AIRSOFT AND THE LAW IN THE UK
Anyone over the age of 18 can purchase a two-tone Airsoft BB gun, as long as they are at least 18 years old.
A two-tone Airsoft BB gun must be in an unrealistic bright colour (at least 51%).
For example.. green, blue, orange, red or at least 51% transparent!
You can only buy a black or realistic imitation firearm (RIF) if you are at least 18 years old and can fulfil any one of the following requirements:
You are a 'registered' airsofter with membership at an insured Airsoft skirmish/game site. To be registered, you must attend a game at least three times (3 days) over a period of no less than two months. You will not be registered if you attend and play the three games before the two months has ended. Why? Because UK Law requires that two months must pass before you can legally be registered. Once you have completed this requirement, you are eligible for a 'UKARA' number, which is a UK based Airsoft retailer database that makes it easier and legal for retailers in the UK to sell you a RIF! The 'British Airsoft Club' is another similar scheme. Below are other valid defences, but much harder to fulfil if you are not in any of the professions listed.
You are a member of a properly insured historical re-enactment group or society.
You are a film, television or theatre production company.
You are (or are acting on behalf of) a museum.
You are a Crown Servant in pursuance of your Crown duties. This does not mean members of the armed forces or law enforcement agencies have an automatic right to purchase RIFS from a UK retailer. Having a firearm licence also does not permit you to buy a RIF from a UK retailer. To purchase a RIF from a UK retailer, it must be in pursuant of your Crown duties.
NOTE: The onus is on the retailer to ensure you have a valid defence!
IMPORTING RIFS INTO THE UK
Section 36(7) of the VCRA makes RIFs imported without a valid defence illegal and liable to forfeiture under Section 49(1)(b) of CEMA (Customs and Excise Management Act.)
Airsoft and the Policing & Crime Act 2017
From May 2nd, 2017, the Act introduces an exception from the classification for airsoft guns as firearms, so long as they meet certain criteria.
This means that airsoft guns (and it doesn’t matter how they are powered) are not firearms if they are designed to fire a spherical plastic missile that is no bigger than 8mm in diameter and they have a muzzle energy that is no greater than 1.3 joules if they can fire successive shots, often called “full auto”. However, this figure is raised to 2.5 joules if they can only fire individual shots i.e. single shot or semi-auto.
NEW LEGAL POWER RESTRICTIONS
Fully automatic = 1.3 Joule / 370FPS Max. Using 0.2g BBs
Single shot = 2.5 Joule / 520FPS Max. Using 0.2g BBs