A Modern Primer to California Law Regarding Airsoft Guns

By Justin Stakes

Imitation Firearms
Imitation Firearms
US Rifle M14 Airsoft Replica
US Rifle M14 Airsoft Replica

California -(Ammoland.com)- Airsoft guns and other ersatz or replicated firearms have become increasingly popular among gun enthusiasts and participants in recreational Airsoft shooting sport competitions throughout the world.

The competitive sport and competition involving the use of an Airsoft gun is extremely similar to paintball, except instead of paintballs you use replicated firearms equipped with plastic bbs as ammunition.

There are rules and procedures for the sport of Airsoft itself but there are also legal rules and regulations that one must abide by when in the possession and safe control of an imitation firearm. Due to their extremely strong visual representation to that of an authentic weapon and their ability to injure other human beings, Airsoft guns are, for right or wrong, now considered “dangerous weapons” under California’s Dangerous Weapons Control Law.

In a world where so many rules and regulations are considered mandatory and pushed upon the citizens, some things like the right to openly carry a firearm have become almost nonexistent, it is a sensible choice for Airsoft  owners to familiarize themselves with the current Californian legislation regarding their replicated weaponry.

  • To start, the initial sale and transfer of an Airsoft gun to an adolescent under the age of 18 years is considered to be a misdemeanor, unless otherwise authorized by their parent or legal guardian.
  • Primary owners of Airsoft guns also cannot alter their armament to look more like a genuine firearm (an example would be if one were to paint over the mandatory and brightly colored marking that is located at the tip of the muzzle).
  • California’s Laws regarding firearms and how they may be displayed in and around public property also pertains to Airsoft guns.

Under California Penal Code 20170, the section clearly mandates, “No person may openly display or expose any imitation firearm in a public place.” Which includes a public street, sidewalk, bridge, alley, plaza, park, driveway, front yard, parking lot, an automobile, a public building, door way or entrance, and of course public schools and universities.

The law does not apply when the armament is in its original package or if the exterior of the Airsoft gun is predominately colored, “white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink or bright purple.” The law proceeds to further state that merely having an orange tip on the muzzle corresponding to what federal law mandates is simply not satisfactory to California’s personal requirement.

Owners of Airsoft guns should also be aware of the fact that under California’s law any regulations that pertain to bb guns and all additional sort of replicated firearms correspondingly relates to Airsoft guns.

For those of us unfamiliar with laws and regulations regarding Airsoft guns, it may come to a surprise to them that under California Law their replicated gun is considered to be a “dangerous weapon”.

Just as any weapon that is being used, stored, and/or transported; Airsoft guns are subject to current state laws as with real weapons.

Owners of real firearms that persistently train at a firing range have hit on the idea of training for draw, trigger pull and aiming with an Airsoft gun for the modest fact that bbs are inexpensive when compared to shooting live rounds, as well as safe for home use.

Manufacturers in the Airsoft industry have noticeably grown in their craft and are now distributing licensed master replicas of real weapons. Airsoft replicas even furnished with simulated recoil to simulate that of the original for all classes and categories of authentic firearms.

To me Airsoft competition is an extremely competitive sport and involves the participants to use their wits and cognitive abilities to be agile, strategic and to be ultimately aware of their surroundings every second of the moment. Which leads many youth players to continuing on to educating themselves more on firearms, eventually owning real guns.

Whether as ones first taste of gun culture, or as an imitation firearm used for the intense competition of Airsoft games or as an addition to ones live fire training, I believe that an Airsoft gun can become an instrumental asset in understanding or normalizing gun ownership and mastering our preferred firearms.

Article by Justin Stakes
Photo Copyright @ J. Stakes Photography

Justin Stakes is a Freelance Photographer and Photo Journalist dealing with a variety of different subjects that interest and inspire. His photographic style is a mixture of photojournalism and fine art which results in very sharp and colorful photos. He has won two Photo Show Competitions and has even been exhibited in the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art. Through his education, he has had the pleasure and honor of being taught by some of the best professionals in the field of Public Relations, Studio and Fine Art Photography.

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Thanks. This was actually really helpful for me in learning more about airsoft gun laws.


Are you related to…um…some guy named Donald Trump’s?

