Is it Illegal to Paint the Orange Tip on an Airsoft Replica?

Even if you’re just getting into Airsoft I’m sure you have noticed that all Airsoft guns have an Orange Tip permanently affixed to the barrel. This is from the moment that it’s imported into a country until it is sold at the Airsoft store. But what is allowed after you bought it from a (local) store? Can you paint or remove the orange tip?

So is it illegal to paint or remove the orange tip? No, it’s not illegal to remove the blaze orange tip from any item on which it was initially required, according to the Federal regulations. It may be highly inappropriate or even illegal for a Seller to paint /remove the orange tip but not if you (the end user) possess an Airsoft replica.

Keep in mind that local law and ordinances may not supersede the Federal Regulation and that Federal regulations applies to the item not it’s name.

So when you finally decided to paint or even remove that orange tip, you may wonder what the impact is on your own safety as you carry now a look-alike of a real firearm which can cause …. in public…

What the Law States

It’s a little bit frustrating finding out that I didn’t get a clear answer while researching this topic. Unfortunately most of the times it ends with “it depends on…” etc. So therefore I decided to dive into this subject and find out what causes the confusion.

15 CFR § 272.2 – Prohibitions:

§ 272.2 Prohibitions:
No person shall manufacture, enter into commerce, ship, transport, or receive any toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm (“device”) covered by this part as set forth in §272.1 of this part unless such device contains, or has affixed to it, one of the markings set forth in §272.3 of this part, or unless this prohibition has been waived by §272.4 of this part.

272.3 Approved markings

The following markings are approved by the Secretary of Commerce:

(a) A blaze orange (Fed-Std-595B 12199) or orange color brighter than that specified by the federal standard color number, solid plug permanently affixed to the muzzle end of the barrel as an integral part of the entire device and recessed no more than 6 millimeters from the muzzle end of the barrel.

(b) A blaze orange (Fed-Std-595B 12199) or orange color brighter than that specified by the Federal Standard color number, marking permanently affixed to the exterior surface of the barrel, covering the circumference of the barrel from the muzzle end for a depth of at least 6 millimeters.

(c) Construction of the device entirely of transparent or translucent materials which permits unmistakable observation of the device’s complete contents.

(d) Coloration of the entire exterior surface of the device in white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink, or bright purple, either singly or as the predominant color in combination with other colors in any pattern

How to Treat The Law: § 272.2 and
§ 272.3

So if you paint or remove the orange tip you’re not allowed to transport it anywhere without violating 1150.2? Well, that seems to be the case but actually I don’t think that § 272.2 is related to Airsofters traveling to and from an Airsoft event.

In section § 272.2 transport applies to manufactures, wholesalers and dealers assuming that the codes resides in Commerce and Foreign Trade. So from that perspective it is not intended for law abiding Airsofters who are traveling from or to an Airsoft event.

That doesn’t mean you can travel with your Airsoft replica everywhere you want without knowing how to travel safe and prevent arguing (police) or misuse of Airsoft replica’s.

In paragraph 272.3 the law refers (in my opinion) to Commerce and Foreign Trade which means that Airsoft replica’s may not be sold, shipped or received without the approved orange marking. That means that ownership by the end user is not included and therefore it’s seems NOT ILLEGAL to remove or paint the orange tip. But if you want to want to sell, ship or receive an Airsoft replica through a shipping company, then the orange tip is required.
So shipping an Airsoft replica back to the seller or receive it (any shipping method) without an orange tip is against Federal Regulations.

Local Airsoft Laws

Local laws and ordinances may not supersede the Federal Regulations. In my opinion, that is where the confusion begins.
Your local municipality may have created an ordinance restricting the purchase, sale, possession or use of an Airsoft replica. Therefore you always have to check local (State) laws regarding ordinances or restrictions due to the orange tip.

The main reason for the orange tip is to differentiate your Airsoft replica from a real firearm. It is even mandated by the Federal Law that an Airsoft replica is sold with an orange tip. If it’s allowed or not depends really on your Local State Law.

The confusion does not just exist among Airsoft players but also among retailers. In retail stores but also on supplier package I see many disclaimers which are based on a lack of knowledge and to discharge them from any possible claim.

Disclaimer from Sellers and Manufacturers

Most manufacturers and retailers have some sort of disclaimers on their package or in their catalogs.
They stated that ” if you remove or alter the orange tip from the Airsoft replica, the warranty on the replica will be void.” but most of the replica’s shown in the catalog don’t have an orange tip…. Do you follow me? 😉

Well, the truth is that the orange tip is there to protect you from somebody mistaking your Airsoft replica for an actual firearm. There are even some States where you have to leave the orange tip affixed to the barrel or you can prosecuted for it.

So you see it’s pretty important to check what the local laws in your area are as to whether or not you can paint over the tip. Also use common sense. If you are in a rural area, you probably don’t have as many laws versus if you’re in New York City

How To Paint Your Orange Tip?

Plasti DIP

Most of you Airsofters are concerned about removing the orange tip in a way not to void warranty.
If you can remove the orange tip depends on the Airsoft replica. Some replica’s have another orange tip underneath. Some Airsoft replica’s have a steel flash hider. But most of them are permanently affixed to the barrel which is a US requirement.
If you are looking for a way to paint your orange tip without removing it or making any permanent changes that will keep your warranty intact then use PLASTIDIP.
I always use the matte black one. What does it actually do? Well it puts a rubberized coating on it which you can peel off over anything you spray on to.

How does it work?
Before you spray the orange tip, make sure you tape off the inside of your barrel. You can put some packing or wadding or a ball of tape in it so the paint will not get through the barrel. Now you are ready to spray it with PLASTIDIP. It will stick to pretty much anything like metal and plastic.

While you spray the orange tip it can get accidentally on other parts of your Airsoft replica. You can just take it right off using your fingernail by scrubbing it or rubbing it with your thumb. It then will come right off. No problem.

The beauty of this method is that when you want warranty service you can actually work on it and peel it away and expose the orange tip. The advantage is that you don’t have to use paint thinner or anything

Related Questions

How to remove the orange tip from an Airsoft replica? Boil some water and put the orange tip in it to break up the glue a little bit. Hair dryers and heat guns might be too hot. Hold it in hot water for a minute of 2 and then take it off by turning it counterclockwise with a channel lock / open-ended wrench to break the seal. Once the glue is broken you can take it of very easily.

Warning: Don’t brandish your gun in public especially if you have painted or removed the orange TIP! The orange tip is the only visual cue an officer might have to pause and determine if it’s a real firearm or an Airsoft replica!