In 2006 the violent crime reduction act (VCRA) was passed into UK law and changed the laws regarding the sale of airsoft guns (or realistic imitation firearms - RIF) to the public.
The act states:
Sections 36 to 38: Realistic imitation firearms
These sections introduce a ban on the supply of realistic imitation firearms.
Section 36 makes it an offence to manufacture, import or sell realistic imitation firearms. It also makes it an offence to modify an imitation firearm to make it realistic. Subsection 7 provides that imported realistic imitation firearms will be liable to forfeiture under customs and excise controls.
Section 37 provides various defences to the new offence. It makes it a defence to show that the manufacture, importation, sale or modification was only for the purpose of making the realistic imitation firearm available for:
a museum or gallery
theatrical performances and rehearsals of such performances
the production of films and television programmes
the organisation and holding of historical re-enactments
What does this mean for me?
It is therefore an offence to purchase a realistic airsoft gun if you are under 18 years of age and do not have a valid defence as listed in the act.
A separate section was added into the act which granted that 'airsoft skirmisers' had a legitimate reason for purchasing RIFs, provided that they were purchasing the airsoft gun for airsoft skirmishing events. Airsofters now need to provide evidence that they regularly take part in games, one way to do this is to have a player number with the UKARA or similar organisation.
However, two-tone (have brightly painted sections which cover over 51%) guns can be purchased without a defence as they are not deemed realistic.
What is the UKARA/BAC?
UKARA is the United Kingdom airsoft retailers association which was set up in light of the VCRA in order to allow retailers to check individuals to see if they are registered at an airsoft game site and therefore allow them to purchase RIFs. BAC is a similar organisation also offering this service.
To obtain a UKARA player number or similar defence, you must go to a registered game site and play at least three games in a period of not less than two months. You can then apply to your game site for membership and ask them to support your free application to the UKARA (or similar association). Some airsoft sites may subscribe to BAC so you may be issued with a BAC number instead.
Power Limits Law
In 2017 new power limits were imposed on airsoft guns which meant they had to be within a permitted FPS limit to be deemed legal. The new limits were as follows:
Full-auto or burst-fire capable : 1.3 joules (around 370fps with .2g BB)
Single-shot only (including semi auto) : 2.5 joules (around 520 fps with .2g BB)
Note: In Northern Ireland the legal limit for all airsoft guns (full or semi auto) is 1.0 Joules (around 328 fps with .2g BB)
This means that any gun capable of full-auto/burst with a power greater than 1.3 joules is now classed as a section 5 firearm and without a proper license would lead to a minimum prison term of 5 years. Any single-shot airsoft gun over 2.5J is now considered an airgun and would not be allowed at airsoft skirmishing sites.
MSR Airsoft commitment - All of our airsoft guns are tested on site before shipping to make sure they comply with UK law. We would never ship any airsoft gun to you if we knew it was not compliant.
We accept all forms of defence here at Airsoft Cymru, however certain types may take longer to verify than others.
UKARA/BAC (or similar) - Please provide us with your player number for UKARA or BAC. If you have another defence from a different association then please send us a message to submit these details for us to check.
Reenactor - Please message us to submit your membership details.
Film/TV studio - Please message us to submit your membership details.
Museum - Please message us to submit your museum details.
Crown Servant - Please message us to submit your crown servant details.