When Was Airsoft Invented: The Definitive Guide to the History of Airsoft Guns

If you’re an airsoft enthusiast, you may be wondering about the history of airsoft guns. If that’s so, you’re on the right place.

In this article, we’ll discuss in detail when was airsoft invented, how it started, when its popularity grew throughout the world, and anything related to the evolution of airsoft that you may want to know.

Let’s dive in.

When Was Airsoft Invented?

Airsoft was invented in Japan in the 1970s, mainly as a response to the complete ban on weapons that still exists in the country. Since Japanese weapon enthusiasts couldn’t legally own a real gun, they invented airsoft guns in order to be able to simulate shooting from real weapons. Airsoft spread significantly in the following decades, first in South Asia, then Europe, and finally in the US.

Let’s quickly discuss what airsoft even is, for those of you who are beginners, and then we’ll dive deeper into the history of airsoft.

When was airsoft invented

What Are Airsoft and Airsoft Guns?

Airsoft guns are replica guns that are designed to closely resemble real-life weapons. The resemblance is solely in looks, and unlike real guns, airsoft guns are actually very much safe (as long as the safety guidelines are followed). They shoot plastic, round pellets that are only 6 mm in diameter and weigh much less than a gram.

These toy guns are mostly used in the sport of airsoft, which is a simulation of real-life combat. It’s a game similar in concept to paintball, although much more realistic. This realism offers the thrill of real-life warfare, while not being in any kind of danger.

There’s a wide variety of airsoft guns to choose from. Depending on their power source and mechanism by which they work, they’re usually divided into three types: electric, spring, and gas airsoft guns. All of them have the same idea: to shoot the plastic BB out of the gun. However, they do so in different ways. The three types of airsoft guns have their own characteristics, as well as some pros and cons which you need to consider when choosing a gun to buy.

How Did Airsoft Start?

If you want to understand why airsoft was invented in the first place, you should know the background of its beginnings. As already stated, airsoft started in Japan about 50 years ago, in the 1970s.

Back then, as well as now, the perception of Japanese people toward guns differed significantly from those of American people, for the most part. Japanese generally have negative feelings towards guns and consider them dangerous. Only the police and military are allowed to own a gun, and even the police almost never uses them.

Despite the general lack of interest, there were of course gun enthusiasts, who looked for a way to enjoy using guns while following the strict gun laws. And they found that way with airsoft.

History of Airsoft Guns

The idea was simple: create an experience that’s as close as possible to real combat while staying completely safe and not breaking any laws. That’s exactly what they did.

Due to the striving to create an immersive experience, airsoft guns were made as replicas of real weapons, which closely resembled them in looks. That way, airsoft guns succeeded both in satisfying the gun enthusiasts and complying with the strict laws.

The first airsoft guns were spring-powered and differed from modern airsoft guns. While spring-powered airsoft guns are still used to this day, electric and gas guns are the most common ones.

Soon after, airsoft grew in popularity. At first, in Japan only. But it quickly took over nearby countries, which also had strict gun laws in comparison to the US. The most notable countries where airsoft grew were China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam, and South Korea. Even today, most airsoft guns are produced in East Asia.

From there, in the 1980s, airsoft became popular in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom. At first, airsoft guns in the UK were sold in parts, and the buyers would need to buy the gun in pieces and assemble it themselves.

At this time, airsofters still didn’t need to wear a lot of protective equipment, as they do now, since the airsoft guns were still not powerful enough.

But along with airsoft’s growth in popularity, airsoft guns evolved too. What were once simple spring-powered replicas, turned into airsoft guns powered by green gas. During the 1980s, it was gas-powered airsoft guns that were the most popular. Even at that time, airsoft guns shot plastic pellets, as they do now.

Electric airsoft guns were introduced during the 1990s when the company Tokyo Marui created the first AEG. This was a huge milestone for airsoft guns. The use of electricity in airsoft made it much easier for airsoft guns to shoot automatically.

When Did Airsoft Start in America?

In the 1990s, airsoft started to gain traction in the Americas and the US. As it did in other countries, airsoft grew quickly in the US too. Today, there are airsoft fields in virtually every US state, most notably in California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Georgia. For Americans, airsoft became a viable alternative to paintball, which has a longer history in the US.

Who Made the First Airsoft Gun?

Ichiro Nagata, a Japanese photographer and gun enthusiast, is credited with making the first airsoft gun, which happened nearly 50 years ago. As a gun enthusiast, Ichiro had the idea of making model guns that closely resemble real weapons, while being completely safe. Once he managed to turn the idea into reality, his invention rapidly grew in popularity, with airsoft guns today being common and available to buy in most countries.


Airsoft players are often curious about the history of airsoft guns and when was airsoft invented. That’s the exact focus of this article, which discusses the evolution of airsoft in detail.