Anonymous Human Being

Can’t even have airsoft guns shipped to California… Thanks to these “tolerant” liberals! What’s next, ban all weapons altogether? You imbeciles realize that criminals don’t follow laws and will have access to guns no matter what you do, right?

So frustrating.


Liberal lawmakers have no common sense. It does not matter if an airsoft gun has an orang tip or not, they still look real and cops will have to treat as such or they will get shot. Anyone can paint an ar15 with bright colors and all of a sudden cops are to assume they are toys. Get real and leave us alone. Government is getting too involved in california and their laws dont have any common sense in them.


As long as Californians keep voting for Democrats their Second Amendment rights will be CONTINUOUSLY, RELENTLESSLY and INCREASINGLY restricted.
California is a ONE PARTY STATE and that is NOT an exaggeration, just the truth.
California is FLOODED with people looking for free handouts, pot heads, touchy- feely types, men with low testosterone and illegal aliens who vote to ever escape it’s inevitable slide into total socialism.
The Democrat Party to EVERY situation or perceived problem is MORE regulation on the people and MORE taxes.


i just bought a colt python replica airsoft gun, the guy says we have to put orange tape arpund the grip and all along the trigger. but i go into wall mart and all thier guns are black with no orange tip. whats the difference?

He who shall not be named

Those are not airsoft guns they are pellet and break guns which fire a miniature projectile a little smaller than a .22 that can pierce through skin and is commonly used in hunting of small game. Also I know that you probably bought the gun at Big 5, they go over board with their cheap guns that are about as good as cardboard. For high quality airsoft guns I recommend that you go to an airsoft store, in San Jose Dog tag airsoft is my first choice but online go to airsoft megastore and read the guide on how bbs… Read more »


Help me! I’m stuck in this brainless state!!! GET ME OUT!!!

Gov. Zombie

Get me out of suburban hell too


Kalifornia leading the way into socialist can and can not do with your property. Just like zoning laws on your property where neighbors can make you paint your house their choice of colors, their choice of roof materials. Think we are really free look at your home and realize how much government control has over it . Property taxes , the undoing of Right to property, civil forfeiture happening all over the U.S. Our grandparents and parents allowed us to become serfs serving the government. Think , Act , Stop this oppression.

Howard McTaggart

Well I’m glad I am sticking to NERF guns I was disenchanted with AIRSOFT guns a while back because of their mechanical deficiencies especially involving the battery operated semi auto models essentially end up with a good looking piece of crap. At least with NERF style guns although looking like toys they do work more efficiently, this is a note the makers of AIRSOFT guns should consider, like for instance in my favorite gun a winchester lever load style gun it uses a gearing system to prime the spring activated air piston, airsoft could use this idea. And beside that… Read more »


Well, when Nancy & Diane are off their meds, they look scary!


…In other news, The state of KKKalifornia has just banned the importation of NERF assault weapons and all NERF assault weapons must be registered immediately, All NERF 30 caliber high capacity ammunition clips need to be registered as well.
The state is also proposing that all Bows and Crossbows only fire arrows and bolts made out of NERF and all other arrows are to be immediately surrendered to local authorities.


Another reason to fence in California and let no one in or out.

Capn Jack

Once again proving “Common Sense” is an unknown commodity in Kaulifonia.


Not long till nothing but rich people and south americans live there.


Dude if you live in California your pay is higher than other states that’s how people live in California


You have absolutely no god damn clue, your comment only proves your absolute ignorance. Look at the cost of living you mindless twit, and then you will easily figure out why one makes more in Commiefornia. Which shows you are a complete moron about this issue and you have absolutely no right nor reason to speak about that issue as you are clueless and totally ignorant on the same issue.


People make more to compinsate with the cost of living I live in California and I ain’t rich


People who live in California believe the pay is higher but that’s simply not true.
In SOME cities like San Francisco or Palm Springs pay is higher but in most, even San Diego or Los Angles the pay is NO higher than the midwest or New England, Texas or Arizona.


Nanny State Kalifornia, land of marshmallow wadcutters and Styrofoam arrows. LOL

TSgt B

Just another example of the results of longterm marijuana use. I’m putting my money on the San Andreas Fault.

Jerry brown

California über alles.