Can Airsoft BBs Severely Hurt You?

Airsoft BBs are not meant to cause injury. However, mild to severe injuries related to airsoft BBs do occur as a result of inappropriate or unsafe use of equipment.

Types of airsoft injuries include:

  • Eye injuries
  • Skin injuries 
  • Ear injuries 
  • Facial injuries 
  • Neck injuries
  • Chipped teeth
  • Bone fracture 

The severity of the injury often depends on factors such as:

  • Velocity
  • Shooting distance
  • Weight of the BB 
  • Being hit on bare skin

Taking the necessary safety precautions will lessen your risk of injury.

Today we’ll delve deeper into airsoft BB injuries, factors that influence the severity of an injury, and ways to prevent injury.

Table of Contents

  1. What Are the Most Common Airsoft Ammo Injuries?
  2. What Factors Influence Airsoft BB Injury Severity?
  3. Did You Know You Can Enhance Your Airsoft Fun With Sight Guards?
  4. Frequently Asked Questions About Airsoft BBs

What Are the Most Common Airsoft Ammo Injuries?

The most common airsoft BBs injuries include:

Eye Injuries 

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), there has been a 600% increase in eye injuries from airsoft BBs.

Reports published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and National Library of Medicine showed that airsoft pellets can lead to:

  • Lens dislocation: The BB can cause your lens to move out of position, especially when it breaks some or all of the supporting ligaments  
  • Hyphema: Painful pooling of blood inside the eye 
  • Corneal abrasion: Scratches on the surface of the eye
  • Detached retina: This can happen when your retina is pulled away from its normal position
  • Rupture of the eyeball 
  • Blindness: Most of these injuries can lead to temporary, and even permanent loss of vision

In this regard, Eliot Nelson, an injury prevention expert from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends wearing appropriate eye protection at all times. 

Wearing the proper type of protective eyewear can prevent you from eye injuries—whether from a direct shot to the face or from a BB ricocheting.  Appropriate safety glasses can also protect you from possible vision loss from airsoft BBs. 

Here are tips to help you minimize your risk of eye injury:

Avoid wearing goggles made for dust, skiing, and wind protection 

If these goggles and sunglasses are hit, they can shatter and cause even more eye injury than the BB.

Wear ballistic-rated or military-grade eyewear

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), ballistic goggles are a safe option for airsoft games and other air gun games. Ballistic-rated eyewear is designed for combat and military environments. 

These safety goggles are made of polycarbonate lenses, which are resistant to shattering, strong, and also lightweight. Therefore, they can offer you adequate protection from the high velocities involved in airsoft.

Your ballistic safety eyewear should cover your eyes completely and wrap slightly around your head. This is important because airsoft ammo can come from any direction. 

Wear a full face mask at all times

A full face airsoft mask can protect your eyes from stray and direct Airsoft BBs traveling at low and high speeds. Full face protection can be either a rigid metal or plastic mask, which covers the mouth, chin, cheeks, and nose.

Pyramex I-Force Safety Goggles—Amber Lens

Ear Injuries

Playing airsoft games without ear protection can also increase your risk of sustaining an ear injury. For example, you’re more likely to sustain an ear injury when turning away your head to avoid an airsoft BB. 

When a BB hits your ear, you’re likely to suffer the following injuries:

  • Tinnitus: This is when you experience ringing or other noises in the injured ear. 
  • Ruptured eardrum: The impact of an airsoft BB traveling at high speed can cause the eardrum to rupture.
  • Permanent or partial hearing loss: A ruptured eardrum can result in hearing loss. 

Here are tips to protect yourself from airsoft ear injuries:

  • Wear a half-face mesh mask with ear protection
  • Wear airsoft balaclava 
  • Wear headsets that allow you to communicate effectively with teammates 
  • Neck scarf that can be pulled up 
  • A wool cap that you can pull down to your ears 
Mesh and polymer lower face protection system

Skin Injuries 

If you’re hit by high-speed airsoft ammo at close range, you could potentially suffer skin and soft tissue injuries. 

You’re likely to sustain the following skin injuries after a day of military-style combat simulation:

  • Bruises: Bruises in the sport of airsoft can vary in severity depending on how hard you’re hit. 
  • Welts: Welts can be severe and extremely painful.
  • Infections: In some cases, these skin injuries can lead to infections due to open wounds.
  • Skin penetrations: The penetrating BB is often slightly beneath or partially into the skin.

