You just bought your first Airsoft gun and you can’t wait to test it out with a couple of friends. But that orange tip just isn’t doing it.
Why get a bolt-action sniper rifle and all the camo gear that comes with it, only to have the bright orange tip give away your position every time? The orange tip kills the look of the gun, doesn’t it? Might as well remove it or paint over it, just in case the kids down the street start asking you to play cowboys and Indians with them.
You’re probably a bit hesitant to get rid of the orange tip before you know what the law has to say on the matter. After all, getting arrested because a neighbor called the police after seeing you load a bunch of guns in your truck is not exactly how you planned to spend a Saturday afternoon.
It’s Not Illegal to Remove the Orange Tip
Walk up to any Airsoft player and ask them “is it illegal to remove an orange tip on an airsoft gun?” chances are that they’ll tell you it’s illegal.
Anyone who says it’s unlawful to get rid of the tip or paint over it probably hasn’t read federal regulations on Airsoft guns. The government requires a 6mm of blaze orange marking on Airsoft guns, but it doesn’t prohibit users from removing the orange tip.
Title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations pretty much covers the required markings for Airsoft guns. Part 272 of the regulations state in part that a blaze orange marking is required on the surface of toys, imitations, or look-alike firearm models. Reading the section by itself might have you thinking that it’s illegal to remove the orange tip on your Airsoft gun. But the Code of Federal Regulations only applies to commerce and foreign trade. Not the actions of the end owner of the gun.
Sellers are not allowed to sell or ship Airsoft guns without the approved orange markings. You’re not similarly prohibited from purchasing an Airsoft gun without the appropriate markings. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t remove the markings after buying an Airsoft replica. Nowhere in the regulations are you prohibited from removing the orange tip or simply painting it black. Skirmishing with your Airsoft gun, without the conspicuous yellow tip, seems to be perfectly legal.
Won’t Removing the Tip Make it Illegal to Transport My Airsoft Gun?
But won’t removing the orange tip make it illegal to carry my Airsoft guns around, you ask?
Well, the regulations don’t explicitly prohibit you, the user, to carry Airsoft replicas without the orange markings. In fact, nowhere in the regulations are you prohibited from packing your Airsoft guns with no orange tip in your trunk and driving to the next skirmish.
The regulations seem to concern themselves with sellers and manufacturers of model firearms. So, while someone might argue that removing the orange tip means you can’t move around with an Airsoft gun, the law seems to concern itself with the transportation of Airsoft replicas meant for sale. That’s the intent of the regulations, especially when you realize that the prohibitions are part of the Commerce and Foreign Trade Regulations. It’s easy to see that the requirement for the orange tip only applies to manufacturers and sellers, and not the end user.
Removing the Tip Voids My Warranty
You’ll most likely void your warranty by removing the orange tip or painting over it. Most sellers will tell you that Federal Law requires Airsoft guns to be fitted with a 1/4-inch orange tip at all times. But like you already know, there are no Federal laws requiring end-users to keep the orange tips on their guns.
That’s just a stipulation from the seller or manufacturer with no legal backing. The government doesn’t require you to have the orange tip on your Airsoft replica every minute. You can get rid of the tip without contravening the law. It’s the manufacturer’s choice to force end-users to keep the orange tip attached, and eventually, Airsoft buyers will wise up and realize removing the orange markings is not illegal. However, remember that shipping an Airsoft gun back to the manufacturer without the orange tip is illegal.
That’s what Federal law has to say about the orange tip on Airsoft guns, but you might also want to check with your local laws. Sometimes, your local municipality may choose to modify federal regulations. For instance, in some states, Airsoft guns on display must have orange markings on them. However, you can sell imitation firearms without the required markings.
Best Practices for Owners of Airsoft Guns without the Orange Tip
Now that you know it’s not illegal to remove the orange tip on your Airsoft gun, there are a few best practices for transporting, using, and storing your guns.
First of all, make sure you transport the gun in a designated case hidden from sight. No one else knows the guns are replicas. Folks are bound to get a bit jumpy around a guy clutching an M15. They have no way of telling it’s an imitation without the orange markings. Make a point of investing in a gun case. It’s perfectly legal to check your Airsoft guns in your checked baggage, so long as you have it secured and you inform the relevant authorities.
If your gun doesn’t have an orange tip, you might want to tag it with an orange barrel cap to make it obvious that it’s an Airsoft gun. But even when you fit an orange barrel cap on your gun, always make sure it’s hidden from sight when going or coming from an Airsoft event. Leaving it visible from outside your car can cause lots of problems when you get pulled over, or when other motorists mistake your Airsoft rifle for the real thing.
Removing the orange tip on your Airsoft gun makes it look like the real thing. That’s why it’s important to follow gun etiquette when handling and transporting Airsoft replicas without the orange markings.