. Models ranged from copies of famous handguns to heavy machine guns. They soon became popular with customers who wanted to collect, and even have the sensation of firing, guns which were too expensive, too highly regulated, or too dangerous for general ownership. Most fire relatively harmless 6 mm diameter light plastic balls at muzzle velocities below 300 FPS. Even those which fire at somewhat higher power generally are not capable of inflicting serious injury to humans or property. Balls filled with paint or made of aluminum sometimes are available but have not been very popular and may be difficult to buy locally. Many of the Air Soft guns are not designed to fire paintballs or metal balls and may be damaged or ruined by their use.
The classification of Air Soft guns has led to some interesting legal questions. Without a doubt, they are not firearms and are not dangerous or lethal weapons. In fact, they are not weapons in any sense unless one might use them as a club. They may use carbon dioxide, compressed air, or mechanical means, including electrical micro-motors to propel their projectiles – so some are not even truly airguns. Federal law requires the versions firing plastic balls to have at least their muzzle areas conspicuously marked with blaze orange color, but illegal unmarked imports often appear.
From a safety standpoint, by far the largest caution is to not brandish them where they might be mistaken for actual firearms. There have been cases where individuals used such guns in holdups or pointed them at police officers in dark alleys or where several teenagers wearing ski masks appeared with exact lookalikes of AK-47s, Thompson sub-machine guns, M16 rifles, etc. at their schools – distinctly unwise moves. But certainly over 99.9% are used and enjoyed harmlessly – often as enjoyable substitutes for real guns. Production of Air Soft guns, mainly in Asia, has become a huge market. They range from toy-like, almost insulting imitations to very sophisticated, expensive copies of heavy machine guns which may use well-made metal or even original parts from deactivated original automatic weapons. This is now a collecting field in itself and will not be covered in this guide unless a specimen has special historical significance. Values run from a couple of dollars for plastic specimens which only suggest their design origin to hundreds of dollars for those sophisticated specimens with well-made, or even original, metal parts. There is a great deal of information on Air Soft guns available on the web. Two examples are illustrated: Left (very realistic example): A Daisy copy of an Uzi sub-machine gun, with replica cartridges and magazine (produced before the requirement for blaze orange markings). Right (caricature, toy-like example): representation of AK-47 rifle. Note that the package of the projectiles is labeled: BB BULLET – but the contents are neither BBs nor bullets! Ref. 4th Edition Blue Book of Airguns.

From Blue Book Publications:

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