Some of the most vulnerable parts are the:

  • Knuckles
  • Face 
  • Neck 
  • Hands 
  • Cheeks 

The majority of these skin injuries or bruises heal on their own without scarring or the need for specialized treatment. 

You can protect your skin from ammo-related injuries by wearing thick protective clothing or coverings such as:

  • Vests
  • Helmets 
  • Gloves 
  • Scarves
Testimonial from Hal Owen

Mouth and Teeth Injuries

In close range, airsoft ammo can break your teeth and even loosen them. Even over long distances, the impact of a heavy airsoft BB travelling at a high speed can damage your teeth.

Airsoft BBs can cause the following teeth and mouth injuries:

  • Cracked teeth 
  • Lip, gum, and tongue injuries
  • Loss of teeth

It’s important to invest in mouth mesh guards or a full face mask to protect your teeth and the area around your mouth.

3G Steel Mesh Half Face Mask, Deluxe Version with Ear Protection—Camo

What Factors Influence Airsoft BB Injury Severity?

The following are some of the factors that influence the impact of airsoft ammo:

FPS or Muzzle Velocity 

Airsoft guns have an FPS range of 200 to 500, which means a BB can travel up to 450 feet in a second. The faster an airsoft pellet travels, the more energy it will have on impact, and the harder it will hit and hurt you. 

High-speed BBs of about 350 FPS can penetrate your skin when they are shot at close range.

Distance Between You and the Opponent

You are more likely to sustain an injury if you’re closer to the sniper. This is more likely in CQB (Close Quarter Battle) games, which are played in tight spaces at close range.

Long-range shooting, on the other hand, is likely to cause less harm because airsoft ammo loses considerable strength with distance. For instance,  a heavier BB will travel farther, but slower than a lighter BB—you’ll be able to dodge it. 

The table below shows the degree of pain in relation to FPS and distance (without the use of protective gear or combat clothing):

FPS Shooting Distance Pain
100–200   More like a poke
200–250 60 feet A small sting
250–300 50–60 feet Welt and pain
300–350 Within 50 feet
  • Strong pain
  • A welt
350–400 Greater than 35 feet
  • Serious pain
  • A golf ball size welt
400–500 Under 50 feet
  • Severe/brutal pain
  • Can break the skin 
  • Can damage tissue and small bones underneath
  • Safety gear cannot withstand this level of force
  • Can penetrate the skin even with protective clothing 
  • Extreme pain and damage

Weight of the Airsoft BB

Airsoft BBs come in a variety of sizes, which determine the extent of injury they cause. The impact of airsoft ammo is often measured in joules, which is defined as kinetic energy. If a BB has more kinetic energy, the injury will be more severe.

The table below displays the most common airsoft BB weights based on FPS range:

FPS Range (Feet Per Second) BB Weight
300–350 0.20 g
350–400 0.25 g
400–450 0.28 g
450–500 0.36 g
Above 500 0.43 g

Type of Clothing and Protection

An airsoft BB that strikes your bare skin will cause more injury than one that strikes you through clothing. It’s critical to wear thick clothing that covers as much skin as possible. 

Expert Tip:  Jeans, cargo pants, a thick jacket, or a jumper can provide adequate protection against penetration. 

Lancer Tactical Combat Tactical Uniform Set—MAD

Did You Know You Can Enhance Your Airsoft Fun With Sight Guards?

Did you know that a 300+ FPS plastic BB can shoot out your glass aiming sight? If you didn’t know, now you do. Consequently, protecting your airsoft gun optics is just as critical as protecting your eyes. 

In other words, you need sight guards to protect your optics from airsoft BB-related damage.

The polycarbonate sight shields featured below have been tested under extreme conditions to ensure optimal protection for your aiming device.

Black Lion Stealth Sight Guard

This complete set includes Allen key and Black Lion Patch. Features guarantee unbreakability under a normal airsoft environment

Black Lion Sight Guard - Stealth - Loose Shield

A loose protector shield that can fit any existing protector stand

Black Lion Sight Guard - Diamond - Loose Shield

A loose protector shield with a Black Lion Patch. It’s compatible with any existing protector stand

Ballistic rated military

Frequently Asked Questions About Airsoft BBs 

Can airsoft BBs kill?

No. Airsoft BBs cannot kill, but they can damage delicate body parts like your eyes. 

Can I reuse airsoft BBs?

It’s not advisable to reuse airsoft BB pellets. Recycling can cause significant damage to your magazine and gun.

Are metal airsoft BBs legal?

Most airsoft sites prohibit the use of metal BB pellets. Plastic BBs are more common.