Airsoft and the Law
Airsoft and the Law
In Northern Ireland (NI) there are certain legal requirements which must be fulfilled before you can purchase an Airsoft replica weapon in order to prove that you will be using the weapon only for the legitimate purpose of playing Airsoft. The remainder of the UK is subject to different legal requirements.
In Northern Ireland, currently… guns having a discharge kinetic energy in excess of one (1) Joule (0.737 ft lbs) require to be held on a firearm certificate.
To remain exempt from this requirement, ALL Airsoft replicas MUST have a muzzle velocity which DOES NOT exceed 1 Joule as measured with a 0.20g BB.
All replicas supplied by Toy Soldiers Airsoft, will have a muzzle velocity of ONE (1) joule or less - regardless of where it is being shipped to.
In the United Kingdom all airsoft guns are classed as Imitation Firearms. Under section 36 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act (2006) (VCRA) It is an offence for a person under the age of eighteen to purchase an imitation firearm.
Airsoft replicas are divided into two categories:
- IMITATION FIREARMS (IFs)
Anyone over the age of 18 years is permitted to purchase a non-realistic Imitation Firearm (IF). However, TO REMAIN LEGAL any such gun is required to have at least 51% of it painted a non-military, bright colour (e.g., red, blue, orange, green etc.) but not camouflage. This “Two-tone” replica is the same as the original gun (with the exception of the paint) so that it can be easily identified as a toy rather than a “Realistic Imitation Firearm” or RIF. Apart from age, you do not need to meet any other criteria or special membership to purchase a two-tone non-realistic Imitation Firearm. It is an offence under Section 36 of VCRA (2006) to remove the paint unless you have a valid defence.
Toy Soldiers Airsoft can provide a Customisation service.
Whether you want your gun upgraded or need it painted, the replica will be stripped down, the required parts replaced or sprayed with BLUE paint. The gun will then be rebuilt and tested.
This process can take an additional 24-48 hours.
All customised replicas cannot be exchanged or refunded but will be repaired if found faulty.
- REALISTIC IMITATION FIREARMS (RIFs)
Realistic Imitation Firearms (RIFs) are Airsoft weapons that closely resemble the look and feel of the real gun and do not require to be painted. In order to purchase one of these guns, stricter measures are in place to protect the retailer and the purchaser.
In addition to the age restriction, when purchasing a RIF, you are required to provide a valid “Defence” or valid reason as to why you need the gun. Section 37 of the Violent Crimes Reduction Act (2006) (VCRA) indicates that it shall be a defence for a person to show that the imitation firearm is for one or more of the following purposes:
- the purposes of a museum or gallery.
- the purposes of theatrical performances and of rehearsals for such performances.
- the production of films or television programmes.
- the organisation and holding of historical re-enactments.
- the purposes of functions that a person has in his capacity as a person in the service of Her Majesty.
(Violent Crime Reduction Act (2006))
As most purchasers will not meet any of the above criteria, a further Defence that can be used is that:
- you are a “Registered” member on the database held by the United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers Association (UKARA).
- The United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers Association (UKARA) was formed in response to the Violent Crime Reduction Bill 2006 to enable a safe method of selling Realistic Imitation Firearms (RIF's) by having the ability to confirm the eligibility of purchasers.
- Player registration with UKARA is free. To become a registered Airsoft player, you are required to take part in three games at the same UKARA registered game site over a minimum of two months, e.g., the third game being 56 days or more after the first.
You must be over 18 years of age, live within the UK and able to provide identification such as Passport, Drivers’ License or a Bank Statement. Most Airsoft game sites will sign you up to the UKARA database.
Once your name is added to the database, your details will be kept for a year, and must be renewed annually.
PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT an 'Airsoft Licence' – but it IS Proof of Defence and is simply a database of registered Airsofters. You will receive a player number so that a retailer can check that you are a bona fide player as part of the purchase process.
When making a replica purchase at Toy Soldiers Airsoft, you will be asked for your Proof of Defence.
Defence is required ONLY to purchase replicas - it is NOT needed to purchase anything else e.g., accessories, consumables, etc.
For further information, please refer to the following websites: