- Museums and art galleries
- Theatrical performances and rehearsals
- Film and television productions
- Historical re-enactments
- Crown servants
Regarding airsoft enthusiasts; the VCRA states the following in their notes:
‘‘The regulations provide two new defences. The first is for the organisation and holding of airsoft skirmishing. This is defined by reference to ‘permitted activities’ and the defence applies only where third-party liability insurance is held in respect of the activities.’’
Moreover, ‘’the defence for airsoft skirmishing can apply to individual players because their purchase of realistic imitation firearms for this purpose is considered part of the ‘holding’ of a skirmishing event.’’
Therefore, a valid airsoft defence is based on whether or not a person is a skirmisher.
In 2017, however, an amendment was made to the Policing and Crime Act which states that airsoft guns in the UK are defined by the firing velocity of a gun. Therefore, airsoft guns became exempt from firearms legislation. This also means that firing an airsoft gun with the capacity to fire pellets with a greater velocity than those outlined in the PCA 2017 will fall under firearms legislation.
With this is mind, compliance with the rules set out in the PCA 2017 is essential.
Airsoft law FAQs
Are BB guns legal in the UK?
BB guns are legal in the UK but there is some legislation that concerns them.
The Firearms Act 1968 states, ‘An imitation firearm is anything which has the appearance of being a firearm, regardless of whether or not it is capable of discharging a shot, bullet or another missile.’
BB guns could fall under this description, so the following laws are in place:
- The minimum age to purchase a BB gun is 18 years
- An adult must supervise persons 12 to 18 years of age when using a gun
- No gun should be carried in a public place unless in transit. Also, the gun should be placed in a bag
- Guns must not be concealed on one's person or pointed or fired at another human or animal
- Safety glasses and other protective clothing should also be worn when operating the gun or viewing
To comply with VCRA law, a minimum of 51% of a gun’s surface must be finished in a bright colour or transparent plastic. Colours tend to be, vibrant hues of red; orange; yellow; blue; green; pink, and purple.
Two-tone guns were released so they can be easily identified as un unrealistic imitation by the police and general public. However, we recommend transporting your weapon in a gun bag to minimise the risk of attracting attention.
RIF stands for Real Imitation Firearm, which is a realistic airsoft replica of an authentic gun.
To purchase an RIF:
- You need to be over 18
- Avalid defence under the VCRA is required
- Most retailers require you to be UKARA registered to purchase a RIF
What is the legal airsoft FPS limit in the UK?
In England, Wales and Scotland, the Firearms Act 1968 has been amended to define the maximum power levels permissible for airsoft weapons.
The Policing and Crime Act came into force in 2017, and states that exceeding the permitted limits could result in a prison sentence, depending on what has been exceeded.
In Northern Ireland, the maximum is 1J.
|Max FPS for automatic||Max FPS for semi-automatic|
|England, Wales, Scotland||1.3J / 374fps @ 0.20g||2.5J / 518fps @ 0.20g|
|Northern Ireland||1.0J / 328fps @ 0.20g||1.0J / 328fps @ 0.20g|
What is UKARA?
The UK Airsoft Retailers Association (UKARA) acts as the national body who oversee a safe method of selling and using Realistic Imitation Firearms (RIFs).
Becoming a UKARA Registered Airsoft Player
- You must be over 18 and able to provide a form of identification such as a Passport, Driver’s Licence or Bank Statement
- Take part in three games in no less than two months at a registered game site
- Download and fill in the UKARA PDF form, then present this at your chosen game site to be stamped with the site’s UKARA verification stamp
- Once completed, post the form to your preferred UKARA retailer
- You’ll then be added to the database, which you’ll remain on for 12 months. Any future orders made on a UKARA registered retailer site will then be checked for compliance to the VCR Act. Please note, after the initial 12 months has elapsed, you’ll be required to renew your registration.
- After submitting your form, you’ll receive an email from UKARA to confirm your successful registration
What is the airsoft age limit in the UK?
You must be over 18 to purchase an airsoft gun (both RIF and two-tone varieties). It is illegal to sell an airsoft gun to any person under 18. However, gifting is not considered an offence, therefore a person can gift any type of airsoft or BB firearm to a person under 18.
Is it legal to paint an airsoft gun?
Under Section 36 of the V.C.R Act (2006), it is a criminal offence to alter the appearance or paint an imitation firearm to give it a realistic appearance.
Valid defence and transportation of weaponry
When transporting a bb gun or Airsoft replica, you must have a valid reason to have it in public - even if it’s insured.
In Airsoft terms, a valid defence is essentially proving that you have a valid reason for purchase of a RIF - which usually comes down to whether or not you’re a skirmisher.
One of the measures put in place by retailers was the formation of the UKARA database we covered above.
UKARA shares the database of registered skirmishers with UKARA-certified retailers allowing verification that the purchaser can buy a RIF under the VCRA skirmisher defence.
To qualify for the UKARA database, you must skirmish three or more times over a period of at least 56 days, and typically at one site. The airsoft site you register at must hold Public Liability Insurance. The full process of UKARA registration can be viewed above.
Examples of a valid defence:
- You live outside of the UK. If purchasing from outside of the UK, please check your country’s laws
- You are a registered UKARA member
- You’re an Airsoft players union member
- You’re a British Airsoft Club member
- You are part of a battle re-enactment group
Please note that the law around BB guns and airsoft guns can change, so it’s your responsibility to make sure that you’re acting in accordance with the latest legislation whenever you buy a BB gun.