Airsoft is a recreational sport/activity in which participants eliminate opponents by hitting each other with small plastic BBs (6mm) launched via toy, replica firearms. It is similar to paintball but the BB’s travel farther, hurt less and do not stain clothing.
Like paintball, it requires individuals to play honorably and “call” themselves out when they get hit; though unlike paintball, no paint or other visible markings stain the users clothing or gear.
Protective eyewear and safe, responsible game play is required. Unlike short skirmishes common in paintball, airsoft games more often involve military themed simulation scenarios (MilSim), contemporary or historical military reenactments. Airsoft players tend to be older, more mature. Airsoft players typically emulate the tactical equipment and accessories used by modern military and police organizations.
Airsoft “replica guns” originated in Japan’s toy gun industry in the 1970’s. The sport spread to Europe, China, the Philippines and other Asian countries in the 1980’s. The sport became popular in the US in the early 2000’s and has grown larger than the paintball market due the lower cost of supplies and ammunition.
The oldest airsoft brands are still produced in Japan exclusively for their domestic market and sold in the US as private imported goods at hight cost. Most US airsoft companies manufacture in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan (like everything else you buy nowadays).