Airsoft guns aren’t firearms, but they aren’t toys either. This causes them to occupy a legal gray area and leads to confusion.
The regulations, rules, and laws regarding airsoft guns are unique; so, you’ll need to exercise a little common sense.
Traveling with airsoft guns ( like snipers and pistols ), grenades, and the like is possible and legal. You just need to follow some general safety rules, know some of the more important laws and exercise common sense.
Very rarely are airsoft guns regulated like actual firearms in the United States. In fact, I think the only airsoft gun law that treats airsoft guns like real steel firearms is if they are used in the commission of a crime.
The most confusing airsoft gun laws are those related to driving with firearms.
Driving With An Airsoft Gun
Two factors tend to make driving with airsoft guns confusing:
- Common sense is often more important than simply following the law.
- The various states in the US all enforce different laws.
The states follow federal laws, but they also have their own laws that may be more restrictive than Federal laws. Learning your own state laws regarding airsoft guns is always necessary. You should always know what’s legal and what’s not.
Now, let’s say you want to attend a match in the neighboring state; you’ll have to determine if your gun is legal there.
If for example, you are traveling from Arizona to California, you may need to stop and double check your airsoft gun. California requires not only an orange tip but fluorescent markings on the receiver, grip and trigger guard.
But, California isn’t the only state with laws that can be odd, or different from Federal laws.
New Jersey’s airsoft gun laws vary from one city to the next. New Jersey is quite strict with BB guns, air guns, and airsoft guns.
Their laws are a bit confusing, so, if possible, call the Sheriff’s department of the county to which you are traveling. It’s always best to assume you should keep the tip orange, among other things.
Flying with an Airsoft Gun
Flying with an airsoft gun is one of the easier things you can do when dealing with the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA).
You aren’t going to bring that Tokyo Marui AK 47 in a carry-on bag to show the guy in the aisle seat.
Packing an airsoft gun in your carry-on luggage is strictly prohibited, but airsoft guns in checked baggage aren’t that big of a deal. You can check an airsoft gun without even having to declare it.
Remember what we said about common sense? Most airsoft guns aren’t going to look like actual guns through an X-ray. However, you must consider the fact that a lot of people with the TSA may not be gun experts.
To you and me, the gearbox in an airsoft gun and the bolt carrier group of an AR 15 look radically different. But, to an uninformed TSA agent, they are one in the same.
The wisest thing you can do is check the policy of the airline you are flying with and their policy on airsoft guns. Then, you may also want to ensure you declare that you are packing an airsoft gun, and make sure they know it’s an airsoft gun.
While airsoft guns and ammo are actually permitted while flying on planes, not all accessories are. For example, you aren’t allowed to travel with airsoft grenades. Even fake looking explosives are prohibited.
This includes airsoft hand grenades, as well as airsoft 40mms, imitation flashbangs, smoke grenades, and basically anything with the word grenade in it. I’d also assume devices like mines and Claymores are going to be a no-go, but the TSA doesn’t specifically name them.
Also, CO2 canisters of all kinds are prohibited by the TSA. Very few exceptions are made, and none are for airsoft guns.
Keep in mind when traveling internationally the laws of your host country need to be consulted prior to you ever leaving the States. The last thing you want is to be caught up with customs and lose an expensive airsoft gun.
Just Because it is Legal to Do Something, doesn’t Mean it is Smart
It can be perfectly legal for me to have my airsoft M9 Beretta rocking and rolling on my dash when I drive to and from the store to grab a Red Bull.
This nice M9 without its orange tip is legal, and there is no law that says I can’t openly and brazenly carry it.
The question you really must ask yourself is even though it’s legal is it smart? Not too smart, at least not in my opinion.
What’s going to happen when a cop sees my airsoft gun? It likely won’t be a very pleasant or fun encounter. Again, legal versus smart comes into play.
It may be best to package the airsoft gun in a box, case, or in the trunk. Sure, you can put it in the glove box or center console, but let’s say your foot is a little heavy.
You get pulled over for a speeding ticket and go to retrieve your registration and insurance information and a realistic looking airsoft gun is present? Again, this may not be very smart.
Outside of not wanting to attract the attention of police you always want to avoid thieves. Thieves love guns and if they see what looks like a gun you may get a smashed window for your trouble.
You don’t want to make yourself a target for thieves or police, so be smart and travel legally.
A Final Word
Traveling with airsoft guns isn’t difficult, it just requires a bit of thinking and planning. A little research and common sense go a long way, as well.
Remember to check state and even local laws when traveling and avoid modifying your airsoft gun to make it look more realistic. Also, remember that prioritizing common sense and legal travel is critical.